Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: The Rules of EngagementMitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
You'll have to excuse me if I ever seem pious or self-righteous from this point on, but I happen to think that a level 80 attacking a level 19 or 20 is completely repugnant. Where is the challenge in that for the level 80 character? Does the player with the character at the level cap feel like a "big man" all of a sudden for taking out a "wet behind the ears" (by comparison) character in one or two fell swoops? I also happen to think that a level 70 character attacking a level 19 or 20 character is completely repugnant. A level 60 against a level 19 or 20, yep, still unacceptable (frowned upon); level 50 against a level 19 or 20, nope, still no good; level 40 against a 19-20, yep, still unwarranted; a level 30 against a level 19 or 20? Well, it's certainly not as bad as a level 40 against a level 19 or 20, but we're getting warmer. At least against a level 30, a level 19 or 20 character, by comparison, would not be dramatically different in terms character development and skill/feat-tree progression. A level 19 or 20 character could conceivably take out a level 30 character, but the latter would still have an advantage, you would think.
Ganking, when we're talking about higher-levelled characters taking out "lowbies", only occurs when the game mechanics allow for it. Sure, you could very easily say to the player with the "lowbie" character, "Just level up and exact your revenge", but such is that nature of the "ganker" that they would make even that difficult for the player. How? By camping respawn or resurrection points, zone entrances/exits, choke-points (areas where a high frequency of player traffic traverses through a tight, narrow, or cloisterlike area) in certain zones, or just by being an impudent little twerp in general. Rules need to be established, and mechanics need to be implemented in order for things to be "fair game" for all players.
First of all, there needs to be limitations on the player, what level they are, that you can engage in combat with. Of course an exception could be made for sieges and guild versus guild PvP, as guilds will consist of members from a range of levels.
I wondered if Funcom had plans for this sort of system, if there were going to be PvP "tiers" at all. The root of the ganking "problem" is the clear advantage upper-levelled characters have over lower-levelled characters; there is no chance for the lower-levelled character to win the fight. So what's the solution? It could manifest in either or two ways: firstly, characters are only able to attack and be attacked by other characters within their level range (e.g. 20 to 30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, and 71-80). So even in the open world, if a level 25 character and level 70 character happened to be walking by each other, the level 70 character couldn't attack the level 25 character even if they wanted to. Sure, this removes an element of "freedom" and choice from the upper-levelled character; players choose to be gankers after all; but this at least provides the opportunity for the level 70 character to meet actual competition, i.e. an opponent closer to his/her own level. This system would also allow lower-levelled characters to quest in public areas and develop their character in order for it to be "ready" for opponents as it progresses through the tiers. Sure, a bunch of same-tiered players could gang-up on a player to do some griefing, and that's where more rules might be required, but I'll discuss that momentarily.