Permadeath: Would It Work?

Permadeath: the utter, permanent death of your MMORPG avatar. No resurrection, no resuscitation, bye bye, auf wiedersehen, sayonara etc, you get the picture. It’s one of those concepts that’s talked about in hardcore rants by forum trolls and occasionally threatened on us by crazy, mad scientist developers. We’ve all heard about the idea somewhere but never seen it anywhere. It is just a silly myth or could it actually work?

The Sarlacc. Permadeath but over a thousand years.

The Sarlacc. Permadeath but over a thousand years.

In my 11 years of playing MMOs I’ve never played a game that’s had a permadeath mechanic. I suppose the closest thing I came to it was when SOE introduced the concept in relation to the Jedi class in Star Wars Galaxies (I never managed to unlock one). Their idea was to give Jedi players a single, immensely valuable life in order to compensate for an extreme amount of power. The developers wanted Jedi to be extremely rare, mythical classes played by only the elite or the lucky, so powerful they could wipe out armies of opponents single handedly. The power would come with a price though and if the Jedi ever died then that character could never walk the corporeal plains of existence again.

The upside to permadeath is that it creates and instills us with an emotion so uncommon in MMOs – fear. It (aptly) gives death the ultimate sting and makes you so scared to die that you treasure your avatar’s life even more so. If you knew that your character would be deleted and could never, ever play them again wouldn’t you think twice before engaging in battle? Wouldn’t it make your less reckless and more thoughtful? Suddenly you’d be forced to weigh up decisions and take into account factors of gameplay that you’d never considered before. Risk your neck to save your friend or let them die so you could live to fight another day? Permadeath would give our games a depth and substance never seen before.

The downside, of course, is that no one likes to die (there’s a reason murder’s against the law, folks) and, even in a video game, players gives hours upon hours to their creations and to lose all of that would be a huge blow, so big in fact that many may never recover from it. Unlike in real life were we have no choice over dealing with it, we can opt not to experience death and grief in a game by simply not playing. This, obviously, isn’t good news for developers and publishers. If no one continued to play a MMO after dying once, it would be very bad for business.

So the Holy Grail is some sort of balance for the gamer. A way of dying, forever dying and feeling that bruising blow, yet still being able to pick themselves up and continue playing. Is it possible to achieve?

Over the past 8 months I’ve been secretly developing a sandbox survival horror MMORPG in my brain. I play it every night (when I’m not getting spouse aggro from the wife) and let me tell you it’s pretty wonderful. It’s an RPG set it an apocolyptic world overrun by zombies where the surviving humans aid each other or fight amongst themselves to try and carve out some sort of bleak existence. The trick though, is that the game relies on fear and it just wouldn’t work unless the gamer was actually scared to die and the only way to achieve that fear is through permadeath.

There would need to be a compromise though in order to give players an incentive to keep playing after death and make a new character. My idea for that would be some sort of inheritance or legacy system where new characters would receive some of the skills that their previous incarnation possessed. Death would shut the door on one character completely but it wouldn’t eradicate all of the time invested in the game. Plus players would be prepared emotionally for death from the beginning. It wouldn’t be a question of if you die, but rather when.

Would it work? Someone give me £20 million and we’ll find out.

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71 Comments

  1. Tesh says:

    So… Diablo 2 Hardcore + Team Fortress 2 + zombies? (You couldn’t have a wide power band or a long leveling curve, and it would have to be player skill based instead of avatar skill…)

    I wouldn’t like it, but I’m sure there’s a market for it.

  2. Wiqd says:

    I’ve written about permadeath before, but I think it would require the game to be completely redesigned; not just the death system, but the way the whole game plays. Essentially my idea was using permadeath as a gating mechanism for content rollouts. The most powerful bosses would have mechanics that would include permadeath if fought. Players would have to do research on previous tactics used through the ages.

    The bosses would also pull moves from a pool that would be different across all servers, so if someone kills it, it can’t be replicated just by watching a movie on youtube. Also, the boss would be permadead on that server as well. That’s just some of the things I came up with.

    • Gordon says:

      Interesting idea about the bosses, I hadn’t throught about that before. I definitely agree that the way we approach death would need to change and the entire game redesigned. It couldn’t just be slapped onto WoW for instance and work.

