The Daily Grind: Do you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?

Last week, I mentioned experience-loss-on-death in EverQuest that was particularly irritating when caused by so-called GM events. Yes, that was in the long long ago, and even annoying stepping stones like vitae penalty are far in the past. Even Ultima Online penalizes only your title of nobility when you fall. Modern MMORPGs simply don’t diminish your character that way when you die anymore. It’s obnoxious and silly in a gameworld where you have little control over things like lag, trains, and flaky group members.

And yet something my husband mentioned last night reminded me that other games do still punish you for failure, including games like Overwatch, where your rank (and your recent wins and losses) determine your future placement. As he pointed out to me, when he loses enough to slip down a tier numerically, the game gives him five more losses before stripping his rank entirely. This annoys me, and I don’t even play.

It sounds incredibly antiquated, but for ranked non-MMO games, I suppose it makes some sense. But maybe it’s just me. Would you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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91 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Do you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?"

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Christopher Pierce

The genre definitely needs some kind of death penalty that isn’t just a boot back to a shrine or the beginning of a dungeon. I’d prefer a corpse run of some sort or to drop some loot over XP loss.

Reader
Jeffery Witman

Why not bring back dropping all your possessions on death and permadeath, too? I’m sure there’s literally dozens of people who want that.

resharp2
Reader
resharp2

I don’t mind death penalties of some kind, but they should never make you loose a level! And in this day an age it’s likely to be, welp you died and lost a bunch of xp sucks, you can rez and get most it back for $5 please click here to pay.

Reader
Tia Nadiezja

No. No no. No no no no. No no no no no no no no. No.

Nope.

Just no.

No.

Why would you even ask this?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

No.

Ever since we lost a really good friend as a guildie in City Of Heroes largely because he wasn’t a great player, and racked up huge XP debt from dying a lot, I’ve been adamantly opposed to XP debt on character death in games.

Even though we held guild runs (unofficially) intended to get our pal out of XP debt — the game was fun to play together; we didn’t care — he’d play solo on his days off, and get right back under the debt again.

He was never really a computer gamer before CoH, so the semiotics of computer gaming (what things on the screen signify, et cetera) were never second nature to him.

He was learning, but it was a slow process, because computer game signs and signifiers were not automatic for him. He wanted to play CoH both because his friends were there, and because he was (and remains) a huge fan of superhero comics.

Eventually, he quit CoH because he felt ashamed that he couldn’t play the game as well as the rest of us — — so we basically lost out on continuing to game with a friend we liked because of an XP loss death mechanic.

My opinions, anyway,

Reader
Denice J. Cook

A lot of people quit CoH when WoW came along: Even experienced players don’t want to waste a lot of time working off XP debt. Heck, even CoH lessened that mechanic greatly over the years!

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William Bond

Nope

oh-thats-a-nopefish-they-can-be-found-in-the-27336237.png
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Utakata

Lol! :)

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Chosenxeno .

No. I am surprised people still think it was a “challenge mechanic”. It was nothing more than a way to keep you online. There’s nothing fun about losing “time investment”. It’s also not logical:

If I cut my hand while cutting an apple I don’t lose the EXPERIENCE of cutting an apple.

I don’t need games robbing me of time investment to convince me that I shouldn’t continue fighting that mob who one shot me.

Reader
Chris Brown-DeMoreno

God, yes! Play an MMO where everyone just runs around all lone wolf attacking anything that moves, wipes your party, and just laughs it off? That’s because there’s no consequences. Back in FFXI I had better parties than any other game ever because the fights were always intense, we worked together because we had to, bonded. I miss that.

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Fisty

Yes. I hate it, but I like the challenge.

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Dušan Frolkovič

I would not consider those two things the same.
Content can be challenging without xp penalties, it is how hard the content is.
The XP Penalty is the consequence of failing that content.

So i would even say XP penalties make games less challenging, because people will do everything to prevent the penalty (overlevelling, buff items, etc.) so the general difficulty level will drop.

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Fisty

I came up on MUDs and I’m okay with it. Shit, when we died all the stuff would be left on the corpse for the taking. Yeah, it’s a consequence, but that don’t make it not a challenge.

resharp2
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resharp2

My experience with MUDs was that you never lost enough xp to de-level you.

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Fisty

I didn’t say you de-leveled, not even sure the article was really talking about it, just xp debt, but there could be cases where you died repeatedly or at lower levels if you screw up a few times you could see it happen. Depends on the game. Some games I like the brutal treatment, it immerses me and I understand why people don’t. It certainly gets annoying sometimes.

