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Development => Development Process & non-technical => Topic started by: keithburgun on May 10, 2013, 03:25:07 AM

Title: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: keithburgun on May 10, 2013, 03:25:07 AM
This is bound to get some interesting responses from my fellow roguelike developers... but, I hate this term, "permadeath".  I explain it fully here, and I'd love to hear some of your responses.

http://keithburgun.net/why-i-hate-the-term-permadeath/
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on May 10, 2013, 04:01:07 AM
Well then I h8 you Keith, you can go to...wait...okay you have a point here...

For those not wanting to read he's saying that we shouldn't even need to say that permadeath is a feature of games, but rather that should be the default in games where appropriate. No need to list it. You don't list it as a feature in Tetris. You don't list it as a feature in Galaga. You don't list it as a feature in civilization.

Also you don't list it as a feature in Zelda, or Final Fantasy. Narrative games don't need to list the feature "You can't Actually Lose" because everyone assumes a story game doesn't feature challenge or loss. It's about immersion and love and puppies and other shit I could could give a fuck about.

Personally I want to know if it's permadeath. Because I want to know if I want to play it or not.  >:(

Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: kraflab on May 10, 2013, 04:08:15 AM
It's a modifier for a genre that doesn't have it by default.  So I could say I made a turn-based rpg with permadeath to mean the same thing as saying I made a roguelike (assuming the underlying system is turn-based rpg).  We've actually talked a lot about this on here lately.  I agree that removing permadeath makes it a different genre, so it should be assumed.  The problem is not that developers list permadeath as a feature, but that there are developers that don't mention that they don't have it, causing people who do to need to clarify that their game is actually correctly categorized.

I do disagree about your claim that competitive strategy needs permadeath.  The problem is you are assuming vertical growth.  If growth is horizontal there should be a way to maintain strategy but also persistence.  I think loss is important, but total loss is certainly not.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: keithburgun on May 10, 2013, 07:47:45 AM
I do agree that there's some practical application for it, in the way you've mentioned.  But, it still bothers me because it's more of a REQUIREMENT than it is some "freak property", which is how it's generally talked about.

I prefer the expression "you can lose in this game."
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on May 10, 2013, 08:28:13 AM
I prefer the expression "you can lose in this game."

It's so strange to me that this isn't the norm anymore.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Ex on May 10, 2013, 08:46:11 AM
I disagree. There's pretty much two sides you can look at the term from. Either the side of supporting permadeath, or the side of opposing permadeath. The side for support is probably going to not like the term for the reasons that you listed. The side that doesn't support permadeath, including myself, is going to look at it differently. However, the term was probably created by people who supported it, so there is that. And the term has also been around so long that it'll probably never change.

Anyway, I don't like permadeath, and in my games I'll never include it. None of the games that I grew up on and loved the most (aside from roguelikes) used it. Not one. But I encourage you all to put it in your games if you believe in it.

It's also a very small feature to exclude something from being a roguelike over. If you take nethack, and you add saved games (that don't get deleted), it's still a roguelike. The people who savescum essentially do this, but nethack is still a roguelike.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: zasvid on May 10, 2013, 10:16:32 AM
Overall I agree with the premise, but not the details. After decrying "Permadeath" as a term the article went on to use it and as I understood only in the meaning of "you can lose and go back to beginning" in opposition to "you can save at any time". And I vehemently disagree with portraying such a duality and further mapping it to another duality of competitive strategy (CS) vs non-competitive non-strategy (NCNS). What really matters (and the article mentions that) is decisions and the fact that they can't be done over. This is what's truly essential to CS (Cf. Princess Maker, including its roguelike version) and I'd argue that there are at least some NCNSes (most cRPGs, such as Bioware's) that could greatly benefit from enforcing decision permanence in a playthrough (and as the article points out, getting rid of death altogether), but not for the same reasons as CSes.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Etinarg on May 10, 2013, 10:57:51 AM
Diablo II had "softcore" and "hardcore" modes, and I must say I find the term "permadeath" much clearer than "hardcore mode". It's been coined for roguelikes, and the term is pretty old, also well known.

