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IronLion85

Permadeath and why and how it can work

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First, let me apologize for "beating a dead horse", but I truly believe the horse is alive and well and needs to be beaten a lot more before it's dead (I don't really beat horses). It’s true that much of the current gaming community doesn’t like the idea of permadeath. I think that’s mostly because they are a little afraid of change. MMOs all look and feel very similar to each other. I’m sure most of you know what I mean. Here’s the formula: Get stronger than everyone else, get stronger weapons, get prettier armor, rinse, repeat. It’s weird that these games are known as MMORPGs, because there’s basically only one role to be played. I’ve been reading up as much as I can about peoples’ objections to permadeath and what people like about it, and I’ve found an idea or two here and there about how it can work along the way. Because I’ve noticed people misunderstanding this in the past… There is absolutely no way that permadeath would work in any current MMO. They’re designed so that characters will die often, they don’t seem to have any substantial alternatives to combat, and the range in power between characters is much too wide. A game with permadeath would need to be designed extremely differently from the way current MMOs are put together. They would really be an entirely different beast altogether. Don’t even think about comparing a permadeath game to any current MMO on the market, because it wouldn’t make any sense at all. There are people out there that would play a game with permadeath. I currently do not play any MMOs and have only played one in the past (Asheron’s Call). I also played a trial version of EQ2 and hated it. There is a market out there that hasn’t been tapped. Might even be a market that doesn’t even know it exists yet. Here are some reasons why and how a permadeath game could work (I might expand it later): Pluses • Realism… I would call a game that implements permadeath correctly an MMOSG (massively multiplayer online simulation game). • Sense of danger/ excitement/ fear (the good kind like when you watch a good scary movie) when in questionable situations • Need to make real choices to protect your character’s well being (challenging) • Encourages players to pursue activities other than combat and fighting • Makes acts of bravery, heroism etc. far more epic and interesting • Characters who have managed to live long enough to acquire a lot of skill/ unique and “special” items will be rare and respected (something players will very much want to accomplish). • A more real sense of accomplishment in general when things are done well • Forced role playing (in this case forced isn’t a bad word- simply, if players have to fear the death of their characters they sort of automatically play a role because they're not preoccupied with getting "loot" or being better than everyone else.) • Playing the game feels like you’re living out a story because of all of the above. • In game economics would improve (compared to other games) because there will be goods that are genuinely needed for survival. • Discourages “grinding” Problems and their solutions PvP (griefing): • Guards in and around “safe” cities and other areas that attack and/or kill players that initiate combat • Have plenty of “safe” areas that are obviously safe (larger cities, some towns, out posts, forts, castles, heavily traveled roads etc. etc. - the presence of guards should make the safety obvious) and dangerous areas that are obviously dangerous (the middle of the woods far from any city, rarely traveled roads, anywhere far from civilization etc.). • Skill and Attribute levels are never visible to other players (with some possible exceptions). This will stop a lot of griefing because the player will not know whether it’s even remotely safe to attack the person they are thinking about targeting. • Give XP/ skill upgrades for disabling a character (knocking them out etc.) but not for killing one (this, of course, would mean that there would be an option to knock someone out when combat is initiated, and maybe it should be the defualt option as well). • Narrower range of character “levels” (in quotes because a permadeath game should not be level based IMO). There should be characters that can take on 4 or 5 “noobie” characters, but they should be extremely, extremely rare, the majority of characters should be more evenly matched (this will have the same effect as and reinforce the disallowing of assessing skills – most characters will normally not be sure if it’s even safe to attack someone). Playing isn’t fun unless you’re taking risks, and no one wants to risk their character’s lives • Make the safe parts of the games fun enough to where people would want to play the game for the “safe” content alone (crafting, creating a business, expanding the business, politics, playing certain roles etc.). Players quit when they’re characters die: • Make content interesting enough for players to want to start over again (obvious). • Give very minor bonuses to “heirs” of deceased characters that correspond with the old characters best attributes (a character who gained a lot of strength over his life time might pass on 1 or 2 more points of strength to his “heir” upon the new characters creation – this should be a very small bonus and should only happen if the player manages to keep their older character alive for a considerable amount of time…say two real life months. The longer they keep them alive the more bonuses they can pass on when they are killed or die.) • It should be hard to die. In real life people don’t die that often, not even in the middle ages. Characters die from disconnects, computer crashes or because they need to log off quickly etc. Players unplug they’re network cables or log off to avoid death: • Allow resurrection of a character a limited number of times in these situations, warning the character with a message each time (lets say three times as an example). If it happens three times warn the character that they will not be resurrected in case of disconnection or logging off for another (lets say for this example) month. To be honest, it’s not a big problem unless this character staying alive has a negative effect on other players. The only way it would have that effect is if the player were able to do it over and over and over again. If a player is that desperate to escape death let them do it a few times, it’s better to favor the people who don’t cheat than to punish everyone for the people that do. Are there any holes in there anywhere? I guess the feedback I'm asking for here is: 1. What problems didn't I address/ do my solutions not solve the problems I did address 2. Any other ideas as to how permadeath could be implemented in an MMO. 3. Anything you have to say at all... of course. [Edited by - IronLion85 on July 20, 2006 2:41:21 AM]

