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Project Vex: A First Step

Project Vex is currently in the design phase. This web-log is dedicated to my thoughts, theories, and progress in relation to Project Vex. I invite everyone to take a look and donate a few thoughts. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Author: Velexia

The Solution to Permanent Death in Project Vex

Posted by Velexia Saturday March 28 2009 at 8:07PM
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The surreal pain begins to subside, as you lay in the cool grass, staring up into the fading colors of the vibrant sky.  Your body feels heavy... and weak.  The world begins to slip away, like the last vestiges of a dream.

The void...

Something so familiar... this feeling, you know this presence.  You've felt it so many times before...

I'm not done yet... not yet...

Acknowledged...

Bright searing light... tingling nerves... thick air filling lacking lungs...

Once more into the breach...

___________________________________________________________________

You have died, but you're not quite finished here.  There is still much you wish to share, and to experience.  You have chosen to resurrect.  The Goddess has accepted your choice.  You come to in a safe location amongst those that will care for you.  What worldly possessions you once had are with you no longer.  Your appearance has changed (player selects the new appearance), and given this new opportunity, you may wish to change your name as well...  This phenomenon is bizarre to some, but not unheard of, not in this (strange) world... you may be able to convince your friends that you are your old persona returned. 

In terms of game mechanics, you retain all of your past experiences (such as skills), though you will likely never recover your old possessions (not very hard to replace anyway, it's just stuff).  Your old affiliations with NPCs will be restored by going and interacting with them again.  If you had a community, you will find yourself within that community once again, if not, you will find yourself in an out of the way place, or possibly within another community that will take you in.  You will be in a weakened state, and it would be unwise to place yourself in danger for a period of time while you recover from the experience.  If you desire to remain anonymous (to prevent your enemies from striking at you again) you easily have that option, though reuniting with old friends (PCs and NPCs) may break your anonymity.  You may change your physical appearance, your name, and even your gender, though your "race" will remain the same.

These resurrections are not an endless supply of "get out of jail free" cards however.  All characters begin with three, and can, at any one time ever have a maximum of three.  These are Karmic "points," and they can be gained and lost throughout your character's life.  There are three ways to lose Karmic points.  The first, is to resurrect.  The Goddess requires that you use a Karmic point to return to the life you were once living.  The second, is to murder (murder in Project Vex is covered here).  The third is to be involved in an atrocity.  The Aspects (special spirits that observe the actions of all beings in Project Vex) determine when these second two conditions are met.  An atrocity can include orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of another, without actually actively participating (such as sending an NPC assassin to kill an innocent member of your community), or it can be something like destruction purely for destruction's sake (burning down a forest for no particular reason).

To regain Karmic points, there are three paths.  The first, is to show mercy to an opponent whom you could kill without it being considered a murder.  The second is to perform a grace.  The third is to relieve the world of a being that has negative Karmic points (the maximum amount of negative Karmic points is yet to be determined).  Similar to an atrocity, a grace is determined by the Aspects.  A grace can include restoring life to a barren land, or life to a fallen comrade (which still requires a Karmic point of the fallen comrade).  It should be known that the ability for one character to restore life to another is an exceptionally rare thing.

Generally, things that promote life are graces, and things that take away from life are atrocities.  A grace or atrocity can also be built up slowly over time by various deeds on a smaller scale.

It should also be known that a character can rapidly lose Karmic points (one per 10 minutes, lets say), but regaining Karmic points takes much longer (one per 24 hours perhaps).

___________________________________________________________________

"...This body holding me, reminds me of my own mortality...  Embrace this moment, remember...  We are eternal.  All this pain is an illusion."

Velexia writes:

Mixcael wrote: "To give mercy, I must fight another, risking what little lives I have left"

Yes, it is not meant to be easy.

Mixcael wrote: "Giving grace implies that I must have high level healing skills.  What if I run out of lives before I learn them?"

Those were merely examples I gave, not the sole manners, and one 'needs' no magic at all to do any of them.  Then again, the best technology is indiscernible from magic, isn't it?  Not that planting seeds requires much technology...    

