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Oct 20, 2003



In essence, we've scrubbed the evil out of the worlds because there's a fine line between "roleplaying evil" and "being a jerk", and sorting out the difference takes too much CS time. And in the end, it doesn't matter if you're pissing off my other customers because you're a jerk, or just an evil roleplayer that is too hip for the room.



Mr. Rickey, that is the clearest, most concise explanation I've ever read regarding the absence of "meaningful" evil options in MMORPGs.

I do think the DAoC Realms-type model deserves further development/research for any designer that wants to allow players to play evil or villianous characters, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere because I've never met a newbie that enjoyed the roleplay value of being killed (usually more than once, and how do you roleplay that?) by some gloating, private-chat-using "evil" character.

Excellent turn of phrase, though.


The realms model is probably the only workable approach to having a game where groups/races are inherently hostile to each other.

Could it be defined a little more selectively perhaps? If you want to choose an evil character you would become a member of a "realm" of sorts, but one defined by characteristics rather than territory? Just a thought.


The Realms-type model allows for a distinction between evil which is internal to the community and evil that is external to the community. Developers understand that community is a wonderful force for retaining customers. It seems to me that internal evil is always bad for community, however, external evil can actually help a community grow stronger. So you end up with a sort of team-play concept where evil is defined as that which is against your team. When you have retention in mind, this is about the best you can do in supporting evil play.

Interestingly, it seems to me that the effect that evil "role-play" can have on a virtual community lends further support to the concept that virtual communities are Real Social Constructs and MOGs cannot be just games. It also seems to confirm for me that play, especially in a social setting, has the ability to reach out into the real world no matter how much we might wish that games were insular spaces.



Evil role-play within a "community" just doesn't work. In the face-to-face roleplay in which I've participated, not long after there's intraparty "evil," the group fragments. I mean the real life gathering fragments. I'm not saying the "evil" causes it. It may be symptomatic of other things already present, and the "evil" episode is just one outward manifestation.

On the other hand, external evil works pretty well. It might be interesting to have a group that specializes in being "the bad guys" for MOGs, literally for hire. Their job would be to NOT join the community, to remain alien, and act as the opforce, one which the "real" community has sanction and cause to hunt down and kill (or hate and try to kill).

I think it would take a group working together because otherwise the psychic pressure (with no "support network") is a bit wearing. You need someone to share your "successes" and failures with, and doing that with the "real" community would make you un-alien.

I actually made a stab at this years ago in a GEnie game. I don't have the stamina for evil, I found out. It's hard being hated. And I was only role-playing, not actively causing trouble.

I suspect the problem is that those who enjoy it tend to be uncontrolable, and an opforce like I mention needs limits of SOME sort, self-imposed or otherwise, or they become a little too evil and become disruptive of the game in a negative way. They should stir things up, yes, but not tear things apart.

Well done, or even pretty well done, it adds a whole lot to the games. It's not something that should be left to the players, though. It should be handled as a real job from which one can be fired for stepping outside whatever are decided to be the bounds... or for getting to friendly with the real players and not doing the job.

Some companies have put their own people in this role, and I think that has had, at best, mixed results. I think it pulls those attempting it in too many directions for them to be truly effective. It needs real outsiders. And it should be a limited-time engagement of some sort, either X weeks or months, or for an event that will run until the players accomplish Y objective banishing the opforce permanently (adds a bit of history too).


I felt that SUllon Zek, EverQuest's alignment-based PvP server, missed a great opportunity to innovate. The server had Good, Evil, and Neutral teams, and somewhat predictably was immediately taken over by Evils. It made sense. PvPers seem to like the symbology of evil alignment, so, most of the hardcore PvP population went Evil. What we did not learn, but what would have been fascinating, is whether the people attracted to Evil symbology are equally comfortable with asocial behavior. The opportunity to explore this was lost when all three teams were given the same PvP rules: you can attack anyone not on your team, but no one on your team. So, Evils could not attack Evils; they could be Evil but not evil. It would have been very interesting if:
Evil could attack anyone.
Good could attack only non-good.
Neutral could attack anyone, but an attack on Neutral or Good turned the player Evil, and an attack on Evil turned the player Good.

