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Five Reasons Why Open PvP Communities are Growing

Posted Thu, Mar 05, 2009 by Cody Bye

With the craziness surrounding the Darkfall release really reaching a head these last few weeks, an interesting subplot arose in my competitive vision. While World of Warcraft definitely has garnered its own share of PvP fanatics, there’s a distinct difference between faction-based PvP and open PvP. In fact, there’s so much difference between the two that entire communities have sprung up around games – Darkfall, EVE Online and Mortal Online in particular – that espouse the novelty of having a truly open world where anyone can gank anyone else anytime of the day or night.

Darkfall's release has open PvPers in a frenzy.

So why do these communities exist? What drives these players of short tempers and bloody blades to band together in roving bands of homicidal tendencies and blade-in-the-dark conspiracies? I have a few theories (and they’re only that) and some opinions, but I certainly encourage everyone to jump in and help me figure out why these open PvP titles create such a stir.

1. Hostility Feeds Off Hostility – The most obvious theory in my list points to the natural flavor of these players and their desire to have more of it. It takes a special type of person to play in an open PvP game: the vast majority of open PvPers seem to take pride in their skills while also being eager to jump into the fray with anyone that steps over that imaginary line. These players are like that guy in your local bar that is always itching to be the first one to throw a punch, even when the offense is little more than a spilled drink. These individuals attract more of their kind simply by existing, and the same can be said about the uber-aggressors in open PvP communities. These guys want to fight you, and they want to fight you now. It’s not a bad thing, but a community built around these individuals certainly has a high risk factor involved for the new player.

2. Gamers Want That “True” Experience – Few MMOs since the original EverQuest and Ultima Online have really felt like a “true” experience. I use the word “true” in this case to define that sort of table-top gaming experience that many of us grew up with. While it still seems technically impossible to allow gamers to do everything that you might be able to do in an imaginary world like D&D, the concept of having a group of developers making your game to simply “give you the rules” and nothing else is exotic and enticing. EVE Online has displayed this idea time and time again, and both Mortal Online and Darkfall seem to have this theory behind their development teams. Gamers want to feel like their world is limitless and the very notion of open PvP drives that point home. Once you start building faction-based PvP into the game, there’s already an automatic wall that you’ve built around yourself. Even EverQuest (at least in the early days) gave you the option to chat with “The Priest of Discord” and make yourself PvP-viable.

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