Star Wars: TOR Designer Explains BioWare's Death Stance

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Star Wars: TOR Designer Explains BioWare's Death Stance

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Death in Star Wars: The Old Republic won't make players take a red lightsaber to their computers.

Certain MMOs like the upcoming Salem punish players with death penalties that are as harsh as the swamps of Dagobah. BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic will not be one of those. Old Republic combat designer Damion Schubert recently took to the BioWare forums to explain why the game won't have an overly harsh death penalty, but said it won't be a "cakewalk" either.

In a forum topic asking BioWare to make death "mean something" in The Old Republic, Schubert wrote that he agrees death should have a "sting." However, the sting should be more like that of a bumblebee, than that of a box jellyfish.

BioWare's philosophy for The Old Republic is that harsh death penalties can ruin a game. They can lead to players that only grind through the game on weaker enemies, and that don't take risks on new character builds. They can make it tough for newer players to learn a game's ins and outs, with experienced players never willing to group with them for fear of losing to a boss. If an MMO chooses to make equipment vulnerable after a death, you might as well never give that equipment out, because Schubert doesn't think most players would risk bringing it along.

He feels a manageable death penalty also allows designers to make encounters more challenging, because players can try over and over without getting frustrated. Well, without getting too frustrated anyway.

Schubert emphasizes that BioWare does not want The Old Republic to be soft on those that die, but isn't planning to remove a limb every time a player accidentally walks backwards into a Sarlaac pit. I'm the type of gamer that can appreciate both kinds of systems, and with the mainstream appeal that Old Republic will likely have, I think it's smart to implement a death system into the MMO that won't have players turning to the dark side out of anger. I'm expecting something similar to World of Warcraft where players simply have to get back to their corpses, but perhaps molded into a more Star Wars-like system.

Source: Star Wars: TOR Forums, via VG247

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I've always felt that often the trek back to your place of death to try again really is punishment enough. Add some extra item degradation due to the death in top of that and you don't really need anything extra.

I hate when an MMO makes you essentially useless for 10 minutes after a death. In that case, I'll often just log out and not bother playing at all... which I suppose fits fine with the MO of your average subscription based MMO.

So rather than finding your corpse, you go out to find the force. I can see it already.

This is yet another reason I'll be unlikely to play it.

For a bit of context, I was one of those who loved the idea of perma-death for Jedi in SWG, and greatly preferred the pre-NGE version of the same game.

For when you ran into a certain class it MEANT something. It meant that Doctors had put their time in making medicines, healing wounds, and perhaps risking their lives becoming PVP flagged in a hospital.. It meant that Jedi were either badass or stealthy enough to live long enough to level...

But yes, I agree if you are looking for "mainstream appeal" you want it to be as easy as possible to progress.. with all but guaranteed rewards (I hesitate to use that word... wages would be more appropriate) and lots of dropping lewts or quest items.

*sigh* Never mind... if you need me, I'll be over here yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

- Tir

Disagree, but I'm used to the Ranger runs in Everquest.

I dunno, putting in a weak death penalty seems to get players in the Statistics frame of mind, rather than actually being scared of things. One hit deaths shouldn't be too harsh but if you're walking through the middle of the Tattooine desert and you stumble upon a Sarlaac, you should be crushed for just being dense.

/Calvin's_Father "It builds character" :)

Tirnor:
and greatly preferred the pre-NGE version of the same game.

I think everyone bar SOE preferred pre-NGE.

I think the death penalty should be "You load the last place you saved at." This way, the punishment for failure was entirely on you. Have to go back to the start of the level? Well that's because your dumb ass forgot to save.
Unless of course there's no manual saving in this. In which case fuck that.

Pandaman1911:
I think the death penalty should be "You load the last place you saved at." This way, the punishment for failure was entirely on you. Have to go back to the start of the level? Well that's because your dumb ass forgot to save.
Unless of course there's no manual saving in this. In which case fuck that.

its an mmo, not a offline game... you dont "save" and reload.

Sooo many shiny words and not a single definate statement in them. Great example of Dev-Talk, which more and more resembles politician-talk.

A stiff death penalty is a quick way to ensure I wont even consider your game.

