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Old 02-13-2010, 12:04 AM   #21
prof1515
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
It's been said that the cost of permadeath is when the players loose the effort they've invested into a character. That is the truth. But what the player feels they've lost will vary based on the type of player they are.

In roleplay muds, you'll find that players tend to fall into two general categories. You've got the ones who make a character and play it for years. I know PCs that have been around for over eight years, and have played almost every day. And then you've got the players who keep wanting to try out new character ideas, who delete their old characters and constantly create new ones.

Obviously, permadeath is going to have a different impact on those players, despite both being on a roleplay mud.
A problem arises though when the latter group encounter the former. The latter are given to taking unreasonable risks without regard for what their PCs would do realistically. The former typically are not. It's fine until the latter decide they want to end their character and they involve the former.

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Another thing to take into account is player escalation. Ever watched how players react to each other? When one does something that upsets another, a regular response is to try and pretend it doesn't bother them (which is easy from behind a keyboard) - that continues while the player gets more and more upset, until it gets to the point where they are so upset they explode, and want to get as much revenge as possible. Molehills into mountains. Even when there aren't OOC feelings involved, players often respond in... I don't want to say inappropriate... perhaps I should say unrealistic ways. Someone insults them, they pull a sword. Having an argument, they choke the other person. Someone scoffs at them, they throw a rock at that person's head. Seriously, now. Imagine if someone in real life *threw a rock at your head* - that's the sort of behavior we tell our children not to do, but in a MUD it would be a very moderate response. There are a number of reasons for these extreme responses. No (or few) consequences for the player. Other players have extreme responses so that is the "normal" reponse. They are playing the special hardcore tough assassin psycho (but so is everyone else), and so on. The end result, though, is that situations escalate much faster than they would in real life. Throw permadeath into the mix and... well... situations will escalate to death much faster.
This is a significant problem indeed. It's always bothered me that players will role-play realistically until circumstances involving violence and death are concerned. Whether it's everyone in a bar drawing a weapon to cut down a *supposed* thief or casually walking past a corpse, violence and death are still one area where role-play tends to be far too unrealistic.

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That tends to be less of a problem in a hack-n-slash mud, because if roleplaying isn't expected the combat mechanics probably already take pvp into account. In many cases the options would be "fight the other PC" or "don't fight the other PC" - so everyone knows the rules, and is on an even footing.
This is not necessarily the case. The H&S I used to play ages ago didn't have permadeath but it did have temporary death (the length of which was determined by how many PKs you had). The problem was that almost all of the veteran top-level players were cowards who rarely PK'd anyone within 50 levels of their own and sometimes as much as 150+ below themselves. Worse yet, many of them were also on the game's staff and they continually made it more and more difficult for new players to achieve anything near to what they had been able to easily, be it gaining equipment or experience points or gold. I suggested permadeath zones be added but the resounding chorus from them was a unanimous "NO" because they were too cowardly to fight one another with temporary death much less with the risk of losing everything. You should have heard the amount of whining that was done when, a few years earlier, the old staff had reduced the amount of XP that could be earned by PK, making the XP reward of PKing a PC 50 levels lower negligible.

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In a roleplay mud, things are often much less balanced, and the "rules" are murkier. I've regularly seen players on roleplay muds do things like drop their weapons because there was roleplay from other players about wrestling the weapons out of their hands, and do other actions that disadvantage themselves - that's great, it's always wonderful when players put roleplay first in that sort of situation - but it only works when the other players will be equally considerate. If someone roleplays headbutting you, so you roleplay that you're stunned. While you're stunned they roleplay grabbing your sword, and you allow that to happen, then they roleplay putting a knife to your throat while questioning you, and you go along with that for the sake of the story.... then they decide to escalate the situation and kill you (well... kill your character, but you know what I mean) - that's fine, if you want your character killed. If you don't want your character killed? It's more problematic. Will that other player now let you roleplay grabbing their wrist and wrestling *their* weapon away? Maybe. Maybe not. If not, the situation has become somewhat unfair, not because of game mechanics, but because of player actions. If the scene leads to death, then you might feel that it was unfair due to the players acting under different assumptions of "how the game is played" - if that death is permanent, that's a significant situation that can be very upsetting.

You could argue that the player shouldn't have allowed themselves to be disarmed, etc. and that it was their choice when that happened. That is a valid argument, but that will lead to a different sort of roleplaying, and a different sort of game. It's equally valid to argue that since you allowed yourself to be disarmed, the other player should also do the same when it's appropriate in the story. Neither is right or wrong, as long as both players have the same assumption.
I too have seen players (myself included) do things and put themselves in greater danger in the name of RP. The chief consideration here is that the game's staff police the reactions very carefully though. A problem with good RPers role-playing things like that is that there are also twinks in games who ignore such considerations and just see them as advantages. Players like that can destroy role-play because they just care about "winning", not about role-playing.

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I'm worried about you guys who are worried about the implications of permadeath. But I have good news. If you don't see the value of games with permadeath, you'll be happy to know that they are easy to avoid. If you're looking for a game to play, avoid the ones calling themselves rpi....
It's not that easy since more than just RPIs employ permadeath. A search feature for permadeath would be a welcome addition.
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Old 02-13-2010, 02:00 AM   #22
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

My basic response to a lengthy and perhaps haphazard argument.

