Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Nerf for the Death Penalty

The Death Penalty is one of the most irritating aspects of WoW. At the same time, it is something that may never be completely eliminated from the game, even if I would prefer it that way.

Instead, through the patch system, Blizzard has decided to make it gradually easier to come back to life after death. Not too long ago, Blizzard buffed the player's ghost so that it runs faster, and it added a flying ghost mount to help the player get back to his corpse in some places. In Patch 4.0.1, a new button appears at the top middle of the screen that allows a player's ghost to return to the cemetery. That is handy if a player gets lost while ghost-running to his corpse and decides to bail out, taking the penalty, or try to locate his corpse once again.

The ghost-after-death system has a long history with Blizzard. I heard that some of the early MUD games had the ghost, so, naturally, the developers at Blizzard wanted to create a system for retrieving the player's body after death. I am familiar with the ghost system in Diablo and Diablo 2, where the character is stripped of all of its items unless it gets back to its corpse. If the player is not able to pick up all of the items, then dies again, there are multiple corpses. Hard to believe, but it is true.

When I played Guild Wars, I was relieved to find it had no Death Penalty. No loss of items, no damage to equipment, no loss of gold. The after-death system of Guild Wars is very simple. The character is resurrected at the nearest shrine, ready to play again. There were some problems with that system, but it remains a good system overall. If the character is fighting near a shrine, sometimes it can get caught in a never-ending battle: Impossible to kill the monster and stop the cycle of resurrection, but usually the player can do something to stack the odds in his favor and break the cycle.

I fail to see why there is a Death Penalty at all. While working out my Shaman's abilities after the patch, I died frequently, but I was learning how to play the character after the major content change and got caught by some of the bigger monsters. In the process of learning, I ended up spending quite a bit of gold for repairs. That cost is totally unnecessary, and I do realize it has a lot to do with my style of experimenting on my own without looking up published builds in advance.

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