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Just let them play!!

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A couple of other recent threads and my own wandering mind have led me to think about the way games handle the player 'losing' the game. It occurred to me that perhaps rather than all these complex death/punishment systems that we love to inflict upon the player, perhaps we should just let them play? I suppose really this goes without saying, but it's hit home a little more with me now I've thought about it. I think the player needs some kind of setback to keep the feeling of challenge, if there is nothing to fear, then there is nothing pressing the player to perform well. Perhaps though this should be reversed, in that rather than punishing a player for not playing well enough, we should maybe just reward the player more for doing well and simply hold back on the reward if they are not playing to a high enough standard. In practise (in an MMORPG for arguments sake) this could mean that rather than implementing perma-death or some negative implication of death, we instead allow them to instantly be resurrected at their home town (or something along those lines). This way they can get instantly back to just playing the game. The challenge would be missing somewhat because you don't then fear death, but you could get the challenge back by giving them some kind of extra reward, perhaps the longer they stay alive before dying, the quicker they earn experience or somehting like that. I think essentially this doesn't change much of the actual system, except the way it is perceived by the player. I consider the players perception to be very important though, so I think this kind of system could work much better than a harsh punishment that essentially stops the playing and creates a time-sink or annoyance. What does everyone else think about this, do you think negative rewards perhaps offer a better challenge or have some other redeeming factor, or would you rather keep things as positive as possible and just be allowed to play the game?

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You know I think you are right about the thing that you should just let the player enjoy the game. However I think that the problem is how to give the feeling of challenge an acomplishment to the player.. so those complicated death systems are choosen to fix the problem.

I think that the real problem is that there don't exists MMORPGs where it doesn't matters if you die and stuff. The level based systems comtribute to this.. also remember that MMORPGs it's in is infancy, so I hope someone makes an MMORPG where they just 'let the players play'.

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IMO, slowing experience gain after a death isn't much different than speeding it during a long life.

To generalize: "Dying = Bad" is not really much different than "Not(Dying) = Good".

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I disagree. Death should be a punishment, and a stiff one (but I'm the prototypical hardcore gamer).

My favorite MUD used to set it up so that if you died, you immediately lost one level (that is, a monster death). Player deaths did not lower your level, but halved the accrued experience you gained to the next level. To offset this, you gained a 20% bonus to the EXP you gained for every level you gained since you died. Since the game had 30,000 levels, this system worked well--but I'd play it in nearly any MMORPG.

I'm weird that way, though.

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are we talking online?

Anyway, i enjoyed very much what GTA3 does (and hey, might be part of the reason why its so damn fun):

if you die, you only get hauled to a hospital and lose a token amount of cash, which is negligible.
What is your loss? what is that keeps you from laughing at death? well, you die and you can't keep doing all the spiffy things you were doing.

So in a MMOG setting, i'd make the player lay in all his dead stiffness, and let him have a button to get auto-hauled to the hospital. He can stay and witness all the stuff his friends do, and even chat, but not participate anymore. Heck, i'd let him be carried around. And for kicks he could be manually hauled to the hospital... and maybe this would be cheaper or let him keep his belongings or whatever.
generally in the game death = inmobilizing injury

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I very much agree. If we're talking games in general, I hate nothing more than a huge punishment, or even having to restart the game, after death. My biggest complaint, actually, isn't about death, but the way saving is handled - Mario Pinball Land as an example - if the game shuts off without saving, you must entirely restart!

Similarly, if you get sent to a save point after death, it ruins things. Suddenly you're not in the game anymore. It kills the sense of actually being in the game.

Finally, I'm not sure what the exact fix is. Generally, the perfect fix is something that injures what you want the most. In the pinball game, you lose your score. In a game like Diablo, you lose your items (what you try so hard to earn and find). So, depending on what the player wants most, they should be effected there.

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Original post by Mephs
In practise (in an MMORPG for arguments sake) this could mean that rather than implementing perma-death or some negative implication of death, we instead allow them to instantly be resurrected at their home town (or something along those lines). This way they can get instantly back to just playing the game. The challenge would be missing somewhat because you don't then fear death, but you could get the challenge back by giving them some kind of extra reward, perhaps the longer they stay alive before dying, the quicker they earn experience or somehting like that.

