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Reader Comments (41)

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 3:41PM (Unverified) said

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For some reason item decay just annoys the heck out of me. I suppose it stems from being a raider. Once that number hits 0% everything has to stop and everyone has to go repair. That really ruins momentum and can destroy an evening.

I like to fear death and fight hard to avoid it. I'm actually all for experience loss but no loss of level. The problem with that is that at max level you wouldn't fear the reaper so you'd probably need some sort of corpse run or something in there too.

One of the things that ticked me off about Warhammer was that death didn't matter at all. I frequently used it to travel and that just seems wrong to me.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 6:33PM DarkWalker said

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@(Unverified)
This is another facet of the item damage: players have a limited number of deaths they can have before being forced to retreat to a city in order to repair.
Of course, in WoW, you became able to avoid most of the "run back to repair" part thanks to the LFD (just port to the city to repair and port back) and the 16K gold mammoth (which lets you repair anywhere you can mount).
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 3:44PM Stormwaltz said

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"Really, this is the ultimate death penalty: having your character killed off forever after one or a set number of deaths."

Syp, you're clearly not evil enough: the *ultimate* death penalty would bill your credit card $10 and cancel your account.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 6:55PM Rayko said

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@Stormwaltz

You win.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:12PM j1083 said

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Since " if you follow these flighty phrases to their logical conclusion," one must, in fact, invoke the logical fallacy of the slippery slope, I consider this argument invalid.

I've always argued that death is, in and of itself, its own punishment. You failed and must start again. That's enough setback and frustration, IMO.

Raising the stakes may cause some to feel more invested, but it also provides an exit point for others.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 9:07PM DarkWalker said

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@j1083
Completely agree. I currently draw my line at something similar to WoW's model. Anything measurably higher and I will often not even try the game, and low to nil lost time after death is actually one of my metrics when deciding on a MMO (and the main reason why, even though I loved EVE, I didn't even consider subscribing to it).
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:16PM Space Cobra said

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You know, the answer to this list would be to make MMOs that cover the spectrum of death penalties.

I'll admit: I prefer #10, mostly because all the list, from #3 and #1 and etc.

Thing is, there are MMOs that are keeping these concepts alive, like Darkfall, but this does not seem to be your point, which I don't know if I got. I think you want a death penalty that is different than your list? Something "new". Something punishing, but maybe not too punishing?

Or, like you said in #1 (and I read the seeds of in a reply from another topic on Massively), you just want to start a debate/talk.

I feel it's like "Utopia", people who love death penalties will forever search for it but never find the "perfect" one for them. Sure, if they can continue to gank others, but always never applying to them, at least over the long-term. I can see a few folks returning with the support of a guild/friends to help them, but after the 5th or 10th death, the majority will probably silently cancel their sub unless they really love the community or are just masochists. People love death penalties until they become the victim. This is why we see them less and less.

And hell, I am a bit of a masochist in that I didn't mind XP-Debt, debuffs, or item damage. But really, after awhile and a bad dungeon run, this does make a game less fun, unless the games you like including putting sharpened bamboo shoots under your fingernails.

I think the current trend we see is, less death penalty the better for the majority of players. You add up the players over different MMOs and compare the numbers with MMOs with death penalties, I am sure the MMOs without (severe) death penalties will win.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:16PM Interitus said

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They should mix it up. Have nothing, item decay, XP debt and XP loss. You have a random chance to inccur one of these (with the more severe being rarer). That way they respect death, but dying (usually) isn't the end of the world.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:54PM Dumac said

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@Interitus
You know, there might be something there, having different penalties for different actions. Die in a dungeon - item loss or item durability loss. Die in regular PvE - suffer a fee of a few coins. Die in a public event - respawn at a nearby shrine with a debuff. Die in PvP - drop PvP currency...

