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Reader Comments (67)

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 8:54AM (Unverified) said

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I feel that you have sort of missed the point. The sort of death penalty you are describing is how to do it wrong, which a lot of developers are guilty of.

When done right it should enrich the gameplay, not be a substitute for less content.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 8:55AM (Unverified) said

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The above was aimed at Vulturion.
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Posted: Feb 27th 2010 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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When i die i'm already pissed enough, heavy death penalties would just piss me off even more... no need for that really:D

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 9:22AM Faryon said

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I like the way the deaths in Age of Conan works.. you get teleported to the nearest "graveyard" and get a debuff which reduces your damage and mitigation by 1%.. this lasts 30min unless you go back to where you died and get your tombstone..
If I remember correctly the debuff also stacks if you died again before you have gotten rid of it.

I also liked the death system in SWG pre-CU

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 9:35AM (Unverified) said

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Durability loss or pretty much anything equivalent that involves a gold sink but does not force a player to deal with the death penalty immediately after each death.

Gold sinks are required for functional economy within the game. So you might as well kill two birds with one stone. Yeah, I know... WoW had it right all along :)

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:06AM Critical Mass said

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I think the only true death penalty, worthy of being called a 'death penalty' is permadeath. Everything else is suspect imo.

There is little difference between playing a character/ship/pod that supposedly dies where you loose all your stuff and where you are unconscious and then loose your stuff. Dying might have appear to have a real consequence, yet this consequence might not be that big as one might believe it to be.

Being reincarnated or resurrected into a clone is perceived as a death penalty, however I think it is more pertinent to focus on the complementary game mechanics than 'death penalty' as such.

So, I just want to encourage some caution against simple and easy discussions regarding the so called 'death penalty'. It seem obvious that some consequence is proper, yet it is not given that it make much sense.

So, discussing the end result of game mechanics seem more important than cheering for death penalty itself.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:17AM Critical Mass said

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And with this, everyone ought to be able to engage into discussion about game design. One person might wish for 'realism', for the sake of immersion, and others might debate the 'fun factor' aspect. Yet, regardless of what is in focus, there ought to be a subject matter as such, that can be discussed without it ending or leading to shortsighted idealism which probably would lack in substance.

Then the real gamedesigner have to make the choices, and preferably keep things abit secret from the players, in the sense of not not trivializing the whole game by stating how simple the features are. It's imo bad to never talk about how simple things really are, so I would prefer a rather complex mmo, but alas I fear a complex mmo will never come about. And because of this, I will perhaps never play any MMO ever again.
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Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:07AM (Unverified) said

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I find myself nodding in agreement with a lot of the comments here, and I feel compelled to add to the conversation. Ohhh my, that was a fancy introduction.

Anyway...

My first MMO was Everquest, and the harsh death penalties there admittedly once almost got me to quit the game in disgust (I lost two levels and spent 9 hours one day trying to get out of Firiona Vie in my mid teens after getting stuck there because I was foolish enough to want to take a boat ride). That being said, I firmly believe that the death mechanics in that game made for better, more cooperative, players. You had to learn how to play your class well in order to survive because repeatedly throwing yourself at an encounter without learning anything actually hurt. You had to work well in groups because if you were careless and got people killed they wouldn't group with you again (and the community was small enough that word would get around about you on the server).

When I still played WoW people thought I was weird for getting upset when I died because in WoW it really just doesn't matter. It's a minor inconvenience, and with all of the changes they have made recently they are making it even less significant (teleport pads near the bosses, resurrection scrolls, etc..).

Here's the thing, though - The vast majority of players in the gaming world don't seem to want harsh death penalties. The vast majority of also don't seem to give a damn about role-playing, story, or character development either so there ya go.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:11AM LaughingTarget said

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I would like to see a serious afterlife. The player having to complete tasks to return to life. The higher the level, the longer and harder the task. It could also add a karma element. Players that behave in an evil manner will have to spend more time in this afterlife in purgatory before being returned. The worse the karma, the longer it takes. Virtuous characters could just get fast tracked back to the land of the living.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:13AM Boruk said

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I liked the whole being naked and having to run back to my corpse for my gear.I also thought that the losing XP when dying was a fair trade as dying really means you lose something. There were numerous times in EQ I would level, go train and then go quest only to die right off the bat and de-level again. It was frustrating sure, but leveling really meant something then too.

