Massively OP’s guide to MMORPG death penalties

In real life, when you die the penalty is… death. You just get that one go at things. But in MMOs, player characters are imbued with immortality, able to come back time and again from mortal peril. From a player perspective, this is great, since it allows a chance for persistent development and encourages the exploration of the world without dire fear.

But a little fear is perhaps appropriate, to keep the stakes high during adventuring and combat and increase fun by introducing some risk. After all, if you can just pop right back into being without any punishment, then death means absolutely nothing and a sense of accomplishment is lessened. Creating the right type of death penalty for an MMO is a tightrope that devs must walk. Make it too lenient or too harsh, and a game could suffer for it. If you ask the community, players are often split on whether or not MMOs should have strong death penalties.

Today we’re going to cover the major types of death penalties that MMOs have implemented over the years. As with many things MMO, there used to be a lot more experimentation in this regard, but it’s still a relevant topic considering the crop of up-and-coming games in this field.

Permadeath

Let’s start with the topic about which everyone loves to opine: permadeath. With this death penalty, if a character dies in the course of a game, that character is automatically retired or deleted from the server. One life, one death — that’s it. For obvious reasons (including the chance of dying because of server hiccups or bugs and not the player’s fault), permadeath has very rarely been wielded as an MMO death penalty, even though it gets lots of discussion.

One of the most famous examples of permadeath was in Star Wars Galaxies. Before the NGE, players who attained Jedi status could be killed forever (and turned into a playable blue glowie ghost) as a way to balance out their newfound power. It was a notion that was more interesting in theory than practice, as no player would want so many hours of hard work to go down the drain.

XP or skill loss

This is another classic old-school death penalty that sort of made a twisted sense. After all, you gained XP while you lived, so why not lose some when you died? Unfortunately, this was a pretty harsh penalty, especially in games that took just shy of forever to dole out new levels. And with the game able to deduct XP from a character, there was always the possibility of de-leveling: being knocked back to a previous level. It’s something that’s almost unthinkable as a consequence today.

EverQuest hewed to this design philosophy, although it softened the blow by allowing players to recoup some of that lost XP if the player was resurrected by another instead of releasing.

XP debt

This method was a slight improvement on XP loss as a penalty. Instead of taking away earned XP, games with this system would “fine” a player with a certain amount of XP debt that had to be worked off before XP flow continued as normal. This could be just a fraction of XP earned (think of it as the IRS garnishing a wage) or even freezing XP progress entirely until the debt is repayed.

Initially, City of Heroes used this as a death penalty. What was particularly horrible about it was when a player would die multiple times in a row — perhaps due to a faulty group — and would see the XP debt grow and grow. There was nothing quite as sickening as looking at an entire level’s worth of XP debt and knowing that your next few days or weeks were going to suuuuck.

Corpse runs and full-body looting

Oh yes, the infamous corpse run. This isn’t referring to more modern approaches, where a player has the choice to casually jog back to his or her body and resurrect on that spot. This points back to games where, if you didn’t race back to your corpse or have someone resurrect it in time, the items you were wearing were forfeit.

PvP-centric MMOs could add another twist to this penalty by allowing other players to take some or all of your gear and inventory if they stumbled upon (or caused) your corpse. Corpse looting is still widely implemented in PvP sandboxes, such as in Darkfall.

Vehicle, possession, or structure loss

In games such as EVE Online where players own and operate multiple vehicles, stations, and buildings, the threat of allowing any of those to be destroyed for good is a powerful incentive to be cautious and protect them. If these items can be attached to real-world dollars, then the loss could extend into one’s wallet, making it that much more painful.

Debuffs

Eating dirt, even as an immortal character, has to have some sort of psychological and physical impact, especially when done repeatedly. Some game designers have tried to mimic the feel of a character taking staggering steps back to full functionality by applying resurrection sickness or debuffs that would make that character less effective for a time. Guild Wars would stack a debuff on a death in a zone or mission until the player gave up on the quest or won.

Repair and run

“Repair and run” is my informal term for what we see in most recent PvE games. It’s a rather lenient death penalty that only incurs a small time loss (as a player has to run back or resurrect at a home point) and some fees for damaged armor. Usually dying during a boss fight in a dungeon might be treated as a little more severe, keeping the player out of the rest of the fight unless he or she is resurrected by a healer.

