Open World PvP and the Psychology of a Carebear



Note: This isn’t an article meant to argue there shouldn’t be open world PvP, or that PvPers are bad people. 😉

ArcheAge has opened up a can in the MMO community, being the spark of many PvP/Anti-PvP conversations. This seems to be because there are a number of folks who want the kind of sandbox AA is, but they don’t want the PvP that comes with the sand. I completely understand this, because I am in the same camp. I don’t, however, let that sully my fun and prevent me from taking part in the AA experience.

I openly state that I’m an anti open world PvP player. I wear my carebear cloak without shame. I don’t live by the creed “Red is Dead,” and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to engage in battle with reds who creep into the East over the past week. But I won’t.

That’s always just the way it’s been for me. But I never really questioned why until I read the article at Gaming ConjectureWhat’s So Bad About Open World PvP?

I decided to write a bit about the experiences and psychology that go into creating a player who doesn’t enjoy open world PvP.

The Defense

This article states that there’s really no substantial loss to being killed in AA open world PVP. Well, nothing but your pride.

…Getting killed in a PvP encounter in Archeage offers no consequences for the loser unless they are on a trade run, in which case you lose your trade pack and the resources involved in obtaining that, and losing a boat to pirates whilst sailing effectively amounts to a repair bill.  This is in stark contrast to a game like Eve where every defeat means a lost ship and flying home in your pod.

The article ArcheAge – PvE After Level 30 on Endgame Viable  echoes this sentiment.

Let me reiterate that unless you’re carrying a trade pack, there is absolutely no reason to fear death in ArcheAge. Particularly a PvP death, because you lose no experience or even health. All you have to do is run back to where you died. Or run somewhere else. Exactly the same as if a PvE mob killed you.

Now, neither of these statements make me want to rush out there and start spraying the blood of the  enemy faction all over the place. But they do speak the truth – the risk of loss when PKed in AA is low, especially compared to other PVP oriented games.

The Question

Gaming Conjecture takes it a step further and asks the question that nudged me to write this article.

So, what exactly are people worried about with regard to Archeage? Having to walk from the respawn point?

I sometimes feel that what’s partly at play here is a sense that the people who kill you are doing so to spite you in some way. That you are the butt of someone else’s joke. A figure of fun for them. I may be totally off the mark here, but I sense that some seem to think that PvPers who gank people are not nice people, that they are people who are looking to ruin your evening. I genuinely believe that’s very rarely the case.

This got me to thinking about myself and why I’m so anti-PvP. For years, I simply avoided it. Didn’t go into structured PvP  often. Refused to play a game at the first hint of open-world-PVP being a feature. I won’t touch games like Rust and Day Z because… nope.

I stopped to ask myself… why? How did this negative response become a normal reflex?

Some History – Ultima Online

I think it’s different for everyone. My aversion to PvP started very early on.

It was somewhere around 1999 – 2000. I was a college student who never knew much about the Internet until then (yes, there was a time without the Internet and MMOs for me!). My sister and I had one computer (which I bought for school purposes *wink* *wink*) and we were just learning about the world of online gaming.

We started with MUDs and then moved into games like Dark Ages and eventually Ultima Online: The Second Age. These were the days before the Renaissance expansion, and it was fully open world PvP. There was never a debate about it — if you wanted to play UO, you dealt with the PvP. That’s just how it was.

Death in UO
Death in UO

PvP had consequences and major loss in UO. When someone killed you, they could rob your warm corpse for everything you had, kick your pet dog around, and use your horse for glue. All the while, you ran around as a frantic ghost looking for a wandering healer to bring you back into the world with only a death shroud to your name.

Yes. Those were the days you went naked into the mines so that if someone ganked you while you were gathering ore, all you’d lose was the ore and a pack horse (if you had one). Yes. That was the game that taught me to fear every visible player character when outside of town and run away from everyone at first sight.

This kept me out of harm’s way. But it also left an emotional mark on me in regards to MMOs. Because I avoided everyone, it kept me from making friends and meaningful connections with other players. It essentially turned me into a solo player from the very beginning of my MMO experience. And being a naturally shy person, it was difficult for me to move beyond this mindset even as games began to evolve.

A little while after, UO split into two worlds – one with open world PvP, and one that protected you from open world PvP. I don’t know if there were already issues with this ruleset even back then to initiate this change. But suddenly, I had a choice! There was a world where gankers paid the price for trying to butt into my sheep sheering time!

That knowledge of choice was powerful. I was no longer forced into a ruleset to simply play the game I wanted to play. And from that day on, I only chose PvE servers or games that allowed you to decide whether someone can come along and beat you up for your lunch money.

Some Psychology

Looking back at the question, there has to be more than just that, I decided. Sure, I had some fearful PvP experiences with my first real MMO. But what else is there that really makes me reject PvP so violently?

