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SoakinKittens

Alternative to death

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SoakinKittens    122
There have been a few threads about perma-death and a recent thread about main characters dying. One comment in there was to the effect of "well, what if the character came back as a ghost?" This got me to thinking. Game play doesn''t end for the player when the character loses all health points. The player usually just reloads the last save point and continues. I was thinking that most games ( RPG / FPS ) could be structured a little differently to make this unneccessary. What if you were playing the UNATCO/MJ12 levels of Deus Ex, and when you were *killed* instead of dying, you lost consciousness and were captured. Then, when you awake, you are back in your cell, with limited or no inventory, and must play the level over. It wouldn''t be a complete replay, because you have killed many guards, but there are a few random reinforcements, you have used ammo and items already, but you just keep playing. It wouldn''t always be a *OOPS! Back to the cell with you, you bad boy!* but sometimes they tie you up in a corner ( near where you fell ) with a single guard ( as stupid overlords are often likely to do ) and you must use your NanoCool rope busting ability to break the bonds and subdue the guard. The actual implementation would vary from game to game and from level to level, but the overall point is that 1) you wouldn''t be punished as such for dying, just set back, and 2) gameplay for the character wouldn''t end. Perhaps each level or region would have one or more plot appropriate restart points, sometimes a jail, sometimes you would be tossed in the garbage pits as dead, and sometimes a brief romp through hell or maybe a small heck before rejoining the living. Half-Life and Deus Ex both had a *You Are Captured* sequence. Perhaps this could be integrated so it is a fundemental portion of the game play instead of a chapter 9 plot device.

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Wavinator    2017
I like it.

It would be nice if, rather than just replaying the same exact level, a few things changed (preferably in response to your incursion). For instance, the guard at the main gate could be doubled while being lessened at the secret back door. IOW, failure forces you to change your approach.

Some other possible alternatives: You're captured, but disguised friends rescue you (perhaps even at a loss to themselves, in order to give failure some cost / weight and hence make failure less undesirable). Or you have a costly transporter / magick "get out of jail" option card. Or, maybe you are killed, but the game state keeps going, and you can create an ally or family member to avenge you. You also have the possibility of getting captured as a necessary strategy.

You do lose some immersiveness for some failure / death situations. Threatening players with great heights, or supposedly "take no prisoner" enemies, wouldn't work as well. But, in general, I think death is mostly uninteresting, and should be avoided wherever it doesn't add fun gameplay.

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

[edited by - Wavinator on May 1, 2002 12:33:35 AM]

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iceman_sas    122
Both good ideas. I personally really liked the approach of ''Omikron'', where if you died you took over the body of a passer by, although I realise that wouldn''t work in most situations. It was still interesting, but I found myself saving and reloading still when I got a character I liked.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I think it would be boring in the long run... once or even twice might work. The tenth time you are captured... well it will have lost its fun factor.

Games with a more open ended story (The ''Close Combat'' series comes into mind) are probably more suitable.

Henke

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uh-lee    122
quote:
Original post by SoakinKittens
instead of dying, you lost consciousness and were captured. Then, when you awake, you are back in your cell, with limited or no inventory, and must play the level over.
IMHO that wouldn't work too well. It would probably be near impossible or frustrating to have to replay a level without weapons and equipment that is so hard that you died/got captured/whatever the first time.

And if you want the game to have a half way realistic setting, losing consciousness and being captured would mean that you were severely injured and probably not able to escape/overpower guards.

The normal player wouldn't bother to go through this hassle and would reload (If possible. If not, he wouldn't bother playing the game any futher.).

If you designed your game with that in mind it might work.
Although I have never played DeusEx I consider that an exeptionally bad example. I'd think more in the direction of Soul Reaver.

[edited by - uh-lee on May 2, 2002 12:36:32 PM]

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Omnipotent_Q    122
So, maybe the bad guys would have different jail locations in each level, and sometimes they might decide you''re just not worth the trouble and kill you.

I like it, it allows the game to tell a more interesting story. Although I''m pretty sure that if you killed a few squads of MJ12 troopers, when others captured you they''d kick the crap out of you and dump your body in a river.

------------------------------
Omnipotent_Q
"Poor people are crazy. I''m eccentric."

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deGVR    122
Both "Omikron: The nomad soul" and "Planescape: Torment" are great examples of how the whole death thing can be circomvented.

