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MMORPG.COM News: Outside the Box: Perma Death

The weekly columns from Nathan Knaack continue this week with his look at Permanent Death in MMORPGs. This is the fourth in a weekly series from Nathan.

image The trouble with the idea of permanent death, or “permadeath” as it is often referred to, is that it absolutely will not work in any existing MMORPG. Most of the online community has taken a giant leap of illogic to assume that permadeath will never work anywhere, but that’s not how we roll here at Outside the Box. The first three articles, the past, present, and future, basically sum up where the MMORPG industry came from, where it’s currently stuck, and what many people believe it should be trying to achieve. From now on, Outside the Box is a column dedicated to digging up those popular but seemingly impossible, or unpopular but entirely essential, ideas that have been tossed aside by most current developers and putting our heads together to find ways to make them feasible. Anyone can set the forums on fire with post after post about what doesn’t work; it takes an intelligent and creative community to actually work together to pick up the pieces and assemble a working system. That being said, I am deeply appreciative of the feedback this column has received so far in each of its previous three installments, and I look forward to engaging readers in discussion of each of the next topics I address. Keep in mind, Outside the Box is a forum for making taboo ideas appealing, not spamming back and forth with “my game is better than your game” arguments.

You can read the full column here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios



  • floweringminfloweringmin Member Posts: 4

    First off, there seems to be no reasons given about why permadeath should be in the game except as a motivator and then you went on to talk about how positive reinforcement works greats.

    Permadeath is someone who is too much into realism and loves to destroy fun gameplay. The death penalty should be removed all together, a long with all negative penalties. City of Villains does this and it makes the game a sheer pleasure to play.

    The only thing death penalty motivate people to do is go play a better game. The only reason the stupid corpse recovery even worked in EQ (the closest thing to permadeath) was due to the lack of competition at the time. The funny thing is Brad thinks he is so smart that he is bringing it back in his new bland game Vangaurd (which a total rip-off of every mmo out there, but mostly EQ & EQ II).

    When PvP comes in to play any death penalty is sure to make that person quit the game. The real problem with death penalties is that you have spent a ton of time investing your energy into your character. Every time you are whacked in the head with death penalty causes downtime that you could be playing. When permadeath comes into play it basically says that you are taking away everything I care about in the game and I have to start over. Boy that sounds really fun! In PvP it means that anyone can do that and that is even worse.

    But lets look at where the whole idea for death penalties came from. Single player games! I can tell you that I never finished 99% of games that forced me to start over if I died. The ones that I did complete allow you to save and recover from that point, so you end up saving like 50 million times, basically removing the death penalty (the real penalty was the slow reloading). So even in single player games the negative death penalty really doesn't work well.

    Get rid of the death penalty all together and never look back. Let us play and have fun! While your at it, focus all that energy on creating more content as content is king!

    Chris Brainard

  • kasirakkasirak Member Posts: 5

    I'll have to disagree with you Chris, permanent death does have a place in games, just not the ones that exist right now. I found a lot of the suggestions given inside the article to be a good one. I had read another idea on how to implement Permadeath in the past which was quite interesting (now I can't remember who wrote it, I think it was Arcadian Del Sol), but I find that Nathan's proposal doesn't diminish the player-character relationship.

    Now I do agree that death penalties should be taken out in most games, it's better to have life bonuses or such. I'm actually not a fan of level based games in general either, preferred UO's skill system to many of the new generation of games and their approach. I'm also an advocate of designing backwards, aka design your end-game first and give access to it relatively quickly. As you can guess, I'm not much of an Achiever in the Bartle test ;) I hate treadmills and prefer getting into the thick of things quickly.

    Now that that's out of the way, he did mention one reason why Permadeath is a viable option, but without giving too much details, and that is to open up certain features of a game to main characters. You want to do this for certain key features that could otherwise become stagnate if not. The best examples would be limited key roles be it political (king, minister, etc.), military command (Generals, Fists, etc.) or even divine (Avatar, God, head priest, etc.). Permadeath works best in a Player vs Player environment since it's also a tool to get players to participate in the world's intrigue. Also, in the case of military command, it gives assassins and enemy players a target to take out in order to help destroy the chain of command and the tactics between a battle.

    Granted, there are various ways to do all that without Permadeath and it is also not for everyone, but its a feature that some people find might be interesting. It does help with the quest for an identity within an MMO by being a person that achieve something which is risky to do.

    Oh and I'd say that the concept of Permadeath comes as much from single player games as it does from pen and paper RPGs, novels and movies.

    The flame that burns brightest, burns shortest.