Item decay

I wanted to give this its own section because item decay can be a little different from merely bringing a damaged piece of gear up to 100%. Some MMOs will continually damage gear as a player fights, increasing that damage for a death, with the goal of forcing the player to eventually give up that item when it is fully broken.

Time out

Another variation on using time as a punishment is to put the player in a penalty box (for example, 40 more seconds until you can rejoin the game) or to send the player to a special area that he or she will have to navigate and/or fight through in order to return to the rest of the game world.

Creative punishments

Once in a while you see MMOs that have some fun with the notion of death penalties. Project Gorgon, for example, will place various amusing and long-lasting curses on players who fall in a battle against bosses and will keep those penalties in place until (or unless) the player can defeat that boss.

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deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

lineage 2 used to have a mix of exp loss (with different rates depending on if in siege/clan war pvp or outside of those situations) and ways to recoup that lost as resurrection (exp rez scrolls, certain buffer/healer classes that could rez you nearly recovering teh loss fully), and low cahnce item drop (on to the ground where anyone could pick it up) in pve death and a lot higher chance in pvp only when you were red with over 5 pks on your counter, but with a method for burning exp into a useless pet to remove a small number of pk’s from your counter.

most folks tended to return the items that dropped unless you were an ass/they didn’t like you much. 

while we often used promises of exp rezzes to extract extra pain on people we had persoanl grudges against, which often made up motivations for pvp (outside of sieges adn some funsies clan wars).

my clan/alliance was big into sieges and we started getting into the habit of treating at least part of our routine exp/gold farming as simply to pad expected losses during sieges. tho by the time our run was over we were getting exceptionally good at dying very little during sieges.

4% exp loss seemed super low early on in the game, which influenced my startinggroups’ job change choices, but we soon learned how devasting just 4% lost could be. eventually everyone in my crew tended to have a mix of %rezzers on theri contact lists and suupply of %rez scrolls for any deaths that would typically occur.

deekay_zero
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deekay_zero

Casszune mabinogi i think had? has? a system where your character ages and eventually dies and you start over to some degree.

i always thought that was neat even tho i can barely remember my short trial of the game and always get it confused with maple story. XD

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Robert80 Line with more hugs Ket_Viliano Ironwu 
Nowadays, permadeath, FFA full loot, and open world FFA PvP, as well as gear decay and item destruction if they can be triggered by PvP, do tend to attract, besides the “nice” PvPers, also gankers. So, even if the devs never intended the game to be a gankbox, it tends to become one (or, at least, more of a gankbox than most players can tolerate).

A pity for those that aren’t gankers and do like games with those features.

ashfyn
Guest
ashfyn

TheDonDude Agree, the repair penalty for death in some games is quite severe.  Back in the day, doing the Watcher in LOTRO, it was not uncommon for people to ask for money to foot the repair bill.  Tanks especially with heavy armor had massive repair bills.  On looting the boss chest, we’d usually pass on what we didn’t need so our tank could scoop up the remaining items to help defray his repair bill.

Robert80
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Robert80

Siphaed Samizdat  My question here is, how many games without permadeath in the MMO genre actually grow after their release period?
Given that, and the incredibly low number of MMOs with permadeath ever, we really don’t have much to go on.  It’s statistically such a low number of MMOs that the sample is small enough it could fit within the portion of all MMOs in that boat several times over.
It certainly isn’t popular with some people.  Others, however, consider an account based advancement system with permadeath intriguing.  The main point being, however, that we really don’t have enough history there to make a solid judgment on this.

Robert80
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Robert80

Line with more hugs Ket_Viliano Ironwu  Those features do not a gankbox make.  Those features with nothing new done to limit ganking make a gankbox.
If you can only think about gankboxes when seeing those features given all the upcoming games working specifically to avoid being gankboxes while having some of those features, that’s pretty sad too.

