MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

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King Author
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MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby King Author » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:52 pm UTC

I'm 24 years old. I grew up with old IBMPC games like King's Quest and the whole Roguelike genre. Thus, I like my difficulty on the "unreasonably high" side of the scale. MMORPGs, being big-budget these days, necessarily cater to a casual audience. This is fine, except that every MMORPG is like this, so there's not a single MMO for people like me. I think it's reasonable to have at least one, acknowleding that people like me are a minority who developers have no reason to pay attention to.

I'd like an MMO with permadeath. This is an intensely unpopular concept; likely, no MMORPG could thrive if it had simple permadeath. So I've come up with a little system to meet the causal gamers halfway.

1) For flavor purposes, it'd be helpful if your very user account was considered an entity in game, and your individual characters were avatars of this entity -- sort of like you're a god or goddess or something and your characters are your champions.

2) When one of your characters die, that death is completely permanent. No resurrection, no nothing, players can loot your corpse.

3) During play, you can choose to Soul-Bind a number of items. You cannot store, drop, sell or trade Soul-Bound items, though you can choose to destroy them (which is the only way to un-Bind them, so Bind carefully). Upon death, any Soul-Bound items are not left on your corpse for others to loot -- they're kept with your user account. When you create a new character, you can choose to start with any Soul-Bound items you want, or to leave them in "Soul Space" where they'll be available for any other character you create. Obviously, there's an upper limit on how many items you can leave in limbo. Also, certain items can't be Soul-Bound.

4) Quests are linked to your account, not your individual characters. If you've ever died, when you create a new character, you're presented with a checklist of all the quests you've ever completed on your account. Any you check, your new character will be counted as having already completed; you'll even start off with any quest rewards (less XP). By default, all quests are checked; just uncheck the quests you'd like to re-do (if it was particularly fun or something).

5) Excepting the above, any new character you create starts off at Level 1 like any other new character.

I think this solves the two biggest problems casual players have with permanent death -- losing their loot and having to re-do quests. Because honestly, XP is easy to come by, it's not like it'll take you a long time to get back to the level cap.

This system also allows all the benefits of permanent death, foremostly circumventing the one major problem with no permanent death -- soon after launch, the game becomes filled with players at the level cap, so any and all new content has to be aimed at them. With this permadeath system, the developers could continually add early- and mid-level content in addition to high-level content. And more importantly, the game world never becomes dominated by ultra-wealthy, ultra-powerful godly players who amass their fortunes and strength by spending a lot more time playing than others -- they can permanently die just as easily as anyone, and if they do, they lose all their loot except their Soul-Bound items (which, by the mechanic of Soul-Binding, are taken out of the economy and thus don't contribute to player wealth). In fact, this makes becoming wealthy and long-lived much more prestigious.

Now, this also opens the way for a less-easily broken game economy. Remember I said some items can't be Soul-Bound? Well, those types of items would be the ultra-high end, rare, unique, named items like Frostmourne in WoW or what have you, and there would only be a limited number of them in the game world. That's right, the higher-power the item, the less of them there are. But in this system, it's okay! The wealth can't be horded by an elite playerbase because when they die, anyone can snatch up these un-Bindable items. Now, true, a collusion of players working together could conspire to horde high-end items and pass them between each other in order to keep them from being obtained by others, but a) you can't 100% trust that someone you pass your precious loot to won't drop it in the middle of a busy city, b) a hording conspiracy will generate a lot of hate from other players, all of whom will be gunning to see you die (thus, just like in real life, being a dick actually has consequences) and c) this isn't illegitimate -- that's how real life works, the wealthy elite passing all the good stuff between them and leaving the rest of us to scrounge. Plus, all you'd need to do to foil any hording conspiracy is a greater number of equally-high level players to ambush them (though htis necessitates at least limited PvP, though perhaps it could be as simple as a PvP flag being turned on while you posesses one of these items).

So, I know that's a lot of text, but what do you think?
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Endless Mike
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:28 pm UTC

Huh. Interesting idea. Sounds a lot like Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter's system, only in multiplayer (you essentially have to die and restart the game multiple times to finish). Assuming proper balance, the bound equipment would allow a new character to skip a lot of early content and work through those levels with higher-level quests and such - enough to ensure players aren't incredibly discouraged. I'm not sure I would want to play it, but it's definitely a neat idea.

Another idea might be to make a number of unique (per server) items. There's exactly one and can't be bound. Its first (only?) drop might be randomized in some high-level quest, after which lower-level (but still good) movies are dropped. It would add a level of tension to players at that level to not die and thus lose their godly equipment either through PvE or (more likely) PvP. Obviously, some level of control would need to be added to ensure that a) players holding that equipment don't simply not play to avoid losing their stuff (give them some sort of in-game lore that they crave blood and if they go a week without tasting it, they leave their owner or something at which point they return to their instance) and b) make it such that it's not *so* godly that someone holding it can't possibly lose it, but it might take some level of tactics and planning for even a group to beat that player.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Obby » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:40 pm UTC

While the system itself sounds fine, there's still not really going to be a market for it. The reason that MMOs have become big is because they realized that catering the casual audience usually nets much bigger profits. They are a business, after all. Very few developers, and no publishers, are going to release an MMO just to please the niche market, for a couple reasons.

1) Everyone wants more money. These kinds of games tend to attract very small, even if dedicated, fan bases, which means very little money.
2) Budget issues. MMOs take a massive amount of investment to get off the ground if they are to be in a workable state. Let's just say a small company took up your system: small companies have small budgets, which means that the development time gets cut down, and/or they have a very small number of people working on the game. Either way, the end result is that you get a very watered down game with loads of bugs and glitches that may not end up looking anything like the system you designed. These issues drive away players, thus reducing an already razor-thin (if even existing) profit margin, driving the small company to bankruptcy in short order. The only people that could realistically take that hit are the big publishers, and as I've already said, they want money. They're not going to be giving us a charity game. Catch 22, it appears.