Personality, perhaps? I am a slightly competitive person (deep down… shhh….), but at the same time, I’m a perfectionist. I like to do things that I perform decently well at (PvE). Chances are, I wouldn’t be all that great at PVP. So, if I’m going to suck at it and get stressed over it… I’m just not going to do it. It’s not fun for me. I play MMOs for relaxation and enjoyment, not to feel stressed.

Feels Like It...
Feels Like It…

Some people like PvP for the challenge, and that challenge is fun to them. I don’t get the same rush or excitement from it.

In fact, I’d feel terrible about PKing someone in an open world environment if it wasn’t in self defense.

I game by a “Do Unto Others” sort of mentality. I try not to treat folks in a way I wouldn’t want to be treated myself. I don’t want to be ganked while trying to achieve my PvE goals, so I’m not going to do that to someone else. That’s just how I roll.

For instance, in AA… This weekend, I saw a Red player who managed to make it all the way to the starting area in the East so he could purchase a snowlion mount in his color preference. He saw me and shrank back, since I could have attacked him, though he could not strike at me first. I took a step back, letting him know I wasn’t going to ruin his day. All he wanted was a snowlion mount, and he wasn’t bothering anyone. Seeing I wasn’t going to hunt him down, he rushed in, bought his mount and scampered away.

No one needed to die there. What’s the point in that aside from being a griefer?

In Closing

So, that’s what makes a carebear like me tick. Personality and experience both played a part in developing my automatic negative reaction towards the idea of open world PVP.

But I do ask myself if my response is justified.

Do I have the idea that PvPers are all bloodthirsty ganker-trolls that are out there just to get their kicks by victimizing my easy-going questing in danger zones? Yeah. I guess I really do see it that way. Sometimes that really does happen, and those people do exist, even on your own faction in AA. Looking at the overall feel of the AA community, the same-faction killing, and attitudes on forums doesn’t bathe any of this in a more positive light.

Should I change the way I view this? Should I learn to have thicker skin, live with the potential of the risk, and not let it bother me if/when PKing happens? Maybe so.

So far, I’ve been quite content in playing AA the way I have. Sure, it’s inconvenient not to be able to quest in zones unless they are at peace. But like mining naked in UO, it keeps me safe from the risk of being PKed… even if the risk is more perceived than actual loss.

I’d love to hear thoughts from PvPers… maybe even some psychology from your side of the spectrum! 

*sigh* Time for a corpse run.


  1. For me it has everything to do with that I don’t want to be inconvenienced by other players. When I play I generally have some mission in mind, I have a goal that I am working towards. When a player kills me, they have just derailed my goal for the night. I either wait for them to get bored and move on, try and retaliate and get drawn into a bigger waste of time, or log out and do something else. Those are my options, but in all of them they have interjected their say on my playtime, and forced me to deal with them slowly my progress towards whatever it is that my end goal is.

    I just don’t see PVP as a value added experience, nor more so than I see having my time wasted in any other facet of life. I don’t cherish the time I wait in line at the super market, or cherish the time I spend stuck in traffic because someone is rubbernecking an accident. I see PVP as an inconvenience, and someone else having their fun at my expense. This is why I tend to stray as far away from open world pvp as I can.

    1. That’s a very good point that the above articles miss. It’s true you may not lose any pixel goods, but you do lose game time.

      Even in AA, while there are times of peace for conflicted zones, you have to hope they pop during times you’re actively playing. On my server, that doesn’t happen often. So when it does, I’m rushing to get quests done and trade packs moved as quickly as I can.

  2. The main difference between open world PvP and other kinds of PvP is that one of them enables ganking, and the other ones don’t.

    Ganking is the most antisocial thing you can do in a game, and is nothing more than bullying. My gaming time is limited and far too valuable to be wasted by some jerk picking fights with people who have no chance of defending themselves.

    If a game developer tells me that I have to put up with that kind of nonsense in order to play their game, my response is to take my money elsewhere. I’m far from alone, which is why most games have PvE servers that eliminate the nonsense for people who don’t want to deal with it. I really have no tolerance for it whatsoever, or anybody who says I should put up with it.

    You want to get blown up by someone 40 levels higher? Great, have fun. Leave me out of it.

    1. I feel very similar to you — true griefing and ganking is the same as bullying.

      It’s really nice to have a variety of choice in games! Things have changed quite a bit from the days of UO.

