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SoakinKittens

Alternative to death

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

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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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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
Wasn''t Messiah sort of impleamented in that style?

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