The Death of the Death Penalty

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I have played quite a number of games, including one that, when you died, would take all the gold you had obtained up until that point. The game actually threw this in your face. "Scavengers thank you for the 2000gp left on your body!" And this was money you couldn't get back. And I've played Roguelikes, which have "Dead is Dead" all mapped out. I generally get to level 30 and end up dying and ragequitting for months until I decide to roll a new character and start again. Obviously, my inner masochist enjoys these games.

I end up somewhere in the middle. I want some penalty for dying (obviously, one that makes it a good thing to not die), but not to the point of ridiculousness.

I think it's all a matter of building your gameplay around it. Someone mentioned Bioshock in which death is a slap to the wrist. I didn't like it but I can see someone liking it. And there are games with crazy death penalties, like roguelikes, that literally have you start over. Roguelikes wouldn't be half as fun if that didn't happen, because it's a genre built on the variety of experiences that you have with every new 'life'.

ShadowKatt:
Okay! I get to toute Guild Wars again!

In Guild Wars there IS a death penalty. Every time you die, you get a semi-permanant condition called Death Penalty. It shows itself in the corner of the screen(or whereever you put your conditions) as a red box with a number percentage. What that number is is the percentage of your max heath and energy that is taken away from you. Each time you die, you take 15% DP, so if you had 100 health, now you have 85. And it's cumulative to a cap of 60%. Short of missions, if you die and there is nothing to raise you, you and everyone else that's dead will pop back to the nearest resurrection shrine and you can go at it again, but with that death penalty. The incentive to avoid dying is simply this: 15% DP is easy to live with. You can kill monsters and work it off easily enough. at 60% DP, you're minus more than half of your health and energy. Warriors no longer have the energy to use their skills. Mages no longer have the health to survive a battle. It can't go any higher than 60, but depending on where you are it doesn't have to. Now you can keep plugging away and you may be able to finish what you were doing, but each time you die it gets harder.

That's touting? That's a horrible mechanic. If you're doing well you're you'll keep doing well, but if you screw up once it'll get harder and harder until you can't finish the level at all. That's the opposite of what it's supposed to do.

The way Torchlight had it laid out was pretty neat:

Resurrect where you fall = Lose a lot of gold and fame.

Resurrect back at the start of a level = Lose some gold.

Resurrect back in town = Lose Nothing.

It's of course little more than a making you make a choice as to how much time you want to waste getting back into the game, but it's a nice set of choices to have all the same.

Also, loading kind of bugs me, it's not a punitive death penalty, but with all the advances in game tech, why is it exactly we're still forced to load the game again to re-do a level/area when we fail? I not all that savvy on the technical things, but can someone explain why I have to load a save/watch the loading screen again after dying in an area that's -already- been loaded? Is there not some way to have that info. stored in some kind of temporary buffer when your character dies and make the process instantaneous?

I mean, Prince of Persia seemed to do it fine, and many games that use checkpoint systems also have minimal wait times between deaths, why can't all games have something similar? Are games like Oblivion or Fallout 3 simply too large and system heavy to implement this? BioShock, woeful as the Vita-Chambers were, was pretty comp. intensive at times but didn't seem to struggle with regards to this.

Diablo 2 did it right. You got to play the training wheels game until you learned it. Then when you were ready you played the "real" game on hardcore mode.

WoW needs a hardcore server that you can't play on until you already have an 85. But without pvp deaths (or deaths caused while recently in combat with other players) counting, because WoW pvp is hideously broken and unbalanced.

The Random One:
I think it's all a matter of building your gameplay around it. Someone mentioned Bioshock in which death is a slap to the wrist. I didn't like it but I can see someone liking it. And there are games with crazy death penalties, like roguelikes, that literally have you start over. Roguelikes wouldn't be half as fun if that didn't happen, because it's a genre built on the variety of experiences that you have with every new 'life'.

ShadowKatt:
Okay! I get to toute Guild Wars again!