  3. Well, I’m the type of person who gets upset when my family cuss people out for driving badly, because I can always think of a possible reason for it. Maybe they’re a new driver just learning, like me. Maybe they’re lost and frantically looking out for the right place to make a turn. And maybe it makes me a wet blanket feelsy feels person to always take the more empathetic understanding side rather indulging in a little self-centered judgementalism, then whatever, but I can’t in good conscience turn that side of me off. I relate to what you said about being a peaceful player who is actually pretty competitive under the surface, and not having the skills to back up the competitiveness is frustrating. even just to learn to defend yourself in AA you’d have to start fights for practice right? in gw2 a number of times while doing map completion in the mists, I’d catch sight of the enemy zerg and run the other way, only to have some thief break off from the zerg and chase me down. (incidentally, it’s almost always thieves too, it seems people play thief specifically for its use in pvp, eg specifically to gank people more efficiently.) Sometimes I’ve fled so desperately I’ll be halfway across the map by the time they get me, and it can’t help but feel personal at that point. So, no, I can’t stomach the thought that some human on the other side of his computer would chuckle as he kills me, who was doing nothing, who /sit down as he approached, messing me up cause I was ALMOST at the next POI and now the only waypoint is all the way over there….. so the writer of that first article neglects te fact that material goods aren’t the only thing at stake. Your time and your mood are at stake too. People who defend it only with “well you should just get a thicker skin” need to grow up and get over themselves tbh, because I guarantee if they had to play a game that is fun half the time but completely tries their patience the other half, they’d probably not want to. It’s just that they’re mostly already good at it. And I don’t want to have to take on the traits of the people making my day harder and join their ranks just to not have a hard day anymore. So yes, all my data suggests that prideful bullies, if given a choice, WOULD gravitate toward pvp as a game mode. That is not to say that pvp is only bullies, but that there definitely ARE bullies, and that trying to say there aren’t and that I should just get over it is incredibly disappointing.

    1. I sympathize with you on this. I always look at someone’s avatar as a real person — I never forget that there’s someone on the other side who might be having a terrible day or a hard time in their lives. I do everything I can to make my time and other’s time a good and encouraging one whenever I interact or group with folks. I just don’t understand people who take pleasure in messing things up for others.

      I guess I’ll be a wet blanket along with you. 🙂

      You have more courage than I do to wander out into GW2 PvP. I’ll never obtain world completion due to the need to go into WvW to earn some requirements. I think I’m a bit more bitter towards GW2 because I know it’s a carrot on a string to the PvEers. They want to get people like me to try WvW because they think “Try it, you’ll like it!”

      News to Anet: You’re not going to change my mind or how I feel about PvP. It was set in stone over a decade ago during ore runs in Ultima Online. XD

  4. I’m with those above in that I prefer to simply play the game how I want to and not have to worry about another player interfering.

    Further, in my experience, all the “uber” pvp players are actually all built identically and use the same skills and counters, so they’re no less scripted than any AI encounter either, so I don’t find there’s any rush in knowing that I killed or was killed by a player instead of an AI script. It’s all the same to me. And the AI won’t go out of its way to bother me.

    Taking it even farther, the fact that pvp is nearly always “loss-less” makes it “bad” to me. There’s no consequence to it, so there’s no point, and if there’s no point…. I CBA to take part in it either. Again — no rush to it. Eve was actually the only open-pvp game I ever played and the reason I was willing to do it (other than Spaceships!!!) was the fact that losing actually meant something. There was a point to it. Of course, the game was boring as hell, so I left it, but it at least had a potential to have some excitement due to pvp. One doesn’t get that in the consequence-free-pvp games.

    1. Do you know what PvPers actually earn by killing players? Honor points or something? I know there’s a vendor for honor points, but is anything there really worth so much that people go out of their way to PK someone who’s just questing? I know if the player is transporting a pack, the pack can be stolen and turned in.

      I was pretty surprised when I learned there wasn’t really a true risk besides time and inconvenience to PvP in AA. I think it’s a dangerous road to walk in some ways – the fact that open world PvP is there drives off PvEers… and the fact that the PvP isn’t hardcore enough may drive off PvPers. So, really, neither group will be satisfied?

  5. I’m very much the same. I don’t like to lose, am perfectionistic and a bit of a control freak.

    Open world PvP has an inconveniencing sense of loss of control, where someone can come along and impede or even send your progress backward. The golden goal of PvP, after all, is 50/50 balance. Me, I’m looking for at least 80%-100% victory.

    I’m not allergic to PvP though, and prefer to keep it to more consensual arenas, where at least the idea would be that if you enter a zone, you implicitly consent to PvP.

    In that sense, one could argue that willingly playing Archeage is a kind of consent to PvP, and that willingly stepping into zones that allow PvP – in the name of risking it for more/better PvE goodies – is also a kind of consent.

    I have one last qualifier which I think may explain why I’m ok with something like GW2’s WvW, but not ok with Archeage.

    It’s about stats and vertical progression on gear or lack thereof. In one game, grinding for levels or more/better statted gear means that you can skew the playing field even further in your direction, before even bringing in the concept of having more friends/guildies in one’s gank squad.

    In another, everyone is automatically leveled up to the same level and a flat even baseline of stats is easy to reach, so one generally feels that one came into any conflict with a fighting chance.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken with Archeage, since I don’t actually play or follow the game, but I got the impression that a high level could slap a low level around silly any time he or she felt like it, if the low level was in a zone that allowed PvP. Just how often do encounters where you have a fighting chance occur, versus distinctively one-sided engagements?

