Will Permanent Death in MMO Hurt Players?

By willDate: 03-28-2012 Views:


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People play video games for fun and one thing that separates games from real life is that death in virtual world is not as serious and cruel as it in reality. But there are some developers want to make death in games real and they introduce a terrifying system to you - permanent death. Recently, CCP's vampire themed MMORPG World of Darkness announced to include permanent death, and Paradox Interactive's upcoming MMO Salem will also have the same feature.

World of Darkness
In World of Darkness, you don't die immediately when your heath drops to zero

Many MMO players' answer to permanent death, or permadeath in other words, is "Are you kidding me?!" or "I'll just pass the game..." One game that I can remember only gives you one life is Diablo 2's hardcore mode, and in this mode, if your character dies you lose everything and can't be resurrected in any circumstance. Nobody blamed Blizzard since this mode is optional but it's not in World of Darkness and Salem, and is it too harsh?

It's too harsh and it will hurt players if permadeath is put into WoW, TERA, Guild Wars 2, where player level, equipment, customizations play important role. Nobody in those games can afford to lose a high level character that countless time and emotion has invested in. So if the developers want permadeath to be accepted, they have to change the game structure and offer different gameplay.

My character is my life; my gear worth more than my life

How to make players who are kicked back to starting menu after losing their character want to start a new adventure, instead of quitting? CCP's EVE Online might be a good sample to check out. After your ship exploded you lose it forever, and the pilot dies, too. The tweaks here are your in-game currency is safe and your character isn't really dead thanks to the clone technology. What's more you can return to the wreck and pick up some undamaged stuff. It's a pretty good balance in EVE so that you have risk, but you also have fun - for example, a game where player don't pursuit better gear and higher level, or a game with a different death mechanics.

So what about World of Darkness? CCP doesn't detail too much about permanent death except the torpor system which enables players "to recover from grievous injuries" (source: kotaku). "You have to be a total… it's really hard to… you'd have to work really hard at it" is creative director Reynir Hardarson's comment to permanent death in World of Darkness (source: pcgamer).

In Salem, you won't lose your land after your old character dies

Salem has some interesting features to back up the permadeath system. Different to traditional MMO's stats, character attributes in Salem are blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile and you actually need to eat food to grow up (leveled up). And when you die, you don't start from scratch but can choose to play as the 'legitimate heir' of your previous character and claim any land left by your old character (source: IGN).

Since both World of Darkness and Salem are not released yet, and it's too early to judge whether permadeath will ruin a MMORPG. What do you think of the chance of permadeath and will you give it a shot?

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