THE DEATH PENALTY

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Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7380
author=Crystalgate
I don't like losing a lot of progress from dying. I know two games where I was annoyed by the final battle because every time I lost, I had to go trough over 15 minutes of plot and preliminary battles before I could access the last battle again. Otherwise I would have liked the fact that the last boss put up some resistance.

I had this happen to me while playing through Final Fantasy X last time. I'd die against Braska's Final Aeon, but because I didn't feel like grinding out that last little bit would be worth it as the first time I fought him I was only maybe 2 doublecasts of Ultima away from slaying his fucking ass, I was forced to bite my tongue and listen to "You're late, Auron." "I know." "Hey." "H-" "Hah! You got tall, but you're all bones. You eating right, boy?" *dramatic silence* "You've really grown" etc. over and over and OVER again.

author=LockeZ
For the first 80% of the game, if you lose a battle, Odin, one of the most powerful gods, summons your spirit and speaks to you in the afterlife, offering you a second chance. If you accept your second chance, you get to retry the same battle, fully healed. But there is a cost: Odin will only revive those who are valorous and willing to prove their valor. He says that one day, when the time comes, you must face Odin himself in battle.

About 80% of the way through the game, Odin appears to your party and makes good on his bargain; he is one of the hardest battles in the game. From this point forward, if you die, you get a game over.

Sounds a lot like Renon from Castlevania 64, only with using his services to purchase 30,000 gold worth of items. Me wonders if they were both inspired by the same source.

Personally, I prefer to be able to save anywhere, just as long as I don't make the mistake of saving past the PoNR or at a point where I'm under-leveled and risk losing everything due to insurmountable odds, much like how I felt fighting Seymour in Macalania Temple, but I've started taking a liking to save points before bosses used as a sort of "heads up". Though, none can prepare one for the agony of losing an hour's worth of grinding in Final Fantasy Tactics to a handful of Chocobos because, herp a derp, one forgets to save sometime during said hour. I still haven't gone back to that game for more than perhaps 10 minutes since then.
I'll just point out that I saw a RM game that used a very interesting system (and my favorite so far): you can save anywhere, and instead of "save points" there are "suggested save points" in three varieties.
Green points: in towns, after cutscenes
Yellow points: in "safe rooms" in dungeons, or just before the beginning of the dungeon
Red points: before difficult/boss fights

This way the player doesn't have to save every 2 seconds in fear of a random boss because a red save point will alert him; also, he just needs to keep his last "green" save in a separate file to avoid getting stuck.
I have to admit I'm pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to deaths in games. (or as I like to call them "game overs") I like to be able to save anywhere, preferably with a quick-key. Even better if this quicksave function rotates multiple slots. Nowadays I also want there to be an autosave function, that preferably also rotates multiple slots. Then obviously I want to do manual saves (that I can name so I know when to use them).

And that's really all I require. Preferably I don't want to die at all. But occasionally the threat of death has to be there and if I am taken out of the game by getting a game over I prefer to get back into it as close to where I left off as possible. For some reason explicitly keeping xp or other stuff takes me out of the game a bit. It makes me feel as if death was "supposed" to be there. I like to imagine after playing a game that my character did so without dying.

Of course there are exceptions to these thoughts. Sometimes death is appropriate and fun. In casual roguelikes dying is part of why I play the game. Or in a game like pokemon where I get teleported back to a base it feels like it wasn't me that died I just lost or failed. And sometimes I'd like games to accept that even if you fail it isn't the end. In certain strategy games when you lose a war (and a couple of cities) you might reload the save, but let's say you don't and the game has a nice little rebuilding moment where the failure actually improved the gaming experience (Europa Universalis 3 does this very well). It'd be nice with an RPG that implemented something like that and still made sense from an RPG standpoint. (yeah I don't know how to do it either)

But in short when faced with a game over screen I want to pick between reload last save, reload any save, return to main menu or quit game. And really I don't need too much other fancy stuff. But I also prefer that game over screen to actually be there. Just automagically reloading in the last checkpoint for some reason almost takes me out of the game.
In RPGs, my favourite method of saving is to be allowed to save anywhere, but still have save points that fully heal the party before any significant game events. The point of save points is two fold in these games:

1) It reminds the player to save and thereby reduces the headache and hassle of having to start over should he die in the upcoming boss encounter
2) It ensures that the party is in 100% tip top shape for the next battle, giving the player a great shot of actually not dying AND allows you as the game designer to easier design and test the battle for difficulty.