I'm not sure how many RPGs have permadeath, some have "failed resurection" or such, which also kills a character permanently. "The Bards Tale" (Atari ST version) had a temple where you could bring dead characters to, and the priests tried to revive them for a good amount of gold. The attempt failed at times, and then the chracter was permanently dead. So even there "permadeath" made sense, and distinguished the final end of a character from the normal game "death".

If it is seen as an important feature sure depends on the player. I played Diablo II both in hardcore and softcore modes and it didn't make that much difference to me, but eventually I preferred softcore mode. Depending on my mood and how much I feel attached to a character, I also back up my roguelike save games (if a game allows that), so I can cheat "permadeath" in roguelikes.

To me the term is alright, describes the feature correctly, is also well known, and IMO it should be a players choice if they want to play this way or not. But I've got used to that roguelikes see it as an important feature, and that having it as default sets roguelikes somehwat apart from other RPGs. (But IMO there are other features which contribute more to the roguelike feeling of game than permadeath.)
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: kraflab on May 10, 2013, 11:39:22 PM
I prefer the expression "you can lose in this game."

I guess we need a better, catchy term that can convey this idea.  The problem though is that everyone can recognize what permadeath means, while new/better terms will potentially confuse people (and leave them wondering if you meant permadeath or not).

The heart of the problem, where some people think that permadeath is a "small feature" (in this thread even!), is something that is very difficult to fix.  I tend to think that some people "just don't get it", but that isn't a satisfying explanation for me.  We need a way to convince people the importance of it, why its inclusion is so fundamental.  Education breeds change.

The trouble is that a person can erroneously play a game identically with and without permadeath and come away from it thinking that the permadeath was meaningless (due to their own poor playstyle/tactics).  I don't know how to properly intimate the difference to such a person, and I also don't want to get into a discussion on "intended" or "ideal" ways to play a game.

I think anyone who spends the time and manages to beat a roguelike with permadeath can immediately realize the incredible difference in sensation compared to beating a game without permanent loss.  When there is no permanent loss the game has no tension, actions are meaningless.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on May 11, 2013, 09:58:42 AM
The heart of the problem, where some people think that permadeath is a "small feature" (in this thread even!), is something that is very difficult to fix.  I tend to think that some people "just don't get it", but that isn't a satisfying explanation for me.  We need a way to convince people the importance of it, why its inclusion is so fundamental.  Education breeds change.

Most people who play games believe they should be at least somewhat challenging.  The thing is, a huge number of successful, mainstream games offer no challenge whatsoever.  The reason isn't because the enemies are too weak, the player too strong, resources overly abundant, or anything like that.  It's because you can save and load whenever you want.

Most people don't realize how thoroughly that destroys a game's difficulty.  Too many gamers have no exposure to genuinely challenging single player games.  And for someone who doesn't understand how genuinely difficult games work, permadeath doesn't make any sense.  It looks like utter masochism with no payoff.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Ex on May 11, 2013, 12:20:14 PM
The thing is, a huge number of successful, mainstream games offer no challenge whatsoever.
As you say, those games are successful and mainstream... It's hard to argue that successful mainstream games are doing something majorly wrong when they're successful and mainstream. I understand that you and many other gamers want games to be harder, but there is an equally large if not much larger group that likes the ease of difficulty that mainstream games provide. If most players really disliked saving and loading as much as you say then it wouldn't be a feature of virtually every successful mainstream game, and the games that had it wouldn't be successful and mainstream.

This isn't an all or nothing situation, anyone is free to put permadeath in their games or not. There's not a lot of point in arguing for it or against it because everyone can make their games however they like. If you like permadeath then implement it, if not then don't. If people really want permadeath, then your games are bound to be more successful than other games that lack it.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on May 11, 2013, 01:24:15 PM
Ok.  But let's recognize that this goes beyond "ease of difficulty" and into the territory of "literally impossible to lose."