Under those terms, people whose personalities pushed them to Evil, Neutral, or Good would have lived within a social group that roughly matches their inclinations. And we could have seen whether the freedom of action that goes with being Evil compensates for the chaos that evil action entails. Oh well.


Evil still wins, in the end. Siege Perilous in UO did Good vs. Evil in much the way you described, the problem was that ultimately power came from wealth, and the only source of major wealth on SP was the dungeons (NPC's would not buy anything, only sell).

Evil guilds could take over dungeons and keep them for themselves, killing anyone who came in (including other evil characters), Good guilds couldn't kill other Good players who came in while they controlled the dungeons. So Good diluted the wealth from the dungeons across all of the Good players, while Evil concentrated it in the hands of the most powerful and ruthless. The result was that the more powerful Evil guilds could simply beat any and all Good guilds on the servers independantly through their ability to spend more money (which was critical to building up Magery skill and making Greater Explosion potions, among other things).

With how loot-centric EQ was and is, I suspect the results would have worked out about the same.



Fascinating. Certain political theories would argue that granting good players a hard-coded solution to the State-of-Nature problem would make them much better off in terms of resource growth. But we see that, in practice, strategically-placed cartels are even better. Society is ruled by the strongest club, I guess, and in a world with resource chokepoints, the freedom of action of a chaotic club dominates, in resource-acquisition terms, the fact that the chaotic club also has a problem of maintaining internal peace.


Edward> "Certain political theories would argue that granting good players a hard-coded solution to the State-of-Nature problem would make them much better off in terms of resource growth."

I've only a vague notion of what you just said there, but I'm intensely interested. If you would take the time to help me understand, I'd really appreciate it. What political theories? What sort of hard-coded solution? What is the State-of-Nature problem?

Edward> "Society is ruled by the strongest club, I guess, and in a world with resource chokepoints, the freedom of action of a chaotic club dominates, in resource-acquisition terms, the fact that the chaotic club also has a problem of maintaining internal peace."

Here, I think I understand a bit more what you are saying. However, I think you have to be very careful about making such conclusions based on occurences in virtual worlds. In my experience, small changes in the design of the virtual world can have rather large and sometimes unpredictable effects on the social atmosphere. I think Dave hints at this when he talks about dungeons being the only source of real wealth on Seige Perilous. For me, the fascinating part of his post is the notion that even seemingly innocuous design decisions like this one can have such a profound effect on the social fabric of the virtual space.

Even inside MUD-dev or other virtual world design forums, it is not uncommon to hear someone dismiss the viability of a certain mechanic based on its "failure" in a previous implementation. For instance, you'll hear people make the claim that Sullon Zek's mediocre reception proves that players prefer a non-PvP space. But the designers who've been around a bit understand that you cannot really isolate a single game mechanic in this manner. The design works or fails as a whole. I would argue that this makes it just as difficult to make comparisons between a virtual world and the real world as it does to make comparisons between two different virtual world designs.



You can't roleplay evil.

At least, not evil as I define it. When people think of evil, especially in terms of video games, books, and movies, we immediately picture the conniving villain whose dastardly plots to take over the world must be thwarted by the good guys. This romantic view of the Devil speaking eloquently to the end makes wonderful literature. It isn't very accurate, however.

C.S. Lewis had it right in Voyage to Venus where he characterized true evil as petty. The avatar set on auto-follow macroing "u suk" is the real evil of online worlds. An evil, chaotic, group, will not fight "fairly". Mind you, nor will the "good" group as soon as open war is declared. This is why even evil players become disgusted at the "gankfests" that PvP shards turn into.

