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Weekly MMORPG.com columnist Dan Fortier talks about the idea of difficulty in MMORPGs from what we have, to Perma-Death to a difficulty system.
There has always been a strange tension in game communities about how difficult an MMO should be. Many players constantly gripe that MMOs are too easy and that the amount of time played, not player skill, is the overwhelming factor in advancement. Others point out that the new generation of easy games has helped the genre expand out of the niche market. Like most single player RPGs dating back to Dragon Warrior, you could always overcome a challenge by simply out leveling your foe and thus crushing him easily. With few exceptions, the concept of 'Level > Skill' dominates the industry mindset. This week's article will bridge the gap between the two camps with a few novel ideas. Break out your inhalers for what promises to be a thoroughly sordid adventure!
Before a game is released it is easy to bemoan the 'no consequence' mechanics in favor of complex and challenging systems. I've found that most people who are not playing any game at the moment are most likely to demand harsher penalties and tougher challenges in the games they want to play. Once these 'hardcore' disciples start playing, however, they typically are the first ones to get frustrated and quit when things don't go their way. It's human nature to let your eyes get bigger than your stomach when wishing for games that are tougher. Features that look great on paper can easily turn into a nightmare if not implemented properly and with suitable caution.. I'm sure, for example, a good portion of the perma-death crowd would cry "OMGWTF this is BS!" and pummel their keyboard when actually faced with the permanent loss of a character in their wonderful system.
Read the whole column here.