I don't even mind that people are enjoying those kinds of games.  I understand that Wind Waker is too hard for some and DoDonPachi is too easy for others.  None of that is a problem.

The problem is that our terminology has become so distorted that "normal difficulty" now means something any living human being with functional eyes and hands can complete, and whatever lies beyond is masochism.  That's the problem I was getting at.  If these things were widely recognized for what they are, and the mainstream knew what a genuinely difficult games were like, I think there'd be more interest in challenging games, including permadeath games.

I disagree with your premise anyway.  It's easy to argue that mainstream games are doing a lot of things wrong, so long as you see them as games meant to be played, rather than business products meant to be sold.  Popularity and financial success are poor indicators of quality.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: jim on May 11, 2013, 05:41:56 PM
I guess it's a weird, small part of a much larger discussion - there's very little appetite for any form of entertainment that doesn't offer instant, continual, unconditional gratification with very little risk of loss. As those standards for entertainment increasingly become the norm, activities (or games) that do not offer this instant gratification become alienated from the mainstream, endangered, sometimes all but extinct.

The argument can be made that this is an indicator of a bad trend, since there are a great number of activities that are incredibly rewarding after a great deal of initally fruitless struggle. It's probably not a bridge too far to suggest that a reduced appetite for serious setbacks on the road to success does not bode particularly well for humanity.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Krice on May 11, 2013, 08:33:09 PM
I don't know what that article was about. Permadeath is a feature of a roguelike. So? What is the problem. Let me answer for you: you are the problem.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Ex on May 11, 2013, 09:53:56 PM
Popularity and financial success are poor indicators of quality.
I think that most game developers want their games to be popular and financially successful. Most game devs probably spend a lot of time trying to make their games popular and financially successful.
I don't know what that article was about. Permadeath is a feature of a roguelike. So? What is the problem. Let me answer for you: you are the problem.
There isn't a problem, as I keep saying anyone can implement it if they want to. I'm also not sure who the "you" is that you're referring to in this, and what "problem" caused by this person is.

I think you're trying to say that something without permadeath isn't a roguelike. Permadeath is a feature of roguelikes, ascii is another feature, but most people these days use tiles and we don't say that roguelikes with tiles aren't roguelikes. Permadeath is a very small feature to exclude something as a roguelike over. It's a smaller feature than tiles. I'd much rather call something that doesn't use ascii "not a roguelike" than to call something without permadeath "not a roguelike."

Again though, there isn't a real problem here. It's just a matter of taste for game devs whether or not they want to put permadeath in their games.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: AgingMinotaur on May 11, 2013, 10:33:36 PM
Popularity and financial success are poor indicators of quality.
I think that most game developers want their games to be popular and financially successful. Most game devs probably spend a lot of time trying to make their games popular and financially successful.
Of course they do. But that in itself doesn't exclude that some (or most, as YMMV) commercially successful products are crap :P

As always,
Minotauros
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on May 12, 2013, 01:33:37 AM
Jim: excellent post.  Good insight.

Permadeath is a very small feature to exclude something as a roguelike over. It's a smaller feature than tiles.

This is crazy.  So many roguelike mechanics are fundamentally built around permadeath.  They don't make sense without it.  A roguelike with tiles is still the same game.  It looks different, but plays exactly the same.  Allow unlimited saving and loading in most roguelikes and the end result is complete nonsense.  Risk-reward mechanics no longer function - risk is completely negated, leaving only reward.  Item identification and other knowledge-based mechanic stop functioning.  You can chug every potion you find right then and there.  Even if it's a potion of death, there's nothing to worry about, because you can't actually die.

And all of that applies to a hundred other mechanics as well.  Everything changes when you replace permadeath with persistent saves.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Ex on May 12, 2013, 09:46:14 AM
Jim: excellent post.  Good insight.

Permadeath is a very small feature to exclude something as a roguelike over. It's a smaller feature than tiles.

