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Spouse Aggro!

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Author: beauturkey

There are no harsh death penalties.

Posted by beauturkey Monday January 4 2010 at 4:56AM
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I have been playing the heck out of Champions Online for a review lately, and I have been enjoying it's ease of game-play. I don't mean ease only as in "easy" but in the way that it eases you into fighting, crafting and everything else. Once you get used to it, it's a blast.

But, after "dying" several times, I couldn't figure out what the death penalty was. So, I decided to ask in chat.

Seems as though most players (in that newbie area) weren't even aware of one. But then someone explained that these little stars near your health bar were gained as you avoided death, giving bonuses to combat capabilities. Neat idea, one I had seen used in The Chronicles of Spellborn (that game uses PeP, or personal experience points. Essentially, it pays you to avoid death instead of concentrating on what might happen if you die.)


And recently my wonderful time in Fallen Earth showed me the same weak death penalty, essentially just giving you a small exp de-buff for about 10 minutes after you "die." A "harsh death penalty" game would be EVE or Darkfall, but I argue that those games leave so many easy ways of avoiding any real issues that the death penalty is hardly noticed. In fact, when you are shot all to Hell in EVE and are podded (I said I pvp'ed a lot, not that I was any good at it) you simply wake up in a station with your same clone body, same skills and a wad of cash in your pocket representing an "insurance" pay back. Only a careless act akin to spilling coffee on your keyboard would cause you any real grief: forgetting to buy a proper clone or to buy proper insurance. While you can lose some very valuable ship modules and some very valuable implants on your character, the insurance can, literally, pay you extra cash for dying. Also, if you need extra cash you can simply buy some time-codes and swap them for in-game currency. (Unless that was removed over the last year?)

In Darkfall, another game claiming to be "hardcore", the only real punishment comes from the humiliation of being pwned by a guy named "KillerX420." Death is about as harsh in that game as in an FPS, save for some possible loss of very attainable loot.

And on the opposite end we now have games like Champions that cause you absolutely no grief whatsoever. But, do we really need the grief? After all, these are worlds with warp speed and dragons, so what makes anyone think that death would or should be an issue? Isn't it possible that, in a world with healing magic, that transporting one's soul and items to a neutral spot is a normal occurrence?

Of all people, I have always been a very strong supporter of perma-death, even going so far as to try it out on a few characters.

The problem with perma-death, though, is that no game would be able to do it right unless built with that mechanic in mind from the very beginning. Even then, there would ( I would hope ) be some kind of "passing on" of skills or some goods to another pre-nominated character, which is essentially the same thing as waking up with a less-than-potent clone in EVE. Alright, so what if  a game just made your character actually die? Well, I will guarantee that, as in real life, combat would have to be something either avoided or very, very fast. The game would have to shift the light off of fighting and onto more mundane activities, like solving puzzles (as in Myst Online) or in crafting (as in Fallen Earth.) After all, if the game would completely destroy this beloved character of yours after a random bear attack, then they would have to make those bears either run away when you approached or as rare as a happy WoW blogger.

I always liked the idea of "punishing" your character, but in a way that adds depth to the game. Imagine that after a death in your favorite game that you character must lie in a hospital bed for a decent amount of time (several hours or days or even weeks!) while other players perform "surgery" and really have to "heal" you. In the meanwhile, your alt could be the doctor or you could simply spend your time crying in the corner.

So, maybe it's time to drop the death penalty issue. I can't believe that I am saying this, but if we are going to suspend our dis-belief for an evening of shooting missle's at each other in giant space-ships, then we should maybe get used to the fact that there really isn't much to dying in that world.


demonic87 writes:

I like your idea's to a degree.

But players like to play their mmo's any time they want, and putting in those kind of things would really drop the subscribers count. Who wants to pay $15 for a month they sat in a hospital all day? I can see it working in a free to play, but not in a subscription mmo.

And perma death also, nobody wants to pay money a month to progress and then only lose it to some random player who's out ganking lowbies, or a random creature that pops out. Heck, you may even lose your character in just trying to explore the world, whats the fun in that?

Mon Jan 04 2010 7:22AM Report
beauturkey writes:

 Well, that's why I said a game would have to be designed with a "real" death process in it from the beginning.

 It wouldn't be like some new game that plays like you are used to. This would have to be a game where death is part of the game, and thus you would want to play it in some ways.

 Perma death would not work, especially not with today's mechanics. It would take, again, a different game made with this in mind from the beginning. You would have to make mobs not act as they do in almost any game, the risks would have to be very high but also not forced. Just like in real life, you would have to have alternate activities that were fun but not deadly.


Mon Jan 04 2010 8:30AM Report
Preponerance writes:

 I think this could be easily tested.  I would love a perma-death or harsh death system, make the  game more challenging.  What each game should do similar to Siege Perilous on Ultima Online.  


Make a server thats harder to play than the other servers, possibly perma-death or very very harsh death system.  Make money harder to earn, gear harder to get.


I think implementing a system like that would be a community together like no other. Eager to work and help each other to meet common goals.

Mon Jan 04 2010 11:46AM Report
disownation writes:

There's no saying that you couldn't focus on combat. If anyone has played "Gothic" back in the day, most times NPCs wouldn't kill you - they'd just beat you senselessly close to death, hehe. And you would do the same (with the option of killing them if you wanted too...with consequences). Normal MOBs you fight may not kill you, they may loot your crumpled body and leave you. Raid bosses may not even kill you, you could fall down seriously injured and unable to continue the fight - where other players may have to drag you away from the fight to prevent you from actually sustaining a fatal injury. There are a ton of creative possibilities where combat is concerned.


And that is exactly what a developer would have to tackle - a morality system. Yes, you could kill players if you wanted...but you'd run the risk of becoming a murderer and outcasted from all major cities, societies and players....even possibly hunted. This is somewhat what UO used to have back in the day....and I loved it. It added so much dimension and depth to the game.


I hope that one day a developer will touch on this, and even expand on it. Maybe not as hardcore as perma-death. But definitely some sort of "moral" system where your actions have consequences - both possitive and negative. That would be entirely awesome and open up several new doors. Do you become a murdering criminal forced to walk among the slums and avoid the law? Do you become a righteous hunter of murderers and thieves? A bounty hunter for hire? You could literally create your own player-made factions this way. "Oh, you're a murderer too? We should stick together, safety in numbers." etc.


Think about it. It would be sweet. The fact is, that incorporating the fear of death again in games would be exciting. However, no one has any innovative ideas about how to do it right. Here's to hoping one day someone does.

Wed Jan 06 2010 6:03AM Report
beauturkey writes:

These are some great points. I might have to re-write everything! lol

 And how'd you get your text blue? Thanks for the comments!



Wed Jan 06 2010 9:18AM Report
scuubeedoo writes:

wanna see really NO death penalties at all? get a single player RPG. save, die, reload. what was the penalty? around 3 seconds if you have a fast machine. nuff said.

Mon Jan 11 2010 4:47PM Report writes:
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