I am by no means a newcomer to MMOs, I've played many of them continuously without break for five years now at least. I rarely if ever die. However, when I do die, it's a quick way to dissolve my interest in playing and cause me to go fire up another game.

For me, games are about fun and escapism, not about frustration. Frustrate me and you lose my hold on your product. WoW's death penalty is already tedious enough. Nothing breaks my mojo like doing a dungeon run then having to take 10-15 minutes to recoup after a wipe thanks to the long run back to our corpses, making our way back through the cleared area of the dungeons, then rebuffing and preparing.

Some people might feel they need video games to provide them with a sense of real accomplishment, and therefore want stiff penalties, frustration and annoyance, but I'm not one of them. I have real life to throw my commitments to, I game for an escape from such things.

Seeing as the title of the website is "The Escapist", I'm surprised it seems a minority view. Perhaps it's just a case of people thumping their chests to proclaim their superiority in the face of others less willing to suffer for a game, or perhaps masochism is more popular than I realize. Or perhaps, even, more people come searching for meaning and value in their life in a virtual environment. I don't know.

Pandaman1911:
I think the death penalty should be "You load the last place you saved at." This way, the punishment for failure was entirely on you. Have to go back to the start of the level? Well that's because your dumb ass forgot to save.
Unless of course there's no manual saving in this. In which case fuck that.

MMOs don't have saving.

Personally I like both ideas. But Bioware does have a point. We want to encourage play, not discourage it.

While I certainly understand the desire of some for harsher "death penalties", I prefer the type of approach being suggested by SW:TOR's designers, if for no other reason than death in MMOs can often occur through no fault of the player.

Let's face it - while internet speeds have improved vastly over recent years and connectivity in general has become more robust, the fact remains that lag spikes and other issues can easily cause character deaths - especially in raid/boss encounters that require precision and immediate reaction to prevailing circumstances.

Frankly, I've never quite agreed with the idea that the player needs to be somehow 'punished' for the death of a character. Yes, death should carry a penalty lest it become even more meaningless than the temporary (or even permanent) death of a digital creation already is; however, going overboard and kicking the player in the figurative bahoogies because a lag spike prevented them from getting out of the insta-kill fire zone fast enough doesn't sound like very much fun from the player's perspective.

Face of Mankind did death in a good way. You didn't lose weapons and armor unless they were in your inventory. Things that were in your inventory like ammo and medpacks would be left in a sack on the ground. Also you had a number of clones, 10 for non-paying people and up to 200 for people with premium accounts. If you lost a clone you could buy another for 350 in game credits (which were easy to earn) or 250 if you belonged to a specific faction.

AnythingOutstanding:

MMOs don't have saving.

Personally I like both ideas. But Bioware does have a point. We want to encourage play, not discourage it.

Whoops, haha. An MMO? Right then... I'm an idiot, sorry!

Pandaman1911:

AnythingOutstanding:

MMOs don't have saving.

Personally I like both ideas. But Bioware does have a point. We want to encourage play, not discourage it.

Whoops, haha. An MMO? Right then... I'm an idiot, sorry!

It's fine. Everyone makes mistakes. ^_~

To be honest, I kinda liked the concept of a very harsh death ala EVE Online, it made you more cautious on the decisions you made and the risks that you make by doing something, also made sure you had to invest into a clone and update it as time progresses. I can understand having manageable death penalty though, not a lot of people are too willing to restart if some accident was to happen.

Pandaman1911:
Unless of course there's no manual saving in this. In which case fuck that.

It being an MMO, I find a save/load function unlikely. Just sayin'.

I am in favor of this. Lack of skill isn't the only thing that can lead to death in an online game. A burst of lag, complete loss of Internet connection, a sudden emergency, an itchy foot, an unexpected "call of nature", a computer issue- any of these can lead to losing an encounter in an MMO. Destroying hours, days, or even weeks of progress because of something that could be entirely out of the player's hands just doesn't sit well with me.

Jumwa:
For me, games are about fun and escapism, not about frustration.

An all too often misrepresented stance submitting the "fact" that challenge and fun are on opposite end of the spectrum for everyone. For many people the challenge is the fun, where as I suspect you find the fun in the experience or story as a whole.

