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Games => A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 => AVWW Brainstorming => Topic started by: x4000 on November 28, 2011, 10:39:01 PM

Title: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 on November 28, 2011, 10:39:01 PM
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!
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Orelius 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Olreich 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Martyn van Buren 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: FallingStar 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Martyn van Buren 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: superking 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.



Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: tigersfan 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Underfot 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: zebramatt 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.

Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Lee 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Bluddy 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: superking 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
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Bluddy 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.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Underfot on November 30, 2011, 08:05:36 AM
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...

This, combined with glyph transfers, would allow you to stock a settlement with previously buffed characters.  You could pull out the one with the best bonuses for the task at hand.  Love it.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Hearteater on November 30, 2011, 03:33:51 PM
On the topic of losing ammo on death, can I recommend it be a % of current amounts, rather than a fixed amount?  Say you lose 20% of the ammo you are carrying.  This makes the penalty larger when you are really well equipped and can suffer a bigger hit, but much smaller when you have barely any ammo and can ill afford to lose it all.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 on November 30, 2011, 06:22:20 PM
On the topic of losing ammo on death, can I recommend it be a % of current amounts, rather than a fixed amount?  Say you lose 20% of the ammo you are carrying.  This makes the penalty larger when you are really well equipped and can suffer a bigger hit, but much smaller when you have barely any ammo and can ill afford to lose it all.

That could work, yeah.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Martyn van Buren on November 30, 2011, 10:58:32 PM
I just linked to this in the character bonus thread, but (forgive me if this comes off as spamming), I wanted to put it in here too: Chris's pre-beta design goals for death: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,8507.msg75817.html#msg75817 (http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,8507.msg75817.html#msg75817).  Specifically, ". When a character dies, the player should feel the loss in some manner.  It shouldn't be like losing a life in Mario where it's just utterly unmemorable," which made it sound more like it was supposed to be a story thing than losing some buffs. Are these gone?  I really liked them.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Baleyg on November 30, 2011, 11:22:10 PM
Originally posted in the bonuses thread, but it has significance here, too.

Here's a thought.  What if, in addition to any effects on the character you're playing, the settlements can also obtain traits like generals in Total War?

Lose a character who has hit the bonus cap and the settlement gains, for example, "A hero to avenge:  This settlement has lost a beloved hero and will fight all the harder to give his/her sacrifice meaning.  +10% effectiveness in strategic combat."
Lose a bunch of fresh characters by zerg rushing a boss and you might gain, say, "Broken in spirit:  So many failed heroes have come from this settlement that everyone seems ready to submit to the overlord.  -20% effectiveness in strategic combat."
Take down an army in the metroidvania game and earn something like "A hero of legend: The champion of this settlement is so powerful that citizens already consider themselves free.  -10% effectiveness in strategic combat, +30 morale."

Each success or failure, along with random chance, will slowly mold a settlement into a unique blend of traits.  Gaining positive traits and removing negative traits could be rewards for side missions.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Martyn van Buren on December 01, 2011, 02:34:57 AM
Off topic, I was just thinking --- one game that really did NPC death well was Oregon Trail.  At least when I was eight I really felt bad if Jeremiah died of his snake bite.  If only I'd let him eat full rations.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 on December 01, 2011, 11:01:29 AM
Well, story-wise isn't really what I'm talking about here, I'm more the mechanics guy for this specific game, so that's what I'm focused on.  And my view is that if the mechanics reinforce what is going on in the story, that it's really a much bigger win.

In terms of the larger emotional impact, that's still something we want to try for, but in a procedural world of this sort with procedural characters, that may really be stretching what is possible.  A lot of the Personas stuff that Keith is going to be working on soon will help address the emotional connection to characters, but it's not the specific character that died -- rather a lot of the characters that look the same are actually multiverse instances of the same root Persona.

So if we take Martyn as an example, if his core persona was named Martyn and we know his life story, then that's something hand-crafted that we can make memorable and poignant.  But then as you are playing you see three different copies of Martyn running around, one of which is your current character, and they all have different names and personal life histories because they are all from different universes in the multiverse.  They are all shadows of this larger persona that you care more about, but when the specific shadow dies it's going to be a little hard to make the player truly care most of the time.

