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May 15 2014 -
Upcoming PvP Preview - Unjustified Kills
ust about one year ago, a new PvP rule set was released after an extensive preview phase. Back then, we already announced that these new rules for PvP are the foundation we need to work on future improvements.

Finally, we can now follow up on this! A new PvP related preview is in the pipeline and it will feature a redesigned unjustified kill system that builds on the PvP rule set that was implemented last year. This new system will mainly address how a character's participation in an unjustified kill is measured and evaluated.

In order to give you a first impression on what to expect of the preview and to provide some information on how the feedback about the new PvP rule set was incorporated, Tibia's lead product manager Craban and game designer Evonary met up with the community managers and answered a few questions players are likely to have about this topic.

To get started, can you give us a short summary of the unjustified kill system that awaits us in the upcoming preview phase? What will be changed and why?

Craban: Evonary will give the summary of what it does, so I will just name the main changes and why we do those.
The main change is that the punishment for unjustified PvP will be much more granular instead of either getting no punishment at all or getting a full unjustified kill. Basically, this means that we will measure the extent of participation similar to what happens in the new group participation thing on boss fights that came with last year's summer update. This new system will also guarantee that everyone who takes part in an attack in any way will get sanctioned for it, but the overall sum of sanctions will be limited to the value of 5 unjustified kills in total.
The second thing that will change is the handling of the new PvP modes. Instead of overwhelming everyone with all the settings at once, we will have a very reduced standard setting and all the specific options will be moved to an expert mode.

Evonary: I'd like to elaborate a bit on the main change Craban just mentioned. Right now, we have a system which counts only in full frags when you took part in killing someone in PvP, regardless of how much impact your actions had. For example, it's currently enough to deal only a little bit of damage to a victim and you will already get the same punishment as those players who do a lot more damage than you and kill the same victim off after your attack.
With the revised unjust system we want to change this into an individual and fair punishment as every action you take will be measured as a progression in your unjust level which shows you how close you are to getting a red or black skull. Different actions will have a different impact on your unjust level. Even the whole PvP situation itself will matter for this.
Furthermore, the new system will be similar to a 5 unjust system. We want to see if and how such a 5 unjust system contributes to PvP fights and how players will use it.

So what goals do you aim to achieve with this redesign of the unjustified kill system?

Craban: In short, it is supposed to be fairer, less prone to abuse, simpler to use, and in the end, we hope it will favour more spontaneous group PvP rather than force players to think about who can risk how many unjustified kills before actually going to battle.

Evonary: Exactly! This system takes into account what a killer has done and to which extent. At the same time we want this information to be readily available to the player. We hope this will lead to more spur-of-the-moment battles again.

And how does it tie in with the new PvP rule set that was released in June 2013?

Evonary: When we released the PvP rule set in 2013, we wanted to make PvP more transparent and provide players with the possibility to choose between different combat modes to react appropriately to specific PvP situations.
We were able to build on this PvP rule set then and developed the system further towards being fairer and easier to understand. One example for the transparency will be a display, which allows you to keep track of how close you are to getting a red or black skull and how long it will take to get rid of those skulls again.

Craban: So without the new PvP rule set as a basis, this redesign of the unjust kill system and further steps would actually not be possible. As mentioned earlier, this new update will rely on measuring participation and evaluating each kind of participation. Without the new rule set that came last year, our system would simply not be able to measure any participation except dealing damage, so it really was essential for being able to develop this preview.

Does it address the feedback we have been receiving about the new PvP rule set since its release? One of the main points of criticism is that it is too complex and complicated instead of being easy to understand and self-explaining. This was brought up as one of the reasons why it rather prevents dynamic and thrilling PvP action instead of encouraging it.

Craban: Yes, we have dedicated a good part of the design process to addressing this feedback. The new system will come with a preset where you only have one simple switch. The 4 + 2 options are still there, and we cannot remove them because each represents one way the PvP system in Tibia works, but we thought about it a lot and we think we can move them to an expert mode which only those who really are into PvP will need to use.

Evonary: That's right. We worked on this issue and came up with a new solution that will keep the possibility to react to a PvP situation exactly the way you want to but will still be simple at the same time. There will be an easy mode with the two most needed combinations of PvP settings only and an expert mode where you can find all PvP modes as you know them now.

Craban: The simple mode will basically just be the white hand mode and the only switch you get is secure mode on or off. This way everyone can defend himself and group members automatically, and if you want to attack someone, all you need to do is switch secure mode off and attack. The other modes are really for PvPers who want to perform sneak attacks on groups or hunt skulls on a larger scale. We do expect those players, who are so active in PvP that they do this, to be ready to learn and handle these 4 settings.

Evonary: To sum it up: The easy mode will be the way to go for players who just want some quick PvP action occasionally without having to know each combination of combat settings. In the expert mode you can just keep on using the modes as you do now; combining them as you like.

In the context of the new PvP rule set, players also voiced concerns and dissatisfaction about its lack of proper ways and means to challenge the dominance of ruling guilds or stand a chance against them. Can you relate to this criticism? Has it influenced the redesign of the unjust system somehow in order to tackle this problem?

Craban: Well, this is still very difficult to really assess. All restrictions of the new PvP rule set apply to everyone, so not only players who want to challenge dominant guilds cannot block or trap without getting skulled but the dominators too. The main issue that was pointed out is numbers. Usually, dominant guilds are dominant because they have a large amount of mid to high level members. That means that statistically, a smaller team that challenges them will be punished more through the 20 unjust system than a larger team: Those who start the fight get the sanctions, but with sanctions being limited to 20 characters per kill, teams with more members are less impacted than teams below the 20 member mark.

