Hardcore Casual has a great series on PvE Sandboxes in his blog. And The Noisy Rogue asks whether PvE Sandboxes are the way to go for the industry.
I sympathize with this idea. Open-PvP in MMORPGs is a lot of trouble. The reason is that there are three different versions of PvP.
- Immersive PvP: It just doesn’t make a lot of sense that you have a sword in your hand and can hit all kinds of stuff, but not the player in front of you. That doesn't mean that you attack the player in front of you. It just means that you could.
- Competitive PvP: Sports. From a simulation point of view, people die when you ‘kill’ them. But competitive PvP doesn’t look at it like this. Players don’t really die, but rather are defeated in a (hopefully) fair fight.
- Lunatic PvP: Players enter the world, see something attackable and attack it just because they feel like they are supposed to do it.
Now, I am a supporter of immersive PvP. I don’t think open-PvP is the correct environment for competitive PvP. And I don’t like lunatic PvP at all, but I see that it inevitably happens.
I remember some years ago when I had convinced a good friend to join me in WoW. The first Alliance player we met was attacked by him. Later I asked him “Why?”. And he was just like “He was Alliance. He was red. .. he might have attacked us. Isn’t it natural to attack your enemies”.
For this guy, who couldn’t hurt a fly in real life, it was completely natural to attack another player in a MMORPG, because he in no way considered himself to be in a virtual world. For him, it was a big Counter Strike map. Since there was no serious death penalty in any way there was no reason to not attack a player from the opposing faction. The fact that we outnumbered our enemy 2:1 was just a matter of luck.
So, the question is: Can we make a game with sufficient incentive to do immersive open-PvP only, force competitive PvP into in-game arenas, and eliminate lunatic PvP?
I’m not sure. The easiest fix would be to simply disallow open-PvP. Of course, this is a major hit to the simulation aspect.