Penalties for dying in PvP
The subject of consequences isn’t foreign to this blog. We talk all the time about wanting games with more meaningful decisions. Over the past few days, Mark Jacobs has been publishing a lot of what he calls “Foundational Principles” wherein he discusses his thoughts on this very subject. While reading his thoughts, and contemplating my own current feelings, I came to a conclusion about certain PvP penalties/consequences.
I’ve circled the MMO block a few times. I started PvPing consistently in DAoC where there was no direct penalty. I’ve played games like PotBS, Darkfall, UO, etc., where you can lose everything. Personally, I prefer not losing my stuff. I don’t see a need for losing gear, experience, or stats for a PvP death. To borrow a phrase from Mark Jacobs, those are more often than not “quitting points.” Different methods can produce very similar results.
Take DAoC for example. Death meant being out of the fight. You missed out on the action, missed out on the points, and had to run all the way back. If you’re thinking to yourself that running back isn’t a big deal then you clearly never played DAoC where the run could be 20+ minutes. In reality, it could take even longer waiting for a portal to teleport you back, and even longer if the action moved.
In my opinion, DAoC’s penalty for dying in RvR handles the issue with much more finesse. By comparison, simply losing all your stuff feels like a cop-out, and unsupported by the rest of the game. Weak penalties, like the one found in games like WAR, where death is nothing and neither side truly loses anything — ever — are just as bad… maybe worse.
Balance is needed between just enough to be meaningful, and not enough to make you want to quit. I prefer when the penalty can be incorporated with more of mechanics and features of the world, rather than simply going the full-loot route.
Since I mentioned MJ’s foundational principles in the beginning, I’ll close by mentioning that Camelot Unchained will not have full-loot in PvP. When I spoke with Mark at length about penalizing players for dying, he agreed with me that DAoC’s penalties (as I mentioned earlier) were adequate and alluded to taking Camelot Unchained down a similar path.