Author Topic: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying  (Read 9296 times)

Offline x4000

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Based on this comment, I thought this was worth its own thread:

-More on the permadeath - A totally interesting idea, but feels anemic atm.  I think this would be a help to rewarding cleverness overall.  A failed raid/ assault in AI war meant losing time to rebuilding and possibly losing something of value, in AVWW player death feels like it should matter more than it does now.  I don't want corpse runs, don't get me wrong, but just something that felt like more of a setback and thus forced me to plan things out a lot more.

FallingStar is referencing some of the past times in AVWW when (pre-private-alpha, even) we had other permadeath mechanics that were more severe and which required corpse runs.  That was tedious and annoying and obviously nobody wants that.  But I quite agree that the permadeath mechanic needs... a little something.

One thing I will particularly note is that I think that the health tweaks need to get implemented first before a harsher permadeath mechanic can work in a non-annoying way.  When death can happen so accidentally as it can now, I think that is an issue.  Then again, I always play about 4 region levels above my level on master hero, so maybe I just need to keep it closer to my actual civ level.

Right now the permadeath mechanics are:
1. The character and their stats are gone forever.
2. Unless the character was a robot, you now have a vengeful ghost of them to deal with.
3. There's a grave for them in the citybuilding section, and if there are a lot of deaths you get a lot of graves that will later cause houses near them to have lesser morale, etc (nobody likes living in a graveyard).
4. Morale in general is depressed for NPCs for about 10 turns when someone dies.
5. None of your inventory is lost or affected.

I'm pretty sure that all of those five things we want to keep as they are.  Losing your inventory just feels... punitive.  It really encourages save-scumming, and feels like a punishment rather than a story event.  What I'm looking for are ways that we can make this feel like a more impactful story event, through game mechanics rather than literal narrative mechanics.  In a way that isn't annoying.

I haven't come up with anything in the last few months, and Keith hasn't mentioned anything, so for the time being it's the above five.  If others have ideas, they are welcome as always!
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Offline Orelius

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 11:08:16 PM »
The real problem with the current system of permadeath is that it doesn't really have any of the effect that normal permadeath would.  You keep everything of value, have a slight hit to the macro game, and have a pathetically easy ghost to deal with - ghosts aren't hard to beat at all compared to anything else in the game.

The system really needs a big change.  Thing is, deaths cause more harm to the macro game than the micro game.  In the macro game, if morale is low, you're not going to get much done.  You'll eventually have to deal with grave plots and all that nonsense, too.  In the micro game, a ghost isn't a threat unless you're surrounded by other enemies, which can be easily taken care of (use crates or something to isolate the noclipping-ghost from the rest of the enemies, if you need to).

I feel that a death should have an strong but temporary impact on the micro game, but I'm not sure how something like that could be implemented.  Perhaps, the next character could have temporarily reduced stats until the character does something notable such as killing a boss or getting a specific item. (oh dear this is sounding exactly like demon's souls now isn't it)   It would certainly force people to stop throwing their rather expendable characters (I'm looking at you, skelebots, haha), to a boss battle because they'd be even less likely to win the second time with reduced stats and lessened healing items.

Offline Olreich

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 11:17:47 PM »
Characters, as they are now, are no more than a vessel for you, the glyph-bearing demigod. Absolutely nothing, but some base, inconsequential stats are attached to them. Their level, equipment, prowess, and achievements all belong to the glyph-bearer.

To give permadeath a bite, characters need to have something attached to them. I'm thinking something along the lines of having stat increases that one can collect with a character, but are completely lost on death. In general, go around, killing bosses and such would give fame to the character for a narrative impact, and going around collecting powerups would give a gameplay impact, but not something inconsolable, and definitely don't drop anything, just have it burn into dust.

Offline x4000

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 11:24:26 PM »
To give permadeath a bite, characters need to have something attached to them. I'm thinking something along the lines of having stat increases that one can collect with a character, but are completely lost on death. In general, go around, killing bosses and such would give fame to the character for a narrative impact, and going around collecting powerups would give a gameplay impact, but not something inconsolable, and definitely don't drop anything, just have it burn into dust.