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superpig    1825
There was something like this in ''Toonstruck'' (a brilliant game, if anyone remembers it). In the second act, you were inside the bad guy''s castle, in a cell, with an incompetant guard. There was a solution that would get you out - something about the guard having allergies. You figured it out, exited the cell, and continued on.
But if you messed up later on, you''d often find yourself back in the cell. And each time, the puzzle got a little more complicated. The guard said something along the lines of ''and don''t think you can try *that* again!'' So, you try and find another way of doing the same thing. After about 5 iterations, you find yourself in the cell, with a note that reads ''I quit. Key is under mat.'' It''s very funny.

Coming back to the ''create family member/friend to avenge,'' how about a slight modification:
When you get captured, you''re stuck in the cell. Hunger, etc, are frozen. You can''t get out.
However, you can create a new character - back, wherever - and visit the prison as a location. So you can create a new character to jail-break an old one.

I think this fits in with the idea of a persistant world - you''d just have to be careful about resetting stuff. The new guy would be created only to find that the various quests and monsters have already been solved/killed for him.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates
- sleeps in a ham-mock at www.thebinaryrefinery.cjb.net

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Enigma1625    122
This reminds me of the game Metal Gear Solid, where the main character is taken prisoner about half way through the game. This provided a number of new gameplay variations which definitely added to the game''s fun factor. First of all, you must figure out how to get out of the prison cell, not having any weapons and minimal items. Of course, if you are a complete moron eventually someone will come along and help you out

Once you get out of the holding cell, you get a sense of real suspense and excitement that was lost after obtaining so many powerful weapons and items throughout the game up to that point, and it makes you use your brain again to get back to the point of being an effective character.

Of course, having similar occurences happen many times during a game would indeed become monotonous and frustrating; the idea of not really dying is definitely a step in the right direction though.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Wasn''t Messiah sort of impleamented in that style?

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
System Shock! One of your primary goals on each level, every step of the way, was to switch over the rejuvenation bays from creating android assassins to healing mode, where you''d be reconstructed if you died. you had to walk all the way back to your body to get your things (similar to EQ, diablo, etc.), but the game was so engrossing, i often didn''t reload.

it added tension--if you died before activating it, you were screwed on that level. i thought it a great method that fit perfectly in with the game''s fiction.

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iceman_sas    122
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Wasn''t Messiah sort of impleamented in that style?


Yeah, kind of. You could jump in and out of whatever body you choose (mainly to solve puzzles, or just be kickass fighting machine) but you get shot to shit and die when you''re outside the body (a cherub in a diaper who points his finger at someone and says ''bang'' to attack). That was a great game as well.

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Inmate2993    222
The Sega Genesis game Spiderman did that I think. You have like 40 "hours" to beat the game, and each level took some time, and when you died, you lost 2 hours, but got to start the level over.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Here''s a nice little design no one else seems to have had yet. I planned to use it in a 3rd person survival horror à la AITD.

The game objective is to lift a curse on (where else) a family''s ancestral home, a nice big rambling, creepy estate.

You begin as a member of the family in the 18th century. You travel to the house on business and soon discover the curse, as sickness or more sinister things overcome those around you in the house. You attempt to solve the curse, but there is only so much you can do before you too succumb, and are killed. This can happen at any point, but there will be a fixed time limit beyond which the player''s death is unavoidable, should they survive that long.

Next comes the good bit. Once the player dies in the 18th century, gameplay shifts to another descendant, approximately 100 years later, again traveling to the house and becoming roped in with the curse. You must carry on where your ancestor left off. Of course, this will not be that easy, as whatever steps your predecessor took towards breaking the curse will have been affected by 100 years of history and other things happening in the house. Building damage and decay, rebuilding, modification, removal of rubbish, etc, have made it an almost entirely different place. Plus the various characters you must deal with will have changed. Again, the player has a limited time to solve the mystery, before death or having to leave the house again at the end of the visit.

Then, the third and final segment. The last survivor of the family, in the early 20th century, has inherited the house and goes to live there. Of course, they throw a party after getting settled in. This time, there is no one else left to continue once the player is killed. The curse must be broken this time around.

Death in the first two segments always leads to the loading of the next, but in the final segment it really is the end of the game.

To balance gameplay and set the correct pace, the first segment of the game is almost entirely research and exploration. Little combat, and so the player isn''t likely to get killed too early. They also have a generous amount of time, several weeks, to explore. Section two gets more difficult. There is only one week to play, and the house is considerably more dangerous. Section three is proving ground. Only a couple of days are allowed to finish the puzzles and break the curse.

