Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Death Penalty

In Social Architectures in MMO's, Nick Yee summarizes what players have said to him about how various game mechanics affect social behavior such as altruism and gregariousness.

One of the game mechanics discussed is the severity of the death penalty. Back in the old days of Everquest, when you died, all your stuff was left on your corpse in the place you died. You revived as a meat body, sans stuff, at whatever spot you had last had a "bind" spell cast on you. And then you had to run back to your body to get your stuff, braving all the dangers between you and it. I remember that Lobilya (my RL spouses hobbit in EQ) once spent perhaps a week trying to recover her corpse.

In addition, you actually lost experience from dying, to the point where you would lose a level. Which happened to me a couple of times. (Man does that suck!)

There are some who long for those days, feeling that the general altruism and competence of the player base was better as a result. Corpse recoveries turned into bonding experiences.

I feel that modern MMO's do indeed have too little altruism and gregariousness, however, I don't wish for a return of serious death penalties. Which is good, since I believe that MMO operators would pay a serious financial penalty for reinstating it.

I think that in general, the big death penalty enjoys the association with the smaller group of players that played in Everquest before the MMO explosion that happened with EQ2 and WoW, which released within a month of each other. I see the big death penalty as more ambivalent with regard to social interaction.

A big death penalty creates more of a social obligation, both within a group, and within a guild. This can lead to more bonding, when adversity is successfully overcome, or it can fracture relationships. When your groupmate has caused the group to wipe yet again, or your guildie has just asked for yet another corpse run in a zone that's too big for him.

A big death penalty definitely increases the amount of risk faced. Which can give all of us adrenaline junkies a rush, and can make people more risk averse and cautious, sometimes at the same time.

Finally, a big death penalty, especially one that actually deducts experience, will definitely weed out bad players, which enhances the pickup game experience for those players who are successful. However, if you hope that MMO operators will make their games more difficult in the hopes of having fewer customers over time, dream on.

One of the aphorisms about baseball that I love is "The Game does not build character, it reveals it." I feel this is true of MMOs.

For example, Druushk (thanks to Chuman of Lineage for the screenie):

This dragon is known to some as "Druushk, the Guild Killer" It is necessary to kill Druushk to get the mythical version of your epic weapon. He is very, very difficult; a big leap upward in difficulty from all the content before him.

To those guilds that manage to figure out how to kill him, it's a bonding experience. To those that don't have the social reserve, patience, trust, and respect for each other, it's something else. Sometimes he destroys guilds even though they manage to defeat him.

The first guild on our server to beat Druushk was Aftermath. That guild no longer is a force on Butcherblock, if it even exists at all. Rumor has it that members were not on speaking terms, they only logged on or played to raid in order to have their mythicals.

First of all, playing Everquest II should be fun. Not a job. Not something you have to grit your teeth and put up with. It's supposed to be a game.

Ok, wiping 20 times without success on one nights raiding wouldn't be considered to be fun by most people. But it can be fun, if you're doing it with people you like and trust. And if it doesn't turn into the blame game.

What it comes down to, I think, is whether you think that failure is shameful. I don't require that failure be labelled success, but wiping on Druushk 20 times in one night does not mean that you are a bad player, or an unworthy guild. It just means you have to do something different, get stronger, change tactics, something.

What matters most is what you bring to the game, not what it brings you to.



Blogger Grump said...

I remember spending a week on the bugged versions of Druushk & Nexona, we finally gave up on them and experiment with other tactics which led to our guild being temporarily suspended. They fixed the mobs during the time we were suspended and we killed them after a couple days of pulling.

It was a great rush and it bonded the guild even further. I can't wait to see Lineage members get their mythical weapons, there are a great bunch of folks in the guild.

Grump of Dracos Argent

6:03 PM  

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