No "Death" game, what would you think?


#1

Would a game where you cannot actually die due to your choices bother you?

One of the issues that have been reported about Unnatural is that people are finding themselves at points where they can do nothing but die, no option can progress. (This is mainly due to a save glitch but which I’ve fixed for the first update), This however has got me thinking about season 2, whether to make it so the only time you can “Die” is if the storyline calls for it.

Part of my plans for season 2 is to revise the stats to make it easier to track (which involves turning the % figures for the main stats into 4 tiers i.e instead of Physical 70% you would have Physical 3)

Then each choice would have four variations where you will progress regardless, but the result will vary. For example, let’s say you’re sparring with someone. Physical 4 means you completely overpower them, 3 means you beat them being almost equal, 2 means you manage to beat them being on equal terms while 1 results in you’re outmatched but you manage to win by some sort of fluke.

I think this will eliminate any more cases where players are in in a no-win situation. On the flip side however, it’d take any urgency out of the choices knowing you can’t “lose”

Opinions would be appreciated.


The Fight for Home (WIP) (UPDATED 7/30)
#2

That reminds me of a game I played where the character could get dismembered shot or eviserated and he would just put himself together and you couldn’t die at all


#3

@darkstar2101

I don’t mean making the MC literally immortal more so no choice leads to a death. You just have differing levels of success.


#4

I’ve read some in both camps. I’m not sure, but is the whole “death” element one of the things that separates IF into story versus game thing? If you want to tell a story, it would seem that you’d have the story continue to its planned conclusion. If you approach your IF as more of a game, I can totally understand death outcomes and having players restart like they would any other game.

I think I prefer the stories with no deaths because death makes you “reboot” and rips you from the narrative. However I agree that a death option gives the reader a more profound sense of urgency (ZE for example I found to be very intense)


#5

I wouldn’t mind it, no, so long as there were still clear consequences for ‘failure’. Like, instead of using stats to not die, maybe use stats to determine if the player can get some extra bonus. That way nobody can lose and get frustrated, but people who are playing well can still be rewarded for their efforts.

Like, in your example, low physical you might win the fight but sustain a serious injury which will affect later plot points, medium physical you would win the fight neutrally, and high you would not only win, but injure your enemy (assuming they are in fact a bad guy) which would lead to easier encounters later on with the same person.

And this idea just sparked in my head, but maybe make failure still ‘good’. In the above example, if you get injured the bad guy won’t think you’re a threat in the future, allowing you to fight him more easily by playing on that knowledge. But now I’m just rambling.

So yeah, games without death are totally fine so long as there’s still some difference between success and failure.


#6

@HornHeadFan

Yeah I wanted a sense of urgency in Unnatural but its come back to bite me thanks to the save glitch putting people into a no-win situation, I know of players who has died 16 times trying to progress which is unacceptable to me as both a writer and a gamer. I’m hoping when the update it released it will fix that bit.

@SpaceLesbian

There would still be consequences, and the idea of failure being helpful in a weird way is an very interesting concept.


#7

I don’t have any negative feelings about a game where there’s no possibility of character death. For one thing, unless you read spoilers or the writer tells you, you won’t KNOW you can’t die. You might not even figure that out until you’ve done several replays.

I also like it just fine if it looks like you’re getting yourself killed, but only badly injure yourself and suffer penalties (loss of stats, loss of time, loss of the goal of that chapter), and then heal up and start again at a later point in game time.

How I feel about games with character death depends on the circumstances. Such as, at what point it happens. If it’s late in the game, then it’ll feel like the character’s full life has been told, with tragic ending. Or very early, when you can easily start over. When it’s in what’s clearly the middle, whether or not it was a no-win situation, it’s frustrating, because of the effort it’ll take to get back to that point. But it’s fine if it’s a game that’s upfront about being deadly. Then you’d be playing expressly to try to beat the odds and survive.

Or…

When you’ve clearly just done it to yourself. Not “oops, your Agility stat is low, you fall off and die.” But a series of poor choices where you had opportunities to course correct. In that case there’s a feeling of “OK, I’m going to die, but this is what my character would do.” All the better if it makes a major difference to the story (you saved the team by throwing yourself into the kraken’s mouth, instead of throwing your sidekick). If there’s no possibility of dying, but you don’t know that, you get to have your heroism and eat cake later too.

I think that’s probably the best type of game, for me.


#8

A good death scene can some times make the game look at re4 the chainsaw death is super awesome and messed up which is awesome and look at dead space the death is important in games because it is a challange


#9

They’re both good ideas. However, being able to die gives the reader a bigger sense of accomplishment if they manage to stay alive throughout the entire story


#10

@Carolyne

Interesting thoughts, thank you.

@darkstar2101

I agree a good death scene can be cool. It is possible in Unnatural to get an ending by dying, basically you use one of your powers to keep your body alive even if you’re mortally wounded during the finale, and you can collapse after dealing with the threats.

@Samuel_H_Young

I know what you mean. It’s great knowing you’ve completed the game without dying once.


#11

Ah Star Wars force unleashed 2 was that game for me to think I didn’t blink for six hours and that’s the story of why I have glasses because I watch to much anime and game a lot


#12

@Nocturnal_Stillness one of the things that I like most about Unnatural is that it’s possible to die in it if you make the wrong choices; I wouldn’t mind so much if we couldn’t actually die but I’d mind if making bad choices didn’t lead to some sort of failure. Personally, I’m in favour of allowing the player to die (even if it becomes a bit harder for them to do so).


#13

@Redgrave

The issue is at the end of Episode 3 you have to read one of three news stories, however due to a glitch only one of them actually saves your stats, so basically if you died during episode 4 it would be possible to have to restart episode 4 with the stats you had at the end of Episode 2, this results in the fact it is impossible to pass some of the checks which require higher stats.