RPIs are affected less negatively by permanent death than a more H+S-styled game would be, simply because there is a culture of acceptance of permanent death on RPIs/"AFSs". Additionally, permanent death in these settings, if designed well, raises the stakes and provides a sense of community for the sake of survival. Certainly on Atonement, where combat code is more developed than other RPIs - where npc AI is far better scripted, coded and intelligent - there is a high risk to combat. That's the setting. If you wanted to create a survival horror setting, I would challenge you to create more horror than on an RPI setting where your character cannot just simply come back to life. In this way, permanent death is a positive thing for RPIs.

As a side-note, I refer to the RPI genre as such, simply because the "code engine" that almost all RPIs use (ARM is an exception) is called the RPI Engine, or is a derivative of the RPI Engine. You could call Medievia DIKU, Realms of Despair a SMAUG, or Utopia: Type Final a Godwars ... you would be exactly as correct.

Now, could permanent death work for H+S in a positive way? I think so, if it's designed to work. Optional "hard" mode makes sense, and I know that Dragonrealms and a few other H+S MUDs have employed this approach. One thing that I think actually makes the loss of (particularly) equipment a little bit rougher in an RPI (or at least less certain), is that on a H+S you typically get your equipment from killing a mob or completing a quest. Even if your character dies, you are going to likely follow the same or a similar route to get your equipment. This is perhaps the only "more negative" aspect to permanent death that I can come up with for an RPI-styled game.

Still, no matter the kind of game, permanent death as a feature (even an optional one) can do nothing but raise the stakes of play. For roleplay, this means more intense, more interesting play. For both RPI and H+S, this means more strategic and cautious planning of combat, lest you risk getting killed for foolishness. It's certainly not a good answer for every MUD.

What kind of MUD does it affect the most? In a positive way, it affects RPIs the most, I'd say. In a negative way? Quest-based MUDs. H+Sing levels and equipment back together isn't so bad. Having to repeat your way through a series of quests that you are already familiar with (unless the game has a very dynamic and varying quest system) might have less replayability love.

Replayability is what you are ultimately talking about here, and genres that have more of a variety in replayability will ultimately be better candidates for some form of a permanent death system than MUDs that are less replayable.
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:28 AM   #23
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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As there is only one "Armageddon Feature Set" game, this is little more than a personal attack on that game. I realize you're very protective of your own game and possibly insecure in regard to possible comparisons with other MUDs, but repeated attempts to demean and attack other games is really uncalled for.
jason, I think you are taking anything that Threshold says about RPI to be an insult. I cannot see in any way shape or how this is an attack.. if anything, I think the whole post was quite interesting and made ME look at Armageddon or permadeath games in a different light.

I have tried Arm twice now, and never lasted beyond 2 hours with any characters, and that was disheartening, but that is becasue I was looking at it from the prespective of "ohmygod what if I build this character for a year and THEN die" never appreciating that Arm is more about the roleplay, and not the individual avatar. After several years of playing a mud where a whole months work can be destroyed by a single disconnect, then my mindset was just not ready for that game.

You need to get off your high horse, and swallow your antagonism. The post is relevant, interesting, and not an assult on RPI, but more letting people know that they can be intesting if you shift perspective.
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Old 02-13-2010, 03:59 PM   #24
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

I'd say that permadeath is nothing more than a restart of the same character with a different name on most games that have it as the only option. I've seen this alot and especially on forums where the permed player is asking buddies to meet them at locations to help them get going again. Gag. And yes, I've seen this on Armeggedon as well.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:57 PM   #25
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I'd say that permadeath is nothing more than a restart of the same character with a different name on most games that have it as the only option. I've seen this alot and especially on forums where the permed player is asking buddies to meet them at locations to help them get going again. Gag. And yes, I've seen this on Armeggedon as well.
Wow. Really?

I haven't played a permadeath game in a long, long time. I'm shocked to hear this, though after further thought not that surprised. While some people certainly love the feature, I think permadeath is one of those features that sounds awesome in concept to some people, but when faced with it they regret it.
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:11 AM   #26
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

I've never seen this on ARM, though I will admit that I've not been able to play the game much because of aesthetics, unfortunately, more than anything else. I somehow doubt, though, that their staff would allow for players to post relevant IC information to have meetups to "help new characters get going again". On RPIs, you don't typically go out and kill mobs to get equipment. I know that when I worked at Shadows of Isildur, the other head staff was almost too nazi about punishing folks for any sort of outside communication with players at all (beyond the forum, which was monitored to keep IC info out). I don't think that you can realistically expect players not to talk on AIM, and I don't think that you can fairly punish them for doing so.

At any rate, I'd be surprised if you saw someone posting about a "help my new character get equipment again" meetup on ARM and nobody was punished or corrected on the issue by the staff. I've heard good things about the ethics of ARM's staff. Of course, I also heard good things about the ethics of Shadow of Isildur's staff when I was a player; I am not beyond being surprised.

