Don't reload, retreat

| Friday, June 3, 2011
Supposedly EQ had some sort of corpse problem, in that you'd die and all your gear and everything would be laying there and you'd have to run naked to get it, but after too long wolves would eat it. This sounds like a terribly unfun system, so I doubt it ever existed. This is also why I don't believe in evolution, since I don't think I'd have enjoyed being a monkey back before we killed all the tigers. But it gave me an idea: maybe raiding would be more fun if death was a really miserable, time-wasting experience.

Frankly I think death is too easy in WoW, or most games, really. And no, xp loss isn't the solution. That doesn't even make sense. Do we have any proof at all that death reduces knowledge or muscle memory? We don't. It's simply an unrealistic mechanic.

Or take your average game of any sort: you die and what happens? You go back to a checkpoint, a save spot, you get a rewind button. Psh. I once played a game with an option that if you die it deletes the character file. Yea, permadeath that. It did also have escape pods, but those took up space that could be used for missiles instead.

I say we look at this silly EQ idea again. When you die, you have to go drag your corpse back. Before wolves eat it. Or Scourge. Or demons. Or Forsaken players, who may or may not be on your own side (officially speaking, since in all reasonable terms they are on their own side). To compensate, we should be harder to kill. But not by much.

When we wipe on a boss, what do we die? We all die and in effect we reload the boss. Everything ends up exactly the same as before, just with a bit less armor durability and a few missing potions. And the boss is just as oblivious as ever, outside his aggro range. Wouldn't he be more cautious? Less inclined to let this puny mortals run about if he knows they're trying to kill him, and may have come close?

Rather than reloading, we should instead retreat. Raid going badly? Run. Run like hell. Grab the dead guy next to you and drag him with. You're going to have to get the corpse again anyway. Before the boss does. Because guess what, he's not going to reset and run back to stand around waiting. He's going to start mashing up your corpses to make sure you stay dead and taking armor for his collection. But he's also not going to magically heal up to full. So guess what? Retreat, heal up, drink up (you are out of combat), and get back in there for another shot.

19 comments:

Oxymustard said...

I LOVE it! Make raid bosses snareable/slowable etc for succesfull tactical retreats. High hp DK anti-magic shield-like abilities where players can hide inside; while the healers can work their magic with the boss trying to break in to bash in skulls!

Also some raid bosses are supposed to be smart. Generals, Magi, freaking Old Gods that can drive you insane etc. Why don't they target the healers instead of the tanks? Dps and tanks should try to prevent the boss from reaching the healer while he runs around waiting for his cool ass feign deathish ability to come off cd.

Ephemeron said...

"Also some raid bosses are supposed to be smart. Generals, Magi, freaking Old Gods that can drive you insane etc. Why don't they target the healers instead of the tanks?"

The boss knows that if a DPSer or healer dies, this does not mean an immediate victory; however, if the tank dies, however, the opposing raid will swiftly follow suit. Therefore, as far as bosses are aware, non-tanking raid members are essentially squishy faceless adds/mooks. Yes, it's easy to kill one, but another will immediately step into the breach.

On other hand, a shining, armored, almost invulnerable figure with righteousness emanating from every orifice, who stands at the forefront of the invading force, shouting orders and getting directly in the boss's face is clearly the leader.

So instead of slashing and clawing his way through endless rank-and-file, the boss decides to decapitate the opposing army by killing its leader, forcing an immediate rout.

scrusi said...

I still think the EQ system is an awful idea in any game that is based on gear. Aside from the multitude of ways that could lead to a point in which your team-mates can't or won't get your gear back for you and the way in which it limits encounter design (can't have raid-killing abilities, can't have pits to fall and die in, can't really have finely tuned damage races), the system would also apply to solo content in which it really sucks. Remember trying to get back to your corpse in an area with Souls in Diablo II? Good luck trying that without reloading (which ports your corpse to the town.)

There is a faction of people who enjoy permadeath and the threat of losing everything that that entails. I'm not one of them and I'd think that neither is the majority of players. (At leas Diablo II hardcore (with permadeath) player numbers were much lower than normal player numbers.)

Klepsacovic said...

@Oxymustard: Did your picture just rickroll me?

@Ephemeron: While I'm generally in favor of killing leaders rather than minions, in this situation we should remember that the leader is the hardest to kill and that when he dies everyone flees not due to a loss of a leader, but because they know they are even easier to kill. In terms of efficiency, killing a single healer could be both easier and more effective, since after that the tank would die more easily as well. Besides, these days those "endless rank and file" are more like "nine guys who may or may not be tabbed out to porn."

@scrusi: You're right, it would fit pretty horribly in WoW. Maybe it would work in one of Nil's crafted gear imaginarium worlds.

It's a tricky thing though: how do we have meaningful risks and decisions if the risks aren'y very risky?

Vett said...

I have spent the last two weeks experimenting with Darkfall. The game itself obviously has a lot of holes but some of the mechanics are quite refreshing for a person who has played a ton of traditional MMO's. I constantly think back to my original EQ days when things like death had consequences. In the world of Darkfall you die and you leave behind a tombstone that anyone can loot. You respawn at your bind point and can stop at your bank, throw on some gear if possible and head out to retrieve your stuff if you want to.

Interesting thing is that in this game does losing your stuff hurt? Well yes kind of. Gear in Darkfall isn't permanent. Stuff breaks and well you can't fix it. So you are always replacing different pieces of gear. This is a very odd thing for me. The first day playing someone told me straight up don't become attached to your gear and this holds true.

