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What is wrong with the new Warzone rewards? What can be done to fix the problem?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > PvP
What is wrong with the new Warzone rewards? What can be done to fix the problem?
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BigRedJedi's Avatar


BigRedJedi
04.15.2012 , 08:48 AM | #1
While the current state of PvP leaves a great deal to be desired, the sky is not falling... Yet... However, the framework for such certainly appears to be in place (in fact, it might be hanging by a thread, at this point), with little additional input to send it teetering over the edge. For all the issues that currently exist for PvP, the massive changes to TTK through the altered Expertise formulas to the widening gulf in gear disparity (which ties directly back to the Expertise situation), the issue of Warzone rewards is the one that is most likely to cause long-term harm to the health of TOR's PvP Community.

The Reality of the Situation:

First, the dramatic difference between winning and losing, not just in terms of Valor, but also in terms of Commendations, XP, and credits, renders the idea of 'hanging in there', even in a losing effort, a largely unpalatable prospect for a growing number of players. If a player spends 5, 10, or 15 minutes in a WZ, but receives little to no compensation for doing so, the incentives for either continuing to queue for PvP, or simply leaving any match that looks like a steamroll, become distinctly problematic.

Second, relating to the problem of unbalanced rewards, the situation will rapidly escalate into a scenario where one faction, whether through a string of luck, a significant population advantage, or some combination thereof, will start to pull ahead in the 'gear race', a problem which becomes dramatically exacerbated as the gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' widens; until, ultimately, the cycle becomes self-perpetuating, as the 'haves' render it impossible for the 'have-nots' to ever catch up in the 'gear race'. While the addition of Rated WZ's might, eventually, alleviate some of this issue, the disparity of rewards will still need to be addressed, for much the same reasons.

Third, once these problems become sufficiently widespread (and we are already seeing the first stages of this scenario), the overall incentive to participate in PvP, especially for those that get caught in the catch-22 of the 'gear race on the 'have-not' side, will diminish to the point that those, many of whom might even be competent or skilled players, realize that their time is simply spent better elsewhere, and no longer queue at all. This vicious cycle ends at interminable wait times for queues and same vs. same faction matches in the vast majority of cases. Again, cross-server queues and Rated WZ's will alleviate this problem somewhat, but, eventually, there will be no new blood, only old blood that gradually bleeds away.


What to do about Warzone Rewards?


Q: Shouldn't the winning team be rewarded for their success?

The short answer, of course, is 'Yes', however, there is a difference between rewarding success and punishing failure. For a competitive, yet fun environment (especially within the confines of a game), the differentiation between the two can often be slight, but noticeable. The key is to create a system that rewards and encourages active participation while providing incentive to seek victory. The current system, however, demands a certain degree of performance and punishes even hard-fought losses by trivializing the efforts of the losing team's participants.

Q: What is wrong with the 1.2 rewards system?

Although the sports comparison is sometimes strewn about the Forums with far too much ease, there are a significant number of parallels that are valid illustrations of the circumstances that face the PvP Community.

Pick a professional sport, then take a good look at how they operate as a functional entity and as a composite of their individual players; you will notice that there are some key considerations:
  • Compensation: Regardless of a team's win/loss ratio, the players on that team each draw a salary. Players that consistently perform at a higher level are (usually) compensated at a proportionally higher rate. Sometimes, players receive outcome-based performance incentives, rewarding individual achievements or group success.
  • Performance: The greater success a team has, the more recognition that they receive, which turns into better income, better facilities, better sponsors, more fans, etc. Winning tends to open the pocketbooks of owners, helping to keep teams on the cutting edge in terms of gear, free agents, etc.
  • Competition: Everyone plays by (mostly) the same rules. The fields that are played on are the same; everyone uses the same, general equipment (i.e. you won't see a hockey player trying to play hockey with a tennis racquet); and the conditions for winning are clearly defined and understood by all participants.

So, what do those have to do with WZ rewards?

Compensation: One of the continuing misconceptions from the 'losers should be happy they get anything' crowd is the idea that Commendations, credits, and XP are the primary, results-based reward for WZ matches. In reality, however, all three of those things are, in fact, progression-based currency, which constitute the 'salary' for participation in WZ's. Players that are on a winning team should receive a 'bonus' to that salary for their success, but the baseline 'salary' for participants should be roughly similar (players that perform to an exceptionally high level should receive proportionally higher rewards), this, currently, is not the case.