But I will stick up for permanent death here. I've ran PK-oriented MUDs, Hack+Slash, been involved as a staff and player on more MUDs than I can possibly remember, for over two-thirds of my life now. The choice of making death permanent in your game is a serious design feature; truly, if you do so, the entire concept and play of your game needs to respect this feature. Table-top games are (typically) permanent death. There have been very popular MMOs with permanent death as an optional mode of play. RPIs (at least, the ones utilizing the RPI Engine) are permanent death. There may not be a great number of RPIs out there, but the ones that continue to exist have good-sized playerbases of people who enjoy the danger and realism of being able to have your character quite literally die. The fear of death, choosing to stand and fight in the face of death, murder, execution, your friend/enemy/ally dying and mutating into a monster infront of you, death in childbirth, the loss of family or friends, the slow numbing of a soldier who grows accustomed to his brothers dying around him ... these are such potent forces in writing, in roleplay, in immersion; permanent death changes the stakes in which the events of the world and characters around yours unfold.

It's not right for every setting or every MUD. But if you have a story with high stakes, where you want your players' characters to mean something to the story through sacrifice, or weakness, or any of those things augmented by my points in the previous paragraph ... if you want that element of finality in your game, more than you want to not hamper players with loss of equipment and character - then permanent death may just be right for you. It's all in the genre.

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Old 02-14-2010, 09:27 AM   #27
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I'd say that permadeath is nothing more than a restart of the same character with a different name on most games that have it as the only option. I've seen this alot and especially on forums where the permed player is asking buddies to meet them at locations to help them get going again. Gag. And yes, I've seen this on Armeggedon as well.
I'd like to see a link to the Armageddon forum thread where a permed player is asking buddies to meet them at locations to help get them going again. I'd be especially interested in the responses by other players in that thread, to such a request. (My guess would be, anyone posting something like that, would be -immediately- met with players posting things like, "Hey welcome to the game Mr. Noob, but recruiting OOCly on the forum is against the rules.")
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:14 PM   #28
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I'd like to see a link to the Armageddon forum thread where a permed player is asking buddies to meet them at locations to help get them going again. I'd be especially interested in the responses by other players in that thread, to such a request. (My guess would be, anyone posting something like that, would be -immediately- met with players posting things like, "Hey welcome to the game Mr. Noob, but recruiting OOCly on the forum is against the rules.")
I'd have to agree this is violation of the spirit of the game if not direct rules in forums. The forum posts I saw were from two perm'd players looking to hook up with previous friends and one new player looking to find someone to roleplay with. All were answered by other players. You have to understand this was several years ago. If the posts still exist, I'll send a link.

Keep in mind, this isn't a bash on Arm as they run a pretty tight ship from what I've seen. It is merely an example that this type off perm and restart is active everywhere and even if players don't talk on forums they surely talk on IM. My point was that permadeath most of the time is nothing more than starting again and likely with not much variation in character play.

On NWA if a player is perm'd they must do a number of things to prove their new choice of a new character with background and where they begin. They normally cannot choose a similar path (for example if you are permed as a slave you cannot recreate as a slave in the southland). This tends to force a player to take each character creation more seriously.
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:53 PM   #29
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I'd have to agree this is violation of the spirit of the game if not direct rules in forums. The forum posts I saw were from two perm'd players looking to hook up with previous friends and one new player looking to find someone to roleplay with. All were answered by other players. You have to understand this was several years ago. If the posts still exist, I'll send a link.

Keep in mind, this isn't a bash on Arm as they run a pretty tight ship from what I've seen. It is merely an example that this type off perm and restart is active everywhere and even if players don't talk on forums they surely talk on IM. My point was that permadeath most of the time is nothing more than starting again and likely with not much variation in character play.

On NWA if a player is perm'd they must do a number of things to prove their new choice of a new character with background and where they begin. They normally cannot choose a similar path (for example if you are permed as a slave you cannot recreate as a slave in the southland). This tends to force a player to take each character creation more seriously.
If you think being killed on Armageddon leads to nothing but repeats of the same character concepts, you either a) have never played Armageddon or b) have a very limited imagination. I've put in over 70 characters there over nearly 13 years, and the only times I've ever "recycled" character concepts are when I've died by some fluke random mob showing up to pwn me at the <10 hour mark.

As far as other players are concerned, I would hazard a guess that only true newbies who have difficulty generating descriptions and backgrounds ever repeatedly recycle concepts. As far as recruiting over the forums is concerned, uh, no.

Diversity there is what you make of it. If you want to play the same archetype over and over again, that's your prerogative, but the permadeath feature has absolutely nothing to do with it.
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:14 AM   #30
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

I'll have to agree with Synthesis. We use a Badge award system for roleplay of specific archtypes of characters on Atonement that is meant to dissuade people from playing the same personality types again and again. We make it clear, as staff, that we want them to try new and challenging character concepts. If I were to see a player character die, and then catch an application by that player with a similar concept, I would almost positively gently decline and encourage them to stretch themselves.