  3. Permadeath could work, but as Wiqd points out, you’d have to change almost every aspect of the game. You couldn’t just take typical DIKU mechanics and slap in permadeath.

    Personally, I think the most interesting part would be having players choose to engage in activities that could result in permadeath. Like Wiqd’s idea of having the biggest boss cause permadeath, there should be some activities that are just risky. But, the payoff (and the glory for pulling it off) should be equally great. Obviously, you’d have to be even more vigilant about exploits and cheats to keep this meaningful.

    But, I think it could work. And I’ll do it for merely US$10 million. :)

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I don’t think it would work in a traditional mainstream MMORPG. It’s definitely a concept I’d love to explore though and I do wonder how much more emotionally evolved players would become with the game because actions have real risks and consequences. Death is most modern games is pretty meaningless really.

  4. Sithinious says:

    The legacy system sounds promising, but I would think the tough part would be balancing it so that it’s not abused.

    Personally, I don’t think permadeath is necessary to instill fear into a gamer. Most players would be fearful enough at level or item loss. Nobody wants to lose hours of work they’ve invested in a character, much less ALL the time they’ve invested.

  5. Stabs says:

    There are a few MMOs that incorporate this:

    - Shaiya permadeath at the top skill level, basically it’s Diablo 2 online with low production values but with some very innovative ideas.

    - Wurm Online uses it for a particular super-powered class, much like the Jedi in SWG.

    - new entrant Xsyon may use it.

    Also many DDO players play a permadeath ruleset, deleting or abandoning characters that die.

    And some WoW raids have Immortal achievements, you have to complete the raid without anyone dying.

    The draw is the insane challenge. I played Diablo 2 hardcore for years and we grew very close and very skilled. Our guild theorycrafted intensely about survival techniques. Also, rather charmingly we had an obituaries sub-forum where we posted stories of character death. They were rather touching after you’d played with that character for months and now had to pay your last respects.

    Diablo 2 didn’t modify the game at all. Some parts of the play may have been considered by the devs privately to be unplayable but they just let us have a go and we conquered all.

    In Wow you could get really far with good hardcore play. Staple tactics such as bulking up on life and tackling content a few levels below you would make the game very safe.

    Raiding in WoW should be perfectly possible. People have achieved the Do Naxx without Anyone Dying achievement. You just need to play like that all the time.

    Obviously you would lose people from time to time so re-levelling and re-gearing would become a more significant raid guild enterprise. Alting is essential.

    i think if they did a permadeath server it would be insanely popular. There’s a title The Insane which you get for an awful lot of rather boring grinding. It would actually be much more insane and fun to raid level 80 content with PD characters. It’s also the timesink to end all timesinks.

    I think I know why they don’t do it.

    Diablo 2’s gameplay was not supported by a customer service team. If you died make another, no one was going to pick up a phone and listen to you vent about lag or pks.

    WoW is supported by customer service. Answering the phones for a WoW permadeath server would probably be the most horrible job imaginable. Everyone would basically be saying “I died, it’s unacceptable, I expect you to cheat me back to life”.

    • Gordon says:

      “WoW is supported by customer service. Answering the phones for a WoW permadeath server would probably be the most horrible job imaginable. ”

      ROFL :) Agreed! Would really like to see how popular a permadeath ruleset server would be though.

  6. Stabs says:

    http://www.realpoor.com/Hahahha__read_this_post_about_Discord_Server__t19556.html

    This makes interesting reading about the time Everquest tried permadeath. Hacking was rampant apparently.

    • Gordon says:

      Nice article :) Permadeath with Jedi in SW:G was apparently a bit issue too because players took it upon themselves to actively hunt down and wipe them out. Kinda like the films actually so I guess something worked :)

  7. Wasdstomp says:

    I wouldn’t want permadeath. I think it would cause more ragequitting than you could ever imagine.

    I think possibly a new death penalty would be better.

    • Wiqd says:

      The other way to deal with permadeath is if you remove the centricity of an MMO from the character, and move it to the lineage of characters a player can have. Make players able to retire / die in a game and pass things on, such as we have with heirlooms (in their true form, not WoW’s rendition) that you can bequeath to future generations of your character as you see fit.

