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Reader Comments (64)

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 8:05AM (Unverified) said

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I believe that XP loss is too much. I remember the days of Everquest, and FFXI, and those games really stuck it to you when death came about.

Item and equipment loss though, I believe is essential to any in-game economy and therefore should be induced at any possible oppurtunity.

Then again, I'm an Eve-player... so my opinions may be off from the majority, but then that's why we have WoW.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 8:30AM Straylightix said

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I'd have to agree with Ben that XP loss is pointless nowadays. There are far more effective ways to punish players for their deaths. I play EVE and Aion which both have pretty harsh ways of handling deaths. Once you start stacking up death counts in Aion at higher levels, you're likely to spend over half a million Kinah just to get your XP back.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 11:06AM Minofan said

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Protect!

If people want to experience futility and suffering, they should just do so for free outside - make hobby games for hobbyists.

Painful gaming is just the last bastion of old pay models and high-risk PvP, so I'd personally give any modern game with punishing penalties a wide unles it is high-risk PvP orientated (in which case I'd be avoiding it for entirely different reasons).

Guild Wars remains my favorite game of all time, and more than four years in I'm experiencing yet ANOTHER revival of it, so in the scope of my own interest that's 100% proof that games can be compelling for the long-haul without relying on cheap crutches like erasing progress or characters.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 8:32AM Jhaer said

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I loved exp loss in the EQ. Because I wanted to gain levels, but it was never my goal to be level capped, exp loss was just the right penalty to make me rethink what happened, why I died, and work to avoid it in the future. Many people I played with who did have the goal of level capping, would regale stories of how they died several times a play session and how they never went anywhere without a cleric and the best possible resurrection to minimize loss. It made me feel bad when I played nearly as much as them but their per session death counts matched my per week or per month death counts.

Sadly, with the loss of exp loss, too many people are now encouraged to charge blindly into fights, which might be a tad more thrilling, but they've probably tripled their per session death counts... and they kill me too, which since I don't want to die make the game less fun for me. My goal is to die as little as possible... wimpy death penalties encourage people to play in a way that impedes my goal.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 8:41AM CCon99 said

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As harsh as it was in the old days, I find myself preferring the old harsh death penalty's. Not that I enjoyed the penalty itself, but I enjoyed the fear of my character getting killed. Now days death means nothing and in a lot of cases death is used as a fast way to "teleport" back home.

I miss the old days in EQ when entering Kithicor Forest and debating if I was going to have enough time to cross the zone before nightfall came and the higher level undead spawned. That same scenario with no or minimal death penalty and that zone suddenly isn't as scary because the worst that happens to me is I get TP'd to my bind point.

Games of today have none of that, hell games like Champions Online are designed that you're likely going to die in a 5 person mission and it's not unheard of teams dying more then 10 times then just keep working away at the mission as they run back to where they left off.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 8:45AM kazamxi said

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Players need protecting to start out with in a game. Let them find their feet and get to grips with how things work, then bring on the pain!

While players will cry and moan that it hurts and some may well quit it is about creating a long term fan base. Look at all the new MMOs coming out. Most have no death penalty, and players have very little emotional investment in their character.

Darkfall is an amazing game where even grinding PvE mobs or gathering is a stressful experience. Yes death hurts but victory is sweeter because of it.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:01AM vinemt said

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I've played Darkfall for the last few months and I have to say that the full loot system makes gaming awesome again. Everything you do matters and you have to be careful all of the time. Playing is frustrating at times, exhilarating at others but never, ever boring. There's nothing like the feeling of hearing what could be an approaching mount while harvesting ore and having to run and hide as the 'red' hops off his horse with murderous intention. It pays to run when you're outclassed because with the lack of auto targeting it's actually possible to hide in a wooded area and never be seen. I'm finding it hard to get back into other MMOs now because, well.... nothing you do really matters...

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:04AM Wisdomandlore said

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While I never want to return to the days of XP loss, death in games today is a minor annoyance. LOTRO, for example, has a 10m debuff and increased repair costs (in a game where money is easy to make and you have nothing to spend it on).

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I think it would be cool if death had a wider range of effects. Take a page from Fable and give characters scars after they die. Give us the chance of waking up in a dungeon somewhere far away, or even roasting over a fire as something's meal.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:08AM gallahad said

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One of the things I loved back when I was playing Eve, even though it bit me more times than I care to admit, is that death and destruction could seriously screw you up, so there's a big incentive to play smart. I think that a game where both sides are thinking of survival -- not just beating the other guy -- is ultimately a much deeper system.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:10AM (Unverified) said

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XP loss makes absolutely no sense to me. It's basically an incentive to not die when developers don't like the idea of having your character drop all of his gear on death. Couldn't they have come up with anything else?

If you guys want to know the happy medium in death penalties, I'd check out the system The Chronicles of Spellborn uses. Champions Online uses the same concept, but it was completely and utterly butchered in the translation. It's like the "hardcore casuals" version of the death penalty in TCOS, which was already a compromise between hardcore and casual players.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:14AM Duffy said

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I think most death penalties are ultimately wastes of time and effort. Some fit certain games, EVE's does not particularly bother me, but XP loss, debuffs, or death debt are really silly systems that do what exactly? Slow you down? To what purpose? To punish you for doing something you weren't "supposed" to do?