Robert80
Guest
Robert80

Ironwu  That… ignores when games have those but change the formula.  As Line with more hugs noted, not having these features does not make every game into WoW.  Having one or more of them does not make a new game the same as an existing game with them.
The beautiful thing about innovation is that sometimes you do something that creates an amazing product out of something that otherwise was not popular.  The cool thing about many of the newer sandbox games is that they realize some of the flaws with how these systems have been done, and so are trying something different with them.
But by all means, keep making statements that are logically flawed.  Because the games doing something different must elicit the same response.
*Now, I agree with you if and only if these aspects of a game are the carbon copy of previous games using them.  That has, will, and undisputedly creates the result you mentioned.  However, when somebody changes the formula while having one or more of these, then that agreement no longer applies.*

Casszune
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Casszune

Perma death has always seemed interesting but I’ve never played an mmo that used it. The only one i can even think of, strangely, is Dofus. It has a “Heroic” server where death is permanent and there’s even a “cemetery” dedicated to the strongest people to have lived. Maybe I’ll try it someday.
http://www.dofus.com/en/mmorpg/heroic-server/cemetery-of-heroes

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

TheDonDude 
So in the end it all balances out, making this debate down to personal preferences. Therefore, while some will gravitate to games with more sadomasochistic death penalty systems, in the hopes of maybe making that PuG.raids somehow more a pleasant experience. Others such as myself, will gravitate towards games with less harsh DP’s, because ..hey, we think PuG’s/raids are painful enough without the system’s cat of nine tails flogging us for our missteps in the end. :)

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Siphaed Samizdat “Also, MOP is a blog and not a ‘news site’.”

Believe me, I’m more than aware. It would be nice, however, if the articles could be more aware of their own editorializing sometimes. Ultimately, there’s an opportunity for any game feature to thrive in the right kind of game. Realm of the Mad God features permadeath in an MMORPG setting, and has a healthy and stable, if small, population for a game that’s now a few years old. It’s pretty fun, actually.

Catering every game to just the prevailing opinion (if that even is the case — you’re making a claim with no support here) ignores viable market niches for smaller and more focused games. You can swat away examples of these sorts of death penalties working in games if you’d like, but I’d rather have more variety in the genre than a tyrrany of the majority. I think it’s pretty close-minded to call any feature “horrible” when a game could come around that manages to pull it off and make it fun.

Mysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably
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Mysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably

TheDonDude
Good point. I have fond memories of old EQ’s death penalty, yet as you’ve pointed out, my character rarely died. That’s a key point in some of the more epic moments that the system provided. Players were more cautious, grouped, or simply avoided higher level areas. It was harsh, but res (high level cleric res in particular), eventually necro corpse summons (no more lava corpses), and infrequent deaths all played a part in the experience.
People who didn’t play it may look at the description of the experience like it was some medieval torture implement, but the reality of it wasn’t nearly so bad.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

“What happens when you die” is only half the equation.  The other half, that nobody ever seems to talk about, is how common death is.  The death penalty in SWTOR may be light, but you know what?  A single night of progression raiding means I’m going to die well over 10 times, easy.  The repairs cost thus adds up.

On the other hand, something like Everquest may have had an incredibly hard death penalty, but death was also a lot rarer.  A death or two in a single play session would be a major catastrophe.

frzn
Guest
frzn

I think the two most important factors when thinking about death penalties are

1) players become risk averse in proportion to the harshness of the penalty
This means that death penalties need to be thought of in terms of how they’re going to change player behavior and so they need to be tailored to fit the kind of game being made.

2) less skilled the player is compared to the difficulty of the game the more likely they are to suffer the penalty
This means that you really have to think about the bottom of the skill pool more than the top when designing a death penalty.

I generally enjoy games that don’t shy away from difficulty too much such as dark souls and tsw, and those kinds of games only work when death penalties are minimal. In practice I find that in most games harsh death penalties tend to be exciting at first and quickly make the game more grindy and boring.

