If you’re joining us for the first time, check out Part 1: The Problem and Challenges. If you missed the last entry in the Assigning Weight to Death in Games series, take a look at Part 3: Classes of Assigning Weight.
In the second installment of this series, I mentioned permadeath. I also said that I would cover it in some greater length in a later article. Well, the time for that article has come. So, let’s remind ourselves (not that I think anyone likely needs to): what is permadeath? Well, everybody knows that it’s when death in a game works in such a way that, when the player dies, their character is dead permanently. They aren’t coming back unless the game restarts. Simple, right? Well, I would argue not quite so simple as it seems. Not by a long shot.
It’s common knowledge by now that Fallout 76 was a huge flop. However, even I was surprised to see just how little the game seems to be valued by Polish retailer X-Kom. Their website has a bundle which includes a set of four pairs of PS4 controller thumbsticks and a copy of Fallout 76 for the PS4. The price of the bundle (which is currently live on the site but unavailable) is roughly $70, which is the price of the two items bought separately. That all seems perfectly normal, but the story doesn’t end there.
Initially, I had planned to make this article a discussion about a whole host of standards by which to classify death mechanics and methods to assign weight to death in games. I had meant to talk about the advantages, disadvantages, applications, relation to the lessons from death, et cetera of each of this wide range of classes. It was going to be a sort of grand finale to what was meant to be a main trilogy (followed perhaps by a few short additions to the series over time). That, however, is not what this article has come to be. You see, as I worked my way through writing this installment, I came to a realization: even given the two previous articles, there was just too much left cram into one installment. Too many points and complexities were going to be cut short or simply forgotten, and the organization and pacing were turning out terribly. It dawned on me that the information needed to be split up throughout more articles. Furthermore, if I was going to have to make this series more than a trilogy, I thought why not include various article ideas I had decided to leave unwritten for the sake of a clean cut three? It was decided then, that this would not be the grand finale to a three-installment series. Instead, it will be the last installment of an initial, largely foundational trilogy for what’s shaping up to be a longer series on death in games and assigning it some well-deserved weight.
If you missed the first article, be sure to read Assigning Weight to Death in Games, Pt. 1: The Problem and Challenges.
I want to start off this week’s article by presenting a question: Why is death used almost universally as the manifestation of player failure in games? Though I hadn’t given it much thought before starting the series, there are certainly games which avoid using death in this fashion. Pokemon, the most profitable media franchise in history, merely has the Pokemon faint in its games. While this might have something to do with potential issues surrounding selling a game about making magical creatures murder one another to children, it does at least prove that death isn’t a necessary aspect for a game to have. Despite this, we overwhelmingly see death utilized. The answer as to why isn’t all that complicated: we use death almost universally because it’s feared almost universally.
Today I’d like to begin a discussion on one of the most underappreciated elements which manifests itself in almost every game: death. More specifically, death of the player controlled character(s) as a result of gameplay and player decisions. Without this kind of death, the average game would feel like little more than a poorly written action movie. The kind with no tension due to the fact that you know the hero is going to make it out of every situation on top no matter how desperate things seem. Despite this importance, many of the titles I’ve played over the years simply failed to attach an adequate weight to players’ deaths. All too often, the result of dying is nothing more than a momentary setback which I struggle to even call an inconvenience for fear of overstatement. It’s a trend so severe that when I do come across a game where death has truly well-implemented weight to it, it stands out to such an extent that I’m inspired to write a series of articles on the matter (the first installment of which you are reading now). Continue reading “Assigning Weight to Death in Games, Pt. 1: The Problem and Challenges”
Insurgency: Sandstorm is, of course, a sequel. Not just that; it’s the sequel to the genuinely excellent game Insurgency. A game I like a lot and have a good few hundred hours in. Being the fan of the franchise that I am, I preordered Sandstorm and hopped into the beta as soon as I had the chance. I expected the game not only to recapture what made the previous title so great but to also develop upon that formula. The question is, did it? Continue reading “Insurgency: Sandstorm review — Does it live up to its predecessor?”
P.S.A.: There appear to be legitimate issues with the the Fallout 76’s security. These issues allow players to hack and exploit the game, but more importantly it is claimed that these issues allow other players to potentially discover your IP address. As far as we have found Bethesda is aware of these issues and is working to fix them at the time of this article being published, but the fix has not yet been made. We encourage you to read into the situation and be aware of any risks that might be involved with the game. For the source of the claims further information click here and here.