Left for dead, my guts splattered across the stone-cobbled streets. My belongings...scattered about me and turned inside out. I was penniless and broken, barely alive.
I had been robbed, beaten, nearly killed...
...my one gleaming hope was the face of my attacker. the visage of a reddish tattoo along his cheekbone as I pulled his hood away.
Today was a good day. I found someone who's life I could now make a living hell...
Having an enemy is almost impossible in some games...and this is why they will never truly shine in the eye of a PvPer. In addition, if you are interested in Role-Playing, there is nothing better in the universe than having an "Arch-Nemisis" to stalk and ruin. Even in your offtime, you'll be plotting to uncover a weakness or a moment to strike. You may even have the capability of laying an elaborate trap to ensare your foe.
Gaming Developers play a close tightwalk: they want lots of interaction, but don't want to lose customers. In the end, if it garners less subscriptions, than its bad, which is purely understandable to anyone running a business.
What I'm detailing in this article is how "open PvP" can easily be emeshed with Role-Playing, to create a game that people thrive in and love. It won't always be about winning or losing...the "meat" of the game will be about plotting and control. It will be about having enemies that you don't, or can't, always kill immediately.
About Dueling and Immersion
Take a look at any game. Do you have to establish a "duel" to fight someone else? Are you even able to fight other people? Are you limited to only fighting AI-controlled creatures? That's not immersion! That's button-mashing repetition. In a game of immersion, you don't know when the attack is coming. You don't know if the "duel" you've been challenged to is a trick.
Imagine being challenged to a duel at sundown, at the outskirts of a city. You are a great swordsman; no thief would ever challenge you in an outright fight. But, you go anyway, deciding to teach the people that you mean business. As you arrive at the site, you're shot down by archers. Trickery!
Was it evil, deceitful? Was it cheating? Absolutely! Now life isn't as simple as a "dual"...it's more complicated. You never know what's coming...
...and not knowing what to expect creates immersion.
Overall, there is no problem with dueling and arenas to resolve battles. But in the realm of role-playihg and immersion, some people aren't designed to duel. Magicians might duel with other magicians in a magical challenge...maybe. Thieves might have a one-on-one with other members of their thieves guild. But no swordsmans would "duel" a magician or thief. That's practically ridiculous.
And therefore, the concept of "dueling" as it is now implemented in many games is purely a control mechanism for PvP. It destroy immersion, but creates an outlet for battling other players.
To create immersion, you have to let ALL types of characters have their arsenal or methods to dispose of an enemy. A thief needs to be able to stealth, skullduggery, shadows, nighttime, and a place of his choosing where the guards are bribed. A magician needs a time when everything is perfectly aligned in magic, where his spells are at their perfect efficiencies, and where his protective magics are at their ready. These types of settings are not in an arena!
What about a diplomat? Perhaps this character has never even held a sword; how does he challenge a swordsman as an enemy? Clearly, the answer is with laws and political influence. A political type character would be foolish to challenge a sword veteran one on one. The first thing he could do is have the swordsman framed for a crime...and then have him hauled in on charges. Once the swordsman is thrown in the dungeon, the diplomat could shove some gold into a corrupt guard's hand, and have his enemy killed while in shackles.
The key to immersion is to let creative methods of trickey and deceit work. The key to being an excellent enemy is to use creative methods to overcome your opponent.
This just can't be done in the current "arena" type settings.
Overall, immersion of this nature starts with open PvP, but it has to be balanced with guards and proactive protective measures. That's why we have cities, for example. So that people feel safe.
But obviously, the key is, you're never entirely safe anywhere.
To be an enemy, the game has to be willing to let you steal from other people. It has to give you the opportunity to rob their corpse of loot, or even their belongings when they lay dead. It has to make you accountable for what you say. For example, if you keep spamming comments like, "I'll sell you 100gold for 10.00 dollars!", then there is no reason why a barbarian shouldn't be able to come up to you and shove a sword in your belly.
What you say, not just what you do, should be accountable for creating enemies. And people should have many different avenues to exact their vengence.