21 Jan 19, 12:02 pm » Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.


Netheril : Age of Magic

Please login or register.



Author Topic: The death penalty destroys fun.  (Read 215 times)

Aetrion

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
The death penalty destroys fun.
« on: January 06, 2019, 09:12:41 pm »
No matter how much fun I have at an event or roleplaying with people, the constant specter of losing weeks worth of progress to a minor misstep is destroying my enjoyment of this game. The way that acquiring XP isn't something you can really put effort into doesn't leave me with renewed fire to dive back into the game to regain what I've lost, it leaves me apathetic and wanting to simply quit after a defeat.

There are a whole number of things that make dealing with a harsh death penalty just feel unreasonable on a server like this.

1. It's way too easy to die from minuscule, unconscious mistakes. I lost a weeks worth of progress today simply because I walked 10 feet in the wrong direction leading to me getting boxed in by enemies. It's my mistake, but we're not talking about a series of grievous errors that lead to my demise, or taking on a huge risk out of greed, or anything like that. We're talking about a single misstep and having the entire game start a cascade of inescapable doom as a result. You ideally shouldn't die to such cheap mechanics in the first place, but if you do then you shouldn't lose weeks of progress over it on top of that.

2. Harsh death penalties encourage powergaming and punish anyone who doesn't optimize. You can't take it easy in a game like this, figure things out as you go along or build your character for RP more than raw power. If losing a fight is this punishing you need to just build a winner and be as cheap and cheesy as possible at all times. I know it's supposed to be about being careful and playing like your character values their life, but the only way to be cautious is to be overpowered. Spending more times at lower levels is pure punishment, especially since you're prevented from grouping with high level characters for questing, and way more of the common enemies in the game are lethal to you.

3. There is no way to make an effort to regain your XP. Monster kills usually net somewhere between 1-2 XP, and that's as long as you're below level 15. Quests usually grant you somewhere between 100-300XP, and every so often you walk away with 500XP during an event. Then you die once to a minor mistake and get destroyed for several thousand XP that took you weeks to accumulate. You can't get back on the horse. There is no horse. You can't say "Alright, I'm going to redouble my effort to earn this back" because getting the XP was never about effort in the first place. It was about time, and there is no way to turn your frustration over dying into more time.


So as far as i'm concerned there is absolutely nothing positive about the death penalty as it currently exists. It doesn't serve any useful purpose. I personally like the idea of a server where progress is relatively slow and earned through events and RP instead of grinding, but the appeal of that is totally undermined by a system that demolishes your XP when you lose a fight. You can't turn that loss around into something positive, dive right back into the game and work hard to get your XP back, or take it as an RP prompt for the night. You're progressing at a steady pace mainly set by events, server resets, and availability of suitable group members, so taking that penalty just arbitrarily delays your advancement several weeks. That means the death penalty is pure punishment. It isn't a challenge that makes you want to do better, it doesn't start any interesting RP, it's just a sweaty middle finger being rubbed on your face.

All the measures in place to make getting XP such a pain in the first place also just don't really add up to a fun experience. Being prevented from grouping up with people based on level sucks, because when you RP you will inevitably make friends with people from all kinds of level ranges, and you simply aren't allowed to adventure with them outside of events. If the upper level caps on quests were removed it wouldn't make much of a difference to the rate of people's progression anyways, since those 100XP from catching piglets every few days aren't going to catapult anyone into epic levels any quicker than the 20XP they get from just talking for a while, but at least you could help newbies out.


Alright, suggestion time:

I actually think the game needs to have a death penalty, because I don't think people should treat their characters recklessly. I don't like how ridiculously easy it is to die in this game, but OK, that's part of NWN. So I'm thinking a death penalty should exist to do one thing: End the adventure when someone dies, make people play out having been bested, and thus making them want to avoid defeat, but turning defeat into RP instead of pure punishment.

