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Perma-Death and Continuity


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#1 Oluseyi   Staff Emeritus   -  Reputation: 1670

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 10:09 AM

A "co-conspirator" and I are secretly hatching our plot to rule the world! Okay, seriously. A colleague and I are working on a design for an MMO game in which the player controls non-human avatars (I''m intentionally obfuscating the details because they''re irrelevant). Our creatures age, deteriorate in health (from injury/disease as well as age) and eventually die, but we''re exploring options for continuity that would be acceptable and interesting/challenging to players. Our current model is to have the creatures progignere either via direct birth or laying eggs, which encodes the creatures "DNA" with suitable mutation/adaptation/evolution such that the offspring is not identical to the parent. This would allow a player to continue in the game world with a new avatar that possessed the majority of the experiences of the previous avatar, renewed strength and vigor (though not yet at peak) and so forth. Is this a reasonable model? Would it be interesting and fascinating or frustrating to you? Comments, please.

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#2 munkie   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 10:24 AM

Frustration. I wouldn''t want to play game thats storyline is so long that it spans the lives and deaths of several characters.

#3 Dreddnafious Maelstrom   Members   -  Reputation: 578

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 10:32 AM

I find that extremely interesting, it would also lend itself to
endless plot/strategies. i.e Revenge for the murder of your "father" or "mother", not to mention a bunch of other interesting twists. You would have to be sure and give the 2nd generation and on some obvious advantages over a gen1 avatar so the sense of loss is abated, but ,yes, Hell of an idea.

Dreddnafious Maelstrom

"If i saw farther, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants."

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#4 Diodor   Members   -  Reputation: 517

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 10:38 AM

quote:

Original post by Oluseyi

This would allow a player to continue in the game world with a new avatar that possessed the majority of the experiences of the previous avatar, renewed strength and vigor (though not yet at peak) and so forth. Is this a reasonable model? Would it be interesting and fascinating or frustrating to you?



It doesn''t sound all too different from the non-perma death schemes. For the player, death is nothing more than a penalty to his stats (one penalty among others). Of course, the implementation details can yet make all the difference.

I''d like some system where the dying avatar must create some quests that the new avatar can benefit from (quests other players can try too). Burrying the treasures he has gathered, then placing some monsters to guard them, but not too many lest they kill the new avatar...

#5 Oluseyi   Staff Emeritus   -  Reputation: 1670

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 11:01 AM

quote:
Original post by Diodor
It doesn''t sound all too different from the non-perma death schemes. For the player, death is nothing more than a penalty to his stats (one penalty among others). Of course, the implementation details can yet make all the difference.

We had required that the player invest some time in laying an egg, for example (we prefer eggs because they can remain unfertilized while the player keeps playing, and be broken if the player has no interest in continuing with that offspring - say new abilities have been developed that will not appear in its gene pool). That makes finding a suitably remote yet accessible nesting location important, among other things. However...

quote:

I''d like some system where the dying avatar must create some quests that the new avatar can benefit from (quests other players can try too). Burrying the treasures he has gathered, then placing some monsters to guard them, but not too many lest they kill the new avatar...

I find this idea fascinating and think we can successfully couple it with the hatched offspring concept. I''ll talk to my contemporary and see how he feels about it. Great idea, Diodor!

#6 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 28 August 2002 - 05:29 PM

I was about to create a new topic on death in MMORPGs, since I have had ideas on it.

I like permadeath. I also am intrigued by the concept of aging. But what I thought would be nice is that, if you die, all your items are returned to your house. Your house belongs to your account, not your character, and any character on your account, or any new one you create later, has access to your house. So, you can retrieve those items later.

As for the character, when he dies, he becomes a ghost. Ghosts are observers and they can fly up to 30 feet above ground. Ghosts can talk to each other and to living creatures if they have the proper skills for talking to the dead. Also, anyone capable of seeing ghosts can see their race, class, and level.