I think essentially this doesn't change much of the actual system, except the way it is perceived by the player. I consider the players perception to be very important though, so I think this kind of system could work much better than a harsh punishment that essentially stops the playing and creates a time-sink or annoyance.


Seeing how I play and watching others play, "Gaining experience for staying alive" is the same as "Losing experience for dying". There is little difference between "I get hurt for being bad" and "I get candy for being good" because the latter is seen as "I don't get candy for being bad".

I've only really played on MMORPG, Asheron's Call. When you died, you immediately appeared at your life stone (think of it as your home town, because that's what it tended to be), you dropped something on your corpse (there were ways to make that essentially painless), and you were slightly weaker (-5% to skills until you gained a small amount of experience). Your suggestion would be to, perhaps, replace the -5% for dying with a +5% for staying alive. To the player, (and the mechanics) there's no real difference. Either way I lose 5% for dying (or, equivalently, get 5% for staying alive).

Quote:

What does everyone else think about this, do you think negative rewards perhaps offer a better challenge or have some other redeeming factor, or would you rather keep things as positive as possible and just be allowed to play the game?


I think there is one significant difference between loss on death and reward for life. Life is seen as the "natural" state, how things should be. If you get a reward for staying alive, you're going to have that reward in mind while you're alive, which is slightly distracting to the task at hand (presumably the reward isn't the task at hand but helps with the task at hand). If you have loss on death, you only have that distraction on death, which is the ultimate of distractions anyway.

Basically, you're making life more complex so that death can be easier.

If you really don't like the feeling death gives a game, make a game that doesn't include it. Make a sports game, or a puzzle game. Or, if you want something more multiplayer, how about a trading game, where you're all a bunch of merchants trying to gain economic control? Sure, your ships could fight it out, but you could write off the death as either "the player gives orders from HQ and never leaves" or "the player escapes on a skiff (or escape pod for the more SciFi)". Then the loss is merely economic, which is the gameplay itself.

Or, if you really like shooting things, make it more like "tag" than "death match". Maybe you want to be "it". You shoot the person who's "it", you become "it". If you're "it" or shoot someone who isn't "it", perhaps you stun them, slow them, or prevent them from firing for a short time. Capture the flag could also work. Heck, many childhood games could work (there really weren't many where you died ;) ).

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Ah, good old permadeath, the bringer of flamewars. Well, not only that, but all sort of similar systems incorporated in games to "punish" the player/character/whatever. But permadeath is my personal favourite. Now, don't take this posting too seriously, as it is an opinion. Whatever your opinion on permadeath is, that's all fine and good, but there might be a point of view you haven't considered.

It seems there is a undying, vile hatred for permadeath. Permadeath is seen as the root of all evil and as a game concept it should be abolished for all eternity, as it is a plague weakening the playability aspect and user friendliness.

I couldn't disagree more. Permadeath is not a sickness, but I consider this hatred a symptom of another, much more horrifying ailment: the ultimate end-game (which I'll explain below, but let me rave here a bit more, please). This nightmarish entity rises its ugly head in far too many games, and thus I understand why this anti-permadeath attitude is so prevalent.

You say, let them play. But being able to play doesn't mean you should be allowed to break the rules. Permanent death is just a rule of the game, just like any other, such as not being allowed to walk through solid things such as walls. Yet I don't see the forums flooded with threads with subjects wailing "Why, O why are there permasolid walls in games?". Tetris has permadeath and no one complains about that. After all, tetris would have little point if it didn't have permadeath.

And besides, what's the value of the reward if there is no risk? If I can get the Ultimate Legendary Sword of Mass Mayhem by dying a thousand deaths, I don't really see a point of actually doing some hard work in order to get it.

I say, let them play. I do agree with you, provisionally, as games are meant for entertainment. Games, however, need rules. Permadeath can be seen as a rule just as any other. Many people think it is a good rule. The problem is, however, that so many games are based on some sort of ultimate end-game, the meaning of which differs with each game. The beginning of the game might be fun at first (the first couple of games), but then it becomes a chore. All you want is to "improve" which can mean a lot of things depending on the game. Eventually, after playing long enough, you reach "the ultimate end-game" in which you finally start to have fun.