So, maybe when you die you take some kind of debuff, that debuff doesn't actually do anything, but it basically means the gods have agreed that there are no more resurrections for you in the next 20 hours or so. You can keep on going if you want, but you risk permadeath if you die again, so the smart thing to do is to go home and RP that you're nursing your wounds. Getting resurrected by a spell would give a minor version of this effect that simply means you get the full effect after the next time you get resurrected even if it was with a spell. So, with a cleric along you can get resurrected once without any consequences in that danger period essentially.

With that kind of system the death penalty would turn into an RP cue rather than just a massive punishment for what is often a minor mistake. It would mean that nobody is ever set back so far that they fail to progress, but that's not really a bad thing, since having people backslide too far that they can't progress doesn't really accomplish anything other than driving them off the server.

Phaeric

  • House Dukarrus
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 10:04:11 pm »
The XP penalty has been a mainstay in most role playing systems (not just nwn, but most tabletop games) because it serves to provide a consequence players fear. While the system of having a permadeath period is interesting, I would be more mad to lose my full character I have put hours, weeks, even months into because I got killed twice in a row. I come from a server where the XP penalty is more severe, and can say that while it can be frustrating to lose levels, it comes with many opportunities.

Being a lower level allows you to interact with a different group of players. If you are a high level and get knocked low there is going to be a whole different group to quest with. Some low level quests offer easier methods to get gold and supply. I know that it is frustrating to lose a level or two from dying on a quest, but if we didn't have that, people could only progress upward to the high tiers of leveling. If this is not the case, then I think that is evidence of there being a deeper problem (disparity of level ranges + quest populace).

As for your view on powergaming being the only way forward, I can tell you that being prepared is completely IC. Having protective potions and wards on top of tactical knowledge is going to allow you to live much longer than if you didn't. It is completely IC too if you are a big warrior who throws that to the wall, but you still have to deal with the consequences of low wisdom. I don't think the mechanics of Nwn are cheap, and have a great deal of depth to them.

I think the XP penalty in this server is pretty minor, even with the level range being much higher. I'd be good to hear the opinions of other players on this.

Surfing_Turnip

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2019, 11:16:55 pm »
Regardless of the penalty being numerically minor, it compounds other problems that exist on the server. Mob spawns on transitions, badly balanced encounters, broken and imbalanced quests, and an over-reliance on 'horde mode' style events that break down RP instead of contributing to it means that it's just a punishing system. It doesn't produce fear. It just makes you roll your eyes, knowing that there's nothing you can do to regain lost progress if you've already run the quests, or if you're level 15+.

Until either the death penalty is looked at, or a whole host of problems with the server are fixed, then this is nothing but unpleasant and detracts from the game play experience.

Aetrion

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2019, 11:56:57 pm »
The XP penalty has been a mainstay in most role playing systems (not just nwn, but most tabletop games) because it serves to provide a consequence players fear. While the system of having a permadeath period is interesting, I would be more mad to lose my full character I have put hours, weeks, even months into because I got killed twice in a row. I come from a server where the XP penalty is more severe, and can say that while it can be frustrating to lose levels, it comes with many opportunities.

XP penalties may be commonplace, but games where the amount of XP you can gain is bottlenecked by server resets and events are not commonplace at all.

Saying that it isn't severe is also just wrong. I lost over a weeks worth of progress over a tiny mistake, with no way to work harder to get it back, it's just a kick in the balls that serves no purpose unless you think people quitting the server is somehow a good thing.

What does the XP penalty actually contribute to the game? Name an actual benefit it provides. Saying it's always been this way or it could be worse aren't arguments for why something this fun destroying should exist. Deleveling yourself to gain access to quests again also isn't a benefit, and if it was something people wanted to do it should be accomplished through the player tool, not repeated suicides.

People can already only progress upward, because anyone who doesn't progress upward simply quits the game. There is a reason why the server's population is entirely comprised of level 15+ characters and people trying to get there. There will never be a population of happy mid level players who are content just struggling to stay in place. Any attempt to create that simply drives people away with absolutely no benefit to the server.

Reality is simply this: The XP penalty drives people away from the game and provides nothing to the people who thrive in spite of it unless they care more about feeling superior to those who aren't having fun with this system than about having a healthy server population.

