Permadeath

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== Definition ==
 
== Definition ==
  
'''Permadeath''' (short for '''permanent death''') is one of the [[Definition|main features]] of roguelikes. It consists in the fact that once your character dies in the game, you can't restore him to a previous status via save-files or save-states. This means that once your character dies, he is dead for good.
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'''Permadeath''' (short for '''permanent death''') is one of the [[Definition|main features]] of roguelikes. It consists in the fact that once your character dies in the game, they can't be restored to a previous status via [[Save Files|save-files]] or save-states. Once your character dies, they're dead for good.
  
Although the feature is commonly reffered to as "Permadeath", it applies not only to death: whatever bad (or good) thing happens to your character, you cannot go back in time. (One exception: roguelikes should allow the player to restore character if the game crashes due to a bug or external reason.)
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Although the feature is commonly referred to as "Permadeath", it applies not only to death: whatever bad (or good) thing happens to your character, you cannot go back in time. (One exception: roguelikes should allow the player to restore character if the game crashes due to a bug or external reason.)
  
The idea may scare people from other RPG genres, such as console and common "plot" RPGs, as it is common custom to reload the game after something bad happens to the main character or his party; however, this feature makes roguelikes unique, demanding all your attention and thinking your best moves because the life of your character must be kept.
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The idea often scares those familiar with other RPG genres, such as console and common "plot" RPGs, as in other RPGs you would simply reload the game after something bad happens; however, this feature makes roguelikes unique, demanding all your attention and thinking your best moves because the life of your character must be kept.
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There are only a few roguelikes that lack permanent death, see ''[[Alternatives to Permadeath]]''.
  
 
== Description ==
 
== Description ==
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Permadeath is not as horrible as it might sound at first. The design of roguelikes is built around this concept. This is one of the reasons why they tend to be light in plot. Unlike an RPG, where starting over can involve doing the same hundred page conversation over again, a roguelike presents you with fresh challenges every game. Some other traditional roguelike features, like hidden [[trap]]s and requirement to identify [[potion]]s, also make more sense with permadeath.
 
Permadeath is not as horrible as it might sound at first. The design of roguelikes is built around this concept. This is one of the reasons why they tend to be light in plot. Unlike an RPG, where starting over can involve doing the same hundred page conversation over again, a roguelike presents you with fresh challenges every game. Some other traditional roguelike features, like hidden [[trap]]s and requirement to identify [[potion]]s, also make more sense with permadeath.
  
Of course, roguelikes have saving facilities that allow long games to be played for several days, weeks or even months; but the save-file is deleted upon the death of the character.
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As a good example of a game feature which makes more sense with permadeath, [[ADOM]] has pools which you can drink from. Every time you do, you get a random effect, which can be good or bad. For example, you have a small chance (1%) of getting a wish, which is a very good thing. It is also possible (with chance, say, 10%) that the pool will dry up, making you unable to drink from it anymore. By saving the game after getting each wish or another good effect, and reloading the game each time the pool dries up or you get something unpleasant, you could easily get all the good effects and as many wishes as you want from a single pool. Permadeath makes sure that the pool is unpredictable as it was supposed to be: you have a chance to get a wish or even several wishes, but you also have a chance to become doomed. Some players will instantly drink from each pool they come across, some players will wait with it until their character will be able to overcome any potential bad effects, and some will decide to never drink from pools for fear of their bad effects. Similar features exist in other roguelikes, like [[NetHack]] and [[IVAN]].
  
The Permadeath can usualy easily be avoided via backup of save files, however this is widely considered as cheating, and not the right way of playing the games. Using backups of save files is known as [[Savescumming]].
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Of course, roguelikes have saving facilities that allow long games to be played for several days, weeks or even months; but the [[Save Files|save-file]] is either deleted upon loading (acting more like an extended pause) or deleted upon the death of the character.
  
Some argue, that Permadeath is just a obsolete heritage from systems that couldn't handle proper save/load, that it is taking away the freedom of the player to play with the game, yet the concept has still a strong support in the roguelike world.
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Permadeath can often be easily avoided via backup of save files, known as [[Savescumming]], but this is widely considered cheating and not the proper way of playing.
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 +
Some argue that Permadeath is just an obsolete heritage from systems that couldn't handle proper save/load, and that it takes away from the player's freedom to play with the game. Whether or not this is true, Permadeath is still widely supported in the roguelike community.
  