This is crazy.  So many roguelike mechanics are fundamentally built around permadeath.  They don't make sense without it.  A roguelike with tiles is still the same game.  It looks different, but plays exactly the same.  Allow unlimited saving and loading in most roguelikes and the end result is complete nonsense.  Risk-reward mechanics no longer function - risk is completely negated, leaving only reward.  Item identification and other knowledge-based mechanic stop functioning.  You can chug every potion you find right then and there.  Even if it's a potion of death, there's nothing to worry about, because you can't actually die.

And all of that applies to a hundred other mechanics as well.  Everything changes when you replace permadeath with persistent saves.
Well, I completely disagree.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Nekoninja on May 25, 2013, 08:56:07 PM
I hate the term "permadeath" because it mean "Start over from scratch and learn from your mistake!" What if I died just before I was able to kill the boss at level 666th level and have to start over from level 1 to kick that final boss again.

I like the reincarnation concept where you start over from the last save and not repeat the same mistake that go my character killed before as long it doesn't cost me too much like paying the death tax in RPG currents (gold), stripped of everything or lose something I collected such as weapons and armors.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on May 26, 2013, 04:37:38 AM
Being able to actually lose is a core feature. The only thing that differentiates this genre from the wider RPG genre.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Ex on May 26, 2013, 05:13:19 PM
Being able to actually lose is a core feature. The only thing that differentiates this genre from the wider RPG genre.
There are tons of games that aren't roguelikes that use permadeath. I honestly find it really funny that anyone would consider it a core feature, let alone the most important core feature. I bet that if myself and several other people hadn't brought up our dislike for it that no one would think it was any more important than any other feature.

Here's some other core features just to remind everyone:
Random Environment Generation
Turn Based Interaction
Single command set
Free form
Discovery mechanics
Single player
Plenty of content
Complex non-trivial world and object interactions
High ramped difficulty
Monsters are players
Character-based display
Hack and Slash
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on May 26, 2013, 09:04:10 PM
Nope. Still a core feature. Not a unique feature, arcade games also have it. So do some strategy games, all of them if you don't allow reloading old saves.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: st33d on May 29, 2013, 07:07:59 PM
Static games require frequent save states to be comfortable to play. I played some stupid ass long level of Hotline Miami last night and I'm in two minds now whether to do their "stamina level" again because I've a lot of compiling to do tonight. It's disrespectful of my time.

Random games, why bother. If the start, middle and end aren't of equal quality then it's the game's fault, not how far in you need to be before it stops being crap.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Holsety on June 23, 2013, 02:08:05 PM
Fuck everything. I wrote a post long enough to cover two screens before I just deleted everything. So let's try doing this again, but shorter. The article was confusing enough that I thought I hated the writer, but in truth I agree with him on some things. My mind kept ping-ponging between "he doesn't understand shit, how can he be so dense?" and "fuck me, he understands after all, time to delete 4 paragraphs".

First off you use the Wikipedia definition of permadeath for some incomprehensible reason (not wanting to make horribly offensive statements? what? hard to explain without all the videogame baggage? I wonder why? Could be because it's a videogame term, hmm!).
And you use this wikipedia definition, but it's not appropriate because it's FUCKING WRONG for this context.
Quote
In role-playing video games (RPGs), permanent death (sometimes permadeath or PD) is a situation in which player characters (PCs) die permanently and are removed from the game.[1] … This is in contrast to games in which characters who are killed (or incapacitated) can be restored to life (or full health), often at some minor cost to the character.
That ^ is not what permadeath is about in roguelikes at all, and I'm surprised you could make such an obvious mistake. Permadeath is when the game ends and the save is deleted. DONE.

In the first draft I ranted on and on about you claiming that Tetris has permadeath. Let's put it shorter: it doesn't. Games are played, and then they end. Whether it's short games (Tetris), slightly longer games (Nethack) or long games (Xenogears). The player will reach the game-over or credits screen, and then the game is done.

The writer doesn't "get" why people like/dislike permadeath in singleplayer games, because not having permadeath cancels out your actions having any meaning in the face of player persistance. The article is confusing as fuck, with improper use of the term "permadeath" just about everywhere, but I agree with this statement! Not having permadeath cancels out your actions having any meaning in the face of player persistance!
He claims that this mandates permadeath though;
Quote
[...]you should understand that if you’re dismissing permadeath, you’re dismissing the single-player strategy game altogether.
I'm not sure how to feel about that, because it's not always true.