A ghost can return to life, however. Another player of the same race, from a different account, can choose to sacrifice his body for the ghost. What happens is, let's say Necrotis is killed, and becomes a ghost. Necrotis works out a deal with a guy called Rejuvron who's from another account. Necrotis inhabits Rejuvron's body, and Rejuvron becomes a ghost himself. If Rejuvron was lower-level than Necrotis, then Necrotis' level is set down to that of Rejuvron, and his skills are set back to whatever they were when he was at Rejuvron's level.

His physical attributes are exactly what Rejuvron's physical attributes were. That means things like Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Intelligence ia set back to whatever they were for Necrotis when he was at that level, but Wisdom actually increases a bit.

If Rejuvron is higher-level than Necrotis, Necrotis just keeps his current level; he doesn't gain or lose any levels.

Necrotis would then be basically a perfectly normal character, except that, if he had been killed (as opposed to dying of old age), then his eyes would glow. When a new player is created, a color is chosen that is associated with that player. The eyes of Necrotis, in Rejuvron's old body, glow that color.

But if he had died simply from old age, then his eyes glow but also have that weird sort of smoke stuff coming out of them, that is usually associated with evil characters like demons and vampires. In addition, he'd get a very nice Wisdom boost.

This concept hinges on an ability to trade not only items, but favors, among players. You'd be able to create simple scripts graphically (without programming) to do things like trading a body for an item (the item going to the donor's house to be picked up by some other character of his), or setting a bounty on someone's head, or whatever.

~CGameProgrammer( );

EDIT: Added names to the characters, since my post was confusing before.


[edited by - CGameProgrammer on August 30, 2002 2:30:29 PM]

#7 Symphonic   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 29 August 2002 - 11:02 PM

Ah summer holidays...

Continuity...

Firstly, I really like the idea of a house belonging to an account where multiple characters convene (characters from the same account). If two characters of the same race and differing sex meet, they can travel to one of their respective houses and mate, the offspring then becomes a new potential character (who must grow for some time) with attributes crossed from the two characters who created it.

Then, when one of the characters in that house grows old and is on the brink of death, (s)he can commit his/her spirit to a child in that house, giving it a significant portion of his/her abilities (perhaps in a dormant state), and all items.

The only important restriction I can think of is that no two characters from the same account (house) may mate. A good control for making characters behave in a friendly manner towards each other (which makes everyone''s life more pleasant).

I''m also of the oppinion that there should be sufficient strategic differences between male and female characters that choosing one over the other is a reasonably interesting decision, and not something to be taken lightly.

That''s all for now


George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

#8 Dracoliche   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 01:36 AM

If two accounts co-operated to produce children, there would need to be some way for both to benefit - e.g. twins or one account playing the child while another plays the child''s pet.

Also, expanding on CGameProgrammer''s idea, if a character who was killed came back to life, he should automatically be given a quest to exact revenge upon his murderer. And of course a child might be obligated to get revenge for his parents.

#9 ahw   Members   -  Reputation: 256

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 05:00 AM

Wraith : the Oblivion ... a game in the game. but of course, ho wants to play a ghost ?




Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !


#10 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 07:32 AM

I edited my post to make it clearer; I think it was confusing to read before.

~CGameProgrammer( );



#11 Oluseyi   Staff Emeritus   -  Reputation: 1670

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 10:14 AM

Interesting ideas, but you all forget: our avatars are non-human. They''re not even humanoid, which limits the applicability of many of these suggestions to our specific situation. They''re more like... snakes. Or lizards.

If these were intended for the general case rather than my specific quandry, then I apologize for my assumption. Carry on, all.

#12 Symphonic   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 02:18 PM

do they lay eggs?

That could be great! so when two powerful characters mate you get multiple offspring to choose from.

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

#13 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 02:48 PM

My idea was a separate idea; my own take on the death/aging theme. Not an extension of yours. So I was thinking of humanoids.

~CGameProgrammer( );



#14 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 30 August 2002 - 03:43 PM

SYMPHONIC wrote:
quote:
do they lay eggs?
That could be great! so when two powerful characters mate you get multiple offspring to choose from.

