I've held back on this note for a very long time, mainly because I hate writing long notes. Secondly, I know either a flaming or other name calling will be following this note, but I feel it's time.
There are several intertwined problems with the game. Playerfighting becomes entangled in this.
Playerfighting used to be less of an issue -I'm talking 15 years ago at least- for these and probably other reasons. My next death, -player or otherwise- involving these factors could make me leave the game.
1.) Size of players.
The game was NEVER intended to develop players of the size they are today. Do to this, recovery takes so long, if you get killed you're going to have to spend sometimes a very long time working your way back. When things like that happen you ask yourself is it really worth wasting all this time? Of combat, general, and quest experience, combat is the biggest part of the game. It takes a very long time to acquire healthy amounts of it. 15 years ago you could die and 2-3 days later recover what you lost.
It's very, very hard to balance the game. When you die, after the stream of expletives spat at your screen, one of the next things you ask is "What could I have done differently?" If the answer is "nothing," then unless you're talking a huge size or many players versus one player being killed, there is a problem.
When items or specials or guilds, or spells, or rooms get coded into the game there is no possible way to test for ALL contingencies. It should, but it's impossible, especially with the human element involved.
Most -I said most- serial playerfighters are assholes. When their guild gets a new toy -whether it be by design or a bug- that makes their guild a little better in playerfights they just can't help but inflict themselves on their rival guilds' characters' or personal enemies.
The biggest example I ever saw of bad balance and serial playerfighters being an issue was when the Dragonarmies were coded.
(A short history lesson, it may get convoluted, it's surely biased toward my views, so please try to bear with me.)
Before the closing of Angmar's Army, probably the first really big guild war took place. Players had taken enough crap from the members of Angmar and decided enough was enough. At first there were quite a few deaths on both sides, in the end I suppose more Angmarians were slain. Then the guild closed. There was no outlet to play a chaotic evil character.
Knight's block played a huge role in this, as it was the first time on a wide range scale the special was used. Prior to the war block was used, but not on this scale. Why? If your target can't escape combat it's pretty damn easy to hack away at your target.
A few months later the Dragonarmies opened. Pretty much the same group of players from Angmar joined. They were given their own version of block in dragon fear. They were also given a way to escape combat by just flying away on a dragon -yes, I know an escape from combat was implemented prior to this, but it wasn't abused at first.
A group of players who'd just been defeated by a block had a way exact revenge with something even better. Furthermore, if things went badly they could just escape. The balance wasn't very well thought out, especially given the human element. You could trap whole teams using dragon fear. It disabled specials. One player could render multiple escape routes in a room useless, whereas Knights required one block per exit. And that was just the beginning.
Then all sorts of balance issues were encountered. Players could call dragons designed for escape which projected dragon fear and leave them in a location as long as they liked. Multiple players were able to call multiple dragons, thus stacking the dragon fear effect. Retaliation was on because they had a bigger better weapon no one policed or balanced.
In my estimation this was one of the biggest ruinous factors in the game. I left for a while. It didn't seem much fun to log on and get killed by something there was no defense for.
When you get killed by someone who always seems to be wielding an unholy crystal axe and runed falchion, who always seems to be wearing a midnight black platemail, red runed greaves, skull helmet, magical cloak of Gelan, and golden gauntlets, and the best you can find is a splendid sword, and a red plated armour. Again, it's not much fun.
The second worst decision in the history of Genesis was to limit magical items. It's not worth wasting your time and effort if someone always has what you can't have. Furthermore, at the time of this abortion of a policy the aforementioned dragonarmy was pretty much having its way with its enemies. This caused even more playerfights, because if there was only one giant black maul in the game, you'd best believe people were willing to slaughter another player over it.
Players were being attacked over runed falchions, excellent halberds and countless other limited magical items.
More players left. There wasn't much point in playing if you couldn't find anything nice to fight with and you were going to get killed by balance issues.
The last 2 issues tremendously effected the number of players. There wasn't much point in playing anymore. I know I didn't have much desire to play given the last 2 factors.
It's easy to say "If you get killed go find 6-7 players and go hunt the bastard who killed you," but what if there are only 20 players active? Are one third of the active players really going to do this? It's a little easier when there are 50 players active, but usually that's not the case. It's hard to find help when there is none.
Why bother playing just to get killed by someone who's bigger, has unbalanced abilities, the best gear you can never get, and you can't find anyone to exact revenge?
5.) Restraint and Playability
(Another brief history, my apologies.)
For the longest time the Morgul Mages were the most feared guild on Genesis because of their player killing abilities. Pretty much if you got into a disagreement with them it was a matter of when and not if they would kill you.
They were also told they couldn't go around and use the "if it moves, hit it" philosophy. in regards to players. Many people complained about a treaty between the Mages and Rangers guilds because of roleplay. It was playability this stemmed from. If Rangers and Mages had been at war everywhere the game already would have come to halt. Much like it has now.
Then the Dragonarmies and Vampyres much later started showing lack of restraint.
Players got MUCH bigger. Limits were put on equipment. When balance issues in playerfights did get people killed it seemed as if complaints fell on deaf ears, rightly or wrongly.
There was no reason for restraint by the killing factions. There was no reason for the killed to stick around if issues weren't being addressed.
It's not much fun to login and know you're going to get killed just entering a dark room, and lighting a lamp. It's not much fun to get killed because you found the only giant black maul in the game and someone with much superior size and abilities is going to take it from you by force.
I don't know what all this means. Maybe someone smarter than me does. It's how we got to where we are though. In my estimation its put the game on life support. Mortal egos, wizard egos and mortal-wizard egos all have gotten us where we are. An unwillingness to admit when mistakes were made on all 3 levels by many people have contributed. Not acting to repair the damage only has made things worse.
I'll never say playerfighting is bad. I think unbalanced, unrestrained playerfighting is. I used to enjoy it, now in my older days I really don't. I'll defend myself to the teeth if attacked though.
This game isn't the wild west like it was 15 years ago. It probably never will be. The game could police itself for the most part in that time. Now it can't, and many people don't care about the game, just their own personal agenda.
P.S. Constructive comments and discussion welcome. Those with flames, hyperbole or calling me a hypocrite can bugger off.
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."