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Design Roundtable 1: The Death of Death


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#41 thk123   Members   -  Reputation: 180

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:53 AM

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Original post by nuvem
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Original post by Sandman
Death in games is generally such a pointless affair; a short trip to the Load Save Game screen, followed by a small bit of frustration at having to redo part of the game, and then you're back to where you were.

What is particularly interesting about this point, and identified in OrangyTang's player-story, is the failure of death as a game mechanic to actually force a player to adjust their play style. It is interesting because death as a mechanic is applied broadly across all methods of failure. A player who charges in recklessly receives the same response from the game as a player who runs out of ammo at a bad time.

Which begs the question: Are some of the issues resulting from death as a mechanic a failure of a mechanic, or a fault of the broad application of it?

Should we be applying separate mechanics based on the conditions of failure?


An interesting idea, but do you not think by singling out strategies and reward/punishing them differently would be counter-productive. If I want to throw all caution to the wind, why should I punished for playing in that particular play style? You would end of forcing players to play the system, tricking it in to always giving a leaner penalty for failure. Also, it would be virtually impossible to make a perfect system, so there would always be times when this just made the game more frustrating when you felt that the death was just unlucky, but you got punished on the basis of you being reckless.

Thomas Kiley
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#42 MaulingMonkey   Members   -  Reputation: 1556

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 09:53 AM

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Original post by thk123
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They'll get to do exciting risk taking things. Not because they're risking having to grind another million EXP, but because they're risking being dead to the world of the game. Gone. Downright proper.

At least for a minute ;-).

-- Michael B. E. Rickert


Or, they'll not do anything even slightly risky out of fear of being blocked out of a game they paid for.


Even if they're about to log out for lunch for an hour / to sleep until the next day / to go on vacation for the week?

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Original post by Sandman
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Original post by MaulingMonkey
Don't let them back in game for, say, an hour. Maybe a day. Maybe a week if you're a real bastard (I know I am!). Make death something to be feared...


That would annoy me even more than having to do a whole chunk of the game all over again. Discovering a game had a death system like that would be an instant uninstall scenario for me.


What if it were applied at a per-character level? It seems like a better alternative than permadeath proper -- if you die on account of, say, lag, it's not the end of your character. I can see some people preferring to take the XP hit, though.

#43 thk123   Members   -  Reputation: 180

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 10:53 AM

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Original post by MaulingMonkey
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Original post by thk123
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Original post by MaulingMonkey
They'll get to do exciting risk taking things. Not because they're risking having to grind another million EXP, but because they're risking being dead to the world of the game. Gone. Downright proper.

At least for a minute ;-).

-- Michael B. E. Rickert


Or, they'll not do anything even slightly risky out of fear of being blocked out of a game they paid for.


Even if they're about to log out for lunch for an hour / to sleep until the next day / to go on vacation for the week?



I'm afraid I don't really see that as a valid argument. Are you saying players should build their game strategy around when they plan to take breaks from the game. Even assuming that that is OK, doesn't that take away all the good parts from the mechanic. Surely it looses all threat if your saying that players will only die when they intend to take a break anyway?

Thomas Kiley


-thk123botworkstudio.blogspot.com - Shamelessly advertising my new developers blog ^^

#44 nuvm   Members   -  Reputation: 326

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:02 AM

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Original post by thk123
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Original post by nuvem
What is particularly interesting about this point, and identified in OrangyTang's player-story, is the failure of death as a game mechanic to actually force a player to adjust their play style. It is interesting because death as a mechanic is applied broadly across all methods of failure. A player who charges in recklessly receives the same response from the game as a player who runs out of ammo at a bad time.

Which begs the question: Are some of the issues resulting from death as a mechanic a failure of a mechanic, or a fault of the broad application of it?

Should we be applying separate mechanics based on the conditions of failure?


An interesting idea, but do you not think by singling out strategies and reward/punishing them differently would be counter-productive. If I want to throw all caution to the wind, why should I punished for playing in that particular play style? You would end of forcing players to play the system, tricking it in to always giving a leaner penalty for failure. Also, it would be virtually impossible to make a perfect system, so there would always be times when this just made the game more frustrating when you felt that the death was just unlucky, but you got punished on the basis of you being reckless.