Yes, that''s the general idea.
It would be great if players are able to play one and the same avatar for a long time, but in reality, it''s more likely that they will start the game with one, lay one (or more) egg(s) and then have the option to play with the avatar that hatches from that egg whenever they want to.

Just like human babies, the new avatar will have part of the father''s DNA and part of the mother''s DNA, creating a unique new being.

Players can and will bond with their avatar''s, but they have to take into account that they could lose that avatar at any time due to permanent death. They have to make sure to lay an egg at the appropriate moment (for example, just after gaining a new level) so that the new avatar will be just as much fun to play as the old avatar, be it a little different.

In common RPG terms...

Imagine playing a male warrior. You reach level 10 and decide to find an attractive female to mate with. You go on another adventure, but alas, you find yourself outnumbered and you die a horrible death. Oh, no! My male warrior is permanently dead! This game sucks! Oh, wait... I have this baby here, see. Why, it looks a lot like my dead male warrior. Same eyes, same hair. But, as it''s growing up into a teenager, I notice that the child isn''t quite as muscular as its father. Ah, I get it, the mother was a thief, so the child must have taken some of her agile features, sacrificing some of the father''s strength features. Hey, this kid is a lot of fun to play! This game doesn''t suck after all! It''s actually a lot of fun. I''m going to make sure to keep this new avatar alive a little longer, so I can become stronger before creating a new baby.





#15 MorganE   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 31 August 2002 - 09:01 PM

Is permanent death doable?

Yes.

Is permanent death fun?

That’s a matter of opinion

Is permanent death something that most people want?

No. If you look at Blizzard''s Diablo II they created a system where players could choose to play with a permanent death account (Hell Mode) or a respawning account. Now although there were quite a few players who choose the Hell Mode account the number was dwarfed by the number of players who choose regular accounts.

If you want to create a successful MMO game today then you need to cater to both the hard core players and the regular players. However the regular players have higher priority over the hard core players. I''m not suggesting that everybody start making the Sims on line but in order to compete in the sea of MMO games coming out in the next while your going to have to capture a large audience.

Furthermore, what benefit does this really add to game play? If a snake dies and then has to play a lower lever snake hatched from an egg then essentially all you have done is strip the player of the experience difference between the your snake and the old snake. If its to add an element to the story where the player will want to take vengeance on another player it would work perhaps in a single player game but not a MMO game. The last time I got PKed I never saw the guy again. It would have to be one heck of an incentive for a player to scour the game world looking for a character which was powerful enough to kill his main guy and then attempt to fight him with his new guy.

I really like the aging thing but this is not the right way to go about it. I personally can''t see what the best way to implement aging in a MMO game would be.


#16 CGameProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 640

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Posted 01 September 2002 - 01:36 AM

Diablo II''s Hardcore Mode was fun for me, and is the sole inspiration for my longing for permadeath. But in Diablo II, Player-Killers and laggy servers very often caused hardcore characters to die - PKing will be severely restricted in an MMORPG (of my design at least) and MMORPGs can afford quality servers. Also my idea solves the problem of losing all your hard-won items when you die, since they are returned to your house. The worst part about losing a hardcore character, to me, is losing the items, since I may have had to do a lot of trades to get that item.

Also, Diablo II was simply designed for softcore play - Hardcore and Softcore modes were exactly the same, except that Hardcore characters don''t respawn. But a game designed with permadeath in mind will obviously make it easier for people to not die, and it will lessen the penalty for dying - this thread has been about ideas to give the player another chance even after dying. Though it''s true the egg idea basically means there is no death.

~CGameProgrammer( );



#17 MorganE   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 September 2002 - 06:29 AM

As far as MMO games go you can not really screw players over when they die because of the external factors involved. Let’s say I get a guy up to level 5 and then die without having an egg. So now I have to totally start over but this time I''m going to be more careful. I level my guy up to level 6 and I''m out hunting in the forest when I lose my connection to the game. The last thing I see before I disconnect is a level 30 monster spawning on top of me. How many times is the average player willing to start from scratch?