What I think we all want are _antagonists_. Any fellow online player which is going to work to undermine my own work must be part of a social contract in which we have agreed to this combat. The combat must also be limitted by that ethereal concept of "sportsmanship" - namely both players should keep in mind that it has to be fun for both players. This requires a meta-level of respect on both sides.

Consider a game of D&D where, after 10 gaming sessions, one player suddenly reveals that he has been playing a chaotic evil character which has just been trying to trick the party into trusting him. He promptly backstabs and kills off the rest of the party before they can react. I don't think the other players will be impressed. On the other hand, consider a game of Paranoia, where one knows ahead of time that everyone is planning on betraying everyone else. In this game, such a move would be understood and respected.

This is why I'm not sure about the need to have the alien be the enemy. I think it is more fun for all involved to have MORE communication with the enemy, not less. The players should be able to create consequences and play them. If two player organizations wish to battle, they should be able to determine the battle site, put the stakes up in a secure location (say, "The loser has the tag: "Lost to ..." above their head for a week") and a set time and place fight to the victory.

From the sounds of it, this is similar to what the SWG battlefield system is working towards. MMORPG battles, unless tightly constrained, end up being battles of attrition. And those tend to be considered un-fun. What people want are not realistic battles over resources. They want epic decisive battles that match those in fantasy novels.

- Brask Mumei


I question equating evil and chaos. Such controlling guilds on SP were very well organized. Indeed, in EQ, the organized are often characterized as "evil" by the unorganized.

Phin: "Even inside MUD-dev or other virtual world design forums, it is not uncommon to hear someone dismiss the viability of a certain mechanic based on its 'failure' in a previous implementation. For instance, you'll hear people make the claim that Sullon Zek's mediocre reception proves that players prefer a non-PvP space. But the designers who've been around a bit understand that you cannot really isolate a single game mechanic in this manner."

I remember one prominent developer offering as proof of failure of concept of instantiated content-- without addressing implementation-- AO's instantiated missions.



Mr. Castronova said:
"It would have been very interesting if:
Evil could attack anyone.
Good could attack only non-good.
Neutral could attack anyone, but an attack on Neutral or Good turned the player Evil, and an attack on Evil turned the player Good."

Personally, I think this is a good start, but not complex or flexible enough and doesn't take the usual definition (or rather the classic D&D definition) of "Neutral" into account.

Yes, Evil can attack anyone.
Yes, Good can not attack good.
But Neutral is the wildcard.
If the VW is currently leaning towards Evil having the upper hand, a Neutral character would want to restore balance, and thus would be able to attack Evil until, and only until, balance began to tip towards good, at which point, they'd be required to sever their previous alliances with Good and attempt to form alliances with Evil.

This, I think, would make for some extremely interesting gameplay while also giving alignment more importance than simply "where can I sell stuff?". The Balance of Power calculations wouldn't really need to be real-time, as Balance of Power and wars and such are not things that change in "real time". Effects lag Causes, so your server wouldn't be bogged down by constantly recalculating Balance every n seconds.

And you would actually have a reason for town criers, news, politics, etc. in game instead of just as a crutch for pregenerated quests.

I'm imagining a hybrid of DAoC's realm system and the countless "safe till level X" mud systems, where there is _some_ geographic border protecting newbies and most tradesmen and _some_ demographic border protecting newbies, but not to the separation level of DAoC. And with dynamic alliance rules based on the current(as of yesterday or so) Balance of Power for the world.

Very interesting stuff.


Valid point, that evil need not be chaotic. Witness totalitarian regimes all over the world and all through history. Individual liberty is generally defined as "good", yes the more strictly organized the society, the less freedom.

Nobody considers themselves evil. Some people don't like themselves, and some peopel are ashamed of themselves. But persons who embark on a specific campaign to dominate-acquire-defend-manipulate people places and things don't lack for self-justification.


