COMMUNITY - FORUMS - GENERAL DISCUSSION
On Dying at Sea
+36

Hi everyone!

I've seen a couple of threads over the last two weeks about permadeath at sea and I wanted to talk a little bit on how our thinking on this topic as changed, so here goes!

The reason we want death to be a big risk on the seas is two fold. At the most basic level, dying at sea doesn't work well with our spirit walk mechanic: When your body is at the bottom of the ocean more than a kilometer down, how do you get to it as a spirit, and once you do, how do you get back to somewhere without just drowning again?

On a slightly more abstract level: Nothing makes the world smaller than easy travel. It's true on Earth and its true for every online gameworld I've ever experienced. When travel is easy, a vast majority of the world's contents are just "stuff to be ignored while you travel" and you end up, without even meaning to, diminishing your own experience which, to be clear, we see as bad.

It can be hella convenient to travel quickly and easily, but that's not the same thing as "good" for a game. In the real world, we like to mitigate risk and save time, but games aren't the real world and we can't consider them as the same, even if we want them to feel similar. That sort of harkens back to the thing you'll see me say from time to time, "Verisimilitude > Veracity," where I basically mean "with games it's better to feel real than be real because a lot of what is real isn't really fun. But the feel of accomplishment that successfully dealing with 'realness' brings is pretty much the best there is, so if you can feel real while still cutting out all the unfun bits, you've made a good experience."

So our thinking was "We can't let "stepping off a boat and drowning" shortcut travel in any way, because you'd both foreshorten the sense of the world's size, and you'd also step away from any sense of water travel being "real" in a useful sense. This is what led us to the idea that drowning in deep water should result in permadeath. It kept the seas dangerous, which is definitely something we wanted, and it prevented any "I don't want to sail back, so I'll just jump off and die-teleport back home" nonsense that some death mechanics can inadvertently incentivize.

However, permadeath is a very harsh penalty. We definitely know that. And so we've been talking off and on about how to handle that for, sheesh, the last year or so? For a long time, at any rate. I'm sure the conversation actually even precedes my time here; I'm really just talking about my part in it. Anyway, the point is, we know it's harsh and we've been looking at other possibilities.

One such possibility is the idea that instead of dying permanently, when you drown you'll black out, as if you had been CDG'd. At that point the currents will take you, and if you're close enough to another shore, your body will wash up there, and your spirit will also appear somewhere in the same area, allowing you to complete your spirit walk, When you do you'll come to wherever you ended up, with no ship to get you home.

In that way, there's still some risk and you can't actually predict where you'll end up, so its "fast travel" ability is severely reduced, and it's still very dangerous since you could find yourself stranded. At the same time, you're potentially not so afraid of losing your character and your legacy that you're afraid to set out on the water at all.

Anyway, it's just an example of the sorts of things we're considering. I'm not really trying to sell you on any one particular approach. Rather, I'm taking a moment to explain that we're open to changing this to soften the penalty, but we do have a few factors we need to consider that still necessitate a certain level of "harshness." This isn't me saying "we're doing away with harsh penalties for water death" - just that the form those penalties take could change.

Thanks for reading, hope that helps! :)


  • Snipehunter
6/11/2019 8:17:45 PM #31
+0

Posted By Malais at 1:02 PM - Tue Jun 11 2019

@Snipehunter

In a QA dev vid a while back it was mentioned that once a new continent and playable race was discovered players would be able to take their accumulated SP and spark into any NTC in the new race they could afford.

If becoming a certain race that’s not available at launch is a persons goal then the loss of their current spark wouldn’t be much of a cost for gaining access to the new race and taking their spot among them. Also I would assume discovering such a race would be an element of continuing the story so the act alone would be worth some serious story points.

Lowering the risk for such an incredible reward doesn’t seem to fit in the same spirit of other activities we’ve seen.

Perhaps this can be solved by making discovery an ingame event -- and a new continent isn't formally discovered until it has been added to some official map, perhaps the map of some royal cartographer (which could mean that only citizens of that kingdom can spark into NPCs on the new continent -- and possibly only into NPCs in the newly discovered area of the new continent, which could enhance the importance of the cartography system).


Count of Frostale, in the Duchy of Fioralba, in the Kingdom of Ashland, by the Grace of Haven. The above opinions are mine alone and do not reflect those of my Kingdom or Duchy.

https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/17117/naw-the-duchy-of-fioralba

https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/14124/naw-kingdom-of-ashland

6/11/2019 9:24:53 PM #32
+2

Posted By Snipehunter at 2:43 PM - Tue Jun 11 2019

Ah, to be clear: When I was saying that you could potentially wash up on shore and that you'd then have to spirit walk to your corpse, I was saying that your spirit would also appear on the land your body washed up on and would have to find its way back to your body. I didn't mean to imply that you could spirit walk on water - that's not a feature we want to support.

Posted By Wolfguarde at 01:35 AM - Tue Jun 11 2019

Posted By Lady Grace at 10:26 AM - Tue Jun 11 2019

This is the main counter-argument for blacking out and washing up on a random shore, in my opinion. People can and will exploit it for the sake of finding new land, especially those with money to burn on throwaway souls/sparks. Merchants, aristocrats and nobles would probably be quite happy to throw away money on such a venture if they have it to spare, both in and out of game, for the prestige and potential economic advantage they'd gain from being the first pioneers on a new piece of land.

One thing to consider here: This isn't a game with fast travel, or a minimap. You may find yourself in a new land that you discovered, but now what? How do you get back? Your boat is gone. Presumably, some or all of the things on your person are gone or badly corroded/spoiled, too. It's hard to imagine that this is advantageous.

