(Edited by Sciere (217835), Jul 31, 2007)Why do we have to die in games?
Sciere (217835), Jul 31, 2007
Games often strife to mimic real life, but treat death very loosely. Some World of Warcraft players would probably crawl up in a corner and weep for days if their character was stolen, but do they care if their level 70 warlock falls in battle? Unlike life, death in games is rarely final, merely an inconvenience. PC gamers often expect to save at any time and are irritated by the infamous checkpoints of certain console games. You can only imagine the march of pitchforks if a game like Sub Mission was released nowadays, giving you just a single chance to succeed or lose your character forever.
A column in Guardian Unlimited takes a look at the acceptance of death in games and ponders the importance of a meaningful death, with quotes from developers and gamers. Does it affect you when a character dies or do you quickload like there's no tomorrow?
The only game I know of that treated the subject nicely is Planescape: Torment. The search for death is a brilliant idea. But that's obviously not a universal solution.
Anyone who's played Sierra games knows why we don't want to die. Dying is fun a couple of times, gets irritating a dozen times, stimulates anger management problems after that. That's why we're gamers and not elite soldiers in special ops. Virtual representation of selected reality.
Death is a complex matter in games. The more realistic the death, the more irritated the player. Getting killed with a single bullet by a sniper in multiplayer isn't very fun. But if it takes 2 shots (even when they are head shots), you have less complaints than the above (except by the players who can shoot better :p)
Death in RPGs for games that do not promote the "permanent death" idea, usually have consequences like ability or exp deduction. But usually you don't actually "feel" the death. Like Stijn said, its just a temporary inconvenience. Now if there was a whole world where after you die, you had to fight or do something really-really hard to return to the living, that would be something interesting....it embeddes the idea, hell being dead is no fun. I'll try not to die. But then again, why go through all that shit when we have "Quickload?".
Besides, its only a game. The difference is in real life, we die but can't live to tell about it.
(Edited by WildKard (12183), Aug 01, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
WildKard (12183), Jul 31, 2007
And Prey too. Not a whole world though. And I won't say that in this case they've managed to treat death differently. More like they've made a bigger nuisance out of it.
I like it when a game treats death seriously, and shows you some details so that you take it seriously, too.
Example: if you die in Des Blood 4, you see a long, shocking rape scene before your heroine is shot to death.
(Edited by Sciere (217835), Jul 31, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
Sciere (217835), Jul 31, 2007
Oleg, seriously, you play too much of these games =)
Oleg likes being a baaaad boy. :)
No, that would be if he intentionally died to get to see the rape scene over and over again.
But seriously, it would be something if they made a game where dying actually matters and where you can't instantly hit the reload button. Maybe a game could store a hidden .cfg file on your computer, and lock you out for 24 hours if you die. Or each time you load a save game it takes away from a stockpile of mana, and if you bottom out you can't play anymore.
The whole structure of the game would have to be changed to accommodate these systems of course, so they don't become frustrating.
This is sounding like NetHack, where eventually you can actually be attacked by the angry ghosts of your former games played.
It's an interesting subject, but ultimately I don't think it's a good idea to make death in games a more final thing. After all, a game should allow you to do stuff you couldn't do (so easily) in real-life and having fun with it. So IF deaths in games had a greater impact there had to be either a way to decide if you want to play in "death matters"-mode or not... or this would be a very genre-specific feature.
What's one of the best things about GTA games? Random rampages, of course. Now imagine blowing up cars, stealing a tank and driving around like a madman if the character's death had a serious consequence. A significant "sentence" for dying doesn't make the game itself harder, just a little more frustrating and limits the amount of time you can play around with several stuff and strategies in the game - in my opinion. And I also think that's true for many genres, not only action / FPS but also RPGs and strategy games (if you want to call it death here), for example.
On the other hand, the reference to Planescape: Torment was a good one, I think. I really liked the idea the game dealt with the character's death by making it more meaningful in a way (so you wouldn't reload instantly) without being a complete nuisance. They also talked about EVE Online, where death has a real impact on your character's development and equipment. Without that the big PvP wars happening in the game wouldn't be as influential on the game world as they are today, so players would lose interest quickly, I guess.