I could be wrong, and I would love to be wrong, but I'd be surprised if we really nailed that level of emotional impact to specific shadows of a persona before 1.0.  For 1.0 the focus is more on the mechanical fun, and the stories of the personas themselves and making them memorable, and the ongoing story of the world at a different level, and whatever else we have time for.  Though Keith would probably phrase all that a bit differently at least, and remember that he's the primary on that side of things rather than me, so I may have misspoken about some critical element there.  But that's the general idea anyway. ;)
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: superking on December 02, 2011, 10:43:30 AM
Well, story-wise isn't really what I'm talking about here, I'm more the mechanics guy for this specific game, so that's what I'm focused on.  And my view is that if the mechanics reinforce what is going on in the story, that it's really a much bigger win.

In terms of the larger emotional impact, that's still something we want to try for, but in a procedural world of this sort with procedural characters, that may really be stretching what is possible.  A lot of the Personas stuff that Keith is going to be working on soon will help address the emotional connection to characters, but it's not the specific character that died -- rather a lot of the characters that look the same are actually multiverse instances of the same root Persona.

So if we take Martyn as an example, if his core persona was named Martyn and we know his life story, then that's something hand-crafted that we can make memorable and poignant.  But then as you are playing you see three different copies of Martyn running around, one of which is your current character, and they all have different names and personal life histories because they are all from different universes in the multiverse.  They are all shadows of this larger persona that you care more about, but when the specific shadow dies it's going to be a little hard to make the player truly care most of the time.

I could be wrong, and I would love to be wrong, but I'd be surprised if we really nailed that level of emotional impact to specific shadows of a persona before 1.0.  For 1.0 the focus is more on the mechanical fun, and the stories of the personas themselves and making them memorable, and the ongoing story of the world at a different level, and whatever else we have time for.  Though Keith would probably phrase all that a bit differently at least, and remember that he's the primary on that side of things rather than me, so I may have misspoken about some critical element there.  But that's the general idea anyway. ;)

I read this several times, each time coming away with almost no idea what you are talking about  :P

correct me if I am wrong: each character graphic = a single character, and multiple of his graphic = different versions of him pulled from different universes?

If that is being implemented as a fluff solution to limited art resources, its probably not neceserry... players are used to using their imaginations with regard to NPC identity (eg. all the unatco troopers in deux ex having the same face and voice). I raise this because the whole buisness of ghosts, multiverses and shadows seems pretty confusing!
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 on December 02, 2011, 10:51:19 AM
correct me if I am wrong: each character graphic = a single character, and multiple of his graphic = different versions of him pulled from different universes?

More or less, yes.

If that is being implemented as a fluff solution to limited art resources, its probably not neceserry... players are used to using their imaginations with regard to NPC identity (eg. all the unatco troopers in deux ex having the same face and voice). I raise this because the whole buisness of ghosts, multiverses and shadows seems pretty confusing!

It's not really about limited art resources at all, because I know that's standard for games anyhow.  It's more about being able to do some interesting things with the personas themselves, such as making persona-specific upgrades (any instance of a character with that sprite gets that buff permanently, etc).  So you can have character progression that isn't tied to your specific character that might die, but at the same time isn't just global to you as a player too.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Dizzard on December 02, 2011, 01:24:29 PM
I think the best way to strengthen character and story value in a procedural game like this would be to really support attachment to these npcs as much as possible and also encourage people to develop their own stories too. Really drive that home.

It's easier for me though since I'm pretty sentimental I'll get reasonably attached to npcs/settlements anyway.

Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Hyfrydle on December 03, 2011, 05:19:58 AM
This is my first post in this brainstorming thread as all the ideas are blowing me away and I thought I knew what AVWW was :)

I was thinking maybe we need to look at two things to help prevent save scumming and the need to stick with the same character for as long as possible. The existing character needs to become personalised to the player so the players cares but then maybe on death the new character should gain some random perk or ability which makes each new character an exciting experience and lessens the impact of the previous characters death.