    1. It is true that GW2 levels out the playing field that way. And it is true that in AA a high level player can slap around a low level character… BUT only if the low level purposely walks into a PvP zone (which are all made for level 30+). Otherwise, it’s not going to happen — you won’t see a level 50 ganking level 10s in the newbie areas or anything. And there are ample newbie areas to play in where you never have to see PvP.

      It’s similar to zoning into the WvW maps. You know PvP happens there and when you go there, you’re probably going to see reds.

      On another note, I’ve clocked in over 100 hours on AA, am now level 47, and have never seen PvP yet. That’s because I choose not to go to an area that’s in conflict.

  6. Great article! My formative years in PvP were in the original UO too. Compared to that, ArcheAge is a cakewalk, but I fully get that most people (including me) don’t want to be bothered with it. I think “the market has spoken” on this topic many times over, which is why Mortal Online and similar games have player bases of around four dozen people.

    P.S. As far as I know the only thing you gain from killing the other faction is Honor Points, and even that’s limited. More info here:

    1. Thanks for the info and the comment! I find it very telling that so far, I’ve only seen comments that say the same thing — people don’t wan to be bothered with PvP.

      I expected a few folks to show up to defend the PvP side of the story!

        1. That might be true. I’ve just seen PvPers defend ArcheAge quite a bit on other articles, so it’s a bit surprising.

  7. If you like, I can throw up a modest defence of PvP.

    Almost all my PvP experiences, both the good and bad come from World of Warcraft. I have seen PvP as both a wonderful element of gameplay as well as terrible griefing.

    As obviously the devil’s advocate here (my RL character class), I’d like to establish a fundamental difference between PvP and griefing: If I’d challenge you to an ingame duel, this is akin to challenging you to a game of chess; PvP is a game where we match wits and skills, supposed to challenge and entertain both of us. It becomes griefing when I force you to particpate against your will.

    And yet, taking the case of WoW, I can make a clear case for open world, semi-consentual PvP (as WoW has both PvP and PvE servers). My tale of PvP begins when my Night Elf Rogue reached lvl 20 and I entered Ashenvale, a contested forest zone (All starter zones were safe for your faction). The knowledge that opponents with intelligence and cunning far beyond that which the AI offered might lunk behind the trees turned standard ´kill ten wolves´ quests into an exciting adventure. I´d scout the area and keep looking over my shoulder before commiting to the wolfocide. Did that mean it took longer to complete my objective? Absolutely. It was also vastly more fun.

    The forest offered plenty of hiding opportunities for both ambushes and escapes. I’ve been ambushed, I have ambushed, I successfully evaded superior numbers and lost track of my prey many times. It was a wonderful game of mass hide-and-seek, with most players on both sides acting on a code of honour to not attack at the most opportune moment, but offer as fair as fight as possible. True gankers were a small minority.

    I think I can translate this into a case for PvP in AA as well. For one, Ferrying people and trade packs across the sea becomes an adventure when you know there’s pirates about, rather than a simple ferry. PvP provides a risk element, without which trade runs would simply become a repetitive grind. With that in mind, I’d dare to make the bold statement that a healthy PvP game in ArcheAge is a requirement for the longevity of the game.

    So what is a healthy PvP environment? Like I said, I’ve had plenty of bad experiences too with griefing, mostly in the form of corpse-camping. The PvP in Ashenvale was unique for a couple of reasons: 1) players had no mounts yet, making it harder for a large group to outmaneuver a lone player, 2) power differenes were small as everybody was still levelling up. 3) the environment facilitated both surprise and escape.

    To conclude: The mere possibility of PvP spices up the PvE game and can turn a stale grind into a grand adventure. However, one should be able to evade or defeat PKers. Seeing a red name should not result in certain death but either in a fight that’s challenging for both parties or a hide-and-seek game where the hunter has as much chance of success as the prey.

    1. How long ago was your experiences in WoW? That was the question that came to mind while I was reading this. You mentioned low level areas and lower level characters, so that leads me to believe this was a PvP atmosphere from a while back.

      I wonder how much has changed as gaming attitudes have changed. I can totally get people who are there to battle against other players and find that challenge fun and exciting. Sadly, it’s the gankers that give open world PvP and the players within a negative stigma. When people think of PvP, they think of gankers, not warriors who fight with honor to test their skills.

      It’s those few that ruin it for everyone – both the PvEers and the legit PvPers.

      Strangely, though, I’m not against the idea of having pirates duking it out in the sea and making intercontenental trade runs a pain. As long as the result is to encourage non-pirates to band together to get things done, which is what I think AA attempts to do.

      1. This was indeed shortly after the EU launch of WoW. Everyone was levelling. There were definitely higher level players, but they’d be in another zone since the one I was in offered no more lvl-appropriate quests for them.

