Monday, July 24, 2006

New Vanguard Death Penalty

It seems as if the Vanguard development team is introducing a overly complex death system into its Beta in attempts to appease both its hardcore and casual audience. This new system is based on the concept of a mob having a threat level. A high threat level corresponds to a better loot table and a harsher death penalty. Thus a character in the game needs to be aware of both the level and threat of any mob they are considering to fight.

If you read the Vanguard boards you can see that the death penalty will range from a simple money sink like WoW to a corpse run harder then Everquest. The example given is that a big raid encounter boss might eat the bodies of those it slayed and no one could loot their corpse until said boss was defeated. Its a pretty scary example and I hope they only reserve it for the most challenging encounters.

While such a system is a refreshingly new idea it does seem a little impractical. Also as pointed out in a Cesspit article such a system will encourage players to grind experience on mobs with only the lowest threat level. When given a choice players will always examine the risk vs. reward of any encounter much like a senior economist. If the harsher death penalty is not worth the risk of fighting a mob then you can guarantee no one will fight it.

Thus the death system becomes yet another balancing act which developers must accomplish. The problem with systems like this is that it takes a lot of time to achieve a stable point where all the game variables are equal. If you look at how long it takes most MMORPGs to balance their respective classes you get a rough idea of the time involved. Even WoW with a very simple class structure is just now starting to get the classes balanced for the PvE side of their game. In PvP certain classes still have a huge advantage which can be exploited further with raid gear.

While I like the idea of a new death system I hope the Vanguard developers have the mechanics worked out in detail. I know it seems like a good way to still stay hardcore while opening up a bit to the casual audience. However, I can tell you that most casual gamers will only hear about the more extreme death penalties and avoid trying Vanguard. Now if high threat mobs were only encountered by raids then I think they system might attract more players.

Cesspit Article on Vanguard Death Penalty