In Guild Wars there IS a death penalty. Every time you die, you get a semi-permanant condition called Death Penalty. It shows itself in the corner of the screen(or whereever you put your conditions) as a red box with a number percentage. What that number is is the percentage of your max heath and energy that is taken away from you. Each time you die, you take 15% DP, so if you had 100 health, now you have 85. And it's cumulative to a cap of 60%. Short of missions, if you die and there is nothing to raise you, you and everyone else that's dead will pop back to the nearest resurrection shrine and you can go at it again, but with that death penalty. The incentive to avoid dying is simply this: 15% DP is easy to live with. You can kill monsters and work it off easily enough. at 60% DP, you're minus more than half of your health and energy. Warriors no longer have the energy to use their skills. Mages no longer have the health to survive a battle. It can't go any higher than 60, but depending on where you are it doesn't have to. Now you can keep plugging away and you may be able to finish what you were doing, but each time you die it gets harder.

That's touting? That's a horrible mechanic. If you're doing well you're you'll keep doing well, but if you screw up once it'll get harder and harder until you can't finish the level at all. That's the opposite of what it's supposed to do.

If you don't like having a DP, go back to town and start over? What, do you want someone back at the res shrine with a cookie to make it all better? It's a PENALTY for dying, and a hell of a lot better than losing your inventory to other players as they loot your corpse. Besides, if "you're doing well" then you shouldn't die, should you? Dying means you screwed up, and so you get penalized.

And yes, sometimes you die enough that you can't finish the quest or the mission or clear the map, and you have to start over. Like the article said, if you're going to take away the penalty, then you're just invicable with a temporary lapse of consciousness, and there's no incentive to do well or get better. I tend to think Guild Wars has a very good system that's punishing but not damaging to the players.

I don't think it was the length of Too Human's death animation thing that was the problem, at least not on its own, I think it was the fact that it happened so damn often because it was WAY too easy to die. WTF is wrong with a good old-fashioned health potion, you bastards?!

I don't remember much about that game now, never even finished it, but the image of that damned golden Valkyrie is etched into my brain to this day.

Punitive indeed.

My answer: it depends on the game. As has been said, death and death penalties make dying and surviving meaningful. Otherwise, you're just going from A to B with some minor inconveniences along the way.

You want to talk masochistic fun? Get yourself a copy of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, a wonderful game where you don't just die: you die and have to start over from scratch. It sounds like an exercise in frustration, but there is something to be said about that magical feeling of achievement when you can scratch tooth & nail to make it a bit further.

(I've restarted well over 30 times and still haven't come close to the game's goal.)

Single player never inflicts more than a couple minutes penalty? Only if you're just trying to complete, games where you're being ranked, a mistake can cost you a fair bit more time than that.

Just to make an example, lets say you're trying to get platinum on a level on Bayonetta, or triple S rank a level on DanteMustDie mode. If during the last boss you screw up and get hit by the instant death attack...you have to use a continue or yellow orb and your shot at platinum/SSS is kinda screwed up, time to go back to the start of the level.

Aye - randomly-generated levels make permadeath workable. I'm the kind of guy who'll ragequit after only a few deaths in a "typical" game - but in NetHack I just jump back in.

I see your point. There are games were, as you said, dying feels natural and sometimes even entertaining, but sometimes it's just way too painful.

In singleplayer games, the only game that made death very annoying was FarCry on the PC. That game (without mods that already corrects this problem) only relied on checkpoints and you couldn't never, ever, be able to save and/or quicksave. Sometimes the distance between checkpoints was pretty far and that becomes a real problem about half-way and beyond. I never finished this game for that very reason, and because I hated those damnes mutant monkeys.

For MMOs, belive it or not, I played Ultima Online in a private server a few years ago, after playing World of Warcraft for a year or so (Burning Crusade era) and I felt your pain when you died. I clearly saw where Blizzard took it's inspiration for death, but WoW made it a million times better. Guild Wars was another MMO where the death mechanic is very frustrating.

Guild Wars won't take away your precious XP, it won't wear down your armor or weapons as there is no need at all to repair armor and weapons, in fact, there is no such option, your armor and weapons never wear and are always up and running for the next battle. Nor does it make you walk overly long distances to reach your corpse. So, if those penalties are completely nonexistant on that game, what does it make it so annoying?. When you die, you resurrect at the nearest resurrection shrine, but your stats are lowered temporaly and the only way to remove those are returning to a Post or Town or kill like a million baddies to return to your normal stats.