It doesn't produce fear. It just makes you roll your eyes, knowing that there's nothing you can do to regain lost progress if you've already run the quests, or if you're level 15+.

Yea, that's exactly my issue with it. Even if all quests were open, especially as a new player who doesn't know every quest, and being stuck in the mid levels where everyone has either quit or moved beyond being allowed to quest with you there is no way to produce 6500 XP back after you've lost it, you have to wait for events and server resets for at least a week to make that back.

I have a few hundred hours of game time in the various Dark Souls games, so I'm perfectly fine with hard games and death panalties, but I want failure to be a learning experience, and I want failure to be a catalyst for renewed effort. The XP penalty provides none of that. It's just a shitty legacy system that drives down player numbers.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 12:12:13 am by Aetrion »

Rainman

  • Dungeon Master
  • Demi-God
  • *****
  • Posts: 1259
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2019, 07:53:25 am »
If the death is due to a bug or something out of your control, most DM's will give a raise if asked on events or from a quest.

We are happy to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to improve this part of the game ... but we would need to do baby steps to make sure he balance was not effected to much and the changes are an improvement.

Build it and they will come.

Aetrion

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2019, 04:02:34 pm »
I have gotten XP back a couple times, but I caught myself yesterday trying to think of any reason this was a bug to get an XP refund and I realized that that didn't make the system any better, it just temped me into lying to DMs about why my character died. I've played out the scenario a dozen times in my head and ultimately I died because I made a mistake. It was a tiny mistake that shouldn't cause that much destruction, but everything still came down to just that one thing. I did get a partial refund from Gmork, but even that kind of makes me think it isn't a good system because someone who just took the loss and moved on wouldn't have gotten XP back, I got vocal about it and that translated into a significant benefit to my character. While I appreciate that a lot, I'm not convinced refunds will ever be fair. They encourage people to call every death a bug, and benefit people who raise a stink instead of just moving on.

Draekus

  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2019, 07:38:56 pm »
The biggest issue I still have with the XP penalty is the learning curve, that is learning the world of Netheril. The vast majority of my deaths come from going to a new area and having a creature wipe me out that is vastly more powerful than anything on the adjoining map or even in the adjoining rooms.

For example I was off exploring and ended up in some Elemental cave in found in the Dark Forest. The first two rooms where a breeze and I only even had 2 buffs on. I entered some transition, and on the other side found I could not return! Well this really sucks, would have been nice to know that it was one way!  Since it was getting late for me, I decided to buff fully up and try to find a way out. Fully buffed I was cutting down elemental's like a hot knife in butter and quickly killed all on my way to the exit of the big room. Then a greater fire elemental attacked me and almost killed me in a few rounds, by comparison the other 10+ elemental's in the room did only a few points of damage total! Realizing this elemental was vastly more powerful than the others, I ran, went invisible, healed a bit and logged out. I and am currently waiting for a server restart so I dont lose a ton of exp because of a very unbalanced area. So now I basically cant play, I could try to escape, but if I died that would be a level loss and one more reason to never explore again.  I like RP, bit I also like to do quest and explore, and with the imbalance in some quests and areas the rewards is all too often death. I have nearly 400 hours playing on this server and it seems the best option is to just craft all day and/or just leave your character logged in to get the tick exp.

GoblinLoveChild

  • Chief Population Irritation Specialist
  • Dungeon Master
  • Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • The Ultimate Noob
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2019, 03:51:06 am »
all I can say to all of these posts is "invest in invisibility potions. and learn when its time to use them."
While I personally would welcome the changes that made you perma dead if you died within 24 hours of a previous death. AS this would encourage a greater turnover of new characters and concepts. It is not a widely popular position as many people are invested in their characters and their stories and would be more upset about having their stories cut short. 