As I said, I believe this "feature" wouldn't be good for every game. Or every gamer. :)
(And why do they still quote Molyneux... I can't take this guy's babbling seriously anymore.)
Wiser words have never been spoken 8-|
Molyneux who...? Oh, the Bullfrog guy. I didn't even know he was still around.
Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze Wrote:
Of course. It would be like limited saves; not something you'd want to have in every game.
If the characters didn't die in video games, where would the fun of it be?
A playable character must die in the video games. Because what would happen if they fell from a high landing, or if they got shot?
I would say video games characters are based on things that could happen in real life.
On the contrary, the whole fun of games is they're about escapism. They let us do things we can't normally do.
Realism these days has mostly become a gimmick. "Wow look, that car models damage with 89% accuracy!" I don't think there's a developer in the world who wouldn't shaft realism if it got in the way of gameplay, and if that means making your character immortal so be it.
That reminds me of the last section in Soul Reaver 2, in which you get in a series of pretty tough fights but you're invincible. It sounds kind of stupid at first, but then you realized that not being able to die didn't make the fights that much easier (only saved you from having to reload a previous game), and in that particular moment of the story it became a pretty effective device: The guy was blind with rage after blah and blah happened, and having him rise on his feet unharmed even after being savagely beaten over and over again gave you this feeling that nothing could stop him from getting his revenge, and made you really connect with the way he was feeling.
Really? I dunno, it was such a cakewalk that I felt mostly bored. I think I would have gotten more into it if there was a bit of danger.
(Edited by Dark Hedgehog, Aug 12, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
Dark Hedgehog, Aug 12, 2007
Characters will always die in games. There's nothing anyone can do about it, is there? :-))
There's nothing anyone can do about it, is there? :-))
Well sure -- you can design it so that the character yelps, flashes and gets bumped back to the last checkpoint. (... or loses all the rings he's collected so far 8)
or just wire things up so instead of injuring the character, you injure the player instead 8)
That guy is China took that cartoon a bit too literal I think.
I guess nobody remembers the Hardcore Setting on Diablo II. You died in that game once and it was over.
Dark Hedgehog Wrote:
Just follow any of these simple steps to ensure a good long life...
It's frustrating being a gamer sometimes...
Does anyone feel like a wimp if they pick any difficulty lower than the highest one?
I always pick the lowest difficulty level, and I never feel like a wimp. I feel like a person who spares time and enjoys playing games without cursing and breaking controllers.
(Edited by St. Martyne (3562), Aug 14, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
St. Martyne (3562), Aug 14, 2007
Truth is that choosing a lowest difficulty setting might take away much from the experience. The less the challenge the smaller the sense of achievement that comes with it. Otherwise there's no point in playing. Watching a movie won't require any effort on your part at all.
So choosing a difficulty setting is entirely personal and cannot be guessed until you actually play the game and choose what's best for you. That's what they are for actually, not to make somebody feel a wimp or something. Of course, I don't understand people playing hardest settings just for the sake of it and I do know some of them. Even more so I completely fail to see the reason behind unlockable difficulty settings that won't let you play a harder version of the game without completing a normal one first. With so many games waiting to be played it's hardly worth the time or effort to go through the game once again because it didn't provide enough challenge the first time around. I hate developers resorting to such cheap tricks.
What I am interested in, is how Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment will develop. The game changes difficulty "on the fly" trying to find the best match for player's playing style. There are very few titles out there incorporating that. But I hope it will be able to provide a necessary balance between challenge/entertainment so that everybody can enjoy the game "The Way It was Meant To be Enjoyed".
No, absolutely not. I used to play on Easy all the time, now Normal.
(Edited by Happy Rabbi (1250), Aug 14, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
Happy Rabbi (1250), Aug 14, 2007
I never feel like a wimp because of my playing style. I'm looking for entertainment, not some obstacle to overcome on the journey to become the The Overcomer or übermensch (besides I've never seen a nerdy übermensch worth mentioning).And choosing the difficulty level is entirely irrational decision for me. For example with Deus Ex, I immediately choose the hardest setting after seeing the Title Screen. The same with Outlaws.