You're severly weakened and you may not survive the next battle, when you die again, you get even more weaker and so on and so forth until you get your stats at 60% lower than they originally were, forcing you to retreat the nearest Post or Town and battle all the way, again, killing the same baddies you already killed, if you killed any in the first place.

But also death can be rewarding, even make it part of the story itself, just look at Planescape Torment. I can't say much, because it would be a spoiler, but I'll just say that to solve something that may not have a solution at all, death is the only way to go.

When I tried out SWTOR at one of the later conventions the death system looked interesting, it was either get knocked unconcsious and sent to a medbay or use resources to revive yourself during the battle (both probably have a few setbacks) but I didn't get to try any out because the guy running the station did something that sent me back to the starting point...or something.

GothmogII:

Also, loading kind of bugs me, it's not a punitive death penalty, but with all the advances in game tech, why is it exactly we're still forced to load the game again to re-do a level/area when we fail? I not all that savvy on the technical things, but can someone explain why I have to load a save/watch the loading screen again after dying in an area that's -already- been loaded? Is there not some way to have that info. stored in some kind of temporary buffer when your character dies and make the process instantaneous?

Storing an area in a buffer would presumably (I'm not checking my facts here, i'm about to go to bed and if I check i'll research all night) make the loading screens even longer, due to having to load it and keep an extra copy. It works for small files (youtube videos) but its horrible for larger files.

Actually, this is just in theory, but I may as well think "out loud". I'm pretty sure the level would have to be held in the same state in the RAM constantly. With games trying to use up every inch of a computers capability, it's would just not be acceptable to think everyone has that space in their computer to spare.

I'm going to have to talk this one through with my computing teacher. You've peaked my curiousity

Well, there is a difference in death penalty for sure. But in the past is was more enjoyable for some games because they made the entire level enjoyable instead of only certain parts. When playing SMB even though the last level had **** being thrown at you from everywhere you never really thought, "God I can't believe I have to play this part again." It was more under the lines "Okay I died in the area coming up, how do I not die there again." You thought this mostly because there were patterns to see and the mistake came from you messing up, not because of the enemy AI.

Now when you play games like we have today, the AI tends to take cheap shots at us for no expected reason nor can we tell when it will come. AI could go from magically 1-shoting us with a pistol from 300 yards away. To knowing the exact moment to throw a grenade that will give the player no time to react and die.

Could you imagine playing Mega-man where the boss knew when you would jump and countered you every time. Or in Zelda where the enemy knew the second you brought your defense down and attacked. I would say that deaths have been less about the player messing up and more on how the computer AI can just **** with you. Which doesn't make gaming fun in deaths as it used to.

To me there would be a simple fix: Blame the AI. No I don't mean that it would be the games software's fault. I mean that if you took a cheap shot on the enemy in the distance and were able to place the blame on the enemy near you, you could have his own friends turn on him. There are multiple occasions in real life where a feud between two people somehow brought in the spectators as well. Turns into a messy free for all but enjoyable to watch.

Iron Lightning:
No, death penalties make games more fun. Case in point: EVE Online the game with the best pvp combat that I've ever experienced. In EVE Online when you die you lose your ship, your ship's inventory, and even some skills if you don't have an up-to-date clone. That's like if in, say, WoW every time you died the only things you'd have left would be your money and whatever is in your bank. This makes the combat amazingly pulse-pounding. The threat of real loss gives a thrill in combat that makes the experience all the more worthwhile. It's a bit like the feeling of bungee jumping.

There's another game, Vindictus, which has a different take on death penalties. In Vindictus every character has the option to resurrect themselves... for about 0.30 USD in real world money. Soloing in Vindictus thereby becomes extremely fun. $0.30 is not much but just the fact that you might lose something real gives every threatening boss fight real dramatic weight.

In every other narrative medium death is very often permanent. When a character dies in a book or film and later returns perfectly fine the book or film is met with a lot of hate (see: Highlander: Endgame) Without death resulting in real loss it's impossible for fights to have significant emotional impact.

