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Deyja

Permadeath in a MMORPG

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How would you handle it? The cost of death is directly related to the amount of time the player invests in their character. The idea is to make 'losing' as painless as possible, because players don't like to lose. It's generally done in two ways. In a game like WoW, death doesn't really mean anything. You just respawn, your character is intact. An FPS handles it from the other direction. Players don't invest any time in their character, so they don't lose anything when they die. I intend to mitigate perma-death by using a skill system instead of a level system, making it quick and easy to gain skills, allowing 'children' to inherit a characters possessions, and putting a hard limit on a character's lifespan so that they have to die eventually no matter what.

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It seems like something that would require a lot of play testing and tweaking to get just right.

One thing you want to keep in mind is that, with this fast turnover system, you are likely removing one of the most important draws in the mmo genre: "The attachment" players have to their character.

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I remember a period in about mid 2006 when every second thread was a discussion of permadeath in MMORPGs [smile]. I can't remember whether any conclusions were reached on design issues; I think the authors were glossing over any negatives people brought up.

The biggest problem I see is that either you remove the attachment the player has to their character or the players will be suffering a major setback upon death. Both have issues.

In the former (remove attachment to the character), you're now bending the genre towards MMO Counterstrike. Death is still fairly meaningless, but so is their "life" within the game. The usual skill progression that informally defines the RPG genre will either need to be nerfed or completely warped.

In the later (big losses upon death), player death becomes a major setback that could act as a psychological quitting point for the games. You'll also have bigger issues with griefers when they can cause much more pain.

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There's a reason that landing on the go to jail spot in monopoly is only a temporary inconvenience, and you don't really have to get up and go lock yourself in a closet. ;)

I would never play such a game. That puts me off right there. I'm not going to bother building up something that can be so easily lost. I play games to have fun, not to be inconvenienced.

Permadeath works good in some genres. I loved it in America's Army. But the rounds were only a couple of minutes long, and I had nothing to lose.

In an RPG, I'm looking to build up a strong character over time. I'm not interested in playing as my offspring, or even having any offspring. For the same reason that I'm not looking to read books about the son of Batman.

Also, I like video game tropes, and don't want a simulation of real life. I just want to relax and have fun.

Just my 2 cents.

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These conversations always make me think back to the early days and my first MMO (MUD), the Island of Kesmai. It will always be my favorite online experience, but it was never, ever easy.

In the early game, permadeath was possible. If you decided to fight one of the dragons, or Thisson (still makes me shudder: stun, stun, stun, RUN), they could potentially eat you in one bite. And that was it. Reroll.

Talk about a truly epic battle you don't want to lose...

Most deaths, however, instead resulted in the (semi) permanent loss of a constitution point, which meant less hit points. Only a rare drake potion could raise that stat again, and even then, only back to 17. Fighter-types who wanted to keep max hps had to avoid death completely.

Things are easier these days. The path has diverged, frustration has been thrown out the window, and there's no going back. There will always be a small, hardcore group of players who like perma-death type RPGs, but by and large, that time has gone.

I think your best bet is to simply have a harsh death penalty. The player should be able to work his or her way back from any penalty, so nothing has to be permanent. For the hardcore gamers, all they need is a sliver of hope and some time.

That's my two cents. :)

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I think a solution might be to make death a 'you lose, but heres a new opportunity' situation.

Here's a simple example of the concept :

The player has 3 attributes, dex,str and int. He also has a Bonus.

As the player gains in experience, he boosts his Bonus, and his effective dex,str and int are the attribute values + Bonus.

As he dies, his son gets his fathers dex,str and int, and has the opportunity to add the Bonus to one of his attributes, and the bonus is reset to 0.

Of course, the way i described it is not so interesting, but I'd try to find an interesting way to make death appear like an opportunity rather than only a punition, while also making sure that dieing is not something you want to do on purpose (unless you have quests where the goal is to be sacrificed to a god for added bonuses to your son?)

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EVE online does this decently well. All your belonging are expendable, so time investment is in 1) your character's skills, and 2) money for equipment.
You can lose ships all the time, and few new players this can be stressful, as it takes a long time to get started and have enough money to fall back on when you lose your first ship. And, if you do PvP (the main point of the game imho) then you can lose your character. Death sends you back to your clone's location, and cauzes to you lose skillpoints down to the amount your clone was rated for capped at a loss of 25% of your most trained skill (could be months of game time training). So death isn't 100% perminate, but it does hold some major consequences if you aren't careful about your planning.

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RamboPowPow is on the right track. That's the sort of thing I'm looking for.

One of the issues is that people so often look at perma-death in light of current games. Obviously, perma-death in a game like WoW is going to suck. I'm looking for ways that a game could be designed from the ground up with perma-death. Ways to make it just another game mechanic, and not the player 'losing'.

One of the problems I'm considering is griefers. I attack them with an in-game NPC police system. I don't rely on AI to make them work, either. They are simply omniscient. Pulling off a murder without getting caught should take a certain amount of planning. And once it's not just a casual stabbing in the town square, it's not griefing anymore - it's just another bit of gameplay.
Sure, a griefer could just go stab people in the town square. But then they either have to defeat the NPC police or elude them indefinitely. Unless, of course, another player gets them first.

I know I won't get that player-character attachment. But I should be able to get player-dynasty attachment. As for the children characters; they don't just magically appear when you die. You have to actively 'acquire' them, and you can train them before your parent character dies, so you can have a skilled character 'ready to go' when you die.

This also gives players an option of shifting gears without starting from scratch. They can train the child character in a different set of skills than the parent, and go off on a new tangent when they inevitably must switch.

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I hate grind, and so naturally also MMORPGs, but I like that you're at least trying to mix it up. Heres a few ideas that struck me while reading the thread: Instead of children, players can either form their own, or join, small communities (tribes, clans, dynasties, what have you). Many of the bodies in the clan are NPCs that can be ordered around by the player members, and can accompany them in battle (thus building their stats in the areas you desire). When you die, you choose one of the NPC bodies to take over. They will most likely be significantly less awesome than the body you just lost, but they will be trained in the areas that are important to you. And your attachment is to the clan as a whole instead of yourself.

Or take it an entirely different direction: The player not only trains their body, but their soul as well. When their body dies their soul must search for a new one. But in order to acquire a body, they must first evict the resident soul through some form of spiritual battle (it should go without saying that only NPC bodies can be acquired this way, to avoid pissing off players). The idea being that they can return to a state similar but less impressive than their previous one, and retain their character's identity (even if only psychologically).

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A system like this is being implemented in the up and coming Dragon Ball online game in which your character is eventually replaced by your child who inherits your skills/techniques and is able to learn new styles of combat, this permeates onwards as the child's child becomes playable and so on.

the entire system has a key marriage system in which you would marry another character (I'm not too sure if it would be another player character since I have really researched to far into the subject)and have kids and a family an eventually having a character who has learned all the skills and styles available to him/her via inheritance and gaining experience in new skill sets.

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