I have stated before, I am not a PvPer. Instead, I sortof PvP. I roll on PvP servers and enjoy the "danger" of having to fight other humans, but I don't actively seek out PvP. It just isn't compelling to me in an MMORPG. I own shooters and online competitive games. I am not that good at any of them, but I have them and occassionaly play them when I want meaningless competitive PvP action. I am playing MMOs for a different experience. I play MMOs to explore and participate in a shared, persistent, fantasy world. I don't play MMOs to compete.
Still, I do participate in PvP. I used to love the random outbreaks of world PvP when I played WoW. I enjoyed my relatively brief stint in Shadowbane. I don't hate or avoid PvP; I just don't seek it out. I am somewhere between a PvPer and a carebear.
My main gripe with most PvP systems (and in fact, I extend this complain to MMOs in general -- but that is another rant) is that they lack context. I am not fighting to protect my homeland, or to free my oppressed people, or to claim an artifact for my king. I am fighting because that guy has a red halo around him as opposed to my blue halo. I am not fighting on a battlefield with strategic objectives I have to protect and conquer... where the situation changes day-to-day based on the ebb and flow of war. I am fighting in a small tactical instance that will reset in time for the next battle. The battle means nothing and its outcome changes nothing.
For a player like me, PvP for the sake of PvP is not compelling. When I want that kind of action, I will find it in another game. I don't need class balance, or fair fights, or level limited battles, or anti-ganking rules, or defense against corpse-campers, or safe zones, or whatever... I just want my PvP to have a meaningful context and an impact on the game world.
Shadowbane almost had this concept. The main world was open PvP and players built and maintained their own towns. PvP had some world impact in that you could ultimately destroy your enemy's towns and "win" the server. The problem with this (I thought) was that it was pretty much hunt the enemy players randomly, or try to destroy their towns. Destroying towns was a pretty big step that required a great deal of effort and resources (and spite) and so it was something rarely done. If you didn't raid towns, what was left was random raiding of an arbitrary enemy... we are back to meaningless PvP.
Risk of loss is an interesting way to give "meaning" to PvP. If there are strict death penalties and potential loss of items, you can be sure I am going to play more carefully and find a like-minded group of friends to watch my back. A fine idea, but also one that is sure to drive many players away, leaving the hardcore PvP crowd a small and inbred community.
What kind of system am I looking for??
PvP occurs in the world -- To heck with instanced PvP. If the PvP system is going to have an impact on the world, then the battles have to occur there.
PvP should be about the faction/team/guild not the individual -- There should be room for individual accolades, but the focus of PvP ought to be the faction/guild.
PvP should include long-term goals -- Much like the Campaign System I outlined in an earlier post (not sure anyone read that one, but give it a look), I think PvP factions should have goals that last for days or even weeks, not for a 1/2 hour. When I log in each day, I want to read a report on my factions progress and then grab a team of my guildmates and help out. When there is a war going on, there should never be "nothing to do."
The long-term PvP goals should include PvE -- Huh??? I think I want the line between PvP and PvE to be blurred a bit. I want my faction's progress in the war to be partly determined by PvE operations in the theater. I want to include carebear players in the war by having their actions count in the overall war effort. There should be a compelling reason to get PvE-minded players to participate in the contested zones even if they never kill an enemy player.
PvP tasks should be varied and offer some choices -- It would be cool if PvP "missions" consisted of something more than "go to zone X and kill faction Y." I want to escort supply trains. I want to perform mining operations. I want to gather a group of NPC soldiers and sweep the zone of enemies. I want to assault enemy strongholds. I want to capture resource points and destroy camps and villages.
PvP action should be directed toward points of interest -- I don't want instanced PvP, but neither do I want to wander the land for hours without seeing a battle. Fights should logically occur around areas of interest -- roads, bridges, mines, villages, etc.
I need to get going for now, but I have some more ideas I will share later... thanks for reading.