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MMO: Permanent Death


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#1 Jovince   Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 01:22 AM

Hi everyone,

I would just like to hear your opinion on the topic of permanent death in MMOs. I have heard of some single player games featuring permanent death, but I wonder how well players will receive a permanent death feature in MMO games.
My opinion on the matter, is that while it is a risky venture, I would definitely attract the attention of hardcore gamers and will definitely change player relations and interactions since the actions of one player to another can have lasting consequences.
I look forward to hearing your opinions, thanks and God bless :)

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#2 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6053

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 01:29 AM

Hi everyone,

I would just like to hear your opinion on the topic of permanent death in MMOs. I have heard of some single player games featuring permanent death, but I wonder how well players will receive a permanent death feature in MMO games.
My opinion on the matter, is that while it is a risky venture, I would definitely attract the attention of hardcore gamers and will definitely change player relations and interactions since the actions of one player to another can have lasting consequences.
I look forward to hearing your opinions, thanks and God bless :)


If death is permanent then death also has to be fairly frequent which means a MMO like WoW simply won't work with perma death, you want rapid progression and low player attachment to the character, the real progression has to be done on the account rather than the highly mortal characters.
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#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4818

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 03:27 AM

Don't forget to try typing permadeath into the forum search, as this is a discussion that has been discussed several times over the past several years.

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#4 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4683

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 05:06 AM

If death is permanent then death also has to be fairly frequent which means a MMO like WoW simply won't work with perma death, you want rapid progression and low player attachment to the character, the real progression has to be done on the account rather than the highly mortal characters.


Did you mean to say infrequent? Maybe I don't have my facts right there, but in my opinion, permadeath only adds value (rather than removing value) if it can happen, but really happens very rarely.

One thing that upsets me personally with almost every game nowadays is that you die all the time and it means nothing. You die, you respawn, you play on. Some games make you pay a little bit of gold for repairs, some games will give you bubbles over your head for some minutes. These games could as well just display a "win button" that plays a movie while you go and get a drink.
Other games will negatively balance game stats for a few minutes so you die again to the next puny opponent in an even more annoying manner (LOTRO works that way, and it's in my opinion the reason why -- despite having the largest, most well-known merchandise on the planet -- the game was never truly successful).

All in all, what does it mean? Nothing. It is just annoying.

In contrast to that, if death is permanent, it certainly has a meaning -- it means you lose everything you've worked for. Which, if it happens, is terribly annoying. However, it is also a challenge and makes the game a lot less boring. But, it necessarily means that death should not happen every few minutes.

#5 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3556

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 05:14 AM

I have heard of some single player games featuring permanent death

Why not play these first? It's strange to develop a game and never play a similar one or one that used the same mechanics. Google "roguelikes".

Short answer: if you have permadeath the game time has to be very short and the death should be frequent and hard to avoid. It is not compatible with MMOs (except some very unique designs like die2nite).

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#6 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7121

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 06:42 AM

Hi everyone,

I would just like to hear your opinion on the topic of permanent death in MMOs. I have heard of some single player games featuring permanent death, but I wonder how well players will receive a permanent death feature in MMO games.
My opinion on the matter, is that while it is a risky venture, I would definitely attract the attention of hardcore gamers and will definitely change player relations and interactions since the actions of one player to another can have lasting consequences.
I look forward to hearing your opinions, thanks and God bless :)

The roguelike equivalent of a MMO is a MUD, some of these MUDs have permadeath installed. The issue with permadeath is, that it is only attractive to a quite small group of gamers. This is the reason, that you will almost never see perma-death integrated in modern AAA game design (some singleplayer games feature a perma-death option, i.e. torchlight, but this is just a little add-on to the core-game design). MMORPGs , even every modern AAA game, cost such huge amounts of money, that not one single publisher will take the risk to satisfy a small group of potential customers. Make a big AAA game and you need to streamline it to being almost a casual game (this effect will grow on).

