Monday, 20 August 2018

Developer Appreciation: Wizardy Online Permadeath

Death is a slap on the wrist in many MMOs these days with even "corpse runs" becoming extinct as far as I can tell. Even Dark Souls "punishment" is only a mild inconvenience when you think about it. Well, one MMO decided to go the opposite way and for that reason alone I really liked it. Wizardry Online was a tough SOB. It had unfriendly instructions, controls and difficulty spikes which really made it less than appealing for casual players to get into.

Yep, this party is boned.

On top of all that, there was a permadeath system in place that really put you on edge when exploring a new zone or even traversing an old one. The idea that your next death could be your last really pushed you to ask yourself if you -really- wanted to try fight those three monsters for a treasure chest, or if you should keep delving deeper despite already being wounded. All that, and it wasn't even guaranteed perma death - just the threat of it is effective enough.

This is because when you die there you respawn as a ghost and have to run back to a shrine / safe spot to resurrect. Reviving is simply a dice roll, with a base success of 90%+. You can even guarantee your revive by sacrificing items to whatever force is reviving you. The kicker is, when you run back to the shrine as a ghost all you can see are other ghosts, and reapers: apparitions of death that patrol the halls who can outrun you (hope you practiced dodging). 

Should they reap your soul, you get put back to the spot your body is at and can try run back to the shrine again. You also get a -10% chance to revive !each! time they do this. Fortunately, other players can pick up your body and move it somewhere closer to a shrine or even take you back to the safety of town (you still need to roll though). I thought it was a great system.

Alas, the rest of the game wasn't quite up to scratch and Wizardry Online ended up suffering its own permadeath. Still, if there's one system I would hijack from this game it is that one. RIP Wizardy Online. RIP. For those who want to see what it was like, I suggest watching Dremlock's short video on youtube.

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