With some games that allow to change the difficulty mid-game, I often use the chance. For example in Fallout, if I find that the fights are not challenging enough then I change to hard setting, but if I find them taking too long or too difficult then I change to wimpy setting.
(Edited by WildKard (12183), Aug 14, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
WildKard (12183), Aug 14, 2007
Nope... I usually pick "Normal" or "Medium" difficultly, as I figure that's the closest to the developer's intentions of where the difficulty level should be. Though in some cases if I start a game and find it too hard or too easy, I might restart and change that value. There are plenty of games in my library that I can breeze through on Hard... and plenty that cause me difficulty even when they're marked "Easy". It would be nice if there was some standard as to what these values mean, but it's really up to the individual whims of the programmers. Not too dissimilar from a Microwave (or other appliance) that has Low, Medium and High settings.... only experience with the appliance well tell you what those values actually mean. I've used several different brands/models of microwaves over the years and they never translate exactly for cooking time and heat values.
As Unicorn-Lynx said so nicely: Games are about fun, not crushed controllers.
Hardcore all the way. If it isn't Nightmare Level, I don't play it. Unless of course it inhibits my ability to save the game. Yes, Hitman, I'm looking at you!!!
I'm currently playing through Serious Sam: First Encounter on "Serious" difficult. So...freaking.....hard....
(Edited by Dark Hedgehog, Aug 12, 2007)Re: Why do we have to die in games?
Dark Hedgehog, Aug 12, 2007
Characters die all the time! I get kill everytime... :-((
...but dying more than 30 times at the same scene is pretty annoying. Especially since you can't save after you beat the dude.
Yes, I'm talking to you God of War!
Video games... dying in them, is all anyone can do!
Think about it, we huamans must die in real life, anyway. So let's enjoy what we have left in our lifes, before our time is up! :-))
Let's just enjoy what we've got left of our lives, right? :-))
We will always die in video games, Sciere. But, we humans must die in real life, too. So, what's the bg deal with this, anyway?.
There's only one way that people could be still standing... If they were an 'avatar'.
I may be known as: 'Avatar 81'. But, I'll still have to die one day, won't I?
I thought this was an excellent thread, and replied to it via my blog.
"... I wasn’t satisfied with The Guardian’s article which doesn’t penetrate the issue very deeply, so I thought I’d take a stab at the notion of what death ‘means’ in gaming, and how (as designers) we might start to re-think the rather hackneyed game mechanic and come up with slightly more novel ways of making deaths meaningful for players..."
Read the rest here.
That really is an excellent article, and I hope you have some game designers subscribing! Am adding to my bookmarks, anyway!
Look at it this way: if we didn't die in games, there'd be no dying at all in any context. In real life, the act of dying precludes having any experience of dying. So thanks to video games, we are able to feel a morsel of the angst, frustration, and sadness that comes from a premature expiry.
We have to die in games because games model certain aspects of real life, and death is one of the most prominent aspects of real life... Also, not being able to die would make a game pretty boring, as all know wo play games with "unlimited energy" cheats.
Speaking of death, a schizoid person like me immediately thinks of Roguelikes. (Again! I'm must be a fanboy, but, realizing this, I'm sure not to be one, how practical.)
Most roguelikes feature something called Permadeath: When your character dies, all your savegames are deleted. So when you die, it's final -- it is the end, beautiful friend! (Of course, you can cheat by copying the savefiles somewhere else, but this is considered very rude among so-called "true" roguelikers. And it makes the game much less fun.)
This may sound pretty harsh -- and it is -- but it has an immense advantage: It makes you really think about what to do next when playing a roguelike. A wrong move can permanently end a game of hours, permanently -- and this creates more atmosphere than some games with sophisticated graphics and sounds. I remember crying out in desperation when I accidently threw away my two-handed sword +2 instead of attacking a troll... and then trying to survive on level 19 without it... I didn't get far, and it WAS a bit frustrating, but it was a fine moment of suspense and hope -- something you rarely have in modern games.