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Permadeath is definatly an interesting idea, but it has to be very well thought out before implementing. I think the most important thing is to encourage the player to continue playing after death. I would expand the family side of the MMORPG, remember that their heir do not only inheirit genes but also property, and maybe their parents have been good tutors?

PvP (griefing), I don't like PvP being called griefing. I can see how a lot of people feel more grief when beeing killed with permadeath though.

A game that is implementing most of the things you have mentioned, except permadeath (which is what the whole post is about...) is darkfallonline.com . You should take a look at the game and the forum, they have a lot of great ideas even though the game is not out yet. To mention a few features, the game includes realistic PvP (no artificial restrictions), full loot and a skillbased system.

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Personally LOVE the idea of an option perma death, kinda like a 'hardcore' world, where everyone there has one life, but have the option of an alternative in the case of less experienced players. A learning curve can be pretty stiff if you have this sort of one-life-to-give mentality toward exploration.

Got a lot more, but am soooo tired.

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Original post by UknowsI
Permadeath is definatly an interesting idea, but it has to be very well thought out before implementing.


That's kinda why I wrote this entire thing out ;).

Inheriting property from past characters is a good idea, but if they start getting too many bonuses they become too powerful compared to other players, and too much imbalance in a game with permadeath is bad news.

Quote:
Original post by UknowsI
PvP (griefing), I don't like PvP being called griefing. I can see how a lot of people feel more grief when beeing killed with permadeath though.


Didn't mean that PVP was griefing, I meant that griefing was the problem that comes with player vs. player in a game with permadeath.

I'm sure darkfall is a good game (actually think I already checked it out), but I can guarantee you I wouldn't be too into it. Without permadeath (or pretty severe penalties for dying) it is destined to be pretty similar to other MMOs.

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Original post by Peachy keen
Personally LOVE the idea of an option perma death, kinda like a 'hardcore' world, where everyone there has one life, but have the option of an alternative in the case of less experienced players. A learning curve can be pretty stiff if you have this sort of one-life-to-give mentality toward exploration.

Got a lot more, but am soooo tired.


The problem with creating an alternate world is that a permadeath game would need to be designed around the idea of permadeath, and just as permadeath wouldn't work in a game designed around the idea of character resurrection, resurrection wouldn't work in a game designed around the idea of permadeath. They are too different.

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I haven't played any MMO games and don't have that much desire to design them, so my opinions are based a bit on what I've read about them and general design ideas.

From what I've read about MMOs, I think the biggest problem for the non-techinical design issues is how to deal with the anti-social griefer types that derive the most pleasure from your game by spoiling it for other people. Permadeath gives them plenty of ways to cause massive grief to other players, and not just from PvP. Pretty much anything that gets people into a dangerous situation would be ripe for exploitation; drawing people into unavoidable conflict with hordes of monsters, picking fights, getting guards to attack innocent victims etc.

