[MUD-Dev] Permadeath or Not?

Ananda Dawnsinger ananda at winterreach.com
Wed Dec 6 12:37:59 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


> From: "Dave Rickey" <daver at mythicentertainment.com>
> Reply-To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 09:58:34 -0500
> To: <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Permadeath or Not?
> 
> I don't understand it, myself.  The concepts of "Permanent Death",
> "Cumulative Character", and "Commercial Game" would seem to be an
> impossible mix, it seems to me this has to be a vocal minority that
> thinks that permadeath is a magic bullet for enforcing roleplay,
> getting rid of grief players, and slicing virtual bread.

And yet both Bartle and Trubshaw's original MUD and Gemstone III have forms
of permanent death, unless I'm mistaken.  If it were true that nobody wants
to play a perm-death game, I'm not sure how this industry managed to get off
the ground.

Granted, in MUD you were only "dead dead" if PKed.  In GSIII you're only
permanently dead if you run out of favors (which become increasingly
expensive with level) and fail to be resurrected by a player... and even
then I think there's a chance that the gods will take mercy on you and bring
you back to life.  Fed II had real perm death when I played it briefly many
years ago -- but it wasn't a primarily combat-oriented game.

The presumption is that the only way of implementing "permanent death" is to
take your standard "abort, retry, fail" mechanic and tack perm death onto
that.  That obviously isn't going to work very well unless disposable
characters are your goal -- because without perm death, the punishment of
dying becomes *part of the game design.*  You *want* your players to die
more or less frequently in order to limit their rate of advancement.

There are clearly ways of making perm death workable and palatable.
Otherwise GSIII would never have drawn 3000 players a night.

> A lot of them seem to want to throw in "Unrestricted PvP" to the
> bargain.  It seems like this is yet another face of "Fantastic
> Realism", people want a world that's like the real one as much as
> possible, but without the boring parts.

I can see how a world like that might be appealing.  You'd want to develop a
design where player skill was more important than character skill, you'd end
up with something that resembles persistent RP Quake/Heretic, and *I*
wouldn't play it, but that doesn't make it a bad thing per se.

   -- Sharon

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