This needs to be balanced so people don't just kill characters until they achieve a bonus they like. Maybe a chance of a negative on a character after death will help towards this so a player wouldn't know what to expect on death. Nother idea is the bonus to the character on death is better dependant on how long the previous character has survived this would be an incentive to keep character alive as long as possibe. This bonus could be to the character, settlement or some other area of the game.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: gooseman on December 06, 2011, 02:37:39 PM
If a character with multiple bonuses/perks/traits/or whatever scheme is decided upon/ dies, such a death would be significant considering the time spent advancing that character.  In order to make such a death less annoying, having a portion of these bonuses/perks/traits transferable by the players choice to a new avatar will take the sting out of the heroes death.  Considering the dead hero has a reputation with the settlements, your new avatar would try to emulate the hero to some degree picking up some small portion of the most useful buffs/perks/traits.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Hearteater on December 06, 2011, 03:09:17 PM
Just want to cross-post this from the bonus stacks thread, since they are somewhat related:

Say each time you level up your civilization four levels with the same character, he gains a random trait from a fairly large pool of traits.  These traits provide a benefit when the character is left in your settlement, but not otherwise.  Further, you can only "equip" one trait at a time, although you can change which trait is equipped on a character in your settlement at any time to any they have previously acquired.  If you acquire the same trait again on a character, that trait ranks up providing greater benefits.

Example Traits [changed from original thread]:
Vitalizer - Gives you a small number of Vitality Stones once per mission time.
Scavenger - You may select one item from a list of random equipment once per mission time.
Gem Cutter - Repairs one spell gem below 100% condition by 1-4% once per mission time.

With a largish pool of traits, say 20, you'd rarely get rank 2 traits, much less rank 3.  Those characters would be very valuable outside the metrovania mode and it would effectively create a retirement system which would limit power creep.  But it would be entirely voluntary, and you could bring characters out of retirement if you needed to do something their combat skills were really suited to.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Revannefarious on January 10, 2012, 07:53:19 PM
I'll admit, I'm a little late to the party. I've taken the time to read the two pages of posts XD, and I gotta say that there are many great ideas floating out there. Originally, this post was going to end up being on a page by itself with the accruing ideas popping into my head (mostly due to what you guys have already presented). I won't subject you to the torture of me going on a rampant tangent so... I've saved it to a wordpad document for now.  XD If you're interested enough, I could share the file via idea tracker, but for now... let's see if I can catch your interest.

The settlements need a monument dedicated to deceased glyphbearers the player has used. That's a start. It doesn't need to be super detailed in what information is on it either - just a name is fine. What can be done though in a future update is to have the names coloured depending on achievements that character had earned in that life cycle. Here's a lame example of what it might look like to us if we interacted with it:

"In memory of the Glyphbearers who have sacrificed everything for <insert settlement name>,
we hereby shall remember their names forever on this obelisk/tablet"
*~ Rest in Peace ~*
        John Doe

You get the idea :P The information you're not getting from me had to do with a family bloodline system, a title progression system tied to each family, and a penalty to go with the death of a character that affected that bonus earned. There were issues with it of course, but it was a great idea nonetheless. I definitely think that having a visual representation of loss is important, and that's what I wanted to convey with this post. (although only a third of this post is really dedicated to that...)
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: lp0 on January 15, 2012, 11:36:40 AM
correct me if I am wrong: each character graphic = a single character, and multiple of his graphic = different versions of him pulled from different universes?

More or less, yes.

An idea might be to create a "meta personality" that encompasses some global statistics (benefits, negatives, whatever) relative to that specific character graphic ("Martyn", as the case may be); the player's "slice" of Martyn accrues benefits, some of which benefit every Martyn in the multiverse; so, for instance, if Martyn 1 died and the player created Martyn 2, some (not all) benefits might remain. From there, I can envision two possible branches (I'm sure there are more, this is just off the top of my head):

1) A la a Hollywood movie I once saw, there are a limited number of Martyn's in the multiverse - the story explanation for this is left as an exercise to the reader, but the gameplay ramification is that they cannot run around all "willy nilly" and waste Martyn's left and right; the implication is that they could not waste slices of any multiverse character, either. However, a possible twist (as per the Hollywood movie) is that the less Martyn's there are, the more powerful the remaining Martyn(s) become - the gameplay ramification being that the player has to manage their pool of Martyn's to meet their gameplay objectives - a single powerful embodiment of Martyn, or several mediocre Martyn's. Depending on the nature of various enemies in the world, this sort of gameplay mechanic might offer an implicit bonus/penalty to certain play styles.

