Extra Punctuation: Death in Videogames

BloodSquirrel

New member
Jun 23, 2008
1,263
0
0
Yahtzee Croshaw said:
There have been several games that have made the connection that, what with players frequently quicksaving and autosaving, death will usually mean nothing worse than using up a few minutes of your time as you're backtracked to a little way before your mistake.
It's not *time* it's *progress*.

It's the kind of difference that only matters when the game is actually challenging in the first place. Not actually losing progress means that it doesn't matter if you die- you can gain ground one inch at a time without ever having to change tactics or get better at the game. Losing progress means that you have to actually be able to beat some defined chunk of the game to move on. When you can oaf your way through anyway, it stops mattering so much.

This is why I far, far, prefer checkpoint systems to quicksaves.
 

hawk533

New member
Dec 17, 2009
143
0
0
While I haven't play Meat Boy yet, the quantum mechanics version of death and reloading in video games reminds me of the replay at the end of each level of Meat Boy. You're essentially getting to see all the versions of Meat Boy that failed along with the one that succeeds and moves on to the next level.
 

Sampler

He who is not known
May 5, 2008
650
0
0
I had the same sensation playing Fable III recently - I'd been buying up potions to use to restore health but the haphazard nature of not knowing when the screen was blinking because I'd lost a little health or when I was near death (seriously, what's wrong with a health bar) and the lack of consequence of death (oh, my poor little avatar gets a scar) meant that I really didn't care or make much effort to avoid death - five pack of balvarines? Pah, let's run through them and pull the other six in to make it a fair fight.

Which of cause it wasn't as they died and all I got was a booboo or two..
 

The Harkinator

Did something happen?
Jun 2, 2010
742
0
0
I wish the main character in Fable 3 could die, both because he was an annoying blank moron and because he doesn't seem to realise his invincible nature means he can just assault Bowerstone castle all by himself and succeed.

Oh dear, I seem to have fallen over. I'll ignore these bullet holes and get up totally OK. For a game to feel challenging there could be some enemy or situation where turning back is a viable option. It depends on the protagonist and whether this is a response that that character would consider. I can't imagine somebody like Kratos deciding to back off and find a better solution. Somebody like John Marston, I can picture him deciding it's just too risky and there might be another way round the problem.

If the death mechanic is going to be used give the option to back off and find another way through, not less lethal but suitable for a different playstyle. Perhaps backing off from the heavy combat area in favour of the trap filled path that requires a bit of puzzle solving.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
13,768
0
0
I never had a problem with the 2008 Prince of Persia "death" mechanic. You screw up, Little Miss What's-her-name scoops you up and dumps you on the last bit of solid ground you stood on. Like the man says, it was functionally identical to a quicksave. And the mechanic was put to good use with that one puzzle involving the illusionist boss.

However it did raise some questions. If she can carry the Prince while flying, why doesn't she just fly them over the whole level? And how do the enemies get their health bakc when she saves you from them? Did she blast them with a healing spell?
 

Arren Kae

New member
Nov 10, 2010
73
0
0
I'm surprised Yahtzee didn't get into the difficulty of games that don't have quicksave and whether that's superior/inferior design. I was fine with Prey's system. I thought you could even have made it harder if the enemies were more challenging. They were easy even on the hard setting. If you died often enough, going to that restart area would be really annoying. A game like that should be designed to be more difficult than most FPSes b/c there's less consequence to death.

Really, if the mechanic's about the same as reloading a save I don't much care what it is. I'm conscience of the fact I'm reloading a save and have to replay through a certain amount of content to return to where I was. Not only dying but coming close to death gives the game a sense of excitement. I think the main problem with some no-death methods is they don't break the game's flow. Having to stop playing is a punishment. It makes you want to play more. It makes you want to play better so you may avoid death. That's why even Bioshock's regeneration was fine. You ended up distant from your destination and enemies respawned so it was very similar to just replaying the section you were in. The change of location and having to rekill enemies interrupted your progress. That's what it's all about.

The problem with Kirby, from the sounds of it, is the thing lost isn't playing the game itself but the means to buy things. The only player this design would be really effective on are completionists and hoarders who want to buy everything.
 

A Curious Fellow

New member
Nov 16, 2010
284
0
0
There's something terrifically unfortunate about game stories. Let's go over a couple facts, and you'll see what I mean.

In most games, you are your main character. In fact, that's in almost every game. Now, when you die in a game, you go back to where you last saved and you get another try. Trial and error, as old as gaming itself, and the one trope that every game has. But somehow, the Prince of Persia titles are the only ones that actually acknowledge it.

This is a problem to me. Every game puts you in a position where you have no choice but to become Nicolas Cage from Next. Kind of alters up the story a bit when the protagonist is clairvoyant and can relive every five seconds of his life over and over again until he gets it right, but gaming has made it so mundane that we don't even talk about it. Every single protagonist in gaming has this super power. I think that particular weirdness needs attention. Thoughts?
 

