Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On Death

Several of you e-mailed me with information on how your favorite MMO handles death. Three games, in particular, seem to have decent systems, and here are some details.

I haven't heard much about Auto Assault (and zero buzz in the first few weeks is a bad, bad sign), but their way of handling death is totally cool. Just reading about it made me curious to play the game. Not enough to actually play, mind you, but it did make me curious.

1. World of Warcraft
As best I can understand, when you die, you're resurrected in the nearest graveyard, and you can either reconsitute yourself there (with some temporary penalties related to weapons and hit points) or go on a corpse run to retrieve your corpse in the field. No XP penalty. I'm sure one of you guys will e-mail me with the exact information, and I'll update this post as soon as I hear from you.

Update: from Paul Costello of
When you die, you click a button and appear in ghost form at the nearest graveyard. You then have two choices.

First off, you can run back to your corpse, and as long as you're in proximity, you can rez with no real penalties, other than about half health, which takes about 20 seconds to recuperate. No XP loss. I double checked that yesterday.

Second choice is you can be resurrected immediately by the spirit healer, which is a ghostly figure that resides at each graveyard. You'd do this if you didn't want to do the corpse run for some reason - maybe you were about to call it a night and are signing off anyway. When you let the spirit healer rez you, you get something called rez sickness that seriously affects your stats, making you pretty much useless in combat. It lasts 10 minutes, a bit less for lower level characters. You also take 25% damage to your equipment, so it'll cost you some money to repair. But you're always repairing your equipment from damage it's taken during combat anyway, so it's really not that big a deal, just more significant than usual. But there's no XP penalty.

2. Guild Wars
From Brian Meyer:
Just wanted to chime in on your MMO comment about losing experience. I haven’t played many MMOs, but I have been playing Guild Wars for about 6 months now and I would suggest that you try it.

The only ‘penalty’ for dying in Guild Wars is a temporary ‘death penalty’. This means that if you character dies, anyone in your party can resurrect you. Each time this happens, you get a 15% Death Penalty added to you. What this means is that your HP and Energy (Mana/MP) are 15% lower than they usually are. Die again, and you now have 30% penalty, all the way to a cap of 60%.

Here is the interesting part: the penalty only applies in the mission you are currently in, and you can ‘work it off’ by killing stuff and gaining XP. So the only way you have to start over, is if your entire party wipes out. In this case, you all go back to the nearest town/outpost.

3. Auto Assault
From Noah Dullis: I was reading your entry about patience and how many games discourage experimentation by punishing the player by setting back their progress when taking chances that don't pan out, particularly with MMOs. I know I've had the same complaint with every online RPG I've played and even now I'm so used to traditional RPGs that I find myself thinking "I should probably save here" just as I'm about to attack a high level mob. It's frustrating. I'd suggest you check out Auto Assault. I picked it up last week and I'm having a blast with it. The change in scenery from sword-and-sorcery fantasy is refreshing enough alone, but the game is very fun to play and surprisingly deep. Most importantly though:

No death penalty.


This game encourages you to be reckless and to have fun. It wants you to fling your car off a 100 foot cliff in pursuit of a car you've been chasing for miles to see what'll happen when you both land. It wants you to barrel into the middle of a mutant stronghold, guns blazing, and see how many of the bastards you can wipe out before you're car explodes and the smokey hulk goes flying through the air with full Havok 2 physics. It wants you to ram your car into the broadside of a tanker truck in the middle of a convoy and see if you can survive the resulting fireball and chaos. And when you wipe out, you just hit the evac button and a friendly rescue team flies in, winches your car up, and drops you off at the nearest repair station, at no cost to you. No money, no item deterioration, no XP loss. It's great.

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