Author Topic: My two cents about Permadeath  (Read 108937 times)

Endorya

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My two cents about Permadeath
« on: March 19, 2014, 05:39:45 PM »
I’ve been reading a lot throughout websites scattered all over the web about how people view permadeath. Some really enjoy it while others really hate it and then you have those in between. But it seems that those who enjoy permadeath usually think of themselves as the ultimate appreciators of challenge while at the same time reducing those who dislike it to be mare casual players who seek a smooth experience instead of challenge.

Before this gets personal, I just want to make it clear that this is my personal opinion on how I view the permadeath feature, in other words, is not something open to debate but merely to demonstrate that those voting for permadeath shouldn’t automatically believe that those who deny it do not seek challenge. From what I’ve read around the web, I actually got the impression that mostly of those in favor of permadeath, somehow think of themselves as better players, in a sense of possessing better playing capabilities or in deeper sense of viewing themselves as smarter. I really don't agree with this.

As we all know, permadeath states for: ‘1 try per game’ because when you die, you will have to start all over since there is no progression resuming points whatsoever. Permadeath injects something incredible during play time that I really love: ‘tension / excitement’, because one wrong move can end your character’s life. This feature unconsciously forces players to linger about with extra caution and often forcing them to rethink their situation, unlike other games that are easily exploited through the abuse of the game’s save and load features.

However, permadeath as also one particular negative side effect from my own perspective, which is mainly: no sense of accomplishment. Don’t freak out just yet. I’ll get into details soon enough. From all the roguelike games I’ve played (tried), ADOM is the only roguelike that I can say to have actually played as I endured through it every day for a period of for nearly 6 months. This only happened because I did farm its save points, otherwise I wouldn’t have felt compelled to played it at all because of the reason I described at the beginning of this very paragraph. The problem with ADOM is that its random events generation would 20% of the time (while in the wilderness) feel unfair, like it could force you into a fight with loads of jackals with the misfortunate of your character having the wrong class or simply for being a noob. But at least its world map was fixed and each time I played it I could actually feel a sense of progression and view new parts of the game that I believe to be impossible without farming Saving-Games.

Okay, but why do I say that there is no sense of accomplishment with permadeath? The real problem lies with having permadeath combined with pretty much everything in the game being procedural generated and its harsh difficulty level. Why? Because when I start a new unexplored generated world all previous achievements I did undergo previously no longer apply and the chance of encountering similar events are scarce and I’m not talking about getting to know better how the game’s features works, like skills usage, the item’s functionality and what strategies to adopt with each type of monster or simply what action to perform in every situation, no, this is called getting to know game’s game play mechanics better. I’m talking about removing the sense of progression as everything is now different. Remember Golden Axe or Double Dragon slide scroll classic games? Yeah, they also featured permadeath because when you died you had to start all over again, regardless of the size of the life energy bar or lives amount. But whenever I replayed these games, I did feel a sense of progression as each time I tried them I would go farther and farther, leading me to eventually ending them and that felt very rewarding.

In a procedural generated game, when you start in a new world you can either die quickly or not, depending of many factors of course, namely how the game is coded and how fair randomization is and yeah, player skill / experience with the game itself. But roguelikes are usually hard by nature and this itself feels quite incompatible with permadeath. For a game to have permadeath it’s difficult level should be more forgiving as you only have one try to finish it (if it has an end at all). Of course this is RELATIVE to each game but if you want challenge you really don’t need a roguelike with permadeath, you just need basically a challenging game play like an Asteroids game, having each level getting progressively harder and harder until it gets insanely difficult. But we prefer roguelikes right? They are complex and detailed with unique and superb features and this is why I love the roguelike genre. It’s not because we are smarter but because we enjoy the complexity and tons of choices at our disposable.

So where do I stand in the permadeath ability? Right in the middle. I prefer a system where you have controlled save-games for two main reasons. The first one is that with controlled saving you will still feel the tension and excitement during the choices you take and secondly it let the players feel a sense of progression. Why having no saving points when the game has the ability to generate full worlds from scratch dynamically, therefore offering so much replay value? I can say that ADOM with occasionally saving was the best experience I had with a roguelike.