CM156_v1legacy

Revelation 9:6
Mar 23, 2011
3,997
0
0
The fact that there's no way to die in Kirby's Epic Yarn sparks the old debate in my mind as to whether or not dying needs to be a mandatory risk in every game (save Cooking Mama, I guess, but one could argue that the look in her eyes when you fail to stir the pot on time implies your impending murder).
If only it could be done in Farmville, then maybe people would stop sending me requests to water their crops
 

WanderingFool

New member
Apr 9, 2009
3,991
0
0
Ragnarok2kx said:
I always said that Next was basically Nicolas Cage: the Sands of Time
Really, as piss poor of a plot Next had, I did find myself thinking that this would have made a decent videogame. and actual modern day version of Sands of Time. I also liked Yahtzee's idea from the end of his article, reminds me of Second Sight.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

New member
Aug 8, 2007
11,049
0
0
Yahtzee, that is the greatest thing you have ever said, in the history of the multiverse, ever, in all of time and space.
 

qbanknight

New member
Apr 15, 2009
669
0
0
You know I've started to see death in video games akin to Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day. In that movie, Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over again until *spoiler alert* he is able to do as many good deeds on a single day and get the girl of his dreams. To get to that ending, Murray had to essentially perform trial and error when he went on dates with the girl, learning new information about her preferences and history. He also manages to become a jack of all trades by learning French, piano, ice sculpting, and life-saving techniques over his time in the time loop. To make the video game connection even more related, Bill Murray actually kills himself in a variety of ways, but each time he does so, the time loop repeats itself.

In video games, you have to trial and error your way through the situation, essentially repeating a near-endless time loop as you try to give your character his "perfect day". While I would argue that the Prince of Persia Sands of Time Trilogy and Assassin's Creed Series are the only ones which acknowledge the existence of time loops and correcting the perfect story; applying the logic to other games makes them far more interesting.

I like your quantum leap theory, Yahtzee. I just think my Groundhog Day theory is a little easier to understand :)
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
17,032
0
0
I've always liked the Pokemon method.

Take my money!

I keep the EXP gained in the battle. I have to travel back to where I lost, but with less money. And I still have to beat the challenge previously presented to me.

I think it'd actually fit rather well in some other RPG series, since money takes time to get.

Although, this does fail miserably from a narrative standpoint. And only really works in the happy-go-lucky, all-for-fun world of Pokemon battles.
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
17,032
0
0
BloodSquirrel said:
Yahtzee Croshaw said:
There have been several games that have made the connection that, what with players frequently quicksaving and autosaving, death will usually mean nothing worse than using up a few minutes of your time as you're backtracked to a little way before your mistake.
It's not *time* it's *progress*.

It's the kind of difference that only matters when the game is actually challenging in the first place. Not actually losing progress means that it doesn't matter if you die- you can gain ground one inch at a time without ever having to change tactics or get better at the game. Losing progress means that you have to actually be able to beat some defined chunk of the game to move on. When you can oaf your way through anyway, it stops mattering so much.

This is why I far, far, prefer checkpoint systems to quicksaves.
Quicksaves are indeed bad for challenge.

You can save DURING a fight. Meaning you play out each second of the fight exactly as you wish, and walk away from the final "boss" of something like Morrowind or Fallout 3 without taking any damage.
 

Ilikemilkshake

New member
Jun 7, 2010
1,982
0
0
your game idea at the end would be awesome, it could possibly work with the game being told through some sort of minority report set up, that'd be cool
 

RA92

New member
Jan 1, 2011
3,079
0
0
Funnily enough, this actually reminds me of Doom 95's mulitplayer. Each time you died, you respawned, but your last dead body remained on the map. After a while, the entire map is strewn with your and the other players' dead bodies. The visual message of dead bodies strewn throughout the map is more powerful than any number showing you frag counts...
 

ccesarano

New member
Oct 3, 2007
523
0
0
My problem with people bitching that certain games don't have death mechanics is that, well, sometimes I just want to relax. For a game like Kirby's Epic Yarn, losing the monies is fine. 2008 Prince of Persia, it was also fine because I just wanted to wander the environment in a fun fashion.

Prey? Well, I was fine enough with it, but it killed a lot of what the game was going for.

It all depends on whether the game wants the player to be on the edge of their couch, sweat pouring from their brow and soaking from their palms onto the controller, or if they just want the player to sit back, relax and have some fun. I have no problem with the relaxing route as I have enough challenging games, and I always believe in variety.
 

greyghost81

New member
Dec 5, 2010
74
0
0
No mention of Demons's Souls? Your character dying has significant implications for game play and is integral to the story, too.
 

Dectilon

New member
Sep 20, 2007
1,044
0
0
Onyx Oblivion said:
Quicksaves are indeed bad for challenge.
Not necessarily. Often I use quicksaves to break up levels into tiny areas that, once I've mastered them, I can attempt to put together into one unbroken playthrough with no saves at all. Blood Money, being as open as it were, couldn't really use quicksaves since you could do objectives in any order, and sometimes even part of one objective then part of another. The solution there was to limit the number of quicksaves you had for each mission depending on difficulty.

Here's a presentation Chris Avellone gave where he talks about death in Torment, a game where the protagonist is immortal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wv0Ob-xG-s&feature=related