 
== Advantages ==
 
== Advantages ==
  
So what are the advantages of having Permadeath?
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Some advantages of permadeath are:
  
* It produces the feeling of responsibility - you will be responsible for your actions. If you fail on a quest, it's all your fault and you have to live with it. If you attack a friendly and he dies - you will suffer the consequences. The player is more attached to his character, for he knows he may lose him. This increases immersiveness.
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* It increases the feeling of responsibility for your actions. If you fail on a quest, it's your fault. If you kill a friendly, you have to suffer the consequences. The player is more attached to their character, for fear of losing them. This increases immersion.
* It produces the feeling of anticipation/fear - will you win? Or will you not? If I go into those caves now it might be the end of me, if I attack that dragon will I stand a chance?If not these 2 weeks of playing will be lost! Again -- it increases the immersiveness.
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* It increases anticipation/fear. Will this kill me? Will it not? If I go into those caves now it might be the end of me, but if I attack that dragon will I stand a chance?
* It waries the player of doing stupid actions - the player will play more realistically, wont go for unneccessary risks, and hence feel that the world is more real - immersiveness.
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* It cautions the player against doing stupid actions - the player will play more realistically than they might otherwise, won't go for unnecessary risks, and hence feel that the world is more real.
* It makes the game harder -- if you fail at a task after playing for a while, you need to cope with it, and try to rise back. What means that you will face more challenges. And feel more satisfaction if you win -- for you know you could loose and have to live with it. The reward for the player when winning is hence a lot bigger -- a lot more satisfafction.
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* It makes the game harder - if you fail at a task after playing for a while, you need to cope with it, and try to rise back. This also increases satisfaction of succeeding.
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* It ensures that the player will play again - once they die, they're forced to start a new game, allowing them to see all of the game's randomly-generated content.
  
 
== Permadeath in other genres ==
 
== Permadeath in other genres ==
  
Yes. This concept may be excellent. But it wont work with every game. I might work great with Civilization-type games, where you can suffer setbacks as well as victories. Generaly Permadeath may work with games that:
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The permadeath concept may be excellent and accepted within the roguelike genre, but it won't work with every game. It might, however work great with Civilization-type games, in which you can suffer setbacks as well as victories.  
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 +
Generally Permadeath may work with games in which:
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# There are not sudden-death situations -- because if they do, then permadeath makes the game really frustrating (some roguelikes suffer from this)
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# There are many options of failure that do not lead to lose the game -- failures are very interesting, for they provide a challenge. In roguelikes non-death failures are for example losing a valuable item to a monster attack, getting your levels drained, etc.
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# There is enough balance to assure that the failures do not mean game over. If one failure would mean that you don't stand a chance in the rest of the game then it would in fact be a game over, thus  violating the sudden-death rule.
  
# don't have sudden-death situations -- because if they do, then permadeath get's really frustrating (some roguelikes suffer from this)
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Permadeath would probably be a bad idea in FPS games, as these games violate all of the above requirements. RTS's on the other hand, are fine in mission-scope, but violate the rules in campaign scope; however, if the campaign had a branching system (in which for example if you lose a mission you go to another mission, and if you win, you advance to another mission), then they would work really well, and it would gain a lot of replay value by the way. The branching feature wouldn't work at all with save/load because the work spent on all those missions that are not on the all-win path would be wasted, as most players would load each time they had lost a mission.  
# which give many options of failure without loosing the game -- failures are very interesting, for they provide a challenge. In roguelikes non-death failures are for example loosing a valuable item to a monster attack, getting your levels drained, etc.
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# are balanced enough that the failures don't mean game over. If one failure would mean that you don't stand a chance in the rest of the game then it would in fact be a game over, what would violate the sudden-death rule.  
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The author of this section once encountered OGame, a massive web-based space strategy game. He got quite involved with it, and then it hit him -- It was not because of all the players around him, that it hooked him so much. It was because each time he had to send a fleet, or do something vital he had that feeling of anticipation, and a little nervousness, because he knew that decision was ''final''. No save/load folks...  
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Some games, although not permadeath by nature, are reported to be played without using the save/load features for the sake of challenge, some games that would fit such requirements could belong to the strategy/tactics games, games such as UFO, Syndicate, Civilization and Master Of Magic.
  
That was also Permadeath.
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== Permafailure ==
  
Not Permadeath per se (because in most massive multiplayer games you can't die) but the fear of failure. Failure was permanent. Hence it should be probably called ''permafailure''...
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In some massive multiplayer games, (OGame for example), one may find permafailure to be an appealing feature, not because of the multiplayer nature of the game, but because for example, each time a fleet is sent, or do something vital has to be decided, there is a feeling of anticipation, and a little nervousness, because the decision will be ''final'', there is no save/load to back up a mistake.
  
That makes one think about what games would be nice to play with permadeath that could follow the above defined requirements. The first couple of games that come to mind are strategy/tactics games -- UFO, Sindicate, Civilization, Master Of Magic, etc. They might work perfectly without the Save/Load option. Actually they already are quite playable if one doesn't Save/Load, many people report that they sometimes play those games that way.
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This concept may be called permafailure, and is related directly to Permadeath.
  
What about other types? Permadeath would probably be a bad idea in FPS games. They violate all of the above requirements. RTS's on the other hand, are fine in mission-scope, but violate the rules in campaing scope. But here improvements can be made - if the campaign had a branching system -- that is if you loose you go to that mission, and if you win, you advance to this mission, then they would work really good - and it would gain a lot of replay value by the way. The branching feature wouldn't work at all with save/load because the work spent on all those missions that are not on the all-win path would be wasted, because most players would load each time they'd loose a mission.
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[[Category:Gameplay]]
 
[[Category:Concepts]]
 
[[Category:Concepts]]
[[category:features]]
 

Latest revision as of 20:54, 19 July 2018

Contents

[edit] Definition

Permadeath (short for permanent death) is one of the main features of roguelikes. It consists in the fact that once your character dies in the game, they can't be restored to a previous status via save-files or save-states. Once your character dies, they're dead for good.