The simple fact is the market has changed. The days of the niche game appear to be over, as unfortunate as it is. I'd love to see games coming out that are designed to be for niche markets, like you describe, and see the gaming community flourish even more than it already has. But no one wants to invest the millions of dollars it takes to develop a game only to have it fail.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby bocochoco » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:53 pm UTC

The closest game I can think of is Darkfall Online. Death is not permanent, but your corpse can be looted if/when you die. And theres open pvp, so anyone can kill anyone else at any time. In many ways its one of the most difficult mmo's I've played yet (and I've played a lot of them). There are no levels either, rather you train skills up depending on what you want to do. It was very fun for a while, until somebody started stalking me and killing me every time i turned around.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Swivelguy » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

You can get EVE Online to look a little bit like this if I change a few words:

King Author wrote:1) For flavor purposes, it'd be helpful if your pilot was considered an entity in game, and your individual ships were avatars of this entity -- sort of like you're a god or goddess or something and your characters are your champions.

2) When one of your ships dies, that death is completely permanent. No resurrection, no nothing, players can loot your wreck.

3) During play, you can choose to insure a portion of your ship's value. You cannot transfer or sell insurance policies, though you can choose to destroy them (which is the only way to un-Bind them, so Bind carefully). Upon death, the value of your insurance policy is paid to the pilot. When you create a new ship, you can choose to spend previous insurance payouts. Obviously, there's an upper limit on how much you can insure each ship for. Also, certain ships can't be insured (for much).

4) Quests are linked to your pilot, not your individual ships.

5) Excepting the above, any new ship you create starts off with no modules, ammo, or rigs, like any other new ship.[/s]


The closest parallel to traditional "experience points" in EVE is your wallet balance. You don't risk your whole wallet when you play, but rather you choose how much to risk (by picking which ship to fly) for whatever it is that you're doing.

And the [possibly] harsh death penalties make it a LOT of fun to blow up other people's ships.
Last edited by Swivelguy on Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:45 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Menacing Spike » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:37 pm UTC

Dofus, heroic server. Permadeath. You keep nothing at death but an xp bonus until you reach the level you died at. And the contents of your bank.

Here!
http://heroic.dofus.com/en

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Chen » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:09 pm UTC

One issue that never seems to get resolved with perma death is the whole internet connection issue. When permadeath exists you can lose your character (and your stuff) due to circumstances completely outside of the game. Such as a power loss or a router going down somewhere.

Griefing starts becoming a problem too. If high level characters can just win against a large number of low level characters you have problems with the strong getting stronger and staying stronger. However if you fix this by allowing lower levels, en masse, to kill higher level characters you have the griefing issue where people roll around in groups of easily disposable low level characters and just kill people's high level characters for shits and giggles.

Now this assumes, of course, that you allow pvp. If you don't allow pvp at all and only want permadeath to occur from monster deaths, then I suppose it could work but the first issue is still present.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:22 pm UTC

Dragonrealms used to have the possibility of permadeath, that was very real if you pissed some people off. In that case, you lost everything.

I personally think it's a terrible idea. While I agree that death in MMOs often needs to have more of a penalty than simply making you walk back to your corpse (Eve has a pretty balanced penalty), the point of an MMO is building an attachment to your character, and developing them. Unless you've built a game making characters relatively disposable (i.e., low level caps), than I think the idea of wiping a character is a pretty poor one.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Dthen » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:25 pm UTC

Haven & Hearth is pretty interesting... No NPCs, no quests, on death, your character is... dead, but depending on your character's beliefs, you can keep some of your skills when you create a new one.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:59 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Because honestly, XP is easy to come by, it's not like it'll take you a long time to get back to the level cap.


This is very much NOT typical in most MMOs these days. Now, if it would be in your hypothetical MMO, that's fine. But a suggestion: how about removing leveling from your game entirely. I think that leveling, as a concept, has it's virtues. But I'm not sure it adds much to your model. The way you have things set up, character progression seems to largely be about gear anyways. If your going to make the leveling process a trivial, quickly finished componenet of your game, why have it at all?

As an aside, I think one thing that gets lost when people talk about the casualness of MMOs is one fundamental difference between persistant multiplayer games and single player games is the lack of a save game option. While there have certainly been games with ironman modes, the ability to save games (albeit often only in specific places) has been the rule rather than the exception pretty much since the technology supported it.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:24 am UTC

Uh, wow. I discussed this EXACT idea in IRC a while back... Except my suggestion of how it would work was along the lines of the account being a "Merchant/Trade Group" and characters were "Hired Hands" which the Group (Account) uses to profit from. It would be open ended with lore and all but it would not be story based (ie. it wouldn't be like WoW where there are big story arcs that end in you killing Arthus or opening AhnQuiraj etc.) but, like EVE, the game will be based around Trade Alliances (Groupings of Trade Groups) sovreignty and influence etc. It would be an economy based where idealy pretty much anything you could do to manipulate the economy could be done in the game. Otherwise the only mission is to expand your influence and gain profit.

The accounts would be their own persistant element which could be upgraded and leveled up themselves. So maybe, more character slots, access to different classes of adventurers to hire. Your "merchant" (like the head of the group) themselves would level up as they get more renown and get access to different aspect of the economic side of the game (like crafting, banking, resource distribution, blah blah blah).

Initially I decided that characters would be pretty easy to level and that characters would be otherwise expendible and the real progress would be done on the Group (Account) and the "Head Merchant" rather than the played character so when the character dies you lose everything, including gear, but good gear wouldn't be as difficult to get (the 1% extra stuff would be still hard to get though) and anything in your bank would obviously be safe. Your head merchant could delegate gear and funds from the their bank to individual characters and crafting would be done by the guild and would perhaps have their own type of equipment that is less combat oriented and more aesthetic and diplomacy/crafting/etc. oriented (This would be the more expensive stuff as hirees should be fairly expendible). Perhaps one of the skills your mechant can level up increases the quality of the gear your hiree comes with... stuff like that.

The characters themselves should be about as expendible as the best ship you own in EVE online. It should be sucky and annoying to lose it but not be something that makes you quit the game, so people should take care with the characters but otherwise shouldn't be totally frustrated they die. Obviously the longer your character stays alive for the quicker your Merchant Group and Head Merchant level up or otherwise progress, so it is desireable for your characters to stay alive.