I have to disagree with the flat "no" at the beginning of your post. When you have a legitimate threat of loss, yeah, the game is more pulse-pounding. And when you then do lose, it's decidedly unfun and you (or at least I) want to throw something, and possibly do. The moment a game stops being fun is when it fails, and in my opinion getting pissed off is unfun.

Well, on one heand I hate most severe death penalties... but on the other hand, I love EVE Online and its PVP combat is awesome in part because of the death penalty... putting a lot on the line can really ratchet up the intensity, and even a relatively uneventful lowsec/nullsec roam can up my heart rate a bit.

Also, on the debate about Guild Wars's penalty: It didn't really bother me. yes, the penalty could be a thorn in your side and it did provide positive feedback for defeat, which is not a good thing, but I thought it felt pretty natural and did a good job at keeping players with an incentive to avoid death in a game where the resurrections are otherwise pretty cheap and easy to come by.

On the topic of death penalties, Guild wars 2 is supposedly not going to have one past having to wait for someone to resurrect you (which anyone can do and they get a small xp bonus for doing so) or teleporting to a waypoint of your choice. In fact you get rewarded for just participating in the world events even if they fail (granted, it's a smaller reward)

Witty Name Here:
I think they have to lighten up death penalties in games because they actually might be getting HARDER these days.

Some people like to rage that casuals are making games released these days easier, but I think that's only because death is less noticeable. Look at a game like mirror's edge or Call of Duty, if you pay attention, you might notice you die more times in games like that then in "Super Mario Brothers" or even demon souls. If they were to add a penalty to that, it would make the game near impossible to play.

I think people are claiming games are "easier" just because death isn't as noticeable now, just a simple save and load, etc. But imagine every time you die in a game like Prototype, or Call of Duty, that you had to restart the whole level over again? You probably would be throwing your controller at the TV at that point because you can't pass a certain level without checkpoints.

Not really, try going back some and have very long times in between saves, an easy to fix it is checkpoints before and after every large enemy encounter and the ability to start the area over again. Basically give me the choice of location to start from when I die and do remember what my fng equipment was.... I really hate it when a game only saves the level and no tthe location and the has the nerve to give you default equipment....

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To the op
Frankly for SP games I miss the life system, in more of a way you access check points than you dead go back to square 1.

Also death needs to work in a fashion that you simply do not want to die, IE you die you lose half of your money. Something bioshock bypassed completely a shame when a dev goes retarded like that.

For MMOs you have 2 issues at play a much longer and complicated game needs a less annoying death mechanics. I kinda liked FF11s death mechanic but for one thing when you get knocked a level you lose the ability to use that levels stuff, and that should not be, the death mechanic should focus on levels 2 levels per death under 20, 2 levels twice as much exp to gain per death under 40,ect,ect.

Tho for new games like wow:AC and such where you can level to 10 in 3-6 hours you need to start out 2 at double exp rate, the only thing that the game cares about is all the stats/bonus you gained, but to use and get powers,equipment ect,ect it sees your real numbers.

Now we can take this mechanic and add a pay off mechanic say you are tried of dredging for exp either in game money or IRL money under 4$ you can pay it all off.

The best way to pay it off is to calculate the cost of the character minus rare equipment, includes cash/items/equipment on hand or in storage, say current character costs about 2000 , so first DP is half that 1000, then anymore than 1 DP is a quarter that so if you are 4 DP in its 1750 to pay it off.

Good riddance.
Losing hours over hours of progress is what makes you quit, not what makes a game "more fun".
Only short games should penalize death. You know, like super meat boy.
Games can be very challenging and fun without shoving a train up your rear for one misstep.