        Later on, the people levelling in this and similar zones tended to ignore all PvP as they were too focused on gaining XP. The PvPers were the bored max level players, either killing lowbies for “sport” or hoping to draw in some worthy opponents to come to their defence. As a lowbie, there was no fun here: you couldn’t fight such a power difference and higher lvl players have access to faster mounts, so there was no escape possible either. This completely destroyed the fun of open world PvP.

        Regarding AA, players as pirates and highwaymen create a much more dynamic challenge for traders than any AI could. The difficulty is to keep this challenge fun and fair for both sides. I obviously can’t tell how AA handles this.

        1. As a lowbie, there was no fun here: you couldn’t fight such a power difference and higher lvl players have access to faster mounts, so there was no escape possible either. This completely destroyed the fun of open world PvP.

          I think in playing devil’s advocate, you actually managed to support the point I was making about open world PvP in my article. This is exactly what happens now days.

          It’s a whole different world from the EU WoW launch you described. There’s very little “honor” in open world PvP that I’ve seen.

        2. It’s not so much about ‘honour’, although that does play a role, as it is about the tools that players have to deal with such situations. Early at launch, players had the tools to fight, as well as evade and escape.

          But later on, both power and speed differences became larger, providing further advantages to those that already had the upper hand (higher level, better gear, faster mounts). This effectively took away all the tools lower level players had to deal with OWPvP situations.

          This is why I mentioned the example of Pirates of the Burning Sea in my post a little further down this discussion: Even as a low level players, I have tools to deal with PvP. My ship might not be as powerful as that of higher level players, but it is faster and much more maneuverable, allowing me to escape more often than not.

          My point here is: this lack of tools is a flaw within WoW’s system, which does not exist in PotBS. GW2 was also mentioned as a game that more or less equalizes power between players. As such, the absence of tools to deal with power differences is a flaw in game design, not an inherent feature of OWPvP.

  8. Okay, I’ll step up to the plate for the PvP defence.

    I am in favour of OWPvP. But there has to be a reason other than to allow people to be arseholes. Piracy and trade packs are, really, the main (if not only) reason to have OWPvP in AA. And while it is good that that reason exists, I fear that it isn’t enough to make AA a good OWPvP game. Perhaps if the northern continental guild territorial wars have an impact on the rest of the game, that might tip the balance, but until that happens there doesn’t seem to be much to entice the carebears.

    I am a carebear too. I completely agree with and mostly follow your Golden Rule philosophy. I don’t, as a rule, attack other players unprovoked, no matter what level they are. I may choose a role that requires me to attack other players on sight – in EVE, for example, if my corp was at war with another corp – but that is pretty rare. Like you, I would feel terrible for simply swatting a lowbie red who just wants, e.g. to buy a mount.

    I do like PvP, however, and I will defend myself and try to extract revenge if I am ganked or griefed. In theory, anyway. 😛 In practice, they just go on my ‘shit list’ and I simply take an inordinate amount of pleasure getting them back (if I remember them at all), which is usually coincidental.

    I guess I am more on the fence than most when it comes to AA behaviour. I default to the carebear outlook above, but I can definitely see myself choosing to become a privateer for a while, if the mood took me. Even then, though, my life on the high seas would be purely about stealing trade packs for loot, not about indiscriminate killing. I would only behave like that on the ocean – if I’m questing or farming or whatever on land, I’d leave everyone alone.

    So, the arguments about time and mood being counted as “losses” because of PvP…
    I reject them. I reject them because they are not specific to PvP. You are more likely to have your day/session ruined by idiots in a dungeon or raid LFG than you are to have it ruined by a drive-by gank. If you want to narrow it down to griefing, then sure, it is a little easier to grief with PvP, but it is easy enough in a PvE game if someone is determined to do so. I’ve had several game sessions in WoW ruined because of some fucknuckle who thought it would be hilarious to get me killed by dragging mobs onto me, or who followed me around chaining /spit emotes at me because I got to a mining node first (the fact that /spit even exists in MMOs pisses me off no end). I’ve had sessions where I had a goal that I couldn’t work on because the place was too crowded with people farming, for example. To come back to seanxxp’s question, why is PvP where the line is drawn? Is it really the case that there is nothing the game offers you (that you can’t find in another MMO. obviously) that is worth the minor increase in the chance of your session being interrupted by other players?

    To be absolutely clear that it is a minor increase: in the several weeks of AA that I have played, I have spent a lot of time in PvP zones as a mid-20’s character. My garden plot on Kyrios is in Sanddeep, a PvP zone. I’ve only ever been there once when it was at peace, usually it is in conflict. I have started trade runs through the zone when it was at war. In all that time, I’ve died in PvP three times: once was a simple drive-by when I was planting stuff at my garden during wartime – I just respawned and went back to what I was doing, it cost me about a minute of time; once when I finally got to the other continent for the farm trade run (so after my goal was complete); and once when I tried the trade run for the farm in my rowboat and got hunted down by a pirate. To put that in context, I died to mobs three times attempting the same trade run.