Perhaps even offer an option for the character to retire into certain roles within the Group which could give your Group extra stats or other benefits like, your hirees start with higher stats or start at a higher level. That way if you get bored of the character you can both keep the character itself while simultaneously benefiting your account and other new characters while opening a character slot, rather than simply having to suicide them. This also opens up an amazing array of min/max options.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Serrin » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:58 am UTC

This is pretty much the idea behind Trials of Ascension, an MMO now indefinitely suspended in development, by a company called Shadowpool.

It was shaping up to be pretty awesome, and quite hardcore.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Theonefreeham » Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:48 am UTC

The only MMO I can think of fitting your (dare I say masochistic) expectations that I've had personal experience with is Wurm Online. The graphics are Everquest style dreadful, but it is entirely unforgiving in its difficulty, and even offers the choice of converting your character to a permanant death version of themselves (albeit with powered up abilities) by becoming a champion.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby King Author » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:34 pm UTC

@bocochoco: I'm a MUD player first, an MMO player second. In most MUDs with open PvP (called PK), you have to have a justification for killing someone. Maybe your race hates his race, or your class his class, or he walked on your religion's holy without kneeling down out of respect, or whatever. It's a fantastic system, there's always the risk of death at the hands of a player but it's not so crazy that you have to optimize for PvP or the game's unplayable. The thing is, it requires either a very low player-to-mod ratio or a playerbase willing to accept subjective mod decisions without question. Yeah.

Chen wrote:One issue that never seems to get resolved with perma death is the whole internet connection issue. When permadeath exists you can lose your character (and your stuff) due to circumstances completely outside of the game. Such as a power loss or a router going down somewhere.

Griefing starts becoming a problem too. If high level characters can just win against a large number of low level characters you have problems with the strong getting stronger and staying stronger. However if you fix this by allowing lower levels, en masse, to kill higher level characters you have the griefing issue where people roll around in groups of easily disposable low level characters and just kill people's high level characters for shits and giggles.

Now this assumes, of course, that you allow pvp. If you don't allow pvp at all and only want permadeath to occur from monster deaths, then I suppose it could work but the first issue is still present.

There's no way to deal with server issues from a game design standpoint, that's a problem with technology that needs to be addressed by ISPs, processor manufacturers, etc. Though if there were a way to reliably recognize when a player's lost their connection, their player could be dropped into limbo until they get back online and pull them out.

As for griefing, you could say that of absolutely any PvP-enabled game. The sad fact of the matter is, if you create a multiplayer game, especially if you put it online, people are going to be dicks to each other. At least in my system, though, there's incentive not to be a dick -- sure, you can grief a high level player if you're low level, or a low level if you're high, but they can see your username, they'll know who you are and can seek revenge. Griefers would quickly be identified by the community at large and hopefully kill the little shits on sight. Just like in real life, there's a real incentive not to be a dick to everyone because they can screw you just as easily as you could screw them. I even imagine a player-lead "guard" organization would pop up consisting of high-level, high-power characters who patrol for griefers and put them down.

You did make me think of a supplementary system to this semi-permadeath thing, which doubles as an anti-poopsocking measure. For every hour you spend not logged into the game, the next time you play, you get five or ten minutes of resurrection time. If you die within that timeframe, instead of losing your character, he or she or it gets chucked into limbo for 24 hours, after which you can take them out and keep playing. Casual-type gamers who don't want permadeath but who also don't grind for hours and hours at a time may never experience permadeath under this system, though perhaps there'd need to be some quests that enforce permadeath no matter what. And of course, dueling 1-on-1 in a formal setting would always carry punishment of death.

Izawwlgood wrote:Dragonrealms used to have the possibility of permadeath, that was very real if you pissed some people off. In that case, you lost everything.

I personally think it's a terrible idea. While I agree that death in MMOs often needs to have more of a penalty than simply making you walk back to your corpse (Eve has a pretty balanced penalty), the point of an MMO is building an attachment to your character, and developing them. Unless you've built a game making characters relatively disposable (i.e., low level caps), than I think the idea of wiping a character is a pretty poor one.

The "point" of MMOs is highly debatable, and if you ask me, purely a matter of opinion. Well, technically the point is to make money, but you know what I mean.

JudeMorrigan wrote:
King Author wrote:Because honestly, XP is easy to come by, it's not like it'll take you a long time to get back to the level cap.


This is very much NOT typical in most MMOs these days. Now, if it would be in your hypothetical MMO, that's fine. But a suggestion: how about removing leveling from your game entirely. I think that leveling, as a concept, has it's virtues. But I'm not sure it adds much to your model. The way you have things set up, character progression seems to largely be about gear anyways. If your going to make the leveling process a trivial, quickly finished componenet of your game, why have it at all?

I can hit the cap in WoW in about six hours. Granted, for someone who works or has school, that's gotta be spread out over the course of a week, but it's not like it's insurmountable. And I'm not sure about the specifics of this hypothetical MMO; I'm focusing just on the permadeath issue, and leaving everything else up in the air.

Gelsamel wrote:Uh, wow. I discussed this EXACT idea in IRC a while back... Except my suggestion of how it would work was along the lines of the account being a "Merchant/Trade Group" and characters were "Hired Hands" which the Group (Account) uses to profit from. It would be open ended with lore and all but it would not be story based (ie. it wouldn't be like WoW where there are big story arcs that end in you killing Arthus or opening AhnQuiraj etc.) but, like EVE, the game will be based around Trade Alliances (Groupings of Trade Groups) sovreignty and influence etc. It would be an economy based where idealy pretty much anything you could do to manipulate the economy could be done in the game. Otherwise the only mission is to expand your influence and gain profit.

Cool. Yeah, I was just using gods/champions as an example -- caravans would work perfectly.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Chen » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:02 pm UTC

King Author wrote:There's no way to deal with server issues from a game design standpoint, that's a problem with technology that needs to be addressed by ISPs, processor manufacturers, etc. Though if there were a way to reliably recognize when a player's lost their connection, their player could be dropped into limbo until they get back online and pull them out.


Even this is exploitable since you just pull your plug then if you're going to die. I realize its a technical limitation, but its a large problem with a game where death is permanent.