    Charles Ferguson

  • PwynnPwynn Member Posts: 45

    Perma death in am MMO would be a very bad idea and newer games even totally remove any death penalty at all.
    Right now i play AutoAssualt beta and there is no death penalty and it is very fun.
    Not have any death penalty makes me take more risks because it does not matter of i die or not.
    Every MMO no matter if rank based or not is a huge time investment and NOBODY wants to lose lots of his game time to something like perma death.
    The risk versus reward approach did not work in Everquest and it will not work 6 years later.
    People want to have fun in an MMO and advancement or getting better equipment is most of the fun and not taking more risks.
    So no matter how perma death would be implemented in a future MMO it would not appeal to the vast majority of players.
    The most addictive factor in an MMO is the attachment players develop for their avatar, his level and his equipment and put in perma death would scare most players out the game that implements it or even not buy it at all.
    If you need high risk for an adrenaline push an MMO is certainly not the right place you should be looking at.

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415

    Originally posted by floweringmin
    Chris Brainard

    One note... Regarding your website where you discuss the article: I am not the author. This was written by our columnist Nathan Knaack.

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • ThethraxThethrax Member Posts: 36

    I predict permadeath will exist in some fashion in all MMORPGS in the near future. Why? Its simple. Whats the point of killing if you are immortal? In any MMOPRG right now, everyone is immortal. Just some immortals are stronger than the other immortals. There is no true danger or fear in the game.. It takes most gamers a long time to figure this out but give it time, you will all see.

    There's some major changes required before this will happen though.

    1) Level system doesnt work, as Nathan said. It has to be a skill or attribute system.
    2) A person with huge skills/attributes must have a use for players with no skills/attributes in their team.
    3) Combat has to be completely revamped. Battles should take 10 to 15 minutes to kill a single lowly goblin for example. Fighting a single huge dragon should take 2 to 3 hours.
    4) Permadeath must not occur when killed the first time (0 health or hitpoints). Permadeath should only occur after an established amount of deaths occur.
    5) It has to be easier for characters to avoid death, in the form of longer battles, obvious warning signs, with unpredictable and unavoidable factors like lag put into the equation.


  • DresanDresan Member Posts: 75

    Eve online doesn't have permadeath. Might be a good idea to do a little more research on a game you keep mentioning and praising in your articles. I kinda stop reading there since most of the other stuff mention i've either read on these forums from other posters in the last couple weeks or on other articles.

  • AutemOxAutemOx Member Posts: 1,704

    [quote]The most addictive factor in an MMO is the attachment players develop for their avatar, his level and his equipment and put in perma death would scare most players out the game that implements it or even not buy it at all.[/quote]

    I definitely agree that character attachment is one of the most addictive things about a MMORPG, and helps keep players playing long after they get bored with the normal game mechanics...  But I think permadeath can have a place along side of character attachment to a fair extent. 

    Nathan seems to understand the importance of character attachment, and I think he does an excellent job of maintaining that attachment using the heir system.  The idea of regaining your past characters legendary items, having upped status with NPCs and factions due to your lineage, and leveling up quicker because of your new characters inheireted qualities is something I find rather awesome.  I doubt it would be too far off the mark to say your character could even be named after his/her father or mother, and could (and probably should) look just like them as well.  In other words, you'd hardly be losing your character at all-  Merely a lot of experience.

    I also really liked the extended death idea.  Not only does it roll well with permadeath, but things like being held hostage (not for too long, of course, because that could become boring) and (secretly of course, because you hid a transmitter in your shoe) sending tells to your buddies trying to get them to come rescue you could really add to roleplaying, and just the overall general immersement of a MMORPG.  Being dragged into a trolls cave also would be a good example of immersement...  These features are the future, or at least it seems, and I hope.

    The only online RPG I've ever played where I enjoyed permadeath was Diablo II  ('hardcore mode').  However, Diablo II was completely lacking PvP; your characters leveled extremely fast; you had a lot of characters so you had no attachment to any single character; and the monsters in Diablo II are fairly predictable compared to newer RPGs.  Most of all however, Diablo II had no monthly fee, so when players lost their level 99 to lag, they could quit playing the game for a couple months in anger without the company suffering.  If a MMORPG were to implement permadeath, it would have to be a rather slower process, and I just dont really see how they could incorporate PvP with the permadeath unless the entire game was based around a system to prevent ganking and griefing, and as Nathan said, there couldnt be any grinding if permadeath was part of PvP...  If you dont grind, then you dont really have anything to lose anyways, so I dont see what the point of PvP permadeath really is.



    Play as your fav retro characters: cnd-online.net. My site: www.lysle.net. Blog: creatingaworld.blogspot.com.

  • Dem3triusDem3trius Member UncommonPosts: 20

    For me the main reason why I disagree with perma death is character development.  The main reason why I play RPGs and such is so I can feel like my character is unique and can carve his place into the world.  As Nathan Knaack mentioned in his artical, permadeath could not even be an option.  This being mainly because it takes too long for characters to level up and progress.  In order for a permadeath system to work, there would have to be less value in the individual character.  Each character would be able to quickly reap the rewards of his actions.  However with a system like this, where less value is place on characters or items, you end up shotchanging character development.  By using a permadeath system I feel like you would be getting closer to FPS or action games and further from RPGs.