I say, games should be utter fun from the beginning. Period. There should be no reason to be frustrated having to start from the beginning. The storyline should have enough variations to allow replayability (well, assuming you have a storyline in the first place). And what's the point of having the player's characters starting as something weaker than the pettiest of amoebae? You should be able to start as something close to an average character, with the option to start as the weakling for the additional challenge.

So sure, let them play, let them have fun, but not at the expense of vital game rules. I'm against this perma-end-game-favouring.

However, as the game designer, you are allowed to leave the permadeath-rule out. Games can be good without permadeath too — for instance, Diablo 2 is a good game, in my opinion, yet it has no (enforced) permadeath. It does, however, punish the player fr... no, wait, it punishes the player's character for dying (the player's punishment is extra).

CataclysmicKnight mentioned the concept of saving the game. I consider it extremely related to the concept of permadeath (for obvious reasons), but instead of boring you all by repeating things I've already said, let me give you a couple of links instead.

RPG Save Limits
save spots=carrots?

There you go. Have fun. (Of course, there are about a bazillion threads on these subjects to begin with, but in these two I have replied personally. [wink])

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I don't think death processes like permadeath have anything to do with "letting the player just play."

The MMOG I'm constantly working on a design for - Zombie Nation - has permadeath. When your zombie is killed, that's it - you can't get him back. It has to be permadeath, because the other players eat you once they've killed you.

But when you *do* die, I'm trying to design the interface such that it's three clicks or less to generate a new zombie and start again. You *are* losing out - you score by staying alive as long as possible, so to start a new zombie is to reset your score to zero - but it's quick enough that you can go "ah, damnit..." and just start over.

Many games have this. If you let the board fill up to the top in Tetris, it's "permadeath," and usually one or two key presses to start a new game with a new score. It actually enhances the addictiveness of the game - the player thinks, "I can do better than that!" and can quickly have another try.

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Quote:
Original post by Madster
are we talking online?

Anyway, i enjoyed very much what GTA3 does (and hey, might be part of the reason why its so damn fun):


I think a GTA style approach could work very well in a MMORPG type environment. It would pretty much solve the whole PK debate - being killed by another player is just a bit of nuisance rather than something to get all worked up about. It might also attract players who aren't interested in just powerlevelling all the time - the game is more forgiving of being adventurous and doing fun things.

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Original post by superpig
Many games have this. If you let the board fill up to the top in Tetris, it's "permadeath," and usually one or two key presses to start a new game with a new score. It actually enhances the addictiveness of the game - the player thinks, "I can do better than that!" and can quickly have another try.


Some very good posts here, and I can see the arguements for all of the suggestions, so I'm not going to start a flame and say that only my sugestions would work becaus eI actually believe everyone is correct in their own way. I did however fid the above quote interesting though.

Can you really compare tetris and an MMOG (which is vaguely what I'm referring to). Remembering of course that most MMOGs require a lot of time spent on character building. Perma-death (which is not entirely what I started this topic for, but it seems to have progressed that way) is fine for tetris because at most you spend a couple of hours playing if you're incredibly good, but applied to an MMOG, you lose a LOT of progress with such a system. Progress needs to be persistant if you spend a long time building it up.

What if though, we changed this and made the average lifespan in an MMOG a very short lifespan, with the challenge of doing the absolute best you can in a short timeframe? This way, when the player dies, they roll a new character and get back into the game ASAP with minimum inconvenience and the drive to better their last attempt. The downside to this of course is that people generally live longer than a couple of hours, but perhaps death need not be the losing factor of the game, perhaps there is some other conclusion which could also be a 'win factor' just as much as it could be a 'lose/death factor'.

One possible problem with this though is that it could break the whole persistant world feel, with characters winning or losing the game so quickly and starting again, but perhaps this could be worked into a game somehow?

As a quick thouht before my lunch break ends, what about some kind of Quantum Leap game where you jump into the life of a character and have a single goal to achieve or fail at, either way you are ejected from the game at a certain point and are judged to have won or lost at that point? Actually, the more I think about this the more I like it as it could definitely help enforce the likelehood of more roleplaying!

Any further thoughts?

Cheers,

Steve

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Short-term, episodic MMORPG? Funny, that's what I've always wanted - a game where I hop onto a server with 300 other people, vie for control, restart when I die, and can spend a day fighting to become King.

The problem is that MMO's run off monthly subscriptions, so the long-term persistence and character attachment is crucial to revenues.