This discussion takes me back to my days of playing and admining MUDs. I played EmlenMUDs and Sojourn MUDs, and I helped to run an EmlenMUD for a few years. I agree with Edward's idea that there should essentially be a special alignment called "evil" and PvP combat or stealing or raiding can only commence if at least one of the sides involved is "evil". I also agree with Dave's observation that the evil players will tend to win in the end because they're better at exploiting the game. And I think DuckiLama's "safe zones" approach is good, and I've seen it work well on small MUDs.

The MUDs that I've played and adminned tried to deal with pkill in many ways, and I've personally witnessed the "evil takeover" as a player and an admin. The basic strategy I've seen to solve this is:

Don't be fair.

What I mean by this is that you make the evil players miserable and you make the good players have an easy time of it. Pkill gets interesting when there's a small hardcore bunch of evil players in a world filled with many times their number of good players.

The evils get a challenge since they will usually be outnumbered and outgunned in any encounter, but if they're good and lucky, they can get some killing in. (At least that's how I viewed it when I was a player.) OTOH, the good players have safety in numbers and they know that they might die, but probably they will win given enough time since the evils won't be able to stand against a concerted attack. And the good players know that they will have an easier time getting back to full strength if they die.

Some of the things you can do to not be fair:

* Give the evils some horribly difficult or tedious quest/trial that they have to endure all alone before they can play with everyone else. I did this by making a maze filled with aggressive creatures that people randomly teleported into and had to get out of alone. Not fun. This will weed out most of the players without patience or who can't learn to tackle problems by themselves. It also gives the players who did make it out a good way of filtering newbies since if those newbies complain, they can be told to go to the other side.

* Give the good players more safe areas and better safe areas. The evil players may get one small outpost with bad shops in it and no monsters to kill in safety, while the good players may get a couple of full-fledged cities with lots of shops and quests, and several smaller outposts near good zones.

* Give the good players better exp/eq/quest areas near their safe areas. When you make the world, put most of the really rich areas near the good homelands. This forces the evil players to travel far away from their home turf to get the good stuff. This not only goes for the power of the equipment that the players get, but also how likely it is to drop and how difficult the monsters are for a given reward.

* Give the good players completely safe areas to start leveling as newbies inside of their home cities. If your home cities are raidable, then put these areas behind some absolutely safe blocker like a portal of some sort. (As opposed to the evil trial at the start.)

* Make the evil death penalty greater than the good death penalty. This could be done in many ways, but it shouldn't be a permanent penalty that can never be recovered. Just make the evil players work more to get back to where they were when they died.

* Give the good players some kind of "storage locker" where they can keep backup equipment if they die, and don't let the evil players have one.

There should also be rich zones in neutral areas, but the expectation is that when good players go there, they will have greater numbers that will give them more of a chance in any encounter with evils. And, you may even convince some people who hate pkill that it isn't so bad, if they aren't ganked with one hit constantly and repeatedly.

Also don't let the alignments mix or interact in any way so that you don't get evil players working with good players to get other good players killed. It will still happen, but you want the good players to be able to trust each other. The key is that the good players get to have a zone of safety and a web of other people who won't and can't screw them over and the evil players should be given the freedom to do what they want.

And if people complain about their side, you tell them to reroll and go to the other side. :)


PS: If you do this, make the penalties/bonuses much larger than you're probably thinking right now. The evil players will overcome just about any disadvantage you throw at them.


The political theories I talked about propose that government arises from a need for order. Order is in everyone's self-interest - see Ellickson, Order Without Law. The problem is in getting everyone to stick to the overall agreement, especially as population size rises. It is claimed that that is THE problem. Once solved, the orderly society does better off - it accumulates resources faster because nothing is wasted in endless internal warring and theft. Hence, a Good Team with its PvP flag off internally has this Order problem solved by code - at absolutely no expense. The theory says it should then do better. Meanwhile, the hapless Evils are alleged to be wasting their time and resources in internal conflict, or to have to allocate resources to maintaining order the old-fashioned way, the heavy hand. Good should have an advantage.