An average victory, assuming that the 8 Medal threshold is reached, will yield ~100-120 Comms and a solid return (based on level) of credits and XP. An average defeat, assuming that the 8 Medal threshold is reached, will yield ~50-60 Comms and roughly half of the credits and XP that a player on the winning team receives. Slightly underperforming to over-performing players on the winning team can dramatically increase their haul, while even slightly underperforming players on the losing team will see their end-of-match income slashed to miniscule, in many cases to the point that the player's time would have been better spent elsewhere. At the minimum threshold of 4 Medals, the differences are even more pronounced, as the winning player with 4 Medals will still receive ~50-60 Comms and reasonable credits/XP, while the losing player with 4 Medals will be lucky to have 25 Comms, and barely any credits or XP.

Rather than the 66-100% gap in 'salary' between the winners and losers, bringing this to a much more manageable and reasonable level, say 25-33% greater for the winning team, would go a long way to making PvP worthwhile again. For example, if the arbitrary 4 Medal minimum for overall rewards is to be maintained (and, for the moment, with the exception of Huttball, this seems a reasonable number, though, perhaps lowering it to 2 for Huttball might be preferable, also, lowering the requirement to 2 for 10-49 PvP might be beneficial), set a shared, minimum floor for the after-match 'salary' and reward participation and performance accordingly.
  • Reaching 4 Medals in a match nets 25 Comms and X amount of credits/XP as a participation 'salary'. Applies to both winning and losing team.
  • Each Medal (including the first 4) up to the first 8 Medals is worth 5 additional Comms and X amount of credits/XP.
  • Each Objective Medal (Offense/Defense) is worth 5 bonus Comms for the losing side and 10 bonus Comms for the winning side (for a total value of 10/15 Comms per Medal). This adds incentive to both the winning and losing side to actually pursue the objectives of a given match type, while offering a bonus to the eventual winners for achieving those objectives.
  • Add a threshold bonus for reaching a certain, higher number of medals (perhaps 10 bonus Comms for reaching 13 Medals and 20 bonus Comms for reaching 18 Medals).
  • Using the above formula nets: Losing player - [4 Medals (1 Obj) = 50 Comms], [8 Medals (2 Obj) = 75 Comms]; Winning player - [4 Medals (1 Obj) = 55 Comms], [8 Medals (2 Obj) = 85 Comms]. In both cases, Objective Medals proportionally increase the ending result, with the scaling for the winning player being superior (and, likely indicative of greater contribution to the team's victory). Finally, just for some fun with examples: Losing player - [4 Medals (4 Obj) = 65 Comms]; Winning player - [8 Medals (0 Obj) = 65 Comms]; Losing player - [8 Medals (4 Obj) = 85 Comms], Winning Player - [8 Medals (4 Obj) = 105 Comms].
  • Credit and XP should scale appropriately with level and along similar lines to the Comms received.

While Level 50 PvP might not suffer as severely from the reduced income of credits (and certainly not XP), the dramatic difference in Comms received only serves to accelerate the problem, by widening the already-too-severe gear gap (in terms of the gear itself, as the Expertise difference between Recruit gear and BM/WH gear is enormous, to say nothing of those who are still in Cent/Champ or mixed gear) as a faction starts to pull far ahead in the gear race. On the other hand, in 10-49 PvP, there already exists a severe handicap for teams with lower-level players, in that they do not have full access to their skills and talents, nor do they have access to quality gear. Even though Bolster sets everyone's baseline stats to a similar level, gear and level still provide significant advantages, and far too many times a team will have 2-3 Level 40+ players against a team with none higher than Level 30, and the second team will get crushed, yielding minimal (if any) rewards, and, effectively, punishing the players of the second team, simply for being lower level.

Performance: For all the discussion of Comms, credits, and XP, however, the real issue that seems to be missed by many (thus far), is that the real 'reward' that should primarily be based upon the outcome of a WZ is Valor. Valor is (or, at least, should be) indicative of either a player's experience, their success, or (more likely) a combination of the pair. Rewarding the winners of a WZ with dramatically higher Valor rewards makes far more sense than the system of basing the 'currency' rewards so heavily on the outcome.