That could be fun to try out. And it would mean than hanving one form of punishment for a wide range of actions of various challenge, death can be appropriate for what you were doing. Wonder if we will ever see that or if death penalties will just disappear.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2011 2:28AM kasapina said

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Like what Runescape does - die in Wilderness PvP, lose all your items, with the ability to save one or at most two, if I recall correctly. Die in normal zones - just a corpse run, although you're on a time limit - items disappear if you take too long. That said, there are virtually no areas you can't reach within the time limit, provided you know how to get around and have a reserve stash of transportation tools - the game has loads of transport methods, and you can literally get from one end of the world to the other withing 30 seconds using their 'fairy ring system', spellbook teleports, magical items (rings etc). There are also no-penalty deaths for certain areas, however these aren't important, since they mimic WoW's battleground deaths.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:25PM sysdefect said

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The first time I ever saw XP debt, and I might figure the first time it was implemented, it was in Anarchy Online, and that was hilariously punitive at times. It's one thing to incur eh, a bit of xp debt but then it was another thing to be without a bureaucrat or insurance machine, fighting for your life right as your about to level, because if you died, so long experience, back to your xp checkpoint.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:26PM sysdefect said

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@sysdefect *you're
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:32PM Ergonomic Cat said

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Item decay in SWG was the scariest thing since UO. Your 5 million cred armor with capped stats slowly fell apart, with no chance to stop it. But it made crafters very happy.


I loved Diablo corpse runs. The trail of weaker and weaker items as you struggled so hard was epic....

I enjoy RIFT. You get 10 deaths, then you start taking debuffs.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:52PM Space Cobra said

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@Ergonomic Cat

I forgot about Item Decay: I hated that. I protested in Beta about it and it still got implemented and bit me.

There are times I take "time off" from a game. Sometimes a week or more. I had forgotten to put "quarters" in my small in-game house that contained all my stuff before logging off. It was late at night; I was tired.

Logged back in. My House was gone, along with all of the stuff I stored inside.

That pretty much took my enthuisiasm and "wind from my sails" about the game (it wasn't even NGE). All that time and effort just wasted. Yeah, I could start from ground zero, but I tend to solo lots. It was something I *knew* would happened and it just demoralized me. Never really returned after that.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:35PM Tiresias said

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Death penalties are a cop-out. Do you know how MMO Developers can make their game worlds "exciting and dangerous"? By making the game world EXCITING AND DANGEROUS.

I'm not being facetious. Look at the philosophy behind Arena.net's upcoming game, Guild Wars 2, which has a light death penalty (running back to where you were before) and even has ways to avoid death altogether via the "downed" system. Let's not forget that every character class in the game can "rally" (i.e. resurrect), regardless of the build or weapon selection.

As the A.net developers stated in a recent interview: death is its own penalty. You have failed at the most basic of tasks: keeping yourself alive. Everyone around you sees this occur and it can lead to a stigma if it happens too often. You miss out on loot, experience points, and progression while you run back to the fight; there is the possibility of missing out on completing whatever quest you were doing if you are gone too long.

Why do players need to be punished more than that?

I remember playing a White Mage in FFXI (sometimes a RDM), and one of my most memorable experiences was being asked to travel to an EXTREMELY dangerous area to res two high-level characters that had died to a lag spike. The people in question were friends of a friend, but I was known as a "Good Samaritan" and I knew my way around that very dangerous area very well since I spent a lot of time mining there.

I did it. I went back to my Mog House to change jobs to WHM/BLM, get on my absolute best set of gear and grab consumables, then made the one-hour trek to their corpses. I resurrected them just before their timers expired then portaled them out of there before anything worse happened. My actions saved them a WEEK'S worth of experience loss -- which is why I went; one hour of my time was worth two weeks combined worth of theirs.

Does something like that sound cool? Awesome? Community-building? It's not. It's annoying and detracts from the game. Those two players had to sit on the ground dead for over an hour while I made my way to them. I spent an hour performing little more than a chore. The "reward" was that they only lost a day's worth of experience points instead of a week's worth. Yay!...?

I play Vindictus now. The game is exciting and tension-inducing. Bosses are extremely powerful and have the capability to one-shot many characters. Getting killed usually means that your gear breaks (temporarily; it automatically repairs when you return to town or take 5-15 seconds to repair it in the instance), but you can be resurrected by your party members easily. Worst-case scenario is that you wipe and lose the "Boat Tokens" you spent to start the instance. Since these are a limited commodity there is plenty of incentive to not wipe, while not punishing the players overmuch for failure in the end.

That's a good system. I'll never play an MMO with a harsh death penalty again, unless it's Diablo 3 with its totally optional "hardcore" mode or something similar.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 6:05PM kgptzac said

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@Tiresias

The argument of death of your character itself is a punishment sounds a a bit funny lol. I think all of the death penalties listed--all except perma-death--are reasonable if implemented correctly in a way that scales well to a particular game's environment.

