The issue of "player killing" is one that has caused problems for most of the massively multiplayer role-playing games released so far, and developers have generally been unable to come up with a satisfactory solution. Some players see fighting each other as an important part of the game world, while others tend to be put off when their newborn character is reduced to bite-size pieces by a level 47 wizard. Some games ban player vs player combat (known as PKing) completely, some only allow PKing between consenting adults, while others banish PKers to seperate servers or zones of the world.
One of the growing horde of massively multiplayer games under development at the moment is "Shadowbane", and the developers at Wolfpack Studios are aiming to solve the PK issue by putting a slightly different spin on that last approach. "The game is set up to be quite territorial", Todd Coleman explains in an interview with RPGPlanet. "The closer a player remains to the center of their Nation, the more they are protected from the dangers of the World. At the heart of my nation is a safe zone, with guards that protect me and protect my buildings. The further I range afield (meaning if I choose to wander out into "the badlands") the more dangerous life will become. The game is engineered so that players can have a full, enjoyable game experience without ever having to "leave the nest", so to speak. We just think they'll be missing out on some of the fun."
What should make Shadowbane different from other games which use a similar approach of PK zoning is that the territory covered by each of the nations varies, and can be effected by player actions within the game. "Kingdoms aren't always pre-defined - players can carve out their own space in the World, and build their own castles, keeps and fortification. This way players can choose the areas of the World they wish to populate (and play), and basically make the game as competitive as they want it to be."
Whether this approach will be any more successful than previous attempts at solving the PK problem remains to be seen, but with the game currently expected to launch some time next summer, we should know soon...