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Million Dollar Ideas about MMORPG permadeath

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1. Basically, the character is dead, but the new character doesn't start at level one. For character stats/skills/levels, there are thresholds that are reached that allow bonuses in character creation. For example: --Getting a characters blacksmith skill to 25% allows the player to create a character with 15% blacksmith skill --Increasing a character's perception by 3 during play allows creation of character with +1 perception --Leveling a character up to level 40 lets a player creat a character who starts at level 30 and etc. The player can collect creation bonuses from many stats/classes/paths in order to experiment with different mid to high level characters as well. 2. If a character has a house with 5000 gold and some nice swords secured inside, and dies, he can pass that on to his own newly created character, or any other player.

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Remember how on diablo 2 you could play on hardcore? If you died then your charactor was deleted. This cause many complaints about lagged deaths and such, even with the ability to not play on hardcore.
I wonder how ticked of someone in your game would be when they first realize that every time it lags they have to recreate a charactor. Just pointing out the lag prob and all.

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Idea #1 looks a lot like losing abilities when you die, with more clicking and needing to rebuild your friends list.

Idea #2 is neat, but it doesn't get away from the horrific loss of everything the player's gained in terms of identity and excellence.

As long as character advancement is the bread and butter of MMO gaming, the destruction of that character will ruin the game. The problem is that death in an MMO is either so earth-shattering that the player may as well quit (permadeath) or so trivial that nobody even remembers how many times they've died and been resurrected, good as new. EVE is my MMO, and I think it handles death in a novel and effective way, so I'll describe it here. It's basically an inversion of your idea #2, since you lose a lot of worldly possessions, but your character is preserved.

EVE includes two levels of "death": Ship destruction results in the ejection of the escape pod, which can then be targetted and destroyed. When you get podded, your clone is activated, and it has all the skills you've invested training time in, but if the clone isn't up-to-date you can lose some skills. As another side-effect of being podded, you lose all the implants and hardwirings that were installed on your previous clone. Advanced implants are worth more than battleships, and it's a devastating loss.

EVE avoids trivializing death by making ship destruction a costly and painful experience. Losing a big ship sets you back heavily, and if it's one of your primary ships, kitted out with rare equipment, it can really sting. Player enemies will steal the wreckage, but if you're killed by mobs, you can often go back and salvage much of your loadout.

EVE avoids the other extreme by making pod-death pretty rare. The pod, though defenseless, can warp out faster than most ships can acquire a lock on it, so unless you get jumped by a half-dozen determined assassins who secure the exits and use scan probes to find your deep space safe spots, you'll be able to dock and preserve your implants before they perform the coup de grace. NPC mobs never podkill.

This works out well, because players are reluctant to risk their assets for fear of losing them needlessly, but you can be on the front lines of a fight, expecting to be destroyed, without sacrificing everything you've worked for.

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
EVE includes two levels of "death": Ship destruction results in the ejection of the escape pod, which can then be targetted and destroyed. When you get podded, your clone is activated, and it has all the skills you've invested training time in, but if the clone isn't up-to-date you can lose some skills. As another side-effect of being podded, you lose all the implants and hardwirings that were installed on your previous clone. Advanced implants are worth more than battleships, and it's a devastating loss.

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looks a lot like losing abilities when you die


Yes it does.

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with more clicking and needing to rebuild your friends list.


I'd say mixing and matching whatever bonuses and skills a player had acquired would be part of the fun, but I suppose if you look at it that way, "clicking" is part of sting of death. Friend list? Link to the account, not the character.

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As long as character advancement is the bread and butter of MMO gaming, the destruction of that character will ruin the game.


I would say the advancement is the bread and butter, not the character itself, for most players. The hardcore RPer's are going to mourn their alter egos, but most guild thrashers aren't attached to their character as much as their earned skills. The optimizing player will play aggressively after earning a bonus, but as he gets nearer to the next threshold, he'll be more conservative. Actually, that's probably how everyone would play.

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Idea #2 is neat, but it doesn't get away from the horrific loss of everything the player's gained in terms of identity and excellence.


You would lose the identity, but that's the sting. Excellence is penalized, but one retains core abilities. You can still be a swordsman, you're just the swordsman you were 5 hours of play earlier. Or 1 hour earlier, if you're a noob swordsman. Or 10-20, if you're leet.

The identity destruction doesn't have to be that intense for long term game relationships, like being a member of a guild or company. Player loses character Roland the Paladin. Player brings Roland's brother, Johnny, to fight for the guild.


What I really like about this is that you can acquire varied skills and combine them in different ways. You've played a weaving wizard, but he dies, and you don't feel like jumping back onto that path. You start playing a spellcasting archer (using your acquired magical skills for support as you build up archery skills), and he dies. You like the archer thing, so you start playing a weaving archer, knowing if you want you can go back to casting spells at nearly the proficiency of your original wizard.

It's all about how to make death sting, if you think it should at all. This is just another variation, but I'd play this one.

Of course we all design based on what we'd like to play. My ideal game is something like Final Fantasy Tactics, where the fun consists of mixing and matching skills and equipment on your characters: your ninja/theif can fight the next battle as a gun-wielding knight, if you've learned all the required skills.