Nonetheless, there are no wrong opinions in this matter, just different preferences and this is my personal preference.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 08:42:51 AM by Endorya »
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CaptainKraft

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2014, 05:57:45 PM »
Quote
Before this gets personal, I just want to make it clear that this is my personal opinion on how I view the permadeath feature, in other words, is not something open to debate

If it isn't up for debate, maybe it shouldn't be here?
Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2014, 06:07:16 PM »
Quote
Before this gets personal, I just want to make it clear that this is my personal opinion on how I view the permadeath feature, in other words, is not something open to debate

If it isn't up for debate, maybe it shouldn't be here?

Or maybe you simply fail to see my point. Unless you believe that the fact your prefer blue over yellow or vanilla over chocolate is something open for discussion.
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Eben

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 06:13:55 PM »
You seem to be saying that you don't like roguelikes because they're not RPGs. Nothing wrong with that opinion, but maybe you would find more satisfaction in finding games that are what you want in a game instead of trying to make a game that's not what you want into what you want (via save scumming for example).

Hi

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 06:15:42 PM »
Or maybe you simply fail to see my point. Unless you believe that the fact your prefer blue over yellow or vanilla over chocolate is something open for discussion.

We discuss why you prefer blue and vanilla, what other things share the qualities you like about blue and vanilla and whether it is possible to merge the best qualities of blue and yellow and vanilla and chocolate or that they are things that should be only enjoyed separately.

Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2014, 06:27:44 PM »
You seem to be saying that you don't like roguelikes because they're not RPGs. Nothing wrong with that opinion, but maybe you would find more satisfaction in finding games that are what you want in a game instead of trying to make a game that's not what you want into what you want (via save scumming for example).

There are games with permadeath that are no roguelike nor RPGs. I do know where I get satisfaction from what types of games. It seems that for you and for many people a roguelike is only a roguelike when it has the permadeath feature implemented. Sorry, but I think a roguelike is much more than featuring permadeath. I did mention what people (including myself) enjoy about roguelikes:

"Wikipedia"
Roguelike is a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by random level generation, tile-based graphics and permanent death.
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Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2014, 06:30:08 PM »
Or maybe you simply fail to see my point. Unless you believe that the fact your prefer blue over yellow or vanilla over chocolate is something open for discussion.

We discuss why you prefer blue and vanilla, what other things share the qualities you like about blue and vanilla and whether it is possible to merge the best qualities of blue and yellow and vanilla and chocolate or that they are things that should be only enjoyed separately.

Exactly. Please discuss why I prefer controlled saved games or if we can merge the qualities of saving a game with a roguelike.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:33:07 PM by Endorya »
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rust

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 06:39:07 PM »
I’m not talking about getting to know better how the game’s features works, like skills usage, the item’s functionality and what strategies to adopt with each type of monster or simply what action to perform in every situation, no, this is called getting to know game’s game play mechanics better. I’m talking about removing the sense of progression as everything is now different. Remember Golden Axe or Double Dragon slide scroll classic games? Yeah, they also featured permadeath because when you died you had to start all over again, regardless of the size of the life energy bar or lives amount. But whenever I replayed these games, I did feel a sense of progression as each time I tried them I would go farther and farther, leading me to eventually ending them and that felt very rewarding.
Except that getting to know all the game mechanics will surely make you a better player, so you'll get further more easily. I fail to see how it doesn't give a sense of progression. In fact, learning how particular roguelike's features work is quite similar to memorizing levels and figuring out how to beat them in the games you mentioned.

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2014, 06:40:38 PM »
If I understand you correctly, you don't feel as if you are progressing unless you can measure yourself against the same measuring stick each time.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:44:21 PM by Hi »

Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2014, 08:01:23 PM »
Except that getting to know all the game mechanics will surely make you a better player, so you'll get further more easily. I fail to see how it doesn't give a sense of progression. In fact, learning how particular roguelike's features work is quite similar to memorizing levels and figuring out how to beat them in the games you mentioned.

