Should WoW have lower death penalties?

| Monday, February 22, 2010
Rationally, higher death penalties should cause better gameplay. The worse the punishment, the more effective the learning. This isn't what actually happens. People don't go through life doing everything as a cost-benefit analysis and taking the ideal outcome. Notice how bank and credit card fee increases haven't made people more responsible/careful and avoid the fees. No, the banks just get more money. Pretty smart if you ask me; I wish I'd thought of the idea of charging people money for being dumb*.

Raising the cost of failure doesn't reduce the chance of failure. People often don't respond to the warning. Time lost, durability lost, consumables wasted, these are not making us play better. If anything, they may be making us play worse.

Let's go back to a fact: America is awesome. We're innovative and rich as fuck. Because of innovation. We take risks that others would not. How, why? It's not just culture. It's the situation we create. We have some of the most lenient bankruptcy laws in the world. In other words, go out and fail a lot, we won't throw you in prison, let you starve to death, or take all your possessions. Maybe the last one. We value the persistence because eventually, it yields some amazing stuff, such as everything we have.

By not punishing failure, we encourage people to take risks. We encourage people to try stupid ideas. Sometimes those are actually brilliant ideas and the payoffs are huge.

Could this apply in WoW?

If death was even less of a burden, we might be more willing to take risks. We'd be more wiling to "see what happens if we".

The highest guilds are the ones that create strategies and learn the fights, and then the rest of us imitate them. How do they do it? By dying a lot. Also skill, but that's not helping my argument, so let's pretend it doesn't exist. For them, death has a small enough cost compared to how they perceive the reward. Most people aren't as willing to die a lot. Would lowering the death penalty help?

If we weren't so afraid to die, might we read wowwiki and tankspot for tactics less? With more people innovating, might we find a thousand new ways to do a fight, when we're willing to take risks?

Would we not demand that all PUGs be overgeared, expecting Ulduar gear for Naxx and ToC for Ulduar and thinking 25k is low for a random heroic?

* I am using this as a generic filler for whatever causes a person to miss a payment or overdraw, such as being dumb, forgetful, irresponsible, or broke.

Or should they be higher?
What would this accomplish? If we lost something more, worse corpse runs, more durability, experience loss, would that change anything? It would make us more wary of death, more cautious. Would we learn faster? I doubt it. If the failure we have won't make us read our spells more closely, what will? Increase the penalty and the mindless might just leave, and take their money with.

Remember the recent information about 70% of players not going past level 10? Doubtlessly many are spam accounts or people who just aren't going to enjoy the genre. But how many more would be people who went from level 7 to level 6? They'd have to be pretty back, right? Well yes. God awful. Terrible noobs. And exactly like new gamers. Personally, I'm glad I didn't quit years ago because of some stupid death penalty. It wouldn't have made me look up more info on my class. The concept was entirely alien to me. I may be assuming too much, but I'd guess most new players aren't coming in to WoW with tons of experience and the idea of needing to tap out of game resources.

Higher death penalties won't make us learn any faster, but they just might kill WoW faster.


Dwism said...

Answering part of your question: No, lower death penalties have not made us use guides any less. As a matter of fact, we use them more.

Back in Molten core days, a wipe would take as much as 15 minutes of: healers ressing via soulstone, ressers ressing other ressers, ressers ressing the rest, then we would rebuff, then we would replenish mana.
yet, video-guides did not exist.
Later when zoning and porting inside a dungeon made corpseruns take no more than 5 minutes, the tankspot video-guides are mandatory. they didn't even exist back then.

Weird huh?

And I don't want to get all political, but financially, America is about as high on the "doing well" scale as some 3rd world countries. So that was not a great example imo.

Klepsacovic said...

@Dwism: I hate to get into a "your evidence isn't valid, no YOUR evidence isn't valid" discussion, but, I'm not sure your example works. Back then the raiding guilds were a smaller sample of the population, they were more similar tot he hardcore guilds now than the casual guilds, so their threshold of annoyance was higher.

As for the state of America, we are getting hit hard currently. I was referring more to a historical tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Stabs said...

I would actually love to see a permadeath server.

No rule changes - simply a matter of being very very careful like in the good old days of Diablo 2 Hardcore.

Unfortunately I don't think you could have both a pd server and a policy of listening to whiny fans. And I can't see Blizzard running a server with no customer support or forum.

Dwism said...

@klep: Heh fair enough, and a very valid point (on both subjects). sticking with the raiding part, i can only speak for my own experience, and there are prob a million reasons. For one, bosses are way more complicated. We would raid up to and including BWl with only 12 of 40 knowing what they where doing. (tanks, some healers and some key-dps) rest would just follow along.
But now a days we all need to know the tacts and.... well I'm getting way of topic here.
Point was, that for most guilds, regardless of reasons, tactics are using out of game guides a lot more now than before. And wiping has gotten easier to recover.

your original question was: should we get a lower penalty for dying? It would sure make pugging more bareable, as a wipe there usually ends the entire raid.

Gevlon said...

If lower death penalty is better, make it lower, or even lover, or none. God mode to everyone!

Or do you see a point that says "enough"?

Klepsacovic said...

@Stabs: Unfortunately I think that would only encourage massive grinding for any raid content as people did absolutely everything they could possibly do to overgear content, since death would be such a barrier. Or we'd just not raid. Can you imagine getting The Undying for every raid?

@Dwism: If I had to guess, what's happened is the lower death penalty has gotten more people into raiding, but they're not really of the raiding mindset (whatever that is), so they don't like having some rough idea of boss abilities and then running in to see what works. I do remember having strats in vanilla raiding, but they tended to be explained by someone, or figured out on the fly, or through a few wipes, rather than a video.

Maybe it's entirely unrelated to the game, just a general trend of people watching how-to videos for anything from cooking to gaming.

@Gevlon: No death at all? Now there's an interesting thought! Have you ever done twin emps with a raid that didn't separate them properly? Or a group that didn't proberly AoE core hound packs in MC? At 80 no one dies, but we don't get anywhere either. Or there's that fight in ZG where ghosts will res you, but deaths make the boss stronger.

Really though, no penalty at all is probably not the way to go. There is some point at which it's too little, at which it's just not a penalty. That varies with the individual, so it's hard to pic a point and say "here." I do suspect we'd see a better wiping mentality if it was more expensive gold-wise (higher repair bill per death), but less expensive time-wise (shorter corpse run and recovery time). Then people would be willing to wipe more before saying the fight is overtuned or they're undergeared, since the immediate cost would be low. Take advantage of how people tend to value debt very little compared to rewards now.

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