And not directly related to your comments, one reason you rarely see MMOs truly remove their death penalties is that it provides the mechanic for a very important economy balancing - money sinks. In order to help fight inflation, devs need to remove money from the players. This is often done by incorporating item destruction or durability when the player dies.

StriderShinryu:
I hate when an MMO makes you essentially useless for 10 minutes after a death. In that case, I'll often just log out and not bother playing at all... which I suppose fits fine with the MO of your average subscription based MMO.

wow, you poor baby. there should be some extra penalty for respawning at the graveyard. its taking the easy way back to life instead of trecking back to your body.

Tirnor:
This is yet another reason I'll be unlikely to play it.

For a bit of context, I was one of those who loved the idea of perma-death for Jedi in SWG, and greatly preferred the pre-NGE version of the same game.

For when you ran into a certain class it MEANT something. It meant that Doctors had put their time in making medicines, healing wounds, and perhaps risking their lives becoming PVP flagged in a hospital.. It meant that Jedi were either badass or stealthy enough to live long enough to level...

But yes, I agree if you are looking for "mainstream appeal" you want it to be as easy as possible to progress.. with all but guaranteed rewards (I hesitate to use that word... wages would be more appropriate) and lots of dropping lewts or quest items.

*sigh* Never mind... if you need me, I'll be over here yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

- Tir

see perma death is fine in theory, but in actuality it means a lot of people won't see end content because they lapsed in attention or did something stupid. Any game which requires that level of dedication should give you physical rewards for completing it :P

AnythingOutstanding:

Pandaman1911:
I think the death penalty should be "You load the last place you saved at." This way, the punishment for failure was entirely on you. Have to go back to the start of the level? Well that's because your dumb ass forgot to save.
Unless of course there's no manual saving in this. In which case fuck that.

MMOs don't have saving.

Eh, on the contrary. Ragnarok Online had a "saving" system, in which if you die, you go to the place where you're home is set to. Save could simply mean saving a chosen location to return to.

If they do these in the way of Force Ghosts, I am going to RAEG like none have RAEG'd before...

Ahh the Death Penalty arguement. Just one of many arguments argued almost soley for the sake of creating and maintaining a division between the players.

Those who desire to see other people put through the ninth circle of hell in order to qualify as possible helpers...

And those who simply dont have the time to, or refuse to engage in, the idea that an MMO, or online game of ANY kind, is anything other than a game.

The elitists want the game to be "risky" and "dangerous", but then they slave themselves to cookie cutter routines, and only accept partners who have already done the content in question five times. That isnt dangerous. That is, infact, just as mind numbing as pushing colored buttons in sequence. Its not challenging.

And the casuals demand, rightly so, to have equal, unfettered access to games that they for Christs sakes are paying money for. Ive seen the argument that your party members $60 dictates that you must perform to their standards... Ive heard that same argument from my actual boss. The only difference is, he has to pay me.

Like I said. It's just another way for people to mistake online achievement for actual achievement. If I couldnt bemoan the sorry state of the digital world I inhabit, and blame it on those who signed up for it after I did, I might have to do something productive.

Whiskey Echo!!
mythgraven

Well, I think the relatively penelty free deaths contribute to a lot of the MMO burn out we see going on. An easy death penelty means that people burn through the content pretty quickly. On one hand I can see why it saves frustration, but then again it causes a differant kind of frustration when the player has done everything they wanted to accomplish and simply goes back to a more content-rich game like WoW.

Unless someone somes up with a way to dynamically generate content for the game as players advance their characters, I don't think this is an easy problem to solve.

Truthfully, if I was to ever try and develop an MMORPG, I'd probably want to set death penelties based on the nature of the death. Complicated, but fair. This would allow the game to both handle situations where rapid fire dying is expected, but also be able to provide some fairly strict penelties for other things.

Looking at Old Republic right now, the big question that keeps coming to mind is how long it's going to take to max out a character and see all the content.

