This post has some possible triggers. I'm trying to be sensitive to your needs. Forewarned is forearmed.
EDIT: I should also preface this by saying that, while a discussion of ArcheAge precipitated this post, I am not saying the game sucks or that simply not playing it all would not be a reasonable alternative to opening a PvE server. I have never played EVE Online for the very reasons I go into here. I just think it is unfortunate that a game with such an intriguing set of character progression systems should be walled off due to failure to compromise.
A lot has been made of the fact that games like ArcheAge are known to involve open-world PvP at the higher levels. Usually, a game like this has low-level safe areas where players can learn the mechanics of the game without the danger of constant ganking by high level enemies. As players and characters progress in certain aspects of the game, they can stay in the safe zones. Or (as touted by the creators and many players) after a certain level, a player can venture out into zones where PvP is expected and even encouraged. Greater risk leads to greater reward. The problem with this is that it fundamentally changes the game at an arbitrary level (not unlike MMOs where raiding is perceived as the only really viable endgame activity). And now you have people that would be perfectly fine facing only challenges against the game environment forced to enter into a style of play they do not want in order to progress further in the game.
Seanxxp over at Gaming Conjecture
has an excellent write-up of why he enjoys Open World PvP:
The thrill of your first few PvP encounters in Eve is a truly memorable thing. The shaking hands and heightened pulse, the sweaty palms and fumbled mouse clicks. It all feels so palpably ‘real’. . . Most times in a sandbox oriented game like Archeage, people are simply looking to achieve the goals that further enhance their own playstyle. . . Does the possibility of getting ganked every now and again really completely outweigh any possible fun you might have the rest of the time you’re playing?
Belghast the Aggronaut
counters that by saying:
My key problem with open player versus player combat is the fact that someone is imposing their enjoyment on my playtime. . . What happens then is a series of things that take me out of the place where I was enjoying the game and force me to deal with the whims of another player. . . I just view it as a waste of my time, and I don’t cherish or enjoy it any more than any other waste of time.
After a brief discussion of the aspects of sandboxes in general—and ArcheAge in particular—that he enjoys, Belghast acknowledges that players like him are the "sheep" of the game.
In order for a ganker to have fun, they have to have someone to gank. . . It is going to be us sheep that get drawn into their power games, and us sheep that are inconvenienced by it. . . The folks that will find me, when I least expect it, when I am getting the most enjoyment out of the game are the folks who just want to ruin my night.
Aywren of Clean Casuals
responds to Seanxxp and others by discussing her early adventures in Ultima Online:
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. . . It essentially turned me into a solo player from the very beginning of my MMO experience. . . I play MMOs for relaxation and enjoyment, not to feel stressed.
When I was a child, I was picked on by bullies who knew just the right ways to push my buttons and get a rise out of me. Having undiagnosed ADHD, I was kinetic, easily fixated on trivialities, and easily frustrated. I was skinny and not very coordinated. I was probably average size for my age, but I can remember being pushed around by kids larger than I was. They were probably a grade or more ahead of me. Looking back, I don't think I was ever physically tormented, but I certainly was emotionally and psychologically. I did get into a lot of fights, but they were quickly broken up by adults: teachers, coaches, etc. One psychologist decided I had self-esteem issues and recommended a summer sports program. I eventually got into a fight there, too. I got older, bigger, and repeatedly refused to submit to the bullying.
As an adult, I don't go around getting into fights anymore. Then again, with me standing over six feet tall and tipping the scales close to 300 pounds, few people attempt to intimidate me anymore. But that poor little kid is still in there. With the same feelings. Reacting to the same stressors.
Take physical stature out of the equation, and there are plenty of people who are willing to throw their virtual weight around. A great many people love the rush of PvP, matching wits and perhaps skill with other living, breathing people across the internet. Despite previous commentary I have made, I have come to realize they are no more bullies than the typical basketball pick-up group. They simply enjoy direct competition. There may be some e-peening involved, but they are playing among equals and they enjoy the challenge. I am not talking about them.