[this is the only important bit, really. sorry]
I divide games into four categories, personally:

A)Yes, you could grind to ultimate power in a singleplayer RPG like oblivion, quickloading at every setback...
But when you kill the final boss the credits roll all the same. You can choose not to end the game by playing like it's a sandbox game (read: masturbation-type gaming). But whether you end the game at level 1 or 100 is the player's choice; the road he travels. The game that he plays, his way. And that's a freedom that the player should have, probably. This is a modern type of videogame where players are offered a variety of experiences to take in prior to ending the game at their choice.

B)A game like Half-life lets you control fate just like Oblivion, except that here your resources are finite. It's not a sandbox this time around, and the only way to progress is forward. This is exactly the same as above, except that the experience is more tightly controlled by the designer. Also a relatively modern form of gaming.

C)REAL games like Tetris/Pac-man/Touhou/Rogue put you in a situation where not giving any input (or in the case of roguelikes giving a repeated input of one step north, one step south) will have you reach the GAME OVER scenario. The game is actively trying to end the game-state one way, whereas the player is actively trying to reach the other game-over state (ie the credits rolling instead of the game over screen). The oldest form of gaming, and arguable the only true form of videogame.

D)Games where the only progress is forward, barring decisions (if at all possible) by the player to actively move backwards. Examples are MMORPGS and Facebook style games. The game has no ending, no credits will ever roll. The game is over when the player stops playing. Disclaimer: these are not actually games, they're masturbation.

Permadeath works in category C because active participation is needed to avoid the negative game-end state and the objective is the journey from start to either endgame-state. Deleting your save is fine, since it's not about your "character" or the wealth you accumulated in a previous playsession, it's about what you'll DO in THIS play-session.

For games in categories A and B permadeath won't work. They're not DESIGNED from the GROUND UP to AIM towards giving the player a GAME OVER. If you walk in a circle in oblivion nothing happens. You're SUPPOSED to go through the scripted story, all the way to the final instance, and then receive your credit roll. Getting a game over is simply the result of the player allowing himself to get in a situation where that is possible. The goal of such games is to get the player to the end. Everything between start and end is padding with the sole purpose of tricking the player into thinking he had "fun" with it so he doesn't ask for his money back from the people who just wasted hours of his life. You could argue that the hours he "wasted" could be entire replaced by a book or a movie, seeing as how his input was really not necessary, the entire game being about as meaningfull as playing a game of Simon Says, outside of the emotional impact it had on the player. But that's really a different sort of conversation, no?

That roguelikes are a category C game is amazing and probably entirely thanks to procedural generation.
If a roguelike had static terrain it would suck, with or without permadeath. This has been said several times on this forum.
[/this is the only important bit, really. sorry]

Quote
So, when I hear that a game has “permadeath”, I feel like the speaker doesn’t really understand what’s going on there.  Like, no one would say that Tetris has permadeath, and not just because of the theme.  To people, it’s obvious that Tetris with persistence would be pretty silly.  It’s also obvious to most (if a decreasing amount of) developers that adding persistence to multiplayer competitive games is a bad idea.

I hope that this article will push the conversation forward, where we can understand what permadeath is in a more holistic way.  If we do, we can realize a lot of stuff, and make better single-player strategy games than the world has ever seen.
Multiplayer competitive games fall outside of the scope of the entire article. By default they're designed around single play-sessions if they're NOT persistent. If you add persistent elements that impact gameplay to multiplayer games you automatically default on the competitive element.