As for griefing, you could say that of absolutely any PvP-enabled game. The sad fact of the matter is, if you create a multiplayer game, especially if you put it online, people are going to be dicks to each other. At least in my system, though, there's incentive not to be a dick -- sure, you can grief a high level player if you're low level, or a low level if you're high, but they can see your username, they'll know who you are and can seek revenge. Griefers would quickly be identified by the community at large and hopefully kill the little shits on sight. Just like in real life, there's a real incentive not to be a dick to everyone because they can screw you just as easily as you could screw them. I even imagine a player-lead "guard" organization would pop up consisting of high-level, high-power characters who patrol for griefers and put them down.


The concern is less of high levels griefing low levels. The low levels have less to lose. The bigger concern is groups of low level "throwaway" characters killing high level characters people have sunk a lot of time into. The only game where PKing was a big deal that I had played was UO back when it first came out. Though there was no loss of skill upon death you lost all your stuff. The thing was the pkers just had the bare minimum they needed and just ganged up and killed people with more "normal" gear. I'd foresee the same thing in the case you propose just with throwaway characters who had just enough "power" to kill people who had spent significantly more time on their characters. When it was just gear that was lost fine. But losing the TIME you've put into your character is much more of an issue.

I can hit the cap in WoW in about six hours. Granted, for someone who works or has school, that's gotta be spread out over the course of a week, but it's not like it's insurmountable. And I'm not sure about the specifics of this hypothetical MMO; I'm focusing just on the permadeath issue, and leaving everything else up in the air.


I can't believe thats true unless its via some ridiculous method (and assuming you're talking about the cap at 80 and not 85 which is even less believable). There's no way you're reasonably gaining 13 levels PER HOUR in WoW.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:01 pm UTC

Found it! http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-gamers-gaming.html
Basically, the whole reason we play games, and like them, is the small cost, small (or large) reward.
If you make someone play Eve Online or WOW for 12 months, then delete their character, it is not fun. It is no longer a game, it's practically torture! :lol:
So, unless it is part of the gameplay, such as quick retry, levelling ect. Such as Dead Rising, with XP carrying over from each death. Or Dwarf Fortress, with each failure, being a chance to learn, and being recorded as part of history.
Ask how many people want to die in real life? Why do you think it's now a good idea to replicate that permanent death in a game?
[edit]
Is the last poster thinking of an older cap? Like level 15 or 30, before there were addons?
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:12 pm UTC

Isn't that what the OP is proposing, that death be part of the gameplay? :<
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

I think games like Guildwars already allow the "start again from level 1" but by having multiple characters. I know a few people with multiple accounts. Getting on to 12 or 15 characters.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:24 pm UTC

Providing that getting back to whatever level you were is a less than 2 hour process and you can have multiple characters at once, I don't see the problem with the system as described by King Author. I do disagree with the assumption that getting back to the level cap is easy, but.. whatever. The opinions of someone who can devote 4 hours to a game every night are going to be different when compared to someone who can only devote 3. Or 5.

Maybe Streamline the whole Town experience too.. I don't know. Point being that 2 hours or 8 online, you still have to spend your first 30 minutes getting from the safe logout point to where the adventure actually takes place, then when you're done it's another 30 minutes to get "home". Both those times have a little cushion room in there for things like visiting stores and Auction houses, buying/training skills or whatever else you may need to do in Town before heading out. It's not just that the Casual Gamer plays for less time, it's that getting to where you need to go to do the things you need to do takes so much time that eventually the game can and will phase the casual gamer out via orders of casualness. If doing a certain quest takes 2 hours, bare minimum, you may have to have either a logon time of 4 hours, or a logon time completely devoid of the other aspects of the game, just log in, do the quest, log out.

And I'm just not sure how to overcome that problem without essentially allowing teleportation. Or complete removal of Towns, replacing them with a menu system ("Click here to repair!" "Click here to train!" "Click here to buy shit!"
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:42 pm UTC

Well, I imagine the loss would be on the scale of losing ships in EVE.

The focus on progress would be on your account (Character in EVE), rather than the hireling/champions (Ships in EVE). This way, just like in EVE, it's not a huge deal to lose a character (ship) because you still have all the progress on you account (character). The time it would take to level and regear the character should be on a similar scale to how long it takes you to remake the money you lost on the ship in EVE. I think EVE has it pretty well balanced like that. You might even follow similar rules to what people do in EVE. EVE has a commonly repeated "rule" in "Never fly what you can't afford to lose", so while you're doing PvE stuff or other easy less risky stuff with the character you could level up the champion/hireling that is your "main" one but if you want to PvP where the risk of dying is much higher one might use an alternate hireling so you can still contribute while not risking your best character.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

I'll agree that Eve has the closest system to what's being proposed. Don't forget that it takes literally months to get into more specialized ships and use better mods (T2 guns, tanks, etc). Losing a ship is one thing, because money is something you can always waste some time grinding for, if you're careless, it's quite feasible to lose extensive amounts experience, and get set back months of training. If after 6 months of being an Eve player, you have 500m ISK and 20m skillpoints, it's quite feasible that you'll have your entire assets wiped out (if you're careless, again). But at least you'll have those 20m skillpoints.

Babam just got me into Bloodline Champions, and I think if the game had a monetary system that allowed you to purchase items (say, one item allowed per matchup) you'd have something similar to what's being proposed.

The issue I have with perma-death is it rapidly spirals the game away from an MMORPG, and makes it more into simply an MMO. I'm sure lots of people will enjoy playing a game that allows varying degrees of minorish upgrades to your account/character which can be readily lost, but I wager a greater number of people play games wherein they can see their character develop, or at the very least, set a long term goal, and get there.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:28 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I can hit the cap in WoW in about six hours. Granted, for someone who works or has school, that's gotta be spread out over the course of a week, but it's not like it's insurmountable.

You can go from level 1 to level 85 in WoW in six hours? I'm sorry, but I simply don't believe that. I don't think it would be possible even going the tag-bunches-of-mobs-and-have-others-burn-them-down route that people go to get world-firsts.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Goldstein » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:15 pm UTC

I'm not sure what the OP's solution hopes to achieve. On the one hand, he talks about wanting a harder game but at the same time his explanation seems to strongly suggest that there are players running around with the best items who would only be set back marginally (~6 hours, apparently) by death. Is that really very different to the way things are in most MMOs now?