      You know your character will pass on at some point, but your whole point is building up as much of an empire with each character as you can. That puts permadeath encounters in a whole new light.

      • Tesh says:

        Indeed, it becomes more about progression for the *player*, not so much any one *character*. There’s certainly a way to make losing a character sting, but leaven it by making the account retain much of that hard work.

        …though again, valuing *having played* more than *playing* (loot and achievements over actually… playing) is a mindset that need not be assumed.

        • Gordon says:

          “…though again, valuing *having played* more than *playing* (loot and achievements over actually… playing) is a mindset that need not be assumed.”

          Totally agree. Everyone’s obsessed with gaining achievements and new items and gear scores etc and never focus on just playing the game to enjoy it.

      • Gordon says:

        Exactly! I really like the idea of legacy so if you’re character dies, you can create a new one (with the same surname or family name) and inherit a bunch of their ancestors traits. The character would be dead but the player wouldn’t lose all of the time they’ve invested/

  8. OrderedChaos says:

    How would you compensate for a death to the character that is not the players fault… like lag, or a bug? Until the games are bug free and we don’t get DPS lag, npc chat lag, massive amount of people doing AoE’s in a close area lag, I don’t think permadeath is viable.
    Your GM’s would be very busy sifting through logs to verify every ticket they received about any character “killed” that the players felt died to something that they had no control over.

  9. Wiqd says:

    @Ordered – That’s why you’d have to design the game around permadeath, period. In my previous example, permadeath doesn’t exist at every turn in the game. It exists only for the most important fights in the game. I’m sure there’s ways that could be designed to minimize those effects in game, though I’m no fool in thinking they’d never happen.

    The thing is, fights like those would be monitored. I mean, you’re essentially doing battle with an enemy which holds the future of your content in the encounter. If the players win, they get the drops (the only ones on the server) and the boss is dead. No one can kill it again and a new foe is brought into the mix with the release of your new content.

    PVP would obviously not mean permadeath and I’m really thinking that death, much as it has been viewed in MMOs thus far, wouldn’t be viewed as permanent for much of the game people play; just the very important parts. There’s ressing, cloning, healing, etc. I’d go into a whole thing about how I’d make it work, but then I’d be detracting more from Gordon’s post than I already have :P

    Point is, the game would be designed in such a way that even if you die, it wouldn’t institute the permadeath mechanic at that exact point. The possibility is there, but it’s not just a 1 or a 0 you flip.

  10. USiel says:

    I keep asking myself why you guys always require such a truckload of money to make your brilliant ideas work?
    10 Million USD? 20 Million GBP? If we keep thinking in WoW dimensions and traditional publishing concepts (who said your game must start with 100% Content, instead adding the content month per month?), we will keep seeing those “one Size fits all”.

    I could raise 0,5 Million, probably 2 Million Eur at maximum . Which still requires a lot of customers for revenues. If you find a vital way to converse your ideas, we might be back in business.

    • Tesh says:

      Vital or viral? ;)

      Once upon a time, Wiqd had a wiki for this sort of brainstorming. Maybe it would be good to have some sort of central point to rally around if you want to really kick a real project into gear?

      • Gordon says:

        Maybe someone could start a Wiki or forum?

        • Wiqd says:

          I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting another site just for this sort of thing lately under my new studio name. I wonder if should actually get it going. I’ve been working on my new PnP combat system lately and playtesting that, but I could set up another site / forum pretty quickly. Couple hours, if people want it done.

          Pretty funny that we were talking about this in an email not too long ago, eh, Tesh?

          • Tesh says:

            Indeed, the ways of the eerie Internet hive mind continue to bedazzle. ;)

            • Usiel says:

              At least I would love to see such place.

              The main problem on the financial side is, that it is hard for us, to get a feeling for the development process. Which is essential to access the risk. Currently it is easier for me, to calculate the Value at Risk of a Hurricane hitting the US Eastcoast or a flood in London, than figuring out how many man-hours are needed to create and animate a character.

              That’s why the majority of capital givers abstains from development and leaves the field to publishers.
              The last time I tried to get into contact with developers in Germany , I found myself weeping and complaining at tesh’s.

