Bring Me to Life: Let's Hear it for Respawn Systems

I like both options. The hardcore, die and start over systems and more forgiving systems like borderlands.

Borderlands 2 really nailed it, in single player, at least if you died the boss would have full health when you came back and most of the "minion" enemies would respawn. That was a good compromise that prevented using respawns as a tactic.

There is something thrilling about getting through a game with a punishing difficulty.

The lack of save points in the original Aliens Vs Predator FPS greatly ratcheted up the tension since not only could you die really quickly and suddenly and have to start over, but each time you started over the enemies were randomly spawned.

Bring Me to Life: Let's Hear it for Respawn Systems

A game is only as good as its respawn system.

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I liked the Dark Souls respawn system as total fitted into the mood of the game. It was also few times that I didn't mind the 'respawn at death' dynamics.

However the enemy respawns in Borderlands are just fucking annoying. I liked there was some negative effect though as in it cost you money.

I'd have to agree with the whole sentiment of the article it really depends on the game.

That's actually a really good point about how the different Bad Companies did it, and the effect it had on gameplay.

Sadly, the respawn system was deeply flawed in Perfect Dark- one of the ony shortcomings of an otherwise excellent game.

In most cases(Dark Souls was an exception), I prefer quicksave. But I'm guessing this article is pointed more towards console games, which are less likely(not counting traditionally PC style games that migrated) to feature at will saving systems.

Bioshock's vita-chambers, while allowing you to 'experience' the story of Rapture, also undercut that experience by minimising any sense of threat the game offered. If you're going to have a game that takes place in a foreboding environment, you shouldn't diminish that atmosphere by making the experience a cakewalk. Both difficulty and accessibility ultimately contribute towards an experience and a balance must be met. And that balance must be tonally appropriate to the game.

Metroid Prime, with its challenging but fair spread of save stations still allowed you to experience the collapse of Tallon IV, but kept the sense of disquiet and danger that was integral to that experience of Tallon IV

My favorite re-spawn system: Far Cry 2, wherein you recruit a "buddy" who basically disappears off-screen and only reappears if you get taken out. Then you get a procedurally generated cut-scene where they rescue you, shoot nearby enemies, carry you off, administer medical treatment, and finally hand you a pistol and help you get out.

BioShock's Vita-Chambers annoyed me. When I fail, I'm used to being given another chance at taking it from the top and not making the mistakes I made the first time around. That's how games ensure that players actually improve their technique and are able to get away with increasing the difficulty as the game progresses. Switching out a proper autosave feature (or even a quicksave that doesn't kick you out to a loading screen for a few seconds) for multiplayer-style respawn keeps that from happening, and I blame it for why I've never gotten any better at surviving the first couple of Big Daddy fights in the game.

In fact, I kind of suspect the Vita-Chambers were created more because the programmers couldn't figure out how to make autosave work in a game with respawning enemies, largely nonlinear level design, and a dated engine originally designed for multiplayer games.

I prefer save and reload. Only few exceptions.

For games like Super Meatboy always respawning at the start of the level is fine though, because the levels are small and the game is set up to make you die alot. Save+reload would take to much time here. For games like this I don't mind doing some stuff all over again because the level feels like one integral experience.

For games with larger levels I don't like respawning, because the respawn points are usually spaced so to waste player time unnecessarily by maken the player do over the dull parts, when it's only the hard parts I need to practise on, so give me a proper save function (and maybe and autosave for some convenience).
I also feel that if a game is a bit more serious in presentation that the respawning feature kills the atmosphere. The PC is never in any real danger; he'll just walk out of the vita chamber (Bioshock) good as new if anything bad happens.

I think another important point to present here is that gamers are masochistic. They want to be punished for failing. Take a look at the new Prince of Persia, even though the game's respawn system was essentially a way of quickly trying an obstacle, failing and returning to the begging of said obstacle, it was bashed for 'not being able to die' even though dieing is just an animation before a respawn. They didn't say you respawn too close to the obstacle, or explain that this alters difficultly, most people just said 'can't die, too easy'. It's important to spin your system in such a way that players are happy, and inside players want to be hurt.

Disagree entirely on Bioshock: the Vita-Chambers are a major factor in why the game has such terrible pacing (the other being the 'Blue Key for the Blue Door' style of design). It doesn't help to gloss over encounters, merely ensures you endure them over and over again, and on dwindling supplies. It does nothing to enhance the game over a normal combination of automatic and manual saves.