  • ThethraxThethrax Member Posts: 36

    Originally posted by Iza_Dresan

    Eve online doesn't have permadeath. Might be a good idea to do a little more research on a game you keep mentioning and praising in your articles. I kinda stop reading there since most of the other stuff mention i've either read on these forums from other posters in the last couple weeks or on other articles.

    Actually eve does have permadeath, I just dont believe it ever happens since people can keep buying clones..
  • nogardnaznogardnaz Member Posts: 111

    I also really liked the extended death idea. Not only does it roll well with permadeath, but things like being held hostage (not for too long, of course, because that could become boring) and (secretly of course, because you hid a transmitter in your shoe) sending tells to your buddies trying to get them to come rescue you could really add to roleplaying, and just the overall general immersement of a MMORPG

    What I'm about to say about this quote is completely unrelated but, I feel the need to say it.

    This is why I hate people that claim they love to "RP" (roleplay). The same person that claims to "RP" will talk about using /tells while roleplaying even though using /tells in character is generally not roleplaying at all.


    P.S. - If you "don't agree" with Nathan's article, then you're a narrowminded idiot.

  • _Shadowmage_Shadowmage Member Posts: 1,459

    Well this is kinda like the instancing debate - some people like death penalty for the challenge, others dont.

    Me personally I dont like the permanent death. Maybe if the game supported both (aka Diablo 2 - hard-core) then this would enable people to choose.

    If I am paying a monthly fee I dont want to lose the hundreds of hours of play I have put into my character. I know some people like the adrenaline rush from risking permanent death.

    As for level based systems and PvP - Guild Wars works just fine. Everyone is the same level.

    I also like the temporary death penalty in Guild Wars - your health and mana are reduced by 15% everytime you die whilst on a mission/quest until you get back to a town when it resets. Maybe it could be tweaked further to reduce the XP you get for killing monsters by your death penalty. Another thing I like about this system is you can sometimes still complete the mission even with a death penalty. Just last night I was playing with a friend and we died horribly several times but then managed to play a bit smarter and take out some enemy healers to complete the mission.

    Permanent death would require quite a few adjustments to the PvE so that you dont just die from mobs. The first time you see a new foe you have no idea what its abilities are, so it can be quite easy to die against a mob of them.

    Another issue I have with permanent death is I play with a group of friends we get together every fortnight to play a game. If we are 50 hours into a game and my character dies - then suddenly I can no longer play with my friends I wouldnt pay money for that.

    I like the idea of scaling reward for smart play.

    On Nathan's other idea of having people play for free to help out with random characters - I dont think that would work so well. People trying the game will have no idea how to play, what skills to use so they wont be much use. And if its not fun for them, they wont sign on to play. I have enough trouble getting people who know what they are doing to do the right think without trying to direct 500 new people in a battle. Another think to think about would be how do you ensure an even distribution of trial people across all the servers?

    On inheritance - nice idea for the really special equipment. As long as I can still use my central storage chest to move normal goods and money between my characters.

  • sicsycosicsyco Member Posts: 18

    personally not a fan of perma death, anything witht he potential to completely remove months or even hours of "work" leveling or training that charater is a bad idea

    i do however like the idea of the after life being added some of the ideas there were actually quite interesting, if upon being struck down their was a short time in which we could be Saved by healing or a resurection spell (dispel stoneskin etc) after this time expires if we descend into the after life or underworld
    quests/ objectives could be completed to respawn (or simply a stronger resurection spell from a team mate that must be cast from home base or somthing like it)

    the concept of multi leveld worlds heaven/hell or what ever versions people choose to beleive could ad some significant features to a game ( however touching on religon that closely could be a bad idea)

    ive looked at perma death and the pros/cons of it and in terms of fun it really doesnt seem like a good idea
    yeah it sounds neat but in the end is it a feature that would be more of an annoying obstacle after having to deal with it 2-3 times?

    i play PvP games like shadowbane for the pure reason of being able to kill other players and be killed by them its challenging and its fun to do if i risked the days worth of leveling/training everytime i fought with some one id either never bother fighting unless the risk was near to zero or id play a different game

    path of least resistance is where people flow to, perma death imho = alot of resistance

    loosing a character isnt fun, we play games to have fun, if i wanted to worry about my char dying all the time, id go throw on a suit of armor and wander around trying to slay dragons in real life

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    great ideas about ancestry...

    you could gain benefit from having previous characters, dying would be part of life, and one that further progressed the game.

    it'd matter, but you would realize you eventually had to anyway.... =D

    awesome ideas...

    i loved the killing blow feature in swg... hope that comes back.