    • Gordon says:

      Honestly I have no idea how much things cost :) I just picked the figure out of thin air. Plus if someone does decide to give me £20million and I can spend only £1million on a game then, well, I have plenty of pocket money spare :P

    • My figure was facetious. I was poking fun at Gordon asking for so much. :)

      I could make a game for a lot less….

      • Wiqd says:

        Hell look at the guys who made Runescape. Not the greatest game ever, but profitable and done with 2 guys I think? You need an idea, a programmer or two and an artist or two and you can be well on your way to a franchise. Your first game doesn’t have to be WoW, you just have to have people interested in what you’re doing and it will evolve from there, hopefully.

        That’s the viewpoint my buddy and I are taking on building our world, anyway. Now I just need the programmer(s) and artist(s) lol. But hey, I’m buying a WACOM tablet this week to better hone my own craft so … there ya go!

      • Usiel says:

        And that’s the dilemma.

        I found a development team of hobby developers, who already had their prototype. Since they were not in my region, but I felt they should keep working on their idea, I literary took them by the hand and showed them, where to apply for communal funds.
        Not private financial sector with high return on invest demands. Municipality funds helping private persons with a good idea, to start their business. The guys who approve the business plan, are really kind and even offered their help, creating the plan in order to make it pass the council.
        So I showed them the door, on the other side of the door, people where willing to give them a chance, as you already guessed, the team did not tried it.

        So in the one part of the world I have people looking for money to finance their idea, and in my part of the world, I have money looking for people with ideas.

        I will keep on searching for the local version of you folks, but If it does not work, I will search for a way to sub-contracting it over to you.

        The worst part in finance is seeing money wasted, just because ideas are missing and the flow must be kept.

        • Wiqd says:

          Oh I definitely understand the predicament financeers are in when choosing which people to back, Usiel. It’s very commendable that you gave that group of people a shot, and also a shame it didn’t turn into something great.

          There’s definitely more risk involved in financing something that someone says they have ideas for, but … I mean look at the games that do get made and flop. They happen all the time and that they’re continued to be allowed to be made just scares people into continuing to make clones of MMOs.

          I would never tell an angel I had the next best thing, but I’d damn well give it my best shot. And as someone who has the money to give, I’d ask to be kept in the loop so you knew where your money was. Maybe not be in control of creative things, but at least told on a daily / weekly basis, ask to be showed development proof, etc.

          I dunno exactly how much money I’d need to start making a game, but with products like Unity being made free for a fairly good version of the game and only a couple thousand for a full featured version … I can’t imagine it costing TOO much. If you had 4-5 people, paying them let’s say 60-80k a year, that’s 300-400k and the rest for tools? I dunno. Like I said, never actually done that before and maybe that’s the scare for you guys.

          But, indie dev companies get made all the time off small budgets. Some work, some don’t. It’s all a leap of faith, methinks. I mean look at Sigil when they tried to make Vanguard. They had an A-team of people, a “who’s who” (in Brad’s mind anyway) of devs and STILL couldn’t produce.

          Is it better to foster superstar devs or foster good ideas? They aren’t mutually exclusive, but having the former definitely doesn’t mean you have the latter either.

          • Usiel says:

            From what I have seen so far, the willingness to support newcomer, depends on the investors attitude.

            Those who ride the wave, try to hire names (not in the Lloyd’s sense, Gordon) and expand common models. However there is a decent number of innovation supporters. Mostly in the communal or mutual sector.
            For those you need to show a solid plan to realise your idea. These guys are used to see a lot of “dreamers” with wonderful ideas, but not the teeth to stay on them.

            Presenting your own calculation is a good way to show that you are capable to make your idea work.

            Another possibility is, using a assembly line.
            Studio A is financed for the project. Studio B and C are sub-contractors, B creating models and animation, while C works on environment. Both Studios deliver their products to Studio A, which pays them in transfer and assembles the project with said middle ware. The charm of this model is, that B and C do not need any finance, while A’s Investor expects a lower risk.

            The rip of possibility, would be buying or licensing a game (hire a korean studio or buy from them) preferably created thorough middle ware and modify it accordingly.
            Buying a finished product is cheaper for an Investor, and the modification costs, are simply calculated to increase the acceptance of the product.

  11. permadeath?!
    Awesome idea indeed!
    But you have to think about one aspect: People tend to be cowards a lot more and would never engage an even or a bit risky fight since they are all whiners.