This next point may or may not make sense, because I am relatively new to AVWW, so bear with me ...

2) I've noticed an increasing focus on missions; so, perhaps the players slice of Martyn accrues some abilities that allow him to effectively modify a mission in certain ways (maybe handicap a specific type of enemy, or all [mini]bosses have a permanent movement penalty), but this bonus is only for the players slice of Martyn and no other; if the players Martyn dies this bonus is lost until it is gained again (in some unspecified fashion). This is separate from the inventory, so there is no dreaded corpse-running, but also is tangible enough that the player will really feel it - permit me to be longwinded and elaborate here.

I, the player, control a specific slice of Martyn - we will call him Martyn X. Martyn X has, through unspecified means, acquired the ability to modify various mission parameters upon engaging in a mission - this allows him to tackle higher level missions than might otherwise be possible. If Martyn X dies, I can no longer attempt such high level missions and my progress is (significantly?) slowed, without having actually lost any inventory item, spell, etc.

Just some ideas.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: x4000 on January 16, 2012, 08:59:55 AM
Actually, a lot of what you describe was very close to the "Personas" design that we were talking about for a while.  But for various reasons we've been moving away from that lately.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: BoG on May 02, 2012, 12:55:49 AM
Hello everyone.
So, I bought this game on Steam, and I'm enjoying it. Particularly, I like the roguelike elements in the game. Of course, it doesn't feel quite right. Many have mentioned that in this thread. I read someone talk about death being like losing a life in Mario, and sadly, that is what death feels like at this point. I would say this absolutely needs to be fixed.
As I've been playing, I think the best way to accomplish your five initial goals while at the same time making death more than just "losing a life" would be to increase the unique attributes of new characters. Others have said the same thing. I was thinking that specialization might work well. Allow players to keep all of their spells and enchants when they die, but give characters elemental specializations. Perhaps one character is talented with ice, but unable to use fire. When the player encounters an enemy with strong ice resistance, they're at a disadvantage, and may lose. If they die, they can overcome this with a character who specializes in something else. As others have mentioned, certain perks would work well too. Even special powerful spells that only that character can use. Not only would it make death more painful (as it should be) but a larger variety of characters would make the game more fun.
Another idea I had involves upgrade stones. I never actually use them, but would be forced to if they disappeared when I die. To make this less frustrating, you could then increase the number of upgrade stones that can be found in the world.
I hope what I said provides something new, and that it's workable in the game. Whatever happens, I hope for the best! I'll continue to enjoy the game.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Epitaph64 on May 03, 2012, 02:34:10 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.

Yeah, that could be good though. We have the transfer scrolls at the moment. Why not have a super good character that we don't want to risk on something extra dangerous?
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Guswut on May 05, 2012, 12:15:02 AM
The player character in the game feels fairly impersonal, which, as mentioned already as being something that was going to be looked into, makes it fairly easy for me to risk them. The upgrade crystals is a decent idea, but being able to carry a stack of them makes them only seem valuable if I die a few times in a row and start to run low on them.

Mechanically, I would think that having the death of the player character cause some slight damage to the glyph making sense. Something like mana regeneration is lowered by 10% for five minutes (most likely only counting the ticks that the character actually moved, instead of just standing still, etc), or the monsters in the chunk and four nearby chunks to where you died became enraged (one tier harder for ten minutes, etc).

Oh, wait... What about if dying affected the windstorms? Every time you die, a bit of your power strengthens the windstorms, possibly causing a non-storming tile to randomly storm (either for a certain amount of time, or in a way that allows you to go on a mission to that tile which may have a decent reward although be fairly difficult). That adds a macro aspect to it, gives a good reason to not die (especially if it usually makes the tile you die on storm), but it doesn't feel overly out of place nor grindy.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: LostSoul on May 06, 2012, 03:51:27 PM
Why not something simple, effective, but more to the point neither overtly damaging to previous activities, nor directly annoying? When the glyph bearer dies, all missions on the continent where they die are despawned and no missions will be available again for X amount of time. Since missions are the lifeblood of the game ultimately, having all missions disappear and a good chunk of time before more missions can begin spawning again is definitely a setback, but at the same time not one that is going to force you to keep going back and redoing what you've already done.