MMO's are getting ridiculous to the point that there soon wont even be a chance to die because people are so hell bent on rushing through and wanting the game to go faster, rather than slowing down the game play and enjoying their time as they go along.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:19AM Scuffles said

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Death Penalties are a conspiracy propagated by the global computer and keyboard manufacturing conglomerates!!!!

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 10:58AM (Unverified) said

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How I see it...

If I get killed my ennemy should be able to win a bit of cash from my corpse (and me loose a bit of it), but no full loot.
Also when I die WoW got it kind of right, when Allods is insane, as in game who die a lot (listen to episode 90 from Massively they had good thoughs about it).

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 11:00AM (Unverified) said

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The chance that you will lose whatever you have with you fits the harsh, cold world that is EVE Online perfectly. It matches the feel of the game and the gameplay. PvE is pretty straightforward, and when conducted correctly, everyone can go in with the most expensive ships and modules on the market and come out alive. PvP, on the other hand, is a constant dilemma: are you going in a cheap T1 ship with cheap modules so you can't lose much but also don't get the full potential out of your build, or do you undock in an expensive T2 ship, filled with faction modules and T2 modules, giving you a clear advantage in sheer module abilities but also making the amount of money you can lose larger (some modules are more expensive than the ships they're fitted to, especially true for frigates).

However, a system like this would absolutely not fit WoW. I don't know why exactly, but I just think it wouldn't.

That said, the increased effects of FoD, accompanied by the increased strength of enemies your own level, essentially forcing you to buy perfume after death and to get any chance of victory against enemies your own level, is the lowest the developers of Allods could sink. When patch 1.7 rolls out on the NA servers, I'm out of there, and I go back to Guild Wars, where death penalty is also harsh (up to 60% health and energy penalty) but only stays with you [i]as long as you stay in the instance you're currently in[/i] (remember that GW is largely instanced?), and can be removed by earning experience or using certain items [i]that you don't need to buy in a cash shop[/i].

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 11:13AM aurickle said

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There is another reason why death penalties are important: Without them, people get stupid. When you're playing solo, that's not a huge deal. But one of the reasons I loathe pickup groups in WoW is because the death penalty is so gentle that it seems like there's always at least one person in the group who just doesn't care about death and his actions then result in the entire party getting wiped.

Death penalties don't just add realism and risk vs. reward; they also help keep everyone honest to reduce the times when you'll end up with an idiot.

What's more, let's say you're about to go into a monster-filled cave or take on a rare elite mob. There are other players around as well. With a really soft death penalty you will very often find people just going for it. If they die, they don't care, but if they make it they get all the reward while everyone else has to sit around and wait for respawns. With a tougher death penalty, you might decide that it's not worth the risk and be more inclined to team up with the others in the area.

So a death penalty not only encourages people to play well -- avoiding group aggravation -- it also encourages people to form those groups in the first place.

I am against death penalties that cause you to lose levels, but don't mind XP loss so long as it can't create a rollback. One of my favorite mechanics, though was actually in Vanguard. If I remember right, you took stat loss that you could get back in one of two ways: Time, or recovering your tombstone. It was usually best to recover the tombstone, but sometimes that just wasn't possible in your weakened state or would be too much effort to try and get back to where you died. So you made the decision to deal with the loss until it would go away. This worked because it gave you a choice.

I also like the idea of people being able to loot your corpse, so long as they can only get a portion of your stuff. For example, no more than X% of the cash you're carrying can be looted and a single item provided you also have the option of spending money (or something else) to bind select equipment so that it can't be looted. Again, this comes down to player choice. If the gear is really important to you, you'll fork over the goods to bind it or you'll just take a risk and hope nobody loots it from you.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 11:29AM Pingles said

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It's true that minimal death consequences change the way you play.

