[MUD-Dev] Re: PermaDeath

Sayeed yu219121 at YorkU.CA
Fri Feb 19 01:20:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

At 11:31 PM Ola Fosheim Gr=F8stad wrote:
>Matthew Mihaly wrote:
>> I used to agree with you completely, but JC Lawrence made some really
>> excellent arguments for things that permadeath can bring to a game that
>> pretty much cannot exist without that risk, ie a massively heightened
>> sense of risk (and thus passion) about what you are doing. When the risks
>> are high, so are the passions.

>In what way?  I don't have much interest in permadeath so I can't speak
from my
>own experience on that one, but I know that the risk I feel in PvP is not=
>much a matter of loosing stats as it is a matter of having another player
>exercise their power over my character. I loose stats when dying for a
>no trembling there. Now, facing a sworn enemy which I really hate, yes I
>from the tension that comes from the risk of loosing _face_. The risk of


While I agree that saving face and overcoming challenges can be very=20
thrilling, I also believe greater danger makes victories sweeter.

"Oh boy, Lord Deimos, let's throw ourselves at him a few thousand=20
times then take his gold, he has lots of gold!"

Even role-played, I wouldn't find this as heart-stopping and exciting
 as it would be if I actually had to take great care to plan out my attacks=
and preserve a precious life.  When much being risked, we instinctually=20
feel excited, and if we emphasize with characters even a little bit, then=20
we'll feel a thrilling "fight/flight" response when he/she is in danger. =20
It's easy to say that perceived risk depends on an individual player's=20
mentality, but just as easy to see that same mentality being affected by=20
its environment.  When someone attacks me I feel excited, why?  I=20
risk pain.  When I climb a mountain without gear I feel VERY excited,=20
why?  I risk death.

The key question here, however, is "Why do I risk?"  I risk to gain. =20
That is the issue which makes permadeath so hard to swallow in=20
MUDs.  I risk to gain protection, gold, silence, whatever, but in=20
all cases I voluntarily risk only for rewards, and rewards are made=20
sweeter by that risk.  In an epic fantasy we might see main characters=20
risking their very lives for some altruistic purpose, usually to save=20
the world from an villain.  Frodo risks his skin stabbing a troll=20
because he is helping to gain the safety of Middle Earth.  Luke=20
SkyWalker risks his skin fighting stormtroopers because he wants=20
to gain excitement FROM that risk and to help prevent the Empire=20
from taking over the galaxy.  Would he randomly slaughter stormtrooper=20
after stormtrooper, risk his life, for its inherent excitement/fun?  No. =20
Would Frodo be convinced to leave the comfort of Bag-End, risk=20
his life fighting orcs, merely for entertainment?  No..

That's where MUDs come in.  Noone wants to risk their character's=20
lives fighting meaningless orcs, getting killed for a few pieces of=20
gold.  Why would anyone make random, everyday, COMMON encounters=20
which have so little reward so full of risk?  On the other hand, If=20
players were on a quest to save the Mudworld, and knew that killing=20
every orc COUNTED, then perhaps they would feel the risk justified.

<SNIP no need to risk 2000 hours of play>

>contributes to overall game play?  We'll see how well Middle Earth does,=
>how it eventually deals with "permadeath" when released. I think they only
>on using permadeath as spice though.
>Ola Fosheim Groestad,Norway      http://www.stud.ifi.uio.no/~olag/

It will be very interesting indeed to see how Middle Earth turns out. =20
At this point maybe I should qualify my terms.  There is a 'negligible risk'=
of death, and then there is a 'high risk' of death, let me call it a
of death.  A player would undergo a negligible risk of death, (where=20
the risk is very small), if the reward for that risk equaled or=20
exceeded the risk itself (I'm not saying these are easy scales for a
to judge).  A player feels that a possibility of death is justified if the=
reward for that risk was great.  What Middle Earth is trying to do is=20
make the risk/reward situation semi-concrete.  In their world (as I=20
understand it), there is always a negligible risk of death, but only=20
players and higher level creatures will choose to make a "death blow,"=20
with the would-be victims companions being given measures to stop even=20
that blow.  Normal creatures will still render players unconscious and take
gold, but only the higher level creatures will actually cause permadeath.
To discourage player killing, death is taken VERY seriously, and criminals=
are given the option NOT to kill but to loot.

1.) EXAMPLE:  I venture into the woods of the Shire alone, looking=20
for adventure, and find a grumpy dog lying in wait.  After a battle, it=20
renders me unconscious, but I eventually heal and can pursue it again=20
or go after other prey.  If I had killed it, I wouldn't really be able=20
to brag, but then a grumpy dog isn't much of a risk.

2.) EXAMPLE:  After killing many grumpy dogs, I'm ready to try my=20
hand at orcs.  If I'm smart, I'll take people with me.  I kill orcs=20
aplenty, and they give decent rewards, but then I look towards the=20
Orc Chieftain.  The chieftain might, now and again, deliver a death blow,=20
but I brought friends, and when I'm unconscious they can choose to "guard"=
my corpse (disallow death blows) and then drag me away.  Also, the Orc=20
Chieftain isn't the most vicious creature, and luckily my friends might be
to drive him away.  Medium Risk/Medium Reward.  If my friends and I=20
hadn't, on the other hand, killed many grumpy dogs, then taking on a=20
chieftain would have been a high risk for us, and might actually have caused=
our deaths.

3.) EXAMPLE:  The Balrog can pretty much take on anybody.  If you're trying=
to take it out, it has great gold, and the best bragging rights of all,=20
but it ALWAYS kills.  Then again, didn't defeating it turn Gandalf White?
 High Risk/High Reward.

If you're talking about 'immersiveness' from the point of view of a=20
Role-Player, forms of permadeath implementation seem pretty attractive. =20
As I see it, the goal of Role-Players is to totally divorce the idea of=20
a Game from a Mud, and to completely immerse themselves in the mud=20
WORLD.  There, they enjoy a world of excitement and escape from the=20
everyday.  If they are completely immersed in the mud as a realistic=20
world, then it provides enjoyment and has longevity with them.

What is this 'Game' role-players would like to forget?  Well when I=20
look at a game, I see a microcosm of the 'Real World,' yet with much=20
'Real World Risk' removed.  Using real world skills and abilities, we=20
play games like monopoly, soccer, or any other game, but it has little=20
risk for us in the real world, and adversely affects us less than 'real
activities.  When, for example, someone chastises their friends that=20
"It's only a game, why are you making it more than that?" it's generally=20
because they're mixing the game with the real world, perhaps sabotaging=20
foils so they win at fencing. =20

Though all games cross over into our real lives in some ways, role-players=
want muds to do solely this.  They want muds to, as much as possible, BE=20
our real worlds.  This is a role-player's immersion.

What makes something a game is to have less risk in the real world. =20
To make a real world there must be things which are risked.  Therefore,=20
for role-players to be immersed in a fantasy world, for it to be their=20
real world, there needs to be risk in those worlds.

Using a good 'reward justifies risk' implementation, permadeath could be a
very viable option in some muds.


yu219121 at yorku.ca

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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