I'd also suggest having the penalty itself scale with the content level. The higher up you are, the longer it takes before missions start generating again, while at the lower level dying carries a minimal punishment as you're still learning the ropes.

That being said, part of me also thinks that a character that you keep alive longer should intrinsically be more valuable than one that is fairly fresh. Considering that the player can mitigate the risk to a more experience character by taking over a newer one, having a more experience character die is still within the players control. So what if the "kill x of monster y to unlock" deal also gave that character a minor increase to their basic stats: health, mana, damage. Nothing large (like maybe 1 or 2% each at most) that you'd be immediately incapable of recovering from, but just a nice boost for the characters that live the longest. These tallies would be kept on a per-character basis so every character can unlock them, but doing so isn't really that necessary.

Another distinct possibility is that more experienced characters unlock additional purchase options with their stones, giving them more control over what they ultimately get (in exchange for the more specific enchants being exponentially more expensive). So for example, a new character could only pick just a very basic "buy an enchant" and that's it. They don't get to specify anything more than that. A more advanced character can specify which slot-type of enchant, while even more advanced ones can control which sub-type of enchant and (should they live long enough) even a minimal quality level. Obviously a character that lives long enough to unlock these options is going to be a prized commodity and may even be naturally retired in order to preserve that capability.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Drjones013 on May 07, 2012, 01:16:40 PM
With the high availability of shards and the new shop it seems like we could do more punitive things with enchantments. What if there was a percentage chance that a player's enchantments could be permanently destroyed? This would make exploring with your rare enchantment character nerve-wracking and could make the use of glyph transfer scrolls useful again. The percentage chance of loss should be fairly low, say 5%, but the fact that it could happen at all should leave most players on edge.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: omegajasam on May 07, 2012, 07:43:57 PM
Making it easyer to re-name them would make it easyer to get more attached.

I think the problems gotten worse now that upgrade stones are something you never run out of normally. There would have to be some intrinsic advantage a long term charcter has over a new one to make them worth while.  Upgrade stones no-longer do that (Which I'm not too disapointed about after finding myself grinding a few times)
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Ontogenesis on May 07, 2012, 08:22:03 PM
Hmmm. Have you considered maybe having a selection of unique spells (or just buffed versions of current spells), that a character can only have one of, and is randomly assigned to your potential choices? This would each character unique, make death feared (as there's no guarentee you'll find another character with the same buff) and shape play style.

Alternatively (or in addition to), each character could be random in their:
> Unique spells/ buffed versions
> Unique gameplay stats (e.g. jumping, detection)
> Resistances (e.g. to certain spell elements/melee)
> Other random effects (e.g. automatically be able to breathe underwater, resistant to wind storms etc.)

Just some thoughts  ;D

Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Remliel on May 10, 2012, 08:01:43 PM
What would make me care more about a character's death without mechanical impact? More customization. Give me ways to customize the name more easily. Give me a way to establish more of a background. Maybe even get married and start a family or something. People still gotta do that, especially in Neo-Postapocalyptia. More appearance options.

Hell, give us vanity costumes that we can put on that could get lost if we die. You can buy them in the new store or something.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: tigersfan on May 10, 2012, 08:48:09 PM
What would make me care more about a character's death without mechanical impact? More customization. Give me ways to customize the name more easily. Give me a way to establish more of a background. Maybe even get married and start a family or something. People still gotta do that, especially in Neo-Postapocalyptia. More appearance options.

Hell, give us vanity costumes that we can put on that could get lost if we die. You can buy them in the new store or something.

The family stuff for the NPCs is a possiblity, but not in the near future. There's just too much involved in that to make it happen anytime soon.

As for the costumes and such, this is pretty much impossible with the way the art is done in the game. We would basically have to have a completely new character for every single costume combination available.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Orelius on May 10, 2012, 09:08:41 PM
I feel that death is sill rather trivial because any investment you make into a character is optional.  In roguelikes like DCSS, you level up and rise in power, and find items that help you, all of which are lost if you fall.  In AVVW's case, you keep your items and decide when to level up, and your unused 'XP' carries over to new games.  This just disincentives using upgrade stones at all and encourages stagnation, in my opinion.

