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Sandboxes, Raids, Death, and Ecology

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In my sandbox mmorpg I have a huge problem. In the incidence of a raid on a player town, how do I deal with the dead? The game is not instanced so I can't simply kick a dead player out. Assuming its their hometown and they set their respawn point there every time they died they would just respawn right there and be able to continue the fight.
Now for larger creature attacks I will have to live with some sort of player respawn being able to affect the event. But in the instance of just a single player settlement I have to decide how to handle it. Because you can't allow for permadeath in an MMORPG all sandboxes have to deal with this issue. Themepark are essentially like srpgs which have savepoints. They generally can allow for death mechanics that don't limit the player too badly and they are static so you can't ruin the game. For instance in a raid or instance you just get kicked out and your success and failure has no effect on anyone else's game.
Another problem that I have is losing player settlements. Raids are generated semi randomly with some player actions having an effect. Essentially there is a series of triggers and requirements for a raid to happen and players can interrupt them.
Some information on the raid system:
Raids will only happen, obviously, if there is a player settlement within a creatures territory. Most groups far out in the wilderness will not travel super far to do a raid.
Some creatures exist in groups in which case they are more likely to launch a small to medium raid. Although there are no orcs or goblins there are creatures that function similarly. These groups are likely to not have powerful creatures involved. Generally these groups will attempt to gank individual travelers on the roads and in the wilderness. They will likely have some sort of aggression trigger to start a raid.
Raids can be lead by a powerful "raid leader" monster. In this case its a form of hierarchical dominance. Generally these raids are rarer and easier to prevent because their event chain is longer. Lead monsters come to exist in a variety of ways. Some come into the world with higher intellect and the ability to oppose their will on weaker creatures. Others evolve through various processes.
Examples of creatures who come into the world capable of leading large groups of creatures are higher level demons and devils, abominations, spirits, and so forth. There are also various kinds of elementals that exist in hierarchies. Generally these creatures hold power over their own kind, weaker creatures of the same alignment.
Some creatures evolve into power. Wurms are one example. As they get older they approach sentience and can both exert authority over lesser wurms but can also call lower level creatures to change into wurmkin.
Other creatures are even more insidious and dangerous in their accumulation of armies. Certain species of monster of incredibly high power can exert an magical aura/field or infection which spreads from their lair and slowly expands its radius. Over time more and more creatures fall under their control. Depending on the creature type of the controller these new minions may experience buffs of various kinds. For instance they may become part of a hivemind which will allow more useful skills such as superior scouting and responses to danger. Some creatures may be drawn to the center of their bosses territory. This is a valuable effect for many reasons. For one, this allows new creatures to begin nesting in the territory that is vacated. This allows for the area of control to have access for more minions without increasing the pace of expansion.
In any case there are many sorts of mechanics for changing the mindscape of the untamed parts of the world.
The ways that players can deal with raids are things like killing off some creatures before they evolve or taking down control monsters. One can also control raids by keeping a creature population too limited to attack. Once a population reaches a certain point its aggression cycle begins. Essentially a populous creature group will release a raid of a portion of its members if there is a settlement nearby, otherwise it will simply grow. As the population grows scouts will be sent to patrol for humans. As soon as a settlement is found it will be attacked.
Given the nature of the human population spread it may be that a system will be needed whereby beyond a certain population level creatures will fight with eachother. I am not sure. Some special creature types will have an alternate strategy for population limitation whereby powerful creatures will absorb the lifeforce of weaker creatures for various purposes.
In any case I may have gotten a little off topic. In the case of death functions I was thinking of a few options:
A flagging system whereby players that die during a raid are flagged. They can have no effect on creatures or buildings in the raiding sphere and said objects will not interact with them either. Creatures from the raid will be tagged as belonging to that event. In the case that the raid destroys the area and eliminates all the players the flags will disappear and said players can interact again. The problem here is that players can immediately attack again this time without the raid limitations. I was thinking that probably after the raid the creatures will disappear back to their lair. Perhaps the event creatures will be invisible to dead players so that they can't be tracked back to their lair. As long as the raid doesn't stay put the problem would be reduced.
Perhaps the players will simply be unable to travel within a set distance of any raid creature so they cannot get back into the raid area. This feature will allow the same end result as the other feature. Dead players will not lose play time with a death timer of any kind and they will not be able to interfere or track the raiders back to their point of origin.

Not having a permadeath mechanic has many problems of a similar nature in a sandbox world. No matter how many times they die players will grow more and more powerful over time. That means that the environment has to grow more dangerous to provide danger and challenge. This provides something of a problem for newer players, unless you create a system that allows weaker creatures to continue to spawn in areas with a stronger human presence as wild areas become more and more dangerous as player power and territory grows. I am still devising a system to allow lower level spawns in areas near human presence in order to provide for newer players to level, although they do have the option of working with higher level players in groups to gain experience.

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I say leave the risk of losing your town in ... this would add to the frontier feel ... make it dangerous yet rewarding, if they want to play it safe, stay in the established settlements. Possibly you could have the town become 'under-siege' a period where the monsters encamp outside the town, preventing travel to it, blocking resources and require enough players to gather to activate the 'break the siege' quest/mission/instance which really starts the attack, making sure the town has someone to defend it, giving players a chance to prepare and also allowing players to participate (Whats worse than having the town you helped build attacked? Not being there to be in on the fun) Perhaps these sieges have time limits so the players can't just wait indefinitely.