Now, granted, we've only been open five weeks: do you know how many times that I've had to do that? None. On Shadows of Isildur, where I worked for some time, I maybe did it a handful of times or less. Most players, in my experience, want to try to play different characters, especially when encouraged to do so. I don't think that this has anything to do with permanent death; you can encourage players to play different characters on a roleplay-focused game whether or not there is permanent death.
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:27 AM   #31
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I'm worried about you guys who are worried about the implications of permadeath. But I have good news. If you don't see the value of games with permadeath, you'll be happy to know that they are easy to avoid.
I think the discussion is less a string of complaints about permadeath, or a competition for "who has it worse" - and instead a constructive discussion about the various negative impacts.

Why is that useful? As a game designer, I want to understand my players, and what they like and don't like. There are many benefits for permadeath, as well as disadvantages. Understanding the disadvantages puts us in a better position to maximize the benefits while minimizing the disadvantages.

For my part, Ironclaw Online has limited permadeath, because I'm trying to do exactly that - gain some of the advantages, while avoid the disadvantages.


When talking about roleplay-intensive players, how you tend to get the "stick with one PC" vs "regularly try out new PCs"
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A problem arises though when the latter group encounter the former. The latter are given to taking unreasonable risks without regard for what their PCs would do realistically. The former typically are not. It's fine until the latter decide they want to end their character and they involve the former.
Correct - that can be a problem. Depending on the game design. If the game allows the PCs to pull out weapons and try to kill each other, then the players who want a new character can effectively attempt to kill off another PC with no "cost" to themselves.

I've myself had a few players attempt "suicide" by attacking my PC, with the hopes of killing my character, and when they failed they kill themselves, with the hope my PC gets charged with murder and imprisoned. That would be a totally fun situation if it had happened from roleplaying, it was less fun because it happens from players taking advantage of the OOC fact that they were planning to delete their character anyway. (It's happened to me a few times because my one character is rather unpleasantly nasty, and some players can't tell the difference between a character that is roleplayed as nasty, and a player that is nasty... as time went by and that character got better known people stopped doing that)

There are a few ways around this, but it would depend on your game setup. For our part, death is actually *optional* in many areas. The focus is on roleplaying, which requires cooperation between the players. So if you loose a fight and they decide to kill your character, it *asks* you if you want to have your character killed. You can say "no" and then it's up to the players to come up with a reason why they don't kill you. Cooperation. Roleplaying. Storytelling.

There are some exceptions. There are "danger areas" where your character can be killed without you giving permission. If you step into the dueling arena, for example - even though most duels are non-lethal, you don't get a choice. Loose a fight, and your opponent can kill you.

So that gets around the "take high risks" characters. Those characters can explore the "danger areas" without worry about death. The long term characters can avoid those areas, and instead focus on the politics and roleplaying. And if a temporary character attacks and wins a fight, the long-term character's player can choose not to die, or can choose to temporarily die. Most choose to temporarily die since, well, they're roleplaying and tend to go along with where the story is taking them. They know they won't be loosing the character forever, just for a week or two.

The players risking permadeath will know beforehand (you can get permadeath from being executed by the law, or by upsetting the church enough that they refuse to resurrect you anymore) - in both those cases, the player has to do some action before the premadeath will happen. They can avoid doing any death-penalty crimes, or avoid going into any danger areas if already excommunicated. It allows the risk-takers to take risks, while giving a way for the long term players to safeguard their characters.

This system isn't perfect, far from it. But it minimizes some of the problems with temporary characters doing kamakaze runs on long term characters.

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This is a significant problem indeed. It's always bothered me that players will role-play realistically until circumstances involving violence and death are concerned. Whether it's everyone in a bar drawing a weapon to cut down a *supposed* thief or casually walking past a corpse, violence and death are still one area where role-play tends to be far too unrealistic.
We have our in-game legal system enforce this "escalation" - and boy does it upset players.
So we have constables that will just arrest *both* people and charge them *both* with assault. "But I was defending myself" - No. You drew a sword and hit your opponent. You *could* have fought back with your fists. Or drew a sword and only parried, while calling for the constables. Or parried while trying to retreat. Those are all valid in-character solutions *and* all valid things that the player can do with the game engine. But they don't want to, because in almost every movie, book, and computer game the hero doesn't just defend themselves, they also kick the bad guys ass.

In some games, it would be fine to draw a weapon and kick the opponents ass. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo & Sam happily kill orcs with no concern as to whether the orcs have families. If I was making a LotR mud, I'd have no negative consequences for killing off those orcs. In this particular case I'm making a political game. So there *are* consequences for drawing a sword. Political consequences.

... and yet, it still hasn't stopped the players from stupidly escalating things.

Actually, something that does help avoid the stupid escalation, is the above mentioned "you choose if you die" - as the players got used to that, they had to come to terms with the fact that they can't just kill off another PC unless they *ask permission* and *play cooperatively* - and most players won't give permission after loosing a fight, or if the death has no roleplay. So instead, they typically need to ask *before* the fight. "Hey, if I win, would you agree to die?" "Sure, if you'll do the same" or "What? Your character would kill over this argument? That's just insane" or whatever. It forces them to think about where they would stop fighting.