Oh, yeah, I forgot that there's the scariness factor too. Maybe because I was never quite sure if BioShock was meant to be a scary game at all, or if some of the level designers just threw in scary bits for funzies, since they only appeared once or twice in each of three levels out of the whole game.

Really, BioShock was kind of a mess when you get right down to it. Even its biggest fans, I suspect, like the game it sounds like on paper way more than the actual finished product.

Bioshockīs Vita Chambers definitely werenīt good idea. I was so glad when they released a free DLC that allowed for them to be turned off and I never turned them back on. Suspense and survival are part of a game like this.

I wish they would use lives for check points and offer infinite continues as so you do not lose your progress, you should always have the option of going to another stage and getting more lives back.

Today's gaming is so on the rail so anti septic it kills me.....

I'm kind of surprised everytime I hear someone say Dark Souls death system is severe. You lose the game's currency/XP but retain all your equipment and you're no weaker then before. Maybe have to spend a humanity to go back to human form if you want to play online with the risks and benefits that come with that. The main drawback is that you have to redo that section of the game, and can freely farm for the one thing you've lost in any area of the game you've conquered already, making that redo a lot easier. Assuming you didn't unlock one of the shortcuts that every level has.

I dunno, maybe I've just been playing to much Steel Battalion or something, but it's only slightly more then "Try again" which is the basis of almost every game over state in games. And there's no chance of having to redo several hours because you forgot to save.

the mention of vita chambers predates bioshock. its been called the spiritual sequel to system shock and while it didnt quite have that IT factor its predecessor had it did share one similarity and thats the respawn chambers, although they tended to work better with system shocks sci fi setting

I'm an enormous fan of respawn systems that take the players death into account and just keep on playing. In a normal game being dumped to the menu or loading a previous save, potentially if I haven't even died completely breaks the flow of the game. If I respawn and the game takes it into consideration that doesn't happen at all. Dark Souls did it wonderfully in that you only really lost progress if you died in an area you'd been to before. If you died to one of it's many "screw you player" moments you would get to keep all your souls and humanity (bar 1) if you could just get further on your next attempt.

However clunky respawn systems are a bit of a problem. If the Vita chambers applied a tax on your money and or items when you died it would avoid the unfortunate situation of making leading Big Daddys to Vita chambers and just bumrushing them over and over the most effective strategy. The game could always keep going and never break flow but you'd feel like death was something you needed to avoid.

Personally i think the Vita Chambers in Bioshock ruins the game (atleast if you couldnīt switch them off). I just donīt see the point in having combat if you remove all difficulty, you could essentially kill everything with the wrench if you had the patience to do it, thereīs no tension whatsoever. You might as well remove all enemies and focus entirely on the exploratiion and the narrative, because whatīs the point in having the combat if it isnīt supposed to challenge the player in any way?

Actually i think respawn systems tends to be problematic in a lot of games. Unfortunately i canīt remember any good examples, but thereīs a lot of games where it is actually beneficial to kill yourself once in a while, because it restores your health and sometimes ammo. Other games do it well though, it works perfectly in Dark Sould for example.

My prefered system is "Shit happens, deal with it". Games where you can't die as such but setbacks happen that can be overcome. Strategy games always use this approach lately popularized by XCOM.

Then of course there are games where setbacks don't happen at all, because the challenge is of a different nature. Lucasarts adventures are the purest example of this.

When a game needs death, I prefer a limited save game system where saving is only allowed in certain areas. Borderlands got pretty close to the perfect system, but I prefer to have personal control of the specifics.

However clunky respawn systems are a bit of a problem. If the Vita chambers applied a tax on your money and or items when you died it would avoid the unfortunate situation of making leading Big Daddys to Vita chambers and just bumrushing them over and over the most effective strategy. The game could always keep going and never break flow but you'd feel like death was something you needed to avoid.

Bioshock did have a death tax if I remember correctly. The problem is that such a system breaks when the player is down to nothing left to lose. In Bioshock you could just keep rushing the enemies with the wrench, and it discouraged players from collecting better stuff.
The Borderlands games has a death tax as well, it worked well in the first game because the player would want to save up money for buying awesome guns. In the sequel however the system breaks because there is nothing to spend the cash on. Death tax systems probably need to be carefully integrated into the game world to work.

