Permadeath and a Zombie MMO

Discussion in 'Games Talk' started by Konata, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Day One


    A little while back I had a budding idea for a zombie mmo. After discussing it a bit in steam chat, I was told to make a thread here.
    So here goes nothing.


    Player vs Player vs Environment
    Zombies. Dead characters become zombies. Each world would also have a set (VERY LARGE) number of zombies. After all, there are 7 billion people in the world. Players will be driven to at least make fragile alliances with each other, and many will probably band together to survive, sharing rations, weapons, and ammo.

    In a game world like this, the player will need to learn the area around their safe zone(s), and learn what other players or groups tend to hang around or pass through that area. Dealing with other players could even be more important than dealing with the zombies. After all, zombies don't carry hunting rifles.


    Not a packed-arsenal kind of game
    This isn't the kind of game where weapons and ammo are abundant. Finding a handgun and a partial magazine could be considered a miracle. Food will be sparse, at least food that hasn't rotted already, and gasoline and the like will be essentially non-existent. Players will have to scrounge and search to find supplies, and this may mean going far from your safe area.


    Not quest-based
    The game wouldn't be driven by 'get X respawning thing for X person just like everyone else in the game does.' It would be driven by "Our group is out of rations and we're going to starve if we don't find food." Players will want to find (or create) safe havens for themselves or their groups to hole up while the zombies flood the streets. Raids on infected areas for food could be come necessary, so could run-ins with other players. The game's "quest system" will be created by the players.


    Procedural generation for environment
    The game won't be a "theme park," and it won't be a game you can jump into with a new character and know the layout of. Every character you play will be on a different world. If your character dies, or if you just decide to make another one, it will be a new experience, new challenges, new obstacles.


    Reward System based on survival
    As I mentioned earlier, the driving system behind the game's quest and reward system is the characters' own need to gather supplies to survive and fight. A team could be giant and stocked up on rations, but if they've got nothing but hammers and bats they're going to have trouble if a gang comes around to make trouble with a few handguns.


    Permadeath
    When characters die, they die. A player may make a new character and continue playing, but it will be in a different world. In fact, the player will never again encounter a world they'd died in before. A dead character can become a zombie, so dealing with bodies can be an issue.


    Players and Learning
    One issue that permadeath can present is mucking with the concept of learning by trial and error. There are a few solutions to that issue:

    1. New characters begin in a playerless area of a new world
    2. Players get an early-on hint system similar to L4D's glow on weapons/items
    3. Players are allowed to watch chat-less versions of other characters' deaths or play to learn (probably a bad idea overall)

    Regardless, the game would feature pop-up hints and the like to familiarize players with mechanics and the like.


    Day Two
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  2. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    As I said in chat. What's the point of forging alliances and friendships if the instant you die, be it from a zombie, a friend or an errant lag spike, you can't contact or play with those friends ever again.

    Permadeath does not work in a social oriented game. Period.
     
  3. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    You can contact them, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to.

    Also when it comes to "social-oriented" games, this kind of game wouldn't be nearly as "social" as most MMOs.
     
  4. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    So you can contact them, but never play with them again?
     
  5. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Hmm... Maybe a time limit to create new characters on a world would be better than never allowing new ones there :mellow:

    EDIT: Although that'd kinda hurt the "perma" aspect >.> Especially in a game w/o levels etc
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  6. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    Thanks Ko for making this.


    I finally realized last night how this actually would be a decent idea, and if I was to do something like it, it would be like this:

    Co-op teams: You could do a free-for-all thing, but you would then want them to spawn separately and away from each other. If you do it with Co-op (and thusly, friendly fire) then people know about each other right off the bat, and if one of them die, they know what they did and that is how the legacy you want will carry on. With free-for-all you could have some sort of announcement pop up, but there is a chance that would break immersion.

    The difficult part of this would be making a random map every time. It is possible, but the maps might not be that exciting, and might not be too fun either. Having a semi-vast number or maps would be good. To add to the randomness though, you can have random spawn points of teams and random spawn points of weapons and foods. *Yea, this kind of removes the "permadeath" part. But realistically randomly generating structures, debris, things, etc. would be really hard to do.

    So after sleeping on the idea, I do see the allure to this type of game, and thing that it could be good.

    (I bet... BET... that this is easily possible with the L4D2 Mapping tools, but then again, it is probably there as "survival" gametype :/ ... You should look into it though)

    EDIT: doing research, L4D does have a survival mode. So basically you're expanding on that. So the idea of a survival gametype works. Sounds like this would be a cross between Survival, Dead Island and a Rouge game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  7. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    This sounds like a singleplayer, as what ayes says is true. Permadeath and MMO do not work at all.
     
  8. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Permadeath and typical MMOs do not work together.

    This wouldn't be a normal MMO with permadeath sprinkled on top. This game would be built around permadeath.
     
  9. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Ayes said this? :p
     
  10. slunchy

    slunchy L1: Registered

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    people get stuck in their ways of thinking about game mechanics.
    if you can make it work, fantastic, but i'd advise against trying to force permadeaths just for the revolutionary aspect.
     
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  11. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Yeah it wouldn't be for the purpose of "Let's make a game with permadeath."
    It would be a part of all the game mechanics. Dead players become zombies. In a real life scenario, people don't respawn, either.
     
  12. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    There is a good reason as to why permadeath is not more common. People don't like to have their investment taken away most of the time. Minecraft is an exception, specifically because it's an option. If permadeath was the only way to play in minecraft it certainly would not keep more than a tiny niche of players.