There are many exceptions though. Games like Xcom and Mordheim can be both difficult and have a strong death penalty because having a character die or get wounded changes up the gameplay rather that being purely a setback. Permadeath in games where starting a new character is a new experience (randomly generated content or characters) instead of repetition work the same way. What ubisoft is doing with the division’s dark zone is a pretty interesting because risk fluctuates constantly depending on what you’ve recently looted but you don’t have to be too risk averse because the equipment you’re actually using is safe.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

Samizdat Siphaed 
Maybe to you, sure.  However I clearly know the difference between an online persistent world game with thousands of players on a single shard (or more on mega-servers) vs. online inconsistent survival games with locked server populations at less than 100 each. 

Also, MOP is a blog and not a “news site”.  Articles here  are written by people with opinions and not just emotionless machines.  However the opinions in the article reflect a popular consensus among the majority of players within the MMO genre.  You personally may not agree with them, but that just means you’re in the minority.

Line with more hugs
Guest
Line with more hugs

I love permadeath. I love rogue-likes.
But that’s the problem: MMOs are made to be the absolute opposite of rogue-likes. Certainly not a self contained 20min experience, but hundreds of hours grinding shit while being semi-afk, and half away from your brain.
MMOs are not virtual worlds but time wasters, the mud-era cemented them as nothing more than that. Both Western and Eastern MMOs simply found success with shit to grind with abysmal drop/XP rates. 
Until MMOs become more than that, permadeath will never have any place in the genre.

Line with more hugs
Guest
Line with more hugs

Ket_Viliano Ironwu
Ever, Jane ain’t no WoW clone.
If you can only think about WoW when we remove the gankbox, that’s pretty sad.

Bannex19
Guest
Bannex19

I like the souls games version.
Every monster you kill gives you souls, the souls are used to strengthen your attributes. Harder monsters give more souls and if you die you lose your souls.
You have 1 chance to go get them and if you die again you’re SOL.
This adds a crescendoing effect to the stakes of the game. It also allows you to play a little reckless when you have no souls so its kind of a fluid model.

crackfox
Guest
crackfox

Dying in new and unusual ways earns you Death XP, which is important for learning Necromancy, among other things.I’ve never looked into PG before, but the idea of death as an alternative form of progression is really attractive. I’d really like to see more creative approaches to ‘death’ like this.Personally, I’ve never found any form of death ‘penalty’ to be unduly harsh – it’s just a feature of the game that I adapt to. And while I’m not by any means hardcore, when death is so meaningless that players use it as a form of quick travel I find myself missing the days of XP loss and corpse runs. I think even perma-death can have it’s place; in a game where XP accrues against the player rather than the character, the loss of an avatar would not be so harsh.

koryanders73
Guest
koryanders73

ThatLanteshGuy  I second that, I played ffxi for many years too and it is the only game I played where you hit level cap but have to buff your exp for “when you die”.

Ket_Viliano
Guest
Ket_Viliano

Ironwu  Not having those features is the recipie for a WoW clone, and we have seen how well that works out.

Peregrine_Falcon
Guest
Peregrine_Falcon

I believe that harsh death penalties significantly improve PUGs. At the same time if it’s too harsh then people will simply quit playing.
I would prefer something like: if your character dies then you can’t play that character for an hour unless another player (doc/medic/healer) picks up/rezzes your character.
This makes for a harsh death penalty that ‘wears off’ and also incentivizes teaming without requiring it.

BKone
Guest
BKone

Tsiya runebooks, they are blessed. Yw.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

For me, it’s the misery of defeat that helps me to avoid ingame death. And this method seems very effective for me, as I die very rarely…even in games with the most liberal when it comes to lack of penalties and ones I never played before.
As I am never sure why there’s a real obsession to make death penalties harsh. Players can only take so much of salt being rubbed into wounds. As I also have yet to see any real example of how this is supposed add incentive to avoid death. As death also often comes not a result of one’s own actions, but of someone else’s. But hey, that just maybe me.

Husvik
Guest
Husvik

Wiexlon Players today don’t ‘get’ it… that’s true, but it’s not their fault.

tilles87
Guest
tilles87

schmidtcapela Yeah, there have always been bad DMs and players who can’t stand failure. Fortunately I have a group that likes challanges. They’ve found even DCC RPG’s character funnel (where each player runs 3-4 zero level characters and the survivors will become level 1 adventurers) fun despite the large number of casualties. The whole campaign had 30 deaths under 20+ sessions. They could only resurrect one character, and even that one as a zombie, and died again one session later. It was a pretty crazy campaign.

