Monday, March 9, 2009

March 2009: Player Death

This month's topic, Player Death, was submitted by game designer Liz England.

She writes:

After playing the new Prince of Persia, I've been thinking a lot about how games handle player death. Most popular games use death as the primary means of failure so the challenge in the game relies on avoiding death as much as possible.
  • What punishments does the player have after dying?
  • Are there permanent punishments for death? (ex: losing lives)
  • Are there temporary punishments for death? (ex: debuffs)
  • Are there punishments for death that can be worked off? (ex: broken equipment, lost experience, failed quest)
  • How quickly can the player return to the game after dying?
  • What kinds of games don't use death as a failure state (ex: puzzle & management games)?
  • Does dying give any kind of reward or new gameplay experience?
  • How much do previous deaths affect the difficulty of the game (ex: limited lives)?
Some of the games that have interesting mechanics to take apart in regards to how they treat death, especially in comparison to each other and their genre - Prince of Persia, PoP: Sands of Time, Braid, Prey, Super Mario Galaxy, Mega Man, all kinds of MMOs (WoW, FFXI, Guild Wars)

Liz England is a designer at 5TH Cell. She has a Master's degree from SMU's Guildhall program where she focused on emergent cooperative gameplay.


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