    A game like this would have to have a severe death penalty, yes, but not permadeath. You want people to keep playing your game, and permadeath is discouraging this.
     
  13. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Permadeath is just a more severe form of the trial-and-error system a lot of games already use to teach players..
     
  14. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    But, unless I misunderstand, you aren't advocating trial and error. Your game would be trial, error, oh fuck I'm stuck as a zombie now, this blows, I've only had this game an hour.
     
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  15. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Hmm..

    I actually hadn't even considered letting players control themselves as a zombie... That could actually be fun and interesting :O

    And there would be systems earlier in the tutorials and the like to help ease players into the game and teach them about it.
     
  16. Freyja

    aa Freyja ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    I've been playing this game for two days now. I found a group of people who I forged an alliance with, we're really good friends now!

    *lag spike*

    Oh crap, now I'm a zombie. The friendships and alliances I've forged over the past two days mean nothing because I'm forced to play against them. This is really fun.
     
  17. Konata

    Konata L2: Junior Member

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    Day Two


    Possible Win Conditions
    Chat about the subject of this game led to a discussion of possible win conditions... Points to the game beyond survival.

    Some possible ideas I had were eradicating the zombie population (improbable, given the high number of zombies), finding a medical cure, or establishing one or more "permanent" safe-havens that are self-sustainable and zombie-free.

    A question then brought up was what would happen upon a "win" of the game...

    I'm not sure I have an answer for that yet.


    Similar Existing Titles


    AyesDyef brought up "Urban Dead", a massively multiplayer zombie browser game that features a "permadeath server" that (as far as he knows) players aren't able to join anymore.

    It seems like this permadeath server idea is something similar to what I would want to do. I also mentioned "Rogue Survivor", a singleplayer roguelike with similarities to Urban Dead.


    Permadeath System: Some issues and possible fixes


    Some problems I thought of with the permadeath system are:

    • Time ingame with character(s) going to waste upon character death
      Wasting a player's time or destroying something they'd worked hard on for a long time could cause a lot of rage or frustration...

      To fix this issue we'd need a system that adequately rewarded players even after their characters had died.

    • Ganks by false teammates or by enemies, or rejoins in the middle of dangerous situations
      Enemies or "teammates" with malicious intent could probably target and wait for someone to rejoin the game, killing them right as they reconnect. It's also possible for players to rejoin in the middle of a zombie group or the like.

      To fix this, you could have the game check for "safety" or force players to log in and out in safe areas... Which is not ideal. There should be a better solution somewhere, I just have to find it.

    • Lag causing unfair or "lame" deaths
      Lag spikes, disconnections, or just general desynchronization from the game server could cause a player to experience and unfair or normally avoidable death that could cause extreme amounts of rage or frustration, and rightly so.

      To fix this issue, there would have to be strong netcode and players would probably have to be removed from the game area immediately upon disconnecting. Unfortunately, allowing players this fix would cause issues that could lead into player ganks, as PvP could be "dodged" by disconnecting, leading to enemies waiting for players to rejoin to "finish" their fighting. I'm not sure what an overall fix for this would be as of now, but I can definitely talk about and think of a fix for it.

    • Players joining an already well-played server
      This issue would arise when a player joined a world that was already far along its play cycle, with many players already in groups and alliances and such settled, as well as supplies and such gutted from busier areas.

      To fix this issue, the game would have to drop players into less traveled areas at the start, and possibly provide npc "groups" for the players to start with, giving them a bit of a fairer fight against the zombie hordes and players who might wish to prey on unprepared "noobs."

    Day 2 Wrap Up


    It does seem to me and others like the ideas I want are approachable aside from the mmo/permadeath.

    Several people have expressed opinions that it would work better as a single-player or co-op game, or in a large lobby system.

    Essentially everyone thinks the permadeath is a bad idea overall... I still think it can work.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  18. sniprpenguin

    sniprpenguin L6: Sharp Member

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    Just mulling over this a bit.

    One suggestion I have towards permadeath is to not have anything explicitly tied to the character itself. Honestly, I'm thinking in line of Minecraft here, where if you die in non-permadeath mode, the world still exists and so do your items in chests, but your character's death has no impact on your own progress. To keep it an MMO with constant rewards, you can still have a skill system in place, but a percentage of XP stays with your profile, not your character. This way, if my level 100 zombimancer goes down, I don't get penalized with a level 1 character but rather a level 10, 25, 47, whatever character.

    Also going along with the Minecraft thing, I think an emphasis should also be placed not on the individual characters, but the safe havens they go to. Places with ammo & health that for some time becomes a group's base. Even better would be that if a safe haven isn't compromised, you can respawn with your new character there, allowing you to coordinate with friends to regroup if you die.

    Of course, this is slowly moving away from permadeath, which I think is a bad idea in its most used state right now.

    Otherwise, I like the idea of a zombie game where the more players die, the more zombies there are.
     
  19. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    I had an idea for a zombie game. Basically, player-controlled zombies, or fallen players are tagged. The survivors have some kind of rare, valuable drug that can return zombies to human form. So if your companion falls, you can lock them in a cupboard or summat (presumably they can bugger off to another server to still play). Then when you get Revivitrex, you give them a dose and they get a notification that they've been revived. If they decline rescusitation, the drug isn't consumed (and/or other pending players get a chance to come back.)

    It's not premadeath, but it's kinda relevant i guess.