By that I mean the answers of following questions: How easy can one die?. How much work is needed for another player to "res' a dead character? How much time will be required to regain everything lost from a death? And finally, does the death mechanism and penalty make sense in the game's universe?

From the list I concluded there are basically three kinds of way for the game to punish the players for dying. First: mundane task like corpse runs... personally speaking, it's hard to justify players to do something extremely boring to regain their old bodies or lose everything. Second: acquirable common assets, such as experience and money. Very easy to scale these to a reasonable level, which is why such methods are so popular. Third and last: timed debuff that players may or may not be able to remove/shorten it. Not as easy to scale, but I suppose it's justifiable.

In the end, the purpose of death penalty is to instill a sense of danger for the gameplay immersion/realism reasons and prevent meta-gaming by exploiting the death mechanism by the players.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 7:08PM Rayko said

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@Tiresias

I understand your point of view and death penalties are a pain BUT you are losing something by not having them. By not having harsh death penalty you are diluting the MMO experience by never truly being afraid for your character. When I played Asheron's call , my first MMO , back in early 2000 my patron took me to the Olthoi Tunnels when I hit level 20 ( you could perch in those days ). The Game featured corpse runs and stacking debuff worked off only through xp gain. I accidentally fell into the pit in front of three levels 65 Othoi ( Giant freaky looking bugs that made these horrible hissing and clacking noises). I literally almost pissed myself. My hands would shake when I even got around those things for awhile. I will probably never get that experience in a MMO again.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:38PM ShivanSwordsman said

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Ugh, here we go again with some elitist editor telling us that we need some Death Penalty to take us down a peg. I find death equally annoying with a rough penalty or a light one. I used to play FFXI, and after losing a level a few times, I told that game to kiss my rear.

The death penalty is just that. You die, you lose your place, then you have to run back to where you died. If you died and respawned in the same position, that might not be a deterrent enough, but believe me. Death in having to respawn and run back to where you were is enough of a reason to hate death.

I've also grown a fond hatred for armor repair systems, as you have to constantly repair, and then sometimes your crap breaks, then everyone starts fighting because we have to leave the instance to get repairs, only a few games give you an in-dungeon way to fix it, and then they make the repair costs that much more.

So many companies are looking for new ways for death to tick you off, when death itself is inevitable. Lets face it, the systems that drain your EXP and EXP Debt are the same as just a regular restart. You lose time and you have to gain it back. The difference is an annoyance factor, and if it gets too annoying, you stop playing.

The same argument can be made with gaining of EXP itself. Too many levels in the game and people will shrug off your game, or not make alts. The real accomplishments come at the end game, where the dungeons are challenging and you have to get gear, or an "Achievement System".

I know I burnt myself out on LOTRO getting the "Didn't die till level 20" achievement on all of my characters. Haven't picked it up since I finished leveling my Burgler like that. That should say something about death systems, and achievements as well. I quit one of the gaes I really, truly loved because of that frustration.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:44PM Scuffles said

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Oh D2 Perma-death, how I remember you fondly.... got to hell, doing fairly decent and then some Dbag necromancer fills the freaking screen with bonewalls, laggs the whole game and I'm dead ...... yeah that was the last I will ever bother with perma-death.

I think I'm find with a combination of XP loss (capped at your last level no de-leveling) some gear damage maybe a bit of res sickness......

But then I remember Allods ..... the perfect storm of how to culminate all that into what I considered developer griefing. To the point I just stopped playing one day and never looked back.... I know they did it because they wanted my money but they lost me as a customer because of it. Apparently a decent portion of that has been changed since it would seem punishing your players into paying you money didn't work out too well .... but "once bitten" and all.

So in summation I'm fine with a decent chunk of penalties as long as they don't go freaking overboard with it.

Posted: Mar 24th 2011 4:57PM myr said

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Current games are way too lax. I find myself trying things that I know I won't survive, or dying just to teleport back to my spawn point. Even ffxi is way too easy on the death penalty now with the abundance of abyssea exp - often times I'll die to warp rather than try to fish my warp cudgel out of my mog sack. I'll make the exp back 50 times over next time I play (without even trying to exp).

But back in the day? It was perfect. Frustrating yes, especially if you were in a bad party. But it helped make people better, and weeded out the dead weights that were more concerned with what was on TV than with keeping their tank alive. As long as you kept a policy - if they suck, leave.

Not to mention the delevel sound effect has always been amusing.

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