As a member of both Going After Your Sons and WM, I'd appreciate it if you didn't bring sexual innuedos in that pirate iroleplaying speech crap to my guild thread. Take that crap back to yours and stop verbally defecating on this guild page.
Area of Effect abilities are probably one of the most over-looked aspects of a crappy PvP system. Why?
1: They are inherently high-reward low risk.
a] If you use one and hit one target, in most games, they generally still do damage comparable to a normal attack. There is a moderate to small efficiency loss. This is not a huge deal. At worst, the ability has a cool down, and you've simply wasted the chance to do even more damage.
b] If you use one and hit many targets, in most games, their net damage is generally higher than every other non-AoE in the game. This creates a need to spam them, indefinitely, in any large fight, and completely waters down the fight. At worst, there's a cool down. The more AoEs, and the less cooldowns, the better!
2: They weaken positional requirements.
a] Find a big clump of players, and mash the AoE button. That's your end all for "highest possible DPS". Sure, there can be some requirements on doing it better, and some players will certainly learn the quirks and be better at it, but it's still quite a low glass ceiling.
b] They are inevitable. No matter how well you position, some AoE stun, snare, root, bomb, explosion, or whatever, is capable of hitting you just for being on the battlefield. The ability to position yourself in a very strong spot, which is arguably the "most difficult" aspect of any game, is strongly reduced just by the mere presence of many powerful AoEs in a game.
c] But they punish poor positioning! (Stacking, grouping up, etc). This is mostly a moot point, as in any larger fight, there will be many people, all over the screen, no matter what. Having tightly grouped players is inevitable, and doesn't change with AoEs there or not. Instead....
3: They create an arms race.
a] Well, now you have to account for characters always taking persistent damage, being consistently controlled, and in a constant state of "negative". The only way to balance this is start handing out more tools to players, JUST so they can survive "being there". More group heals, more group buffs, more group heal over times, more escape buttons, more "save me" cooldowns. I mean, if you don't get these tools, you get demolished just for standing in the back somewhere!
b] Now you've got a positive feedback loop. Once an arms race starts, it generally doesn't stop. It seeps into other aspects of the game. What about all these "save me" cooldowns in 1v1s? What about increased mobility to move around the battlefield, to deal with all the aoe slows being tossed around? What happens in a 10v10 with a system like that? It gets silly, is what happens. Tactics and strategy become insignificant on the battlefield.
4: There's a lot of evidence about this stuff.
a] WoW GvG, is, uh. Yea. I played it for a bit, was a rank 1 gladiator, and I'll say first hand - every large fight was just stand still and spam AoE heal or damage. There was no reason to do anything else. Kiting was crappy, and the game had to be made into a strict 3v3 game to be playable.
b] Shadowbane! WoW is pve crap. Great. Shadowbane was dominated by casters, early on, and it also sucked. The only godsend was when people started to realize how strong meat was due to some poor balancing decisions. I believe this kept the game alive past the mass exodus of 2004/2005. Meat fights were FUN. Positioning was monumental in your ability to live, or die, and skilled guilds rose to the top. Most casters were simply not fun to play, at a high level, because toolsets were so based around AoE power.
c] Darkfall too. It started kind of fun, despite a lot of issues. It quickly devolved into "whoever grinded the hardest to train aoes", and large fights were just people standing far away and spamming AoEs. It may have changed eventually - I don't know, but there's lots of videos of people spamming large-radius aoes all fight long.
d] Warhammer, SWG, and so on - mass aoe knockdowns/knockbacks and stuff. Some of these games had nigh unplayable GvG.
5: The solution? AoEs have to be seriously considered before being thrown in. How do you make them really stupid to use at the wrong time? How do you up positioning requirements? How do you not make them not always the best thing to use with a 100 people on the screen?
a] Make them rare.
b] Don't be afraid to have very short range spells. Things that you can't just spam from afar.
c] Super high cost, or long cool downs, to match the math. Most games fail at this. They are often 10s of times more superior if executed properly (mathematically speaking).
d] Don't be afraid to make them very tight radius, or have delayed explosions. Game design creativeness is important.
e] Above all, just be aware of HOW MUCH they can change/ruin a game.