Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Cap'n John improves WoW

Cap'n John has an interesting post up on improving WoW. He has two ideas: One is more RvR style of PvP outside of battlegrounds, and the other is permadeath. I can see how the former could work, but I'm afraid the latter is out of the question.

If you ever played on both a "normal" and a "PvP" server, you notice that there is actually not very much of a difference between them. The more important part of PvP takes place in the arena or on battlegrounds, because that is where the PvP rewards are. And arena and battlegrounds are as available on a normal server as they are on a PvP server. Basically a PvP server only adds ganking. Somebody who signed up for a PvP server because he likes PvP can't be very satisfied with that, because there aren't any additional PvP objectives on a PvP server, unless you like to grief people. So the idea of turning more places into Halaa-like contested towns on PvP servers would be interesting.

Permadeath on the other hand isn't viable in a game like World of Warcraft. The game is designed for you to die often. If you enter a heroic instance or raid dungeon for the first time, you are near certain to wipe a couple of times before learning how to overcome a new boss mob. I've played Everquest, which while not having permadeath had a much harsher death penalty, and even that lead to boring gameplay. If death is painful, people play it safe. Which means that dungeons are void of people of the level range they were designed for, and the Deadmines would only be visited by groups with a level 70 player helping guild mates to get equipped. People invest far too much time into a single character to accept the possibility of losing him permanently.
So the idea of turning more places into Halaa-like contested towns on PvP servers would be interesting.

I had originally thought that was what the WoW PvP servers would have been like - more Kingdom vs Kingdom (KvK)...
If you think PvP servers are ineffective in WoW then RP servers have got to be up there with them also!
Certainly there could be more organized world PvP on Pvp servers, but they are certainly more than gankfests. I can't count the times I've stopped questing for the night to get in a tit for tat against a couple Alliance players, usually with a couple Hordies by my side.
Perma-death works in no setting where you can die because of someone else's fault.

I keep wondering why people still consider the concept appealing. Even single-player games move away from the concept of perma-death and have save-points and revive portals up.

Certainly modern game design has learned that you cannot unduly frustrate the player. The times when you had to play a level all over again is long gone, but also the time to get through a level is longer. Certainly a time investment of 6 months to go to waste because of one mistake isn't acceptable, I really wonder why there are still folks that think it is.

Cearlly adding an optional perma-death flag would quickly illustrate how that concept simply doesn't mesh with a longevity game.
Perma Death has got to be one of the stupidest concepts I've ever heard of. Who wants to level all the way to 70 only to die on a wipe then level up to 70 again? Anyone? Certainly not me, I'm in my mid 30's, the time I spent leveling my Paladin to 70 was very long due to my real life responsibilities. I simply do not have the time to invest in rerolling and leveling all over again. Besides Perma death will only frustrate the majority of players and would probably result in large amount of cancelled accounts. That would do Blizzard no good since WOW is their cash cow and they'd rather have people play for as long as possible to continue to make money.
No Go for permadeath, for the simple reason in a online game, you can't predict disconects / server laggggg

I lost my "no death" titles in LOTRO, simply due to server laggggg - one minute I'm swinging away with my trusty club, suddenly thing the whole scene freezes up, 3 seconds later, the screen unfreezes and I'm dead... I'd have walked away and demanded my money back had the game had perma death!
Before you completely write off Permadeath, don't forget that many people played Hardcore Diablo II (& still do), and that Diablo toons required a large time sink as well, and with one death on Hardcore you lost it all and had to start all over again.

But people still played Hardcore. Not only that, but it was not unusual to see Hardcore players in the Battlenet lounge who'd beaten Diablo on Easy, Nightmare, & Hell. Some people just love a challenge and that was a huge one. Beat the game three times on consecutively harder levels of difficulty, without dying even once.

Raiding is not everyone's cup of tea, nor is world PvP, neither is Hardcore Permadeath. But there are still people who love Raiding, there are still people who love PvP, and you can bet your bottom dollar that there are Hardcore players out there who would be willing to try and level a WoW toon to 70, all the while knowing that one mistake or a lag spike (and lag existed for Battlenet, too) could cost them everything.

