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Wavinator

Heroes should never die (RPG)

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Or, "How I Learned to Stop Saving & Restoring & Love the Game..." First off, let''s revise that to "heroes should rarely die..." I''m a save & restore addict, as some of you might know by my vociferous (aka rabid) arguing about letting players save where they want. I''d like to propose a (probably seen before) plan that might help me kick my habit... Let''s assume that we aspire to have our designs treat the player with the same care and focus on fun that we might treat pen & paper RPGs if we were the GMs. We''re not trying to beat the player, nor kill them out of hand. Rather, we want to present to them enjoyable obstacles to overcome. We''ll also assume that players like me will eternally b*tch and return games without saves only because the situations that cause save & restore aren''t fun. What''s wrong, then, with dumping the idea of hardcoded obstacles in favor of challenges that "miraculously" adapt to the player at each and every turn? I''m proposing nothing more profound than what GM''s do all the time: Pull punches, fudge rolls, and generally try to lead & (when necessary) drive players by difficulty. Say you''ve got a fort with treasure inside. The player gets into the fort and realizes that the enemy is WAAAAAAY too hard. They become low on health, their sword is broken, and they''re at the end of a long hall with monsters about to close in. Normally, a cRPG would simply kill the player in this instance. But what if, at each and every turn, you invented some escape? The level''s wall has a crack that leads outside that the player didn''t notice before... or the king''s army shows up in a sudden raid... or the player suddenly notices a nice little alcove to hide in... I''m not saying you never want to kill the player, but what''s more fun? A Hollywood-type "sudden lucky break" or repeat and die gameplay where you save and restore because you can''t always predict where and when the player is going to get into trouble? I submit that it''s more fun to take minor and sometimes even major losses (like having to leave behind the treasure ''cause it wouldn''t fit through the crack the player suddenly notices) than it is to restore because you''ve died. -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Check out this topic. Its the same ideea used for a different purpose : not less save/restore, but more unlikely stuff happening.

On the second thought (on a second reading), I think it wasnt really the same ideea...

Edited by - Diodor on April 22, 2001 4:01:17 PM

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Killing the player''s character is pretty much a waste of time...
All it does is annoy the player by making him go back to the last save and do a few things all over again. On the other hand, how do you pose a real challenge (in combat in particular) if the player is immortal?

I like the idea of making sure the player always has a way out, but I think that physical changes to the game world might be rather tricky to implement... and if a player is really shit then the whole world would soon turn in to a rabbit warren of secret escape routes..

Some ideas that I have had on this subject:

1. The player never really dies....
When reduced to 0 hp he passes out - most monsters would just see that he had stopped moving and leave it at that. More intelligent creatures might loot the player, then drag him to a cell - The player then has to figure out how to escape, and somehow re-equip himself. Of course, they are unlikely to bother healing him much....

2. Knight in Shining Armour...
The players character has a powerful ally, who looks after him, but doesnt involve himself unless it is absolutely necessary. This character can show up in emergencies to bail the character out, help fight the retreat etc. And then give the player a telling off for picking fights with people who are too hard...

3. Distracting event....
Something happens which distracts the bad guys just long enough for the character to escape, eg, they get attacked themselves, or perhaps they fight each other over who gets to chop the player''s head off.

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hmmm... Divine intervention... you wake up in the temple feeling that you have just had a brush with death, and were saved by angels.

Nah... that one is really lame and should be put to the torch.

Anyway - maybe if the player dies but gets reincarnated or gains a new body... We have mentioned this before and I can see it now only working if in the absolute majority of situations the player CAN''T die. Only in extreme bouts of stupidity by the player do they get their arse burned alive.

But anyway...

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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i agree dying in games just gets repetitive and boring , providing some kind of escape or distraction that intervines and relieves the player from dying would be a great idea. Maybe not always letting the player escape but giving him the option of either leaving the current situation or to continue onward. This would make replayability awesome!

The only downside some of these "obstacles" or puzzles is they would have to be more intriguing and challenging then (for example) moving things around to open a door. I hate stupid puzzles like that in games. To make up for the lack of dying. Elimnating the amount of deaths of the main character would make a void to fill it seems to me. The story would have to be more then it ever was.

All in all, this is a very oringinal idea. Later-

what we do in life... echoes in eternity...