Death needs to exists as a failure to slap the players hand and say "you fail." A game need to have a failure condition or its no fun. We like to win, but winning all the time is predictable and boring. Like you hinted at in your article, its all about balance and what is appropriate to provide a punishment but not be so severe that it the player gives up. For example, lets take the (new) Prince of Persia. Lots of people complained about never being able to "die" and it being too easy. This drove them away because they felt no difficulty and incentive to try and win. Yet, I found that although you couldn't "die" you could still fail, and failure still set you back and punished the player. The punishment was light, only setting the player back a minute or two, a mechanic that seems to encourage trying again until you get it and minimize time to get back to where you fail over punishing for failing. I personally think that forcing the player to traps back through a section and redemonstrative there knowledge of obstacle they already did is pointless and like the idea of immediately putting you back to take on the challenge you lost not the ones you already know. Still, it is clear from opinion that the perception here is that there is not enough punishment and thus an empty sense of accomplishment. It's the designer's job to find the sweet spot that is between "too much, I give up" and "too little, this is boring."
It's not an easy task and clearly no one can ever be right since people and players are all different but its an important design point for any game.

Awesome games discussion Shamus (as always) but coincidentally I've always wondered at the death penalties found in old rts genre games. Like compare Close Combat: A bridge Too Far and Dawn of War.

Every soldier, from every unit, from every theatre, had a name, rank, experience, morale, number of bullets. And this was carried into the *next battle* fought in the theatre as well in the campaign modes.

Every dead/incapacitated soldier meant the loss of that soldier, permanently from your campaign in CC: ABTF.

So do you risk that rifleman unit you've had since day 1 of Operation Marketgarden to storm that german machinegun unit that has been 'smoked' when theres a good chance it will be assaulted by a german infantry platoon hiding in the cottage on the other side of the road? Or do you all that machinegun unit to hold you up as they allow german infantry to get into defensive position for a counter attack ... inevitably losing more of your beloved troopers?

Whereas modern games such as the Dawn of War, you don't get these attachments beyond the mechanics of their presence ... the attachment to a squad of guardsman is very very low because if a guardsman dies ...? Meh ... hit train button .... done.

But in the old close combat series? A dead soldier was a dead soldier ... he will never be back, his experience is gone and will never return ... and if casualties get too high you may be forced to disband the unit permanently to make room for a more effective (albeit rookie) unit of troops.

That sort of death penalty in a game without death penalties beyond victory or defeat I always found startling.

Then there's defcon: Everybody dies ... and that's just bleak and terryfying ... no DP ../. just that knotted pit in your stomach as you see 50-60 nukes bearing on your cities and you have only 2-3 towers left and knowing that you've been utterly destroyed.

F-I-D-O:

Iron Lightning:

le snip

There's another game, Vindictus, which has a different take on death penalties. In Vindictus every character has the option to resurrect themselves... for about 0.30 USD in real world money. Soloing in Vindictus thereby becomes extremely fun. $0.30 is not much but just the fact that you might lose something real gives every threatening boss fight real dramatic weight.

In every other narrative medium death is very often permanent. When a character dies in a book or film and later returns perfectly fine the book or film is met with a lot of hate (see: Highlander: Endgame) Without death resulting in real loss it's impossible for fights to have significant emotional impact.

Gandalf. Didn't see the LOTR books/movies met with a lot of hate over that. Even Harry Potter in book 7

.
And charging to come back? That's just stupid and cheap. Please tell me you can come back without paying, as that is just a TERRIBLE idea. Charging for failure + an online fee does not look like fun for me. I get "I might lose something" being fun, but charging for making a mistake is NOT A GOOD IDEA. We'll have activison charging a nickel for every online death on CoD if you want to keep playing.

Yes sir, in Vindictus if you die then you can choose just to fail the dungeon and return to town or wait for someone else to resurrect you. I'm sorry if I was unclear.

It's true that there isn't a lot of hate over the Gandalf's death and subsequent resurrection. I attribute this to the fact that it was somewhat explained and if anyone could come back from the dead it would be Gandalf. Still I know I wasn't the only one who bated an eye at Gandalf the White. It's still a lot better than when someone comes back without any explanation like in Highlander: Endgame. My point is that videogames need more dramatic weight in their combat and that can be best achieved by a significant death penalty.

Honestly, I prefer fairly harsh death penalties in MMORPGs. But I don't play 'em for community, or Skinner Box rewards... the only way I've ever had fun in any of those damn games is immersion through light role play. I'd prefer to be part of a fantastic world that tries not to break my suspension of disbelief.