I'm not going to talk about stat-based MMOs because I don't play them, but I grew to love permadeath in a roleplay-heavy world running in the original Neverwinter Nights. Players were allowed one character at a time, regained hitpoints at the standard 3e rate (1 per level per rest) and could only rest once every ~4 real time hours. On top of that, experience points were handed out extremely slowly. Granted, it was not a hack'n'slash game but we certainly saw a lot of action and I played a Wizard for eight months without ever dying - Though I did spend about half an hour lying unconscious in a cave after heading out with a large group to rescue my character's love interest, it was all legit with negative hitpoints and healing saves. With a server of about 50 players, significant, established characters died on a weekly basis, and sometimes a bad adventure or goblin siege would take a few of them out.

Most importantly, though, players sometimes wrote their own characters' deaths. Someone already mentioned death being a part of the game, and it was often seen that way in this roleplay setting. When the player of an established character wanted to start anew, they'd arrange something with the DMs. I remember two paladins being martyred on different occasions at the climax of large story arcs, and when the server finally shut down (They tried to reinvent it, and it came back less powerful than they could have possibly imagined), I was already well into a plot to resurrect my Wizard's dead lover as a zombie, which I knew would ultimately result in his death. Doing this was fine, because it was a way to give something back in the form of a good story - everyone loved a death - and you didn't lose anything significant. Sure, I'd have to give up my level 4 Wizard and create a new character at the starting level of 2, but I kept the memories, I kept the same community, and I kept the same out-of-world relationship with the DMs as someone that could be trusted to roleplay.

It's an unfair comparison because we had the DMs there to cater to our needs, whereas MMOs have a vastly larger playerbase. The thing is, though, unlike the amazing roleplay world I was a part of, starting again in WoW just means doing the same things again and again - things that, quite honestly, aren't enjoyable in themselves. It doesn't so much make the game harder as throw in a risk for the player of having to repeat himself. If you want a means to arbitrarily inflate the goal-seeking, why not just remove the level cap and go for an exponential XP requirement curve? It's been done before.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:19 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
King Author wrote:I can hit the cap in WoW in about six hours. Granted, for someone who works or has school, that's gotta be spread out over the course of a week, but it's not like it's insurmountable.

You can go from level 1 to level 85 in WoW in six hours? I'm sorry, but I simply don't believe that. I don't think it would be possible even going the tag-bunches-of-mobs-and-have-others-burn-them-down route that people go to get world-firsts.

Yeah, considering it took that asshole Athene ~6 hrs to get from 80-85, with about 20 people doing all the work for him, I think KA was exaggerating to make a point. In the same way that I would say, perhaps, women merely look at me and achieve orgasm. Except mine is technically plausible.

Goldstein wrote:Most importantly, though, players sometimes wrote their own characters' deaths. Someone already mentioned death being a part of the game, and it was often seen that way in this roleplay setting.

While the implicit weakness of certain aspects of your character SHOULD be a enhancement to the roleplaying experience, I doubt we'll ever see MMO players hopping on to cultivate a unique and fleshed out personality.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby King Author » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:30 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Even this is exploitable since you just pull your plug then if you're going to die. I realize its a technical limitation, but its a large problem with a game where death is permanent.

If you truly realize it's a technical limitation, then you should realize that neither I nor any game designer has any capability to address it. In absolutely any online game, the players can pull the plug on their machine to avoid unpleasant consequences. The only question that faces a game designer is whether to let sudden disconnections slide, or to punish the players. In the former case, as you say, someone can pull the plug rather than die. In the latter, people whose connections legitimately malfunction are unfairly punished. There's no solution, so it's pointless to consider. Until a remote server can tell whether a computer was shut off by a human or by machine error, this problem is unsolvable.

Chen wrote:The concern is less of high levels griefing low levels. The low levels have less to lose. The bigger concern is groups of low level "throwaway" characters killing high level characters people have sunk a lot of time into. The only game where PKing was a big deal that I had played was UO back when it first came out. Though there was no loss of skill upon death you lost all your stuff. The thing was the pkers just had the bare minimum they needed and just ganged up and killed people with more "normal" gear. I'd foresee the same thing in the case you propose just with throwaway characters who had just enough "power" to kill people who had spent significantly more time on their characters. When it was just gear that was lost fine. But losing the TIME you've put into your character is much more of an issue.

Ah, well that's a simple problem to solve. In fact, there's a number of simple solutions. Naturally, these would all need to be playtested in beta to see which works best.
1) The very simplest, make characters of level 1-10 or what have you be unable to join PK. Higher-level characters can't PK them, nor can they PK higher-level characters. This way, the griefers themselves would have to put no small amount of time into leveling up one of their characters to even join PK to grief. You're much less likely to get a group of ten, fifteen or twenty people to level up a character so far and then join together to grief, knowing full well the higher level character is going to kill most of them before dying himself.
2) Make it so that characters can only PK within +/- ten or so levels of themselves. This is much more restrictive, but a much harder to crack solution -- to grief someone who's Level 40, you'd have to get up to at least Level 30. Very few people will be willing to throw away such a high level character just to grief someone.
3) Allow anyone to PK anyone of any level if they have the PK flag, however if someone is already engaged with X others in PK (say, 4 or 5) you can't join in; those participating in the fight count as NPK for you for the moment. The way low-level griefers slaughter high-level characters is through massive numbers. A Level 65 Gigafighter might not be able to stand up to twenty Level 1-3 Whitebelts at once, but if they can only come in swarms of four or five at a time, it's managable.

Chen wrote:I can't believe thats true unless its via some ridiculous method (and assuming you're talking about the cap at 80 and not 85 which is even less believable). There's no way you're reasonably gaining 13 levels PER HOUR in WoW.