Reader
Sally Bowls

My initial reaction was, in the vernacular of the interwebs, “OMFG, no! are you high?” :-)
The adult answer is that this has appeal for some but definitely not me. I don’t think this is mainstream anymore. But these days is there anything so niche a modern Barnum can’t extract some money via Kickstarter?

The interesting part is that this is once again a dichotomy between the virtual worlds of MMOs and true games which are fair and have explicit win conditions. In “all” other games your rating, but not your initial starting point of the next game, goes down when you lose, whether it is overwatch or FIDE Chess or PUBG or LoL or …

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

I would prefer the return of Challenge, as opposed to xp loss on death, that way gameplay would have the element of risk returned, whereas in the age of F2p games are typically so DUMBED down in terms of challenge you can only die by accident or intent.

Cadaver
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Loyal Patron
Cadaver

I never objected to xp loss, corpse-runs etc in old skool MMOs. Quite liked it, in fact. But that was another world. If a developer wanted to introduce more punishing death penalties today, it would just be another avenue for monetization. Life insurance consumables sold in the cash shop for real money. No thanks.

Nabe
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Nabe

I’m tentatively looking forward to pantheon, and so will have to accept something along these lines … I’m kinda hoping they go for more XP debt (and you advance at 1/2 rate, 1/2 going to the debt) rather than loss …

*But whatever you do don’t mention that or suggest anything that’s not identical to vanilla EQ1 in the subreddit or you’ll get a bunch of people telling you to go play WoW as the game isn’t for you (despite the fact they’ve not really mentioned how most stuff will be working yet)…*

Reader
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John Bagnoli

Of all the penalization systems of the early MMO days, I thought the xp debt system was the best. You didn’t really lose anything (future time I guess?) but it still encouraged you to play smart.

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Thomas Zervogiannis

Personally (and after being tired of the completely no-consequence dying and res-runs in GW2) I would not mind some form of loss in death, be it XP, in-game money, losing progress in the task at hand, or any other asset. They really are all just “in game” assets, that you get by spending time in the game, so I tend to value them all rationally as such:

(a) how much time do I need to get this loss back?
(b) will I have fun doing it?

I love games that have some measurable loss on death (it makes staying alive more meaningful and your achievements more impactful) especially if they can get (b) right.

But it really is just another design choice: some people want to kick back and play a relaxing game without worrying of dying, others want an adrenaline rush. So by having loss or not, the game just chooses its audience.

As others also mentioned, losing XP but not level is an important distinction, because you get a sort of “checkpointing” this way. You can only lose up to a certain amount, and this also affects how you decide to play.

Reader
Loyal Patron
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Bullwraith

No.

Reader
Paul

Heh, the SOTA devs should read this thread…

and No :P

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

Yes! But with Caveats …

One of the things I really like that Minecraft does is that experience is a bit like another currency to be bartered / spent. Older gens of D&D used to require experience for crafting magical items as well, (but I’m not sure if they still do).

It only makes sense to bring experience loss on death if we devalue the whole leveling system by saying that max level isn’t important and experience can increase and decrease by just playing game. If our experience points in game are fluid — growing and decreasing depending on the activities we take on, then experience loss on death makes sense and fits the meta of the world.

But trying to shoehorn it into something like WoW wouldn’t work because the whole game is structured around max level. Any attempt to add a death penalty in a game that has literally no penalty for dying at this point would cause so much nerd-rage.

It’s probably worth noting that I think the idea of levels are antiquated in their current incarnation as it is. I think there are better ways of representing player progression than a completely arbitrary number that’s incremented at another arbitrary point, which you gain by killing things that then award an arbitrary number of points … because levels.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

No

Better game design should warrant death being its own penalty. Having to create additional penalties on top of that, means you failed somewhere in the design stage.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

Aye. Dying in a game has always been its own punishment, in my opinion.

I don’t need the game to punish me to know that I failed.

Cheers,

Reader
Jon Sleeper

I remember going down a level in EverQuest due to that. Nope. Not ever again.

Reader
Armsman

In a word: “No.”

Back in my EQ days it never really added anything to gameplay and just made it harder to get a group together for challenging content. A game should be fun and not a job.

shazanti
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Kickstarter Donor
shazanti

I’m not bothered by xp loss, xp penalties, xp debt, but LEVEL loss due to xp loss has always bothered me. My actual worst experience with this was not losing my own levels, however. It was when I, as an EQ Necromancer, was de-leveling someone from max (at the time) level (60 or 65, I can’t recall, it’s been too long) down to the lowest level that the spell Sacrifice worked on: 45. He was a guildie, he was quitting the game, he was using this as a ‘Now I shall never return’ mechanic, and he wanted me to be well stocked on Essence Emeralds. I felt really horrible the entire time I was doing that… because he was a guildie & a friend, he was leaving the game, and I was the cause of so much xp loss, even though the character was going to be ‘dead’ anyway.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’d vote a definite YES to the return of xp loss. Lack of penalties allows you to try things you might consider too risky otherwise, which isn’t always a bad thing. But I’ve also seen it breed a mindset that I’d rather avoid in the games I play. So, perhaps, for me… case by case basis?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

If I wasn’t on my phone, I’d go find the “nope nope nope” octopus gif.