Thus it''s preferable to do as much as possible towards breaking the curse in the early segments of the game, but all three segments must be played fully in order to complete the game.

Does anyone like this idea?

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Hamster    247
Hi,
The adventure game Discworld Noir, based on Terry Pratchett''s Discworld novels had a very interesting variation on this. You played a H. Bogart style detective, but of course, after a while you ended up snooping around where people didn''t want you to. During the course of the game you had befriended the traditional "is-she-good-or-bad?" type mysterious woman. When some kind soul eventually killed you, it became apparent that this woman''s mysteriousness (is that a word?) could be explained by the fact that she was actually a werewolf. You were bitten by her (although you didn''t know this at the time), and came back to life - quite a shock for the frustrated player staring at the gravestone in the would-be game over sequence when you spring back out of it morphing in and out of wolf form. In the wolf form, you had the new ability to "see" smells - certain things left luminous pink and green alphablended trails in the air, and of course that led to more clues. I realise that this is a very specific example that probably wouldn''t apply to anything but that particular game, but it was a very interesting way of approaching death.

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superpig    1825
The monkey island games made jokes about them, too. I think it was the first one - you walk too close to some cliff, and he falls off. There''s a nice little sequence of him falling several hundred feet into the jungle - and then, a few seconds later, bouncing back out and landing up on the cliff again. The reason? "Rubber tree." LMFAO...

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates
- sleeps in a ham-mock at www.thebinaryrefinery.cjb.net

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Inmate2993    222
Hrm, if this where an RPG, I''d mention that one could just lose a lot of Gold and be forced into a "re-enetering the board" situation. But you guys probably have only the FPS in mind, where its mostly a survival game.

Perhaps you could try a being captured situation, and having each general area having a "prison". By this, I mean you design your level as navigate from A to B to C, and somewhere in B having a prison complex, or just a cell, and the player is handed the responsibility of escaping and recovering his equipment if he should happen to fall in combat. It gives a nice situation where he could arrange traps before hand to get himself out of jail if something goes wrong, or getting caught intensionally to get around some locked areas.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Kilj    122
There is one problem with this, It cant be setup as a repetative thing. In some of the FF games I swore some fights were so one sided maybe I was meant to die and be captured or whatever (you get the point). The idea is that the player should never know if their death or capture etc, is a result of their playing. Im saying this because personaly if I died and were captured I think sometimes I might rather just reload to the last save spot than continuing in a handicapped state deemed by the creator as consequence or punishment. I think others might do the same. In some FF games there were one sided fights, phunbuba would blow everyone away and when that first happened to me I wasnt shure if maybe it was scripted so that I would loose the fight and the game story advance. Well, i didnt loose the fight, but if I had and the story would have changed I wouldnt have reloaded less I would have to fight him all over again in a handicapped state.

Hope everyone understands.

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xria    100
I always thought it''d be fun to make an "afterworld" that you go to when you die, and you must work your way out of it to get to back the living world and proceed through the game. Perhaps the game would give an evaluation of your actions and determine that upon your death should you go to a heaven-esque afterworld in which returning would be a matter of completing certain trials, or a hell-esque afterworld in which returning to life would involve several taxing battles with vengeful enemies which you have slain in previous levels. You could get really creative with such a concept......

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BlueMonk    142
Soul Reaver had an interesting idea. When you lose your vitality as a physical being you end up in some of plane of reality in which (interestingly) the environment is somewhat morphed and misshapen, but almost identical to where you were (you watch it morph). However you can lose life in this state also which sends you back to the beginning, but you really don''t lose much when this happens. I would generally use the nearby portal to get back where I was rather than re-loading, IIRC.

"All you need to do to learn circular logic is learn circular logic"

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Ingenu    1629
I like the Soul Reaver way.
I''ve not thought too hard about this for my game, but I''ll.

I''m sick of spending my time hitting quick load and quick save keys, although maybe I do because the game is too hard/unpredictable.


-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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deClavier    122
The game "In Cold Blood" was based entirely on this premise. It was an adventure game, I think. Basically, you started out captured and had to tell your interrogators how you got there; everytime you "died" in the telling of the story, they would say "no, that''s not how it happened".

Also, in chess, any pawn reaching the other side of the board can become a fallen piece.

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