I didn't mean to specifically focus on play style alone, it was merely an example of one of many failures that are met with a single mechanic. One could also consider non-combat failures such as missing a jump.

Note also, that if you throw caution to the wind in a game where such behaviour was not desired, as in OrangyTang's example of the Quake player in Bioshock, you are often punished anyway.

That said, you make a good point: if the player can game the system, they will most certainly take the least punishing failure.

#45 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1672

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:28 AM

Once again, awesome topic, mittens.

One thing that strikes me about this discussion is why death has to be considered failure. Why is death not the right end to your particular experience in the game? I think we design with the mentality that death is something bad that the hero shouldn't experience. Yet in many stories death is the right and even fitting end to the hero's tale.

What would happen if we took note of and tallied the player's actions and then gave them an account of their impact on the world? What if dying at different points in the game achieved different results than never dying at all? Would it still be a failure?

Consider an HP Lovecraftian survival horror environment, for instance, or a noir detective setting where the hero must die. Every ending, even the "good ones" result in death. Given such a setting the player would experience a range of deaths/endings, some more satisfying than others. Forms of death might be forms of exploration of outcomes.

Or consider a Halo 1 clone with a persistent world where if the player dies he continues on as another Spartan. At stake are the dwindling lives of all the marines to be rescued as well as all life itself (the destruction of the Halo). Death might mean the difference between key characters and larger numbers of marines being saved, but it does not automatically follow that death should be failure. What if, instead, the player can opt to suicide in order to save Captain Keyes at the expense of Sarge, and by doing so create a different story outcome than if they were to have survived? Provided there is some sense of constancy, the player's actions could generate narrative outcomes that range from a Pyrrhic victory of saving only themselves (the real Halo 1 ending) to getting everybody off alive no matter how many cyborg parts littered the ground.

Now I realize that this concept does some violence to the notion of linear storytelling. But as long as the designer doesn't demand rigid control and allows some interpretation, I think there are creative ways around that problem. Cutscenes that use the game engine rather than prerendered movies, for instance, would allow greater flexibility in depicting the changed world that the player's death would have brought about.

I also think this idea can be treated separately from how easy it is to actually die. It is perfectly possible to remove deadfalls, minefields or other insta-kill items from a level. But it's not necessary. Rather it would be more important to ask, "How would this challenge allow the player to die a meaningful death?"

-Wavinator (aka Aaron Miller)

--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#46 Wai   Members   -  Reputation: 932

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 11:49 AM

Hi, I again think that the original question could be better framed and introduced. Part of the reason is that "death" is a colorful word. It is so colorful that it distract one's thought away from the fundamental question.

Ignore the word "death" for the moment, and consider these implementations:


Method 1) Withholding Content until good performance is detected

Method 2) Terminating Activity when a bad decision is made

Method 3) Providing Evaluation to completed performance.


The question was which style is more productive in making a player learn a gaming skill. It was implied in the original post that the objective of a designer need not be to encourage a player to improve their skill. It was implied that such an objective is optional. But suppose a design objective is to let the player effectively learn a gaming skilling, which method would you use?

The learning method depends on the nature of the skill or lesson that the designer wants to teach.

Method 1: Withholding Content

This method has a property where the game forces the player to learn something before moving on to the next concept. This is the type of implementation one would use in a tutorial, where the game goes through each elementary aspect of the game. The game makes sure that the player is properly introduced before releasing the player to engage in the wild world. This works in a game world where a player that has not learned the basic skills will fail miserably in the game world.

This is the method I would use in a game like Bunnies World as described in the other thread. To succeed in that game world, the player must learn how to feed themselves before they get to do anything else, since all other activities would require that basic skill. Next, I make sure that the learns how to survivie predator attacks. That is the second fundamental survival skill. Without it, the player's gaming experience will be miserable.

When the game is analyzed like this, "Death" in the sense in the original post is equivalent to "Failure to Level Up" in Bunnies World. They are the equivalent ways to withhold content.

The logical requirement of this system is that the player must accept that understand the fundamentals is necessary to play the game. In the actual implementation the player would be introduced to some key points about the game world so that they know what it is that they are suppose to learn.