Oh right, 80. I actually haven't played WoW in over a year, and even then I wasn't expansioned up. I was talking Level 50. That's just under nine levels an hour. The method, if you're curious, is to sell all non-combat-related everything that you get, load up on healing items and grind against mobs that are higher level than you, healing yourself prodigiously. Naturally, before going off to grind, you'll need to find people to buff you in a city or some such, not to mention that charitable higher-level players give out kickass items for free, so without having to go hunting for them yourself, you can be wearing the best gear for your level at any given time. Other people are such a time saver.

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So, unless it is part of the gameplay, such as quick retry, levelling ect. Such as Dead Rising, with XP carrying over from each death. Or Dwarf Fortress, with each failure, being a chance to learn, and being recorded as part of history.
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[edit]
Is the last poster thinking of an older cap? Like level 15 or 30, before there were addons?

I respect other people's opinions and play styles. Though I don't expect any such respect in return, it is always nice. Notice that never once did I say everybody should or does like permadeath, in fact, I acknowledged quite bluntly that the majority of people hate it. However, as I say, there's a dozen big-name MMOs catering to casual players, and not a single one to people like me, so it would be nice if at least a single MMO were created for people like me, even allowing a half-way meeting with the causal players.

Izawwwlgood wrote:The issue I have with perma-death is it rapidly spirals the game away from an MMORPG, and makes it more into simply an MMO. I'm sure lots of people will enjoy playing a game that allows varying degrees of minorish upgrades to your account/character which can be readily lost, but I wager a greater number of people play games wherein they can see their character develop, or at the very least, set a long term goal, and get there.

I picture an MMORPG with permadeath as closer to Diablo 2 than World of Warcraft. Not so close as to be in the same genre, but more in the tradition of Roguelikes than the high-falutin' style of WoW.

Again, though, I think everybody's missing a big point. I tried to be very clear in the opening post, but apparently I wasn't. I'm not saying a permadeath game will or should or can appeal to everybody, or even an audience half as big as WoW. I'm not saying it's wrong to dislike permadeath. I'm not suggesting inserting permadeath into existing MMOs.

Goldstein wrote:I'm not sure what the OP's solution hopes to achieve. On the one hand, he talks about wanting a harder game but at the same time his explanation seems to strongly suggest that there are players running around with the best items who would only be set back marginally (~6 hours, apparently) by death. Is that really very different to the way things are in most MMOs now?

Again, I thought I was pretty explicit, but apparently I was vague and short-winded. My intention is an MMORPG that appeals to people like me who like permadeath, while making enough concessions towards casual players that the game wouldn't be doomed due to a tiny, financially unsupportable playerbase.

Goldstein wrote:It's an unfair comparison because we had the DMs there to cater to our needs, whereas MMOs have a vastly larger playerbase. The thing is, though, unlike the amazing roleplay world I was a part of, starting again in WoW just means doing the same things again and again - things that, quite honestly, aren't enjoyable in themselves. It doesn't so much make the game harder as throw in a risk for the player of having to repeat himself. If you want a means to arbitrarily inflate the goal-seeking, why not just remove the level cap and go for an exponential XP requirement curve? It's been done before.

Perhaps you missed it, but I said that in my system, you wouldn't be repeating the same things again and again. Quests and such would be tied to your account, and you could choose to skip them when creating a new character if you wanted.

Izawwlgood wrote:While the implicit weakness of certain aspects of your character SHOULD be a enhancement to the roleplaying experience, I doubt we'll ever see MMO players hopping on to cultivate a unique and fleshed out personality.

The reason is less player willingness and more other player dickness. In MMORPGs, roleplayers have worse reputations than Nazi atheist child anal rapists, chiefly because back when EQ was the big MMORPG, there were really, really annoying roleplayers who talked in Ye Olde Speake and constantly bitched and moaned at everybody else to do the same. For most people, this burned an impossible-to-get-rid-of image into their minds of what roleplayers are and do, so if anyone so much as whispers to themselves "hmm, roleplaying?" they're ostracized instantaneously and permanently. May as well delete your account and get a new one. It's unfortunate, but most players of any given online game have the maturity of ten year old boys. Which is an insult to ten year old boys, actually, because I know quite a few who I find more mature than your average college student, but sera sera.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

Out of curiosity, why do you feel D2 and WoW are that different in terms of individual advancement? Both involve grinding trash for gear upgrades and xp, both have level caps and skill progression, and both are quite time consuming. Permadeath in D2 strikes me as almost exactly as horrifying as permadeath in WoW; both represent games I've sunk huge numbers of hours into and would be incredibly frustrating if every time I was overwhelmed and HP hit zero I lost everything.

King Author wrote: I actually haven't played WoW in over a year, and even then I wasn't expansioned up. I was talking Level 50. That's just under nine levels an hour. The method, if you're curious, is to sell all non-combat-related everything that you get, load up on healing items and grind against mobs that are higher level than you, healing yourself prodigiously

Seriously, 9 levels an hour is still ignorantly fast. You're exaggerating. Unless you have someone standing by, waiting to hand you new gear every time you ding, healing you or finishing the mobs you aggro, and you somehow magically stand at every single level ranges most TimeToKill/XpRewarded critters in the game, that's still ludicrously fast. So, yeah, I call bullshit. It's honestly like claiming you can grind 500m/hr running L4's in Eve. It's just outside the range of reality.

I think there's definitely a market for an alternative style game wherein individual character development isn't the core of the experience. In fact, I know there is, they're called FPSs, and tons and tons of people love 'em.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Chen » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:35 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Out of curiosity, why do you feel D2 and WoW are that different in terms of individual advancement? Both involve grinding trash for gear upgrades and xp, both have level caps and skill progression, and both are quite time consuming. Permadeath in D2 strikes me as almost exactly as horrifying as permadeath in WoW; both represent games I've sunk huge numbers of hours into and would be incredibly frustrating if every time I was overwhelmed and HP hit zero I lost everything.


Well I assume he mentioned it because D2 HAD a hardcore mode with perma-death. And yes it sucked because Bnet was not the most notoriously stable of servers back then.

Seriously, 9 levels an hour is still ignorantly fast. You're exaggerating. Unless you have someone standing by, waiting to hand you new gear every time you ding, healing you or finishing the mobs you aggro, and you somehow magically stand at every single level ranges most TimeToKill/XpRewarded critters in the game, that's still ludicrously fast. So, yeah, I call bullshit. It's honestly like claiming you can grind 500m/hr running L4's in Eve. It's just outside the range of reality.