For all my talk of disliking modern games, I'm suddenly becoming aware that the more deterministic a game is, the less it is a game and more of an exercise in tedium. Would playing Pac-man over and over with the same sequence of inputs not give the same result? Is Pac-man then not a game? I love Touhou, but if I used the same sequence of inputs the result would be identical. Is my enjoyment of the games now less valid? (yes)
Could it be that roguelikes and games that provide randomized fields/challenges are the only true games?
HOW RANDOM DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO ESCAPE DETERMINISM?
FFFFFUCK.
The more unpredictable a category C game is, the closer it is to being a true game? But can it be quantifiiiiiiiieeeeeeeed?
Fuck this, I'm out before I have a nervous breakdown.

Ed: Oh great, I'm not the only one cresting the event horizon. The article's comments section also shows what happens to people when they decide to start deconstructing the very thoughtscape to it's most intimate components.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on June 26, 2013, 11:32:45 AM
I love Touhou, but if I used the same sequence of inputs the result would be identical. Is my enjoyment of the games now less valid? (yes)

Don't these games usually include some randomization in their patterns as well?  Even when they don't, many enemies aim at your exact location, so if at any point in the game you even slightly deviate from repeating your previous set of inputs, you'll get a different result.

I don't see the problem is what I'm saying.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on August 19, 2013, 03:34:44 AM
Wrong it owns.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on August 30, 2013, 01:21:28 AM
Lol I agree Holesty but I'm not so militant.  :-*
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Gr3yling on December 01, 2013, 06:10:08 AM
It's so strange to me that this isn't the norm anymore.

Hmmm.  It suddenly strikes me that the original Zelda or Dragon Warrior are games that "you couldn't lose", at least by this definition.  And they are pretty fundamental defining in the adventure/RPG genre, wouldn't you say, Vanguard? 

In fact, based on what you are saying, it seems like (console and many computer) RPG's have been "unlose-able" from the beginning.  "Perma-death" seems like an addition to an already existant genre, more than anything else.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on December 01, 2013, 06:43:07 AM
Hmmm.  It suddenly str ikes me that the original Zelda or Dragon Warrior are games that "you couldn't lose", at least by this definition.  And they are pretty fundamental defining in the adventure/RPG genre, wouldn't you say, Vanguard? 

In fact, based on what you are saying, it seems like (console and many computer) RPG's have been "unlose-able" from the beginning.  "Perma-death" seems like an addition to an already existant genre, more than anything else.

Yeah but I'm talking about games in general, not just RPGs.

And even within the RPG genre we obviously can all see the value in permadeath because otherwise we wouldn't be posting on the roguelike forums.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Gr3yling on December 01, 2013, 07:06:36 AM
And even within the RPG genre we obviously can all see the value in permadeath because otherwise we wouldn't be posting on the roguelike forums.

There is value in it, I definitely agree.

But...Do you think that, say, Zelda, or Dragon Quest would be better with its presence?  Just curious.  Because I thought that you were arguing that games today were deviating from the precedent set by those earlier games?

EDIT: I'm certainly open to that argument, incidentally, I'm just curious as to where exactly you would take it.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on December 01, 2013, 10:23:09 AM
Permadeath Dragon Quest would just encourage extremely conservative play.  It's a game about grinding where the only interesting thing you can do is go after higher level guys for better rewards and that's the opposite of what you should do in a permadeath situation.  It'd become a lot more boring and frustrating without much payoff.

Zelda's better.  It's an exploration game at heart and the lessons learned in one life can help you do better in the next one.  You'd need to change a few things to make it work, but a Zelda-like game could definitely do permadeath really well.

I'm not saying that every game should have permadeath.  Some mechanics don't mix well with it no matter what you do.  But permadeath allows for some huge, amazing things.  There's so much more you can do with choices and consequences in permadeath games.  You can go so much farther with rewarding and punishing your players.  Permadeath can create tension in a way that quicksave games can't possibly match.  It's a shame that most developers won't even consider it.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: akeley on December 14, 2013, 12:16:37 PM
Edge Magazine used to be a serious and respectable voice about videogaming in pre-broadband era. It all went downhill in the Noughties, what with their M$ love-in and general decay in quality...but I still do check them out occasionally for the old times sake and some different stuff than that offered by  usual suspects. Just saw an article regarding permadeath (http://www.edge-online.com/features/and-stay-dead-permadeath-just-wont-die-but-whats-behind-the-popularity-of-such-a-punishing-mechanic/) on their site.

