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The Perma-Deth Debate

Posted by Brian Lau on Jan 08, 2003  | Comments

The Perma-Deth Debate -

MEO producer Chris Taylor responded to a post by Dol Cirdan about perma-death with the following post:

Death (and the fantasy equivalents of resurrection and reincarnation) in Tolkien has always been very tricky to handle in interactive media.

Permadeath would probably work in a single-player adventure game or RPG. (For obvious reasons: restarts and save games!)

I have some very specific issues with Permadeath in multiplayer games. (There was a great post up above that detailed the problem with changing identity in a MMP since that defeats socialization and community identity). Technically, it's very difficult to ensure 100% proper permadeath. And since you can't ensure it, it becomes a technical support problem. It can very easily overwhelm TS and Customer Service if not handled extremely carefully.

Permadeath isn't suited for a primarily PvE environment anyways (since it's more acceptable when a human does it to you than some cold computer).

Permadeath is better suited to smaller, more human-controlled types of games. Along the lines of a MUSH. You have less grief players, you have players more likely to be actively involved in the situation and moments leading up to the death event.

Permadeath is also a very harsh penalty for death. And in a game where people play for months (and sometimes years), it's not a few hours work (which is at most what I like to see death penalties be.)

And there is the larger issue:

"You can attempt to simulate or you can game. Simulation, of course, leads to things like permadeath, extremely fast-random-chaotic combat where you have very limited control over the results, wounds that take weeks and months to heal, slow running speed, extremely limited inventory (you hump the average loot of an adventurer over a mountain trail and watch your calves burn in pain), the need to eat & drink & then dispose of the results of eating and drinking (which I'm not sure is legal to simulate in some states) and so on.

Basically, we need to find the proper balance between simulation and gaming. Probably the line is a little more on the gaming side, since that's usually funner. And we're all about the fun.



So don't be expecting any strict death rules in MEO.

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