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Death penalties - R
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 6:24 am    Post subject: Death penalties - R Reply with quote


<Enquillion> I think I'll make a narcissistic thread now
<Enquillion> I'll add the -R myself


As some of you may have noticed, I haven't made any suggestions myself, though I haven't held myself back from commenting those of others. One of the reasons has been that I believe that they already have upcoming systems in their dev plan that they won't change before they've been tested. However, seeing as Kinten encouraged suggestions, I'll shoot for this one.

I'll be using this thread for reference in my suggestions here. That discussion spanned over nine days, and many important points were brought up. However, few have been willing to read it all through (right, Kalorian?), so I will try to make a summary here. Maybe some new faces will join the discussion?

End prologue

In pretty much all MMORPG's, death is discouraged in one way or another. Be it through experience loss, money loss, equipment loss, stat penalties, permanent death, an aggravating way of getting back to life, or what have you.

What's important to take into consideration is the purpose of the death penalty. Now, I don't want to sit here making continuous references to how things worked in Akarra, seeing as an ever-increasing portion of the community and the development team have never played it.

What's important, then? Death has to be feared in two contexts: PvP and PvM (Player vs Player and Player vs Monster).

In the former case, it could be less harsh if you died in an arena or so, where you're supposed to be fighting. However, in guild wars (not to be confused with the MMORPG), respawning and joining the fray 2 minutes later at full strength - and being able to do so over and over as your playing time permits - really ruins a lot of things, such as the importance of strategy, and power becomes equal to persistence. Also, grief players need to be put out of action in one way or another.

In the latter case, PvM, it has a similar purpose: Make sure people just don't bang their heads into a wall until it falls. There's an aspect of PvM that doesn't count for PvP however, and that is making monsters attack other players. How does this relate to death penalties? Read and find out.

We glanced upon many systems in the discussion on the Akarra boards, mainly semi-finite lives and stat penalties. I will, however, comment on all of them.

Experience loss

PvM - Rather effective. You kill monsters for experience, so you'll refrain from nullifying your efforts by biting off something you're not too sure you can chew. However, at higher levels, this penalty becomes silly as a death may very well nullify the efforts you've made in three days.

PvP - Unless it's implemented the way it is in FFX-I (that's the name?), where you can also lose levels, instead of just losing a portion of the experience you have accumulated between your current level and the next one, this is rather useless. Powergamers will refrain from doing PvP unless they have just gained a level or are very confident that they'll win.

If you can also lose levels, it's powerful for sure. However, grief play? If you always lose experience to death, someone can keep killing you to make you lose ridiculous amount of levels. And if it caps out? Well, then that guy can keep killing people once it has capped out for him, seeing as he can't lose anything else.

Money loss

PvP - Useless. Ever heard of banks?

PvM - Still the banking issue. Who would carry a fortune into battle if they didn't have to?

Yeah, this assumes we'll have banks. But even if not, money can be transferred. If this as well is prohibited... well, I doubt it will, I even doubt the banks won't be there, so I'll not take the possibility into consideration.

If money lost is deducted from your bank account as well (compare this to your private stash in Diablo 2, you don't drop any of that money when you die, but you may lose some of it), then it's a matter of making money important. Inflation... it's all around us.

Equipment loss - Dropping the item

PvP - Powerful, but very abusable. Someone has an item you want? Get three friends and gang up on him. It goes from fear to paranoia here.

PvM - Not really useful, unless monsters eat swords or your party consists of greedy bastards who steal what you drop.

You also can't call it a night if you decide you're tired of DoD for the moment and want to go to bed. You have to run in and get your gun back (Agent K, MIB ^^). This applies for some other systems as well, and well, you might consider it a valid fear of death...

It's also very restrictive on exploring if you die, drop your sword, then go back and try to retrive it, die and drop your armor... just because you explored the wrong dungeon.

Equipment loss - Losing the item

PvP - Ditto, but it turns from greed to malice, or jealousy to envy (that almost made it sound good). Anyway, same problem as above.