Method 2: Terminating Activity

This method is a type of feedback that in some sense defines the skill but defining what is not. For example, in a survival game, the skill is the skill to survive. This necessarily implies that there is some notion of death that is undesirable. If the bunny become invulnerable to all attacks, there will be no notion that the bunny is in a world about survival. "Death" in this sense is part of the feedback system required to define the skill.

This method is similar to 1, except that there is no withholding of contents so when this method is used alone, and the player did something "wrong", the player may not have a good understanding of what the mistake was. In some games it might be obvious, in some games it might not be. In the case of Method 1, the player can narrow down the reasons because the player has some knowledge that part of its action were right.

Games that have Terminaing Activity in general do not necessarily share the design objective to train the player to become a good player. The game could be designed to simply reward the players that figure out the skills.



Method 3: Evaluating Performance

This is another type of feedback that primarily tells what the player has done right. When a game is sufficiently open-ended, this could be hard to do. The game may not be able to tell the player what he did that was right, it might only be able to tell that the result is good.

In Bunnies World the performance indexes are number of babies raised and the number of predator attacks evaded. A player could compare his own evasion stats and that of others:

Your Stats:

Fox: 15 Hit, 20 Miss
Hawk: 7 Hit, 0 Miss
Snake: 6 Hit, 0 Miss

Stranger Bunny's Stats:

Fox: 30 Hits, 80 Miss
Hawk: 20 Hit, 20 Miss
Snake: 20 Hit, 2 Miss

When a player finds a difference the player could wonder what it is that makes the other player do better. In the example above, it seems that the stranger had figured out how to dodge hawks, but is still learning how to dodge snake attacks.

A more general example of Method 3 occurs in racing games. In normal racing game, crashing doesn't remove the player from the race. The performance evaluation is the time it takes the player to finish the race. But without comparison, the players does not necessarily know whether his performance is good or bad. A racing game with a Method 3 system would tune the AI cars such that the player is possible to win first-place. So that the rank could be a comparison. But until the player compares the actual time with others.


Motivation to Learn

The following specifically describe what it is that keeps the player playing the game with respect to each method. Motives such as being able to earn money from the game, or being able to brag about an achievement in a social context are shared among them and are not highlighted.

Method 1: Withholding Content

o New Content

The player wants to do better because he wants to play with the new content that will become available if his skill level is approved. The game itself could exist in a form where understanding the fundamentals is required to understand the conflict of the higher contents to enjoy them. Once the player had demonstrated competence the player should be allowed to move on. The effect of this motivation runs out at the end when there is no more new content withheld. The exception is when the player could create content using skills. The form of new created content could be a social experience of an event.

If only a fraction of the population could attain the higher contents, the status of having them could be a social motivation.


Method 2: Terminating Activity

o Completion of a Task

The player simply wants to complete it. The player simply wants to win. This is the mentally for players that would skip cutscenes after beating the boss. To them, the "content" that is the reward is irrelevant. They just enjoy beating the challenges.


Method 3: Evaluating Performance

o Beating one's self

Without comparisons, the player must be self-motivated to challenge themself. Otherwise, this Method implemented alone has no effect on unlocking better ending, new item, etc. The only difference between beating the game poorly or in excellence is in the non-consequential stats.

o Social Status

This motivation is share by all three, but when the game has evaluations, sometimes it makes it easier for player to compare among themselves. For instance, if a racing game has no sense of trial time, then for two players to tell who is better, they would have to race each other. In a game with Evaluations they could just compare the stats. So this method assists in establishing social status, when the players agree that the stats holds value. The other two forms might only give a boolean when used in comparisons. This form gives a more graduated value.

#47 bakanoodle   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 12:47 PM


I feel there are two issues here:

1. Death as a mechanic

2. Death as a concept

Both of these have very interesting ideas on how to approach them.

'Death as a mechanic' explores the risk/reward scenario, and how exactly a player should be punished for failing an objective.
I think we all agree that there must be some sort of risk in a game, regardless if that is restarting a level, respawning at a base, or simply having to climb up to make make a jump again.

'Death as a concept' is a little more interesting because it requires quite a different gameplay experience then most of us are used to. It's an interesting idea to explore the concept of death and base a game around it.
What really happens when our character dies?

