I made the radical statement that the future of online worlds is “pvp.” I should have know I was letting myself in for a firestorm!
Basically, though, this goes to illustrate what I am calling “the online world dilemma,” which I am currently wrestling with as possibly the biggest issue facing online worlds today. Players want to affect the world, but they don’t want anyone to be able to affect them. Think about it–it’ll drive you mad.
Now, this doesn’t mean combat, necessarily, it doesn’t mean gankage, it might mean price competition in shops or whatever. It’s all about where the lines of consent are drawn and how we make players feel comfortable with them. In the above scenario, if Count Goober’s firebrand son crosses the river in the dead of night and sets fire to a barn with your prize cow, just to make you look bad, that’s cool gameplay, neat roleplay. It’s also griefing. The line is not clear, and mechanically, there’s little difference between that scenario and a gang of five PKers jumping out from behind a tree and r0xx0ring your ass.