PvM - Pff. Nobody would group with strangers if they risked such severe penalties to death.

Perform a task to return to life

PvP - Of course this is a very vague description, but in PvP it will be a matter of how fast this task can be performed so that you can rejoin the fray.

PvM - Again, just a matter of how fast it can be performed. This is a pseudo-experience and money loss, seeing as you can't grind spawns while doing whatever you have to do to return to life.

I find that these systems are dull and boring. Especially since, to powergamers, they're all about getting through as fast as possible, which means that they are in practice just a short period of time during which you can't do combat. All in all, it's still the "persistence equals power" issue.

Stat penalties

This was one of the two major systems we discussed. I'll derive most of this part from toothpix's (LookinToDie) summary, but only the parts that belong to this system.

Upon death and being of the appropriate level (be easy on the newcomers - of course you can do this with any system), you incur a temporary penalty to your attributes. This would cap out at a certain %. The main issue here is, that while the stat penalties are cumulative until you've hit the cap, how should the timers work?

There would also be some "free" deaths for lagspikes and such.

PvP - Of course this is rather powerful and winning the first battle (free deaths put aside) might as well mean you win an entire guild war. A grief player could be beaten down to the point where his own victims would defeat him, if the cap was high enough.

PvM - Again, it's all about the first battle - though monsters don't have stat penalties, duh. But, if you can't beat the monster the first time, you're probably better off not trying again unless you have a very good strategy in mind, seeing as you'll grow continuously weaker with each defeat.

One aspect of stat penalties is that they force you to keep secondary equipment around, or get like +10% the attributes required for your equipment, so that you can still use it even with a few deaths.

The cumulative-or-not timer is a great issue. Take grief playing for example. Some idiot goes on a killing spree, but is brutally put down by the angry mob and loses 50% of his attributes, making him harmless. However, say that each time you die, you get a 5% stat penalty which you get back one hour later. If you die twice, with 5 minutes between the two deaths, will it take 1:55 or 1:05 before you've fully recovered?

Former case: People wouldn't try the same thing twice. 10% stat penalty, nearly 2 hour recovery time? "I'll play an alt..."

Latter case: The grief player just needs to wait 1 hour from his last death before he can grief play again.

I don't like how this is all about the first battle. The free deaths are good, but sort of contradictive, and a tad similar to the next system...

Semi-finite lives

In this system, you may only die so many times at a certain level before your character becomes temporarily unplayable.

- When your character is created, you have infinite lives, are immune to PvP and monsters only hunt you 1/4 the distance (so you can't lure them onto people with finite lives).
- When your character hits a certain level, x, you may choose to convert to the finite lives system. Doing so will make you fully available for PvP, it will allow you to do more quests, aggressive monsters will hunt you the full duration, and it will allow you to heal/get healed by others with finite lives. Of course, you also get finite lives.
- When your character hits a certain level, y, it will be automatically converted to the finite lives system if this hasn't happened earlier.
- Alternatively, the PvP level may be higher than the finite lives level. I suppose that keeping the "luring level" (where monsters hunt you for the full duration) at the same level as the PvP would be the best.
- The algorithm for determining the maximum amount of lives is a hot topic. Subject to heavy tweaking.
- If you die (to PvP or not) when you're at finite lives, you lose a life, duh. When you run out of lives, you can't play your character for so long. For example, 24 hours. After this time, your character returns with max lives.
- The replenishment of lives is slower when you haven't run out of them. One suggestion is that you may choose to put your character in hibernation mode, to make them regenerate lives at a faster pace while being unplayable.
- You don't lose money upon death to monsters. When you die, and when you log in, you are informed of how many lives you have left. You can easily check this at any time by typing "/lives". Visual indications to having few lives left may be necessary.