Not everyone who loves PvP is a bully. I, myself, love battlegrounds where players are well matched. The sPvP and WvW of Guild Wars 2 is my favorite type. But that is because every character is on an even playing ground. You don't have Major League Baseball going up against Little League.
The kind of player I am talking about enjoys leveling their character up in a game where significant disparities develop between characters several levels apart. In a game like WoW (and we all know there are several), a difference of only 5 levels can be a huge jump in power for a character. more than ten levels and the lower-level character may as well be bringing a whiffle bat
to a tank battle. And it's not just that the higher-level character can hit harder and has more hit points. Often the hit/dodge/block chance is skewed, as well, such that the lowbie can't land a blow even if the high-level doesn't fight at all.
There is a certain type of individual that isn't looking for a challenge. They aren't looking for and even fight between equals or near equals. Instead they go into areas where players with characters that have no hope of fighting back are trying to go about their business, and disrupt their gameplay by ganking them. Here, I am not using the term "gank" as synonymous with "ambush" the way some proponents of the practice would like to. Rather, I am using it to describe the act of killing player characters that have no hope of defending themselves. The way a 6th grader might gank a 3rd grader. In other words, a bully. I am willing to bet there are folks out there ready to say that's not how PvP is. That's not how they
play. Hey, if the shoe fits . . .
A typical workday for me is not particularly stressful, I suppose, though there are some days that are plenty stressful. Occasionally, something occurs that will set off my sense of justice, but I try to keep things low-key. On business trips, things might be a little more frustrating, depending on how well prepared the local venue is for our meetings/classes. The commute to and from work isn't a joyride. I live in a town with a variety of drivers from around the country and the world, and we don't all have the same habits and norms. This can lead to some stress, as someone might cut me off or break some minor traffic violation that doesn't directly affect me but is irritating nonetheless. Can this ruin my day? Although obviously I am somewhat in control of my own emotional reactions, it certainly doesn't help.
In the past, I have had my house broken into and items of value stolen from me and my family. That's a major stressor, to say the least, between the hassles of police and insurance to figuring out how I will replace what was stolen with the meager insurance payout. And that's just things that can actually be replaced. Some stuff, some keepsakes, are simply gone forever. Right when I started this blog, my battle.net account was hacked (no, my password was not weak, nor were any other of my accounts hacked), and I temporarily lost not just items but a slew of characters. Suffice it to say I have experienced loss through theft in real life.
Getting ganked by a character I have no hope of defending myself against is not what I consider fun. They have stolen my time, if nothing else. And I have a hard time believing that my overwhelming opponent is enjoying any kind of challenge in killing me. Rather, he (or she) is playing out some power fantasy at my expense. It brings back all those feelings of helplessness and persecution on the playground when I was a child. And yes it will ruin my evening. It makes me angry; it brings me stress, the exact opposite of my purpose in playing the game in the first place.
I also believe—from personal experience—that overpowered ganking raises up each new "generation" of players to do the same. "I got ganked by high-level characters, so I am am going to do the same to this lowbie." Suggestions that you could band together with others for protection reeks of gangland-style rackets. It doesn't preclude a larger or high-level group from overwhelming your tiny trade caravan anyway; or worse, your group preying upon a weaker one.
Suggestions that maybe Trion could open a PvE-only ArcheAge server or two were met with strenuous protests on the forums. "‘PVE server’ goes against everything that AA stands for." Translation: all the sheep will run away, and the wolves won't have anyone to gank. Besides, I didn't know that ArcheAge was a philosophy that stands for anything. As was aptly argued by Syp
, given that a PvE server would simply be another option, there is no legitimate reason why it should not be an option for those players that enjoy the game for reasons other than the opportunity to become involved in either side of a curb-stomp skirmish.
All this is a bit moot for me, as far as ArcheAge is concerned, since Scooter and I stopped playing due to technical issues. However, I still wanted to add my voice to the conversation because I had not seen anyone else articulate my point of view on the subject. None of what I have said may apply to you, but look hard into the mirror before you protest too much.