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On permadeath:

That killer MMOG has yet to rear it's beautiful head. It may be a few years before it does. I'd like to speculate that it won't feature "permadeath" except in extreme cases - usually as corporal punishment. (Neighborhood theif/villan/murderer gets the chair)

I'd like to see being knocked out, kidnapped/captured/enslaved, frozen in carbonite, coming down with some weird disease, or going to some otherworldly dimension. By making death an unlikely adventure of it's own, it can be appreciated as a part of the game.

That killer MMO will likely not differ too much from our own lives, except their world has mystery, danger, and adventure, and ours has the 9-5 grind.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Some people play games for enjoyment. Some for challenge.
Don't force a challenge upon those that play for fun.

People get annoyed enough at losing a few hours of game time due to dying as it is let alone how annoyed they would get if they lost 100+ hours. If you're going to have the motherload of all challenges, make it optional, but make it more rewarding at the same time.

However I'd also say to have this option enabled from the start.
There's nothing worse than to have to complete the game first (and learn how the game works) before diving into the deep end if you want a challenge because by that time you know how most things work.

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I happen to think permadeath actually improves roleplaying. You don't send your little wussy mage out to fight 10 zombies alone because you know he'll die, and that's pretty much how a real wussy mage would act if there were real wussy mages.

For this reason, I have the opinion that people who hate permadeath are just in it for the killing stuff part. I could be wrong, and don't take this as a flame, but that's how I feel.

I think there should be a MMORPG where you never have to kill anything if you don't want to. Few things kill RP more than levels, and only being able to gain levels by killing stuff.

Even with a pure skill-based system, some people tend to spend every waking moment practicing one thing or another. What's so bad about sitting around in a tavern gossiping? Sure you don't get your Uber Sword skill, but your char makes friends (and enemies) which provide for later plot points not precoded by the game. Too many people think the game is only fun once they gain skills/levels/whatever, but why? These are probably the same ones I mentioned above who are only interested in the combat possibilities of the game.

A side note on permadeath - I don't care for "1 death, you're out" types. There should be a resurrection spell, which can be used if you can get your corpse and a healer in the same place (either by having friends move your corpse, or by sending a "deathtell" to get a healer to come to where you died) before your corpse rots away. If your corpse rots away, bam, that's it. If you can get ressed, you continue on as normal, losing skills based on how long your corpse sat there before getting ressed. This way, intelligence and careful planning is rewarded by long life, whereas people who can't or won't learn what's too much for them to handle die a lot.

As for getting attatched to your char and then having it die after you've spent months on it, that's life. I still think fondly on chars I've played in the past, but really if they were still alive I would've gotten bored with them by now. As someone previously said, if you make it interesting to play a char from the beginning, permadeath won't be as big of a hardship. And who knows, you might even hear others talking about how cool something your previous char did was. You can make a real history this way, and old chars don't have to fight to get respect because it's automatic that newbies will be in awe of their ability to stay alive so long. (Except for the total morons who don't respect anything, that is.) The key, I think, is that every time you permadie, you think "ok, now how can I make my next char even cooler/more interesting/more fun to play than the one that just died?"

Just my opinions of course, based on experience playing in several MUDs which enforce RP, all but one of which include permadeath of one type or another. (The non-permadeath MUD actually has pretty good RP, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that its players are mainly German and British and so on.)

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Regarding the GTA system. The one issue I have with that is if you amass a large quantity of cool weapons (particularly through missions where the equipment can be hard to find elsewhere) this makes you very reluctant to try and do anything highly risky in case you get killed and lose it all. To a certain degree this increases the tension in some situations, but in such a freeform game I do get annoyed when a stupid mistake (which is very easy with some of the new stuff in San Andreas) loses me everything.

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Quote:
Original post by Pxtl
Short-term, episodic MMORPG? Funny, that's what I've always wanted - a game where I hop onto a server with 300 other people, vie for control, restart when I die, and can spend a day fighting to become King.
I guess you'll like Zombie Nation then, if I ever make it. [smile]

Quote:
The problem is that MMO's run off monthly subscriptions, so the long-term persistence and character attachment is crucial to revenues.
Now that's something we can run with.

