I was thinking:
– In general some players demand harsher death penalties (or even permdeath) so that it is more “meaningful”.
– But then we also know that these games are about “learning”
Now my point is, from when “learning” is a practice of death? Isn’t “dying” the exact opposite of “learning”?
I mean, even in real life, “learning” implies that you survive the process. If you die you don’t learn anything at all, you are done. Game over.
Postulate: “Learning” is a mechanic of life, not of death.
Let’s delve some more (but still remain on the “navel gazing” level). What’s the difference between WoW’s death penalities and those in other games? I already wrote a long analysis two years ago, but, essentially:
1- It’s *quantitatively* small
2- It isn’t incremental (here I lack the proper term, but you know what I mean)
Don’t let the absence of xp loss fool you, there’s no *qualitative* difference from dying in DAoC and dying in WoW. In both a death is a loss of time. This loss can be quantitatively different, but qualitatively it’s still about the time. You could lose xp, but it’s still about spending time to recover it. Many mmorpgs have toyed with these concepts through whimsical solutions, but they didn’t really go anywhere. From xp loss, to corpse recovering, xp debts and all the rest. It’s all the same. Qualitatively.
Then there’s the other point. In WoW the death isn’t incremental. You die once or you die twenty times in a row and you don’t pile up the penalty. This is the most important element of the two, and it’s where WoW’s death penalty works better: these games are about learning, so it’s useful to keep the frustration away and lead the player more than teach him to fear death. “Fear death” here is the key. In this game “death” is the experimentation. If you “fear death” you stick on the standarized path, you avoid risk and maintain a “low profile”. No good for the game, not fun.
This is basically why the market rewarded more bland death penalties:
1- Games are about learning
2- In games you learn by experimenting, taking risks and dying. So you learn by dying (if you don’t do anything wrong you learn zero, obviously)
3- The market rewards a game where the learning process is the most efficient and satisfactory: dying is not frustrating, so you can take risks and learn
Pretty much linear and logical from my point of view. “Killing” the players for good doesn’t work because you are simply killing their possibility to learn. So you are killing the game itself. It would be a nonsense.
Now, why you would want to use “permdeath”? It’s like selfstabbing. You would kill every semblance of game.
Let’s delve on the level of navel gazing even here. What’s permdeath? Another “ring a round the rosey”. Nothing changes, you lose progress and need to restart. So it’s again a mechanic about time. You need to redo things, so you have to spend your time to return to where you left.
So what’s the actually impact of permdeath if it’s concretely nowhere different from WoW’s death penalty? What it would add that isn’t already largely used beside the “quantitative” difference?
Imho, nothing at all. Permdeath would only make critical the replayability of the game. It’s not the loss of progress that would scare me in WoW. It’s the fact that if I have to redo my character, I also have to repeat all the initial levels and all that content that I’ve already seen too many times.
It doesn’t look like a good idea. It would be really stupid, in fact.
Morale: Permdeath would be vaguely possible only in a game with a superb replayability. Which doesn’t look like a common feature and would also pretty much nullify the reason to have it in the game in the first place.
Conclusion: harsher death penalties are exercises in futility.