I am a fan of SOME death penalty but I'd prefer not to lose my stuff. XP penalties I think are 100% appropriate.

I remember in WoW just corpse-jumping through a tough area. Afterwards I realized that I pretty much bypassed the game design completely. I shouldn't have been able to do that.

Posted: Feb 27th 2010 11:37AM Wisdomandlore said

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I agree with some of the other posters: if games weren't so loot-centric these days, potential item loss on death wouldn't be a huge deal. Imagine a game with strong crafting element where players create most items. Item loss upon death would just fuel the economy.

Overall MMOs have lost the sense of risk and reward, and with it any kind of tension or suspense. I remember that feeling in FFXI, and it made success feel all the sweeter. That being said, I never want to return to a system where you lose XP. Losing several hours of progression is just too painful.

Posted: Feb 28th 2010 1:16AM Lionhearted said

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"That being said, I never want to return to a system where you lose XP. Losing several hours of progression is just too painful."

In what game do you lose several hours of progression when you lose exp?

There were one or two occasions in the olden days of EQ where I'd either have to travel far and go through a massive ordeal to get a corpse, but I never lost "hours" of exp. You could say that time was more than an hour in progression, insofar as the time spent getting a cleric and getting to my body wasn't spent getting exp, but generally those sorts of things only happen when you're doing things you shouldn't be doing. IE You wouldn't have had a giant corpse run if you had bound closer to your body, or if you didn't go into a zone that was much beyond your level, in a difficult place to get to. In the 4-5 years I played EQ, there were only 3-4 times where getting my body back and getting a res took "hours." Moreover, that no longer exists (and hasn't for years) now that bodies can be summoned to the Guild Lobby... so there's *never* hours lost because of dying.

I guess you could be referring to a different game, but I couldn't think of it. There are very few games out there now where you lose "hours" of experience or progression from dying if you're not doing something completely, ineptly stupid. Even EVE mitigates the risk, because you don't *need* to go out there in the big, expensive ship with all the big, expensive mods all the time -- and when you do so, it should only be something done with a lot of preparation and thought put into it so chances are everything will be fine (ie you know the risk before you're doing it and not just losing hours every time you die).
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Posted: Feb 27th 2010 11:46AM Dblade said

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Death penalties suck.

EVE's death penalty is disproportionate because the type of ship that costs the most to lose is not a PvP ship, but a hauler or a miner. The risk is all on the non-combatant because insurance on t1 pvp ships and the group basis of most PvP lowers the cost.

FFXI's death penalty led to extremely conservative play. People also avoided it wholesale by power leveling, which no one here seems to mention. Players will avoid death penalties in any way they can.

Death penalties as a whole really do not increase the experience so much as add time to a game and penalize new and lesser skilled players. The proof of this is that in offline games they don't happen. Each time you die in an offline RPG, you just reload your last save. Could you imagine each time dying in Halo Master Chief would be weaker for an hour or lose the ability to carry certain types of weapons till it had passed?

Posted: Mar 6th 2010 8:56PM RaPhiKi said

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I was never a miner and I'm careful with my haulings, so I can realte only once because I was AFk on autopilot with a hauler full of 500mil of stuff when my corp moved..
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Posted: Feb 27th 2010 12:01PM (Unverified) said

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Death penalties should be harsh and an item sink in games that are trying to create a living and breathing world with a dynamic economy. Full loot death should be in most sandbox games. Success should be measured on your character's impact on the world and the ridiculously high priced items you could afford through the money you acquire, not the amount of time you spend knowing a certain item drops off a certain mob.

Death penalties in theme park games that focus on the next big instance or encounter should be smaller. The difficulty from these games come from the advanced tactics and teamwork required to complete a scripted event and not from the death penalty. These games should have either a small out of the way event(corpse running) or gear being degraded.

The less the death penalty the more ways there should be for a player to measure himself against other players. This is where I think most theme parked games should have records for instances for guilds and groups that complete them in a certain amount of time, on a certain difficulty, or last a certain amount of time. This then shifts the exciting aspects to being competitive against other players to get the best score instead of the possibility of dying with a harsh penalty.

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