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November 20th, 2008, 21:02
I mostly prefer the "Everyone's a medic" system. I think that Betrayal At Krondor was the first CRPG that I experienced this system with. Previous games that I'd played usually had a long journey back to a town/church and an expensive resurrection spell to revive lost party members. Reloading was often a more palatable option. Wasteland was one of the few exceptions, and one had to be careful not to leave an area with a dead character in the party.
I hate "hardcore mode" games where you have to start over from the beginning again. My time is too valuable for that kind of nonsense.
When you can save your game before doing something and then just reload if you don't like the results, then the game design really should take this into consideration. "Traditional death" isn't a huge penalty if all you have to do is reload a saved game and replay the last 15 minutes. If a party member dies -- even if resurrection doesn't incur any permanent penalties -- it's still often quicker and easier to just reload. Thus, "everyone's a medic" works for me.
The Ultima games (before VIII) resurrected you back at Lord British's castle (or other safe location) upon death, and that generally made sense in the fiction of the game world. In VI and VII you could die and get resurrected and then discover that a party member had died and his or her body was still where you had died -- if you were lucky; sometimes it would just disappear and then you were screwed. That was annoying.
A "Casper system" would be cool if it were worked into the game's fiction. Any system that takes into account the fact that most players will just reload the last saved game if resurrection is too expensive, too inconvenient, or incurs too great a penalty would be preferable to a "traditional death" system, in my opinion.
As stated above, Planescape: Torment did a good job with this.
I always wanted to create an RPG where upon death your spirit went to the netherworld and you had to complete a quest or strike a bargain to return to the world of the living -- or perhaps you were simply allowed to leave because your destiny was unfulfilled. Dead companions would also go to the netherworld and you would have to perform a task or bargain with the guardians to return them to life.
The interesting part is that there could be characters you could recruit or quests that you could perform only if you died and went to the netherworld, and there could be a few "branches" where if you died during a climactic battle you would get a special event in the land of the dead that you could only get if you died during that specific encounter. For example, if you died while fighting a powerful dragon that was threatening a town, you would meet a powerful potential companion who only appears as a result of losing that battle. When you return to the mortal realm, the dragon has wiped out the town but you have gained a unique ally and have had a dramatically different game experience.
That's what I'd do if I were making a CRPG (I am a designer on a game, but it's not an RPG).
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