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I completely agree with you. Death should be an event in games, not a normal occurence. The player should be punished in other ways then dying and having to repeat the exact same sequence over again. In most games, death should only happen at key points (endings, etc.) Every other medium (from films to pen and paper RPGs) follows this rule of death (a heroe''s death is special event) why should computer games be different?

- Impossible badcontent.net

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I think the problem of what youre proposing is that most players act goal-driven when playing rpgs (finish the game). If you play a tabletop rpg the situation is very different, you play ONLY for the fun of it, cause you know that everything is in the GMs hand...

So, once players learn that there will always be a way out they won´t be motivated much to try hard to solve anything.

and as for the wake up in a dungeon idea, as long as you CAN save, people are going to go back anyway, so why not rework the load/save system instead?

1) there is no player controlled saving.

2) the game autosaves every once in a while to cover for the imminent system crash, autosaves before every combat

If the player loses the fight (your average random encounter) he can either choose to replay it, or live with the consequences (imprisonment...).
Some key fights have no "back" button, it´s either win or lose. These will help to drive the story, keep the plot going.

Oh, and the player should almost always get a chance to run away (cause when you can actually lose something you´re much more careful). I never really had any reason to run away in an rpg.. either i managed to win the battle, or i lost and restored.

This would also help immerse the player in the story, as every deceision would be final, there´s no trying around which dialogue option works best.

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I notice that you said somthing about players not knowing that things in the game are dangerous...

What a load of crap... the eaisest way of solving this, is letting the player know about what is easy, and what is not...

For example, before blindly attacking a castle, your game should encourage the player to do a little recon. How your game does this would be up to you... I like the idea of having the player as an apprentice in the early parts of the game, teaching the player about recon, and so on.. (of course, the player should have the option of being an apprentice or not)

ANDREW RUSSELL STUDIOS

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About the possibilities of removing saves altogether and just having the ''coincidental escape'' system all the time, I think this is not good full stop.

I was writing this up in ''The Future of RPGs'' (Can''t upload it yet ) and came to the conclusion that you have a coincidental escape every now and then, coupled by capture on a more regular basis, and on 1% or less of losing, you die. This means that the player understands that death is a possibility in a game. And if they never die, have characters in the game tell them that they are only mortal and that they can die. (Or get a witch to send them on a quest through the underworld etc.)

I am not sure if it is possible to have the player die in a game and have no reloads, but it seems like the two must go hand in hand. That is, unless, only if you do not use something like reincarnation and possession.

I hope to upload some of my other thoughts on this ASAP... Watch the doc



-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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quote:
Original post by Andrew Russell

I notice that you said somthing about players not knowing that things in the game are dangerous...

What a load of crap... the eaisest way of solving this, is letting the player know about what is easy, and what is not...



Do you honestly know what the odds are in every encounter in every game you''ve ever played? It seems easy to say "let the player know this and that" but what happens when you get a wide combination of factors from many different situations?

Have you never played Diablo, for example, and not known whether or not you could take a level? Or tried to make a jump and not known beforehand whether or not you could make it?

I guess what you''re talking about is in general, and what I''m talking about is the hundreds upon hundreds of little situations that the player will encounter.



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

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Why not take a leaf out of the P&P RPG book?

When a character dies, does the GM give you the same character but a few game hours earlier, and let you replay the encounter that killed you? No. Does he make you start the whole game all over again with a completely new character? No.

He gives you a new character of similar or slightly lower level to rejoin the game where your previous character left off. You lose out a little, because the new character is slightly weaker than the last one, and you wont have had as much time to learn its abilities. And you will still have to fight those bad guys eventually.....

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Sandman, you''re a genius!


Most CRPG''s have characters that are central to the story line, but in some the player character is random. In the latter type of game your idea would work great.


Playing Baldur''s Gate, I kind of do this already if someone in my party dies. If I like them, sure I restart from my last save, but if I don''t like''em, I just recruit someone else for my party.


I could definitly see a game where when you die you come back as another Joe Shmoe ready to stop the evil. You could even be someone relevant (like the original characters cousin.. or cousin''s cousin, or cousin''s cousin cousin).


This might even be a good way to let players play as multiple races or classes. Give them the option of changing their class after they die. They could then become a level 9 wizard after dying as a level 10 warrior.


I see some pros and cons in the above situation. I could just see a walkthru that says, "Die here and come back as Druid. Make sure you toss all of your items somewhere safe so they don''t go with you." Even so, it would be interesting to (in the same playing) play a game from multiple perspectives.


Okay, enough from me... just some thoughts.


-Jason

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