[MUD-Dev] [DSN] Why Permadeath is Irrelevant

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Mon Sep 3 19:12:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Paul Schwanz writes:

> But negative consequences (the risks) are only one part of the
> picture.  Remember there are actually three parts to the gaming
> experience.  The other two parts are the choices and the positive
> consequences (the rewards).  A more complete illustration might
> look like this.

>          Insignificant                    Momentous
>   Risk   0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
>   Choice 0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10
>   Reward 0...1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10

A couple observations:

  1. The described view of gaming is very achiever-centric.

  2. Players should not be risking their entertainment as a result
  of normal gameplay.  Any choice that a player makes should result
  in some form of entertainment.  Characters can go through
  in-context risk for in-context reward, but the whole thing should
  be entertaining for the player.  This is what the player is paying
  for.  Having said this, some players like to engage in risk as a
  form of entertainment, and the recipe of risking access to a
  game's entertainment (e.g. through permadeath of a character) will
  work for some players.

> 1. Give a wider range of significance to actions, instead of a
> narrower one.

I certainly support the idea of a spectrum of outcomes, what you
call "all kinds of consequences".  Personally, I don't think that
"consequences" in a game world really matter to anybody.  It's when
the consequences are applied to the players that they matter.  And
negative player consequences should be eliminated where possible.
As an extreme case, consider non-consentual player character
conflict.  It has negative consequences for players.  If being
killed by another player character was as inherently entertaining as
playing the game normally, PKing wouldn't be as offensive.

> 2.  Use intuitive real-life concepts to design game systems that
> help players manage their risks so that you can minimize the
> disparity between the perceived significance of their choices and
> the perceived severity of consequences.  These concepts might
> include territory, vocation, justice, reputation, karma, access
> control, and more formalized community building.  Help them have a
> more predictable experience when it comes to the correlation
> between choice, risk, and reward.

Certainly the player should be able to understand the game systems.
My personal take on this right now is that the character should be
very much aware of what's going on and it should be advising the
player.  This reduces the player's needed investment in trying to
figure out what's going on.  Another win for the casual player.


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