It`s a strange beast, perhaps not entirely satisfying but there`s quite a few interesting points. It`s also good to see the topic tackled in a major publication. Most disappointing fact for me was that in this rather lengthy write-up they somehow failed to mention even a single "proper" RL (nebulous "roguelikes" placeholder has to suffice) - instead focusing on the predictable modern fare like Spelunky, Don`t Starve, FTL etc. Oh well.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Samildanach on December 17, 2013, 01:50:11 PM
They're using reference points that their readers know. References to actual roguelikes would be wasted on most. I can understand why you disapprove but the way they did it is actually better writing practice.

I appreciated the article's attempts to illustrate that neither perma-consequences nor easy reloadable saves are inherently superior. Each has advantages and drawbacks depending on what the game is trying to be.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: akeley on December 17, 2013, 08:31:33 PM
I disagree, the "better writing practice" would be mixing it up - it surely wouldn`t hurt to name check at least one RL like DF, TOME, Nethack etc. EDGE is supposed to be a more serious publication and these games are not at all obscure.

As it is, it`s just another example of the white elephant/poor cousin syndrome that permeates modern journalism when writing about the roguelike genre.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on December 18, 2013, 03:53:01 AM
Agreed but you write for your audience. I'm cool with it. I'm sometimes snobby about things but I do realize traditional roguelikers are a nearly insignificant number compared to the overall gamer base.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Samildanach on December 18, 2013, 06:37:31 PM
Agreed but you write for your audience. I'm cool with it. I'm sometimes snobby about things but I do realize traditional roguelikers are a nearly insignificant number compared to the overall gamer base.
Exactly. The writer is a professional journalist and has to make references that the majority of his audience will get. Perhaps when I said "better writing practice" I should have said "more professional writing practice". If you're making your living from writing articles, you bear the audience in mind or you don't last very long.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: akeley on December 18, 2013, 09:09:26 PM
So, according to you, "professional writing practice" should be defined by avoidance of facts and pandering to the (quite imaginary btw) general public? Oh boy.

Never mind that you completely ignore the point that, as I said before, EDGE is supposed to be a serious publication, in the vein of Gamasutra or Ars. This is no IGN or some such we`re talking about - if it was it`d be all fine and dandy (sort of). And so I suppose the "audience" really wouldn`t insta-hit CTRL+W, dismayed upon seeing reference to some dreary thing like ADOM, God forbid, and the poor, unprofessional writer wouldn`t have to clear his desk the next day.

In my book, a professional writer in a more upmarket publication, while treading niche waters would stick with the more popular references but would also include the lesser known ones, maybe, dunno, because they`re kinda responsible for the whole affair?

Apart form that, what happened to the educate`em angle? I speak from personal experience - as I said in my first post on this board I avoided roguelikes for decade and a half, and the reason for it is the fact that I just didn`t know any better. I played some Rogue back in the day, but thought it`s just a simple RPG with a novelty of ever-changing dungeons. And so it stuck and I avoided the genre later on - but I`m pretty sure that if some writers concentrated on explaining and promoting the major features - the intricacy, advanced mechanisms, true strategy, emergent gameplay and so on - I`d be back for more. And so perhaps would many others. Instead (not in this particular case) they choose the easy street of tut-tuting at these terrible graphics, silly dying thingy and other populist tropes.

Underestimating the "audiences" as unable to experiment, try new things and learn new styles is quite patronising, especially seeing as the article in question doesn`t talk about some triviality like 1st person vs 3rd, but  quite a niche mechanic - permadeath - to start with. And where does  the "snobbery" comes into the picture? You guys mean it`s snobbish to expect a serious article to relay important facts and examples? Wow, now.

Overall I find this angle utterly depressing and rather surprising - especially seeing as it comes from people on this very board. This kind of apologetic mentality is really not in my nature and something I`d rather not know about - and as such I will contain my interaction here to reading the excellent Announcements thread only form now on.

Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Paul Jeffries on December 18, 2013, 09:58:23 PM
I think the title of the article is a hint: ''Permadeath just won’t die, but what’s behind the popularity of such a punishing mechanic?"  The whole basis of the article is to explore what it is that makes permadeath a popular feature at the current time, so of course they are going to use recent games with a relatively high level of exposure and mass-market appeal as examples of that rather than older games which - while influential - are still fairly niche.  I don't think it's anything to do with not wanting to frighten the kiddies by waving a crusty old roguelike in their faces, it's just that crusty old roguelikes (not really being all that popular) are poor examples of the phenomenon that the article is talking about.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on December 19, 2013, 12:37:02 AM
 I can use more niche articles. This one didn't offend really, but I know what you're saying.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Rickton on December 19, 2013, 12:49:26 AM
<snip?
So wait, you're offended because people here aren't more offended?
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Samildanach on December 19, 2013, 02:01:48 PM
This kind of apologetic mentality is really not in my nature and something I`d rather not know about - and as such I will contain my interaction here to reading the excellent Announcements thread only form now on.
My posts haven't apologised for the article. I don't see anything to apologise for. Clearly some of us have less understanding/experience of journalism than others.

Do you think that, say, Zelda, or Dragon Quest would be better with its presence?  Just curious. 
I can't speak for Dragon Quest, having never played it, but I suspect Zelda would become a huge chore if it included permadeath, being forced to retread the same ground over and over, solving the same puzzles every time. It would probably have to include some form of procedural generation, in which case we're getting into the realms of a real-time roguelike-ish game anyway. Also, the top-down Zeldas (the ones I'm talking about here) tend to have block puzzles and the like, which might be awkward to randomise.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on December 19, 2013, 02:17:10 PM
I don't think it's anything to do with not wanting to frighten the kiddies by waving a crusty old roguelike in their faces, it's just that crusty old roguelikes (not really being all that popular) are poor examples of the phenomenon that the article is talking about.

Roguelikes are the inspiration behind most of these modern permadeath games.  It's a huge omission that leaves the audience less informed than they should be.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Paul Jeffries on December 20, 2013, 12:47:55 AM
Roguelikes are the inspiration behind most of these modern permadeath games.  It's a huge omission that leaves the audience less informed than they should be.

Firstly, that's factually wrong; the game the article centres around more than any other is XCOM and its inclusion of an Ironman mode, which evolved from the common voluntary practice of playing the original X-Com without reloading saves to undo troop deaths.  This is an independent development of the same mechanic with no direct lineage to any Roguelike.  Indeed, I used to play it that way myself long before I'd even heard the word 'Roguelike'.  As the OP in this very thread discussed, the concept of permanent death is not a one that was (or needed to be) invented by Roguelikes.  If the article had tried to claim otherwise then it would in fact have been misinforming its audience.

Were that not the case, I might agree with you provided the topic of the article was the history of permadeath or influences on games with permadeath.  But as a I already pointed out; it wasn't - it was about the popularity of the mechanic now.  Older games of comparitively limited popular appeal are not only irrelevant to that particular discussion, their inclusion would only muddy the waters and possibly undermine the points that the article is making.

Don't get me wrong, I'm with you on the general principle - I would love to see more games journalists using their position as industry gatekeepers to promote the kinds of games that I myself like.  I just don't think that the criticisms raised of this one particular article are reasonable given the context and aims of the piece.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: guest509 on December 20, 2013, 03:07:59 AM
You're totally correct here Paul. Perma death, ironman mode, perma failure, these are all game design concepts completely divorced from the roguelike niche. They are appropriate in some genres, for some designs, and did not originate or proliferate with Rogue.

Chess and Space Invaders had the same concepts, for example.

I've already beaten the new XCom without reloads and had a fantastic time. I'm about to bump up the difficulty and give the expansion a go.
Title: Re: Why I hate the term "Permadeath"
Post by: Vanguard on December 20, 2013, 09:13:45 AM
No one is saying that roguelikes own permafailure.