The other issue touched on here is how hard it is to grind your way back upto where you were. (XP wise)
We are currently looking at every quest and reveiwing rewards and balanace etc. However all of this takes time.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 03:59:50 am by GoblinLoveChild »
~The Universe is hostile, so impersonal.
Devour to survive, so it is, so its always been~

Aetrion

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 09:07:46 pm »
Well, the idea of a system where you can perma-die wouldn't be that it's supposed to kill off tons of characters, it's supposed to make people treat getting downed as an RP reason to take it easy for a while. The system should basically "forgive" dying once, because dying once can happen for stupid and unpredictable reasons. Dying twice in a row on the other hand means you were courting disaster or had made some serious enemies. Whether that disaster is permadeath or a significant XP penalty or whatever doesn't really matter. I just think the game should be lenient when you die to something stupid and just say "Ok, I'll treat this as an RP cue and withdraw my character to a safe area for the time being", but it should be dangerous when you double down and push further.

I tend to be one of those players who like to just build a single character and transition that character to some kind of institution or mentor when he gets older rather than retiring it and starting over, so I'm really not necessarily in favor of perma-death being all that easy.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 09:12:19 pm by Aetrion »

Dagonlives

  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2019, 05:04:01 am »
Death penalty is fine. its' actually fairly hard to die.  5 to 10%% xp?  I haven't seen one example of a death without a raise or a resurrection, so 15% is rare.  That's such a small penalty, and means players legitmately flee or run from trouble. 

Nope, Keep the penalty.  Make players fight on their toes.  Level 15 is the softcap.  Being level 16+ is a luxury, not an expectation and most players frankly shouldn't reach it. 

If anything, the penalty could be increased.  Players tend to reach fifteen and never drop below it.  If need be, increase xp gain and penalty to create a treadmill effect.  This is how other servers with variable levels have kept it going. 

As for claiming it encourages powerbuilds?  Of course it does.  Players should built optimized characters.  There is no inherent virtue in making a shitty character in terms of mechanics then somehow expecting to perform equally to someone who acknowledges this is a videogame and chose accordingly.  Yes, that means your spellsword will probably suck.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 05:06:21 am by Dagonlives »

Aetrion

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 17
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2019, 03:49:39 pm »
None of that constitutes a good argument for why the death penalty should be XP. Ok, you want people to be careful, I agree, but there are tons of things that make people be careful that don't completely ruin the fun of the game. Also the vast majority of death's I've suffered weren't because I was being reckless, but happened over trivial mistakes or not knowing every enemy in the game and all their abilities because I haven't played it for years.

The whole powergaming aspect is by far the lamest thing about this server from my perspective. There is a huge difference between wanting to make bad characters and breeze through the game regardless and wanting some reasonable semblance of a Pen and Paper session of D&D instead of this purely mechanics driven formulaic bore of simply having to know all the monsters and all the fights so you can just be immune to whatever they dish out. Sure, you can know this game so well that nothing actually poses a danger to you, but how is that still an exciting adventure? Expecting the server to be only for people who like playing that way is drastically limiting the audience for no good reason.

GoblinLoveChild

  • Chief Population Irritation Specialist
  • Dungeon Master
  • Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 410
  • The Ultimate Noob
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2019, 02:10:58 am »
.... but happened over trivial mistakes or not knowing every enemy in the game and all their abilities ...

Honestly this is a meta-gaming problem. The reality is your character should not know what that creature is and should be taking extreme care when they encounter a new monster. you should not be aware of what its abilities are and should be roleplaying this accordingly.

We do however understand that you, as a player, cannot turn of mechanical knowledge of the system hence why there is no action/penalty for metagaming the "new encounter" per se.
~The Universe is hostile, so impersonal.
Devour to survive, so it is, so its always been~

Surfing_Turnip

  • Adventurer
  • Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • Peasant
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2019, 03:08:00 am »
That's untrue. In setting, there are entire disciplines of dungeoneering, necrology, and studies of animals and strategy that mean a character can infer how threatening a creature might be well in advance of running into them face to face. Experienced adventurers, or even certain classes, should know what to face in certain locations. You can't just imply that characters should be clueless, because there isn't sufficient area development, lore presence, or sign posting of encounters for new players.

Gmork

  • Dungeon Master
  • Demi-God
  • *****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
Re: The death penalty destroys fun.
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2019, 11:20:18 pm »
The team will be discussing the issue in our forums to see if we can come up with something the is still significant, but not fun breaking.
"People who have no hope are easy to control"