Players also seek conclusions. At the end of almost every movie, the bad guy dies. Death feels like a good conclusion. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to explain to players that *letting bad guys go is good* - that allows them to *come back again later* and leads to *another story* and *more for the players to do* - but that seems to feel unsatisfactory to many players. They want the bad guy dead. They want to get a "you win" message. And that happens with combat escalation between each other. If they have a verbal argument there is no clear "you win" point (and even worse, if they feel like they're loosing, and don't want to, they're encouraged to start a combat and turn the loss into a potential win)

I don't have a conclusive answer for this, but something we're trying out is to have "levels" of combat. In our newly released combat system, when you have a fight, at some point when you've taken enough damage it stops and says "You're getting really tired. Do you want to stop fighting, or keep fighting and risk long term injuries" - if they keep fighting, as well as getting cut up, they might get broken arms or legs, or other similar injuries. After a while of that, if they take enough hits it asks if they want to keep fighting or risk permanent injuries. If they keep fighting they risk things like loosing an eye or fingers. If they get beaten enough after that then they die (but are resurrected later) - the intention behind this is to let the players have their combat and "win" or "loose" but give them an incentive to stop fighting somewhere *before* they fight to the death. The player can decide how much they want to win the fight, but if they keep fighting every time they will end up with lots of bad injuries, and spend all their time in the infirmary, unable to fight anyone for a while. While letting the roleplayers still fight "to the death" if it's something that they care about (and presumably, loosing an eye or something would be a reward for those players. It gives them a souvenier of the event. While the non-roleplayers who just want to win would collect a lot of meaningless disfigurements and disadvantages with no story behind it)
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:28 AM   #32
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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The problem was that almost all of the veteran top-level players were cowards who rarely PK'd anyone within 50 levels of their own and sometimes as much as 150+ below themselves.
This isn't uncommon. One of the reasons behind the "agree to death" thing - if someone is just very good, and picking on you, you don't have to die. They can still beat your character up, so they *can* respond to what you're doing, but they can't escalate to that same level without you agreeing on it.

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I too have seen players (myself included) do things and put themselves in greater danger in the name of RP. The chief consideration here is that the game's staff police the reactions very carefully though. A problem with good RPers role-playing things like that is that there are also twinks in games who ignore such considerations and just see them as advantages. Players like that can destroy role-play because they just care about "winning", not about role-playing.
What I *try* to do (and often fail, but I try...) is to give consequences for actions. Consequences can be good or bad, but they should be sensible. My theory is that good roleplayers will enjoy even the bad consequences, since they are a sensible result from the actions they were roleplaying, and makes the world feel more real, while twinks will hate the consequences since they feel like they got punished or "lost" - hopefully that will slowly train the players into roleplaying the ups AND downs of their character and focussing more on the story. Or it'll chase away the twinks and leave us just roleplayers. Or something.

It's been partially successful so far. Most players still attempt to shelter their characters from any negative consequences.

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If you wanted to create a survival horror setting, I would challenge you to create more horror than on an RPI setting where your character cannot just simply come back to life. In this way, permanent death is a positive thing for RPIs.
Oh, certainly. Permadeath has many positive aspects (or we wouldn't have it in games...) - I was just assuming everyone had accepted that and we were discussing the negative aspects.

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
Still, no matter the kind of game, permanent death as a feature (even an optional one) can do nothing but raise the stakes of play. For roleplay, this means more intense, more interesting play.
It does raise the stakes. But that's not always a good thing.
Raising the stakes also raises the incentive to cheat, to be uncooperative, to take every advantage possible. It increases the incentive to "play the game" rather than "roleplay the story." It stresses some players who want a more relaxing game. It puts the focus on physical loss and death, rather than other types of loss (such as social standing loss) etc.
Not to say that raising the stakes is bad. Raising the stakes tends to make players care more, and it's good for them to care more for the game. Just pointing out that we shouldn't look at it as a 100% positive thing without any negative consequences.

Being in a battle with another character might be exciting. Being in a battle with them to the death is *more* exciting. But if they log out when they're about to loose because they don't want to loose the character... that's going to be more upsetting than if they kept playing and temporarily died. Obviously, that's an example of bad behavior from the player, but higher stakes will encourage more bad behavior, since the player has more to loose.

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RPIs are affected less negatively by permanent death than a more H+S-styled game would be, simply because ...
You're a good example of what I mean by different types of games attracting different players.

When you talk about "loss" from permadeath, you seem to be thinking in terms of lost levels and equipment. And maybe having to replay things.

My roleplayed character that I've currently got - I've spent about four years building that character. If it died, what would I loose? Money. Yes, but I don't care. Items? Yes. I've got some unique items that can *not* be replaced, souveniers from once-off events, custom gifts from other characters. Love letters, or other items from past plots. But even so, I could loose all the items without it affecting me much. What I'd *really* loose would be the relationships. Having spent literally years to get the police force to rely on my character, to the extent that when my character speaks up on a matter of law everyone, including the police, listen. Over time that's even developed into them writing to my character when they need a point of law clarified. That's totally awesome and fun, but took four years to build up that relationship. There are alliances with various nobles in various houses. Past history where my character has proved trustworthy, past history where my character has proved vengeful (and capable of getting vengence) on those that didn't stick to their alliances and agreements. There are plots and plans in the works involving the various allies and enemies. These social relationships *cannot* be replaced. Sure, I could make new relationships with a new character, but unlike equipment - where I could fight with a +3 sword or a +2 axe, but I'm basically playing the same game - if I loose the character that's currently conspiring to frame a noble by having an ally start a fight between the noble and the noble's wife, then poisoning the wife and pointing to the noble as a victim... (just an example) - if I loose that character, and instead my new character isn't working with those schemers (since it literally takes years to build up that trust...) - well, I could have another plot where the tailors are preparing outfits for a fashion ball. But I would effectively be playing a completely different game. In a social game, the character you're playing makes a *world* of difference. That means there's more replayability, since you're effectively playing a new game. But it also means there's much more to loose since you don't just loose the character, you also loose the ability to play that particular game. In a hack and slash, if I loose my warrior and start a new archer, well, I've really just switched sword skills for archery skills, but I'm still playing the same game and able to essentially do the same activities as before. If I loose my roleplaying character, the activities I'll be doing in the game change drastically.