Take the game "Karoshi Suicide Salaryman" for example. The whole point of the game is to kill yourself. The actual game design is nothing new, (figure out the puzzle, proceed to next room.) however the context it is put in makes it new and exciting.
Tyler McCullochTwitterBlog

#48 MaulingMonkey   Members   -  Reputation: 1556

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:05 PM

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Original post by thk123
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Original post by MaulingMonkey
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Original post by thk123
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Original post by MaulingMonkey
They'll get to do exciting risk taking things. Not because they're risking having to grind another million EXP, but because they're risking being dead to the world of the game. Gone. Downright proper.

At least for a minute ;-).

-- Michael B. E. Rickert


Or, they'll not do anything even slightly risky out of fear of being blocked out of a game they paid for.


Even if they're about to log out for lunch for an hour / to sleep until the next day / to go on vacation for the week?



I'm afraid I don't really see that as a valid argument. Are you saying players should build their game strategy around when they plan to take breaks from the game. Even assuming that that is OK, doesn't that take away all the good parts from the mechanic. Surely it looses all threat if your saying that players will only die when they intend to take a break anyway?

Thomas Kiley


Well, we're postulating a player that's risk-adverse enough that they're already (trying to) remove all threat -- and that threat will remain until they draw near to whenever they decide to take their break.

And, yeah, the risk will be less at the end. But is that a problem? I'd see it as more of a reward: for someone like me who would be taking risks in the middle of the game, if I've managed to survive this long, and before I log off I can take an even bigger gambit than I normally would risk without penalty. The carebear in turn is rewarded by a similar chance, although their rewards up to this point would presumably be less -- nothing ventured nothing gained, after all.

If the gambit fails, I've still "lost", I'm still "dead", that doesn't change. But if the gambit succeeds, the fact that your progress wasn't being held as hostage doesn't detract from the glory of the win.


#49 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2085

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:25 PM

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Original post by MaulingMonkey
What if it were applied at a per-character level? It seems like a better alternative than permadeath proper -- if you die on account of, say, lag, it's not the end of your character. I can see some people preferring to take the XP hit, though.


That's better; at least I have the choice as to whether I should play something else instead, rather than being forced to.

However, I still don't really like it. It's basically giving me a choice between leaving the game, starting from the beginning with an alternative character just to pass the time until I can play my main character again, or if it's single player or otherwise handled client side, changing my system clock to avoid the 'punishment' altogether. None of those options strike me as desirable.

How about rewarding the player for NOT dying/failing? Achievements and similar mechanics work well here, and appeal to the right demographic; casual players won't care if they don't get the "Completed on Super Impossible Difficulty Without Dying" Achievement, but the more hardcore demographic who want that challenge and sense of danger can strive for it.

#50 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:51 PM

If a player dies, it can be assumed that they were overwhelmed by an enemy or enemies and lacked the skill to overcome them. So how about punishing by diminishing their skill as opposed to restarting a whole level? For example, if a player was in the middle of a spellcasting and got jumped by a group of enemies and therefore was defeated, then that spell decrease in some way. It could decrease in power or range or just take longer to cast. In this way you are forcing the player to learn from his mistake and develop a different strategy or even use techniques that the player has been ignoring.

The player is then forced to be a thinking, strategizing immortal as opposed to a brute force immortal. The player is more aware of his arsenal and his enemies. The reward will be knowing that enemies can be "expertly" defeated. The punishment will be the "death" of his skills not himself.

#51 spliter   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

Here are my two cents:
It has struck me that no one has even mentioned the death in Prey.
For those who don't know that game there's death, but instead of having to reload you go to an afterlife where you must battle spirits. By shooting those spirits you regain health, and so the more you hit the higher your health will be when you get back to game.
So far this is my favorite application of death. By putting in a penalty mechanic that can be used to the player's advantage you leave out most of the frustration player feels when he died Nth time because of low health, or by accident, while maintaining the penalty (lost time, which often is wasted on loading screens).
In my opinion this kind of temporary death is better than the Bioshock one (barely any penalty,game becomes too easy, you don't feel like you're taking any kind of risk) and the classical one (full penalty: lost time, progress, and having to repeat everything. Basically you create a rip in the gameplay).
Mikolaj

#52 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 03:39 PM

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Original post by spliter
Here are my two cents:
It has struck me that no one has even mentioned the death in Prey.
For those who don't know that game there's death, but instead of having to reload you go to an afterlife where you must battle spirits. By shooting those spirits you regain health, and so the more you hit the higher your health will be when you get back to game.