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • kasirakkasirak Member Posts: 5

    In reply to Dem3trius, Items and level is not the only way to track character advancement, it just happens to be that way in current generation MMOs. If we take a book or a television series, in most cases, the character you really become attached to doesn't level up and become stronger all the time (yes I didn't say all the time, just most of the time. If you read a Dragonlance book or watch anime or what not you can see clear power advancement from certain characters).

    Social Status, Influence, Accomplishments (battles, feats, quests, travels, etc.) are all ways to track progress. Sure you can say that it moves away from some forms of RPGs and more into the Action - Adventure genre, but there are tabletop RPGs that lets you track progress without levels but with skill advancements or other rewards and, in the end, Role Playing is such a wide definition that a lot of things can qualify as such. I'll take Vampire the Masquerade as an example. If your level is equal to your generation, then the only way to go up a level is to drain an older vampire... but that makes you a big juicy target for all the other vampires since it's kinda anti-social in their society ;)

    The trick is really to balance and make it interesting and then it all comes down to what players like as a system. There's a huge debate on the new combat system in Final Fantasy XII since they moved away from their traditional turn based system and it makes it more of an action game instead. If you're more in the Role Playing than the stats leveling, then tracking progress through the amount of quest you've participated in, the amount of events you've affected, the repercussion of your actions in the world and so forth is much more interesting to you than your stats.

    Wormywyrm quoted someone talking about how character attachment is important in an MMO and I have to agree with that. While permadeath does put attachment into question for some players, its a problem that many authors are actually plagued with as well. Conan Arthur Doyle couldn't kill Sherlock Holmes permanently since people were to attached to him and there was too much of an outcry. You could point to that to say permadeath isn't good in books either. But taking the other end of the spectrum, Robert Jordan has killed off so few of his characters that you never fear for the ones you might like and in the end you don't develop a deeper emotional attachment to them because of it. On the flip side, George RR Martins has shocked us with some of the deaths and his books are the favorites of many people.

    In the end, until we see an MMO that implements a good permadeath system, I don't think we'll ever hear the end of these types of debates ;)

    Charles Ferguson

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    i just realized...

    this highly emphasizes a change in gameplay.


    i think this is really lacking, you never get to feel good about the fact that you remembered to feed your character, about the fun of adventuring to a cool place, because you feel so fake.

    the perma death would put emphasis on survival, thus making the game... fun?

    people would work together, form societies and clans that mattered, not just ones that talked and helped on quests, but lived together like nomads, in a kind of battlefield 2 squad system where you spawn with your "clan". you'd work together to advanced technologically, eat, grow farms. some would be nomadic with tents, others would settle down.. develope civilizations...

    so cool!

    Nathan really seems visionary...

    i think that games, like people, life, and all technology, will evolve over time.

    games since inception have existed to mimic human life, to do things that humans cannot in a realm without physical pain.


    whatever board/card/video game you are into, the idea is the same. make fantastic things happen.

    look at D&D... why is that fun? there isnt even anything to look at.

    it's just rules and imagination.

    humans need rules, need laws. we love them, it makes the game of life fun. if we didnt have to follow any rules to do things, they wouldnt be fun.

    E.G. winning the lottery. It's fun because you have lived your entire life realizing the value of money because of the rules needed to procure money.

    games create a fantastic world, one that we feel free to attempt to control. when a game has no rules or laws, it's boring.

    as games graphically approach perfection, the rules and laws of the world ( gravity, physics, ) become integrated into them, thus making games more realistic, and thus more fantastic to manipulate, because it increases the illusion that you are manipulating the world around you which you are not allowed to control in real life ( unless you are rich or a serial killer or high )

    money has killed more people than any other object... why is a uniform currency so alluring?

    because it gives you unprecedented amount of control over environment.

    games need this. you need to be able to set up a camp, get friends to join you and go hunt for food.

    build a viable sourced of food, allocate some to hunt. then you can start harvesting wood, making objects, diversify.

    the main end is control, you can invent your way to accomplish anything. once games hit the graphical peak, they will expand this way inevitably. the entire idea of a level or skill system is archaic..... games like seed are already exploring cooperation in games.

    i think that the nature of videogame progression has happened with spatial immersion through 3d graphics and open terrain, and through the implementation of multiplayer.

    i believe that is why my game druthers are singleplayer<multiplayer.

    it is also important to note that a 16 player internet game will never be as fun as a lan game with 16 players.

    this demonstrates the importance of the creation of the community, the ability for players to express themselves through characters.

    since mmo's may likely never all be in one room, it is necessary to further implement teamspeak into servers, of course all set up to broadcast to other players based on their location to you.