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Schmidt.Capela

.

nope.gif
Reader
Stropp

Cthulhu thanks you

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

Thank you kind sir!

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

XP Dept ah the good old days of mmo’s. I remember it well. I wouldn’t mind if it came back. It made you pay attention to what you were doing.

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Robert Mann

Yes and no. I do think there needs to be some method of lag mitigation on it, at the VERY least. Until that happens, level system games should avoid it, although other death systems could be cool.

I believe that some games should have it be rougher to die. Some games should not. Diversity, again, is a strength that developers/publishers seem committed to avoiding.

My short list of very bad places/ideas for this, no matter what, are: PvP (especially at max level this seems like a direct conflict,) level loss, or anything that blocks off content.

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Marvin Marshall

I am fine with exp loss on death if:

-You can’t be de-leveled.
-There was a resurrection system in place that could mitigate most of the loss.

The first part would encourage more risks after leveling-up. The second part can be handled by having classes in the game that have the skills to resurrect & mitigate most of the loss.

Richard de Leon III
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

I dont mind xp loss, I do mind level loss.

Reader
TheDonDude

I don’t mind XP debt a la City of Heroes provided it doesn’t screw with the zone progression. i.e. you don’t want scenarios where dying a bunch means you run out of missions to do, or never dying means you over-level everything.

Also it was kinda irrelevant at max level.

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David Goodman

Losing rank isn’t the same as losing XP.

Let’s leave this mechanic in the garbage bin where it belongs.

Reader
traja

My favorite death penalty ever was the XP debt system in CoH. It was like rested XP only reverse. You would never go backwards in progression but man could it sting to have to work off half a level of debt. It wasn’t overly brutal but it wasn’t inconsequential either like modern death penalties are.

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steve

I must be one of the few who didn’t mind. I was a cleric (read: sadomasochist), and broken windows were good for business.

I don’t want to see XP loss return, but I hate the WoW-style approach even more.

Reader
jay

Heh it’s been so long since I died in wow, outside of a raid, that I can’t remember what the death penalty/system even is now

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

I have this ridiculous habit of dying from falling off things in the games I play. It happens so often, I think I may need to worry. :-D

Cheers,

Minimalistway
Reader
Minimalistway

There is always a place for any kind of mechanics, old or new, tedious or not, it depend on the game, some games should have it, the kind of game which make some people get excited by the idea of hardcore leveling or playing, punishment for “failing”.

MMOs could use some of these harsh rules in some servers, give players a different kind of realm or server, with different set of rules, people who enjoy challenge will play them.

CapnLan
Reader
CapnLan

Oh my god no. Five years of FFXI taught me better. One of the main issues that came up was having to “save” your exp for end game events. It wasn’t a matter of “if” you died, it was a matter of “how many times” you died.

I remember having to turn down helping others because I had to save my exp for Dynamis runs. If I didn’t do that then I ran the risk of losing my levels when I died. I would also have to go and grind to regain any lost exp so I would have a buffer for the next time which also meant I didn’t have the time to help out others. If I lose my max level then I couldn’t use my top end gear which meant that I was significantly weaker and therefore not able to contribute to the fights as well as I used to. It because a very selfish game on the high end because my entire cycle became centered around losing and regaining exp. I kept that going until it wore me down and I quit.

Any game that has exp loss mechanics is a game that I will not play. Not anymore.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

XP-loss-on-death? Yes, Please!

XP-LOSS-ON-DEATH, YESPLEASE!.gif
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Arcanum Zero

I think MMOs do the community a disservice by trying to be all things to all people. I have this suspicion that most MMOs fail because they try to bring in everybody and in the process they create something that no one is excited about enough to actually pay for.

Some games ought to have no death at all, others ought to have permadeath, and still others should have some kind of lasting death punishment.

Answering the question specifically, I don’t think XP loss is the answer, but I do think death in MMOs has been nerfed into meaninglessness. I’ve never found gear repair costs to be onerous (of course, I’ve never been a raider), and while corpse runs are definitely suitably annoying, they generally aren’t long enough to be really punitive.

Some part of me would actually prefer an XP loss or an XP debuff to corpse runs because at least while I’m getting additional XP I am still playing the game. Navigating back to my corpse is not playing the game, it’s just wasted time.