Evonary: Therefore, we want to provide players with a possibility to gather in adequately sized teams in order to strike down strong opponents without getting punished that heavily. So in the new unjust kill system, large groups of players won't be punished as hard as they are now for killing a victim. However, as Craban said, things always work in both ways so big ruling guilds will also get less punishment if they gather in a large group to hunt down another player. Nevertheless, we'd like to see if a "5 unjust" system will help this issue more than the current 20 unjust system does.

Back in June 2013, it was already announced that the new rule set is just a first step which was needed as a foundation to work on further PvP improvements such as redesigning the unjustified kill system. Why did it take until now to follow up on this plan?

Evonary: In June 2013, I had just joined the company, so first of all I needed to learn a lot about PvP and Tibia in general. Just some weeks later, when heavy DDoS attacks struck Tibia, many projects (and PvP was amongst them) had to be put on hold to focus on making the servers playable again.

Craban: Yes, the DDoS attacks and their aftermath in summer 2013 were really unfortunate both for the community and for us. After the release of the new PvP system and the summer update, we had already started working on the unjustified kill system when the DDoS attacks hit us. This kept key people in the team busy for nearly the rest of the year. Additionally, we had a lot of changes in the team since last summer and new people need a while to become ready and efficient. Two of the new key people were introduced recently to the community, Evonary being one of them, but there are quite a few new developers as well. Now, in 2014 a few months in, we are gaining traction again which finally enables us to also pick up topics such as PvP again.

Let's get back to the upcoming preview: What do you expect from preview phase?

Craban: A lot of feedback about the usability of the PvP system and, of course, about the effects of the new measuring of unjustified kills. It will take a while before we can see the actual effect because it is relevant for when you get a red skull, so it will take at least a month before a change in the overall PvP behaviour due to the new system can show a reliable tendency for the long term. So we expect that in the first weeks, the feedback will concentrate on the interface and options while later there will be more feedback and tuning of the actual impact PvP actions have on the unjust level.

Evonary: I don't expect a certain outcome of the preview phase. I'd like to see how the community reacts to this new system for unjustified kills and how it is displayed. I'm curious to hear what aspects will be liked or disliked and for what reason.

How can players give feedback during the preview? And what kind of feedback do you hope for?

Craban: We will have feedback threads again just like last year. Every feedback is welcome, including discussions about values and limits. We obviously hope for very constructive feedback on the mentioned areas, but we are open for all other comments as well.

Evonary: Yes, constructive feedback is the best way to help us detect and correct any flaws with this new system. We want to deliver an improved PvP system and we will need your feedback in order to live up to this task. So please give it a shot and test it out. Compare the new system with the PvP system we currently have and try to write down exactly why you like and dislike certain aspects about it.

A little side question: There are many players who have been urging CipSoft for years to go back to the old "2 unjust" system. Why has this request or the proposal to try it out as a test been rejected?

Craban: We understand why this request is there. Actually, this system is supposed to bring that part of the "2 unjust" system back that is the reason for this request. We did not go back to that system because even though we know what was good about it, it also had some major flaws that we are not ready to bring back. Instead, with this new unjust system, we aim to provide something that gives you what was there back then but still eliminates the major flaws it had.
The good thing was that people could just go out and fight without having to think much about how many unjustified kills they would risk. The 2 unjusts somehow distributed between the team over several kills so it did not really limit them. The flaw was that those who did not get one of the 2 unjusts got no sanction at all.
At the moment, one killed enemy can cost the attackers up to 20 unjustified kills. This means that killing a high level gets punished much stronger than a low level because you need many attackers to do it. In the new system, the maximum is 5 unjustified kills as I mentioned earlier, also if you come with 100 characters to kill that level 400 knight. Those 5 unjustified kills, however, will be distributed over all attackers, even if it were 100 of them. This way, a group does not have to think about the unjustified kills count, but we still have the guarantee that no one gets away without punishment. We think that this is the best of both worlds, the "2 unjusts" and the "20 unjusts".

So is the new unjust kill system an attempt to find a common ground between players who liked the 2 unjust system and those who disliked it?

Craban: Yes, it is meant as the best compromise between supporters and opponents of the 2 unjust system. We hope that it will unite just the things that each group likes in the system they support, the freedom of the "2 unjusts" and the abuse security of the "20 unjusts".

Do you plan to go through with this new system no matter how it will be received by the community?

Craban: We will consider criticism, of course, and we are also open to change the system or not release it if it really does not work. However, we are convinced that it will not be rejected by the entire community. There will always be groups that like it and others that don't. This was also the case last year. This preview will address a lot of the criticism towards the new PvP rule set, so we expect that it will actually be received more positively than the release last year.

Evonary: I can only emphasize what Craban said: We always have to see the whole lot of our players and their opinions. Based on all this we must decide if we go on with this update and what changes will be made. Therefore I'd like to encourage players again to make sure to write us why they like or dislike certain aspects so we can relate better to their views.

What do you think, Tibians? Are your curious about the upcoming preview? Are you interested in giving this new system a try? Share your opinion with us in the feedback thread! We will provide further information about the preview as soon as we get new details to share!

Stay tuned!
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