Another thing to consider here is that the lower the characters level is the lower the things in which he can interact are. These can be monsters or quests etc. So if I''m fighting some big demon and get killed, you’re going to make me go back and fight imps with my new character? I don''t think so. Although there are people that want to play this way for most players all you’re going to be doing is frustrating them.

The fact of the matter is that in a MMO game you need to minimize the effect of dying on the player or you need to make it very difficult for the player to get killed. Otherwise you’re going to end up with the small portion of the players who love permanent death and with the glut of MMO games coming out these days there’s just not enough of these players to go around.


#18 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 01 September 2002 - 10:55 AM

MORGANE wrote:
quote:
Let’s say I get a guy up to level 5 and then die without having an egg.

Laying an egg will be a simple process, so you should never venture out into the wild without doing so.
quote:
As far as MMO games go you can not really screw players over when they die because of the external factors involved.

You can''t really take external factors into consideration too much. You simply HAVE to do something. If you say ''no penalty upon death, because 10% of all deaths are caused by external factors'' then your letting your design be influenced too much by the minority. That doesn''t mean you shouldn''t figure out a way to best solve the problem. A crash/disconnect is always bad. When I played Diablo 2, I tried playing hardcore mode (permanent death) but with dial-up that''s just not really an option. Now, if Diablo 2 had given me the option to set a certain auto-command for my character to follow when I get disconnected, it would''ve been different. ''Upon disconnect run to safety'' would''ve worked miracles. Or ''use power X and fight until health Y is reached, then run''. The player should be able to pretty much set up this auto-command so that the avatar will act on its own almost identical to the way it would when it was still under player control. Besides, Diablo 2 is not the best reference for permanent death, because if you design your game to use permanent death you really have to make it a core element of the game: you can''t just tack it on.

I think that in our design (yes, this is Oluseyi''s co-conspirator) there is a good reason for at least some form of permanent death, but it has to work perfectly in order to create the result I envision.

quote:
The fact of the matter is that in a MMO game you need to minimize the effect of dying on the player or you need to make it very difficult for the player to get killed.

I think the second point is more important than the first. Just give the player tons of options to avoid dying, but make the penalty of death severe. To take Everquest as an example, if I know that there is a certain risk involved in going to a certain location, I''m going to try to lower that risk by finding some other characters to travel with. I CHOOSE to go to that location, so I have every means of avoiding the risk (by simply not going).

CGAMEPROGRAMMER wrote:
quote:
PKing will be severely restricted in an MMORPG

I personally prefer the complete opposite: make PKing an integral part of the game. By doing so, you can control it better. Just like alcohol prohibition didn''t really work, trying to prevent PKing will either result in chaos (PKers finding loopholes that allow them to do just that which you are trying to prevent) or it will result in your design being affected in such a way that its soul is sucked out of it. With PvP comes PK. Without PK you will not really have PvP, and I think that even though it isn''t a requirement for a good online game, it is one of the things that make online gaming stand out from non-online gaming.

#19 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 01 September 2002 - 11:21 AM

MORGANE wrote:
quote:
Furthermore, what benefit does this really add to game play? If a snake dies and then has to play a lower lever snake hatched from an egg then essentially all you have done is strip the player of the experience difference between the your snake and the old snake.

Not quite.
1) It has penalized the player for dying, teaching him to be more careful with his next avatar.
2) It gives the player a new avatar that is like the dead avatar, but also different.
You are correct that the new avatar has less experience than the old one, but that system is already widely used by MMORPGs by using an experience penalty upon death.
quote:
If its to add an element to the story where the player will want to take vengeance on another player it would work perhaps in a single player game but not a MMO game.

I actually think the vengeance motive should not apply. The new avatar shouldn''t really know who killed its parent.
quote:
The last time I got PKed I never saw the guy again.