I never suggested Permadeath for every server (talk about business suicide), but only for a few servers, or perhaps even just one.
I remember in Everquest 1 they had a PvP server set up with perma death and ran it as a contest for a month. At the end of the month a few of the highest level people got some reward on their main server. The highest level was around lvl 40 I think. (this was a while back and my memory is fuzzy hehe)
@Tobold: If you state that PvP-Servers only induce ganking, would you kindly explain what the words means for you? I've come over so many "definitions" that the word eludes a clear meaning.

@Cap John: My thoughts exactly. I knew a guy who would play Diablo only on hardcore. I remember him loosing toons in very high levels (>80), but continued to play hardcore. I was amazed by his potential to bang his head against that challenge and in the end loose the toon to speedlag or PKers anyway.
I'd define ganking as killing another player when the kill gives no reward to the attacker, and the attacker only attacks when there is no risk to himself, like when the other player is busy fighting a mob, the other player is lower level, or the attacker brought friends against a single victim.

I'm far from saying that everybody on a PvP server is a ganker. I'm only saying that all the PvP for which you get rewards is also present on every normal server. Thus the ability to gank is the main difference between the two server types. A PvP server doesn't have more "good" PvP options than a normal one.
Diablo II on hardcore is perfectly doable. But in WoW everybody can die. Sometimes dying isn't avoidable. Especially in group setups but even solo, unless you want to relegate yourself to killing easy mobs just to level up.

But I agree, you want permadeath, blizz could give you the flag to go there. I still believe that it's a fairly pointless concept given how WoW is designed.

Diablo II was a single-player game with a path that indeed you could go through and not die. There were almost no uncontrollable aspects or peak damage that'd kill you easily. Even on nightmare.

In WoW, just a unlucky respawn pattern can kill you no problem.

To say that what worked in Diablo II should work in WoW is kind of missing the massive design differences between the games. Some may crinch, but WoW is a more deadly game than Diablo II (and yes I have played Diablo II on hardore).
On diablo you had town portals that you can use when things got messy, or you could simply leave the game prior to a massive wipe.

You cant do that on WoW, and the time it takes to reach endgame is significantly more time consuming.

As far as design differences, a char on diablo can reach lvl 99 without spending any attributes or skill points because of game mechanics ("baaling" "cowruns") but on WoW your char has a much more dire need to learn new skills to progress, granted it is slightly customizable being you gain skills automatically on top of skill points.

What I would like to see is WoW with faster/more exp from quests and with monthly server resets. Give people a chance to flaunt that they know the game welll and show how far they can progress, and reset it so the next contenders can be on top. I have a disdain towards WoW because it is soo time-sink oriented and because friends always seem to be on many different servers at different lvls and paces in the game... always feels like a PuG.
They make a game that has some of the features people are asking for, that is basically diablo 2 in 3d with a greek mythology theme instead... called titans quest.

They have a custom game option for people who want to pvp that imo has been underdeveloped or used. The standard pve grind is very interesting imo.
I liked Titan Quest and dl'd the Demo after reading Tobold's review way back when. When I completed the Demo I spent the next couple of weeks farming the final Boss (in the Demo) and outfitted my toon in invisible Rares. For some reason Rares were included in the demo, but not their graphic, so when I saw the Boss swinging an "Invisible Sword" or blocking attacks with an "Invisible Shiled" I knew he was going to drop a Rare.

I loved that about Titan Quest, too. It seems such a small thing, but it was completely natural for Mobs to drop what they were carrying/wearing. There were no Pigs dropping mail hauberks, or Wolves dropping polearms; you got your weapon and armor upgrades off humanoid Mobs because they were the ones that used them. Brilliantly immersive.
I think it'd be interesting if the persona dies, but not the players investment. So if your level 42 or 70 character dies, he's dead. But you get to make a new character who is level 42 or 70 or whatever - can't use the old name though. Got to love him while he still lives.

Also I think it should be randomised - each time you die, there's a small percentage chance of permanent death. That way you get 'Oh thank god I lived!', which gets someone more attached to their character. Threat of character death is more effective than just character death - in a movie, if someone has a gun held to their head, there's tension. That tension goes when they dies - so a randomiser helps keep that tension going.
in final fantasy online, you lost xp from dying. which is kind of realistic and kind of annoying. thus getting raised and not loosing as much is pretty desired.
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