That's the theory, anyway. Ellickson is a good contemporary read, but the founder of all this is Hobbes' Leviathan. Then there's Mancur Olson and James Buchanan (who I think is behind the idea that government is a stationary group of thugs - having settled down from being a roving band of thugs.)


The comments to this are far better than the original post -- seems to be a pattern around here. I don't have time for in-depth replies -- and I doubt I could add much anyway. I just wanted to say that John's explanation of how to properly design "evil" in a MUD so that it "works" socially has got to be the most mind-bending thing I have read in a long while -- and I mean that in a good way.


A lot of John's list have been implemented in the past. For some reason, though, the trend is towards fairness. Different realms instead of good and evil. It's probably multi-cultural think in action.

EVE implements some of this in the way it handles pirates and piracy. The "good," but opposing "realm" teams can declare formal wars. This puts them on their own as far as the coded authorities go. But attacking others outside that framework lowers your security rating which once negative enoough gets you ganked by pretty massive NPC forces in any sector that is patrolled.

EVE also has very safe areas and very unsafe areas, and a gradual shift between (usually, not always).

The problem with John's ideas, well, it isn't really with his ideas, it's with making the whole system tight enough that players can't find ways around it. He tosses in some caveats, but those are easy to say and very hard to enforce (even with code) without undermining the social (or anti-social) aspects of the game. It's especially tough when the more "serious" players run multiple accounts, sometimes on multiple computers at the same time. One can be "good", the other "evil," and thus they have their own totally trustworthy spy... or worse.

The distinction between "evil" and "antogonists" is a good one. I'm not sure we want evil in the game. We do want smart, hard-to-beat opposition.

Evil is too... annoying.


To back up John Arras' comments, allow me to supply a bit of observation.

Meridian 59 has a "flag" system as consequence for PvP. Everyone starts as an innocent. Attack an innocent and you become an outlaw. If you murderer an innocent, you become a murderer. Any innocent can attack an outlaw or murderer without penalty. An outlaw can become an innocent again by dying once; a murderer stays a murderer until pardoned by a player-elected Justicar.

Murderers have enhanced penalties. They cannot normally buy from most merchants if there are other innocents around. They take twice the death penalty of an innocent if they die. Murderers also lose their membership in political factions (and the game bonuses associated with this) if they attack an innocent in their faction; innocents have no such restrictions when bringing an outlaw or murderer to justice via death.

This isn't a perfect recreation of John's scenarios, but the basics are there. In short, this system has curbed most of the truly dispicable killing that plagued Meridian 59 in the past. Newbie killers generally get hunted down quickly and will lose massive amounts of their character by death penalties. A murderer will have to win fights in a ratio of 2:1 compared to other people in order to maintain status quo, assuming 1-on-1 fights.

There are also scenarios that allow players to opt-in and kill other players who have opted-in without incurrring penalty. These systems are based on consent of both parties.

Interstingly enough, this whole system has lead to some backlash. Some players feel that this system "hinders all PvP"; since PvP is one of the main focuses of the game, they feel it has weakened the game. Without delving too far into reasoning and motivations, it seems a good share of people enjoy the "wild" aspects of unrestricted PvP. These people will constantly complain about the level of penalties inflicted upon "red" (the color of a murderer's name) penalties, citing them as too harsh. I think this is very interesting, since becoming a murderer is a decision made by the player; they know the penalties are harsh, but expect the world to change to meet their desires instead of changing their actions to meet the facts of the game world.

Overall I think the system is a success, even if it creates a majority of the complaints about the game. It's a constant feature to see someone complaining about how unfair and unduly harsh the penalties for being a murderer are.

