PvP is a big deal in Sandbox Interactive’s free-to-play MMO Albion Online, and a lot of work has gone into it. Over time, Albion’s system for PvP flagging and penalties for attacking someone has changed quite a bit.
Sandbox wanted to develop a PvP system that served an important role in the game while allowing beginners to get the hang of things without having to worry about being ganked within five minutes of sticking their feet in the water. Initially, the developers created two zones — a green “No PvP” zone and a red zone where PvP was allowed. As they tested the zones and received player feedback they decided they wanted to add a penalty system for players killing other players.
As with the zones, the developers discovered that there were flaws with their initial penalty system. Realizing that a post-attack-penalty has some very specific issues, they opted to go with a pre-attack flagging system.
Now, players who wish to attack another player must flag themselves as “villains/criminals” before-hand, making themselves immobile for about a minute. This system allows players to see if there are any villains in a zone before entering it and how many. It will also alert them to impending danger if flagged people enter their zone.
The primary benefit of this new system is that it allows PvP to be fluid across the zones, while allowing players not interested in PvP a chance to avoid it, eliminating the whole PvP/NonPvP zone issue.
More details on Albion’s PvP and flagging systems can be found in the official post.