Such penalties discourage exploration and experimentation which is what anything resembling an RPG should be about.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:20AM (Unverified) said

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There definitely needs to be more punishment for death and other missteps than what I've seen in most games these days. While I agree with everybody above, XP loss is not that big a deal these days, I'm a huge fan of the idea of fully dropping all your loot like in Darkfall, or at least dropping some items like in Neocron. The big problem I have with the majority of the games I have played in recent years is that there is no risk / reward scenario, it only gives rewards.

That said I think that in the beginning of a game most players need to be coddled to a degree. I fear that otherwise new players would quickly get turned off from a game by being punished too much before they get the hang of the game.

The other problem I see is that most people I run into these days that consider themselves MMO gamers have had WoW as their first, and usually only, game and as such they just expect there to be no penalties, no punishments, and they are extremely turned off by the idea of being punished by a game. I think a lot of them would actually find it very rewarding and intensely fun if they gave it a try, but when I suggest something like Darkfall to my group of friends they are just appalled by the idea of losing all of their loot and will not even consider the possibility that it could be a lot of fun.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:27AM Seffrid said

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I love how some players consider xp loss to be a hardcore death penalty - hardcore is when death is final and you have to re-roll!

I'm not an advocate of that degree of hardcore death penalty, but I do miss the old days of EQ and the fear of dying. Death meant something, so you tried hard not to die and made sure you learnt from it when there was no escaping it.

For me it's about getting the balance right between over-doing the death penalty so that no-one takes any risks any more and under-doing it to the point where death is just a means of quick travel. Most MMOs now tend towards the latter, as part of an overall dumbing-down of the genre. I regret that, but unfortunately developers listen to the cry-babies when they quit a game they were never going to play long-term anyway and give as their reasons for doing so the moderate death penalties and slower pace of levelling etc that the longer-term players would welcome.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 9:44AM Unverfied B said

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I'm playing games to have fun, not to be penalised and have my time wasted because of an error. So screw death penalties.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:00AM (Unverified) said

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Exactly.

People are already punished enough in real life.

At least I want to be rewarded when I do something good. Not punished for a silly mistake in a pixeled video game.

Difference between having 12 million players and 50 K.

I prefer the game that awards - bigger awards for the better players , lesser awards for the less skilled, but ALL get rewarded.

Or else don't pay the sub.
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Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:05AM Rodj Blake said

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How can you have success when there is no possibilty of failure?

Death penalties are neccessary, and the harsher the better as far as I'm concerned.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:22AM Psychotic Storm said

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If survival is your definition of success and risks then yes you are correct, success fortunately is a wider and more diverse term that covers many different things, like exploration, unlocking items or perks or hunting for items/ manufacture of things.

the mere death and respawn is frustrating enough on most occasions a setback adds to injury a permanent setback like xp or items loss can severely lessen the enjoyment of someone's playtime.
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Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:06AM (Unverified) said

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I'm young, so my first mmo was WoW, which means I never really experienced a "real" death penalty but I think it should be pretty cool, as long its not too much.
I mean, I'm playing mmo because I want to have some fun, and losing the progress I had done in the last three weeks IS NOT fun (full loot system if its a loot-base game), after two or three times I will just quit.
XP penalty is acutally good, as long its not huge and as long as it doesnt affect you when you are in the lvl cap.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:02AM (Unverified) said

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The issue is that there must be balance. The whole premise should be weighing the risk against the rewards. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. But for one, how can you have dynamic risks to scale with the rewards? For two, what is considered appropriate risk? I personally prefer my games to be more like virtual worlds than games, so I'm all for steep penalties such as item loss and the like, but most don't see it that way.

I think death penalties should be steep enough to cause players who die to take a step back, look at the situation, and figure out where they went wrong, but it should not deter them from playing more to try to get better, or trying again. WoW's death penalty, for instance, is terrible - that is, the penalty when you Spirit Rez. By reducing stats for 10 minutes, the only thing that encourages players to do is... something else, for the next 10 minutes.

What is a suitable penalty? Perhaps you drop some of your items or gold and must fight your way back if you want to recover it. Experience loss sucks, but I'll admit it's suitable, because it encourages players to keep going to earn that experience back. The penalty, whatever it is, should not interfere with the regular course of the game, and should not be so harsh that it causes players to ragequit, but should be steep enough that dying is actually something to fear.

Posted: Nov 16th 2009 10:06AM Psychotic Storm said

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To add the opposite view, XP loss and all death penalty are so far to one extend or another gone and there are quite a few good reasons for it.

First of all time, most of us are not teenagers any more, not even in college, there is no spare time to "recover" from such death penalties and the more severe the more wasted our play time can be considered.

Secondly, how do you deal with the death penalty? if your system is based around it then you have a game centred around players dying and how to offset it or avoid it, it produces a focused instead of diverse development.

I think Death penalties or at least severe death penalties are a thing of the past and the future should be focused on other aspects of the game and not how to die or survive dying.

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