    this would allow players to chose to exile annoying people, or kill them. the birth of a democracy. it is not just the ability to vote that makes it fun, it's the fact that you decided it. maybe your clan conquers all others through war using simply rocks and sticks, each enemy killed would be reborn as a member of your tribe. revolution? magna carte? viscous capitalism? the reason all these things would be ecstacy in a game, are that instead of being forced into an impossible (or perceived to be so) situation as we are in the modern world, in a game world players could conspire to defeat the government. secret factions and meetings could form a resistance group that holds a military cou.. whatever. the ability to change would be inherent. people could simply form a large group and run off into the forest.

    the point would be that survival would be key. sure you could get an axe and practice chopping wood until you had the skill to kill everyone in your tribe, but then you'd be alone.

    what then?

    these are decisions that games are afraid to allow players to make.

    for the first time, games are drawing insanely close to perfectly mimicking reality, chop down trees and make a fort by yourself. get a group and make a previously impossible castle.

    build a boat and sail safetly to your own island.

    become a leader and form a modern society. someone suddenly kills someone else and other town members tackle and restrain him. you take a knife and carve the first law of your community into a rock "thou shald not kill" then you stone the man to make an example.

    before a player can weigh out what choices he wants to make, you must let him have choices first.

    how much more interesting would it be to leave your community and venture into the forrest, if everyone else was too afraid of animals or starvation to go with you? the possibilities are so amazingly exciting. leave for days with a group and come back to find that your entire town was burnt to the ground and everyone was ala roanoke.

    a simple example. there is a giant mountain in the barrens in wow, it's cool that you can climb it, but compared to the real life expedition to everest... man...

    maybe there is a gigantic mountain inthe game world, and once a game map has been somewhat accurately drawn by some player it will be well known in each tribe... perhaps the first person to climb it (supposing food supplies, cold, hunger, fall danger, injury are in the game) is given the honor to have the mountain named after them by developers, and circulated on all maps made of the world by players?

    better yet, what if once he returns with some proof of accomplishment (created by devs) players in his tribe spread the name of the mountain as jojo (after you of course) and the knowledge of your feat is passed throughout the game world slowly by passing travelers and maps, when one day you are known as the first person to climb it by all players in each tribe?

    invent a city or country? the united states of jojo? invent a constitution that is ratified by those in your tribe?

    invent the first pair of easily made shoes and have them become kinda like nike?
    what would it be like to hear everyone saying things like "everyone put your jojo's on, it's going to be a long run" or "everyone group at the base of mount jojo" .... that would be awesome.

    haaha, how bout you becoming a godly figure, like zeus or jesus? imagine people saying "oh my jojo"

    this is all what he was talking about in his perma death issue, making the world a better reflection or reality and allowing players to influence each other..

    game developers could step back and watch players form empires only to be destroyed by the inside, to see a small tribe of warriors use military might to unite and tax the entire game, forming a government that allowed technological advancement and staved off the immediate fear of being murdered or starved, only to experience a dark age from huge wars.

    the idea is that people would eventually be compelled to recognize the importance of the environment, the need to control watering holes, the need to cooperate with each other

    some people would become obsessed with collecting maps and making maps to more fully include a giant world, each becoming more acurate, just as early maps of earth looked so F###ed up, presitigious map makers known for accuracy would have more circulated in their name.

    the possibilities are endless, but it all interests me. imagine naming your land something and then having everyone in it refer to it, and slowy having that name land on maps, having b uildings that your tribe made be drawn on player made maps? crazy!

    leaders could have podiums or horns crafted to allow them to guide their peoples.

    i feel that general chat is one of the most negative influences on mmo communities, it absolutely kills the rules of location. sending tells is great fun, but butchers the ability to become immersed in the game.

    many players say that social connections are all that keep them in games, the problem is that social connections only serve social connection.

    in a free and open game, every single word you chose to express can be used against you, so every thought you chose to articulate before a group must be thought out. a game this complex would not need devs to control populations, thus it would decrease the expense to pay server watchguards, and those resources could be allocated to improving servers. taboo i know.

    i think as mmo's more fully develop the potential to create actual worlds inside games, ones that players make themsevles, ones with laissefaire economics, politics etc... it will be impossibly amazing to see how things play out.

    imagine making a character that grew over time, died, and then you started with a lineage system over again, with a character that would live and die, but retain the skills (technology, etc..) from ancestors just like people do?

    each life lived would give you better traits to adapt with, better gene inheretence..

    i dunno =D this is making me salvitate... tell me what you guys think

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • ThesavantThesavant Member Posts: 25

    I think a lot of people are missing the original point of MMORPG's. The RP part means role playing. When these games came on the market many of us "old" gamers were very excited. It meant graphics would enhance the MUD's we played (or play). It meant we could take our role playing to a whole new level. It didn't happen that way. I do have fun with current MMORPG's. I don't want people to think I am bashing them. I get excited when the prospect of "permadeath" comes up. I am for it. It means a games is getting close to a level of role playing that for which many of us yearn. It is really hard to get a good role playing experience in today's gaming environment. I think a game that includes permadeath would attract roleplayers. Even if there are griefers in the game (and there will be) systems could be set up to fight this. Outlaw and bounty hunter systems are great ways to fight a-holes. I love the idea of having a ancestral system. I look foward to the day when I can roleplay on-line.