Samizdat
Guest
Samizdat

Siphaed Samizdat “Survival does not equal MMORPG.”

That distinction is blurry and about as subjective these days as the rest of the article.

Pashgan
Guest
Pashgan

Even though it’s a small niche game Star Conflict should be mentioned because it has the most interesting scheme for open world: upon death player lose all (valuable) loot s/he has gathered but keep all equipment minus relatively small repair fee (1-20 minutes worth of farming). This way you can progress equipment, death is meaningful (you lose 5-100+ minutes worth loot), piracy is lucrative (5-100+ minutes worth loot drop upon death), people aren’t afraid to leave safe zones and nobody camp them because it’s pointless to kill empty ships.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

For me:

– Permadeath: in MMOs, it makes me not even bother looking further. I can accept it in some other games, if the game’s length is supposed to be small anyway, but never on a game meant to be played for dozens of hours or more.

– Every other kind of penalty: I look into how much time would be needed to not only be back into action, but to fully recover everything I lost in the death. If it’s more than 15 minutes or so, I very likely won’t bother with the game.

The why of that is because I like to keep pushing my limits. See if I can tackle alone that boss, find out how many mobs I can defeat at the same time, and a lot of other risky things. If I’m not dying at least a few times every play session, the game is too boring for me. Consequently, if dying a few times every play session wouldn’t be feasible due to the game’s death penalty, then the game simply isn’t for me.

ThatLanteshGuy
Guest
ThatLanteshGuy

Personally, after many years of exp loss and leveling down in FFXI, I’m over death penalties. Failure is enough of a punishment IMO. No need to stack more on top of that. Also having to tell people I couldn’t help them because I had to save my exp for Dynamis that night (because it was not *if* you die, it was *when* you die) was no fun. 

Call me a filthy casual if you must, but I’m done with all this hardcore penalty junk. Just let me hit the respawn button so I can go about my merry carebear ways.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

Samizdat Siphaed 
Survival does not equal MMORPG.  This article is talking on MMORPG terms (and so the context of my question resides). 
 And as far as most of those survival genre games, they’re niche popularities that shrink fast for the next FotM game in the same genre.  

ARK’s popular servers that last are the PvE servers that have specific non-PvP rulesets (like the MOP one).

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

tilles87 tylercles
And it often resulted in games where the DM would blatantly cheat for the players, removing risk and preventing them from ever truly risking death, because a player leaving the group if his character was killed wasn’t uncommon.

Heck, one of the main reasons for the existence of DM shields was to prevent players from seeing the DM’s dice rolls, so he could cheat as needed.

So, yeah, while I acknowledge their origin, I don’t think death penalties were a good idea even back then.

Tsiya
Guest
Tsiya

Nothing quite like a ghost run to find a healer, corpse run to your body, only to find a friggin lich looted your regs and you can’t recall out of wherever it is that got you killed in the first place. Thanks UO!

Samizdat
Guest
Samizdat

Siphaed Samizdat “Name one permadeath game/server that grew instead of shrank past it’s initial launch period.”

DayZ was a rather popular mod, if I recall correctly.

donweel
Guest
donweel

Robert80 solipsis
There are other options like rez cakes, hirelings, and if you are an artificer y your Iron Defender can run your stone back to a shrine. Also a rare item the Jack Jibbers blade you can get in epic 3barrel cove Tobias is an item you can equip while dead and turns you into an undead for one minute you can try to finish or grab soulstones and run.

tilles87
Guest
tilles87

tylercles Death penalties come from where many other elements of old MMOs were borrowed: tabletop rpgs. In D&D resurrection cost you a level and a point of Constitution. This was pretty harsh considering at low levels resurrection spells were unavailable, you didn’t raise your ability scores at level up, and there were monsters that drained ability scores and levels with their attacks.

Robert80
Guest
Robert80

Sixcess Michael18  I would note that permadeath is a perfectly fine system when you actually have advancement still.
The problem is that many people attach special meaning to their character and looks, so it turns them off.
I can understand that special meaning, while at the same time I find the idea of a system with permadeath and advancement on the account intriguing.