An other effect could be harsh social communities. When you play a game with others and you loose some time because someone killed you or because of the failure of a friend, everything will be ok eventually. But once you invest money or lot of time, failure of friends or being killed by others will take the gamer to an other social level...

#7 Bigdeadbug   Members   -  Reputation: 173

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 08:27 AM

Check out Realm Of The Mad God for a good perma death MMO. Its a pretty good game but not really my cup of tea (the same goes for most perma death games).

#8 jay.pis   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 06:32 PM

This upcoming MMO Salem is going to have perma-death. From what I've read is that when a player dies they are able to create a new character that inherits all the previous characters belongings save for their skills and attributes. If they made it so that skills/levels aren't too difficult to attain and raise and at least 10-20% of their last recorded stats/attributes/skills are transferred over to the new character then I'm down with that.

#9 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1840

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 12:16 AM

One of the big hang-ups with MMO permadeath is that the player is the base unit of the game, not the character. Social organization and cooperation are the core or a lot of MMO gaming, so if I go on vacation, and come back to find that all my mates have died and been resurrected a dozen times and I'm the odd man out because I'm still specced for the team we ran two weeks ago, then I'll feel like my investment has lost its value.

Maybe you could simply remove the social aspect. There's a weird social experiment MMO, called The Endless Forest where players are anonymous non-human animals populating a server with an interface that is limited to basic emotes and actions. You can give your little guy a sigil, some unique symbol that will allow others to keep track of individuals in a group, but it isn't a symbol that appears in any alphabet, and there's no way (last time I checked) of making any kind of a "buddy list" or keeping in touch with acquaintances. No guilds, no punk lists, no e-peen, the only thing that matters is what you're doing at that very moment. That game is a tranquil environment, where there's very little to accomplish, but the act of meeting people, interacting with people and then leaving them and forgetting them entirely is perhaps the social equivalent of a roguelike.

I just played a couple rounds of Starcraft II, and the matchmaking there resonates as well. I get chucked into a match against some random dude based on opaque criteria, we duke it out, I do a good job making SCVs but forget to keep up with viking production, I lose air superiority and his tanks faceroll me. End match. My stats are modified minutely in a way I can't really discern, and then I sign up for a new match. New opponent, new map, new chance. I harass with a probe, I expand, I mess up my micro and lose my immortals, then I just go balls-out on stalkers and colossus and win. End match.

No how about a game where you get to make a character, engage in a cooperative/adversarial contest and then resolve the session in one of three ways: You die, you retire or you "stable" the character for future use? It may or may not be set in a persistent world, but getting saddled with a random team based on matchmaking heuristics and then being called upon to play without any kind of direct communication (no voice, no chat line, at most maybe contextual utterances like you see in co-op Portal 2) would allow a player to immerse himself in the game and then emerge from it without a strong sense of loss if/when their character is destroyed or abandoned. You might add visible accolades and designations, like the insignias in Call of Duty, or you might black out all indications of who you are playing with and against. More or less complex challenges, different gear or options, all kinds of stuff could be "unlocked" on a per session basis, so a handful of experienced players might find themselves in a hopeless situation, on a decompressing spaceship full of angry aliens, and the episode resolves when one guy tells the others to get bent, shoots his buddy in the back and takes the only escape capsule to safety. Sweet.

A robust, versatile engine would be called for, and I think it would be totally acceptable for the vast majority of sessions to end in anticlimactic death for all parties. There's a Pen & Paper RPG called All Flesh Must Be Eaten (which I've never played), where it seems that every game must inevitably end with the death of all player characters, and the fun is in authoring your own last stand. Maybe you get devoured in the first four minutes, cringing in a corner, and then go watch a movie and drink a beer while your buddies wrap up the round. Maybe you go down under a pile of undead, pulling the pin on your last grenade while your buddies escape into the sewer to fight a little longer. Maybe you get a call from your mom and shoot your brains out so you can go eat dinner. Maybe you're the last man standing, with an empty pistol and a bent machete, pushing that Sisyphean rock until the DM tells you that it's 4am and your character had an aneurysm from hyper-elevated badassitude and it's time to go home. Any way you look at it, you need to be able to shape the game and the game world to meet and defeat the players.