The Justicar position I mentioned above throws an interesting twist onto this. Players vote to elect a Justicar; this Justicar can remove 8 "levels" per term; one "level" turns a murderer into an outlaw or an outlaw into an innocent. This means that if your actions that caused you to become a murderer are acceptable to the Justicar, you can remove the taint from your character. Of course, there are continuous threats against a Justicar by the rough-and-tumble crowd, as well as constant accusations of favortism by the innocents that were previously harmed. An interesting case of player justice allowing "evil" to be redeemed.

Some more info,


"Remember, the villian is the hero of his own story."


Dan Scheltema wrote:

The problem with John's ideas, well, it isn't really with his ideas, it's with making the whole system tight enough that players can't find ways around it. He tosses in some caveats, but those are easy to say and very hard to enforce (even with code) without undermining the social (or anti-social) aspects of the game. It's especially tough when the more "serious" players run multiple accounts, sometimes on multiple computers at the same time. One can be "good", the other "evil," and thus they have their own totally trustworthy spy... or worse.

Yes, this is a huge problem. The way in which people have tried to solve this is to disallow interaction between players in opposing kingdoms. Effectively, they can only fight when they meet. They also shouldn't be able to give each opposite alignment people items, since that can be used for cheating in many ways. Players are generally not allowed to switch sides without starting over. Also, players aren't allowed to sell/give away characters and this should be enforced with CD keys and credit cards and IP addresses and such. I've found that the game feels like "your team" vs "those other people" and you just learn that you socialize and interact with your own side, and you interact with the other side with the pointy end of your sword. Think of it as having two totally different MMO's that just happen to reside on the same server and share some data back and forth.

And then there's the multiple character/cheating/spying problem. This is impossible to correct, but you can make casual spying harder to do. You tell people that they can only have one character, even if they're willing to pay for multiple accounts on multiple CD's bought at the store. You try to enforce this by linking characters to CD keys and credit cards and IP addresses and analyzing when opposite aligned characters log in/log out in patterns. You also check play patterns. If a character keeps logging in and never talks or does anything, then logs out quickly, then you may have a cheater there. You can also force people to type their character name and password in every time they log in. They will be able to automate it, but at least you can try to catch people making mistakes. You won't stop all cheating but I think a lot can be done on this front. My big concern about this is that you have to invade peoples' privacy to figure out if they're cheating or not, but I don't see how else to do it. On the MUD I helped to run, we only disallowed free emails and did logging of IP addresses for opp aligned characters to stop spying. Anecdote: I caught a cheater once who used 2 IP addresses to log in opp align chars from, but one time he logged a character in from the wrong IP. Oops. :)

And then finally, you have staff members who play the game secretly and watch for people cheating if they know things that they shouldn't know.


And why is spying bad? A rogue, or secret agent, or certainly a professional assassin needs to be able to obtain clandestine information to carry out their missions. Rather than trying (hopelessly) to stop people from exchanging information in the real world through multiple characters, or out-of-game chat sessions, how about rigging the rules so that everyone knows a spy *might* be able to find out your information?


I read Brian's post on the M59 PvP/justice system, and I've thought about how I would implement something like that, but I still don't trust players enough to believe in systems like that. The problem as I see it is that it's possible for a player or a group of players to "go postal" and ruin the game for everyone else. I think there need to be strong protections or the system will eventually fail.

Most people say that they don't like pkill, yet competition against other people is fun. People don't say that they go online to play chess vs. a computer because playing people isn't fun. I know the whole "pkill done right" debate is old, but I'll flog this equine one more time. There are good and bad things about pkill and things that I think should and and should not be done in the name of pkill.

Good: Knowing you have allies. Being able to trust those allies. Knowing that those allies won't be able to turn on you. Note that this is not the same as "Knowing that those allies won't turn on you." Starting in a perfectly safe place. Knowing that you can choose your level of danger based on how far you venture into the world. Knowing that you don't always have to put yourself into great danger to "succeed" in the game. Knowing that combat isn't fast. Players should have lots of hps and do low damage, and monsters should have lower hps and higher damage. Knowing that PvP combat isn't all player based. Twitch is bad in a MUD. Knowing that your character skill and preparation and slogging along the treadmill counts for something. Knowing that the number of people who will attack you is fairly low. Knowing that you can choose to put yourself into a situation where you can be pkilled.

