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Promarcus

Buddhism & MMOGs

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I was explaining to my Dad how death works in MMOGs when he brought up the idea of using Mahayana Buddhist cosmology to create a new death system. In almost all MMOGs the player dies and respawns. MMOGs have differentiated themselves based upon how the player respawns and the consequences of dying. In some cases they are one in the same. This has lead to the creation of corpse running, resurrection sickness, and loss of experience points to name a few. It seems the only significant alternative is the controversial system of permanent death. In Christianity when you die you end up in heaven or hell, sometimes purgatory. If you’re good you get to go to heaven for eternity. If you’re bad you go to hell for eternity. According to Mahayana Buddhist cosmology there are six realms of existence or paths of rebirth. The six realms are Deva, Asura, Human, Animal, Preta, and Naraka. When you die your karma determines in which of the six realms you are reborn. However, unlike Christianity, there are no final destinations. Once you use up all of your karma in one realm you'll move onto the next and thus continue the cycle of reincarnation. Deva The Deva or "God" realm is the realm of bliss and pride. The disadvantage of this realm is everything is so blissful and comfortable that you neglect to work towards enlightenment. Gradually, you'll use up all of the good karma you had previously accumulated and subsequently fall to a lower rebirth. Asura The Asura or Demigod realm is a rebirth based upon jealousy, struggle, combat, and rationalization of the world. You may have had good intentions, but still committed bad actions. You experience a much more pleasurable life than humans, but are plagued by envy for the Devas whom you can see as humans can perceive animals. Human Take a good look around you. Animal The Animal realm is a rebirth based upon stupidity and prejudice. It is the realm of existence for all the nonhuman animals on Earth. Preta The Preta or Hungry Ghost realm is a rebirth based upon strong desire and possessiveness. You are constantly extremely hungry and thirsty and can never be satisfied. Naraka The Naraka or Hell realm is a rebirth based upon intense hatred. Naraka is thought of as a labyrinth of cavernous layers containing 16 hells, 8 burning and 8 freezing. Each hell specializes in a different torture. Using the Buddhist wheel of reincarnation you could create a MMOG with multiple planes of existence. Each plane is essentially a different world. Players in one world cannot communicate with players in another world. All players have a karma meter that fluctuates based upon their actions. When the player dies their karma determines which world they end up in. Each world holds environments, quests, dungeons, and characters unique to itself. This is just a rough idea that I am proud to say my old man thought up with some help from his son ;) Please, tell me what you think, comments, ideas, criticisms, and all.

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Wow! This just sent my imagination in so many directions. Not only is it a new twist on "death" in games but could even be an alternative to "leveling up". Not only that, but it cleanly seperates questers from pk'ers. The a**holes can stay in hell while the good players live it up with the Devas. You might be on to something.

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Hey man it sounds like it could be a interesting idea for mmorpgs or even other games. its a good idea though give the dad a pat on the back

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Having different world of existence can add some variation in gameplay but I think it shouldn’t be linked to the death of the player. Suppose you are playing with some friends and you die. If you respawn in a new world you can’t play anymore with your friends and they can’t just die because they can respawn in a different world. But I think it would be great to be able to change plane of existence at will for example using magical objects or speaking to NPCs.

EDIT: You can limit the access to some of this worlds based on the karma of the character.

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Quote:
Original post by apatriarca
If you respawn in a new world you can’t play anymore with your friends and they can’t just die because they can respawn in a different world.

The thought that came to my mind was to allow users of a higher plane to have some control or at least have influence with the lower planes. Sure, if you die and end up in a lower plane, there's nothing you can do to help your friends. However, if you die and go to a higher plane, you may be able to help in ways that you wouldn't be able to if you were fighting side-by-side.

Looking at it that way, it reminds me of 3D chess. =)

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To Apatriarca,

I understand the issue your addressing, but being able to change planes of existence at will would be no different than using your hearthstone to teleport from Azeroth to Outland in World of Warcraft. Thanks for pointing it out though :)

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Quote:
Original post by Promarcus
To Apatriarca,

I understand the issue your addressing, but being able to change planes of existence at will would be no different than using your hearthstone to teleport from Azeroth to Outland in World of Warcraft. Thanks for pointing it out though :)

Not if the player have separated lives in those planes. What I have in mind is to have different versions of the same player. But yes, it isn’t really different from being able to teleport.

@coderx75: that could works

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Interesting idea in theory, but I don't think many people would like some problems that would arise.

The biggest problem is one that you stated as a feature: players on separate realms cannot communicate or interact. Blah! People play MMOs to interact. If you limit this in even the most sensible way, you're seriously making a mistake. If my friend Billy started playing a month ago and was on the Asura "level" and I was a mere Preta, I'd be bummed out that we couldn't play together. Furthermore, good luck having a guild were only one sixth(-ish) of the guild can ever communicate with each other.

Another problem would be that if I wanted to do Quest X which was only available on the Naraka level while I was on the Deva level, I'd have to go be a hate-filled and then die to try the quest. That's a lot of work to merely get a quest. Also, Naraka/Hell sounds like a better place for questing than Deva/Heaven does. There's a reason Diablo brings you down to the depths of hell rather than the golden gates of heaven. Hell's much more fun. :)

However, I think this idea has great potential, after some modification, so keep the idea juices flowing! It could also work in a single player game.

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To Ezbez,

You make a great point. I agree with what your saying. Inhibiting player interaction and communication in a MMOG is never a good thing. In the mean time I'll keep thinking about a solution.

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I'm not an MMO gamer, so this may be garbage-- but rather than realms, what about character states that mimic them and have a strong impact on gameplay?

If you're in the Deva state, for instance, it eases certain challenges; certain creatures are more likely to help, while others more likely to attack; and it could unlock certain equipment (when you're not in the Deva state maybe you're told how you feel unworthy of the Divine Armor, for instance). NPC interaction could be adjusted, too, if you place NPCs on an equal footing (how would an NPC in the Nakura state react to a Deva?)

You'd probably have to make the karmic information somewhat fuzzy, though, to prevent the kind of procedural thinking that invalidates the whole concept. You don't want players thinking, "Oh, crap, I've been reborn in the Preta state. I better go kill myself so I can become a Deva."

I think to be effective, though, you couldn't just tack it on to an aspect of the game (just death). The entire world should reflect it, right down to the monsters, people, lands, gear, etc.

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