The bottom line is, an anonymous matchmaking session-based MMO roguelike would work if the player could sit down, fire it up, have a rewarding experience and then walk away. Being able to share a persistent experience with people can be undercut by player mortality. But by eliminating the persistence of the characters, permadeath can be convenient and fun. I swap Skyrim stories with co-workers, and we enjoy the shared experiences despite the total lack of multiplayer in that game. Same with Dwarf Fortress--I'll talk to a buddy for hours about the time his complex clockwork drawbridge system malfunctioned when a cat fell onto a pressure plate and squashed all his archers. Make a game that provides an endless parade of fun, engaging vignettes, and you'll please players again and again.

I'd recommend an aftergame lobby, where the dead can meet to talk about what happened, exchange insights and maybe even peek in on what's happening since they died. Just be careful not to introduce metagaming opportunities that will corrupt the formula.

#10 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6053

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:42 AM


If death is permanent then death also has to be fairly frequent which means a MMO like WoW simply won't work with perma death, you want rapid progression and low player attachment to the character, the real progression has to be done on the account rather than the highly mortal characters.


Did you mean to say infrequent? Maybe I don't have my facts right there, but in my opinion, permadeath only adds value (rather than removing value) if it can happen, but really happens very rarely.


No, i mean frequent, the less common death is the more invested your players will become in their characters which is a bad thing for a perma-death game, You simply cannot kill a character that a player has spent a few hundred hours on since it will greatly upset the player and most likely cause them to stop playing (For an MMO you need players to keep playing), especially if the death was caused by something out of his control (latency issues, disconnects, etc), Look at games like nethack (Where permadeath is a core feature), Most players go through hundreds of characters before beating the game or never beat it at all despite going through hundreds of characters, death is expected, for an MMO i would only use permadeath is a pvp focused game where the faction you fight for becomes more important than your character.
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#11 Zenroth   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:01 AM

I think you'll find it difficult to gather a sizable audience if having a hardcore/serious experience and perma death together. There are actually servers out there that do to this, such as some very hardcore enforced roleplay player ran ultima online servers. Their population is quite limited (usually under 30 people online at once) but then they're kinda a niche of a niche of a niche. The right audience can certainly appreciate this, but ultimately their numbers are probably pretty limited.

#12 ImpossibleDream   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:38 AM

Perma death is a core mechanic in the game I'm hoping to build, and it's not really a big deal in my overall design. Instead of only having one character, players will have hundreds. Some losses will be felt more than others. but overall it should be pretty difficult to be completely devastated, so obviously no open PvP. To further make up for the loss of permadeath, there is a genetic component, so the genetic makeup of each successive generation becomes more and more fine tuned.

#13 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:51 AM

Perma death is a core mechanic in the game I'm hoping to build, and it's not really a big deal in my overall design. Instead of only having one character, players will have hundreds. Some losses will be felt more than others. but overall it should be pretty difficult to be completely devastated, so obviously no open PvP. To further make up for the loss of permadeath, there is a genetic component, so the genetic makeup of each successive generation becomes more and more fine tuned.


maybe it would be easier to advise you if you had a better description of your game. for instance rts games have permadeath, but you have thousands of "characters" aka troops and ships that die and aren't all that important.

#14 ImpossibleDream   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:10 PM

maybe it would be easier to advise you if you had a better description of your game. for instance rts games have permadeath, but you have thousands of "characters" aka troops and ships that die and aren't all that important.



I wasn't looking for advice. Was just commenting that if you're going to have permadeath, you can't take everything away. You need to have other aspects to the game so the player feels the death wasn't for nothing. Even though your characters die, there needs to be the feeling that their brief existence contributed to something greater. In the case of my game, yes, some characters will be expendable. But others will be more precious, and their loss will be more significant.