FaceFaceFace:

Iron Lightning:
No, death penalties make games more fun. Case in point: EVE Online the game with the best pvp combat that I've ever experienced. In EVE Online when you die you lose your ship, your ship's inventory, and even some skills if you don't have an up-to-date clone. That's like if in, say, WoW every time you died the only things you'd have left would be your money and whatever is in your bank. This makes the combat amazingly pulse-pounding. The threat of real loss gives a thrill in combat that makes the experience all the more worthwhile. It's a bit like the feeling of bungee jumping.

There's another game, Vindictus, which has a different take on death penalties. In Vindictus every character has the option to resurrect themselves... for about 0.30 USD in real world money. Soloing in Vindictus thereby becomes extremely fun. $0.30 is not much but just the fact that you might lose something real gives every threatening boss fight real dramatic weight.

In every other narrative medium death is very often permanent. When a character dies in a book or film and later returns perfectly fine the book or film is met with a lot of hate (see: Highlander: Endgame) Without death resulting in real loss it's impossible for fights to have significant emotional impact.

I have to disagree with the flat "no" at the beginning of your post. When you have a legitimate threat of loss, yeah, the game is more pulse-pounding. And when you then do lose, it's decidedly unfun and you (or at least I) want to throw something, and possibly do. The moment a game stops being fun is when it fails, and in my opinion getting pissed off is unfun.

While I agree with you in that receiving a death penalty can be unfun, I'm of the opinion that the risk is worth the reward. That's just my opinion, though.

I have to agree with PaulH. Having harsh and/or permadeath penalties changes the way that you play. I'm guessing the penalties in wow are for the pvp areas, to prevent one wide from becoming nearly invulnerable if they happen to be close to a resurrection point.

It also works to make you play more conservatively even without competition. In the free mmo www.realmofthemadgod.com , you can reach the top level within a few hours... But you'll constant be paranoid trying to prevent them from permadying and probably poising all of the equipment. The agonizing situations happen when your friends are in trouble and you have to weigh preventing their deaths against loosing you own skin. In RotMG the permanent death and loss of items makes people keep coming back to what would otherwise be a pretty short game, and the item loss both prevents the game from being flooded with top tier items and encourages player to work together to save each others items from fading away (or steal the items for themselves but that's a different story).

Much like old school roguelikes, he permadeath adds depth to RotMG because it changes the way that you play. but this would not work out well for a game like WoW where each character takes an exponentially great time investment. Not to mention the pvp elements in WoW. Can you just imagine the grieving in WoW if the deaths were permanent? Players from each side would be regularly trying to wipe out the other sides' low level characters before they become a high level threat. Assassinations of high level characters would be server wide news. There would be huge arms races for to tier items. It would be a totally different game.

Actually that sounds like a cool idea for a different kind of game. It would be a lot less casual though.

Shamus Young:

Is it time to retire the death penalty in games?

No, and I'd fight to keep it.

You talk about how death is a punishment. I'd say death can also be a reward and a learning experience in itself. It just has to be handled properly.

Example: Gordon Freeman's HEV suit

You know when you're dying, you know what death will cause you, you're actually frightened of death. And you swear at the enemy rather than the death.

Same as the A.I. Director in Left 4 Dead. You swear at it, rather than the death.

BUT...in Too Human, you're stuck in treacle trying to defend yourself and then it slings in 10 seconds of "You were shit!".

That's where the problem comes, IMHSHO. Treat death with respect and it's as meaningful as it's ever been. Turn it into a fingerwag and you'll piss people off.(Unless you want to piss them off - IWBTG)

(Seriously, what would you replace Death with in IWBTG?)

One interesting thing that no one has pointed out about Bioshock is how the death system worked itself into the story


Of course I turned off that mechanic after the first playthrough, but I did feel like that part of the story was deadened by quick-loading all the time.

And I also wanted to nod at Guild Wars for doing death penalties right. Some one said that was shit because it might make a section impossible after a while, and that was true, but if you had to give up, all you had to do was instantly warp back to town to remove the penalty. It gave you incentive to not die, but it didn't rape you for one mistake. Only after 4 or more mistakes did it really matter.