I really like this idea a lot, actually.  It's not a penalty, but rather it's the removal of some substantial accumulated bonuses.  That's a subtle but important distinction, I think.
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Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 12:33:03 AM »
I like this in principle but I feel like it needs to be limited --- if these bonuses just keep piling up until you get a character who's as powerful as a fresh one four levels up, you're really not going to want to do anything risky with him.

This reminds me --- NPC crafting skills are gone for good, right?  If they're coming in later, losing their established trust and willingness to help you would be a good penalty.

Offline FallingStar

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 03:39:14 AM »
I do like Olreich's though, reminds me a bit of Sacred 2's system that slowly stacked up a % bonus to all stats to the character the longer they lived, which were lost on death.  Not a big deal early on, but could be a massive downer to die on a long lived char.  If this was implemented, it might be fun as a title system.  Ie getting little randomly generated unique titles that would be descriptive of what earned the bonus (explorer of many rooms, founder of x settlement, destroyer of the many faeries, etc).  Could be that added touch of making a character have more life.

Another thing that might work in combination or on its own would be making the characters you pick from a bit more important.  Perhaps the wanderers would be mostly red stats, generally poor characters to try out hard stuff with, but have the characters you could recruit from settlements grow to have better base stats (mostly green or so) if they're eating well and have good morale and are useful in the settlement, etc.  So if you were picking good characters and letting them die, it would naturally have both a micro and macro game implication - since you're having to pick new characters with both worse base stats, and you lose out on a happy well trained character that was your storyteller or green thumb farmer. Plus since you "knew" the character a bit better from rescuing them, and then recruiting, it might have a bit more emotional tie.

Another thought for combo or alone, I like the poignancy of having your hero character becoming a vengeful spirit on death, but perhaps expand it a bit more.  Perhaps ghost-ifying is the lowest level evil that can befall your corpse.  Perhaps more powerful spirits are harvested to increase stats of Lt's or overlords, or are twisted into special monsters, or are used to make pylons to block passages or otherwise messing up lands.  Again, something that might scale so a character that hasn't lived long doesn't become much of an obstacle (just becomes a ghost) but a powerful character with a long life might cause some wide ranging damage on death as well.

Just a few thoughts to toss into the blender.

Offline Martyn van Buren

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 04:58:15 AM »
All that said, I'm not sure Chris's original idea wasn't the best --- not using game mechanics to punish you for losing a character, but trying to make them individual enough that you care.  I don't like the game is punishing me for trying something hard --- I think that would lead me to start savescumming --- but once the personas and hopes and all those systems are in place, I could see starting to care more about the characters.

If you're trying to make people invest in an open-ended and fairly freeform game like this, it seems like it should be something that invites the player to bring something to the table and make it his/her own, rather than trying to engineer an emotional response.  If death costs you x amount of resources and y stats and z things on the strategic screen, you're always to be looking at it from an analytical perspective, seeing death as being a thing with a certain measurable cost --- I might start getting into switching characters, having a few pumped-up ones to leave in a settlement and switch to newer ones for exploration.  But this seems rather against the game's intent --- I feel like it would be more interesting to give the player some tools to get involved with a given character rather than trying to force it.

One idea that could facilitate this (just occurred to me, this might be idiotic) would be to allow you to build an enterable house in a settlement for your own character and adding some more useless gameplay-related items that you could take back as trophies with the shrink spell --- the skulls of centurion skelebots, mutant trees that live in the Deep, strange crystals that only grow four-five cave systems below the surface, the bizarre chalices in which the amoebas keep the magma in the rare commodity towers (I've always wondered how they keep magma at the top of a tower) --- so you could gradually make it reflect the character's achievements and adventures.

