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Congratulations, you died! :)

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Currently I'm playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, which was recommended to me when I asked for games where one could strategically die or restart to improve one's position within a game.  It does fit that description, though it's not at all obvious how to actually use the system for your advantage.  It's really quite backwards from the way I was hoping it would work; the only way to permanently improve your character is by beating the game, but what do you actually need to improve your character for if you've already mastered 90% of the game's content???  (Arguably, the fact that you keep your equipped gear and learned skills when you die or restart could be considered a permanent improvement, but the high level gear actually seems to make little difference to the difficulty or speed of the combat, and some of the skills come with a detriment that actually makes it harder to survive to the end of the game every time you use that skill.)

 

Anyway, here's my question for you all: say you are an assistant designer, working under the lead designer of a single-player RPG with survival elements.  The lead designer tells you, "In this game the player is supposed to die.  We want the player to be rewarded for dying and starting a new life.  I want you to brainstorm ways that dying could be beneficial, and story reasons that going back in time or starting a new life with memories from a previous attempt would make sense within the world and not make the plot look nonsensical in light of the player's future knowledge.  For example, say an NPC employer betrays the player on the first time through; the second time, the player's suspension of disbelief and immersion would be damaged if their only path is to get betrayed all over again, with no apparent reason for disregarding their future knowledge."

 

So, how would you make dying a good thing?  Both in gameplay mechanics, and in the context of the story and world.

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I've seen at least 2 games based around the concept of a legacy (rogue legacy, and another I can't remember).

The idea is that, as you die, a new offspring will uphold your legacy and fight the battle you've fought all of your life and bring it further.

I believe Rogue Legacy leaves 'imprints' on the next generation, so that whatever trait you had, and however you played, will impact what your next character will be (and I believe you even get to select from a 'gene pool' so to speak). 

I may mixing up this with another game though as I haven't been taking a good look at either in a year.

 


dying could be beneficial,

If your main character died, he had shortcomings your next generation might have immunities or strengths for. Say, for example, your character died because of a giant bat boss, then perhaps the next in line is a hero that has trained all his life to defeat bats to avenge his ancestor, and so, he has bonuses that will help you move through this previous obstacle you weren't able to overcome before.

 


tory reasons that going back in time or starting a new life with memories from a previous attempt would make sense within the world and not make the plot look nonsensical in light of the player's future knowledge.

If your avatar was a hero, it is possible someone was by his side recording his deeds (ala Dragon Warrior) and these would be passed upon the next in line.

 

Would also allow interesting moments where an NPC helps you once, but if you come as the next of kin to him, he will tell you how good he has been to your family, and will demand payback. There are interesting opportunities with this type of design.

 

Was that in-line with what you were hoping for?

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Epic's Infinity Blade is the most popular of the "hero's legacy" games out there right now where you die regularly as part of the progression of the game.

Baroque required the player to die to advance the story. Planescape: Torment worked player death in to the plot.

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A few things come to mind that may be different when you reincarnate:

  • Position (relative to where you died, another dimension, or some different location)
  • Skills
  • Equipment
  • Knowledge (player's knowledge or character's knowledge)

I'd find it quite interesting if reincarnating let you learn more about the world than a one-player playthrough, e.g. access inaccessible areas, join factions that weren't an option before, etc.

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I've seen at least 2 games based around the concept of a legacy (rogue legacy, and another I can't remember).

The idea is that, as you die, a new offspring will uphold your legacy and fight the battle you've fought all of your life and bring it further.

I believe Rogue Legacy leaves 'imprints' on the next generation, so that whatever trait you had, and however you played, will impact what your next character will be (and I believe you even get to select from a 'gene pool' so to speak). 

I may mixing up this with another game though as I haven't been taking a good look at either in a year.

 

 

 


dying could be beneficial,

If your main character died, he had shortcomings your next generation might have immunities or strengths for. Say, for example, your character died because of a giant bat boss, then perhaps the next in line is a hero that has trained all his life to defeat bats to avenge his ancestor, and so, he has bonuses that will help you move through this previous obstacle you weren't able to overcome before.

 

 

 


tory reasons that going back in time or starting a new life with memories from a previous attempt would make sense within the world and not make the plot look nonsensical in light of the player's future knowledge.

If your avatar was a hero, it is possible someone was by his side recording his deeds (ala Dragon Warrior) and these would be passed upon the next in line.

 

Would also allow interesting moments where an NPC helps you once, but if you come as the next of kin to him, he will tell you how good he has been to your family, and will demand payback. There are interesting opportunities with this type of design.

 

Was that in-line with what you were hoping for?

 

Somewhat in-line with what I was hoping for. :)  I'm primarily interested in bonuses earned before or at death which are then permanently available at the beginning of all future lives.  And also I'm primarily interested in a story scenario where all the lives are the same mind, even if the bodies are different; not children with their own minds.  So this could be a time loop modified such that some gains are carried through when the loop restarts, or it could be a reincarnation variant where the "soul" is an immortal but has to start over when it loses the meatsuit it is inhabiting, or the setting could be within a virtual reality world where the world is restarted around the character to prevent the character from dying...

 

I'll google Rogue Legacy.  :)  Some of the suggestions I got last time around, besides Dragon Quarter, included: The Consuming Shadow, Kingdom of Loathing, and Dungeons and Dragons Online.

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Epic's Infinity Blade is the most popular of the "hero's legacy" games out there right now where you die regularly as part of the progression of the game.

Baroque required the player to die to advance the story. Planescape: Torment worked player death in to the plot.