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If I were to see a player character die, and then catch an application by that player with a similar concept, I would almost positively gently decline and encourage them to stretch themselves.

Now, granted, we've only been open five weeks: do you know how many times that I've had to do that? None. On Shadows of Isildur, where I worked for some time, I maybe did it a handful of times or less.
This matches my experience. Players don't have to put in any applications, they can just make their new characters without staff supervision, and even then they almost all create new, different characters. We've got a few who always make tailors, or otherwise always make the same "type" of character, but even if they try to pick up relationships where the first left off, most of the other players just won't accept that. They will treat the new character like, well, a new arrival. Not like the same old one.

In a roleplay environment, as long as the players are roleplaying, I don't think there's much worry about people who just recreate the same character. The social relationships can't be restored. Essentially, they're just playing a new character who is boringly similar to their old one, and most players will be good enough to avoid doing that.
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:54 AM   #33
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

I don't disagree with a lot of what you are saying. I do think, however, that if you have permanent death as a feature on a roleplay-focused MUD, then you have to have complete respect for that feature. You can't let players get away with attempting to "twink" or cheat death, or to be uncooperative in a conflict-based scene. You also have to give players the chance to play characters who are not as typically threatened as combat-focused characters, but still are necessary for the story and the well (or ill) being of the rest of the characters. Using a rewards based system, having open dialogue with your game's community about what you expect and what you don't want to see, re-enforcing and empowering their ability to tell stories in a positive way, encouraging them to take risks, and showing them that accepting IC consequences for IC actions is something that lets them truly affect the world with more realistic stakes ... these are all just a small number of the many things that you have to do to make permanent death work (on an RPI-like game).

I think that your combat system sounds very interesting. I've played and designed so many systems - I have a true love for combat, and it's a unique approach. However, consider the scenario below.

What if your character is an arch-nemesis to my character? What if you were my brother and had stolen my wife and run the business that our father gave us into the ground? What if I were a generally good person? Now, imagine me, sitting infront of a lake, throwing stones. PCs pass by going on about their gossip, trade and general business; meanwhile, I am throwing stones and staring out at the lake, knowing that you will be alone in the shop come nightfall. I'm fighting with myself, using feeling/think commands/code. I'm trying to push myself to have the will to kill you, or to forgive you, or to run away and abandon the village. Nightfall comes, and I go to the shop; I find you sleeping on the floor in the backroom. I poison my dagger and sneak into the room. I lock all of the doors and steal your keys off of your belt. I then surprise you and engage you in combat, all the while unleashing the rage that I have for how you, my brother, have betrayed me.

This kind of storytelling - the kind of murder and sacrifice, fear and fearlessness, plague and inexplainable accidents, facing overwhelming odds while knowing OOCly that you may lose that four year character in a meaningful way - is hard to accomplish without permanent death. In your system, when you decide to stop fighting to avoid being murdered, where does that leave the scene but unresolved? Should you keep fighting and end up dead, where does that leave those relationships in a few days when your character is resurrected? I definitely do not believe that good storytelling can only accompany permanent death; however, permanent death lets you go places that you cannot go without it.

So it's a complicated issue, as all of these (mostly well-written) posts would indicate. Many of what I might think are positive attributes of including permanent death in a roleplay-focused MUD might be conceived by others as negative attributes. I think that, ultimately, the distinction lies in what kind of story you are wanting to tell. If you are wanting to tell a story where life and death matter, then death has to matter in an in-character fashion. No matter how creative an approach you take, there is always an OOC element to allowing resurrection of characters that makes certain kinds of roleplay impossible (or nearly so) to accomplish, as in the example situation I've posted above. If you are telling a story where death does not need to matter, either because your game is more of a hybrid of H+S and Roleplay-focus, or because your game isn't designed in such a way as to cause death to matter to the story itself, then permanent death may not be right for you. It's all in the genre.