When you spawn a new character, build him a tent, and then go walk straight into a pit of lava, the next wanderer who shows up could probably just take his tent and move his stuff into a new house.  But when a hero who's saved the town from a dozen rampaging monsters and vanquished an overlord finally dies, the NPCs probably wouldn't take too kindly to some stranger showing up and moving right into his old house.  So when you lose a character with a real history it would make sense to leave his old house as a memorial.  Perhaps once you've built a reputation with the new character you could take some of these trophy items and make them into a monument if you wanted to reuse the house while respecting the dead.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 05:28:39 AM by Martyn van Buren »

Offline superking

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2011, 05:36:31 AM »
Not losing anything from my inventory still seems pretty softcore... I've played any amount of nethack and lost the inventory of a thousand characters without ever feeling hard done by.

one idea: how about the monster that kills you becomes a named boss with improved stats, so you can go back and avenge yourself.




Offline tigersfan

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2011, 07:32:13 AM »
Not losing anything from my inventory still seems pretty softcore... I've played any amount of nethack and lost the inventory of a thousand characters without ever feeling hard done by.

one idea: how about the monster that kills you becomes a named boss with improved stats, so you can go back and avenge yourself.

I'm definitely not in favor of losing inventory. I've lost the inventory of many a nethack characters as well, but that's the very reason I don't play a lot of nethack. Personally, I would hate having to go farm all my spellgems again.

That said, I do really like Olreich's idea. This encourages having long runs with individual characters, and really trying to avoid being killed. Yet, if you ARE killed, the game doesn't become prohibitively hard and there isn't a ton of gem mining that has to be redone or whatnot.

Offline Underfot

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 09:16:17 AM »
I started a mantis idea about this:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=5215

Basically what Olreich said; allowing a limited stat increase and offering a small incentive for survival beyond that.

Offline zebramatt

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 09:32:52 AM »
The death of a glyph-bearer could put reality under some sort of global strain, weakening its cohesiveness, letting the evil seep in...

Maybe all the enemies get slightly harder. Maybe overlords move about. Maybe new mobs crop up. Maybe you just lose some experience. Maybe things all cost a bit more to craft.

I'm not really sure of the specific negative aspects, but I think their being global is what I'm getting at.

It got me thinking about a new sort of visual progress indicator representing the general level of cohesiveness of reality - which could be leveled back out through certain activities like leveling your civilization up or killing an overlord but could also fall into the red through death (and perhaps other factors too) - and which has some global impact on the world.


Offline Lee

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2011, 09:47:34 AM »
Seems like an attempted and failed assault should be like poking a hornet's nest. Have a wave of rampaging monsters spawn and start heading toward your outposts. Or even have a retaliatory raid on one of your outposts drain some of the resources or level a building or two.

Offline Bluddy

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 05:59:51 PM »
Maybe a dead character who achieved great feats could inspire your civilization in some way. The more a character achieves before dying, the cooler random things you'll find because NPCs will be happier, NPC bards will sing about your deeds etc. People would be happier to see you etc. Your grave will have as an epitaph the great deeds you've done. Maybe there will be more than a grave -- there will be a statue with a list of things, a monument etc.

Characters who achieve little and die won't get any of these bonuses.

It boils down to a reputation bonus, which could be made super cool in a random game. The neat part is that once you die, you lose that reputation bonus to a degree. People won't be as happy to see you -- you'll be a nameless nobody. But your previous, great dead character will still inspire NPCs, which will be cool to see.

Offline superking

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 06:36:17 PM »
I think receiving a unique random instrinsic for a character each time they defeat a significant boss would work, as players would want to amass them

character jumps 10% higher,
character  has a 5% chance of double-casting attack spells
5% intrinsic resistance to x
character very slowly regens health
character can see further in the dark
character generates light
character gets more health from mob drops,
character quickly regens mana when on <10% HP
etc

Offline Bluddy

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Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 07:03:27 PM »
I think receiving a unique random instrinsic for a character each time they defeat a significant boss would work, as players would want to amass them

character jumps 10% higher,
character  has a 5% chance of double-casting attack spells
5% intrinsic resistance to x
character very slowly regens health
character can see further in the dark
character generates light
character gets more health from mob drops,
character quickly regens mana when on <10% HP
etc

I really like this idea -- like the random bonuses from Binding of Isaac! To make it work on an infinite game, you may need to give a bonus after every X bosses, where X is a rapidly growing number.