To continue and proliferate the sports analogy, 1.2 really drops the ball when it comes to Valor. By removing Valor requirements from gear PvP progression has completely shifted from an experience-based progression (thinking of Valor as 'Warzone XP') to a currency-based progression (whomever can score the most Comms as fast as possible will always have the advantage). Looking at professional sports (to continue the comparison), most professional leagues have 'minor or developmental' leagues, wherein amateurs and prospects can hone their abilities before their 'call-up' to the majors. The system which had tiers of PvP gear, each gated by a specific Valor rank, provided a similar system of 'levels' of play, which (especially once Rated WZ's arrive) will serve to separate the average players from the truly elite. Re-instituting the Valor Rank requirements on PvP gear and tying a large portion of Valor rewards into the final result of a given WZ would far better serve to help organize the PvP community into its appropriate tiers when Rated WZ's finally make their appearance. While this would not, necessarily, benefit teams that are already suffering due to faction imbalance, lack of quality players (in general, especially PuGs), or simply a string of bad luck, it would, especially once Rated WZ's arrive, serve to ensure that teams end up matched against appropriate opponents and that the outcomes are decided by skill, rather than gear. Lowering the Valor threshold for acquiring certain tiers of gear, implementing additional tiers, or smoothing out the leveling curve for gaining Valor might all need to be considered (as grinding BM could prove frustrating, especially within the context of Rated WZ's), but there should still be some link between in-WZ experience and the gear to which a player has access.

Competition: For an example, let's take 2 teams that start in what we'll call the C-League (a league where all the players only have Recruit gear). Both teams enjoy regular success and start to gear themselves out, eventually, their team's players accumulate sufficient Valor to upgrade to BM gear, thus moving (likely by winning many more matches) into the B-League (teams of highly-skilled players in a mix of Recruit and BM gear, or teams with good players in full BM gear). In this new league, one team, consisting of somewhat more skilled and motivated players, continues to grow and develop its abilities, while the second team's abilities and performance start to plateau; in this case, the first team will continue to accrue wins and Valor, gaining access to WH gear (eventually) and making its push toward the A-League, while the second team will much more slowly accumulate Valor and will have about a 50/50 win/loss ratio. The first team will be able to kit out in WH gear sooner and start matching up against the best-of-the-best much sooner, but that is a good thing, as it is obvious that their abilities warrant their inclusion in competition against similarly-skilled players. The second team might spend 2-3 times as long in the B-League before they accumulate enough Valor and wins to move into WH gear, but during that time, they are gaining valuable experience, honing their tactics, and still having fun by being matched against quality opponents at or near their own skill level. In the end, both teams end up in the top tier, but both earned their way to the top, not by simply being lucky enough to play for the faction with the greater/more skilled population or by always steamrolling PuGs who cannot compete because of a borked rewards system.

Steamrolling PuGs shouldn't be the optimal way to earn Comms, credits, or XP, but, with the current system (especially with the bonus for 'quickly completing a WZ'), the simple fact is that steamrolling PuGs is exactly the optimal way to maximize your PvP rewards; and, ultimately, it begins to self-perpetuate, as those PuGs fall further and further behind in the 'gear race', the wins get easier and easier, and the rewards get greater and greater... At least, until those PuGs simply give up and stop playing...

As things stand now, I would say there are some general guidelines to minimize the pain of being on the losing side of a WZ:

Levels 10-49:
  • If you enter a Huttball match as a PuG and either A.) your team's average level is less than 25 or B.) the opposing team has a premade and your side has none, don't even bother playing the match, leave and re-queue, your time will be much better spent. Until 1.2, I would never have advocated quitting a match, even if outnumbered, but, with the reward system as it stands, it is simply a waste of time to play out a 6-0 beatdown and get nothing for it. This is even more applicable if you enter a Huttball in progress where the score is 3-0 or greater, get out ASAP, it's not worth your time.
  • If you are playing any of the other WZ's, there is always a way to, at least, get your 4 Medals (usually more), even in a losing effort you can at least do okay for yourself, and you are only doing yourself and your team a disservice by quitting.
  • If you are playing ACW, and the opposing team controls 2 turrets, leads by 100+ points and your teams score is at or near 100, the best thing for you to do is turtle at your team's turret and ensure that you get up to your 4 Medals (or add on the Defense Objective Medals), rather than allow your opponents to farm you for Valor, kills, and extra Medals.
  • Fight on the Turrets!