Last edited by DonathinFrye : 02-15-2010 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 02-15-2010, 06:54 AM   #34
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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Originally Posted by silvarilon
Being executed for a crime also means they wouldn't resurrect the criminal.
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Originally Posted by silvarilon
I've myself had a few players attempt "suicide" by attacking my PC, with the hopes of killing my character, and when they failed they kill themselves, with the hope my PC gets charged with murder and imprisoned. That would be a totally fun situation if it had happened from roleplaying, it was less fun because it happens from players taking advantage of the OOC fact that they were planning to delete their character anyway. (It's happened to me a few times because my one character is rather unpleasantly nasty, and some players can't tell the difference between a character that is roleplayed as nasty, and a player that is nasty... as time went by and that character got better known people stopped doing that)
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Originally Posted by silvarilon
We have our in-game legal system enforce this "escalation" - and boy does it upset players.
Quote:
Originally Posted by silvarilon
Having spent literally years to get the police force to rely on my character, to the extent that when my character speaks up on a matter of law everyone, including the police, listen. Over time that's even developed into them writing to my character when they need a point of law clarified.
Hold on a second...you're the owner of a commercial mud where paying customers can have their characters permanently killed by a legal system that even you admit upsets the players - but you also play a character in the mud who effectively dictates the law to everyone else, and is so "unpleasantly nasty" that a few players have even gone so far as to attempt suiciding their characters on you?

Isn't that a huge conflict of interest? Or have I misunderstood something?
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:49 AM   #35
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

Another theory is that MUDs with permadeath attract players that aren't overly bothered by permadeath - players that don't like permadeath leave and never come back.

As you artificially select for a certain trait you end up with a group of people that deviate from the norm, and as such you develop a particular culture. Take Holland for example where dumb and smart kids go to different schools after age 12, which results in a different highschool experience - there is nothing wrong with being a nerd when everyone in your class is nerdy.

So from that perspective AFS muds aren't all that different from Hack and Slash muds, the difference is in the people who play them, and subsequently the game's culture.

What I find interesting is that these AFS muds incorrectly market themselves as 'roleplay intensive' combined with the notable amount of fanboyism. The whole thing is borderline sociopathic (like me) so I would say permadeath selects for players that aren't fully emotionally stable, and possibly enjoy the traumatic / humiliating experience of character loss.
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:27 AM   #36
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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What I find interesting is that these AFS muds incorrectly market themselves as 'roleplay intensive' combined with the notable amount of fanboyism. The whole thing is borderline sociopathic (like me) so I would say permadeath selects for players that aren't fully emotionally stable, and possibly enjoy the traumatic / humiliating experience of character loss.
I can only think of one suitable reply

/emote watches Scandum toss rocket fuel on the blazing debate of permadeath and feels the impending doom of life with no eyebrows
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:10 PM   #37
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Hold on a second...you're the owner of a commercial mud where paying customers can have their characters permanently killed by a legal system that even you admit upsets the players - but you also play a character in the mud who effectively dictates the law to everyone else, and is so "unpleasantly nasty" that a few players have even gone so far as to attempt suiciding their characters on you?

Isn't that a huge conflict of interest? Or have I misunderstood something?
Holy crap, at least it wasn't just me thinking that.

Sounds like a dictatorship where you pay to be at the whim of the dictator... whew.

Btw, LOSE != LOOSE, fml I hate that misspelling.
Lose:
I lost the battle, lost my dog etc. You lose, I lose. Miss this shot and you are dead, you lose.

Loose:
The noose is loose, I need to loosen my jeans, I loose an arrow, she is loose... etc.
In a text-based game, those kinds of things are kind of important to staying in the 'zone'.

Sorry to be a word-nazi, that one just drives me up the wall.
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:03 PM   #38
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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I've put in over 70 characters there over nearly 13 years, and the only times I've ever "recycled" character concepts are when I've died by some fluke random mob showing up to pwn me at the <10 hour mark.
Since even you were willing to recycle a character concept for this reason, would you prefer that games with permadeath have some method of avoiding this type of early, PvE character destruction?

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Originally Posted by scandum View Post
Another theory is that MUDs with permadeath attract players that aren't overly bothered by permadeath - players that don't like permadeath leave and never come back.
Great point. When it comes to major gameplay elements like permadeath, roleplay, etc. you self select your playerbase as long as you are clear about your featureset.

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Originally Posted by scandum View Post
What I find interesting is that these AFS muds incorrectly market themselves as 'roleplay intensive' combined with the notable amount of fanboyism. The whole thing is borderline sociopathic (like me) so I would say permadeath selects for players that aren't fully emotionally stable, and possibly enjoy the traumatic / humiliating experience of character loss.
That's a pretty extreme view that I don't think I've heard before. Can you elaborate on that?
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Old 02-15-2010, 05:24 PM   #39
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

Yes, I would love to hear Scandum explain why people who play RPI/AFS games are sociopaths, or why character loss is traumatic or humiliating to the players that enjoy permanent death as a feature.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:20 PM   #40
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Re: What types of games are impacted the most by permadeath?

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
I don't disagree with a lot of what you are saying. I do think, however, that if you have permanent death as a feature on a roleplay-focused MUD, then you have to have complete respect for that feature. You can't let players get away with attempting to "twink" or cheat death, or to be uncooperative in a conflict-based scene. You also have to give players the chance to play characters who are not as typically threatened as combat-focused characters, but still are necessary for the story and the well (or ill) being of the rest of the characters. Using a rewards based system, having open dialogue with your game's community about what you expect and what you don't want to see, re-enforcing and empowering their ability to tell stories in a positive way, encouraging them to take risks, and showing them that accepting IC consequences for IC actions is something that lets them truly affect the world with more realistic stakes ... these are all just a small number of the many things that you have to do to make permanent death work (on an RPI-like game).
I agree entirely. If there is the possibility of complete loss of a character, then that has to be taken into account with the entire game design. Whether hack and slash, AFS, RPI, or whatever...