Obviously, this Permadeath only works when the game is pretty short -- some hours at most -- for longer games, this would be really depressing. But I like this feature, because it is a great mechanism for creating atmosphere (at least for text-game-lovers like me).
An interesting question would how to integrate this into modern games. As I said, for complex and long games, this would be too frustrating; but I'd like to see things like permafailure -- i.e., failing a mission can't be undone by just reloading a saved game. Are there any such trends in modern games?
not being able to die would make a game pretty boring
I can't say that I found the numerous deaths to make Sierra's adventure games more fun to play than Lucasarts' deathless ones. (Well, Space Quest was all about finding all the humorous death possibilities. But that wasn't "fun", just having something rewarding (ooh, check out the messy animation!) for a completist.)
True; LucasArts is pretty exceptional in that they didn't need any death to motivate the player. But in most games, avoiding death (in one form or another; let's say "failure") is the main motivation... after accumulating points or rescuing the princess.
i believe it was kojima who suggested making a game where if the player dies the game itself catches fire and burns so that it can't be used again.
personally i don't believe in letting reality ruin good gameplay. i don't WANT a hyper-realistic game, just one that sets up its own game world and sticks to it. whatever the rules are in that world should be the rules that are adhered to, not necessarily real life rules.
kojima frankly doesn't know what he's talking about. in real life one person CAN'T take out an army (or even a very large terrorist organisation). the shit in metal gear would never happen. (not to mention mechs with frikken nuclear war heads attached to their frikken skulls.) one shot would kill the player and the game would break itself. how much fun would this game actually be? not at all. i LIKED IT when dead bodies just disappeared and you didn't have to hide them. guards were fairly stupid and only stayed alert for a short time even if you killed their buddy and he never showed up again.
i think the best punishment for gamers when they die is what happens in shooters: you have to start the level over again. and again. and again. dying is NOT what you want to do.
Well, mimicking real-life is fine. Though people should remember that games are for entertainment purposes. What may seem entertaining for the developer may not be entertaining for the player, as many people obviously got pissed with Sierra for dying to easily, hence the existence of LucasArts games.
Again, games are supposed to be entertaining, not frustrating. Game difficulty and just plain !@#!%!% irritating are 2 different worlds. Examples of irritating:
Mimicking real-life is fun as long as its entertaining and realistically acceptable (to a certain point that is). But please developers, don't frustrate us gamers!
i was trying to explain this point to my wife last night, which didn't work too well both b/c of the language barrier (she's a native mandrin speaker) and b/c i'm not that great at explaining things to start w/: games are meant to be challenging and that's where the fun comes from. the problem is when games are either too easy or too hard. too little or too much of a challenge is not fun. dragon's lair, for instance, is a game that i quite frankly hate. if you have to randomly pick one of two choices and one of those choices has you die horribly, and this happens every two seconds, it's not a matter of challenge, it's a matter of strangling the stupid developer and destroying all copies of the lousy game. and if someone decided to penalize players for dying in a game like dragon's lair (more than your death is already penalized) then... that would just be plain wrong.
You can get married with a language barrier? Now this is a trick I gotta learn!
dragon's lair, for instance, is a game that i quite frankly hate. if you have to randomly pick one of two choices and one of those choices has you die horribly, and this happens every two seconds, it's not a matter of challenge, it's a matter of strangling the stupid developer and destroying all copies of the lousy game.
It needs to be understood that Dragon's Lair originated as an arcade game, which has different goals: to part players from quarters as quickly as possible. Frequent death is a good way of achieving that.
i know, but i always thought that was a fairly shoddy, rip-off way of doing it. i never could get into the game for that reason. i mean, w/ other titles i could at least blame myself for not being better at the game, whereas dragon's lair seemed just set up to kill you for no reason other than you'd have to put anther quarter in the machine. i call shenanigans on that game! :D