I love perma-death in games. For instance, in Minecraft I always play on Hardcore Mode. I do so knowing that I could make a few weeks or even months of progress in the game, only to die because a spider killed me or I was poisoned or surprised and fell to my death. But I have more of an appreciation for the game’s atmosphere and cautious nature, as death is no longer simply a setback.
This article has nothing to do with perma-death. Rather, I want to talk about losing your character in a situation where you did not foresee losing it, but still have access to the game. I recently had to reformat my hard drive, and I had no opportunity to backup my saves for Mass Effect, Eschalon, and other games where my saves are not saved online. Since then I’ve found a gap in enthusiasm has left me unable to play Mass Effect to the point I was at before the crash.
I had this problem with games like ArchLord, Earth Eternal, and Hellgate, where even though I couldn’t wait for the new host to take over, once the game relaunched and I set up my account I found myself unable to force my way through the same progress I had made initially.
And those games were just available for a year or so. If RuneScape, for example, one day told me that my character of nine years would be wiped, the decision would be simple. While the grind wouldn’t be nearly as bad, the time invested in my character would be so enormous that anything short of the game’s death would not justify losing that time. And a lot of people would return simply out of brand loyalty, or to start “on even ground,” as they tell me. I cant count myself as part of the flock.
After eight years, Ryzom is shutting down two of its three servers, and instead of merging characters has decided to wipe all accounts. I always look at late-age wipes as a high stakes game of Phoenix. The baby that is birthed from the flames might go on to live a full life. On the other hand, as history has shown us with a certain MMO whose community would strangle me, it is often a last gasp before death.
Hopefully Ryzom will see its community loyal enough to not only return but grow in its new life.