If you run out of "lives" you die.  The game is still permanent death, and all other factors still apply.  This karmic system simply makes it a little softer.

Mixcael wrote (more or less): "Killing players with negative points...  If I treasure my avatars life, it doesn't make much sense to lose points.  Given that, who in their right mind would want negative points?  Where would I find a character with negative points to kill, to gain points?  Additionally, I need to fight the guy, thus laying my life on the line."

Indeed.  No risk, no reward; no pain, no gain. 

Players who choose to be indiscriminate "PKs"will likely have negative karmic points.  Players who play evil characters will likely have negative karmic points... mind you, I never said that there wasn't a balance, there may be reasons to play evil characters.

Sun Mar 29 2009 6:43AM Report
dcostello writes:

  I'm not sure if you are aware, but you have touched upon a very controversial philosophical delimma, with this aspect.  The problem of 'identity' has been largely debated throughout history, and is still debated today, fueled by the new technologies of science.  It seems to me that in order for your aspect to logically flow, you must assert that each avatar contains a soul, which determines one identity; the body is merely a vessel.  So, when a player dies, the soul is ressurrected in another physical form, hence a new appearance.

        This brings up several suggestions, only a few come to mind right now, that I have for you.  You talked about how you lose your gear, and I agree with that part.  But, you mentioned that relationships (with NPCs) and prowess (skill) remain constant.  I agree that it would be a hassle to start these things over, however automatically retaining these aspects would render this ressurrection system as nothing more than a 'face lift' (which is also just a hassle).  So instead you could assert that prowess and relationships connect with the soul on a spiritual level.  For one to regain such things, he/she would have to train those skill types again and re-connect with those NPCs.  To exempt players from constant grind, you could allow a swifter xp/ skill gain for lost skills/xp (only if players train within the same path that they had trained in before).  To regain relationships with old NPCs, they can do a quick mission or hold a dialogue to remind the NPC that your previous 'self' and new 'self' are one in the same.

        Lastly, because I fear my post is too long, I wish to touch upon the diety intervention.  You mentioned 'Karnic' points as a means for regulating and allowing for resurrection to occur.  Unless there is one god in your game, I would suggest that you make this system full of opportunities.  Every god should have different paths for gaining and losing Karnic points.  For example, an evil god would require that you kill other players for Karnic points, while the same god would discourage you from helping other players.  This would make it difficult because players who devote themselves to such a god would have to constantly kill other players, but they would have to do so alone because they can't help other players--thus isolating themselves from other players.  Instead of making a 'one scenario=one point' layout, I would encourage that you make an accumulation of events (xp-like) required in order to gain a karnic point (each time would increase the required number of god-influence points, making it harder and harder to resurrect).  A healer avatar that pledged him/herself to a benevolent god would have to heal multiple characters (at the brink of death) in order to gain a karnic point.  Be careful though, if you use this suggestion, to not make it turn into a karnic grindfest.

        Hopefully my suggestions will help you directly or indirectly.  Like I've said before, this is what you should be doing.  You should discuss your ideas (only if you wish to do so) with other people instead of waving around vague statements in front of peoples' perverbial faces.  Good post, keep up the good work.

Sun Mar 29 2009 12:44PM Report
Velexia writes:

 

Replying to dcostello:  This philosophical dilemma you speak of is exactly what is going on in Project Vex.  You may have noted the Parabola quote down at the bottom.


The relationships (with NPCs) do not exactly remain constant, but we are assuming that this resurrection is done on a small timescale, and because this game mechanic is being included in the lore, the NPCs are more likely to accept that this fellow who claims to be their deceased friend is indeed, that person.  Similarly, the skills are retained because the resurrection is done on a small timescale, and the "spirit" has not cleared it's database yet. 
 

This does spark some ideas for me, however, as to how I can further utilize some of the character attributes.  The higher a certain attribute, the more the character retains, or the easier it is to reacquire.
 

Perhaps I did not explain thoroughly enough in the web-log post, but the character will have to hold dialogues with the NPCs to reaffirm the connections: (“This phenomenon is bizarre to some, but not unheard of, not in this (strange) world... you may be able to convince your friends that you are your old persona returned,” and “Your old affiliations with NPCs will be restored by going and interacting with them again”).