Also, another nod to Too Human for being retarded with the death penalty. It almost was slapping you in the face for not being good enough in a game that was hard. For a game where I heard the devs were OBSESSED with game flow, I have no idea why you'd implement a feature like that which slowed the flow down to a snail's pace.

the death penalty is needed,if there wasnt or it was very lenient it wouldnt be very fun. you unfairly compare "Too Human" to "WoW" now lets look at this.

in "Too Human" if you were playing a melee fighter death was CONSTANT every 5-10 seconds you died,then a 20 sec un-skipable cutseen,then you would once again die in said time frame then repeat about 5-10 times in nearly every encounter.if you played ranged you wouldnt die as much though you would have to pick away at each individual enemy with at least 20 hits each to take one down. out of that there was no other penalty.so invulnerability there...if you dont mind the wait.

now compared to "WoW" if you die a few things happen. first when you die the fight you were in all things left alive (unless their boss specific mobs) would regain their lost live and remove all debuffs. next you will have to release your spirit and track down your corpse to revive,its no so bad even if its a 5 min walk cause in that time you can think/discuss of an new strategy to defeat that encounter/boss,and on top for that your equipment gets damaged by 10% everything you have equipped. its a loss of money,and repairs get pretty expensive after some time. and with this you can only die a set amount of times before you HAVE to go back to a town/settlement and repair.but that can be cutout threw engineering if you get not only the mats but also the recipe itself.so again another time waster. lastly it makes it a learning experience,it allows you to adapt and (once again) think instead of just throwing yourself at it again. (i might have missed something else but i cant remember for not playing for a while)
all in all its a death experience that you want to try and avoid,though its not too demanding to make you fear death and afraid to take risks.

though you really cant compare the 2 seeing as one is an MMO and the other is a SPE.

but all it really comes down to is tastes,some people like death to be a challenge to overcome,while others want a more relaxed death penalty.

i would prefer if death was something to be feared,but not so much so that it scares people away from risks. your saying that the already relaxed death penalties area bit too much,i say let them be in the middle at least hardcore to the rare extreme,but any easier,then death wont be a fear or something to avoid again in the near future.

just my 2 cents...

I have to disagree. When I played Kirby's Epic Yarn, as cute as the game was I couldn't help but notice that when the only penalty for getting hurt was a loss of beads (or whatever those things were), the game became a lot less challenging and pretty soon, it began to suck a lot of fun out of the title. By the time I reached the end of the game, I found myself wishing that Kirby wasn't so darn invincible. I can't help but think that the lack of an ability to die (and by default, a death penalty) is a large part of the reason why I've made little effort to play the game anymore since I beat it.

Contrast to games that do offer a more traditional death penalty, such as the Super Mario series (particularly since I just got the All Stars game). When I can die and get sent back to the beginning of the level or the half way point, or have to start all over while trying to collet 100 purple Luigi coins, I get a much greater sense of accomplishment out of actually pulling it off than when I'm playing Kirby where getting to the end of the level is a guaranteed thing. Plus playing the levels themselves is a lot more intense when I have the worry that one wrong move could cost me big time.

So I think that when done right, death penalties actually do make games more fun.

Arguably death should be a set back, but still fun. Idk how to explain like a previous poster was saying death works in most single player action games like call of duty because it's a quick back to last checkpoint thing so you have to find a different way to beat that one part, and this is a lot less noticeable than running back to your corpse and then back to wherever it is you're questing in a MMORPG. I guess the difference is what you do when regaining that lost time back. I guess a good death animation which sets you back but not necessarily by replacing you far away would work, or if some logic was applied to where you come back, like at the nearest hospital-ish place could help build realism, but overall if dying makes the game boring it's not working right. Frustrating as all heck, sure, but avoid boring.

Space Jawa:
I have to disagree. When I played Kirby's Epic Yarn, as cute as the game was I couldn't help but notice that when the only penalty for getting hurt was a loss of beads (or whatever those things were), the game became a lot less challenging and pretty soon, it began to suck a lot of fun out of the title. By the time I reached the end of the game, I found myself wishing that Kirby wasn't so darn invincible. I can't help but think that the lack of an ability to die (and by default, a death penalty) is a large part of the reason why I've made little effort to play the game anymore since I beat it.