#14

@Nocturnal_Stillness
I’ve always died at least once in the stories where it’s possible, but it’s a cool thing to strive for :stuck_out_tongue:


#15

These are becoming a lot more popular. In Choice of the Deathless and Reckless Space Pirates, you’re not going to die…well, let’s rephrase that. In Choice of the Deathless, you will not fail the final mission, and you will not end up completely screwed whatever happens, though you may lose an unhealthy amount of weight. In Reckless Space Pirates, you can’t suffer severe, permanent consequences at all, though the outcome of the situation may not be what you wanted at all.

I liked both games, but I think that suffering severe consequences and being able to potentially “lose,” whatever that means, make for a better game. See, by and large I’d rather have consequences that lead to a slightly different story and an alteration in your characters’ stats than a binary “have the right stats or die.” However, for that to really mean something, there have to be places where not having enough stat to win will cost you something in the narrative: the mission, your life, or both.

At a bare minimum, you need to be able to “lose” in the climax, which is where Choice of the Deathless and, to a lesser extent, Reckless Space Pirates both fall flat in my opinion. In Deathless, all results lead to the Big Bad’s defeat, you will still have a job at the end if you want one, and while you can end up as a skeleton, that doesn’t even affect your love life much. In Reckless, you can go through the entire game as a complete incompetent or as a perfect, badass hero and get precisely the same results from your adventure. While the situation may resolve itself differently depending on your choices (which is a plus), ultimately there’s too much hand-holding in the game, and it’s very unlikely (with one specific exception) that your previous actions will lock out an ending. And again, you (the PC) personally can’t lose much from your adventure; you’ll end up back on station or shipboard at the end, alive and in full control of your faculties. That makes for much less tension on a replay.


#16

I think that deaths are good, useful tools to give a player a sense that their decision are important, when used in moderation. That said, I think it’s better for a player’s failure to end in losing something that they wanted, where possible. When a player is faced with a death, what do they do? They either a) give up (a very bad thing, as it means the story is not compelling them to continue working at it) or they b) restart. Well, what happens when they restart? They get a second chance, and just refine their choices to the ‘correct’ ones. This leads to a more linear experience where they just tweak what they do to ‘win’.

However, let’s look at the other option: Allowing a player to continue with a loss. Let’s break down what (generally) happens with the easiest solutions first, that is the loss of a stat. Let’s say the PC gets into a gun/sword fight and loses, but you don’t want them to die. One obvious solution in they get a ‘wound’ which lowers their fighting ability (and/or other stats). Well this only is useful so long as that stat is called up again, as they stats are only there to facilitate the story, so let’s look at what happens when we call the stat again: Either the player wins (via whatever way you want to give them, whether it be doing something to get over the wound, or using some unconventional tactics), or they lose.

Let’s break down what a loss means for a player first: A loss, later in the story, is better than a loss earlier in the story for two reasons: 1) because they have experienced more of the story, and 2) because they have played longer and are therefore (hopefully) more invested in the/their PC. So if they lose the second encounter, they get more out of it, but what if they win? Well, the obvious is that it’s more compelling to have won with a disadvantage, right? Think about it, how often in any given story is the PC/MC just an average person? It’s easier to connect to, and therefore is more likely to allow a player to project themselves into the roll. So any disadvantage a PC overcomes (within reason) is more compelling, right? Well, there is also another side, which is namely, the author of any interactive story only writes, at most, half the story. The rest is for the player to fill in. When you give a player a series of choices, they generally choose based on two critiria: 1) what they think is ‘correct’ and 2) what they what to be ‘correct’. When we can help these to line up, but removing an ‘incorrect’ path and allowing that to turn into a possible ‘correct’ path, we’ve made a player happier with the story (in so far as we don’t cheat a player out of a good story by making it obvious what we’re doing and breaking immersion). So when a player picks an ‘incorrect’ path that doesn’t lead to and end, I think it ultimately makes for a more compelling story.

Well, I think that’s long enough for the moment, but there is one thing I haven’t covered: decisions that are ‘incorrect’, but instead of giving a penalty to something later, give a loss to some specific story goal. That is a bit more complex of an idea.


#17

I like deaths. At least as long as they are sort of like they were done in Fate/Stay Night. Basically you get an awesome death scene AND you gain access to the ‘Tiger Dojo’ which gives hints on how not to die. You know like telling you if your stat was too low or if you simply can’t win that way(he is too strong to fight head on type of hint). Or simply which decision led to your demise(it could possibly be several choices up, so everything after that is a tree of awesome ways to die).

Anyways in general I like the way death is dealt with in Unnatural. But the Save glitches seem to be an issue. Just know I had a case where I was trying to romance Denise and I died in Chapter 4 after visiting Denise and after restarting the chapter I didn’t get the option to visit her. Also somehow it jumped ahead a few scenes after talking to Lakota. The Stat screen was also all weirded out(no Shade Stats). So yeah, I agree with you that the biggest problem with death in Unnatural right now is the issues with saves. It it matters I am using the Chrome Web Store version.

BTW, Which news story is the ‘safe’ one?


#18

@Usana

The safe one is the one regarding a New Zombie film


#19

I’d love it. My favorite COG games are the ones where there isn’t any threat of death and it’s basically just going through someone’s life/job/etc and making choices to see where the story goes. I don’t like trying to keep stats in mind when I’m making choices, I just want to be able to basically roleplay a character the way I want without having to wonder if my seemingly innocent choice kills me a chapter later, or locks me out of a romance option for some reason. For me, it isn’t fun if I have to always keep my mind on the “gamey” stuff instead of getting immersed in the story and world and character.


#20

AUUUUGH! DOUBLE POST!