This sounds like the mechanic in Soul Reaver.


#53 Azenrain   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 05:07 PM

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Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
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Original post by spliter
Here are my two cents:
It has struck me that no one has even mentioned the death in Prey.
For those who don't know that game there's death, but instead of having to reload you go to an afterlife where you must battle spirits. By shooting those spirits you regain health, and so the more you hit the higher your health will be when you get back to game.


This sounds like the mechanic in Soul Reaver.


Yup, and one of my fave games too. And along the lines in the quote, I think we're all aware of the possibilities that can be had with a death mechanic so we were more exploring the fundamentals of the topic on a whole.

In relation though, the 'death as a concept' brought up by Tyler most recently, and the branching paths of death, or heroic death (Aaron), seem to offer the most room for development. Like multiple stages of 'death' worked into the game, layered like an onion. How deep does the rabbit hole go? Will you fight your way back or fall further into the void?

#54 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 05:20 PM

If I'm not mistaken those types of death are to develop the story and give motivation to the player. The concept of the player dying, being impervious to the death, or death-resistant heavily influences the gameplay. Unless you want the player to "Quantum Leap" from one character to next. The death of one character allows the player to take control of another character and a completely different storyline/path.

#55 MaulingMonkey   Members   -  Reputation: 1556

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:07 PM

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Original post by Sandman
How about rewarding the player for NOT dying/failing? Achievements and similar mechanics work well here, and appeal to the right demographic; casual players won't care if they don't get the "Completed on Super Impossible Difficulty Without Dying" Achievement, but the more hardcore demographic who want that challenge and sense of danger can strive for it.


If you're striving for it, that's quickly getting back into the "oh noes you just died and completely reset your progress" stuff that, hardcode or not, I'm generally wanting to avoid. It's not scary, just irritating as hell -- for me, anyways. It results in many colorful cursewords, instead of the "Oh shit... shit shit shit SHIT SHIT SHIT AHHHHHHH AAAAAAHHHHH AAAAAAAHHHHHHH" as the situation progresses from bad to worse to being on fire, which I assure you is much more fun.


#56 Josh Heitzman   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 08:00 PM

I think the type of game plays a major role in the handling of death as a mechanic or death as a concept.

In games that lack a personal avatar such as Tetris or Bejeweled, death as a concept simply isn't applicable, while "Game Over" is their death as a mechanic and its an integral mechanic to the game. You can't have a final score and thus a high score without the game mechanics including some terminator even if its "Game Over" by completing all levels (even though you've beat the game your still effectively dead since the score is reset).

On the other hand in a (rare) game like Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, death as a concept and death as a mechanic are one and the same and the death event is integral to gameplay and doesn't break immersion since it just shifts you to the spirit plane. While it does take time to get back to where you were on the material plane, you don't have fight the same stuff over again as a reset doesn't occur and in the process you may take care of something you needed to do in the spirit plane anyway.

Then there are single player first and third person PC games where "Load Saved Game" is their death as a mechanic and death as a concept is not even represented and immersion is frequently broken by the save game screen as the player is trained to save at a time interval equal to the time they are willing to spend redoing what they just did (and this time isn't always doing something challenging, could just be getting from here to there or collecting some resource before they got ambushed).

Then there are single player first and third person console games where "Load Last Checkpoint" is their death as a mechanic much as in the PC game "Load Saved Game", except that the player has to replay as much of the game as the games' creator have deemed necessary rather then how much the player has decided was necessary by their last save.

In my opinion, these last two types of games have wasted an opportunity to build death as a concept into the game and the "Load Last Checkpoint" version has caused me to put down more then one game never to return nor anticipating the next title from that developer.

As far as punishing players goes, I gotta wonder how lucrative it is to target a game at masochists...