  • nathanknaacknathanknaack Level Designer - CCP GamesMember UncommonPosts: 27

    I feel the need to reinforce and clarify one of the core ideas of this week's installment: Nobody wants permadeath in a level-based, grind-centered game. This article was not an argument for changing existing games like WoW, EQ2, or Lineage so they include mandatory permadeath for all characers; it's a forum for discussion of how to rework or modify permadeath so that it would be generally acceptable as an option in future games.

    For this, and future installments of Outside the Box, please remember that we are looking to the future of how serious MMORPGs will be designed, distributed, and played. I often use games like WoW to illustrate how a game that seems like fun is really just satiating your sense of instant gratification, but I mean no disrespect or slander to its creators. In terms of graphical, network, and financial design, WoW is a masterpiece. However, there is a growing audience of people out there, as evident from current discussions on this and numerous other MMORPG websites, that yearns for a deeper experience. We don't just want to log in and "waste" a few hours at a "passtime," we want to "invest" a few hours in a "shared, social environment."

    Once again, nobody here wants games like Guild Wars or Dark Age of Camelot to suddenly wink out of existence because they don't have permadeath or player-created content. What we want are new games that incorporate the ideals of a serious MMORPG title that aims for long-term enjoyment of a dedicated audience, not the temporary amusement of the lowest common denomnator. And that's not an insult to any player base, either. Whenever I feel like a quick thrill, I'll log into Counterstrike or Tribes for an hour or two of shooty fun. No death penalty, no consequences, no crafting, no travel time, no delays, just action-packed FPS fun. However, something the MMORPG industry currently lacks is a total immersive package with player-generated content and player-driven progression of the world. Eve Online has most of it, but it's all space-based. SWG had most of it, but by the time they implemented space travel, they had already ruined the game with their so-called "upgrades." World of Warcraft has the graphics and seemless world, but there's no meaningful PvP territory conquering. Shadowbane came so close, but they just can't keep up with other titles in terms of coding quality, graphics, or population.

    What we're hoping to do is discuss the mechanics of a permadeath system that would actually work, not argue about whether or not permadeath should or shouldn't exist.

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    can we kill general chat?

    if you couldnt just magically broadcast anywhere, being some place alone would mean something.

    if you cant teamspeak it in some how, i think it'd be important to just allow bubble chat.

    this would of course, revolutionize the idea of these games, but i'd be good.

    people long for reality in the way they communicate, can a rumor pass easily in a world where everyone can talk at once?

    i'd be awesome to see how ideas and legends progressed in a sandbox game?

    imagine someone from another tribe running through yours and trading goods, also speaking about caves, dragons, etc seen.

    games could create their own lore...

    i say we kill general chats and tells. if advanced communication arises, some player will have to invent it.

    some guy could offer to run everyones letters to a certain place on the map and put them in that towns player build mailbox...

    of course exactly how this would work in a hunting and gathering society would be sketchy... because they move, but so would real life.

    the mailman could also get lost or eaten ! thus the greater the risk, the more players would have to pay to convince some fool to try to make a run using a highly innacurate player map.

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    perma death...

    say that a mountain is believed to be the highest in game, and you want to claim the right to be the first person to climb and enscribe the name of the mountain on the rock at the top...

    you have to balance the desire to accomplish that with the fear of death

    that would instantly create "epic feats and quests"

    ones that would not be repeatable because they would be player made.

    maybe you climb it and inscribe it but fall into crevase on the way down, from then on it'd be an enigma who wrote the name on the rock.. =D someone could find your body too!

    or maybe you form a dictator ship... if you can die just by being stabbed once, would you have to compromise and be friends with the people so they wouldnt assasinate you? would you have a special cia formed to kill those who move close to you?

    again you wouldnt want to kill everyone. you might kill one person to make an example, attempt to scare them into obedience... the possibilities are endless

    how cool would that be !