Why is character attachment crucial to revenues? Because it keeps people playing the game - keeps the game addictive. If our MMOG had very little character attachment, but was as addictive as Tetris, it'd still work, right? (*crosses fingers*)

If we want to kill off characters and the like, I reckon it's fine provided you have something else keeping the players coming back instead (for example: make the game fun, rather than the level-up slogfest I seem to hear most games are these days).

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One option I've heard suggested is the console approach to keeping players going: priviledged option unlocking. What if playing a mummy was no better than a zombie, but mummies are more complicated and rare? Well, lets say that 5 players are allowed to be mummies, and the players with the best karma get dibs.

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Nice thread everyone!
from...
Quote:
Original post by Pxtl
Short-term, episodic MMORPG? Funny, that's what I've always wanted - a game where I hop onto a server with 300 other people, vie for control, restart when I die, and can spend a day fighting to become King.

The problem is that MMO's run off monthly subscriptions, so the long-term persistence and character attachment is crucial to revenues.

and...
Quote:
Original post by superpigWhy is character attachment crucial to revenues? Because it keeps people playing the game - keeps the game addictive. If our MMOG had very little character attachment, but was as addictive as Tetris, it'd still work, right? (*crosses fingers*)

I ask... would a 1-time-fee, permadeath MMOG scheme work? an online multiplayer arcade! jump in for the afternoon, for cheap. Irresistible for new players, and if you get the hook, you'll come back. Again and again.


Quote:
Original post by onyxflame
if you make it interesting to play a char from the beginning, permadeath won't be as big of a hardship. And who knows, you might even hear others talking about how cool something your previous char did was. You can make a real history this way, and old chars don't have to fight to get respect because it's automatic that newbies will be in awe of their ability to stay alive so long. (Except for the total morons who don't respect anything, that is.) The key, I think, is that every time you permadie, you think "ok, now how can I make my next char even cooler/more interesting/more fun to play than the one that just died?"

Actually i played Ragnarok some time ago *dodges thrown bottles* and i learned some good things. You can have cool characters without permadeath. Customization is the key, and no, even without permadeath you still need to work to get that Ubersword, if the game yanks you out of the quest each time you die/get comatose, so its still a nice feat. And noobs? they won't respect you anyway =)
Many people remember me from that server, mainly because me and my friend would do cool things as newbies, mainly because we weren't afraid to die. I explain:
If you gather a group of newbies and decide to go in a high-level monster zone, you'll prolly get all slaughtered.. but its still fun, and eventually all the party will die. And it'll be a blast. If you manage to survive it means a lot of exp and a good story.
This avoids players only fighting monsters that they overpower by a large margin, because its much more fun when there's a struggle.
In ragnarok i remember cracking jokes while lying dead on the floor. If they had been able to carry my talking carcass, it would have been much funnier, and i still would avoid death, because if i die i don't get the items/exp/cash or simply i don't get to fight.


Quote:
Original post by DBX
Regarding the GTA system. The one issue I have with that is if you amass a large quantity of cool weapons (particularly through missions where the equipment can be hard to find elsewhere) this makes you very reluctant to try and do anything highly risky in case you get killed and lose it all. To a certain degree this increases the tension in some situations, but in such a freeform game I do get annoyed when a stupid mistake (which is very easy with some of the new stuff in San Andreas) loses me everything.

Yes. This is a very good point, and i've been there too. A way to fix this could be a kind of weapons checkpoint, where you could save the guns you have and come back for them afterwards. Maybe only risk losing the one you die with.

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Quote:
Original post by Madster
Quote:
Original post by superpig
Why is character attachment crucial to revenues? Because it keeps people playing the game - keeps the game addictive. If our MMOG had very little character attachment, but was as addictive as Tetris, it'd still work, right? (*crosses fingers*)

I ask... would a 1-time-fee, permadeath MMOG scheme work? an online multiplayer arcade! jump in for the afternoon, for cheap. Irresistible for new players, and if you get the hook, you'll come back. Again and again.
Yes, exactly. The kind of thing you can play in a cybercafe if you've got an hour to spare while waiting for an airplane or something.

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by DBX
Regarding the GTA system. The one issue I have with that is if you amass a large quantity of cool weapons (particularly through missions where the equipment can be hard to find elsewhere) this makes you very reluctant to try and do anything highly risky in case you get killed and lose it all. To a certain degree this increases the tension in some situations, but in such a freeform game I do get annoyed when a stupid mistake (which is very easy with some of the new stuff in San Andreas) loses me everything.

