[MUD-Dev] Permadeath or Not?

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Mon Dec 11 22:40:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


> Travis Nixon

> Just want to argue a bit about players 'never abandoning a goal',
> with a little story about my own Everquest experience:

Well, in that you agreed for about 90% of the way, I'll live with the
'bit' of disagreement ;)

Your story is very representative of the sorts of problems that people
have with EverQuest.  Achievements go poof rarely, but when they do,
they're just very disheartening.  Have I mentioned the value of
components?

> One quick comment here about "Want a deterrent that'll keep players
> away from lethal pursuits?"  > No, actually, I don't think we need
> those.  Because those 'lethal pursuits' are, for a lot of players,
> the most fun.

I'm suggesting more that the lethality of encounters be reduced.
Relying on lethal encounters is a bit like sex and violence on
television, or shock television.  Pick something that the human mind
is instinctively drawn to and you've got a winner.  But it's the most
primitive part of the mind that is being appealed to.  That bothers me
both in games like EverQuest and in what we see through our
televisions.

> Sorta crossing threads here, and still speaking about Everquest,
> because that's what I've been playing lately, but there was a
> comment in another thread from Brad McQuaid about camping, and how
> they're disappointed that people won't 'do' dungeons.  But the fact
> of the matter is, people won't 'do' dungeons because in most cases,
> it's too dangerous, or the reward is nowhere near the risk.  And as
> time goes on, it just becomes more and more dangerous, because as
> they're tuning places so that they're a challenge for campers,
> they're completely blowing the dungeon crawlers out of the water.
> It's not just about items.  It's about not dying.  To 'do' the
> typical dungeon in everquest requires a very well organized group of
> the appropriate classes.  Those types of groups really just aren't
> all that common, in my experience.

I agree with most of this.  The general result of a group trying to
'do' a dungeon is a massive train.  Do one thing wrong and you either
die or start a train.  And trains are a good way to get other people
killed.

> But I will say that when you can get one of those groups together,
> the way the EQ team wants you to play dungeons is such an absolute
> blast that I haven't cancelled my account yet, even after being
> thrown out of the Vale.  There's a dungeon some friends and I have
> been frequenting lately (Kaesora) that is so much fun it's hard to
> believe it's EQ.  But you know what?  Without a very well tuned
> group full of members who know how to play their classes well, it's
> suicide.  And that's why nobody 'does' dungeons.  I would personally
> say that there's already too much of a deterrent keeping players
> away from lethal pursuits.  No need to add more, at least not for
> EQ.

And the group has to be of levels appropriate to the dungeon
difficulty, which produces a fairly transitory situation.  You can
enjoy the dungeon while you are able to master it fairly well
(reasonable safety), and are still getting experience from it.  But
once everything has gone green (no experience), the appeal fades.

This is one reason that I favor the small power range for characters.
It means that the investment in all dungeons is roughly available to
all player characters.  This, as opposed to EverQuest, where dungeons
are rated for various levels of player characters.  Until you make the
20s, don't go near Castle Mistmoore.  Verant does a pretty good job,
however, of ramping the difficulty of areas and dungeons so that the
farther in you go, the more difficult the areas become.

> > Another aspect of the ejection mechanism is that there are no >
> reprieves, no exceptions.  Death in EverQuest has become a managed >
> commodity at higher levels.  You travel with a high level cleric in
> > your group and death is little more than waiting for the group to
> > finish up what they're killing and to click 'Yes' when you're
> asked > to be resurrected.  It's an inconvenience.  I've gotten so
> used to > it that I cringe when running secondary characters that
> actually > have to run back to loot the corpses that inevitably find
> their way > to the ground.  It's an annoyance.  > Ahh, so I see you
> subscribe to the Aradune/Abashi/Absor/Basic Verant philosophy that
> clerics are always available when you need them.  > Or maybe you're
> just luckier than I, or have more cleric friends. :)

I'm lucky.  I'm in an outstanding guild that takes care of its own.
No bickering, no infighting, just help when you need it.  My only
problem was having taken an 8 month break put me many levels behind
the rest of the guild.  They're in their 50s and I'm at 45.

I do NOT subscribe to the omnipresent cleric theory.  It's yet another
example of placing the responsibility for quality of player experience
squarely on the shoulders of other players.  I consider that to be a
mistake, regardless of how large a customer support lever it is.  That
sort of thing should be left to happen, but should not be relied upon
in lieu of solid design or professional support.

Obviously, if players cannot rely on other players for resurrections,
then either resurrections come from the gods or some other NPC or
process - or there is no need for resurrections.

JB


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