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    this would force you to think about a variety of variables...

    the creation of depths... in a D&D game some nerds were playing, they went into detail about how they climbed a tree to escape an enemy.

    this simply isnt necessary in current games with no complexity, in fact the straightforwardness will inevitably be broken... anyone who has stacked barrels in a game to climb to a previously unseen area will finally see curiousity rewarded in a world where anything is possible.

    in wow, your character can travel into the desert.

    but instead..
    you are faced with this

    1 you are in the desert
    2 you are skinny and hungry
    3 you have been abandoned to die by your tribe
    4 there are sharp rocks around
    5 you have soft feet with no shoes =D
    6 animals graze nearby

    so... do run after the animals knowing you will hurt your feet and thus bleed?

    do you take off your shirt and wrap it around your feet?

    will running just be an impetus to burn calories and help you die faster?

    do you fake dead and hope they come near you so you can grab them?

    game developers wont have to actually "make game experiences" once they give players 100% freedom to do things in real life in a game. consequences can thus be chosen.

    do you

    - kill piggy because he is an unnecessary member of society?
    - kill another tribe for the watering hole, or share it and combine
    - trade for goods with another you meet in the desert, or kill him, take his stuff, and eat him?
    - group up with him and ask him where a town is?

    you could choose a path of random murder, but that might mean self destruction... you would have reasons to act chivalrous and cooperate, rather than be forced to.

    players would eventually recognize that in order to advance, they would need to work together. the man left to die in the desert might run in search of a new tribe, following them and begging them to accept him/her and feed her.

    xp systems for honor wouldnt be needed... players would see your actions and contributions and respect you. they would raise you up as a king to guide them, or cast you out.

    you'd have to place nice when outnumbered, and choose whether or not to coexist peacefully with each other, and with other tribes, or assimilate them by killing them.

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    this system would instantly resolve questions like

    -travel time




    ... players would chose everything.

    so you realize you cannot live long without groups so you?

    form a group.

    you cant communicate anything through typing except simple words, the rest are translated as in game as inelligible.

    as you spend more time chatting, more words remain unobscured and you develop a language that cannot be understood by others until they lots of time with you, the longer the time, the more words that are not translated to jabber ala wow.

    this would create compelling communication elements, each language would eventually be named, and you could choose which language to attempt to speak in.

    everyone could attempt to have a uniform language, but geographical barriers and hatred might not allow it. you could simply have your tribe kill other groups and eradicate the language.

    groups that split apart would slowly develop away from each other and become obscure again, even in a society with the internet, television, books etc, the dilects of spanish in spain and mexico are incredibly different, and accents abound.

    there are just so many possibilities...

    want a better way to send goods and travel? carve a wheel and make a handcart, tame horses =D

    all of these thigns would be player driven, and requre tons of cooperation between different trade skills for different materials.

    feeling pissed off that the horde suck? why not just traitor them and join the alliance?

    any problem experienced could be handled. society could outcast criminal greifers, greifers could form a terrorist group and kill everyone who leaves a player built town until everyone is forced with the decision to compromise, starve, or fight back, depending on what terms the bandits would accept

    does anyone else have an interest in a game like this?

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436


    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • slapme7timesslapme7times Member Posts: 436

    attemping to incorporate perma death into games.

    games originally began with pong, then advanced into story based games, mulitplayer games, then multiplayer story games...

    i believe that each advancement has been an attempt to bring reality into videogames to create awesome places we either cannot, or are too poor to go in real life.

    i think the concept of putting reality into games will eventually encorporate aging, breeding, death, and allow players to do what they want in a game world.

    seeing the need for cooperation to avoid death, game thus begin creating their own lore, society, story whatever, one that can be erased instantly by in invading army.

    risk is fun.

    calculatable risk is better.

    the problem is that people are allowed to gain things in games- levels, experience etc...

    without gaining the ability to protect them.

    to the contrary, in real life a rich man can pay people to protect him. a king can suppress his people and make examples of them to force obedience.

    instead of earning points... people will earn real game skills =D as gay as that sounds.

    develop the ability to inspire other humans to follow them, have the smarts to creat a wall around the village, set up camp next to a watering hole.

    these things cannot be taken by death, if you are gived the opportunity to defy death by being given a new character.

    thus it is necessary to allow lineage, to allow characters to live hundreds, thousands of lives. if you are killed, your name will be passed to your next character who will live and grow old, hoping that by the veritability of the name, the weath of his father, will allow a new character to rise to greatness.

    it should be satisfactory enough for people to know whose son you are, satisfactory enough to know that if you are murdered in a town, the people may deem that illegal and apprehend the criminal who will also have a name to live with, who also may be distrusted for many game years before society accepts his offspring which you continue to play.

    thus you are allowed to be reborn, to reforge who and what you are, but never to lose your entire identity.

    if your entire town revolts and destroys your home, you may be persecuted in your society because of the wealth you once had, then you must choose between running away and facing the dangers of starvation, the dangers of others chosing not to accept you, or simply work your way up.

    if you have great friends and neighbors who have worked to build a giant town or land, and it is destroyed and scattered, the names of previous friends would still exist, but likely be scattered. how cool would it be to randomly meet one of these people again?

    things in game would happen that only you would know.... an empire and a land that no longer exists but in the mind of you and some friends.

    i think this is the future of mmos.. thoughts and ideas, names, nation etc... where you play become it becomes a better cooler more fantastic life than the one you are currently alloted.

    this is a game where things like

    experience, relationships and prestige only exist in the minds of people. have a good family name? maybe you'll be asked to guide a group of people, build someone a house, design something, write a constitution.

    i think that is originally the feeling i had during my first mmo... the feeling of social influence, social acceptance, or total social deviance if i could survive it.

    eventually that will exist as more than a happy memory, but as a game.

