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Evolution of Death in MMORPGs

Posted by lordaltay1 Sunday June 15 2008 at 9:18PM
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Classic MMORPG games like Ultima Online and Everquest had something that new MMORPGs today simply don’t have. When you were killed playing Ultima Online there was a strong sense of defeat and loss. You actually lost something when you died. You could lose all your possessions that you were carrying. This sort of game play made it so players didn’t always carry their best sword of their best set of armor with them, as there was always a chance that they could lose it. If a group of people saw you carrying a shiny sword of vanquishing, they would be inclined to kill you and take your gear. With an open PvP environment, where anyone can attack you anywhere in the game, except while you’re in town, it’s best to make allies quickly, or you’ll quickly lose your hard earned equipment.

In Everquest death was extremely annoying. If you died in Everquest, you would spawn back in town without any of your possessions, and in order to reclaim them, you would need to return to your corpse. If you didn’t return to your corpse within a week, your corpse would disappear, and your items lost forever. Don’t mistake this with a silly corpse run in World of Warcraft, as in order to reclaim your equipment in Everquest, you would need to physically run back to your body, and without any of your equipment, that can be incredibly difficult, and if you fell into a lava pit, good luck trying to get your corpse back, as you may need to spend an entire day trying to recover your body.

In the new age of MMORPGs and MMO games it just doesn’t feel rewarding to kill another player and there is simply no sense of loss when you get killed. In World of Warcraft, if you happen to die, you basically get a slap on the wrist, as the only thing you lose is a bit of durability on your equipment. You’ll need to die 10 times for your equipment to get damaged enough to hurt your coin pouch, and you won’t even lose any experience for dying. At least some anime inspired games like Maple Story and Fly For Fun incorporate a real penalty for death. In MapleStory when you get killed, you lose a good chunk of experience. It’ll take you at least an hour to regain the lost experience.

A good penalty on death Is good for MMORPGs. In World of Warcraft, there really is no reason to be cautious while grinding as if you happen to die, it’s nothing more than a slight annoyance. In MapleStory, players constantly carry hundreds of healing potions with them, as they’ll do everything they can to avoid death. This sort of game play prevents players from acting irrationally and stupid, which can result in group wipes while raiding or just hunting as a group.

source:
http://mmohub.org/2008/evolution-of-death-in-mmorpgs

chaintm writes:

While I concure that this is definitly a downfall of MMO's, I would say it was actually the community that caused it's own demise. Once people realized they could mess with another player and get them "ganked" per-say and loose all this gear ofcourse. It came down to harassment and the "uber" guilds holding down the server in a neck hold. This ofcouse made people quit a game, (why play if you can't play right?) sure many could find friends and yada yada , a ton of things you "could" do, but for many it was just to much and they were there to have fun, not work at it.

So yes, I get it , I agree with it, but in the end it was the community that killed it. Just as those that blame sony for SWG demize, the one thing they will never openly admit is. It all started because of the community and then sony tried to "save it" which killed that game as well.

my 2 cents.

 

Sun Jun 15 2008 11:30PM Report
jusomdude writes:

Why exactly is it so important to have a harsh death penalty... I really don't understand this obsession. Games are meant to be fun, and I don't know about you, but I don't find being punished fun. A slight annoyance is all a death in a MMO should be.

Sun Jun 15 2008 11:31PM Report
lagbot7000 writes:

I agree entirely with this article.  I got my start with MMO's playing Asheron's Call, Ultima Online, and Everquest where death was not something to be taken lightly.  Sure no one really likes having to make a nude corpse run to try and reclaim your items, but what the harsh death penalties did to you was something much more subconscious.  You knew that dying would be bad and likely require hours to recover from, so it subsequently forced you to plan your actions with greater detail and attention, and thus you would take fewer risks, and therefore act less stupid and careless.

If I want to be instantly resurrected, I'll go play a multiplayer FPS.  Without a harsh penalty for dying, then what's the point of trying to stay alive?  Sure games are all about having fun, but equally so they're about facing a challenge, and where's the challenge in today's MMO's death penalties (and please don't say "well you have to run back")?  I absolutely agree that it was the gamers ourselves who brought this upon us, and hopefully someone will realize that it's not all about pandering to what the forum whiners demand.

Mon Jun 16 2008 2:13AM Report
craynlon writes:

i have mixed fellings about the issue:

1. i played lineage2 for the last 4 years and a death ment xp loss.
at higher levels grinding was pretty bad and hardcore and each death you lost around 1h of your time grinding back up.

2. i play aoc now and when i die i just respawn at a res point without any loss. truely its annoying to travel back to my xp spot but its no real loss compared to what i was used to in lineage2

both systems have benefits and drawbacks:
in conan i play a lot relaxter and have more fun, coming from l2 i laugh about every person that ganks me. on the other hand its so less of consequences that a lot of player use dying (i.e. jumping off a cliff) as prefered method of travel to go back to town
in l2 the harsh consequences of death/xp loss combined with boring grind build up a mentality of botting and bsoing(fast teleport bevore the oponent can kill you)

i believe death should have consequences but there still needs to be found a formular thats realistic but not frustrating to the player

Mon Jun 16 2008 2:52AM Report
Death1942 writes:

death sucks in AoC and WoW...plain and simple.  however i detest the loose all your items style games except when they offer optional pvp (servers or otherwise).  i think halfway between the 2 current systems would be good.

Mon Jun 16 2008 5:04AM Report
Loke666 writes:

In old Linage (at least during the Beta, quited after 9 weeks beta) you sometimes lost an item and always some XP. That was good enough, maybe 1 out of 10 you lost an item but thats a guess since i rarely died there (lost a really good sword and some armour). To much penalties sux however, losing all your items is way to harsch.

Mon Jun 16 2008 10:22PM Report
craynlon writes:

one problem with harsh death penalties is that it will drive people out of the game if the pvp isnt balanced both in classes, gears and levels.

i never played ultima but if a player 10 levels higher then you or a gank of 4vs1 strips the players of their gear and xp every time they leave town youll keep a handfull of sadisticly minded hardcore gamers but loose the broad audience thats supposed to make you money

Tue Jun 17 2008 12:34AM Report
Realedazed writes:

As a extremely casual player, I like the current death penalties. On a good weekend, I may play for a few hours and level. I'd hate for all of that be lost if I die trying out something new or whatever.  Back, in the day, it may not have been a huge deal though. If I had more time a death penalty with exp loss/equipment loss would only just mean, I'll shrug and keep playing for a few more hours trying to get it back. It was still fun, I just had time for it back then.

Thu Jun 19 2008 3:59PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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