Yes. This is a very good point, and i've been there too. A way to fix this could be a kind of weapons checkpoint, where you could save the guns you have and come back for them afterwards. Maybe only risk losing the one you die with.
This is something which is only a flaw in GTA3, btw. In the first two GTA games, weapons were so easy to find that you just didn't care about losing them - because you knew that within five minutes you'd have another rocket launcher or whatever.

It's a question of what the player stands to lose. The more they stand to lose - amassed character attributes, weapons, score - the more dying is a punishment. It's a concept we'd probably do well to abstract; all we're really talking about here is some kind of penalty which gets exacted when the player's health drops to zero. When debating the "fairness" of things like permadeath, what we're really asking is whether the penalty for that loss in health is appropriate. Once you get that, you can treat it as balancing any other game system.

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Original post by superpig
This is something which is only a flaw in GTA3, btw. In the first two GTA games, weapons were so easy to find that you just didn't care about losing them - because you knew that within five minutes you'd have another rocket launcher or whatever.


Getting weapons back in Vice City and San Andreas is pretty easy - just pop down to the local gun store (although rocket launchers and similar gadgets are a bit less common). The problem with this is that say you're in the middle of a particular objective (particularly the gang fights which require you to tool up in advance) then getting killed requires you to spend time doing something laborious to get back to exactly where you were - thus fragmenting the fun.
I think Halo did this system perfectly (at least for that type of game). You had regular checkpoints, and death put you back at the previous checkpoint exactly as you were. This means you always have to complete each section, but failure means you are thrown straight back in as you were for another go (at the start of the particular section), you can then try again with the same tactic or try something new.
The checkpoints were also beautifully spaced, not too short to remove all tension (as in PC quicksave) but not too far to make it frustrating. On the harder difficulties, dying was sometimes fun as you got to try the section again doing something different (and the way your foes would stand over your corpse and laugh was very amusing).

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
Some people play games for enjoyment. Some for challenge.
Don't force a challenge upon those that play for fun.

People get annoyed enough at losing a few hours of game time due to dying as it is let alone how annoyed they would get if they lost 100+ hours. If you're going to have the motherload of all challenges, make it optional, but make it more rewarding at the same time.


First of all: define fun. Moving your character about killing monsters is fun, yes, to a certain degree, but experiencing something truly profound can be fun too. Like really being scared while playing, that can be a relieving and fun experience (as it really isn't happening). Feeling the adrenaline flowing in your veins can be quite a feeling. Permadeath is a good way to achieve that, so permadeath can be fun too.

And besides, I don't think permadeath is not an extra challenge. It is an integral rule of the game. Many other people agree, even though they don't word it like this. Note that I am not saying it is a rule in every game. Turning off permadeath would be cheating. If you want to have the ability to cheat in the game, that's fine. Now, I'm not saying that all games should have permadeath. I'm just saying that at least some games should, and that's it. Wailing about it won't get anywhere (ok, I admit that the pot is calling the kettle black here, but I'm really trying hard to converge to a more neutral tone). You don't like permadeath? Fine. Don't play those games then. You see, some people make games for people who play for enjoyment. Some for people who play for challenge. Don't force non-permadeath upon those games that are made for the people who play for the challenge and the role-playing.

All right. If your character dies permamently, you have to start from the beginning, and you're not having fun, don't blame the permadeath. Blame the gameplay of the beginning of the game. The game should be fun from the start, regardless of how many times you have to start.

As for making permadeath optional, it has further implications than just making death permanent — after all, things that cause big harm without permadeath (such as losing valuable equipment) are no longer as frightning as with permadeath (why care about the equipment if you're dead for good?). Both modes should be balanced separetely, and you couldn't have permadeath-characters and non-permadeath-characters in the same game session.

Quote:
Original post by onyxflame
I happen to think permadeath actually improves roleplaying. You don't send your little wussy mage out to fight 10 zombies alone because you know he'll die, and that's pretty much how a real wussy mage would act if there were real wussy mages.