    Having said all that, I do understand that people don’t like PvP and don’t want to participate. However, there is a difference between being forced into participating in the sense of being active in it (such as the requirement to win battlegrounds in the WoW legendary cloak questline) and being forced to tolerate the added level of danger that OWPvP presents.

    I hope that at least some of that made sense! 🙂

    1. I keep hearing how the north lands will change the way AA works. If it shifts the focus of PvP to the north, I’m all good for it. XD

      You do make a good point that griefing can happen in any situation where you interact with another player – both PvP and PvE. That’s why I stick to soloing or playing with friends, I suppose. I’ve seen my share of it.

      My tolerance for griefing of any kind is in what tools the game gives me to deal with the griefer. In the case of dungeons, can the team vote-kick a leecher or problem player? In the case of PvP, is it isolated or do I have options to quest at a time where PvP is in check?

      I think the lack of control may be what PvEers object to, moreso than the loss of time. When a player becomes annoying in chat, you block them and move on. When a PvPer ganks and camps you, and the ruleset of the game allows that, that PvPer now has taken control of your game time and is preventing you from having fun.

      It’ll be interesting to see how the community changes in AA, especially as the first few months newness starts to wear off. Things may very well calm down… or they may explode again when the north lands are released.

      1. This is what I meant when I talked about ‘semi-consentual PvP’. You willingly subject yourself to PvP when you leave the safe area. However, since many gameplay objectives would require you to leave those safe zones, it’s not exactly a free choice. People that claim that you don’t ‘have’ to enter PvP areas are incorrect in this regard.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pushing PvE players into PvP areas (I would also argue against such a dichotomy), as I already argued for the benefits that OWPvP can have for PvE/oriented players.

        An interesting example: Pirates of the Burning Sea is an RvR game where I´m a 100% PvE player. PvP areas change all the time, depending on which port is being fought over. For my trade runs, this often creates risk vs reward choices where I could take a detour to stay out of PvP areas or take the shortcut that goes right through. If my destination is ‘in the red’, I could also opt to sell my wares elsewhere, though I might not get the best prices. I generally choose the more risky option because it’s more exciting. However, there are always alternative, safer routes to take.

        In this example, as a player, I am fully in control of how much I subject myself to PvP, with higher rewards for risk-taking.

    1. Yeah, it got thrown in the Spam box for whatever reason and WordPress didn’t warn me. Thanks for letting me know there was a lost comment — I’ve approved it!

  9. Great piece Aywren, and an interesting perspective.

    Just to clarify that I’m not hostile to ‘carebears’ in any way. I’ve simply been genuinely interested in what turns people off so much about PvP, and it’s been great to get a lot of view points on that. I realise it’s ultimately always going to come down to personal preference, but I personally like the idea that something unpredictable might happen to me.

    Take a game like Eve. I found that to be an engaging experience because it actually required some care and attention on my part. Being blown up is usually unbelievably bad luck, the result of risk winning out in a risk/reward scenario, or simply not understanding how to avoid danger. Now, some would argue that they shouldn’t *have* to learn how to avoid danger, but for me that makes it an interesting setting, whilst for others it’s clearly a massive pain.

  10. See this:

    “This weekend, I saw a Red player who managed to make it all the way to the starting area in the East so he could purchase a snowlion mount in his color preference. He saw me and shrank back, since I could have attacked him, though he could not strike at me first. I took a step back, letting him know I wasn’t going to ruin his day. All he wanted was a snowlion mount, and he wasn’t bothering anyone. Seeing I wasn’t going to hunt him down, he rushed in, bought his mount and scampered away.”

    Encounters like that are what I like about open world PvP. I don’t do PvP myself but I appreciate it’s impact on the world I’m playing in. As you said, you made that players day by not attacking him. That’s huge.

    I too played Ultima Online and some of the encounters I had in that game I can still recall vividly. There was the time I got caught alone in the wilds by a much stronger player than me and he and I had a long conversation, me talking about the impact of player killing and trying to ‘talk him down’ from his (RP) bloodlust and him getting all introspective about it, and talking about how he wished he could change but couldn’t, and so on… although he eventually killed me. LOL

    Another time a gang of PKers caught me, killed me, and started attacking my horse. One of them could speak to the dead, and I, in my spectral form, convinced them to spare the poor animal. By the time I stopped talking I’d been ressed and given back most of my stuff and had made friends with a PK gang.

    Then there was the time a PK Guild built their house right next to my guild’s house, and I had to broker a peace treaty with them. If they’d leave us be, we’d promise not to jump them as they teleported home, beaten and bloody, from a PK battle somewhere that went wrong.It worked for both of us and they ended up being good customers of ours.