This system is my favorite. I find it friendly to many kinds of players, and easily tweaked by the devs. If you're a casual player, you should run a smaller risk to die away your lives, 'cause you don't play enough to do that. However, your lack of manual experience will make you die more than a seasoned player who spends a lot of time playing. These players, on the other hand, naturally expose themselves to more hazards by playing more, but are more capable to deal with them. The devs can tweak it by either changing the algorithm that determines how many lives you have at each level, or by changing the passive replenishment ratio.

You are also not instantly punished for a "stupid" death, especially one caused by a lagspike...

PvP - It's very simple here. Each life counts. Use it well. One way of abusing it, is of course to kill someone till they're out of lives. It's important to take into consideration when setting level y that it needs to be a level where a player has friends and contacts who can help them escape these situations. And if they're running around with 1 life left, they're obviously not getting the hang of "fear of death".

PvM - Similar to what I said three paragraphs above. If you play a lot, you'll learn more, have less deaths per time unit, but play more time units, so it evens out. If you play a little, you'll learn less, have more deaths per time unit, but play less time units. Easily tweaked, I repeat, easily tweaked.


Of course, you may also combine some of these penalty systems to create hybrids. These may be the answer? Toothpix mixed his stat penalties with both money loss and a cooldown before you could do combat after death, but I've been typing this post up for let's see, nearly a hundred minutes. It's too much if I have to think of all the combinations as well.

Some final words

I copied some of this right off the reference thread, or didn't copy but more or less just rewrote it, and in some cases, elaboration may be needed, elaboration that I didn't include because it was obvious to me, seeing as I frequented that thread. So, ask ahead if anything is unclear.

Take the chance to discuss this now, lest you get a death penalty system you hate, simply because you didn't take the time to voice your opinions about how they should be.

Your board.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very good/thought out post I will be making some comments on what has been stated here. This is definently touchy ground as a designer and developer. You must put yourself in the players shoes as well as your own. You don't want to make a system that totally freaks out the player about death, nor do you want a system where a player can "beat his head against a wall" until either the creature dies or he has to log out. More comments in the future.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was hoping I'd get some more replies to this. I tried to trim some fat off, while presenting all the non-hybrid systems I could think of. I'm all for the semi-finite lives system - it's the most "developed" system in my post, since I've given it way more thought than the others.

Glad you like it, Kalorian, but I doubt I've given you nothing but ideas here, rather than the opinions of others than myself. :/
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I really like the semi-finite lives system and think it would work really good in a game like this. However, if money isn't lost when dieing there will be lots of money on the market and there might be a risk that prices will go up pretty fast. So such a system also means that the economy system has to be tweaked to suite the death penalty system. Well of course it has to be either way, but it has to be taken into consideration.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, ok. Money can still be lost, but not dropped.

This is to avoid really pointless deaths for trying to retrieve a pile of coins in the middle of a spawn that just owned you in 2 seconds.

That part was just there to indicate the change from the current system in Akarra. It's nothing of particular importance in this one, though I by all means do not want to see additional deaths due to retrieving coins, items, corpse... horse.

If you're simply exploring, and get killed because you were exploring the wrong dungeon, you should not be forced to find your way back to the spot where you died and likely die again. Respawn, notice you lost a life, and travel elsewhere.

This is sort of a key rule when using this system. Thanks for pointing it out, so that I could clarify.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good, good. I think it's plain to see that this is well thought out.

I have some thoughts though related to this:

Concerning the money loss penalty, I find it very unrealistic if you would lose money while it's stored in a bank/stash. Unless of course, it's a small fund for getting resurrected by the resurrector. The number could be higher according to your level, the higher the level the more power it takes to resurrect you and the caster should have a benefit from it so he asks permission at the bank keeper to take away a small donation from your account or the coins you have in your pockets so his service isn't going to die out...
After all, there should be someone to resurrect you.. someone near every obelisk, maybe?