Robert80
Guest
Robert80

Permadeath… if done right could be cool.  I’ve played some interesting games where you continued to grow in power across characters while having permadeath, and just each new character was better than the last.
XP or Skill loss:  XP loss is not really cool in a themepark game.  Skill loss, in a skill system where it merely means you lose a tiny perk from the occasional death, or where it is a big penalty for being a rampant PK, fits well with sandboxes (which should never bother with levels imo.)
Corpse runs are just silly, but full looting is again a sandbox thing which fits well with a crafter-centric gear system.
Loss of a vehicle is pretty sensible for a space game.  Losing something nowhere near you when you die is not.  So long as the system is sensible for the game, no big deal.  That said, I don’t like the real-cash conversion stuff… and think it is probably one of my least favorite things with regard to EvE and property destruction.

Debuffs:  Again, where it makes sense these are fine.  Where it makes sense is, to be blunt, where you have other things you can go do that matter.  If all your progress is tied to combat, and you have a combat debuff, it is not acceptable.
Repair and Run:  Outside the boss fight thing, this system may as well not exist.  It’s so light you should just be able to pop up at the spot without worries at any time.  It simply doesn’t matter outside that.
Item Decay:  When used is great.  Death damage is silly to me, see like some extension of the may as well not be there part of Repair and Run.
Time Out:  It depends on how it is done and the game.  Outside PvP or boss fights, it is about as pointless as Repair and Run.
Creatives:  These can be really cool, and I would love to see more games add in cool ideas for failing at times like that.  Perhaps the single best idea that Project Gorgon managed to come up with (I love many of the ideas, but didn’t really feel it was anything more than another themepark with some glitz on it from them.)

Robert80
Guest
Robert80

solipsis  It is a mix of time out systems and corpse runs.  There used to be games that forced you to wait for other players to come along to help you.  It has largely gone to the wayside as many people don’t like to wait around like that.

Robert80
Guest
Robert80

Nakua  LiF also adds skill loss to this, and an injury/debuff.  The intent is to make death painful, but not overbearing.
The easily replaced gear, a bit of grind to get back the skills, and a short drop in ability from having died aren’t really a big deal, considering there is so much else to do… and that’s why I have been following it.
Personally, I think the injury system, and the need for time away from combat, is what really makes the game for me.  All too often it is a matter of constant action in PvP games, and you stockpile tons of stuff ahead of time and don’t take a break until one side runs out of stuff.  That’s annoying to me.
I like a lot of ideas in the other games, but at the same time dislike some of their stuff (especially when it comes to having the best stuff come from areas with competition required, meaning that anyone with the advantage gets more of an advantage.)  Still, I completely agree that for the most part the chance to break away from linear storytelling and do something with more of an actual virtual world feel is great.

Sixcess
Guest
Sixcess

Michael18  I’ve never delved into roguelikes but my curiousity is piqued now.
Yes, I was only referring to MMOs.  For non-MMOs it can work – XCOM feels like it was made to be played in its ironman mode (one save only that auto updates every turn) and I imagine there are other games out there with similar mechanics.
But in an MMO, with potentially 100s of hours sunk into it, no.  In those it can be an incredible experience, but not one to be repeated too often.

Wiexlon
Guest
Wiexlon

Ironwu Wiexlon I completely agree with all points. When EQ came out in 99, it truly boasted the MMO aspect and the RPG aspect of what we call MMORPGS. I haven’t felt the immersion that I did when I logged into EQ for the first time and really for the first year following EQ’s release. The immersion was driven by aspects like a legitimate death penalty. The non-penalties that we have for death in current games is just another step away from the MMO and the RPG for MMORPG’s. That’s just my opinion.

Michael18
Guest
Michael18

Sixcess 
“Permadeath will never work as a core game mechanic”
I guess you’re just thinking of MMOs here. But just in case kids are listening: there is an entire game genre entirely based on permadeath as a core mechanic: roguelikes. Most of those games even let you save only when leaving the game and delete the save file after loading (of course you can always cheat if it’s running locally; but roguleikes are often played on a server, even though they are single player games).