Although the feature is commonly referred to as "Permadeath", it applies not only to death: whatever bad (or good) thing happens to your character, you cannot go back in time. (One exception: roguelikes should allow the player to restore character if the game crashes due to a bug or external reason.)

The idea often scares those familiar with other RPG genres, such as console and common "plot" RPGs, as in other RPGs you would simply reload the game after something bad happens; however, this feature makes roguelikes unique, demanding all your attention and thinking your best moves because the life of your character must be kept.

There are only a few roguelikes that lack permanent death, see Alternatives to Permadeath.

[edit] Description

Permadeath is not as horrible as it might sound at first. The design of roguelikes is built around this concept. This is one of the reasons why they tend to be light in plot. Unlike an RPG, where starting over can involve doing the same hundred page conversation over again, a roguelike presents you with fresh challenges every game. Some other traditional roguelike features, like hidden traps and requirement to identify potions, also make more sense with permadeath.

As a good example of a game feature which makes more sense with permadeath, ADOM has pools which you can drink from. Every time you do, you get a random effect, which can be good or bad. For example, you have a small chance (1%) of getting a wish, which is a very good thing. It is also possible (with chance, say, 10%) that the pool will dry up, making you unable to drink from it anymore. By saving the game after getting each wish or another good effect, and reloading the game each time the pool dries up or you get something unpleasant, you could easily get all the good effects and as many wishes as you want from a single pool. Permadeath makes sure that the pool is unpredictable as it was supposed to be: you have a chance to get a wish or even several wishes, but you also have a chance to become doomed. Some players will instantly drink from each pool they come across, some players will wait with it until their character will be able to overcome any potential bad effects, and some will decide to never drink from pools for fear of their bad effects. Similar features exist in other roguelikes, like NetHack and IVAN.

Of course, roguelikes have saving facilities that allow long games to be played for several days, weeks or even months; but the save-file is either deleted upon loading (acting more like an extended pause) or deleted upon the death of the character.

Permadeath can often be easily avoided via backup of save files, known as Savescumming, but this is widely considered cheating and not the proper way of playing.

Some argue that Permadeath is just an obsolete heritage from systems that couldn't handle proper save/load, and that it takes away from the player's freedom to play with the game. Whether or not this is true, Permadeath is still widely supported in the roguelike community.

[edit] Advantages

Some advantages of permadeath are:

  • It increases the feeling of responsibility for your actions. If you fail on a quest, it's your fault. If you kill a friendly, you have to suffer the consequences. The player is more attached to their character, for fear of losing them. This increases immersion.
  • It increases anticipation/fear. Will this kill me? Will it not? If I go into those caves now it might be the end of me, but if I attack that dragon will I stand a chance?
  • It cautions the player against doing stupid actions - the player will play more realistically than they might otherwise, won't go for unnecessary risks, and hence feel that the world is more real.
  • It makes the game harder - if you fail at a task after playing for a while, you need to cope with it, and try to rise back. This also increases satisfaction of succeeding.
  • It ensures that the player will play again - once they die, they're forced to start a new game, allowing them to see all of the game's randomly-generated content.

[edit] Permadeath in other genres

The permadeath concept may be excellent and accepted within the roguelike genre, but it won't work with every game. It might, however work great with Civilization-type games, in which you can suffer setbacks as well as victories.

Generally Permadeath may work with games in which:

  1. There are not sudden-death situations -- because if they do, then permadeath makes the game really frustrating (some roguelikes suffer from this)
  2. There are many options of failure that do not lead to lose the game -- failures are very interesting, for they provide a challenge. In roguelikes non-death failures are for example losing a valuable item to a monster attack, getting your levels drained, etc.
  3. There is enough balance to assure that the failures do not mean game over. If one failure would mean that you don't stand a chance in the rest of the game then it would in fact be a game over, thus violating the sudden-death rule.

Permadeath would probably be a bad idea in FPS games, as these games violate all of the above requirements. RTS's on the other hand, are fine in mission-scope, but violate the rules in campaign scope; however, if the campaign had a branching system (in which for example if you lose a mission you go to another mission, and if you win, you advance to another mission), then they would work really well, and it would gain a lot of replay value by the way. The branching feature wouldn't work at all with save/load because the work spent on all those missions that are not on the all-win path would be wasted, as most players would load each time they had lost a mission.

Some games, although not permadeath by nature, are reported to be played without using the save/load features for the sake of challenge, some games that would fit such requirements could belong to the strategy/tactics games, games such as UFO, Syndicate, Civilization and Master Of Magic.

[edit] Permafailure

In some massive multiplayer games, (OGame for example), one may find permafailure to be an appealing feature, not because of the multiplayer nature of the game, but because for example, each time a fleet is sent, or do something vital has to be decided, there is a feeling of anticipation, and a little nervousness, because the decision will be final, there is no save/load to back up a mistake.

This concept may be called permafailure, and is related directly to Permadeath.

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