We live in an era of instant gratification and short attention spans so I think the days of forcing a player to invest 30+ minutes per sitting to be able to save are very outdated. I appreciate being able to save at anytime in a game since I have other commitments and being forced to replay a certain section multiple times just because I needed to run an errand but couldn't save in the game and had to quit it is very frustrating! Luckily most games nowadays recognize this fact.
Marrend
Guardian Ghost of the Description Thread
20541
Combining player-generated restoration points (Gimme that Lloyd's Beacon!) and a save-anywhere system make getting a game over screen still possible, but highly improbable. Is this good design? I would suppose it might depend on other factors, such as the game's difficulty.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=Mateui
We live in an era of instant gratification and short attention spans so I think the days of forcing a player to invest 30+ minutes per sitting to be able to save are very outdated. I appreciate being able to save at anytime in a game since I have other commitments and being forced to replay a certain section multiple times just because I needed to run an errand but couldn't save in the game and had to quit it is very frustrating! Luckily most games nowadays recognize this fact.


This argument is actually totally irrelevant to the current discussion - quicksaves that are deleted upon loading allow you to do this without modifying how game overs work.
I like the idea of "Save Anywhere" combined with "limited saving", such as with the use of items. You can save anywhere outside of battle with a "memory dodad", but the availability of memory dodads is limited in some way, perhaps they are only found in chests, or they can be bought at stores, but there also exist "super memory dodads" that both save AND serve as a full-party restore that can only be found, not bought (perhaps one 'gimme' SMD per dungeon, with one or more 'extra' SMD's as exploration rewards for solving tough puzzles/fighting optional bosses, whatever).

I also really like the idea of "offer player shortcut NOW, in exchange for increased difficulty later" brought up by the SaGa 2 Odin fight. I imagine something along the lines of this;

Player dies, some NPC offers them the a 'second chance', the catch is 'the reaper will want his due'. From that point on, there is a small chance of the party being ambushed by Death/Hades/Hel/Grim Reaper/Shinigami/what have you as a random encounter boss fight.

If you die against Death, it's an instant Game Over, but if you WIN, you get a special reward, Death will drop rare, possibly even unique items, and your 'death counter' will be reset, if you don't die again from that point, there is no risk of encountering Death again, BUT, the cycle can be repeated, each time, Death becomes more powerful, perhaps eventually reaching a level where he becomes flat-out impossible. At that point, instead of being a random encounter, Death will show up at some scripted point late in the game, and one party member will sacrifice themselves PERMAMENTLY to save the rest of the party (unless perhaps you completed a separate optional side-quest that rewarded you with mcgufin D, an otherwise useless item used here to appease Death for the final time).

Maybe the entire Death sub-plot could even have a GOOD ending where Death JOINS as a party member if certain conditions are met? OR, like Dark Shadow in Dragon Quest, beating the optional superboss Death will unlock an extra ending where when you get to the 'true' final boss, Death shows up and just curbstomps them for you.

In the game my buddy and I are making, we have save crystals to save at.

Even my totally evil and cruel friend is nice enough to stick a save point before each boss, and usually a one-time-use crystal in the middle of each dungeon. Some of the harder bosses where you have little time to grind or prepare for have Save points that fully heal you too (just once, though).

Frequent save points are always good. You never know when a player might need to go to the bathroom/run to class.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
Save anywhere all the way. I absolutely hate it when a game expects me to return to a portion of the game that I've already been through. What's the point? Also, what Aegix_Drakan said; unexpected events can occur at any time and it's not fair that a player should have to repeat part of the game simply because they have a life outside of it.

With regards to save points before bosses and the like, I think a simple "Healing Point" (with either free full healing or the ability to use a restorative item like a Tent) would suffice instead.

Also, make me lose anything as a result of a Game Over and I will stop playing.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
author=LockeZ
This argument is actually totally irrelevant to the current discussion - quicksaves that are deleted upon loading allow you to do this without modifying how game overs work.

Your average RPG Maker game does not use quicksaves.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Your average RPG Maker game makes a lot of other bad design choices too.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
What I mean to say was that there is no way of implementing quicksaves in RM, but Google has just fed me humble pie.

Either way, I don't see any advantages of savepoints+quicksaves over save anywhere+"heal points".
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
The advantage is the same as the advantage of not letting the player restart from one turn before they died in the same battle. Which is to say, dying has no penalty, and so it feels like cheating or like the game has no difficulty. If the entire dungeon is designed as a single challenge of not running out of items and MP, as is the case in most JRPGs, being able to restart from the middle of a dungeon after dying can can be just as lame as being able to restart from the middle of a battle after dying. Especially if your non-boss battles only last 1-2 turns and don't offer a lot of individual threat.

If you think these problems are trivial compared to whatever you gain by allowing the player to reload to 30 seconds before they died, or if you think they're not problems at all and are in line with the difficulty level you're going for, then that's your prerogative, of course. But you should be aware of the issues.

(And in a game where dying does something other than send you back to the last time you saved, obviously the difference is much bigger, but I totally admit that more than 90% of RPGs handle deaths by sending you back to either the last time you saved or to the last autosave.)
Hmm...this is quite an interesting topic I must say~

From my experience with RPG, I think you're right about more than 90% handle it that way. And I think that's probably the best way to do it too, though being able to have the save point just right by the boss seems to be the best way of handling a death I think. Either that, or somewhere in the middle of the dungeon, and then by the boss? So essentially 2 save points in a dungeon just in case you die. For extra challenges, 1 save point at the start of a really hard optional dungeon (such as in Seraphic Gate in Valkyrie Profile), though that becomes troublesome if one dies then I suppose...