It's not about how good you play it but how far you go in it. Sure that if you get better at playing it will increase the chances of you surviving throughout it but you will always get back to 0 progression whenever you die. Meaning that all the fancy equipment you had, the quests you completed, the renown or titles you may have earned simply will be reduced to nothing. Then you will find yourself at level 1 needing to go yet again through all those leveling up stages until returning to the point you previously were. And since the world might be procedural generated, YOU WILL succumb to unfortunate events over and over before reaching such state but again, this is highly dependent on the game we are talking about.

Progression means accomplishing things in a game that will remain there with you. Of course that this only makes sense with games that actually have a goal or that have and end, like ADOM where you have to defeat the forces of Chaos to finish it. For open ended survival games this makes little sense, maybe I should have highlighted this in my opening post.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 08:31:03 PM by Endorya »
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Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2014, 08:09:36 PM »
If I understand you correctly, you don't feel as if you are progressing unless you can measure yourself against the same measuring stick each time.

In one way or another every player measures their progress. In your case, I would say that your progress is measured by the rate at which you die when playing a roguelike featuring permadeath or how far you character went, either through leveling up or through the amount of land uncovered. So, its not just me, everyone needs a sense of progression. In my case, having a character dying at level 10 and then going back to level 1 does indeed feel going backwards, despising how well you improved yourself as a player.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 08:32:07 PM by Endorya »
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miki151

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2014, 08:35:41 PM »
If you ever won games like Nethack or ADOM without savescumming, you would have a whole different feeling of accomplishment. But you need to learn to like the "how will I die today" approach. I don't have anything against games with or without permadeath, as long as they are well designed for it. If you savescum, you play a different game than the developer designed, and most likely this is a worse game.
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Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2014, 08:40:53 PM »
If you ever won games like Nethack or ADOM without savescumming, you would have a whole different feeling of accomplishment. But you need to learn to like the "how will I die today" approach. I don't have anything against games with or without permadeath, as long as they are well designed for it. If you savescum, you play a different game than the developer designed, and most likely this is a worse game.

Hello Miki151, long time no see. For me ending games like Nethack and ADOM without savescum, it automatically means I would be a fan of permadeath, so this thread would not exist in first place. But Yes, I understand what you mean. But if savescum from a particular game grants me 6 months of entertainment, well do let me know where I can get more of them.

[EDIT]
Also, its seems quite common to use save scumming in ADOM. I just browsed the web and people actually tend to end the game first with save scumming and then without it. So I guess I was on the right track.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 10:20:42 AM by Endorya »
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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2014, 08:52:23 PM »
When I started playing Angband I used the cheat death option to avoid losing progress. It was fun, I got to take a tour of the dungeon and see all the different monsters and find out good tactics for killing them safely. And I got to kill Morgoth.

When I came back to the game a few years later and without cheats, it was a totally different game. The monsters changed from small bundles of flavour text with appropriate stats and abilities into real threats and I had to think carefully about how to deal with them.

One of those games I dropped and half-forgot about after a few months, when I felt I had "seen everything". The other one has held my interest for years.

Endorya

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Re: My two cents about Permadeath
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2014, 09:04:18 PM »
When I started playing Angband I used the cheat death option to avoid losing progress. It was fun, I got to take a tour of the dungeon and see all the different monsters and find out good tactics for killing them safely. And I got to kill Morgoth.

When I came back to the game a few years later and without cheats, it was a totally different game. The monsters changed from small bundles of flavour text with appropriate stats and abilities into real threats and I had to think carefully about how to deal with them.

One of those games I dropped and half-forgot about after a few months, when I felt I had "seen everything". The other one has held my interest for years.

I see what you mean. Now imagine playing Angband with a controlled amount of savings, like being able to save only once per level up. How do you forseen its game play using this method? This is the type of feedback I'm looking for. Of course that the game should be properly balanced to handle this functionality.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 09:08:44 PM by Endorya »
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