Anyway my ramblings are all leading to the simple statement that even though the Darkfall has a ton of room to improve (hey it has a tiny user base) the fact that it fosters relationships, community, character development and challenges in such a different way there is bunch developers can learn from it. I miss my EQ corpse runs as sadistic as that sounds.........

Hyperian said...

We never retreat... we're simply advancing to the rear!

Its true, in real combat if the shit hits the fan, you grab the dead you can and get the hell out of dodge, call in an airstrike... light the place up like an Disneyland firework show and come back later with more guns, more men, and bigger bombs.

Straw Fellow said...

"It did also have escape pods, but those took up space that could be used for missiles instead."

I like your style. Screw escape pods, add more missiles!

Anyway, I think this system is far more realistic and believable than the "wipe 20 time then down him and seeya next week."

Yeah, this kind of situation would not fit in a WoW type setting, but put it in a more virtual world type game, where dungeons are less instanced areas and more just caves people explore to find the baddies and it could work out well. Hell, after retreating you might run into another group who decides to back you up. Or stab you in the back. Really, anything is up for grabs there. Making dungeons runs more than just a lather rinse repeat is a good idea in my book.

Klepsacovic said...

@Hyperian: "We're not retreating! We're retrieving! Retrieving more dakka!"

@Straw Fellow: For the sake of accuracy, I rarely used missiles, since they'd do a lot of damage and then you'd have no more to fire. I preferred railguns for really long range damage.

I think I prefer instances for most content, if we have any expectation of most people running it. Otherwise respawn times, kill stealing, and camping become problems. A boss here and there is great, but I'd keep them as exceptions to the rule.

Tesh said...

"meaningful risks and decisions"

Two different things... and how are we defining "meaningful" anyway? Is it in the deciding, the challenge, the potential loss or the potential reward? Maybe some calculus involving all of the above? How squishy is that calculus? Could we drop risk entirely and still have meaning for decisions? I believe so, but I'm weird. I like Druids, remember.

I'll second Scrusi as well; high risk tolerance is a niche market.

Klepsacovic said...

This calls for its own post at some point, but in the meantime, I think we should all be more specific with the word choice.

Red or blue is a choice, with no risk, and only meaning for those who think it has meaning. Class is a choice, which in theory doesn't have risk since they should be balanced, but which will almost always have meaning. These are what I'll call slow decisions: we can deliberate, research, calculate, and do what we think is best for ourselves.

In contrast, choice can be whether to charge the enemy or wait in ambush, whether to interrupt a heal or go for a killing attack. These are fast, certainly meaningful, and tend to also carry a lot of risk.

So I guess I agree, choice, risk, and meaning can be separated from each other. But in the case of fast choices, a lack of risk tends to mean triviality and boredom if the target will die anyway, or frustration if defeat is assured.

Tesh said...

Hrm... can loss be meaningful in a good way?

Just a thought. I'm not sure. I agree with what you're positing, though.

Klepsacovic said...

Loss by itself? No. But I think it can add good meaning to wins. Sort of like, one step back, three steps forward (usual phrase intentionally reversed).

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify something with regard to death in EQ: if you died, your corpse plopped to the ground with all of your stuff on it. You also lost some quantity of XP. You had two hours of logged-in time to recover your corpse and get a Cleric to use a resurrection spell, which would recover the majority of the lost XP (to the tune of 90%). You had a total of a week, on or offline, to recover the corpse before it poofed permanently, taking any remaining stuff with it. Necromancers could summon corpses.

List of circumstances under which losing your corpse was a real problem: extremely short.

Later on, the list of classes with rez spells was broadened, Shadow Knights also got that groovy corpse summon spell. Graveyards were implemented: if you died within that zone, your corpse would warp to that graveyard after ~15 minutes. Also, with the addition of the guild hall came the NPC's inside who will summon your corpses from anywhere in the world for a small fee (see: repair bill).

iow, you have to work really hard to lose your corpse and it has always been thus.

-Ben

Anonymous said...

addendum: when you die in EQ you go to your spawn point (hearth point), no matter where in the world you died.

Klepsacovic said...

"iow, you have to work really hard to lose your corpse and it has always been thus."
I, and a whole lot of WoW players, are very hard-working.

Syl said...

Reminds me of my very first azuregos kill back in vanilla; people kept dying and running back while a few kited him. healers went oom and had to run out far enough to be able to drink up and then re-enter combat. it went on for ages but felt a lot more realistic and epic than simply resetting him.

so in essence we played him the way you suggest here, although the game itself would have allowed a different tactic.

Anonymous said...

The only problem I see with this mechanic is bosses who have phases. It doesn't make much sense, for example, to run away from yogg-saron in his third AHAHA I AM THE FACE OF YOUR NIGHTMARES phase, only to go back five minutes later and he's forgotten you already fought him, and does the whole "My name is Sara" thing again. Mimiron keeps

The way I see it, wipes "never happened" in your "raid continuity".

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous: What you describe is most absurd in the reloading model. With the retreat model, something would need to be done about things like hard enrages or "stand too far and you die" mechanics. But maybe this would just force devs to admit that those are rather contrived mechanics.

coldbear said...

I'd settle for just having the bosses aggro as soon as they could see you. This stuff about setting up and standing around right in front of the dude is just STOOOPID.

All the other crap I can live with. But sure, I'm all for a bit more death penalty stuff.

Uphill, snow both ways. In a kilt. GET OFF MY LAWN.

Damn kids these days.

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