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My 2 Copper's Worth

Well we're on a website dedicated to MMO's so I'll give you one guess as to what I'll write about. And no it's not mustard.

Author: ivan50265

The Great Perma Death Debate.

Posted by ivan50265 Sunday February 22 2009 at 7:30PM
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   Hi all and welcome back to the grand re-opening of my blog. It has been awhile and the landscape here has changed a little, but all in all it is great to be back talking about my favorite gaming genre the MMORPG.  So without further adieu here we go.



   Ok so I've been on my fair share of forums for MMOs in development in my day, and one theme that always seems to find its way onto the forum is the idea of perma-death in the game, or at least on a server of the game. Part of me wonders if this is the singular effort of one man to see this argued on every MMO forum, or part of a group effort campaigning for this idea until one day a Dev out there somewhere says in a meeting "What if when a character dies their really dead!" and everyone in the room replies "Brilliant!".  I think it is time to break down why the whole perma-death idea is flawed and why it just doesn't work in the MMO space. 

   First off the idea of having to reroll my character everytime I die sounds a little frustrating in my opinion. What masocist wants to build up a character in a game only to die for any reason be it a PvE or PvP related incident and then have to reroll that toon and start over from scratch.  I personally would go nuts having to play the same content over and over again hoping and praying I could make it to level 20 this time before my number comes up if you will.  I wouldn't feel very enouraged to PvP either as one wrong move means *ding* I start all over again.  I guess I fail to see how this type of system encourages players to keep up a script to a game. 

   What if we took this concept to a single player game?  Let's say I'm playing "Bioshock" and I get to the very end without dying once and get killed by the final boss only to have to start all over again.  I would be tempted to throw my computer out of my window with the obligitory profanities being screamed at the top of my lungs.  While this would be great for the computer manufacturers I can't see any other benefit other than large populations of gamers on antianxiety meds.

   How would content updates look in the perma-death MMO?  Would you even bother adding more endgame content if over half of your palyer base kept dying before they got to it? I guess you could add more races and starting zones so as to break the monotany of having to start over at the same spot over and over again. 

   Soloing in the game would probably be nonexistent as the prevailing logic of safety in numbers would most likely prevail.  Which maybe isn't all that bad.  :) But thats for another post altogether now isn't it.

   The biggest flaw I see with perma-death though is simply that it lends itself to exclusivity rather than acessability. If WoW teaches us anything it is that the more accessable the game the better.  In a perma-death world we would probably see an exclusive group of payer that would make it to the end game and either attempt to hinder others progress or make money helping it.  The Massive in MMO gives us a look into the priamry goal of these games which is to have alot of people playing them, and when you sacrifice accessability you lose population plain and simple.

  Now don't get me wrong friends you are not reading the remblings of a carebear here.  I still have emotional scars from "Ascheron's Call" getting killed and respawning in nothing but my undies knowing that some a-hole is looting all my great gear.  I am all for a death penalty.  Heck part of me keeps thinking about playing "Dark Fall" simply because of its death penalty, but even that is a drastic yet entertaining example.  The idea of the death penalty  to me is sound which makes me not want to die very much, but doesn't completely ruin my experience if I do. 

   In the end I'm sure that person or group of people will keep hitting up the forums with the perma-death argument.  Maybe one day a poster will find solutions to my issues with perma-death, but I doubt it.  This genre jsut wouldn't do well with it.  Now one idea I do like is if I decide I do not want to play the game anymore to be given an option to do a  perma-death  scenario with my toon which would allow me to cancel my account with a bang.  Now that I could deal with.

What are your thoughts on perma-death in MMO's? Feel free to comment below I'm a huge fan of feedback.  

And that's all I got. 



dcostello writes:

 I don't really like Perma death...You're paying per month, so it isn't worth if (fun wise and money wise) to play a game with perma death.... I don't like it one bit

Sun Feb 22 2009 10:18PM Report
xbellx777 writes:

screw perma death but i do like how the older mmo's had a death penalty. im all for a death penalty

Mon Feb 23 2009 2:10AM Report
kasta writes:

 I'm all for a death penalty.  It should have a bit of sting to encourage people not to die.  I've played quite a few MMO's that made death so painless it was used as a travel aid.  However, that said, I wouldn't waste my money on a permadeath game.

Mon Feb 23 2009 3:14AM Report
rscott6666 writes:

You just don't add PD to a game without factoring it into all aspects.  Can you run away?  Can you do a task a different way?  ...  Are you compensated in other ways because you chose PD (assuming it was an option).  If a designer wants to have PD, they should give the player a reliable way to back out and/or avoid any combat.

Mon Feb 23 2009 6:38AM Report
Smokeysong writes:

Perma-death is so simple, if you want it then just DELETE your toon when it dies and start a new toon. You too can play permanent death in any MMO you want.

Compensating for choosing permanent death? Are you kidding? You're DEAD, there is no lasting benefit, that's the whole point - you're dead, you lose EVERYTHING, end of story. Next.

Mon Feb 23 2009 8:20AM Report
ivan50265 writes:

Thanx for the feedback so far. I agree with all of you points especially on deleting your toon. LOL. 

Mon Feb 23 2009 9:10PM Report
Teala writes:

See I have to disagree.  I have came up with what I believe is a viable for of PD for an MMORPG.    See PD in my game can only occur under certain circumstances and they are rare...however it is possible.  Personally I believe that PD in a game would make players play smarter and wiser.   But that is just my opinion.

Mon Feb 23 2009 10:45PM Report
dcostello writes:

 @ Teala

  It's nice to have "smarter players" (and wiser is redundant so I won't add it ), but companies are only after cash.  PD is a nightmare to any company interested in actually make money, which I believe is about 99.9% of the companies out there (especially the ones with enough money to make a good game).  Think about an MMO's objectives, don't just toss around aspects carelessly (this last part is not directed personally at you).

Mon Feb 23 2009 11:19PM Report
Houndeye writes:

Diablo 2 had a perma-death mode :P

Tue May 12 2009 4:11PM Report writes:
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