Performing a task to return to life..
Let's see if i can help a bit.
Hm, you could be send to a different plane. In that plane you must stay for a period of time, the penalty for losing all your lives.
You must prove yourself to be both capeable and worthy to return to your body. Whatever those quests could be to prove yourself, it should be random. Or you must just stay there for a period of time and complete quests to your own liking.
Wether what this plane should be, see it as a pitstop between being dead and alive, or the world and hell/heaven. If you would have an alignment the evil players would be send to the pitstop to hell and the good players to the pitstop of heaven. Or just both in one plane.
I think this is quite original and as far as my concern it hasn't been done before.

Either way, the system you describe Enquillion is very good and I support the fact mostly everything should be implented.

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Brother of Justice..

AKA Symbiont..
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job putting this one big post together Enq! Wink

We've once spent quite some time discussing death penalties, so just a few points:

- very few people will appreciate temporarily non-playable characters.. maybe only mothers of children who play games instead of doing homework ;F

- xp loss is a really effective way to force players to think a bit before rushing into battle, though there's still the problem of PvP.

- cash and equipment drops.. whatever way the devs see fit, as long as noone gets a big advantage over others.

- respawn quests? Sounds really boring to me...
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yay, replies!

Now let's see, in proper order... Archosseus first.

Money loss even though it's stashed, well that's just the counter to banks. In Diablo 2, it worked this way (remember to not mix up dropping with losing):

Die, lose x% (varies with difficulty IIRC) your total money (inventory + stash), in first hand deducted from your inventory. If you still have money in your inventory after this, this is dropped as well.

In Diablo 2, your stash was easily accessed (Town Portal from pretty much anywhere), so it would just be too easy if no gold could be deducted from it. Not that gold was too important...

Quest to return to life after you've run out of them? Well, that hybrid I don't really like. It falls down to how fast you can complete the quest, and it's infinite lives, just you throw in a little cooldown every now and then for that quest.

I don't like the thought of a quest for returning to life, 'cause these become tedious. The horrible memories of being jailed in Ashen Empires...

Now... toofpicks...

Well, if it's just about idling, I'm sure we can throw in some spirit form or whatever that will allow you to stay in a town and talk. Not that there's a big difference between this and changing to an alt. A harmless character can't griefplay. And as for spamming, well, check my signature. ;P

You have to keep in mind that this system encourages you to play other characters for other reasons than losing all your experience towards next level, or an item you spent a week getting. No, not when you are out of lives, but when you are low on them. Enter hibernation mode or just don't touch them, play an alt and enjoy the game without the feeling of "Sigh, I guess sooner or later I'll have to return to that messed-up character." Yet, you can still log that character in (provided you didn't enter hibernation mode) to deal with a grief player who is no match for that character, or to help a friend get items/gold/levels. The trick is to not use those last lives in dangerous situations. Isn't that good enough fear of death?

Though there are tons of angles from which to approach this, and tons of contexts that it applies to... you can't promote stupidity at every given turn. People sticking out their necks when they have 1 life left, deserve to be punished. ;P
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I've seen, the semi-finite life system is probably the best there is. You don't run the risk of screwing your character up, due to being brave, or stupid, or both, and it has flexibility to a degree that you can have a few accidents and still play, and those that are being general annoyances can be put out of the game for a bit. The few tweeks I've encountered with this system is a hibernation mode to regain lives (but only after you have none left), wishing wells to gods where you drop in and 'lose' an item in exchange for more lives in game, buying off clerics, and gaining levels...

I've always understood the dropping of items and the losing of money to represent your lifeless body being looted while you're dead. Items and money can be recovered. It's just an annoyance at best. Of course, some people have issues with possibly losing hard earned items...
This change isn't because of Kal's request to change it, it's to tell the community that I'm pissed at him because he fucked me over by not sticking up for me when he should have, instead he blasted me. I have no problem with Daria or any of it's other staff. It was changed in response to his lies about fixing it, which he did NOT do.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a whole lot for me to comment on other then to say that although I haven't tried the semi-finite life system. It sounds like the best to me as well. The way Enquillion described it, it's sounds like a decent system that would probably work well in DoD world.

Btw, nicely written into post there Enq. Cool
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