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You’re Trained & Can’t Get Your Corpse… What Do You Do?

The Pantheon Twitter strikes again with a question I find interesting enough to write about on the blog. This one is interesting -- Perhaps because of how it's worded but also because of how people have already responded.

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The responses so far have been interesting. They've ranged from messaging the person to tell them what they've done wrong to laughing about it. Some people want to shrug it off, others want to just call their guild for help.

Some People Just Don't Care

What I find most fascinating about the responses are how they seem opposite of a previous question the community faced about how they'd deal with someone stealing their mobs. The overwhelming result of that question was to train the person. Huh. Let's ignore the irony for a minute.

I don't think messaging the person and informing them of the misdeeds will do anything other than maybe making yourself feel better. It's like the guy who cuts you off in traffic. Why do they do it? Because they simply don't care. They're more important than you, they're the only ones who matter, and you're in their way. Try to find them and tell them what they've done is wrong. I imagine that'll go well.

The way I interpret this question, I don't think the guy who trained you was the point of the question at all. I don't think that making sure you have enough friends or social constructs to help you is the point either.

You CAN'T Get Your Corpse

The question I read implied you CAN'T get to your corpse when it says, "you don't have any way to get back to your corpse." I think that's important because, to me, that's the crux of the entire question here. What do you do?

I remember when I was trained on in the early days of EverQuest (1999-2000) and I couldn't get my corpse. I spent DAYS trying to get my body back.

What crossed my mind wasn't humor. I wanted to cry. All of my gear was on my corpse. Months of work rotting away, unreachable.

I didn't think, "I'll just go work on trade skills," or "I'll just log back into the game another time." My corpse was rotting and would actually disappear after a period of time.

After three days and even pulling an all-nighter, a high level monk finally took pitty on me and dragged my corpse up from the depths.

I never want to experience that again.

You want to know my answer to this question? I would probably quit the game or come darn near close.

These Mechanics ≠ Good Outcomes ≠ Fun

While these mechanics often lead to deep social constructs, immersion, and even fun, there's a line and a fact that these often good-intentioned mechanics don't always create a fun game.

Training is probably fine as a mechanic. I like that danger. I don't like being trained, but I can appreciate how it makes the world feel a whole lot more dynamic and real.

Death penalties are probably fine as a mechanic. Death should sting, so a loss of experience or a penalty to recover your corpse could work. Note: Never unrecoverable.

What I think must be avoided is a situation in which all of these mechanics come together to ruin long-term fun, make people quit their character, or pull an all-nighter on a school night in order to avoid losing everything. 

I hope Pantheon won't be an MMO where one nameless person training you (accidentally, ignorantly, and maliciously) can cause such an enormous negative impact on your current and future fun. It's still a game.

  • bhagpuss says:

    What virtually all the hardnoses convenienently ignore, the crew that go on endlessly about how great the old days were and how all they want is an MMO like MMOs used to be, is that the overwhelming majority of MMO players who did actually play in that Golden Age hated all that crap.

    You can find plenty of people willing to wax nostalgic about corpse runs and tell war stories about unrecoverable corpses – now. It’s fine a decade or two after the fact. Back when stuff like that really happened, often, all you ever heard was people complaining about it and demanding it got fixed. MMO devs didn’t all wake up one day and decide to carebear up their games to piss people off – they made all of those changes in response to unrelenting pressure from players to fix the problems people perceived the games to have.

    It’s theoretically possible that in 2018 (or 2020, if we’re lucky, to be more realistic about it) there may be enough masochists willing to pay a monthly fee to keep a genuinely unforgiving “old school” MMO up and running but it’s never happened before. Any MMO that tries is going to end up either extremely niche and very, very small in population – and there’s nothing wrong with that – or, much more likely, it’s going to find itself going through the same “old school” experience as every other MMO as those unforgiving systems and mechanics get tuned and retuned until they don’t really hurt any more.

    • Keen says:

      If Pantheon goes unrelenting and too old school, I’ll have to bow out early. I don’t have it in me to suffer. I never enjoyed losing my corpse or having people train me.

      Penalties are one thing, because a lot of good comes from avoiding the bad, but there’s a line.

      • Yotor says:

        I seem to remember “Wildstar” was going to be this hardcore end game raiding experience and that it took months before the playerbase even finished it. They lost nearly all their players three months in, and now it has dozens of players.

  • Jay P says:

    Never played Everquest but my question is, Did you always lose your corpse whenever you got trained? Or was that a rare occurance?

    • Keen says:

      You only “lost your corpse” if you died in a place which made it irretrievable. I died at the very bottom of a dangerous dungeon at a time few people went there. Maybe one group a week went “down” into the dungeon.

      There were also places like the middle of the ocean where if you fell off and died, your body sank to the very bottom of the ocean. It was lost to the depths forever.

      They eventually added a “summon corpse” spell for Necromancers which required the use of an expensive reagent.