    Those are 3 examples right off the top of my head and that was what? 16-17 years ago at this point. (I played at launch.)

    I just never have such memorable experiences in PvE games.

    If a game is truly free-for-all PvP it’s a bit much for me these days, but AA in my opinion has found a happy medium. I’ve been playing since head start and haven’t done any PvP so far and I’m still having a ton of fun.

    I’m finding that I get the most out of games when there’s a certain amount of ‘pain’ in them too. I know it sounds weird but having to actually work for something makes getting it so much sweeter.

    1. Hahaha… these are some great stories. Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting what happens when you treat other players with a little respect. I think the community feeling of UO was somewhat different than PVP now days. Or it could be that AA is still so new that it attracts the F2P pirate wannabes in droves at this point.

      I don’t have my own PK story from UO, but I do have one I fondly tell about my sister, who also played UO.

      She was a Grand Master swordsman who was also a high level healer. She liked to wander around doing PvE stuff with her tame wolf pet. One day, while working on skilling, two Reds jumped her in the forest.

      The way the system worked at the time, UO only displayed the last skill you were leveling up. So all they could see was that she was a healer. They couldn’t see the Grand Master swordsman hiding underneath.

      She warned them quite frankly, “You don’t want to do this.”

      They didn’t listen, and both attacked her.

      She flattened them both, killing one and sending the other running away. Her wolf, which was on auto-defend took off after him. A few mins later, the wolf returned to her in good health and there was no Red to be seen. Presumably, a second kill was made. 🙂

      Due to the rules, she killed in self defense, so the Reds were kicked back to their little PvP world, and she went on with her skilling, with no penalty at all. I’ll never forget that little bit of carebear justice.

      1. I don’t have any anecdotes about fighting back, because by choice if I’m attacked by other players I don’t fight back. But I still got to accidentally kill an attacker once in WoW, and one with a character of a far higher level.

        I was playing in Thousand Needles (which, at the time, was a dry zone of high mesas and deathly falls aplenty) when a mage, roughly my level, and a warrior some 10 levels above started attacking me. Not wanting to have to climb the mesa I was in for my corpse run, I jumped down.

        The warrior jumped after me. I guess he didn’t expect me to attempt suicide.

  11. I said this over on Belghast’s blog, but I’ll repeat it here:

    My problem with this argument is that some games cater to PvP-minded players, and others cater to PvE minded players. If you don’t like PvP, why play a game like ArcheAge that was designed from the core to be PvP-centric? That goes back to Syp’s argument that there should be PvE-only servers for the game when it was clearly designed with PvP in all of its systems. All of the other games that you write about are PvE-centric, so play those. Not every game has to cater to all types. That is the definition of entitlement.

    Funny part is that I’m not even playing AA. It’s still not the open-world PvP experience I’m looking for. But the thought that PvP shouldn’t exist because half (or more) of the population doesn’t like it is just silly. That’s like me demanding that all tradeskill and harvesting bullshit is removed from games altogether because I don’t like it. It takes away from my adventuring time.

    I’m not hostile towards the carebear type, but I am defensive about PvP. If you don’t enjoy football, you don’t buy Madden right? The same thing applies. MMO gamers have this attitude that they should be able to get exactly what they want from every game, but MMOs are by design, made for as wide of an audience as possible. This is why every themepark has a PvP section. However, enough carebears have complained loudly enough that it’s been quartered off to Battlegrounds and/or “consensual” (i.e. flagging) PvP in the open world.

    There have been a couple of commenters here that get it right, in that PvP doesn’t need to be seen as the villain. If anything it adds an element that doesn’t exist otherwise.

    I find it hard to believe that games like AA are filled to the brim with people who purposely camp low level players or corpse camp or things like that. I know these things exist, but I don’t think it’s the overwhelming majority. From tales I’ve read of people playing the game, they don’t get ganked much. And when they do, they either move on to a new area, retaliate, hire protection, or just deal with it.

    At the end of the day, you play games for your own reasons. If your requirements aren’t met by a particular game, then why would you play it? Particularly in the case of a F2P title, where you aren’t even out the money it would normally cost to even try the game in the first place. I just think if you don’t enjoy the human confrontation, there are hundreds of other games you could spend your time in, so why argue against the existence of something you don’t like?

    I guess it’s time for me to start making an anti-tradeskill campaign. Harvesting and tradeskills don’t appeal to me, so the millions of people who find them fun must be wrong.

    Or is that not a fair comparison?

    1. The heart of this post wasn’t to bash open world PVP, but explore the reasons that led me to personally choose not to be involved with that mode of play. However, though I dislike some parts of it, I’m not against open world PVP, as strange as that sounds. I think there’s a place for it, and I respect a player’s desire to choose to play that type of game if that’s what they enjoy.

      I think AA strikes up a good enough balance of elements that I’m content to play the game. There are enough consensual elements to the PvP in this game that I’m comfortable with the fact it exists.