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What if your character is an arch-nemesis to my character? ... Now, imagine me, sitting infront of a lake, throwing stones. ... knowing that you will be alone in the shop come nightfall. ... I poison my dagger and sneak into the room. I lock all of the doors and steal your keys off of your belt. I then surprise you and engage you in combat, all the while unleashing the rage that I have for how you, my brother, have betrayed me.
Good, dramatic story. Now imagine that same thing happening, but instead of being brothers, well, instead we both tried to get the job as the next diplomat, and I got it. And you're angry. Perhaps just IC angry, perhaps OOC angry. Perhaps I didn't even know you'd applied for the job, and have never even met your character. The same scenario could go very badly, where my character is killed off in an entirely meaningless way (for me) - and the months of politics to get the job boils down to "who decides to kill the other character" - which would discourage players playing politics, and encourage them to just focus on killing off opponents. It would change the game.

Your example is wonderful and dramatic. Mine is the opposite, and just frustrating and annoying for the player.

The way I'd picture it working in Ironclaw is that we have this dramatic buildup. Since we're playing brothers, presumably we'd have some sort of contact with each other where we can talk OOC. You would tell me that you're interested in this story, we'd discuss it, and decide if I'm willing to loose my character so you can advance your story. If I am, it goes as you describe, and we have the full drama. If I'm not, we cooperatively discuss it and decide on another outcome. Maybe your character is standing over my sleeping character with the knife, and then realize that they just can't kill their brother. The boy that they grew up with, the one who protected them from bullies, the one who helped support your mother as she grew old and frail? That realization could be an equally dramatic story. Or maybe it turns out that my character expected an ambush and was feigning sleep, and pulls a dagger of his own, then they fight and the looser dies. Or maybe we decide your character *would* kill my sleeping character, but a chance event of a visitor banging on the door interrupts the assassination. Or some other outcome - the point is, you'd have to agree with me how we're going to resolve it. Because Ironclaw is intended more like a group story, imagine if you were writing the Lord of the Rings with Tolkein, along with three other people. And one of the writers just decided that the Nazghul would kill off Frodo and the other hobbits? And whoever is writing Boromir decides that they want the ring, so Boromir cuts everyone's throats while they sleep. Valid actions for each character, but it wouldn't make for the same story, and certainly isn't cooperating with the other writers.

But that's because the emphasis is on cooperative storytelling. There can be roleplaying where the emphasis is on game playing, too. Or on storytelling without such a strong cooperative element. Even if I'm telling a story, I'm not going to have the same adrenalin rush of "will my character die" if the outcome of your planned assassination is decided beforehand. Certain plots and plans wouldn't be able to happen if the other players knew the plan. So there are certainly advantages to *not* planning things out, and to having non-consensual death in the games, too.

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
This kind of storytelling - the kind of murder and sacrifice, fear and fearlessness, plague and inexplainable accidents, facing overwhelming odds while knowing OOCly that you may lose that four year character in a meaningful way - is hard to accomplish without permanent death.
Indeed. Although it's still possible - many novels have those themes, without anyone having to die.
But you're right, it's easier to have those "exciting risks" if there is, well, something to risk.

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
In your system, when you decide to stop fighting to avoid being murdered, where does that leave the scene but unresolved?
Well, it leaves the scene where the players decide to take it. Since you know that I don't have to agree to death, you can ask before the scene happens, or you can improvise at the point I decide to stop. But as long as you "know the rules" beforehand, then you can know that you have to come up with an explanation. In the real world, there really are way less murders than in MUDs. Often, even a bad, nasty murderer, will kick their opponent a few times and then walk away. There are plenty of ways to resolve a scene other than "the other character is now dead" and, since the focus is on storytelling, I expect my players to be able to come up with other resolutions.

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
however, permanent death lets you go places that you cannot go without it.
Certainly. Permanent death does have its place.

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Originally Posted by DonathinFrye View Post
I think that, ultimately, the distinction lies in what kind of story you are wanting to tell.
Indeed. If you're telling the story of "James Bond" then you'd need lots of faceless bad guys to kill. If you're telling "The Count of Monte Christo" then you'd need a handful of developed opponents to scheme against and kill. If you're telling the story of "Harriet the Spy" then you need a mystery, but don't need death. And so on. The game mechanics will dictate the types of stories your players tell.

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The whole thing is borderline sociopathic (like me) so I would say permadeath selects for players that aren't fully emotionally stable, and possibly enjoy the traumatic / humiliating experience of character loss.
Well, let's say that permadeath selects for players that enjoy the risk of character loss.

Why they enjoy that risk may vary from player to player, some may enjoy the chance to force another player to loose their character, others may enjoy the thrill of risking their character, and winning through. Others may just find they don't have any emotional investment without the risk (who wants to play a game that's too easy where you can't loose?) and so on.
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