Agreed with this. Unable to look at the actual sites here from work but searching "Fastest character to level 60 wow" has the first blurb mentioning something about 4 days 20 hours played meaning 116 hours. There's no way it took 110 of those to go from 50-60, so either this person's "bragging" is terrible or your scale is way off. Even with the reductions that are in place now I'd imagine the overall pace up to 60 is still on the order 1 hour per level, especially near the end of that.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Dec 17, 2010 7:30 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Agreed with this. Unable to look at the actual sites here from work but searching "Fastest character to level 60 wow" has the first blurb mentioning something about 4 days 20 hours played meaning 116 hours. There's no way it took 110 of those to go from 50-60, so either this person's "bragging" is terrible or your scale is way off. Even with the reductions that are in place now I'd imagine the overall pace up to 60 is still on the order 1 hour per level, especially near the end of that.

I looked it up at home the night after I made my first reply. That was 1-80, but the consensus seemed to be about 4-5 days /played, assuming heirlooms but no RaF bonus. The lowest I saw was ~3.5 days /played. Or, to put things another way, between one and two months of real-time for most serious, but not comically (or tragically) obsessive players.

As for the 116 hour reference, leveling has gotten a good bit faster over the years, and I'm guessing that by searching for time to level 60, you got a number from back in vanilla.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Chen » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:05 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:As for the 116 hour reference, leveling has gotten a good bit faster over the years, and I'm guessing that by searching for time to level 60, you got a number from back in vanilla.


Yes well King Author was referring to level 50 so I assumed 1) he meant 60 because I don't think 50 was ever a cap and 2) he was talking about Vanilla when 60 would have been the cap. Considering the streamlining they've done now I wouldn't be surprised if you could hit 50 in less than 50 hours. Probably not much less though.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby mike-l » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:36 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Yes well King Author was referring to level 50 so I assumed 1) he meant 60 because I don't think 50 was ever a cap and 2) he was talking about Vanilla when 60 would have been the cap. Considering the streamlining they've done now I wouldn't be surprised if you could hit 50 in less than 50 hours. Probably not much less though.


With help you can get to 60 in about 8 hours (RaF dungeon grinding), I imagine with dungeon mob tagging you could get to 85 in another... 15 hours? So 23 hours, and each time requires you to pay 15 bucks, and have 4 players in 3 different level ranges (so 12 total) with exceptional gear for their range.

In Vanilla you couldn't get to 60 (50 was never the cap) in anything close to 6 hours, and the proposed method is terrible. Even if you could heal yourself against higher level mobs (healing items have always had cooldowns), beyond 2 levels higher your chance to hit drops faster than the extra experience you get from killing the mob. Unless you are 1 shotting mobs, the best mobs to grind on are/were your level or your level + 1, your level +2 if you have the hit rating, assuming health is not a concern.


Back to the original point, I see the appeal, but I'm not sure there is a market for it. A big reason why WoW is so popular though is the end game, and I'm not sure how that would function in your system. I do like the idea of limitted quantity items, but there are lots of issues with that as well. What if someone just doesn't log in with that item... eg maybe they leave the game. Maybe you use a system like EVE has on their Titans, but then you risk punishing players for having a life outside the game. I've played on MUDs with this idea, and it's always had major issues with heavy mod involvement required. I'm definitely going to keep following this thread though, it could yield some interesting ideas.
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:39 pm UTC

What do you mean 'the system Eve has on their titans'?
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby mike-l » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:44 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:What do you mean 'the system Eve has on their titans'?


Can't they be destroyed even when the pilot isn't logged in? (I only played EVE for maybe... 30 hours, but I've read about it a fair bit... so I probably have many misconceptions)
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Back to the original point, I see the appeal, but I'm not sure there is a market for it.

Well, there's certainly not a WoW-sized market for it. I imagine it would have to have a *much* smaller budget given just how small the niche it would fill would likely be. But in general, I like the idea of more, smaller, niche games. I'm not saying that you are and don't think you're doing this, but this is a pet peeve of mine, so I'll say it anyways. I get annoyed when people judge the success of an MMO by WoW. I think it's terribly unhealthy for the genre.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Xeio » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:What do you mean 'the system Eve has on their titans'?
Can't they be destroyed even when the pilot isn't logged in? (I only played EVE for maybe... 30 hours, but I've read about it a fair bit... so I probably have many misconceptions)
If you are in the ship, it disappears with you when you logout (in about 30-60 seconds, unless you have aggro). So no, it can't be destroyed (Titan pilots aren't ones to leave their ships either)

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby mike-l » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:
mike-l wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:What do you mean 'the system Eve has on their titans'?
Can't they be destroyed even when the pilot isn't logged in? (I only played EVE for maybe... 30 hours, but I've read about it a fair bit... so I probably have many misconceptions)
If you are in the ship, it disappears with you when you logout (in about 30-60 seconds, unless you have aggro). So no, it can't be destroyed (Titan pilots aren't ones to leave their ships either)


So yeah, I got the idea from this quote on GoonSwarm's EVEWiki Page

EVEWiki wrote:In June 2007 CCP deployed the Revelations II expansion with several changes to 0.0 warfare. In particular supercaps could now be tackled by interdictors. Within days of this deployment the course of history changed significantly... Band of Brothers suffered a major loss at the hands of GoonSwarm and Red Alliance, losing SirMolle's Avatar-class Titan in what was the first kill of a "live" Titan (where the pilot was logged in and actively defending himself, as opposed to the ship being probed-out after the pilot logged out).

so the last sentence suggests that they were just finding the titan in the 30-60 second window after the pilot logged and before his ship poofed?
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby hatten » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:49 pm UTC

The only game I've played with permadeath is nethack, which does have much similarities with other mmorpgs, you grind for gear and leveling up, though in a smaller scale.

What about it being very "hard" to reach the upper levels?, so that on your first character, you won't get further than a few levels, before dying of a mob, but as you replay it (in some way), you go further and further towards the level cap. The big difference with conventional mmorpgs and nethack is that the levels are different each time you restart, but maybe an ever-changing world, that changes from day to day? It doesn't need to be such huge changes, but enough that it'd be cool to replay from the start, just to see what you have to fight this time.