    --people who believe in abstinence are unsurprisingly also some of the ugliest most sexually undesired people in the world.--

  • CoffeeBotCoffeeBot Member Posts: 11

    One thing that was very annoying about the article was the way it completely glossed over the technical problems of implementing permadeath. Things like lag, disconnects and crashes aren't just issues affecting the current crop of MMORPGs - they're ongoing issues for the games industry. Players will still get killed by things beyond their control until there is 100% perfect software, hardware and internet connections.

    As we're not living in a fantasy world of perfect systems, how can a game with permadeath handle something like disconnects? You can say 'tough luck' to those affected and kill their character but that just makes people frustrated, especially if the problem wasn't at their end. People tend not to keep paying for a service that makes them frustrated. Not punishing it creates other problems though because you often can't tell straight away why someone disconnected. Was it your fault, the ISP's fault or did they pull the plug when they realised they were gonna die? Punishing multiple disconnects would solve nothing unless you could be 100% sure of why it was happening.

    - - -

    Technical issues asside, here's my recipe for a workable permadeath system.

    (1) Character Lives.

    An old computer game idea but it works. Players would be able to build up 'extra lives' for their characters as they progressed in the game. Characters in fantasy/sci-fi literature are always coming back from the dead and you could justify it in game by players be 'favoured by the gods' or whatever.

    Gaining lives would have to be tightly controlled. They shouldn't be buyable or transferable for starters. Players should only be able to pick them up by accomplishing very heroic tasks like killing an ancient dragon, saving an entire town from raiders, leading an army etc. If the gods are going to bring you back, you need to be doing things worthy of their attention. The number of lives a player can have at any one time should be severely limited too. The gods may like you but they don't like you that much.

    (2) Limbo States.

    This would allow for great gameplay options, like fighting your way out of hell, but would also give players a small safety net if they get hit by tech problems. Players should have a way of bringing themselves back to life but it should be incredibly difficult. They should be totally outgunned and outnumbered. Design it so that only the most talented players have a hope of achieving it. If they 'die' again then it really is the end of the line.

    (3) Accept Power Disparity.

    Part of the appeal of MMORPGs is character progression. Unfortunately, that means you end up with power disparity and the problem of ganking. Replacing the level system with a  skill system makes absolutely zero difference. The person with higher skill ranks will always have the advantage, just like a person of higher level does. The problem arises because of disparity in player power, not because of the way that power is measured and displayed.

    You could get rid of this entirely by making all characters equal and having the system rely on genuine player skill like an FPS. Unfortunately, having a persistant character becomes pointless if they never progress. And if they improve over time, you've got disparity again and the problem reappears.

    If people want a real MMORPG to include permadeath AND open (not having to flag your consent) PvP, then they'll have to accept ganking as a part of it. You simply can't have all three things without ganking becoming a possibility. Penalties for ganking lessen the problem but can't eliminate it. Ganking alienates a lot of players but so does the idea of permadeath anyway.

    - - -

    I think Nathan's way too optimistic about people not delivering killing blows, especially in a PvP environment. Showing mercy might be noble but it can also come back to bite you in the arse. People you allow to live may not be as generous when the tables are turned. A lot of people would deliver killing blows rather than take that risk. Forcing some characters to show mercy would just make them walking targets.

    Ultimately, any permadeath system has to be slightly forgiving and allow ways to cheat death a little. People say that permadeath would make people think more tactically about their fights and it would. Unfortunately, successful tactics are figured out as much, if not more, by looking at your defeats than your victories. If there's no room for trial and error, people will be overly cautious and consult player guides before every fight.

  • Zen_LaterZen_Later Member Posts: 2

    About Eve-Online...unless there's been a radical design change, the most SP (skill points) you can loose from a death without a clone is 1.5 million.  So no, Eve does not have permadeath in the sense described.  Mind you, a cloneless death will cost you approximately 1 months training time...ouch.

    On the article itself.  Interesting idea, I guess you could say.  Would it be for me?  In a word, no.  Do I see it being somehow workable?  Sure, I guess some suckers out there would plunk their dime down for the game and nickle a month for the subscription.

    But I just don't get this whole ultra-realism in a game idea.  If I want to face certain and permanent death for doing something stupid, why not just step away from the keyboard and go outside? 

    I also don't see how a game could be even playable with permadeath, no matter how it was worked in.  Either you end up playing in some kind of masochistic game world where one bad move eradicates endless hours of game play or the game ends up being watered down in other ways in order to make up for the ultimate death penalty.

This discussion has been closed.