There are possibly multiple entities which call themselves “gods” in Project Vex, but only one of them actively interacts with the other beings as a “god.”  This deity deals with the “spirits” that are returning and often grants them the ability to stay (relatively) briefly if the other, greater entity (which deals with the karmic system) is agreeable (if the character has enough positive karma).  So in this sense, she serves the role of Hermes, or the Boatman, with the addition of a special clause that allows the old life to be resumed for a time.


One should keep in mind that this system does not apply to all character-killing (NPCs count too).  A kill is only considered a murder when it is within your own community (faction).  There can be several different communities for each “race” and there can also be communities that have a mix of “races.”  The communities will be player-formed (except for the starting communities).  If a raiding party is attacking your town, you will not have to worry about losing karmic points when you defend yourself, nor will they have to worry about losing karmic points when attacking.  It is however, an opportunity to raise your karma, should you show mercy to your enemies.  Again, there is a greater entity in the world of Project Vex that determines how karma is gained and lost.  It basically follows a law of the wild, “kill thy brethren and thou shalt feel my displeasure.”  Thus a lone wolf character, who has no community, need not bother to worry much(although the communities of the people the lone wolf kills may have qualms).


I was touching briefly on the idea of a karmic system that incrementally increased or decreased, and I feel that this is a proper way to go about it: (“A grace or atrocity can also be built up slowly over time by various deeds on a smaller scale”).   I'm not certain about steadily increasing the difficulty, but if there is a need to prevent a character from easily regaining karmic points; this may be the way to go. Another way might be that positive karma and negative karma are on two different scales. The more negative karma one has, the harder it is to gain positive karma. If they balance perfectly, the character is at zero, and if the positive karma outweighs the negative karma, they have a positive value.
Given the above... a character could have much more total positive karma than three... so perhaps the best way to do this... is to say that for the first resurrection, one needs to have a total of at least 1 positive karma. For the second 1, third 2, fourth 3, fifth 5, and so on. The positive karma is still 'used' when the resurrection occurs, thus lowering the number of positive karma and making it increasingly harder to resurrect the next time.


I believe the way that I will prevent a karmic grind-fest will be to treat the karmic system similar to the skill system. The total amount of negative and positive karma will be hidden from the player, and the repetition of acts that award karma will have diminishing returns.

 

This system however, does not replace the other portion of the game, where when a character finally dies, the player doesn't start over from scratch (access to new content, and more points to use for creation of the next character), it simply allows you to cling to life a little longer before moving through the cycle.

Sun Mar 29 2009 8:10PM Report
biff10426 writes:

Well, when I win the powerball and start on my own MMO project (sort of a perpetual world, left4dead mmog), I already covered my own version of "perma-death".

 

Just like in any other shooter, or mmo, you got HP/Life/whatever.  That hits zero, you die.  Easy.  You also have another stat, Constitution.  Every time you die, this goes down by an amount reletive to what killed you and how much damage the death stroke did.  CON (D&D lol!) can be improved by someone with a high enough Doctor/Medic skill, using certain drugs and treatment for a temporary boost, or recovers very slowly over time.

 

If you run out of CON the next time you get slayed, that character dies FOR REAL.  Similar to your game, they reincarnate....sort of.

 

At the start, players in my game can make their own names, first and last.  If you die die in my game, you start over and are given a new first and last name, randomly generated.  Any skills you learn, you keep, albeit at a slight penalty.  While having a randomly generated name may piss some people off, its really a good way to say "your old char is gone"  Anybody in the game that knew you, may eventually figure that out too.  You might run into old friends again, which is fine, basically like saying "oh I was a friend of thta guy you all knew...before he/I died and shit"

 

The skill penalty would be somewhat minor, losing a few points here and there, along with stat points.  The closer the gap between permadeaths, the greater the penalty...stop rushing into the darkness alone and getting killed by zombies then!

Mon Mar 30 2009 11:16AM Report

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