The next big thing is what to deal with the loss of a player through permadeath (which you've noted). If a character which a player has put a lot of time into dies, there's a big disincentive to keep playing. The only way I see around this is by giving the player a very short expectant lifespan. If the character was going to only live for maximum 24 hours of real time, say through rapid aging, or from being in a dangerous environment, then there isn't as much loss.

The other alternative is a MMO game with no death at all. There's heaps of other ways to deal with losing challenges then just killing off a character [grin].

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Quote:
Original post by Peachy keen
Personally LOVE the idea of an option perma death, kinda like a 'hardcore' world, where everyone there has one life, but have the option of an alternative in the case of less experienced players. A learning curve can be pretty stiff if you have this sort of one-life-to-give mentality toward exploration.

Got a lot more, but am soooo tired.

I'm pretty sure he explained several times that the game needs to be designed around the idea. Having it optional completely defeats the purpose. If a game were designed correctly for permadeath, disabling permadeath would make the entire experience a complete joke.

The idea is to simulate the real fears and little voices you have in real life. The one telling you not to try and jump over that gap in the cliff to reach the awesome sword treasure. If you go ahead and risk it all, that sword might be the greatest achievement of the month, rather than another random trinket.

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With permadeath, I think you would see people actually holding others for ransom. Say there's an option to kidnap someone where the kidnapper has the option to kill the victim at any time (so disconnecting won't save you). With that, the guild that the victim is in (or the victim himself, if not a member of any guild) has to either pay the ransom (Dr. Evil: "One million dollars!"), say goodbye to their good friend, or attempt to rescue the person (or maybe he can try to break himself out?). Just as frequently, you'd have people getting mugged/robbed much like we see in the world today--either give them all your loot, or they'll kill you (of course, giving them your loot would just make it easier for them to kill you, but... some people are stupid enough to fall for that--perhaps this problem is solved by having an actual mug option; rather than just mugging as a form of roleplaying, have it so that you have to surround the guy, overpower him by so much skill or whatever, and then you initiate a mugging [i.e. a trade window pops up], where afterwards the person giving up their loot is teleported automatically back to town--the mugger must accept the trade to finalize).

Atop permadeath, though, I feel you'd have to accompany it with a new health system. I'm thinking on the lines of more realistic wounds. You get stabbed, say, in the arm, and due to that damage you either can't use that arm at all (unable to attack?) or your attack strength is severely weakened. To heal, you'd heal like we humans heal; go to a hospital, get the arm wrapped up, rest for several days, and then you're back on the streets. This way, the permadeath feature becomes more discernable in the game. It creates a sense of death before death ever occurs. It creates risk. Not only that, if the person is forced to heal for a few days (not actually forced, but it wouldn't be recommended in their condition; maybe you only heal while in a safe zone?) then they are also forced to do other things--as IronLion said, have safe content such as "crafting, creating a business, expanding the business, politics, playing certain roles etc.". Basically, it's my thought that you can't just add permadeath. You have to add the things leading up to death as well.

[Edited by - Omega147 on July 20, 2006 3:00:00 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
From what I've read about MMOs, I think the biggest problem for the non-techinical design issues is how to deal with the anti-social griefer types that derive the most pleasure from your game by spoiling it for other people. Permadeath gives them plenty of ways to cause massive grief to other players, and not just from PvP.

This could be a real problem. If realistic enough, it wouldn't be difficult to kill an elite player with a brand new one. Players could join into a game with only this as their goal.

Another potential problem is players risking everything with brand new characters to start their game off. If you know there is a big reward for a high risk, just keep creating new characters and trying to get that reward until you succeed.

I personally hate MMO as an ingredient to any game.

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One way to get around the .. ive died problem and all that time i put into this character is wasted is allow the player to 'save' the character to a sort of backup, this would then save the player specific state ( Inventory, Skills, Stat's etc ).

If the player then dies at a later date then they could restore there character from this saved one ( this way they wouldn't loose all they have achieved in the game but they would still be set back! and wouldn't be able to just run in somewhere where they would almost certainly die! just to quickly get one item )

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