When I think about FFXI, what annoyed me about death in that game was not so much the XP debuff as how impossible it was to escape combat once it was initiated. Monsters would chase you for miles. I spent too much of my time in that game skirting widely around monsters and hoping they wouldn’t aggro, and that’s no way to play an MMO.

It’s a complex question.

Zeph
Reader
Zeph

Item loss I’m fine with, if the game is designed for it, but character development ought to be permanent.

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Zen Dadaist

Yuck, no.

It’s only passably tolerable in Anarchy Online because it’s not permanently lost – it goes into a sort of reserve pool and as you gain xp you get back what went into that pool. You can pester a Bureaucrat for the XP regain perk and aura to speed up getting it back too. But even this only gets a pass because it’s a very old game.

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Reginald Atkins

no.

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Tithian

Hell no. Games like Overwatch are not MMOs, the point is to gain (and lose) rank depending on your performance. It’s an online competition of skill. I don’t mind corpse runs etc. but being severely penalized due to player interaction is the last thing a successful MMORPG wants. If I wanted that, I’d play EVE.

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chriskovo .

No I hated COH for doing that and made me not want to play it. I resented the fact that I was not leveling as fast and every time I died it made it worse. Made me not want to play the game at all

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Rheem Octuris

I’d like a game that’s mmo like, but when you die your character is reincarnated back at level 1, but the xp you gained levels up the class instead, making you stronger and increasing the amount of xp you get, so you’d be stronger and would be able to catch up back quicker. Character death would be inevitable, but in the long run makes you stronger. So you’re progressing through death. Add in unlockable classes and I think it could be quite popular.

(This would of course be a PvE game with optional PvP for those who wanted it.)

Reader
Armsbend

I think that’s a pretty cool idea honestly.

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Armsbend

The harsh reality is that the carebear (sorry for using the grating term but everyone knows what it means) mentality has taken the competitive people out of the genre – which has ultimately damaged it. Probably beyond repair.

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Utakata

In some ways that could be viewed as a good thing. :)

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Jon Wax

How? Seriously how?

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Schmidt.Capela

If you need to ask, you likely wouldn’t understand it.

(And yeah, I mean it. Different people prefer different features in the games they play, so if you can’t readily see how not having to cater to competitive people makes the game as a whole more enjoyable for non-competitive people, chances are good you can’t fathom why non-competitive people dislike things you see as beneficial or even essential.)

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Utakata

…not to mention, with a enough love of PvP and such, the competiveness never really went away nor was ruined. But that might be another argument altogether. :)

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

No, and I don’t see the point of ever doing that. You can easily achieve same level of “punishment” by doing things like severe damage to your gear (which you must repair by spending in-game currency) upon your character’s death or for more severe “punishment” can simply let anyone (including NPCs) steal some of your gear from your dead body.

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Utakata

In theory there should be more experience gain, as one’s character would avoid whatever she or he killed them in the first place. It’s called a life learning moment. And is entirely counter intuitive to experience loss after death.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Never. Even my old home on TorilMUD, which was the model for EverQuest, gave up the exp loss on death thing. Undoing a night’s work with a death or, worse, losing a level, are not things to which I care to return.

Line
Reader
Line

lolno

But I’d like to see different mechanics applied to “XP”.

I love rogue-likes, and I kinda want to see more games using such concepts. Certainly not a permadeath full loot MMO, but more randomness and variety in activities, where defeat mean an actual loss… but where you constantly make progress toward a future goal, unlocking more things along the way. You need to be able to tell yourself “shit I lost, just one more round” instead of “POOPOO U NOOB HULKSMASH /ragequit”.
… but you’d need more variety and more reasons to replay content instead of the gear treadmill.

So “lolno” because MMOs lost what playing for fun is, I guess.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

Yes. Or to be more precise, not necessarily exp loss but.. I want deaths to have Consequence so it matters how I play – There are many mechanics to pick from (and just to be clear, a 2 min corpse run/downtime or other mild inconvenience is not something I consider a significant consequence).
It is all that thing about connecting to your character, feeling of accomplishment, challenge, caring about what you do and all that old school yadda no one cares about anymore.

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Zora

Progression is a function of time invested and my time is more precious than my money…if you rob me of the time and effort I invested as a mechanic to keep me play (and subscribe) for longer, you are not going to see me playing at all!

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Melissa McDonald

Corpse runs? Sure. Recover gear? Sure. Losing XP, even losing a level you just gained, and its commensurate spells and skills? NEVER.

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Bruno Brito

Not in a million years.

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roo woods

I wouldn’t mind it if it’s from PVE but I wouldn’t want it in a pvp situation .

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

NFW

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