If you read the article you'd see Shamus clearly stating that removing all punishment for death is bad for this very reason.

Zukhramm:

Space Jawa:
I have to disagree. When I played Kirby's Epic Yarn, as cute as the game was I couldn't help but notice that when the only penalty for getting hurt was a loss of beads (or whatever those things were), the game became a lot less challenging and pretty soon, it began to suck a lot of fun out of the title. By the time I reached the end of the game, I found myself wishing that Kirby wasn't so darn invincible. I can't help but think that the lack of an ability to die (and by default, a death penalty) is a large part of the reason why I've made little effort to play the game anymore since I beat it.

If you read the article you'd see Shamus clearly stating that removing all punishment for death is bad for this very reason.

Must not have paid close enough attention to the full article. >_<

Borderlands almost perfected death, with the only loss was some money and that you respawned not so far away. Left 4 dead was also good at death, you got a little break and lost your equipment but that could be found right next to your corpse so your friends could take it for you. In single player in battlefield: bad company it was just to easy, you respawned right next to were you had died and you had infinite lives. As long as you had ammo you could get through anything.

both of "MMO"s I play have no death penalty, they are Die2nite(this is built around dying) and TDP4 team battle(only top 100 people and those playing player-made tournaments care about their deaths)

I think there should be additional rewards for "acing" a section without dying/damage rather than punishing failure. That way the hardcore get their reward for putting the time in and doing it "right" and your kid sister can bumble her way to the end racking up 64 deaths. If the combat mechanics are good players should want to get through without dying.

Eve seems to have a big following and the death penalty there can be quite steep. I'd also like to add that I loved my time on Endwar where experienced units could be killed rather than just defeated. It changed peoples strategy and cut out the rambo tactics with powerful units, if hey were defeated and isolated then they could be killed perminently before the evac chopper arrived. Added a whole new level of spite and entertainment that would not be there otherwise.

The game becomes more real if a kill feels like you have struck a major "blow" to the enemy rather than thinking hell respawn in 5 minutes and well go again.

Interestingly I don't think you need a huge penalty for deaths to make the hardcore take it seriously. If there is death tally that is easily viewed by anyone then the serious crowd would hate this to show they keep getting smashed up.

Witty Name Here:
I think they have to lighten up death penalties in games because they actually might be getting HARDER these days.

Harder than Contra? Gouls n Ghosts? Druid? Bionic Commando? Thunderforce? You died an awful lot on those games. Unless I ramp the difficulty up to hardest I rarely die on modern games unless its something like team deathmatch.

I beat 3 on that list without cheats, I'm not sure I have the stomach for it now though. I'm now an adult with other time commitments.

I think the industry may need to rethink the whole mentality of success and failure, this may seem a bizarre question but why do games need death at all? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about something like Fable 3 where death is irrelevant, I'm talking about having something other than death, because y'see the problem is that death is an ending, but in the process of trial-&-error that is play we don't actually want our games to end, as such.

So why not make death a new (bittersweet) beginning?
I remember when I used to play ES:Oblivion I would eventually get bored of playing whatever character I'd created then go back and create a new one so I could experience a different style of play or readjust my attributes or whatever. So what if (hypothetically) dying in a MMO means you lose your character, but you get to start again with that character's son/daughter/protégée/apprentice/whatever who has... oh I dunno, an innate stat boost or something.

This could completely change the way MMOs are played, instead of taking one character up a linear path of ascension the player would instead raise each character to the height of their potential, then (willingly or not) pass the proverbial baton on to the next, effectively going back and forth in terms of power, so their current character can "stand on the shoulders of giants", so to speak.

Obviously this is a very rough idea, but you get my point right?
Death need not be an ending, it could be a trade-off, a subplot, a sacrifice, even the goal of the game itself if you've got a twisted mind.

Also I'd like to see characters die of old age in MMOs, which again helps to expand out of the linear nature of these games, just imagine if WOW was like the game "kind of the hill", if levels were actually meaningful.

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