    For me: I would definitely be in for permadeath since it would make games even more authentic! Running around as a ghost or wisp to my corpse?! Pff thats for people like “Leaded” or “Charm” -> n00bs!!
    I want “real” thrill -> imagine the fear factor: Hunting in an enemy controlled area for a only solo available quest! I’d die in front of my monitor because of panic!! :)

    • amcl says:

      Yes, we all know Gord would just run away!

      Referring to the time in WoW when he left you and I to the rampage of some very large insects! We struggled to cope and we were overcome and died, while Gord ran like a girl with us shouting “coward!” down our mics! :)

    • Gordon says:

      I think cowardice would be a very interesting thing to see, especially in a sandbox game with PvP. Would people actually want to PvP if they knew it might result in their permenant death?

    • Wiqd says:

      That’s the thing though … that would really prove who knows HOW to play the game more than anyone else. I mean, think if using research and practicing tactics in a military yard would be of benefit to those who raided the biggest / best bosses? Instead of throwing yourself at a boss for hours on end, you instead actually practice with formations and execution based on knowledge brought to you by adventurers and scholars to prepare you as best they can. From there, it’s scouting parties to their lairs to try to get information on their habits, etc. You only go after the big bad guy when you’re totally prepared.

      You’d have to have patience as a large raiding guild, which would certainly be new to most people out there who raid now in contemporary MMOs. You’d also be introducing a new play choice for those who love exploration and lore: the researcher: someone who ventures to old sites to gather relics they use to find out all kinds of information long since lost to time.

      • Tesh says:

        There would also be a better place for the Armsmaster running drills in the Guild Hall. Guild training would be a very different thing, and people may have a harder time slacking off (for better or worse). You could also split the Loremaster, Scout and Archaeologist into different specialities.

  12. boatorious says:

    Permadeath in an MMO is a tough nut to crack. If you make progression content then nobody’s going to see it, instead they’re just going to see the ‘newbie’ content over and over again.

    The zombie idea does go well with permadeath though, doesn’t it? You could start out with a hundred “super-zombies” and have all the other zombies in the world be ‘defeated’ player characters.

  13. Scarybooster says:

    No to the permadeath not the Wiki. I added my comment when there was only 20 comments. Now there is 31. Permadeath would make me sad all those funerals we would have to have

  14. lonomonkey says:

    I have to admit ever since you first posted on that zombie idea of yours I have been playing that game in my head a lot too. I’d love to see it coming to life and I feel like you it needs to have permadeath for it to work or at the very least have dead players come back as zombies so there’s a few dangerous zombies running around with the rest.

    Back in College I organized a few Larps and we included perma death for the players. We solved the “waste of time” issue by giving out points based on the character experience at the time of death. These points could then be used to start anew with odd races, more experience characters or buy some sort of cool backgrounds and stuff. It worked great and I think something where skills, or where you can “buy” stuff could work well there too. What surprised us was the number of people who choose to start anew from scratch to get that “noob” feeling again.

    Seriously, I’m in love with that zombie mmo and would love to help out on a wiki if it sees the light of the day.

  15. padawham says:

    There’s already a MMORPG zombie survival game like the one you mentioned:
    http://www.urbandead.com/

  16. Kodoru says:

    One of the titles you can advance in Guild Wars is the Survivor track. At certain plateaus in XP levels without dying, you get increasing ranks in Survivor. I have a Ranger that is getting closer to the 2nd rank now, but it’s very very difficult. So it’s not permadeath, but it can be rather impressive seeing someone with that title achieved.

    • LotRO does this on a smaller scale. You can get special titles for not dying up to level 20. Not too hard for cautious and experienced people, but it can still be a challenge for people who haven’t played a thousand other similar games.

      • Tesh says:

        I wondered how far that Survivor thing went. I made it to level 8 on a trial account before blithely walking off a stairway into a falling death in the Dwarven tunnels.

        …imagine the embarrassment potential of permadeath, come to think of it:

        “You died doing *what*?”

        I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not…

        • Wiqd says:

          Dying could also provide you with a different world to play in until you are reborn or you find an heir. Much like traveling to Valhalla or something. It’s not something you could do often and you really wouldn’t want to, but dying wouldn’t mean just having to reroll. You could exist on another plane and influence your new non-ethereal character, even if your old character is made into an NPC through a quest in your place of rest.