#15 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 01:29 PM

maybe it would be easier to advise you if you had a better description of your game. for instance rts games have permadeath, but you have thousands of "characters" aka troops and ships that die and aren't all that important.



I wasn't looking for advice. Was just commenting that if you're going to have permadeath, you can't take everything away. You need to have other aspects to the game so the player feels the death wasn't for nothing. Even though your characters die, there needs to be the feeling that their brief existence contributed to something greater. In the case of my game, yes, some characters will be expendable. But others will be more precious, and their loss will be more significant.


That's not really permanent death though. Permadeath is a concept applied to the player's singular avatar. Perma death in your game would mean losing all your characters.

#16 ImpossibleDream   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 03:22 PM

That's not really permanent death though. Permadeath is a concept applied to the player's singular avatar. Perma death in your game would mean losing all your characters.


Even perma death isn't perma death if you can just reroll another character. The game goes on for the player unless you go for the rules in that game world in Caprica, where if you die, you can't go back into the world.
My system isn't that different than hardcore mode in Diablo3 where if you die you still have a large cache of weapons and gold in your stash. You can't think of perma death as the absolute end, and need to provide ways for the game to progress beyond death.

#17 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2459

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 02:35 PM

For a game with a permanent death, dying should be harder than now. In many situations you should not die, you just should go to a state which requires another player to treat you or something like that. Like if you have monsters in there, you should start having problems fighting it at half health, and you should be able to run towards a safe place where you can get treatment.

o3o


#18 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1840

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 07:18 PM

Be careful making gameplay change instead of just penalizing and reinstating the character. In many cases, it's a half-measure that will be unsatisfactory to both permadeath fans and detractors, since you'll have to play some other, possibly crappier game for a while in order to get back to the game you want to play.

#19 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:58 PM

What I look for in all games I play is harsh death penalties as a foundation.
Perma-Death is the king of harsh death penalties but also hardest to make a game with harsh death penalties.

A perma-death game needs a very advanced, solid and fair combat system.

Imagine if it's an FPS game and you and your enemy both have uzi equipped just spraying and praying that you'll hit your bullets first.
All it needs is 20 bullets to kill you and the uzi shoots 5 per second. The weapon isn't very precise so all you can do is aim in the direction of your enemy and hope you're lucky... but you're not. Your enemy got luckier than you and you have now lost 2 months of leveling your character up.

So a perma-death game needs a fair combat system.
It shouldn't be class based either because 1v1 will never be balanced then..
Unless you want the players to be "forced" to play in guilds/clans.. Lonewolfs will just have to try and get along with others even if they don't want to.

So without classes, and without RNG (luck is not acceptable in perma-death)..
You'll be fighting players that have the same skills and abilities as yourself.

This will result in (if you are both equally talented players) that you both land the killing blow on each other simultanously
or that the fight never ends.

And once again, This is a perma-death game.. So we don't want any lame fights that end in both dying.

What can we do to make the fights not last forever then?
First of all, the more advanced and complex and hard to master the combat system and mechanics are..
the less likely it is that two players will be equally talented.

Second you can do is simply increasing the tempo of the fight, making it more fast paced.
(This will make low ping important for the player, So you must have NA + EU servers.. I guess oceanic players will have to find another game.)
With a high tempo, it will pressure the players, stress them and make the less experienced + worse player make more mistakes than the better and more experienced player.
Just make sure the hits that land don't do too much damage to the life bar.. They have to be able to take at least 5 hits.. 10 would be nice.
This is to make sure that it is indeed the player who makes less mistakes that wins.

Summary:
That harsher the death penalty is the more important it is that you have flawless gameplay.

#20 T e c h l o r d   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 06:32 PM

I'm using Permanent Death in the Highest Risk/Reward PVP Tournaments and Raids. Participants for these events are made fully aware of this risk up front. Its the highest gamble of Skill/Wits/Dedication and those who take on the challenge will bring their emotions with them and that's a desired effect. Participants that meet their fate in these events have their Character names engraved in a Memorial, while characters who are successful have their Character names etched into the Lore of the World and become Legendary.




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