The only real time I see dying being a problem (other than obviously losing a lot of progress if dungeon is pretty big) is if one were to grind. Other than that, I don't see dying as THAT big of an issue. Of course, this comes from someone that plays the FF series and haven't had to deal with dying all that much (save for Final Fantasy IV DS and Final Fantasy III NES/DS, but forget those games!). FFVI did it in an interesting way yes, but I just find that pretty abusable (or one can think of it as a way to get even with an earlier boss by not saving in forever just to go back to said boss and beat the tar out of him...but that's a lot of progress and work lost in the main game...so hmmm).


Really, I guess it all just comes down to how the dungeons are in my opinion. Traditional save points is just how I think most should go. Not saying the other options are bad, but traditional save points just seems...less of a hassle really. I don't know, maybe I'm not adding a whole lot to this conversation >_<
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
author=LockeZ
The advantage is the same as the advantage of not letting the player restart from one turn before they died in the same battle. Which is to say, dying has no penalty, and so it feels like cheating or like the game has no difficulty. If the entire dungeon is designed as a single challenge of not running out of items and MP, as is the case in most JRPGs, being able to restart from the middle of a dungeon after dying can can be just as lame as being able to restart from the middle of a battle after dying. Especially if your non-boss battles only last 1-2 turns and don't offer a lot of individual threat.

I feel that not being able to advance in a game because you keep dying against enemy X is enough of a penalty, honestly!
I can see where you're coming from about the dungeon thing, though.
What about the games were you are encouraged to die? Does that count?
author=Overload
What about the games were you are encouraged to die? Does that count?


Now I'm imagining a game where say, the main character is a ghost possessing some host, and every time the party dies they return to spirit form, where they have to find a new host to possess (which could possibly be the body of a former party member!)
The only death-handling strategies I believe in are...
-Don't make the player rewatch the same cut scene over and over each time. Cut scenes are only meant to be seen once.
-Similarly, don't make the player repeat anything that they wouldn't want to repeat. For example, some sort of lengthy customization with various decisions made.
-Don't set the player too far back time-wise, assuming responsible saving.
-Ideally, each time they try, they should be closer to success, due to better strategy and/or better preparation (leveling). If dying is a result of a game of chance, or otherwise a game of skill that is too luck-intensive, like playing a game of darts without any dart-throwing skill, the player could feel like there's no assurance that they'll ever get past it.
An old roguelike Ragnarok/Valhalla had an ingenious twist to the standard roguelike formula... when your character died, that was it, and you had to create a new one and start from the beginning. But all your dead characters were saved as "ghost files" that carried all the equipment your character had (minus some quest items), and you could go fight those ghosts at the place where you died to get your stuff back.

The ghosts were powerful and by no means easy to kill, and if you died there again, you'd have TWO ghosts to fight, but this atleast made it possible to regain some of the progress lost to deaths.
I'd like to mention one problem regarding allowing player to save everywhere. The problem is you'll have a harder time controlling the game's difficulty.

With a save-point system, you have more control on the level design part. This can prevent a situation where a player cannot get out of the dungeon because he's in too deep, save there, and cannot getting out of the dungeon alive. Romancing Saga series is the game with this problem, especially when a character dies, he/she is gone for good.

Of course, you can say that this could be the player's fault. But this problem can be prevented by the periodic save point system. Poor level design with periodic save point system can cause this problem as well ( Dual Orb 2 )

With that said, that might be a problem many years ago due to the limited in memory. Now that can have unlimited amount of save slots, I doubt this is a problem anymore.

--------------------------------

Moving on to the one that I HATE the most, is probably dead with heavy penalty + periodic save system. It's useless to have a penalty, because if you'll always load the save instead of continuing with that penalty. In Dragon Quest, I think the penalty is half of the money you currently carry with you and not in the bank. I really don't know why would they even have the bank system. I found it to be a waste of time and doesn't really add any depth to the game.


Makes me wonder whether the death needs any penalty at all? Having to fight the boss again is already enough penalty in my opinion. So, the one I'd like to see would probably be
- If you die in the dungeon during a normal fight, you restart outside the dungeon, back to the state before you enter the dungeon
- If you die during the boss fight, you restart to the point before you enter the boss fight

Thinking about it more, it seems like the penalty of death in RPG game are
1.) Lost progress
2.) Lost playtime
Most players don't want to lose their progress and feel like what they did was a waste of time. I think it would be more interesting if all the progress not lost, but there is still some indirect penalty. Something that force the player to think and make a decision between restarting the game from a save point or keep the progress and accept the additional penalty. Like, maybe the ending's changed or something.
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