Bad: Unrestricted pkill. (If people want this, tell them to go play an FPS. :)) Allowing people to turn on you. Even if they get some kind of "penalty" for doing so. (This destroys trust. In a team-based game you have to learn what it's like to be able to trust teammates.) Fast instant-kill or twitch combat. Combat where player skill and speed plays the biggest role. (Powergamers/pkillers/griefers will be better at the twitch game. They will also get the first strike in since they're hunting. Also, they'll cheat. Make this a less attractive option.) Always being in great danger of being pkilled. (People need places to restore themselves and regenerate in peace.)

Player-run justice systems have what I think is a serious flaw: allies can attack you. It's too easy for a group to ruin a game if they feel like leaving anyway. And most people don't like pkill, but many people seem to think it's pkill or no pkill and that's it. This will sound mean, but I liken player dynamics in good pkill MUDs to a large herd of sheep and a small pack of wolves. You have a very large pack of sheep relative to the wolves, or the wolves will kill all the sheep and starve, and the sheep will quit since dying all of the time sucks. The sheep need to be able to trust each other and band together for protection. I imagine several sheep could kill a wolf if they chose to. The sheep need to be sure that the other sheep aren't going to turn into wolves overnight and slaughter the herd from the inside. Even if those bad sheep get branded as "black sheep" and they have to go join the wolves. They need to be sure that they have pastures where they can go and graze in relative peace. And, they need to have a low chance of being killed by a wolf at any given time or they will live in fear and they may jump off a cliff since it isn't fun anymore. If the sheep have protection and the wolves can't hassle any one of them too often, then the sheep should be able to tolerate the wolves and the wolves should have a steady supply of sheep to go and kill. And the sheep can always decide to put an end to the wolves by actually working together to destroy the wolves. The best part is that many sheep turn into wolves after they've gotten a taste of wolf blood. :)



I'm going to have to somewhat disagree with you, John. My personal experience doesn't agree with what you've written.

First, having an ally that cannot turn on you does not necessarily build trust. It can help build trust faster, but it doesn't guarantee it. Some of the biggest griefers I've ever met online were in my own realm in DAoC. Just because they couldn't kill me doesn't mean they couldn't hinder me through other actions such as kill stealing, ninja looting, etc. In reality, I found it just as easy to build trust between people in an open PvP system like Meridian 59's system. It was based off of mutual trust that we could accomplish more together than separately.

I also disagree that all twitch in PvP is bad. Again, Meridian 59 offers a bit of twitch combat which adds some depth to the combat. The more active combat allows for additional strategies and more variables. A lot of M59 players think this places the PvP ahead of other games. This element of twitch also provides a balancing factor; a mid-power character can defeat a high-power character if they have enough skill. It prevents the "catass" syndrome that many people complain about where the people who are able to dedicate the most time to the game will always be the winners. It allows for another input into the equation to see who will win in an encounter.

Finally, I don't think the game has to explicitly provide safe areas for players. Knowledge of the game can help players find places to go that are not as well travelled as other places. These hidden locations can allow people to rebuild away from the great danger of being killed by others (but allowing you to still be hunted down by enemies). The problem you have here is that any safe areas you allow the "good" people to rebuild in are also safe areas that griefers can go to taunt their recent victims. This is the problem with most issues with PvP; anything that allows a person to get an upper hand can be used by the griefers to gain the same upper hand. Many times they are more ruthless about exploiting such features, too, for maximum benefit.

These aren't easy issues. If they were, people would have figured out the solution already. :) The more time I spend working on a PvP game, the more I think there isn't a magic bullet to solve all PvP problems. I really think you have to focus on "niche" solutions that appeal to an audience that will like it.

My opinion,


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