Bostur:
Bioshock did have a death tax if I remember correctly. The problem is that such a system breaks when the player is down to nothing left to lose. In Bioshock you could just keep rushing the enemies with the wrench, and it discouraged players from collecting better stuff.

You remember incorrectly. Bioshock had no penalties for successive, multiple respawns.

I have a fond memory of my roommate walking in while I was playing; I was trying to collect enough photos to max out my research on everything. He arrived while I was working on a machine gun turret. His monologue went something like this:

"Oh man, getting good pictures of those turrets was so hard... wait, what are you doing? Dude, you're standing right next to it, you're going to get shot. Dude! You're getting shot! Stop taking pictures, you're about to die... and now you're dead."

Me: "Yeah, but I got three good pictures of it."

Him: "I'm beginning to see why you're not finding this game scary."

Stop calling Dark Souls fair!

Max Payne 3 deserves a mention: After a few tries at an area you are gradually given more ammo and health to try and overcome it. It means you are never stuck with no health, 1 bullet and a million baddies. It means the game doesn't need some horrible infinite ammo weapon and the regenerating health is pretty much gone (except for the tinyest regen which was in all the other max payne games) It means the flow is never entirely broken and the game never becomes unfairly difficult. One of my favorite respawn mechanics and it suits the game perfectly. I really felt like the devs thought that one through so I could enjoy the game with the right amount of frustration.

Apparently I'm one of the few people who was fine with Bioshock's Vita-Chambers. It may have to do with a kind of willingness to self-direct; I never stopped trying not to avoid coming out of one of them, or decided suicidal tactics were "acceptable" because there wouldn't be a penalty. (By way of comparison, System Shock 2 stole nanites (money) from you every time you died, which made everything in the rest of the game harder- and that's one of many reasons I will shout until my dying day that SS2 is not a better game than Bioshock.)

The way arcades handled respawn played a significant part in their all-but-demise. Early video games didn't have real endings; players kept playing them as the game got (usually) faster and faster until the player couldn't handle them, which made the abilities of the incredibly good to survive for an hour or more quite fascinating to watch. Later video games had distinct endings, but many of them- at least, the better ones- still allowed players to play from beginning to end on one credit. In some cases this took careful study, some memorization, the discovery of secrets or learning them from other players, and a lot of practice, but it was at least possible.

But at some point, it just became S.O.P. that the player would get only a brief period of play- maybe as much as seven minutes, maybe as few as two- for their money. It didn't matter all that much how good you were at that game, or how many patterns you memorized; you weren't getting the life point restoration you needed to survive unavoidable, or nearly unavoidable, attacks. And in some cases, your time was literally counting down until you faced inevitable death- a trend that started, I believe, with Atari's Gauntlet, but was employed in a far more mercenary fashion by later designers. The rare arcade you see now is filled with games that are either intended to be complete experiences with each play (like the music games Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero), to create ride-like experiences hard to emulate with home hardware, or older games (often in poor repair.)

I kind've miss the arcade experience, honestly, but I've grown very tired of a style of game design that treated the player as a kind of passive money-sponge. The more modern "play-at-home" gaming can get past many of the follies that brought the coin-op era to its close, the better.

I prefer a system that actually explains why the player can continue. The bonfire mechanics and vita-chamber type systems are very clever and at least show some kind of thought on the matter. The save reload system has been getting only more archaic in my mind. I understand save and reload is the traditional way, but more story driven games should embrace a little evolution and come up with something. Platformers like Rayman or Super Meatboy get a free ride because their system works, but respawns like in Mario make no sense at all. Has Dr. Mario successfully cloned himself a set number of times and he just uses those to assault Bowser's Castle?

How bad do you have to be in a game for Bioshock's vita-chambers to actually matter?

You are given all the tools to survive most encounters and if you do manage to die then I would assume that you would at least spend some ammo and resources meaning that you would still be penalized...

Nobody did the brass balls achievement?

But what about the one, true respawn system: Rogue?

*That* was what dread felt like.

I came to the thread for the express purpose of expressing my disagreement about the article's take on BioShock's respawn system - having played it for the first time only about a week ago - and explaining why I found it to be the game's most crippling flaw by far. I'm glad to see that there's no need, as a comfortingly large number of people have already said everything I was going to.

 

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