      The way I see it, if I get ganked in AA, it’s because I put myself in the situation to be ganked. So far, in over 200 hours of play and almost to level 50, I’ve never been in danger from a red (or a green) yet. That’s because I choose my place and time as wisely as possible, and if I go into danger, I don’t go alone.

      So no need to campaign. Though I won’t personally take part in the PvP aside from self defense, I’m not campaigning against it, either.

    2. I fully agree that an attitude of entitlement doesn’t do anyone much good. I couldn’t agree more that “MMOs are by design, made for as wide of an audience as possible.” However, this line of thought undermines your first argument (in italics). ArcheAge is not designed neither for PvPers nor for carebears only.

      From what I’ve seen, AA is indeed built with PvP in mind, no argument there. However, for the Cat-and-mouse PvP system of trade runs & piracy to work, you need both the Cats and the mice. Thus, simply telling the carebears that ‘this isn’t your game’ would ruin the fun for the PvPers as well.

      Additionally, It seems there’s a decent amount of people that want a cooperative sandbox/sandpark game, rather than the full loot, FFA PvP that most recent sandboxes seem to go for. As such, AA has a lot to offer for the ‘carebears’ that just want to build, craft and explore, compared to other MMO’s.

      As for griefing, it’s true that I’ve rarely seen it happen on a large scale, but a few people going around to spite others is enough to ruin the game time of many people(I personally don’t consider ‘ganking’ the same as ‘griefing’ unless someone goes out of his way to kill me over and over). As I’ve mentioned before, the frustration comes mostly from a lack of tools to deal with the situation, rather than the being defeated in combat.

      Regarding your final argument, It’s true that if you don’t enjoy a game, you shouldn’t play it. But this returns to the same mistake of your first argument: one can enjoy some parts and not so much other parts, which isn’t an issue as long as you can focus on the parts you like.

      With that in mind, if you’d like to argue that tradeskills are forced upon you during play, it would be a fair comparison as this is the primary anti-PvP argument. I’ve hardly even felt that tradeskills were made obligatory, but I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

      1. This is a good point. It takes both kinds of players to make this system work — those who make the trade packs and those who steal the trade packs. X)

        The one thing I give the open PVP credit for is that it does urge like-minded people to form guilds and work together to protect each other. When you do find folks you enjoy hanging with and can trust, it makes those connections much more valuable.

        I know that’s what I was missing from my UO experience. Maybe if I had a support network I could trust in the early days, I wouldn’t feel the way I do today.

        I’m all up for learning, though. I have a good guild in AA, and I’m understanding that working with them gets things done. I’m still a hermit and soloist, but when we do work together, it’s usually fun.

  12. I think this does speak a bit to why I don’t really like an open pvp world, especially one with absolutely no rules at all. Jerks and bullies who hunt down those that are really low-leveled compared to them and take advantage of them since they are an easy kill who has no chance at all of defending themselves on their own. It’s not fair at all to that person who has such a low-leveled character. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game like that, though I’ve heard of them, since I never believed that it was fair at all. Even with some rules, neither is it fair to someone who simply wants that mount that you talked about and isn’t after fighting you. Of couse, it’d be different if there was a message sent asking if that person wants to fight and accepts the challenge since they are consenting to it in the first place. That’s what I like about pvp arenas vs open world pvp. It gives a choice of whether one wants to fight other people or not and who they want to fight. If someone enjoys pvp, they can do that to their heart’s content without affecting those who don’t care for it in the first place.

    Though I’ve heard of open world pvp games where pvp was impossible between characters who have a lot of level and power difference in them, making ganking and griefing much less likely to happen. Like a level 80 character simply can’t attack or do any harm to a level 50 character and vice versa because of the obvious power and level differences, making it a little bit more fair than those that simply prey off of much lower level characters. That to me is a much fairer alternative in an open world pvp game than having to deal with what people describe about ArcheAges, which I haven’t played at all. At least there would be a fighting chance to defend oneself or escape in the first place without having to deal with what seems like random war zones that one could end up in by chance or unluckiness.

    1. I guess what I’m getting at is that maybe a better system for opting out of pvp or a system that forces people “to fight with honor” and have a relatively fair fight against another player may do better in the long run and maybe even attract a wider audience than a horribly unbalanced system where nothing is fairly enforced, as I am picking up that ArcheAge may be like with people killing other people’s characters even when they are of the same faction and other things like that. I haven’t really heard of many pvp-centric games being fairly balanced, though I also haven’t really been searching hard for it. A few people who have posted may have found something better, more fairly balanced, though, from the comments. I’m mostly for the cooperative features of a game, but if I do actually find what I think is a fairly balanced pvp game, I may give it a try. Otherwise, it’s an absolute no-go for me if I have to deal with those kinds of jerks who don’t fight fairly at all.

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