I'll also say that I think Devs are behind the curve to some extent, while certain games like the original Everquest and Ultima Online were a bit too strict for the general run of gamers at the time, we're at a point where even the mainstreamers and casual players are becoming pretty genere savvy. You have huge tracts of the community maxxing characters within the first week or two after release, as even the eternal-nubs have some idea what they are doing. Truthfully I think the last thing the community needs is more introductory-level MMORPGs, but rather some intended for higher levels of player advancement. I think even the lowest common human denominator has moved a bit beyond what a lot of MMORPGs are currently providing.

Perhaps my opinion might change at some point, but right now I admit that this sounds like "Old Republic" is going to be a giant graveyard zerg. :P

If you ARE dumb enough to fall backwards into a Sarlak pit, I think the game should punish you!

This game will hurt Bioware. Mark my words.

The thing that Bioware is good at is recycling their old stories all over again and again and again. MMO'sizing this formula is not a good idea.

So many words, but not one definitive statement.
DEV-Talk resembles politician-talk more and more, because any clear statement could be held against them but many promissing words will stir up the hype.

Death penalty should be losing 10% of your stats plus significant equipment degredation, plus having to get back to your corpse. You can get the 10% stats back by earning experience.

And it keeps compounding, so if you die twice without earning any xp, you are now at 20% stat loss, up to a max of 50%.

Similar to the old Asheron's Call system, which was quite good(minus the item loss).

Scytail:

StriderShinryu:
I hate when an MMO makes you essentially useless for 10 minutes after a death. In that case, I'll often just log out and not bother playing at all... which I suppose fits fine with the MO of your average subscription based MMO.

wow, you poor baby. there should be some extra penalty for respawning at the graveyard. its taking the easy way back to life instead of trecking back to your body.

Anyway, my point is that if the content was challenging enough to kill you in the first place (and, let's be honest, most MMO content isn't really that challenging) then I fail to see the purpose of hitting you with a death debuff on top of that. You already have to travel from the respawn point back to where you died, probably making your way through since respawned enemies on the way and/or restarting an entire instance, but now you have to either do it at a massively reduced power level or wait till the debuff clears. It's nothing but a time sink and it really does nothing to increase the challenge of the game seeing as how most standard death debuffs make it pointless to retry the content right away anyway.

If a game makes it's money off of subscription fees, then it's obvious why the developers would want to keep those time sinks in place. If, however, they are interested in creating interesting and challenging content then time sink death penalties are not something they need to bother with.

The game should force you to watch the phantom menace every time you die. That'll teach 'em!

I find it disgustingly amusing every time I see some one crying about the lack a harsh death penalty, and even more so when the say they won't play the game because of it. Good. More bandwidth and monsters for me.

Long as it doesn't make me pull my soul back to my corpse from Elysium or the SW equivalent using the force (a la Star Destroyer in SWTFU), I'm cool.

"But Crim, that sounds awesome!" You never played SWTFU, did you? It was a boring chore.

Electric Gel:
The game should force you to watch the phantom menace every time you die. That'll teach 'em!

But that would mean listening to the awesome duel of the fates. That's not much of a punishment.

Electric Gel:
The game should force you to watch the phantom menace every time you die. That'll teach 'em!

Or even worse, the Christmas Special.

Maddhaus:
While I certainly understand the desire of some for harsher "death penalties", I prefer the type of approach being suggested by SW:TOR's designers, if for no other reason than death in MMOs can often occur through no fault of the player.

Let's face it - while internet speeds have improved vastly over recent years and connectivity in general has become more robust, the fact remains that lag spikes and other issues can easily cause character deaths - especially in raid/boss encounters that require precision and immediate reaction to prevailing circumstances.

Frankly, I've never quite agreed with the idea that the player needs to be somehow 'punished' for the death of a character. Yes, death should carry a penalty lest it become even more meaningless than the temporary (or even permanent) death of a digital creation already is; however, going overboard and kicking the player in the figurative bahoogies because a lag spike prevented them from getting out of the insta-kill fire zone fast enough doesn't sound like very much fun from the player's perspective.

this. i FUCKING HATE getting raped on while a random spike of lag hits or something, in which your character gets mauled to death and your command to potion up or something didn't reach them in time =\

so yes, i agree with this bioware, thats another +1 for me buying this, but you still have a lot of impressing to do before i buy an mmo subscription, ever.

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