          • Tesh says:

            Ooh, I like this idea. It nicely dovetails with Gordon’s zombies as originally proposed; when a non-zombie dies, they are converted and play as a zombie. There’s some good design space to play in with that sort of conversion mechanic, where the game changes when you die. Not so much as to be a different game entirely, perhaps, but much more than a corpse run.

            • Gordon says:

              The problem I feel with people becoming zombies is that I think many players would then commit suicide just to become one and suddenly it detracts from the point of the game and runs the risk of it just becoming a RvR PvP focused MMO.

  17. Amuntoth says:

    I think an interesting problem with this is that it won’t bring fear and tension to a game because, with the knowledge that 1 death and it’s over looming over their heads, players would choose instead to grind only mobs 4-9 levels below them, whatever the lowest level that would give XP would be.

    They would also avoid any and all situations that could be called raiding or pvp if they have spent more than a day “leveling up”. Players will ALWAYS choose the safest, easiest road unless there is incentive to try something harder, and that incentive better outway the negatives associated with the same.

    • Tesh says:

      So tie the incentives to the account, rather than the character, at least some of the really juicy ones.

      And then there’s the Planescape Torment method: death *unlocks* things. Sure, the dude was immortal, but take that and splice it into the inheritance model: Dying in certain ways, valorous, adventurous, ignoble, whatever, unlocks things for a bloodline (account).

      I’ve also written before that this sort of thing would be interesting to extend to the game world at large. What if the *world itself* had permadeath, and player accounts persisted through the cataclysms, complete with unlockables according to player choices, and future world events depending on those unlockables?

      • Amuntoth says:

        Another option is that at each new level you get one or more new abilities, just like most MMOs. If you die those abilities are still unlocked, so your new character has his level 40 spell at level 1, but it’s damage is obviously scaled to a level 1. This would make it so people keep their utility (Frost Nova, Sheep, Mez etc) even after they die, as well as some cooler spells, but they know that since they only made it to level 40 last time, they want to make it to level 45 this time at least because thats when you get ____ cool spell.

        • Wiqd says:

          Nope, in the mockup I came up with you do away with levels / experience all together. Progression is marked by skills and how you build those up. Obviously attacking things weaker than you doesn’t really gain you any combat experience with them, so pressing on to master your skills is required.

          Of course, that would require a game w/o classes or levels :O *gulp* ;)

      • Wiqd says:

        This sort of thing is something I wrote about before where your “sequels” to your MMOs take place in the same virtual world you’ve built, but the accounts transcend the cataclysms that happen and their heirs find themselves in new worlds if they survive, or the world is all they’ve known if they’re brought in after the sundering.

        This way, sequels work more like expansions, but you can really do huge alterations to the world, much like Blizzard is doing with Cataclysm, but on a larger, more evolved scale.

      • Gordon says:

        Awesome ideas. I never played Planescape Torment so it’s all new to me. Just because a character dies, it doesn’t need to be end of the game for player. Goes to show how many other options there are over the traditional MMORPG. It’s so odd how we’ve got so many games that use basically the same mechanics isn’t it?

    • Gordon says:

      Hmm, yeah that’s a good point. Maybe the risk could be balanced with reward though and thus incentivise people to do things to challenge them.

  18. Klepsacovic says:

    Characters would have to be cheap for perma-death to not be incredibly frustrating and rage-inducing. Leveling would have to be a few days rather than weeks (I’m referring to your average leveler, not a start-of-expansion hardcore grind) and level-capped advancement would have to be either limited or possibly in some form which could be saved, such as surviving raid members being able to pick your armor off your corpse and return it to you.

  19. Wiqd says:

    @Klep Again, I don’t really think a “leveling” type system would work. You’d need some kind of progression system, but character development isn’t limited to simply “gain XP -> level” systems. For a system like permadeath, we’d definitely need to think outside the box.

    Some of the things I’ve thought of, including inheritance and legacies, is for fights that include the permadeath mechanic, as long as you actually win the battle, it doesn’t matter if comrades fall in battle. You’ll merely be decommissioned as opposed to dead OR if you win, the gods favor your party and help resurrect the fallen. If you fail, there is compensation. In a futuristic world, if you die you can always use the “clone” option, unless the death is so horrible that there’s nothing left to clone.

