On Deadly Consequences (Part 2)

A few of the other bloggers have been discussing how many feel WoW is too easy, and some of them are saying that one way to toughen it up is to make the penalties stiffer. Let me be clear before I start talking about this: Whether or not changing death penalties would actually be of benefit to the gameplay of WoW is completely irrelevant. A good portion of the WoW player base plays because they had friends who played who got them into the game. They have no real interest in playing to "beat the challenges", they only care about getting new shiny purple text to put in their equipment slot so they can show it off to said friends and say "My pixels are better than yours!" I used to be of this kind of mind, but this was back when having the purple text meant "I'm better at this game than you." Now it just means "I got my pixels before you did even though it required little effort on my part." If Blizzard was to go and change the difficulty of the game by adding new penalties, a good portion of those socially inclined players would quit playing as the game would no longer be roflstompable and Blizzard would then lose half of their profits. Players can whine and complain and moan all they want about how the game is too easy, but they are the minority of players now. Blizzard made the conscious decision to make the game easier and make raiding content more accessible because it keeps a much larger percentage of the player base playing than if they'd left it how it was, and if the minority of nostalgic players quit, then they would lose a much smaller portion of their income.

All of that is neither here nor there though, as I'm not in the business of what would make someone else's game better. I'm in the business of talking about my own, and all of this other talk has gotten me thinking about death penalties again. I'd considered having permanent death be an option. That would make sense, as when an NPC dies, an unnamed one anyways, they are dead forever. They are replaced by another NPC who is just as replaceable and disposable as the first, but the first one is dead. This wouldn't be such an incredibly awesome idea though for players. Even if you went through the entire game completing a good portion of content, as soon as you stepped into a dungeon, which is supposed to be harder than normal content by default, you run the risk of death. After playing through that much of the game, having your character die and having to start over would make people quit out of frustration.

I was considering the lore of the world I've mostly created and realized that when someone dies, their soul is sent to be united with the supreme goddess of the world. That is the overall purpose of the world, after all. Mortals die, their souls go and join with the goddess, and she is then replenished. After enough of this, she is completely rejuvenated and able to go about her business. However, there are now threats in the Goddess' world which would interfere with and possibly stop that from happening. When a person dies they are taken to the Otherworld, which is a specific section of the Astral Plane where the Goddess resides sleeping and all of her minions are scurrying about collecting souls of the departed and doing their job.

What if, when a player dies, they could be taken to the head of the minions and he could say "Hey, I've gotten several messages from the lesser gods about you. They say you've been doing a lot of good work lately, and you could be useful in the fight against these threats to our world. Go through this door. It will lead you to a series of hallways. Through each hallway is a portal that will lead you to a temple for one of those lesser gods, where you will be instantly resurrected. Talk to the priests and ask for an audience with the God of that temple. If they agree, they can make you one of their champions. This will allow you to resurrect from death as long as you are under their protection, and if you do work for them, you can be granted blessings to help you in your battles. If you go through the door at the end of the hall though, you can meet your final fate if you feel your work here is done."

There would be hallways that each lead to a temple, and the last door would lead to the Goddess where the character would join with her, and the player could then make a new character. Of course, after going into the portal and arriving at a temple, a player could just leave without speaking to the resident deity. Players who do this would have their next death be permanent, no questions or exceptions. Players who do go would gain the ability to resurrect from death, provided certain conditions which I haven't decided yet. Perhaps they would have to perform quests for the deity once in a while. Maybe it would require them to visit once in a while. Maybe the quests would be a death penalty. You die, and you have to go do some task for me within a certain time frame. (This also would tie into my other idea about how players could choose a god to worship and gain benefits such as increased stats, changed or completely new abilities, and so on. Losing reputation could be a death penalty.)

This would allow players to have a hardcore option if they so desired. They could just leave the temple once they take the portal. This could also allow for certain NPCs to gain these benefits as well. Generals of armies, and other warriors who fight against the threats to the world could come back to life if they so desired and it would lend a bit of credibility to them respawning after being killed.

I also like the idea that when a player dies, there should be other penalties. Armor durability seems to be a well regarded penalty, though I'm planning to have players be able to repair their own armor. The cost would be in the materials required to do so. Cloth armor would be fairly cheap to repair since you just need a bit of cloth and thread. Leather, Mail, and Plate would work in similar ways in that the higher an armor class is, the more expensive the materials become to repair it. There will be vendor NPCs who can repair armor as well, but I'm thinking of having the price of a repair be based on the player controlled market prices of the required materials.

There were some ideas that I didn't like as well. The experience loss idea didn't seem like it was incredibly great. In a game like Everquest or WoW, the main point is to advance your characters through the levels through quests, dungeons, whatever. Losing experience would be a fair penalty under this kind of system (though it wouldn't have to be as large as what is being suggested by many of the other bloggers. Maybe 2% or just the value of the last 10 mobs killed or something). In a system like mine where there are no levels and experience is spread out over different abilities, that becomes much more complicated. Which abilities would lose experience? How much would they lose? How long would the experience be lost for if it's not a permanent loss? I think this would be much better handled by simply changing the mobs.

In a system like this where there aren't any character levels, there naturally aren't any mob levels either. As players become stronger, learn new abilities, and get better stats, the mobs learn new abilities. Each mob would have a set of abilities that it could have at maximum potential, and the higher up a player gets, the more the mobs can use their ability sets. For example, an enemy NPC mage could have an array of different spells similar to a players, and the higher a player's stats and ability levels, the more of these spells a Mage could use, or the Mage could get specific spells to counter different player abilities. Each mob would have a strategy to defeat it and the more the player rises in power, the more they have to start strategizing kills and the less they can just run into combat and burn the enemy down. There wouldn't be a need for a penalty in this case. There would be the option of grouping to defeat the mobs, but the mobs would adjust to any new players in a group and balance that out, but if the player doesn't grow in skill then they hit a wall and must become better players to continue to advance.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 1/22/2010 03:34:00 PM


Post a Comment