      So imagine being in a deep dangerous dungeon, dying, and then having to wait and be there at the exact right time to follow them down to get it.

      It wasn’t fun.

  • Jeromai says:

    “I would probably quit the game or come darn near close.“

    Nearly the exact same sentiments that ran through my mind on reading the scenario, along with “Probably not a game I would even have started playing, if that can occur.”

    I think the time for that kind of oldschool design has long passed us, we don’t live in the same zeitgeist any longer. It was tolerable then because we generally had more patience with our games, couldn’t conceive of better alternatives and interacting with others online a pleasant novelty, which made it exciting to help and be helped.

    Now we’re living in times when less people have the patience or time to digest a blog, preferring to fire off one liners on Twitter and Reddit, trying to be argumentative, funny or both to garner attention in a sea of too much info.

    Overall, people have had too -much- interaction with others: Blocking others who disagree to live in a bubble, PUGing is no longer a novelty but often treated as a source of pain or tedium… and we expect the greater population to drop everything and come to the aid of a stranger’s corpse retrieval?

    Not happening. Sure, a few emergent combative hostile tit for tat mob training scenarios will probably take place and/or be Twitch fodder. But that’s probably not going to be viewed as a long term retention factor unless you’re a Twitch streamer.

    Chances are more likely these days that others will just “lol” and go about their business, leaving the naked one in the dust.

  • nukethesitefromorbit says:

    I am definitely in the ‘old school gamer’ crowd at my age and I will say this.. I do not mind my games to be a chore but I in no way want them to be torture. I am perfectly fine working to achieve my goals and having to put in some hours but there are to many variables that could result in dying for me to want to see a return to old school corpse runs, etc. I have been playing a lot of Project Gorgon lately and while it truly does have an old school mmo feel to it they thankfully abandon the corpse run mechanic. You die, you respawn. Hell, you even gain Death XP. Don’t ask.. the game has an odd sense of humor.

    Anyway, at this point in my life with all I have going on the last thing I want to do with what little free gaming time I have is to spend it trying to recover my corpse, especially if it was the result of a glitch or another player. No thank you. Make the game you want but you will not get my $$ for a game like that.

  • Jay P says:

    DAOC leveling taught you patience. Max 50 level, and the saying was, “Congratulations on hitting level 40, your halfway there.”

  • Heartless_ says:

    The problem with this type of mechanic is that there is too much choice in the market these days. Players can go find a game with the experience they want (i.e. not getting trained and losing character progress because of it). In the golden era of EverQuest where there was very limited choice on the market gamers that wanted an online experience had to play around these harsh mechanics. This forced them to build community to get past them. In today’s world if something pisses me off in a game I am likely just to log out and play something else.

  • Sanz says:

    I honestly didn’t think there were games any more where this was an issue. Are you saying pantheon is like this?

    Great to hear you finally admit that these mechanics lead to deep social mechanics, immersion, and fun. Because, frankly, they do. So kudos to getting that part right.

    I lost my corpse in the plane of hate. Wiped trying to break in and it was a pick up raid so help was sketchy and not there for the 2 days and the all nighter it took to get it back. Would I do that again? No way. But there were consequences for my decisions. Those are fun.

    And I’ll never forget that wipe.

    • Keen says:

      I have always advocated these mechanics leading to deeper social mechanics and immersion. Even to the point of many saying I’m too old school or nostalgic/delusional.

      And yes, Pantheon is likely to have many of them.

  • Graak says:

    I’ve played MMOs since 1999 and nothing comes close to the good stories I have from EQ. Even the stories from all the gamers around me, the best are from EQ. The ones that never had the chance to play don’t really have stories.

    I have noticed this for a long time. It all seems to come down to the fear of dieing in EQ that made the experience so much more enriching.

    Sure it was very upsetting and caused you to play longer than you wanted sometimes. But what came from it was usually fun in the end. You also played the game in a way to limit bad corpse runs so it didn’t happen much.

    Your death spawned an adventure or quest in and of itself. For you and other people you met along the way.

    It is so much different exploring and running for your life in EQ than it is in today’s games. I forced my wife to try it out for a day a couple years ago. I’ve never seen her sqweeling at the computer like that as she ran from a monster in a strange zone. She won’t ever forget it either.

    A lot of games now are empty and full of people being rude to you with no consequence. Because they don’t need you for anything but entertainment or to use to blame to make themselves feel better. You can’t even spread the word that they will treat you badly because they can change their name or server.

  • SineNomine says:

    My answer is definitely “Quit the game and switch to an MMO that either doesn’t have training or doesn’t have a scenario where you can’t get the items from your corpse”

    It’s 100% antifun. There is nothing whatsoever redeemable about that feature in my eyes. This isn’t 2001 where you have only a few options and they are super hardcore. I no longer have enough free time to spend it bashing my head into a wall.

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