It's just that death is neither annoying (because it really has no impact unless you want it to), and not significant (because it has no impact if you don't want it to).
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Remliel on May 11, 2012, 04:20:22 AM
What would make me care more about a character's death without mechanical impact? More customization. Give me ways to customize the name more easily. Give me a way to establish more of a background. Maybe even get married and start a family or something. People still gotta do that, especially in Neo-Postapocalyptia. More appearance options.

Hell, give us vanity costumes that we can put on that could get lost if we die. You can buy them in the new store or something.

The family stuff for the NPCs is a possiblity, but not in the near future. There's just too much involved in that to make it happen anytime soon.

As for the costumes and such, this is pretty much impossible with the way the art is done in the game. We would basically have to have a completely new character for every single costume combination available.


Ah, that's too bad. Maybe something can be done with a future expansion. Good to know where some of the limits currently stand right now though!

Hmm.... Other ideas: Perhaps being able to build some sort of legacy with your character. When they die, of course, they can't build it any farther. The next glyphbearer has to take up the duty and make their own legend.

How this manifests could be a number of ways. There was a suggestion on the Tracker for some kind of memorial object. This could be an idea if you have it dynamically record and track the successes and failures of the character. Maybe some kind of Hall of the Glyphbearers addition to the settlement? A building you can enter that would contain these and provide a service... Which is something else I wanted to suggest.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Vi_O on May 12, 2012, 05:59:08 PM
Hi everyone,

I've bought the game about a week ago and I've had a lot of fun with so far ^^ I'm glad there's still a lot of releases and even this brainstorming board for feedback, as I feel like the game is constantly evolving and that's great :)

Well, we're here to talk about : The Significance of Death.

As what have been said before, we've got basically two main ways of making it significant :
-> Punishing the player for dying
-> Making it some kind of gameplay enhancement

I think there's more things to prospect on the enhancement side (personal opinion), so here's my idea(s) about it.

1. Ghost to scale.
I think the strength of the ghost should scale at the strength of his former alive self. Maybe not in term of its upgrade. More like its "fame" (I've seem this is the thread before) it could be as simple as the number of foes he killed. For example, if the hero killed less than 100 foes in his life, he should not even spawn as a ghost, for he is so weak. In the other hand, the more he killed in his life, the more he'll be dreadsome. Maybe even stronger than an overlord at some point, making for some epic battle he could not have fought otherwise.
There can be even more customisation : the ghost can use the same spells than before dying // The ghost has the same strength and weaknesses than before // The same enchants // The same *** (replace by wathever you want :) )

2. Exorcism
Basically, you've got a noble hero, fallen in battle, that lies in an battlefield full of hostile foes. From a roleplay viewpoint, someone would like to bring back the corpse to the settlement and bury it. Hey, what about that Shrink spell that can takes elements from the landscape to put it in the settlement ? He could bring it back easily.
For more fun, the ghost could be invicible until exorcised in this way and even following the character that is transporting its corpse on his way back. Character that of course could not use any teleport while fleeing. Then at last, the spirit is relieved and leave to a better world/merge with the cristals/stay as a guardian/I dunno what else or is pissed of and gives a last fight (but is no more invicible.)
Alternatively, you can just make the ghost very strong but beatable and the exorcism just make it weaker or defeat it without a fight.

3. Ghost by night
Come on, everyone knows that ghost only comes out by night. That Gives people opportunities to avoid/exorcise it more easily :)

4. Ghost summoner
What if the overlord can summon ghost as easily as it summons lieutenants ? What if (if you combo with the exorcism idea) the ghost it has summoned is invicible 'cause his corpse is still in corrupted land ? Trouble.

5. Rewarding
I think that if you intend to make it more challenging, you should reward the player when he succeed in vanquishing the former glyphbearers. Nice enchants, rare ingredients, some achievements or even guardian ghost that helps at the overlord battle. I don't know what but something at least.