I agree on this. While the latter part is a matter of gameplay vs. realism (with which I agree on also, however), the point is that permadeath can truly have an positive effect on the gameplay. If you can't lose, the exitement is gone. If you lose equipment, levels, whatever, you haven't really lost anything since in most games in most cases you can get the stuff back, and even better stuff later on.

If you're making a game without permadeath, you have to have a good reason for not dying permanently. Just respawning in the nearest town is about the lamest thing I could think of. Losing experience/levels/whatever is contradictory — after all, wouldn't dying be quite an experience? Let's consider these onyxflame's words of wisdom:

Quote:
Original post by onyxflame
There should be a resurrection spell, which can be used if you can get your corpse and a healer in the same place (either by having friends move your corpse, or by sending a "deathtell" to get a healer to come to where you died) before your corpse rots away. If your corpse rots away, bam, that's it. If you can get ressed, you continue on as normal, losing skills based on how long your corpse sat there before getting ressed. This way, intelligence and careful planning is rewarded by long life, whereas people who can't or won't learn what's too much for them to handle die a lot.


Now, if you don't have permadeath, you could just have the corpse rot away, but you could still be summoned to the world as a spirit. As a spirit you would have your magickal abilities present (not the physical, though) and you might develop skills to possess other creatures. With powerful magick you could make this possession permanent. You could even construct a new body from parts (stolen from graves, maybe enforced with all sort of metal parts etc [grin]), have it reanimated and then possess it.

Or you could be summoned to a dead body (perhaps back to your own one) and you could control it as an undead creature. The body is dead (and still rotting away; you could battle this with herbs and ointments), but the spirit is there. Since the body has rotted, physical characteristics (strength etc) won't be as good, but with magic, alchemy, what have you, you would be able to enhance yourself again.

If no one seems to be around (e.g. in a single player game in the middle of a cursed forest or whatever), you could have the option to re-incarnate, find your dead body, carry it to the nearest town and have your spirit transfered to it again.

You see, not having permadeath doesn't mean the character's body couldn't die permanently (the spirit would be immortal), and you would have an explanation why the world is filled with all these undead creatures and golems. Just say no to this ridiculous respawning concept.

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Original post by Grim
All right. If your character dies permamently, you have to start from the beginning, and you're not having fun, don't blame the permadeath. Blame the gameplay of the beginning of the game. The game should be fun from the start, regardless of how many times you have to start.


I think this is they key here. Many games are not fun at the start once you've played through for a bit. The game should be fun ALL the way through, for any level character in any part of the world.

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I guess this is a symptom of the huge level treadmill. So maybe that is another benefit of a short-term episodic MMOG. Once you have gotten through to level 9325874 million and a half, everything back at level 1 seems pointless because you know you’ve got to put in 3 years solid gameplay to get back to where you once were. It is no longer fun because you have been there, done that and beaten that challenge already. Where’s the fun in covering old ground? If however, we shorten the average gamespan, then the challenge does not come from advancing through 3 years worth of gameplay, but instead from what you can achieve in a few hours (which could be hugely varied if designed well). So the focus could change from advancement over time, to how much advancement you can do in a given time (and beating that in future). Also a heavier focus on storyline (in myown game this will be driven by player GMs) could also add to the replayability.

Cheers,
Steve

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I have a thought that compromises both on having death be severe, but still not total, giving the player a sense of continuity, and being quite realistic.

Each player runs a guildshop. He has a staff of apprentices that he trains and learn from him - spending time offline results in their training. He simply sets an itinerary of what material will be tought. He can even send students off to study under other masters (but must pay them), or even take one out as his "character" to go adventuring on their own. Perhaps the apprentices can tag along with the hero as AI characters, but I'd discourage that (stupid AI, possibly).

Money belongs to the shop, not the individual. The player plays the master, but many of his apprentices (that the player designs himself) are near him in level and skills - their levels and skills are based on his teachings. If the master dies, then the player can continue with one of his apprentices as the new master. The shop is also where the player stores his goods, so the new master can load itself out with his leftovers, then go to seek out his body and collect his hardware. If the new master is too far lower in level than the dead master, than the dead master's body can be taken to a necromancer or a priest - the necromancer will reanimate his dead body into an undead creature to return to his old position (with the drawbacks of being undead, including paying for regular "treatments" from the necromancer), or the priest can build a shrine to him in the shop, so that the new master can learn from him by communing with his spirit.

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