Friday, March 30, 2012

Risk Versus . . . Respawn? A Retrospective Look At Death Penalties (Or A Lack There Of) In Modern Gaming: Part 1

get all corpse

Those three words probably don't mean much to most of the gamers out there today.  Yet, for me, they represent a growing problem in MMO gaming - and to a lesser extent, gaming in general.

Those of us old enough to remember MUD's as the predecessors to the modern MMO's will probably recognize those three ominous words above - the command to get everything out of a corpse on the ground (which at times could be your own).  MUD's, or Multi-User Dimensions, were almost entirely text-based games that began flourishing in the 90's and then all but disappeared in the early 2000's.  Some are still popular today, sure, but popular is an entirely relative word.

MUD's were a great source of entertainment.  Not only for their (mostly) original content and in-depth game play that often involved memorizing dozens of commands and virtual locations, but because of their harsh death penalties which really instilled not only a sense of fear, but accomplishment.  You weren't only proud of your achievements, but that you didn't die multiple times along the way.

I feel like so much is lost in modern gaming because the majority of games out there have very little risk versus reward built into them.  Instead, when you die - you often click a button labeled 'respawn', and proceed about your way with little to no inconvenience.  

The first thing someone said to me in a MUD was, verbatim:  "Hey, welcome!  Feel free to ask me anything if you find yourself lost, but let me give you the most important piece of advice I can offer: Don't Die."

I play more video games then most would consider safe or reasonable.  I try the majority of the new MMO releases on the market - and still manage to keep up with obscure titles and releases across PC and console platforms.  I give just about everything a shot, and lately, I'm finding that the one big problem I have in games is that there's no sense of accomplishment.  There's no real adrenaline rush - the thrill of victory is barely there, and fleeting at that.

The closest I've come was a brief stint of nostalgia revisiting Diablo 2's hardcore/ladder mode, and the equally brief brushes with Eve Online that I've managed to scrounge through  over the past few years.  Everything else really doesn't do it for me - there's an abundance of end-game gear-grind ability/cooldown cookiecutter games out there that provide 'epic' loot with absolutely no penalty for failing 99 times out of 100 while acquiring it.  And what do you do when you have better gear... use it to get... better gear?  How come so many people subscribe to that philosophy and type of game?  Is memorizing repetitive boss fights, hoping the odds are in your favor and something you can actually use drops, really that interesting?

Join me on this journey - every Friday check back for the next installation of Risk vs. Respawn.  This'll be a staple as long as I feel like it - which, given some introspection, will probably be awhile.

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  1. In 100% agreement. My first MMO was Ultima online within the first hour of play I learned one deadly lesson anything and everything could kill me and once dead players could pillaged my body and take everything leaving me a poor unarmed beggar. Long gone are the days of death penalties and corpse runs hoping to reach your body before it decayed. Corpse runs in EQ created jobs for those could summon corpses adding depth into the game also making it necessary to make friends and allies. Which is another issue in itself. Way to many solo rush games. I will ne following these weekly posts to remember the days of old.


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