This system wouldn't be good for people who can't play the game unless they are playing as Dylan the Dwarf, although that's not to say they couldn't rebuild Dylan the Dwarf and play him as if he'd never died.

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But don't MMO addicts need the ability to look out over the broad expanse of their achievements and measure themselves against other players? Won't they stop shelling out if they can't perceive progress in their account? Won't they stop taking risks when that gamble can dig past their "surface" character and harm their underlying progress bar of advancement?

Your idea is a good one, just like so many other permadeath ideas are good ones, but it is predicated on an assessment of the player mentality that I simply can't accept. I think we need that progress bar.

Edit: I failed to respond to your astute comment on the "stat loss" in EVE. It's worth noting that nobody actually fails to update their clone in EVE, because clones are cheap. Only newbs lose skill points (and tehy only lose them once before learning that lesson), and skill points are that game's progress bar.

If you take away every credit and every ship and every round of ammunition from a player, they keep their SP, and that's the key to their happiness and satisfaction. Nothing can take that away (except flambouyant stupidity).

So even after a player loses their Heavy Assault Ship and gets podded with a head full of +4 faction implants and has to pay three million credits to replace their clone, they just have to click "Character Sheet" and the always-encouraging message, "You have 94 skills and 8,917,382 Skill Points" will remind them that what they are doing has permanent significance.

With a pure stat loss system, it's two step forward, one step back, and players will be so ruinously discouraged by that that I think they'll lose a lot of their enthusiasm for the game, especially if it's a grinding game, which just about every game is (and must be, for want of a better paradigm).

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
But don't MMO addicts need the ability to look out over the broad expanse of their achievements and measure themselves against other players? Won't they stop shelling out if they can't perceive progress in their account? Won't they stop taking risks when that gamble can dig past their "surface" character and harm their underlying progress bar of advancement?


Their progress bar is tied to the account, not the individual character. Character sheets for dead characters could be kept as templates, and an account "hall of fame" could remind them of just how good their magical archer was, if they get nostalgic. Measuring themselves? If you die, but can start the game as a level 80 paladin, that means at some point you were a level 90 paladin--impressive. The really top teir players would have enough accumulated skills on their account to field many different characters--high-level wizards, ninjas, samurais, etc., also impressive.

And perhaps I haven't made myself totally clear: once the player gets a character creation bonus (like, say, 50% of all mage spells learned), that bonus can NEVER be taken away from him so long as he's a subscriber. After he's gotten a character with 60% learned, he will always have the option of creating one with 50% mage spells learned. (and probably some bonuses to intelligence, magic attack, character level, or whatever)

The player loses the character, but keeps most of the advancement, as the "progress bar" isn't tied to a specific character, but the account.



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So even after a player loses their Heavy Assault Ship and gets podded with a head full of +4 faction implants and has to pay three million credits to replace their clone, they just have to click "Character Sheet" and the always-encouraging message, "You have 94 skills and 8,917,382 Skill Points" will remind them that what they are doing has permanent significance.


I'm goign to go ahead and guess that it'd take a substantial amount of play to get back the implants and credits. I don't really see a lot of difference in the magnitude of death punishment I'm proposing. It seems that the big difference is: You lose your character. He's dead. You still have to spend awhile to get back to "where you were."

And I should say I'm not eliminating the possibility of true rezzing by a high level priest or whatever, just that it'd take a really, really good priest.

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I think permadeath is more trouble than its worth. I mean whats the point of it? does it really make the game more fun? thats what games are about after all. Is permadeath an atempt to make the game more realistic? whats next? a MMO with characters that have office jobs?

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Original post by ForeverNoobie
I think permadeath is more trouble than its worth. I mean whats the point of it? does it really make the game more fun? thats what games are about after all. Is permadeath an atempt to make the game more realistic? whats next? a MMO with characters that have office jobs?


I agree. What are the advantages of permadeath? Why is it so appealing to some people?

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My idea on permadeath:

Let it be the players choice. Put it at the end of a high level end-game type of epic quest. At the end of it give the player a choice.

A. Complete quest normally, get some uber cool item. Minor Game story advancement.
B. Valiently Sacrifice thier characters. Opening up special options/classes/races etc for the account, AND placing the original Characters name in the games history as having done something truly memorable. And give the player the ability to link thier new character to thier old one (I.E. Son of ____)

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Original post by ForeverNoobie
I think permadeath is more trouble than its worth. I mean whats the point of it? does it really make the game more fun? thats what games are about after all. Is permadeath an atempt to make the game more realistic? whats next? a MMO with characters that have office jobs?


I remember back in my UO days, mining wasn't particulary fun either. About as monotonous as working in an office. I imagine there are some analogous tasks in more recent MMO's.

I think players should have some respect for death. I guess the pros and cons of that are a different thread.

I should note that this idea didn't actually begin out of a desire to punish players for death, but to loosen up a players commitment to a certain character. If you make some bad optimization decisions mid game, starting a character over at level one is an unappealing rememdy. This system allows and encourages players to dabble in different career paths, and to not start at level one each time.

I wouldn't have titled the thread so provocatively had I not known that people don't like the word "permadeath," but apparently it's a much dirtier and offensive word than I'd realized.

The point isn't to acheive a "realism," unless you mean that giving people incentives for success, punishments for failure, and a more substantial fear of death is "realism."

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