I'm talking about these sandbox mmorpg's that have open pvp + full loot.. NOT like darkfall online.. that's a pvp mmo.. not sandbox.
PKs (wolfs) need sheep (miners, PvMers etc) to kill.. It's what they enjoy.
So is there any hope for the niche PK playerbase?
They are still possible. I've played one such project. But before I tell you about it I want to say something about your sheep vs wolfes discussion.
Firstly, gank pvp isn't less honest or more honest than duel pvp. It is just another. Generally, this is just the same "honest duel" pvp with the additional ability to gain tactical advantage over your enemy. This ability is available for both players, so there is nothing dishonest here.
Secondly, almost any pvp in open world becomes gank pvp because there is lots of possibilities to gain tactical advantage over your enemy (compared to duel pvp).
So, let me make an example.
Boring casual mmo with safe PvE and arena duel PvP:
Two guys grind in safe pve areas for months (unacceptably boring for pvp player), than enter small pvp area (arena) and have some boring "honest pvp".
Not boring open-world, single-world, hardcore, pvp, rvr mmo as I played:
I'm a 50 lvl guy and I need to exp in 50 lvl guys area (while lvl cap is 75). There is no teleports so I need to go on feet. First I go through low lvl locations and kill some newbs not attentive enough on my way. Then I go though hi lvl location and avoid pvp with big guys (or try to kill them if I have some mates with me). Then I get into designated location. Lets' count I'm alone. I start grinding and soon notice enemy 50 lvl guy doing the same - grinding. Sure I'm gonna kill him, but how? Straitforward duel pvp with the same lvl guy is 50/50 and I can't risk that much. I wait till proper moment, gain tactical advantage (first shots, controls, backstabs etc) and kill him. Now I'm alone. But I know that this guy will be in 5 minutes here and he knows that I'm here. Roles changed, now I'm a prey. I have to prepare myself for counter-gank. 5 minutes passes. Enemy guy is here. I grind attentively thus destroying his tactical advantage, see hem approaching we fight in same conditions and have duel situation. I defeat him in duel pvp with 50 hp left and go on grinding.
Gank, counter-gank - more complicated than duel, but absolutely honest. Hunter and prey roles can change in milliseconds
Ah, this amazing feel of danger everywhere... you'r on adrenaline even if there are no enemy near you.
Alright, now about a the game. It was I project born from lineage 2 free shard. It was reworked so hard that it can be named independent game (as lineage-based Shaiya online), so no jokes about sh!tty L2 freeshards please
Principles were quite easy. Race vs race (5 races, so 80% of server population are enemies), conquering and control over territories through the system of guarded towns and outposts. Some easy grind (sure no stupid korean grind) and pve activities like bosses, so all people must be outdoors on some pve activities. Monster respawn is long and moster-populated sites are small, so you need to roam over big territory to gain exp. Sure you meet another such guys and if they are from opposite race, you have pvp. You have pvp alot - just exit the town - with lower lvls (bang, bang, bang, dead bodies!), with higher lvls (omg omg I've escaped, I'm alive!), gank type and duel type with your lvls, small group vs small group, one vs small group and vice versa. Ganking a duo a trio of enemies of same lvl alone was the greatest pleasure
Partial drop (no full drop but clothes and arms are kinda disposable, no super clothes or guns giving advantage), ability to steal cash from dead bodies (so keep them in warehouse).
Project I'm speaking about is dead now (well, it isn't shut down but it mutated into second Lineage 2 with all its korean grind and madness), second such project from another russian guys is on the way. But it will fail too coz it is developed by stupid L2 admins.
Main thing I want to say that it isn't that hard to attach a very good pvp gameplay mechanics to old client and server. My examples show that it is absolutely real goal for a good lineage 2 freeshard server team.
The problem is that there are few able guys among l2 server admins (all able guys gone to big companies ).
Maybe I'l make a separate topic about the game I've described here some day...