Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On Pain of Death

These death pretzels are making me thirsty...no, they really are.

My ramblings about how unamused I am with the current Warhammer news has got me thinking about death penalties...what is reasonable, what isn't. Certainly, I think we can all agree that there has to be some penalty for dying in an MMO. We need some sort of risk in order to make the rewards we get more meaningful. MMOs today have a whole bunch of tools at their disposal in which to sting us with if the Reaper should visit our online self:
  • Death Debuff - this is usually some sort of debuff that is applied to your attributes for some length of time. This usually lasts for amount of time it takes you to get back to where you were when you died in the first place.
  • Equipment Durability - this is a hit on durability on your equipment which usually translates to some repair costs. So this is really hitting you more in the purse than anywhere else.
  • Corpse Run - we don't see it around very much, well, Vanguard has this as an option. This essentially strips all non-bound equipment off of you and makes you run to your body to pick up your stuff.
  • Experience Loss - whenever you die, you get an experience hit. Both EQ2 and Vanguard have this, as well as others to varying degrees.
  • Perma-death - to my knowledge, no current MMO has this. There may be ones that I haven't played that do have this (UO maybe???), but I'm not sure. This is kinda harsh, but essentially once your character dies, thats it....thanks for playing.
  • Item loss ?? Any MMO's use this beyond its current uses in PvP?
Thats all I can think of for now. You know, thats not many solutions when you look at the list. You'd think that there would be more by now given how long devs have had to think of the subject. I see the death penalty becoming less and less prominent in MMOs post-WoW simply because devs don't want to inconvenience that demographic of player. We should really start to think of new ways to handle death in MMOs because the ones we have all amount to the same thing...a time penalty that adds nothing to gamplay. You either have to wait for the buff to wear off, or pay off a repair bill (time is money), or grind to get exp back. There has go to be something else. What about karma??

Karma...there is the new approach. From wiki:

Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The results or "fruits" of actions are called karma-phala. Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward, karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one's present life and all past and future lives as well. It is cumulative.

Now, lets apply this to MMO death. Living through an encounter should not only give you gold and loot, it should also give you some kind of life karma. Much like skill points, this life karma builds up and gives you access to equipment, supplies, buffs or new areas as you go along. The more life karma you have, the better off you are. Death karma can either take away life karma or it could be tracked on its own....but there should be something bad that happens to your character if your death karma gets to high. I don't know, maybe your forced into some hell zone where you and others have to fight in order to redeem yourself and reset your karma. Maybe you turn into some sort or Wraith-like-ghost and the only way you can get karma back is by sucking it out of other players.

See, just in the matter of 30 minutes I came out with a rough death system that is different. Sure, it still involves some time to commit, but I don't think you can ever get out of that for MMOs...well, for any computer game...they all take time to play. At least this solution is one which uses that time to add to the game play. Heck, you may have players who stay as Wraiths and just suck karma out of players...and maybe that can be an element you can advance in, who knows. In comes to this; yes, we need a death penalty, but lets mix it up a bit...heck, if it only took me 30 minutes to come up with this, I can only imagine what a real game developer can think of if he/she thinks outside the box.

D out.

1 comment:

Wearfannypacks said...

Death penalties are always a shady subject matter, as players are all different.

Personally I HATE the loss of xp penalty. Nothing is more frustrating. Lets face it, we all make mistakes and having to fix those mistakes with hours of re-xp'ing is just absurd.

I don't mind equipment repairs but I agree that there should be better ways.

A overall debuff is just too much, as you just have to sit there.

What if you had some of your more useful skills disabled? You could still fight and participate in group activity, but would have a periodic disable on some of your skills you use?

I don't know.. could be a bad idea.