Alternative punishments for dying

MetalHunter13

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I've always liked Sid Meier's Pirates! and Mount & Blade's system. When you lose a battle, you don't die. You're marooned on an island (Pirates, obviously) or captured (both of them). Time passes, and you have chances to bribe your way out, ransom yourself, or escape. It lets the game continue on and has actual consequences for failure instead of just reloading a save.
 

Spookybun

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I agree with the comments that are against “punishing” the players for dying. Or even just punishing them in general. Dying is something that can happen inevitably. Why should anyone be reprimanded for it?

It says something about you as a dev to think it’s necessary to “punish” the player for doing anything of their own choice, or something they may not be able to avoid, in your game. It’s sadistic to punish someone for “not playing the way you want them to”.

There will be exceptions to the whole “doing something you’re not supposed to” thing, but generally-speaking, it makes your game very linear if you can’t make your own choices in playing it without consequences.

And if their choices are what cause them to die, why do you need to punish them any more than the death they gave themselves? They’re already dealing with the embarrassment of making the choices that made them lose, and they have to reload all the way back from their last save.

A game would be way-better designed if, instead of forcing the players to play a certain way and punishing them for not doing so (or for dying), it was designed to keep the player’s freedom in mind. Because the player is gonna want to play however they want to play.

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Editing to avoid double-posting.

I didn't see an earlier post mentioning about survival games, though I'd have to say that it's still not necessary to "punish" the player for dying. They're already punished enough by knowing that they suck at your survival game bc they keep dying. While it can add difficulty and tension to a game, punishing the player for doing something that's, sometimes, inevitable, is not a great way to go about adding the difficulty and tension elements.

Basically, you as the developer are, more-or-less, telling the player "don't die bro it's that easy" when you do it to increase difficulty. It's a needless double-whammy to not only die, but to have something taken from them BECAUSE they died. To put it frankly, it sucks.

To avoid save-scumming, you can give them a limited amount of saves. Make the option [to save] a resource they need to use wisely. You're no longer punishing them, but you're giving them a limited resource and it's up to them on how they use it to protect themselves.

There are a lot of other things you can do to make your game harder and more of a survival theme. But to punish them for dying? To punish the player, period? That's bad. That's a bad thing to do as a dev. You shouldn't punish anyone for playing your game "wrong".
 
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KrimsonKatt

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My favorite punishment for death is a pretty simple one. When you die, you get booted out of the battle and are sent to the lack checkpoint at 1 HP. This is not too harsh to encourage exploration in more open games, while also being soft enough to not cause the player to rage-quit if they lose a lot of progress. To go a step further, another suggestion is to do death the dark souls way. What I mean by that (If you haven't played a Souls-like before or need a refresher) is that when you die, you lose all of your current currency and a brought back to your last checkpoint. Bu wait! There's more! Upon arrival to the place where you previously died, you must fight your ghost. If you win, you get back all the money you lost. However, if you die on the way there, a new ghost replaces the old one and you lose all of the money you have obtained permanently! You can make the task of killing your ghost easier or harder depending on how difficult you want to make your game. For example, you can add in a bank in order to save your money when you really need them. To make it a bit harder, you can inflict a minor debuff on the player character until they are able to recover their lost currency, making finding their ghost an even higher priority. Along with that, you can add an NPC who can summon the ghost to your location by spending a certain type of currency. A game that used this system really well is hollow knight. I suggest you play it if you haven't already!
 

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