World PvP comes in many forms, yet there is a simple environment model that gets used over and over again. It can be seen in World of Warcraft, EVE, Darkfall, Dark Age of Camelot, and many other past and future games.
- Rewards for engaging in PvP.
- Risk associated with entering "PvP" areas.
- Non-PvP content/rewards in those areas.
This simple list describes Isle of Quel'Danas, Tol Barad, and world bosses in WoW; low-security space in EVE; dungeons in Darkfall; Passage of Conflict in DAoC; and any resource node or choke point in any MMORPG with PvP capabilities ever.
Rewards include crafting materials, mob access, safe passage, money, abstract currency (Honor), and loot. Note that territory control is not a reward in itself--owning land for the sake of owning land is meaningless and players will not value that "resource" unless it gives them an advantage or creates wealth/value, including vanity (player houses). Territory control is often an objective in competitive multiplayer games, but at the very least players win the game by claiming control--most MMORPGs are not "won". Compare the difference in activity between the Zangarmarsh control points in BC WoW (gaining a +5% experience boost in the zone), to the Spirit Towers around Auchindoun (allowing bosses to drop Spirit Shard currency). [TC rant over...]
Risk is "exposing (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss". Something must be risked to have infectious PvP. It could be as minute as lost time on a corpse run, or as harsh as the entire net progress of your character (permadeath). The severity of the potential loss directly correlates to the emotions conjured during those risky situations. The more the player risks, and thus the greater the consequences, then the more intense the emotions associated with PvP events (fear, thrill, fiero, agony, anger). Adrenaline can be addictive and binds players to the game (or makes them run in terror). "What a rush!"
Make-believe squid-monster riding giant eagle-horse.
Do not think that grazers are innocent victims. Players will alternate between hunters and grazers rapidly depending on what their immediate goals are. Also, longer term grazers ("carebears") who engage in risky behavior to amass rewards at an accelerated rate are the ones trying to cut corners. ;)
Assuming players are frequenting zones that follow this model, it is likely that World PvP will foster. The combat itself has to be vaguely interesting in order to motivate players to use it, so dull combat can thwart any attempts to create this environment. World PvP is an emergent dynamic and a powerful aesthetic of combat, aggression rules, and scarce resources. The fundamental mechanics need to be solid first.