Which is a good thing, right? The only times I got annoyed at being PKed, is when the PKer would stick around to kill me over and over again. PKing is not a bad thing, until it gets annoying. Getting angry at being attacked by another player in a PvP environment makes as much sense as getting mad at someone tackling you in a football game (unless the method in which you are tackled is not according to the rules).
quote:
It would have to be one heck of an incentive for a player to scour the game world looking for a character which was powerful enough to kill his main guy and then attempt to fight him with his new guy.

That''s why I don''t think players will do that. One of the elements in our game is that players are encouraged to attack other players. Players should not think that those they kill will spend their next few days hunting them down with their new avatar.

I think the problem is that players are too focused on what current MMORPGs look like and how they function. Personally, I think they are all alike. Sure, each one has one or two new elements, but they all feel like they come from one parent MMORPG... and the new ones are not far enough removed in generations from the original parent too really be different. The fact that they are all so much alike makes it hard for people to think about the genre in a different way. Permanent death has not really been explored too much up to this point. I really hope that that will change in the near future, because I think it has a lot of pros (and because I think non-permanent death systems have too many cons).

#20 MorganE   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 September 2002 - 01:40 PM

I think you guys are missing the forest for the trees. I''m not saying that there are not people out there who don’t like permanent death and PKing. What I am saying is that if you want your game to be player by more then the 10% (just a guess) of the population who like this type of game then you need to cater to the other 90%.

Just as an example to support my 10% figure. Asheron’s call has 6-7 servers. One, only one, of the servers is for PK''s and if you log on it has considerably less players then any of the other servers.

So the question is what are you really going for? Are you trying to create a game where you and your friends to hang out or are you trying to create a game where thousands of people play?

Bottom line: You can not make a game which thousands of people will want to play based on the type of game you would want to play if your in the minority. And lets face it, as hardcore game players, were in the minority.

I may be unclear about exactly what would change between the snake and the egg. The one thing that MMO games do well is let players customize their characters. This is a good thing as then players will associate with that character. I like brown hair and brown eyes and like to use magic so I make a brown haired, brown eyed guy with lots of intelligence. Now when I get killed I''m playing my off spring who is blonde haired, blue eyed and really strong? You would have just killed the connection between the player and his character if you do that.

Now if you don’t change anything on him and you still have a brown haired smart guy who is a little lower in the level scale then all you did was take a level away. While I''m on my rant about character changes, players would expect their names to remain the same. It would be a pain in the butt to try and find your friends every time you logged on if their names kept changing.

Next up the external factors. I''m not saying there shouldn''t be any penalty for dying but you can not royally screw players over when they die. Let’s look at the two extremes of what you could do when a player dies. On the negative end you could disable a player’s account and force them to by another copy of the game every time they die. Or on the easy side you could just pop back to life right where you died and continue fighting like nothing had ever happened. Now if you had to choose between one of these two options which would you choose? Or perhaps more importantly which would a normal player choose? The point here is you need to be on the good side of the scale not the bad side.

You both seem to think that the reason that permanent death does not occur more in MMO games is because players don’t know what they are missing. This unfortunately is over looking another serious problem in MMO games. How is an average player who plays say 5 hours a week supposed to compete with some 13 year old kid who is level 50 two weeks after the game comes out? I tell you what. You put someone who just picked up your game because it looked cool and he gets his character to level 5 and then gets killed by some "leet haxxor" kid, you just lost your self a player. The real reason that permanent death isn''t used more is that most people don’t have the time to spend making their character invincible to all but the most difficult of opponents. Most people want to hope on for a short time and get together with a few friends and kill a few monsters.

Final point for this post. You mentioned you wanted it to be an integral part of the game where players hunted other players. The only way this type of plan can work is if all players are always equal. As soon as you start allowing players to become more powerful then other players you create a problem where the only people who can play your games are the ones who are willing to quite there day jobs so they can play all day on the level treadmill. Think of a game like quake or war craft where the entire point of the game is playing other players. What if every time you killed someone your gun became more powerful or your units became stronger? Once you get to level 50 you are so powerful that the game is no fun any more because you can kill most people in one blow. And the game is no fun for new people because they are getting killed in one blow. So you create a situation where you lose your top players when failing to recruit new players.





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