    There’s definitely ways around the current systems, you just have to be creative about it. There’s no need to play “hand holding” with MMO gamers; at least IMO. WoW does that perfectly fine. I’d assume a game w/ permadeath included would be aimed at more core and hardcore MMO players anyway. It would fill a niche, methinks. If it got big, that’s great, but I’d aim for a niche, first.

  20. [...] if any developers or designers out there are enamored with my thoughts on permadeath, travel, community, localization, more community, the multicultural aspects of MMORPGs, zombies or [...]

  21. The dude says:

    A simple solution to the perma death would be to have two servers. One which has PermaD and the other that doesn’t but has a step back approach for dieing.
    This would offer the hardcore and the casual players the chance to play the same game but with their own discretion for the challenge.

    Obviously if you die … that sucks. In the step back approach you should simply lose a % of everything you have to ensure there is still a drawback to death (I believe a percent system is better than a set amount to help preserve balance from people who get too far ahead, and the further along you are the more you have to lose). But at least you wouldnt lose EVERYTHING. Say for example you are killed by a zombie you lose 25% Skill points/Money/Unlockable or what have you. You die from another hostile online player you lose 10%. If you die to a friendly you lose 5%. But you keep the same person and achievements and they are different from a perma death server.

    Similar to the Blizzard “PVP” server and “Normal” server. However you cant create a toon on a normal and expect to transfer to PVP. There should be no transfers at all. To or from to preserve the value of success in the PermaD

    Then you have your PermaD or “Hard Core” server. Create value for success. Like game announcements for players still alive and thriving. Or ingame advertisement like in EVE and the bounty system. Achievements/Leader boards would also be good and fill them with stats of how long someone was/is alive in different zones with zombies/players killed and tons of other random statistics kinda like in the game “Time Splitters”. The game logged even silly stuff like number of mellons cut, windows broken and distance run.

    One issue I thought about with the ‘no communication’ in game is that friends will simply use 3rd party programs to communicate while they are playing. Which is unavoidable. So the ’solo’ until discovery is pretty much not possible. And the value of ingame communication is worthless.

    • The dude says:

      Also … a key idea to think about is quick loading for a permaD server. If you die … and die alot… having excessive loads/character creations will start to ware down players from restarting. If you added a “use previous created settings” so a player could quickly restart and join in the game after death with a character exactly like their old one, just but without any items/exp/or skills would greatly increase a players willingness to restart.

  22. War3 Critic says:

    Hi Gordon,

    I also developped MMOs (and others games) in my head and i like to imagine the fun quantity i would have playing this, how dirty i would play to be the best survivor.

    I had exactly same ideas, really, even for the inheritance aspect, also a game like this need PvE too, not only PVP, in order to make people kill “innocents” who are hunting bears, wolves or harvesting lumber for their awesome craft etc…

    Have a look to the mod DayZ on Armada 2, i also had a similar idea to this but i didn’t know it was possible to play with 200 players on a game which is not a MMORPG so this mod looks awesome

  23. jolk says:

    There are guys on forums that complain when someone post some permadeath idea saying it should not be made, or complaining on the forum of a “to be made” game that will be based around permadeath, saying the game shouldnt have permadeath…..

    To check how far this go I made a poll on a forum like this.
    I made the idea of a game without stat loss, or item loss, your char start at universe A and when your char die your char go to universe B, universe B is 100% like universe A (not 99.9999% like), but when you die on universe B you go back to universe B.
    This idea is clearly sort of not permadeath, yet most of the guys that call for “a ban of permadeath idea”, said this idea would need to be banned.

    Then months after it I posted a new idea.
    A game is made, and has only one server without permadeath.
    After it is made a new server is created and the server is a permadeath one.

    So, you have a non permadeath server and a permadeath server. And the game was made based on not being permadeath one (so the permadeath sever was just slapped there), so they wouldnt be able to complain that fact the game has a permadeath server will influence how the game will be for non permadeath players.

    Even with this idea, most said “this idea would need to be banned”

    So, I dont know how you could implement permadeath if even having a different server with it is considered “bannable” idea

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