BTW: if anyone is interested in roguelikes or game mechanics in general, I can highly recommend the “roguelike radio” podcast (not affiliated with tehm)

playerxx
Guest
playerxx

Michael18 playerxx Well, I guess there ia always the chance that I will get reincarnated as a dog lol

Michael18
Guest
Michael18

playerxx 
“… IRL has permadeath too.”

How can you be so sure about that? :)

playerxx
Guest
playerxx

I hate permadeath in games because it reminds me that IRL has permadeath too.

All the time spend, all your progress gone out the window.

Sixcess
Guest
Sixcess

Permadeath will never work as a core game mechanic – even in the most niche of niche games the adrenaline rush would likely not survive more than a few rerolls.
Which is a shame.  The Ironman Challenge in WoW (self imposed player devised challenge with no specialisations, no gear better than grey or white, no potions, no professions, and permadeath) was one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had.  You really do play better when one mistake may well be your last.

sray155
Guest
sray155

aboomwithaview I’m not sure about how it is now, but after one of the things I found most remarkable about Wildstar when I was playing during the early days is that the mobs in the open world weren’t just standing around, waiting to bend over when they saw a player character coming, but actually relatively dangerous opponents. Not massive challenges, but actually able to kill a careless player who wasn’t aware of or ignoring  incoming attacks.

Nakua
Guest
Nakua

In games like Darkfall, UO, MO or LiF when you die you drop everything on the floor and also you gear decay.

This is the best way to handle death in my book, because death mean something, and you will fight for it, not just die and respawn without any penalty. No wonder that themepark have pratically no penalty on death because they are all gear based. But sandboxes are always player skills over gear, gear is easy to replace, and decay anyway overtime, so full loot make sense.

It all depend of the kind of mmorpg, in sandboxes work because their ruleset is different from a linear redundant themepark.

Ironwu
Guest
Ironwu

Wiexlon
EQ1 (classic) death penalties were indeed harsh.  But, the whole point of EQ1 (classic) was the promotion of the social aspect of the game.  Other players could ‘drag’ your corpse to a safe spot for you.   A good Cleric could rez you and significantly reduce the experience loss you would otherwise incur.  Players could re-equip and escort you so that getting to your body was a much easier task.
Players today don’t ‘get’ the sort of death penalties that EQ1 (classic) imposed because they don’t ‘get’ the social aspects of MMOs anymore.  Kind of sad, really.  It is the social aspect that kept MMO populations strong and healthy.  Nothing hurt WoW worse than the inclusion of the tools that tossed random people into groups to do dungeons.  Basically killed the need for a good guild to be part of, and made WoW into the Single Player Game it is today.
Just my 2c based on 16 years of playing MMOs.

Wiexlon
Guest
Wiexlon

EverQuest really got it mostly right. Not to nitpick Justin’s article, but there was no “Releasing” in EQ.  EverQuest really got it right. When you died, you respawned where you were last bound, which in turn, made the decision of where to bind an important one. After you respawn, you have a few obstacles and a few options. The first thing you needed to do is recover your corpse, which is probably near the feet of the monster that just killed you, and may be tucked away behind an obstacle course of mobs, if the death occurred in a dungeon. Retrieving corpses could be and often were/are dangerous adventures in themselves. Often you would need to request the aid of others to invis you or have someone drag or summon your corpse to a safe spot. Once you have your corpse at hand, you were half way to recovery. At this point you had lost experience that you needed to recoup, which could be done simply by spending time grinding it back through mob kills or you could request a resurrection from a class that had the ability (i.e. Clerics, high level Paladins, and Necromancers). 

There are more variables to consider here, but it required social interaction, which seems to be a scary prospect in MMO’s today, as contradictory as it sounds. Death in EQ wasn’t something to be taken lightly, but it wasn’t the end of the world either. That being said, the system wasn’t perfect and I would definitely change the recovery options to facilitate slightly easier recovery process. There were times where groups would die and spend hours/days working on corpse recovery, which just isn’t fun. There is a happy medium to be drawn. The one area where EverQuest succeeded and the games that followed closely behind it such as DAoC and WoW, was that it promoted group and player synergy. You were going to thrive if you worked with others.

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