Global Chat: Why Wizardry Online’s permadeath was a good idea


Here’s an MMO and a feature both long since deceased: Wizardry Online and permadeath. Yet as JVT Workshop argues, it was an underappreciated feature in an MMO that didn’t get much play back before it was shut down in North America.

“There was a permadeath system in place that really put you on edge when exploring a new zone or even traversing an old one,” he wrote. “The idea that your next death could be your last really pushed you to ask yourself if you really wanted to try fight those three monsters for a treasure chest, or if you should keep delving deeper despite already being wounded. All that, and it wasn’t even guaranteed permadeath — just the threat of it was effective enough.”

As we mull over outdated systems and games, let us turn to other MMO blog essays this week, touching on Torchlight Frontiers, player housing, EVE Online’s current population, the troubles of Bless Online, and more!

Occasional Hero: Things I want from a Torchlight MMO

“Even though we don’t have a whole lot of information right now, I’m really excited for this game. I had given up hope of ever seeing this when Torchlight’s studio Runic announced they were closing, but in retrospect, that was just making way for this (probably to give PWE more direct input on the game, for better or for worse).”

Unidentified Signal Source: Something new — Bless Online

“Now, I can see why many people aren’t super thrilled with this game. Optimization is an issue. I’m constantly tweaking settings trying to get it to run smoothly. I suspect it may be more a resource loading issue, as it seems to develop a stutter randomly and for no apparent reason.”

Psychochild: Why Storybricks failed

“I think one fundamental problem is that we had no idea how to market Storybricks. We might hate marketing, but the reality is that people need to be aware of something and need to understand why it exists for them to be interested. The idea of building a product and people just showing it because it’s good just doesn’t happen. So the reality is that we need marketing as long as people aren’t going to go out of their way to find these theoretically good products they want.”

The Ancient Gaming Noob: How many people play EVE Online?

“We know that the player base is greater than the concurrent users online because not everybody is logged in together, and all the more so for a server that hosts a world-wide player base. So the simple answer seems to be to find the ratio of concurrent users to know player base from the past to see what numbers that gives us now.”

Moonshine Mansion: Player housing wishlist

“You don’t have to be anywhere near the endgame to unlock housing in WildStar, and it doesn’t cost very much to get started. I know WoW loves to add features specifically for new expansions at the level cap, but housing should be something like pet battles, that everyone can hop into right away. Save some fancy decor until higher levels if you have to, but at least let folks get their foot in the door early.”

Contains Moderate Peril: Progressing through Mordor

“A player can grind quests to get gear to convert to ash, but lootboxes offer a ‘far quicker solution.’ I suspect that we are now finally seeing the consequences of Standing Stone Games ‘business relationship’ with the Daybreak Game Company.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Robert Mann

Permadeath is still an interesting idea, but it needs a few things to stop some of the biggest unfair deaths that exist in MMOs to date if it is ever going to be accepted. Because the moment you have a disconnect and come back to your character being gone, people will quit.

The biggest thing that permadeath really needs is a reason not to be too upset. Things like dying while pushing a challenge should be rewarded more via some mechanic, for example, than dying because you wanted to jump off a cliff. That in itself needs abuse prevention to keep players from rushing off to a boss to die, though, so balancing it must be carefully done.

Anthony Clark

I won’t play any title with permadeath. End.

Link Elahrairah

to clear any misconceptions of the game, it was advertised very poorly, and before playing if someone told me these mechanics worked on an mmo i would laugh at them, but this game is truly special and i couldn’t praise the original devs more highly for such a phenomenal job.

The pvp was so incredibly fair, it felt very justified when you die, no zergy, flashy bullshit screen killing people here, player attacks, if it doesn’t make visual contact then no damage.

it was hard for a player to be erased btw, it comes from true neglect, or several conspiring players attempting to create a very special condition to erase somone, even still the soul remains intact.

Losing a character would suck, but in this game your soul is much more valuable.

Also long term custom class building?!
everyone has their own way of fighting, it’s fantastic.

I took part in us/eu cbt,obt, and launch.
ru obt
and jp launch

if anyone has any questions about this incredible game i would be more than happy to share what i can.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Nope. Permadeath in stand alones, okay. Permadeath in hack n slash co-op RPGs, okay.

In an MMOs where there might be lag, stutters, sudden server disconnects. Ugh, no.


Permadeath is great for a roguelike, where you’re playing a bunch of complete games in a short period of time, but permadeath in a MMO that you’ve invested tens or hundreds of hours in, paying as you go?

No emm effin’ way!


I’m a fan of roguelikes so permadeath doesn’t bother me, as long as the game is designed around that in it’s progression system. Adding open world pvp into that mix was what killed it for me.

Pick one or the other not both.


Permadeath prevents people from taking on exciting tough content. They inch through it carefully, trying only to fight the fights they are guaranteed to win. You don’t push the edge in your fights, you don’t try for the super hard exciting fights, you play carefully.

With an MMORPG especially, your character takes a lot of time to build. Most people simply don’t want to take the chance to lose everything.

There are a few fast action games that have permadeath contests, which is a totally different thing.

Actually the most popular of games that have a permadeath option (Path of Exile) you don’t actually lose your character, you’re just kicked out of the permadeath league and your character becomes a normal character. And it’s just an option to play in even then.

And those games like Path of Exile, Realm of the Mad God, Survived By, they aren’t MMORPGs really. They’re games you can go through things very quickly in – and even then you are earning stuff in all of them and don’t just lose it all like in Wizardry.

It’s simply not something in an MMORPG that people enjoy or want to take the chance of. I get that there are lots of people and everybody finds different stuff fun, but that’s *extremely* niche and more of something that should be an option with a special server than what your entire game is built around.

And as mentioned permadeath makes your play *less exciting* instead of more exciting because you just don’t chance fighting on or going over your head.

Who wants to go on those big exciting super tough fights that could wipe everybody out if there’s a chance you’re going to have your character wiped? No, you’ll build up until the fight is an easy fight and not an exciting one.


From Psychochild’s blogpost about Storybricks:

But on the other hand there’s still some stigma surrounding failure: was someone just not good enough to succeed? We lionize the person who takes a risk and succeeds, seeing them as bold people fighting against the current; but the person who took those same risks and failed before that “visionary” are forgotten at best, or belittled at worst because they should have known that risk was too foolish.

Couldn’t be more true!

Wilhelm Arcturus

Sort of true. Hindsight is an exact science, so you can always find somebody who claims that those who succeeded didn’t do anything special because of how obvious it seemed after the fact.

Kickstarter Donor

Permadeath is up there with PvP: it’s not for everyone. Was never a big fan of permadeath.

Danny Smith

I liked Wizardry. It reminded me of Demon’s Souls in a way. The trap mechanic was fun and a shame i haven’t seen anything outside FFXIV’s deep dungeons use it in a fun way since and the idea of a family line meant it wasn’t the “OMG SO HARDCORE” type of permadeath and just meant really you rarely werent working towards something.

But i’m a sucker for games that pass time by making you play descendants which i was a little bummed fable cut out mid development. Taking up the sword of your fallen hero ancestor is a cooler idea than respawning at a graveyard to me.