#57 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2085

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 08:27 PM

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If you're striving for it, that's quickly getting back into the "oh noes you just died and completely reset your progress" stuff that, hardcode or not, I'm generally wanting to avoid. It's not scary, just irritating as hell -- for me, anyways. It results in many colorful cursewords, instead of the "Oh shit... shit shit shit SHIT SHIT SHIT AHHHHHHH AAAAAAHHHHH AAAAAAAHHHHHHH" as the situation progresses from bad to worse to being on fire, which I assure you is much more fun.


I don't really see how - as an achievement it's purely optional, and therefore if you miss it, then you can just settle for the next best one. If you're only playing the game to get that one, ultimate achievement, then maybe - but I imagine that anyone doing that would likely be a hardcore gamer who has probably played through the game several times, at least once on the hardest difficulty. By that point, if you give up in frustration, then fine; you've already played the game half to death and got more than your money's worth from it.

You can scale the achievements easily enough. "Get to level 2 without dying" could be one. "Get to level 4 without dying" could be another, and so on. The cost of failure is loss of bragging rights - which to most people, aren't so important as to make them restart the game, but always nice to have.

#58 GerardL   Members   -  Reputation: 146

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:19 AM

An example of a game that did it right IMHO is Mirror's Edge.

The normal campaign has an insane amount of checkpoints, so that you never have to do a large part twice, but broke up the challenges is small parts, that you did have to complete in one go.

However in the speed run/time trail is where the game really shines. If you die, it is almost impossible to achieve the target times for the levels(because dieing takes a little time). You can however still finish it the level.

This combines many ideas. The first run through is usually the campaign. Low cost of dying, just provide little pieces of gameplay that you have to play through in one go (between the checkpoints).

Later run throughs, the speed run, you can still finish the whole level, for practicing, but if you die, it is extremely difficult to still make the target times. This makes this type of gameplay far more interesting, because there is a real challenge, but down time small because you can still run through the rest of the level after dying.

#59 Sik_the_hedgehog   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1546

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 02:08 AM

As it has been said, first of all we should check the particular case of the game. If it's an endless game where it's "last as long as you can" (e.g. Tetris), some kind of stop is needed. But I'll assume we're talking about games that aren't like that.

The whole point of this is discussing what effect has death over the enjoyment that can be gotten from the game, right? Well, I won't say if death is good or not (then again, it's very game-dependent in the end), just that having to redo a part of the game isn't really bad as long as the player feels that it's making progress, or that it has hope to be able to make progress (if you get stuck somewhere that you know how to complete, e.g. a boss, you'll probably just keep trying hoping that you'll improve and eventually beat it - giving the feeling of acheivement). I'm pretty sure that having to redo the entire game because you lost your last life isn't as bad as this (if you know what I mean by linking to that video, I feel sorry for you, I was stuck there for 8 years =P).

So yeah, while of course extreme punishments are bad, it isn't really a matter of making a game as forgiving as possible but that the player feels that it can make progress or that it is making progress, because that's what makes the player wanting to play the game. And this is even true even after a game is complete, e.g. acheiving a higher score, a smaller time, reaching that impossible secret area or just testing its own skills.

-- Javier Degirolmo

EDIT: grammar ._.

#60 Somnia   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 05:07 AM

I think that if th standard save and reload structure isn't working for your game then it just shows it has gameplay problems. Generally if the learning curve is reasonable then the player shouldn't have to reload too often, and more importantly replaying a particular section shouldn't be a chore, the basic game mechanic is supposed to be fun. The very best games I've played typically had me reloading constantly even when I didn't die just to play through the awesome parts again, I end up not just trying to win, but trying win in a dramatic, stylish or perfect way.

The main legitimate reason for avoiding reloads is if a game is very story based and you don't want to disrupt the narrative immersion. Unfortunately I've never seen an attempt to provide an in character explanation for why the player can't die that didn't break immersion just as badly. Even if there are sound plot reasons for your effective immortality it doesn't explain the behaviour of the bad guys, after your fifth attempt to kill them wouldn't they get the message and run away or try something else?

The worst death system I encountered was in GTA 4. It managed to be both immersion breaking (hmm I was shot to pieces in a shoot out in which I killed a half dozen cops, and now I'm walking out of the hospital) and also really frustrating, since jumping to the start of a mission still often left you with 5 minutes of travelling time for a payoff of thirty seconds action.






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