That's all ! (for now...) I know these ideas won't be implemented like that but I hope it'll help to think about the issue.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Robby89 on May 20, 2012, 08:14:31 PM
I think there should be an obituary to log specific character use, the missions they accomplished, the time and place they died, and how they died. And perhaps a bit of a bio the player can add to spruce it up. I have a bad habit of making my characters last a good while, and somewhat getting attached. I'd like to view the names and logs of characters of their accomplishments and their history. I'd even like to see which character put that previous characters soul to rest after he was destroyed. Death shouldn't be overlooked, this is a good way to show off what player did what and which characters they been using for a while.

Sure the current log system has some of this already, but it doesn't have specifics. Why have all these names and individuals from different time periods of we treat them like the same meat bags? They deserve a little more respect than that. Especially if you go through the trouble of programming a random name and stat generator. Not to mention the numerous rescue missions! Food for thought.
Title: Re: Brainstorming Permadeath: Making Death Significant But Not Annoying
Post by: Snave on August 23, 2012, 03:17:20 PM
Here are four small solutions without harming the flow of the game, but that also tie in to the settlement aspect:

1. Reward longevity, rather than punish death.

Provide a personal buff to the starting stats of the next set of characters you're offered if the previous character had achieved certain personal achievements. Like an extra 10% bonus on one of the three core stats if their predecessor beat X missions, another 5% for Y minibosses (diminishing returns), and an entire extra bonus (those bonuses such as +9% water damage or whathaveyou that everyone gets two of randomly) if the predecessor had beaten a lieutenant or overlord. Thematically, having been possessed by a strong glyphcarrier, the glyph seeks out a stronger new glyphholder. Each of these bonuses of a given type would be achievable once. So if a character beat two lieutentants, it only counts as one bonus for the next carrier. That way, its posible, through good gameplay, to maintain buffed characters throughout the game rather than having the wave-like progression of not being able to pass any benefits forward.

2. Tie longevity and retirement to settlement building.

Let me see my active character's profession and mood and influence their mood directly via personal achievements. That way, I can build mood such that glyph transfer scrolls will mean something. Rather than go farming silly trinkets to cheer up my NPCs, I could actually jump on, take control and try to make them feel accomplished personally. At present, I only seem to use those scrolls to go kill off Wild Garden NPCs, because the other villagers don't seem to like them very much (some benevolent master I am). Also, if I kill off a 1k+ mood NPC, well, that's a genuine loss, but a strategic one rather than one that affects regular run and gun gameplay.

3. Settlement-wide mood swings.

Little settlement-wide mood boosts for continent-wide achievements. So say, for every new square freed of "wind", little mood boosts. Similarly, moderate mood boosts per lieutenant defeated. However, the game keeps track of these achievements, so when a "hero" character dies, a value between a percentage (20-50%?) and a flat cap (50?) of these boosts accumulated by that particular hero are snatched back as a settlement-wide mood dip. If a given resident has low mood already, the dip can be "softened" for them personally so nobody dips below zero, or even below 100 (too depressed to really notice the hero died). Settlement-wide mood dips for continent-wide loss of a hero. Afterall, nobody cares if a nobody dies, but the great hero who defeated 2 lieutenants and cleared 50 squares of wind single-handedly? Furthermore, this adds a new content vector for settlement bonus structures.

4. Neutral Ilari that hurl insults.

There is only one in the game, and it's in the tutorial. Add more as a (very) rare find in caves. Have them fling customised insults at your character based on its personal achievements, or lack thereof. Unlock new insults with continents!
"Your past five predecessors lived for an average of 4.3 days each as glyphbearers. You've been a glyphbearer for 4 days now. Does this make you feel significant? Powerful? Valued?"
It'd be funny at the least.

Of course, these solutions would require tracking a lot more data on a per NPC basis, but it'd really make the settlement and its inhabitants feel more alive.

On the topic of new glyphbearers, it'd also be nice if the game explained early on where they... ahem... came from. The "mystery" clues kinda allude to them being survivors out in the wilderness that the glyph "found" and teleported to the settlement upon your last glyphbearer's death, but this story thread gets left hanging as a potential plot hole for quite some time early on. Not to mention you can still choose glyphbearers from terrain types unavailable on your present continent from Continent 2 onwards, which is a little weird.