They ARE out to get you!

One big topic of discussion when it comes to any MMO game is its “death penalty”. Mostly this is because people want to know, up front, what’s going to happen when they are too stupid to live, but the other side of this is that most MMOs are specifically designed to kill you.

Its the one thing I find lacking in online games as oppose to the pen and paper games I enjoy with my friends. Yeah, Brian is actually out to kill us too, but he’s generally nicer about it so that at least in part its our own damn fault. But in online games, there are so many encounters that get designed to be killers, to the point where playing a game is more of an exercise in triage than an adventure. You can hear it in the uber guilds as they lay out their tactics in which they are actually calculating losses. “When the first tank goes down…” Not IF the tank goes down, WHEN.

To a degree, this is acceptable, when you are leading an army against a god, you should have some fatalities, but this attitude leaks over into groups as well, and sometimes you can even see that it leaks into the developers as they design expansions. Of course, the developers may just be reacting to player tactics.

But, is introducing permanent death and encouraging player fear of death the answer?

Well, yes. But not alone. The best thing about real life is that not everything kills you, even muggers. Sometimes you just get hurt, incapacitated and left alone. This should happen more in games. Why is everything not only out to get me, but wants to kill me and lick my bones clean? Why can’t some of them be happy with knocking me unconsious, stealing my money and leaving me pantsless in the woods?

I think designers really need to get more creative with defeat. Death shouldn’t be the only answer.

One comment

  1. […] I want to touch again on ”the Death Mechanic”. No, that is not a new horror film, nor is it a job title. It is the unfortunate moniker given to the question “How does your game handle player defeat?” Sadly, too many games have, possibly due to the moniker, limited this to player death. And so, as I’ve said before, I feel games need to feature alot more variety in player defeat so that not everything equates to death. One specific thing I would like to see in games, especially in PvP, is player defeat resulting in a temporarily unconscious/immobile player who then returns to full health but with a penalty, like a limp (slower movement) or an injured arm (slower attacks) or even a head injury (lower accuracy). In this way, defeat stings, but since the defeated player would “catch a second wind” and put him up to full health, they’d also be given a temporary boon to attempt to avoid repeated ass kickings (since, logically, if a player lost a fight, he would have done some kind of damage to his opponent before going down). […]

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