And of course, one must not forget the highscore, one of the best things ever invented. (Keeping track of your deaths)

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Xeio » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:43 am UTC

mike-l wrote:so the last sentence suggests that they were just finding the titan in the 30-60 second window after the pilot logged and before his ship poofed?
There is also aggro, if you fire upon, or are fired upon, (IIRC it should only be in effect till you leave system, but it's been a while since I've PvP'd so don't risk it if you don't have to) by another player (NPCs don't aggro). This triggers a 15 minute timer where you ship will stay in space and be probable.

Turnpikelad
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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Turnpikelad » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:40 am UTC

Serrin wrote:This is pretty much the idea behind Trials of Ascension, an MMO now indefinitely suspended in development, by a company called Shadowpool.

It was shaping up to be pretty awesome, and quite hardcore.


Trials of Ascension is a good example of a game that was designed to be a place where characters actually die. The theory was that instead of dying permanently after one kill, characters would have a hundred "life counters" which would gradually be exhausted over the life of the character. This way, death on accidental disconnect wouldn't have been so big of a deal, and when you were nearing the end of your life counters you would have some idea that your time as that character was coming to an end.

One of the main benefits of permanent death in an MMO (in my eyes, at least) is that it makes achievements in the game meaningful. You know somebody with a top-tier character has made it that far through determination, luck and skill, not simply by spending enough time on the game to make it through all the quests. And if you are able to make your character powerful, you treat that character like a treasure, fully aware of every risk you take. Each encounter is thrilling because you actually care about the outcome.

Permanent death basically adds a risk to reward mechanic that's missing from most MMOs: the more power you want, the more you have to risk to have a chance at getting it. In Trials of Ascension, characters were going to have had a range of character advancement paths that offered an increased amount of risk, whether that meant trying to master the treacherous magic system or trying to survive as a weak dragonet while ranks of hunters and monsters try to harvest your super-valuable hide. Of course players also had many less-dangerous options as well that would hopefully have been rewarding in different ways.

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:58 am UTC

Turnpikelad wrote:
Serrin wrote:This is pretty much the idea behind Trials of Ascension, an MMO now indefinitely suspended in development, by a company called Shadowpool.

It was shaping up to be pretty awesome, and quite hardcore.


Trials of Ascension is a good example of a game that was designed to be a place where characters actually die. The theory was that instead of dying permanently after one kill, characters would have a hundred "life counters" which would gradually be exhausted over the life of the character. This way, death on accidental disconnect wouldn't have been so big of a deal, and when you were nearing the end of your life counters you would have some idea that your time as that character was coming to an end.


This could also work well if you had a way to "retire" characters like I talk about above. That way when they're ending their lifespan you can recycle them for benefits. It also brings up great min/max prospects a la Disgaea storing level type stuff.

One of the main benefits of permanent death in an MMO (in my eyes, at least) is that it makes achievements in the game meaningful. You know somebody with a top-tier character has made it that far through determination, luck and skill, not simply by spending enough time on the game to make it through all the quests. And if you are able to make your character powerful, you treat that character like a treasure, fully aware of every risk you take. Each encounter is thrilling because you actually care about the outcome.

Permanent death basically adds a risk to reward mechanic that's missing from most MMOs: the more power you want, the more you have to risk to have a chance at getting it. In Trials of Ascension, characters were going to have had a range of character advancement paths that offered an increased amount of risk, whether that meant trying to master the treacherous magic system or trying to survive as a weak dragonet while ranks of hunters and monsters try to harvest your super-valuable hide. Of course players also had many less-dangerous options as well that would hopefully have been rewarding in different ways.


Yeah I agree, that sounds awesome. It's also a great way to provide a non-contrived money sink. The inflation that goes on in a lot of these MMOs is just ridiculous.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: MMORPGs: On Permanent Death

Postby Turnpikelad » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:53 pm UTC

I think a lot of the opposition to permanent death, and looting for that matter, in an MMO is based in the assumption that when you play an MMO you're basically banking your time in the form of character progression. People see their character gradually get more powerful and feel that the game's basic transaction is that you exchange your time and money for a character that slowly but surely gains in capability. When you see the game that way, of course the idea of losing your character is abhorrent: all that time and money spent on the game has been wasted, you have to start from the beginning.

This is why so many games have problems with gold sellers: ingame resources are for all intents and purposes the property of the player, bought with their time and money, and as such are worth actual currency.

Permanent death games have to encourage a different idea of the game's fundamental transaction. As you spend your time and money to access the game, your character does progress and accumulate treasure. But that doesn't make that treasure the property of the player. Because the permanent death (and to a lesser degree, the looting-enabled) gameworld is a dangerous place, your subscription doesn't guarantee you possession in perpetuity of ingame resources. Your character owns his treasure, but you don't, because the character is temporary. In a world like this it's a lot harder to convince somebody to lay down real money for ingame property.

The fact about playing a permadeath game is that you're paying for access to the gameworld and to the community, not for character progression. This means that permadeath games can't be designed along the same lines as the traditional MMO. Simply existing in the gameworld must be rewarding, enough so that it's not seen as a chore to start another character and go through the newbie content again. There are a few ways to make this work - for example, new characters should probably be able to do most things in the game, if not quite as well - but I'm most partial to a solution that emphasizes giving players loads of options to establish real ingame communities.

Have you guys played A Tale in the Desert? Well, neither have I, but I will one of these days. It's a completely non-combat MMO based entirely around resource-gathering, crafting, and cooperative construction of a civilization. In each iteration of the game (it starts over every couple years) the players are given some ridiculously large-scale tasks to complete, and they compete as groups to fulfil them. Be the first city to build a pyramid of a certain height, for example. The tests range from architecture to art to leadership. Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Tale_in_the_Desert

I feel a successful permadeath game will have support for community-building on this scale, where you feel that you are involved in something greater than your character, in an undertaking shared with a community of other players where you can build something unique. Then, when you die and have to start over, you haven't lost much at all.


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