I'd let the players respawn in town, maybe part of town building is building 'Spawn Points' ... resurrective altars, barracks, or whatever which than become important places of defense and the monsters can be given an intellect to attack these locations specifically ... like control points in TF2 or the like, spawn delays, experience loss, weakness or whatever penalty for death should be the balance there, as well as losing town territory.

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Have Rez statues spread around the world (or something similar). A player can respawn in bound locations (unless that place is under siege), or spawn at a statue within a certain range (or anyone). Strategically place them a good distance from settlements. They can get back in the action if they want to, but it takes some time.

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Have Rez statues spread around the world (or something similar). A player can respawn in bound locations (unless that place is under siege), or spawn at a statue within a certain range (or anyone). Strategically place them a good distance from settlements. They can get back in the action if they want to, but it takes some time.


Cities are built by players so how to play a statue in the right spot? Also it would be hard to have one come into existence when a town starts because it could accidentally be placed by a monster lair or something dangerous.

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Why does there have to be a "ressurection spot"? You could go the route that Ultima Online went, Wandering Monks/Healers/Player Resurrection. I thought it was great. Some of these were actually able to be killed to temporarily cut off the resurrection spot. No more need to bind. You die, you need to find a healer, simple and easy if done right. Finding the healer could be potentially tricky, but with decent spacing in placement the accessibility shouldn't be terribly bad. Also, with players able to be the resurrect caster they can fill in during a pinch. Determining accessibility of spells is key to balance as well.

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Why does there have to be a "ressurection spot"? You could go the route that Ultima Online went, Wandering Monks/Healers/Player Resurrection. I thought it was great. Some of these were actually able to be killed to temporarily cut off the resurrection spot. No more need to bind. You die, you need to find a healer, simple and easy if done right. Finding the healer could be potentially tricky, but with decent spacing in placement the accessibility shouldn't be terribly bad. Also, with players able to be the resurrect caster they can fill in during a pinch. Determining accessibility of spells is key to balance as well.


There are no pre-defined classes or skills per say. So there are no healers. Also part of the issue is dealing with preventing dead players from re entering an event too easily.

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[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1325388020' post='4898603']
Why does there have to be a "ressurection spot"? You could go the route that Ultima Online went, Wandering Monks/Healers/Player Resurrection. I thought it was great. Some of these were actually able to be killed to temporarily cut off the resurrection spot. No more need to bind. You die, you need to find a healer, simple and easy if done right. Finding the healer could be potentially tricky, but with decent spacing in placement the accessibility shouldn't be terribly bad. Also, with players able to be the resurrect caster they can fill in during a pinch. Determining accessibility of spells is key to balance as well.


There are no pre-defined classes or skills per say. So there are no healers. Also part of the issue is dealing with preventing dead players from re entering an event too easily.
[/quote]

Healers were what were found in city locations at the local healing facilities, as wandering monks couldn't very well live and work in a city. You either needed 80+ healing and anatomy or the ability to cast an eighth circle magical spell 80+ magery or so I think it was, been a while.

If you died you could only be resurrected by NPCs a certain amount of times within a certain duration. Players could bring back anyone as long as they had the bandage + skill or reagent + magic available.

Why do you want to limit anyone in a sandbox game? Perhaps take a step back and rethink how you want certain situations to play out?

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In a sandbox there shouldnt be "invisible walls", both physically and gameplay-wise.
So, making raiders invisible to flagged players would be a a bad option and would break realism.

I dont know how character stats and gear matter into your game but maybe you could just make players that die during a raid extremelly weak (to everyone or just to the raiders) once they respawn for a given ammount of time so that they can still watch the raid going on and try to help defending while beeing way less effective tho.
Another option might be to prevent the players from respawning at the city binding spot and let them chose another binding spot that is atleast XXX to YYY meters away from the town (dont make it TOO far or else ppl might exploit it to fast-travel away).

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What do you mean limit them? Being able to ressurect constantly damages a raid event. The raid would have to kill you fast enough that enough players couldn't create a revolving defense where they slowly wear down the raid. Sandbox games still have rules, its not godmode or something.
And not all players can use magic. You have to either find magic powers through exploration or join a guild.

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In a sandbox there shouldnt be "invisible walls", both physically and gameplay-wise.
So, making raiders invisible to flagged players would be a a bad option and would break realism.

I dont know how character stats and gear matter into your game but maybe you could just make players that die during a raid extremelly weak (to everyone or just to the raiders) once they respawn for a given ammount of time so that they can still watch the raid going on and try to help defending while beeing way less effective tho.
Another option might be to prevent the players from respawning at the city binding spot and let them chose another binding spot that is atleast XXX to YYY meters away from the town (dont make it TOO far or else ppl might exploit it to fast-travel away).

The point of the flag system is to allow players to continue playing the game without being able to interfere in the raid. If you are so weak that you can't do anything, how is that substantively different from being dead. I will probably just spawn them at the nearest other city though I think.

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