 
Thanks, I'll look up Infinity Blade too. smile.png
 

A few things come to mind that may be different when you reincarnate:

  • Position (relative to where you died, another dimension, or some different location)
  • Skills
  • Equipment
  • Knowledge (player's knowledge or character's knowledge)
I'd find it quite interesting if reincarnating let you learn more about the world than a one-player playthrough, e.g. access inaccessible areas, join factions that weren't an option before, etc.


Starting location definitely seems like something that would be a good reward - starting in the same place starts to get really boring by about the fourth time, unless it's just a hub from which you can set off in several different directions. Starting in a different body could also unlock various species-related options, which could include factions.

Unlocking things would probably be the main type of reward, though I would want to make it not seem arbitrary or mechanical why things become available in later games. So I would want a variety of locking or blocking mechanisms based on different traits of the character. For example, maybe a fallen log could be initially too heavy and tough for the player to move or destroy, but the player could learn how to cast a fire spell or how to karate chop powerfully, and they would remember this sort of technique after reincarnation. Or a faction might require you to have 50 points of good rep with them from various sources, but starting as a different race might give you an instant 10 points toward that goal because they are biased toward that race, and all members of that race (such as NPCs) get slightly preferential treatment that you can see happening in your first life. In general, short-cuts which are unlocked by the player having gotten to whatever location or goal the hard way once would make great standard unlockables, alongside some more exciting and exotic ones.

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There was a roguelike on Kongregate where death gave you these permanent traits.

I'm affraid I can't remember the name though...

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The old Soul Reaver games used death interestingly. If you died in the "physical" realm, you emerged in the "spirit" realm, which was a twisted version of the physical realm(these terms are probably wrong, but it's been awhile). In the spirit realm you could replenish your life-force to move back to the physical realm. But, If you died in the spirit realm: game over. A lot of the puzzles involved moving between the two. I miss that game sad.png

 

A lot of rogue-likes reward death to some extent, too. Unlocking new characters, abilities, etc, that are available on your next play-through, depending on what you did while alive. Don't Starve and FTL come to mind, but there are countless examples these days smile.png They're not specifically incorporated into the game's story though.

 

Gamplay-wise, I think an interesting mechanic could be a sort of "scarring" system, or immunization. a sort of "what ever kills you makes you stronger" sort of thing tongue.png

 

Story-wise, if your game involves the player being resurrected in the past, just the knowledge of what was lurking around the corner that killed you the first time kind of makes sense. Though, that's a sort of meta-commentary on most games. I mean, every game where you die, but get a bit more skilled with your next life tongue.png 

 

You could work a story where, If the game acknowledged that the player character was an avatar, on death you went back to the "real world," where you could retool things, change strategy etc. and then start again. Basically make it a "game within a game" and any death related story problems mostly resolve themselves.

Edited by Misantes

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While not the same as 'dying', in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (Nintendo 3DS), you capture pokemon-like creatures to do battle on your behalf. Once you level two monsters to above level 10, you can merge/breed/splice/whatever the two of them together - this removes both of them from the game (for unexplained reasons) and their offspring gets to keep 1/4th of the combined total of the parents' stats, and your choice of three different inherited skill trees (linear skill lines) from the parents (with 1/4th of the skill points still in that tree).

 

Benefits:

Stats - The new creature starts off with 1/4th or more of the stats of the old creatures, but is still only level 1 and can rapidly be power-leveled up and get more stats, creating a more powerful creature by the time it gets around its parents' old levels.

Skill selections - With the parents, you only got whatever skills the creatures had when you caught them in the wild - you didn't have any choice about it. But by selectively breeding and then selectively choosing what skill trees to inherit, you can give creatures combinations of skill trees that are much more beneficial.

Upgraded skill trees - Skill trees (again, linear skill lines, so not really 'trees' at all) can be leveled up up to N times, depending on the tree. When maxed out, when the monster is bred, the offspring often gets the choice the old skill tree (Now at 1/4th the level of what it used to be) or a new, upgraded, skill tree (starting at level 0) that is the enhanced version of the old tree. Often the new skill trees have a even higher max level than before.

 

For example, one such "skill tree" I had on some of my creatures was "Strength Upgrades". At 5 points into this tree, my creature got an innate +3 strength apart from his regular stats. At 10 points in the tree, he got an innate +10 HP. 15 points in the tree, he got another 3 points of strength, and so on. It maxed out at level 50.

If I maxed it out, and bred the creature, his offspring had the choice of inheriting three trees from any of the two parents' trees, he had the option of inheriting "Strength Upgrades", and/or "Strength Upgrades Lvl 2". Strength Upgrades Lvl 2 gives you +5 strength (instead of +3), +10 health, +5 strength, +10 health, etc..., and maxes out at level 75 instead of 50.

So the child creature would have even better skill trees, and some degree of choice in skill trees. If I wanted to really pump out the creature, he could inherit both Lvl 1 and Lvl 2 of the "Strength Upgrades" skill trees, and both trees would coexist in him as separate (but complementary) trees.

 

The game gets you in the habit of doing this frequently - getting rid of your old creatures and using them to selectively breed new, more powerful, creatures that you'd have to then level up from scratch.

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From a practical point of view I advise against such system.

 

Dying is a failure, a punishment, a thing the player is to avoid. If it's a good thing then what is the punishment? Being healed and at a full health (but that can be fixed easily, by dying :D)? The thing is, an advantage must be something that is HARD to obtain, dying is trivial to obtain (enter the dragon's cave and do nothing).

 

I suggest to look at it from the point of view what could be the main punishment (instead of dying).

 

 

Note: I have seen one game where dying was good that worked, so it's doable but... it was not impressive.

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