Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 04, 2013
That's one reason permadeath is a bad idea

Recently released Wizardry Online has been pulled from Steam due to numerous problems. One of which is "disconnections and other bugs resulting in item loss and permanent death". I can't imagine anyone being happy about permadeath, even if he died due to a decision he made himself. But losing your character permanently due to a bug or disconnect is never going to be acceptable. And I have yet to see the MMORPG which doesn't have bugs or disconnects.

Yeah that's a problem. But then I have a real hard time getting interested in a game where you could lose a character I spent 10 days on because the battery on my mouse died at the wrong time. The whole long term advancement thing and permadeath doesn't mesh well.
It does allow them to limit how much content they actually have to make.

Also, if one person really gains in levels, wouldn't they become the scourge of Wizardry?
Not to mention that you were lucky if you could get (an retain) a collection in the first place. By the time I got past the "connect" screen (also known as the wandering dungeon corridor sim) it was to be greeted with a gurgling fetid compost pit of a game. I'd rather reload an old classic than try this monstrosity!
it worked pretty well for me. Mind you I only got to the first dungeon. Then I got ganked and haven't logged back in since.
I'd like to see the justification for permadeath as a way to improve the gameplay. This isn't a minesweeper game that you play for 5 minutes.
Depends on how much time spend on the character. For example, in FPS there's an option which boils down to having one life in the map and the last team (or man) standing wins.

Its not only inherent to MMORPG either, also to ARPG (Diablo 3 hardcore anyone?). It is inherent to a real-time game which expects always-on Internet connection.

Nethack, for example, doesn't suffer from this problem. It isn't real-time.
I think permadeath could work but in a much different way. Imagine something like Torchlight 1's retirement system. Take a character you've worked on and you choose to sacrifice them to give some reward for future characters. They got the rewards wrong in Torchlight -- they just weren't worth losing a character -- but imagine new characters getting access to some of the sacrificed character's skills. Basically, it would work if it creates enough new gameplay experiences for the new character. Like the Horadric Cube in Diablo 2 but instead of combining items, you combine characters.
Permanent death in Diablo II kept me playing it for at least another year.

But diablo III was too laggy, buggy to even attempt it
I couldn't even watch a preview gameplay video without grinding my teeth and turning it off halfway through.

If I can't put up with four minutes of the same three forced, anime grunts for all combat abilities with mob-fights that take two minutes each, I doubt I can put up with... pretty much anything else in the game.
"I'd like to see the justification for permadeath as a way to improve the gameplay. This isn't a minesweeper game that you play for 5 minutes."

Is it a serious question? The answer seems rather blindingly obvious -- in non-permadeath situation you optimize for "not dying too often" (because you're optimizing time-to-goal), whereas in permadeath you're optimizing for "not dying ever" (or possibly "not dying until you reach X). It's a whole different kettle of fish.

Of course if the game doesn't let you make any significant decisions (or if you are uninterested in making them), then there's no point. But typical games that have perma-death (roguelikes, a-rpgs) do give you a lot of space to make decisions.

And at any rate -- it seems obvious that there is a lot of people who enjoy perma-death in some way or fashion (e.g. Diablo3 perma-death players), so what is the point of this discussion? Perma-death is niche, but so is a lot of other stuff.
@solf: I guess the point of the discussion is bafflement as to why someone would willingly choose such a tiny niche to fill with something potentially too expensive for it. Speculation seems to be wondering if they actually realize just how small a niche they were targeting with this mechanic, and if people who were championing the idea in principle, might not have considered how it does not work as they'd hoped in practice.
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