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Permanent removal of the ability for a player to control his avatar within the game system is known as permanent player death (PPD). Few game mechanics actually attempt to make use of PPD, though the reasons for this vary. The purpose of this article is not to identify the strengths or weaknesses of PPD within a given game system, but to present one implementation of it. I call this implementation the PPD slide rule.
A nifty slide rule to caclculate just how easy it is to die.
In the PPD slide rule, a player's avatar has set percentages of capacity for their abilities. For example, an avatar not suffering from health problems would be said to be at 100% of their capacity. An avatar at 0% of their capacity is said to be dead.
In a game system, a player will undertake many scenarios. These scenarios are determined by the player's individual play style. A game designer should be aware of the types of scenarios her world makes allotments for. The categorization of these scenarios is equally important. These categories are found in most game systems at present. Flags are often associated with an outcome.
A player who falls to his death from a cliff would be an example of such a scenario that has a fitting category. The death category here is known as environmental death. A player who meets his end to the bite of a dragon is said to have suffered dragon or large monster death. A player who dies as a result of another player is said to have suffered PvP death.
If we examine the core constructs I have presented thus far, we would have (1) percentages of capacity, (2) flags associated with game scenarios, and finally (3) categorization of death. If we combine these three concepts together, we will form the PPD slide rule. Figure PPDSR-1 demonstrates the function of the slide rule visually.
A graph showing a relationship between deaths and something else.
Close examination of PPDSR-1 demonstrates the concept in a fairly flexible and basic way.
The death slide rule works in this fashion. When Bob the Player Avatar falls to his death from walking near the Cliffs of Superior Height, he will suffer a death flag of 1. Unless Bob has collected previous death flags, his avatar's capacity would be at 90%.
Bob decides against visiting a medic to reset his death flag count and insists on visiting the local dragon. The local dragon eats Bob. According to the scenario flag, Bob is set to death count of 5. Bob the Player Avatar is at 50% his skills. This translates into Bob being half as powerful as he should be.
If Bob were to be struck by a comet, in our imaginary system comet death weighs with a death flag of 5, Bob the avatar would suffer permanent death.
The game system should contend with the issues of recouping death flags and individual avatar capacity. The designers are also responsible for setting death flags such that they are not overly done. As an example, a player killed by another player should not suffer a death penalty of 9.
March 2001 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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