Level 50:
  • Much like in the 10-49's, if you are entering a Huttball as a PuG, if A.) your team has ZERO people on it in BM gear or B.) the opposing team has a premade and yours has none or C.) you enter a Huttball in progress at a 3-0 or greater deficit, you are much better off simply leaving the match and getting back in the queue, the pitiful rewards (if you are even able to get to 4 Medals) are simply not worth your time.
  • Again, like in the 10-49's, the ACW turtling at the end of a losing effort is the ideal way to ensure that you see at least some reward from the match.
  • If you are not in at least full BM gear, do not waste your Comms on WZ medpacs or adrenals. Their cost is absurd in comparison to the rewards that are being yielded, particularly if you are suffering a string of defeats. (Side note: I thought that Biochem was supposed to become a little less 'desirable' after 1.2, but with the new reward system and the increase in cost of WZ consumables, it is more valuable to a PvP player than ever! In fact, it is still the only viable profession for a dedicated PvP player. *sigh*)
  • For the love of Yoda, fight on the Turrets!


Is this a perfect fix? Probably not, but it would be a vast improvement over the current situation. Very quickly (in fact, queue times are already starting to climb), the number of people participating in PvP is going to dwindle, unless something changes. For sub-50 players, we might see people playing one or two matches a day, trying to get their Daily mission completed (and, if they are not able to do so within 1-3 matches, they likely will forgo attempting it for that day), until we only see pre-mades from whichever faction has the greater population, only playing same vs. same matches, and even those wouldn't be popping very often. Rather than being able to use PvP as 'an alternate means to level' (as it has been previously touted, and was, in fact, a viable alternative), it will become, at best, a means to once-a-day supplement your XP gain (if you're lucky enough to score a win).

For Level 50 players, until (and, perhaps, even after) Rated WZ's arrive, there is little incentive to simply be farmed over and over, enabling your opponents to get into their BM and WH gear twice as fast (or faster) than you are able, and we are already starting to see queue times climb due to both the sweeping changes to Expertise/gear (and the absurd decrease in TTK) and the inherent flaws of the current reward system.

I love the PvP in TOR... Well, I loved it, and I want to love it again, but whether I'm steamrolling or getting hammered, jumping in the queues, at the moment, just is not any fun, and something needs to change quickly, before we lose the PvP base for good. Bring back the slightly slower pace and tactical thinking, bring back the rewards for participating with a bonus for the victors, let's get back to a truly enjoyable PvP experience.

-BRJ
There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.
The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)

Kheeleb's Avatar


Kheeleb
04.15.2012 , 08:50 AM | #2
Well said, 100% sign

Hedge's Avatar


Hedge
04.15.2012 , 08:53 AM | #3
Probably the best post so far about the issue wich clearly affects a huge part of the pvp community.


/sign


p.s. Hope they don't delete / ignore this one.

Englishthug's Avatar


Englishthug
04.15.2012 , 09:04 AM | #4


/sign

Good post well written

treasG's Avatar


treasG
04.15.2012 , 09:17 AM | #5
I fully support this.

Anishor's Avatar


Anishor
04.15.2012 , 09:23 AM | #6
Time to Kill has seen a huge decrease not increase, but otherwise I agree 100%.
Nightlife, Ebon Hawk Server

Sranishor, Warden
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KorinHyvek's Avatar


KorinHyvek
04.15.2012 , 09:23 AM | #7
Nice, calm, and well thought out.


A welcome change from some of the chicken little antics going on.


I personally haven't really seen the faction imbalance yet, so I can't comment, but you certainly have pointed out some of the major potential pitfalls.

Ihazcrayon's Avatar


Ihazcrayon
04.15.2012 , 09:25 AM | #8
/sign

Lets keep this constructive!
Cap'n-Planet 50 Pyrotech Merc - The Crucible Pits, 50 Marksman Sniper, 50 Carnage Marauder, 50 Madness Assassin

Drudenfusz's Avatar


Drudenfusz
04.15.2012 , 09:45 AM | #9
I really hope BioWare is looking into this!
My Old Republic Warring is Magic
Lana Everhope - The Drudenfusz Legacy, Shadow Tank on The Red Eclipse
When you play the game of PvP, you win or you die.
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Aahren's Avatar


Aahren
04.15.2012 , 09:59 AM | #10
Very well done and thought out. I see a job at Bioware in your future, at least I'd like to see it.