Even if you wash up somewhere civilized, there's a really good chance you don't speak the local language, and you probably don't have the resources to engage someone to sail you home either, let alone build your own ship to resume your journey.

Just knowing where you even are is going to be a challenge: You'll have to puzzle it out from the stars, and that might not be possible if you lack the necessary instruments and can't communicate your need for them to the locals, right?

Which isn't to say that "dying at sea is a way to get to a new land fast" wouldn't be true - If even the possibility exists that remains true. I'm more saying that if things did work that way, it would very likely be the worst possible way to discover a new land, and perhaps the challenges you could face are themselves worthy bits of gameplay?

Depending on where you go with friendly/sizeable surface-level aquatic life, such an approach could also lead to interesting discoveries about interactions between certain species and drowning sailors.

I do like this idea as a storyteller and DM; the idea that a drowning sailor's fate may require intervention from the elements of Oceanus' realm itself is definitely good story. :)

Hope that helps! :)

omg all of this. Please and thank you.


6/11/2019 9:29:58 PM #33
+0

Posted By Beathan at 10:17 PM - Tue Jun 11 2019

Posted By Malais at 1:02 PM - Tue Jun 11 2019

@Snipehunter

In a QA dev vid a while back it was mentioned that once a new continent and playable race was discovered players would be able to take their accumulated SP and spark into any NTC in the new race they could afford.

If becoming a certain race that’s not available at launch is a persons goal then the loss of their current spark wouldn’t be much of a cost for gaining access to the new race and taking their spot among them. Also I would assume discovering such a race would be an element of continuing the story so the act alone would be worth some serious story points.

Lowering the risk for such an incredible reward doesn’t seem to fit in the same spirit of other activities we’ve seen.

Perhaps this can be solved by making discovery an ingame event -- and a new continent isn't formally discovered until it has been added to some official map, perhaps the map of some royal cartographer (which could mean that only citizens of that kingdom can spark into NPCs on the new continent -- and possibly only into NPCs in the newly discovered area of the new continent, which could enhance the importance of the cartography system).

agreed. The issues with discovery depend on what the game calls discovery. Columbus was not the first person to find america, he's just the person that made america known to europe... still, Columbus is called the person that discovered america in history books. If the game handles it in a similar way, then discovery means that you get to the new land and back, all with a crew and lots of people that can confirm your story.

Still... if someone makes it to new lands and can find out the rough location by looking at the stars, he can use discord or other out-of-game-mechanics to tell others where to sail, making their land-discovery much easier... I guess, sooner or later, people will know how the sky works in CoE... some people might require nothing more but some night-time-sky-screenshots to know a rough location, even without ingame-mechanics (unless the sky doesnt give you these information without the required tools and just shows random star-locations if you dont have the tools and/or knowledge).


Friend Code: 30EF47

6/11/2019 10:56:14 PM #34
+2

Posted By Kaynadin at 1:25 PM - Tue Jun 11 2019

I vote for adding a collection of small islands that are targets to wash up on so you live, but you need to hope someone can find you to rescue you or you'll starve to death. Maybe also add in some volleyballs for company.

Poor poor Wilson.


6/12/2019 4:26:47 AM #35
+0

Posted By Snipehunter at 04:43 AM - Wed Jun 12 2019

Posted By Wolfguarde at 01:35 AM - Tue Jun 11 2019

This is the main counter-argument for blacking out and washing up on a random shore, in my opinion. People can and will exploit it for the sake of finding new land, especially those with money to burn on throwaway souls/sparks. Merchants, aristocrats and nobles would probably be quite happy to throw away money on such a venture if they have it to spare, both in and out of game, for the prestige and potential economic advantage they'd gain from being the first pioneers on a new piece of land.

One thing to consider here: This isn't a game with fast travel, or a minimap. You may find yourself in a new land that you discovered, but now what? How do you get back? Your boat is gone. Presumably, some or all of the things on your person are gone or badly corroded/spoiled, too. It's hard to imagine that this is advantageous.

Even if you wash up somewhere civilized, there's a really good chance you don't speak the local language, and you probably don't have the resources to engage someone to sail you home either, let alone build your own ship to resume your journey.

Just knowing where you even are is going to be a challenge: You'll have to puzzle it out from the stars, and that might not be possible if you lack the necessary instruments and can't communicate your need for them to the locals, right?

True, but this would be where the out-of-game element comes in. If it's possible for us to navigate by some means that is static/reliably predictable and globally available (primarily thinking of the stars), players could, with a bit of work, create a means of using that system to create a reference grid out of game that they can navigate with. If the marooned player's part of a large guild (or simply floats screenshots of their view of the stars over the course of an orbital cycle to the community), I honestly think we'd stand a pretty good chance of working out their co-ordinates and getting to them.

Which isn't to say that "dying at sea is a way to get to a new land fast" wouldn't be true - If even the possibility exists that remains true. I'm more saying that if things did work that way, it would very likely be the worst possible way to discover a new land, and perhaps the challenges you could face are themselves worthy bits of gameplay?

I completely agree on this front from an ingame perspective. If someone or a group of someones is marooned on new land and manages to thrive or find their way back or get a message home, hell, they've earned the prestige of being known as the person/group that brought a new continent onto the map. But how will the game handle discovery where sparkable NPCs/heirs are concerned? If you lack the civil infrastructure to create assignable rooms, would the marooned sailors still be able to create family in their new home? Would it be possible for them to designate mostly-weatherproof natural structures such as caves as rooms or homes? If they did manage to link up with the locals and somehow overcome the language barrier, would others be able to spark into the newly discovered civilisation?

Depending on where you go with friendly/sizeable surface-level aquatic life, such an approach could also lead to interesting discoveries about interactions between certain species and drowning sailors.

I do like this idea as a storyteller and DM; the idea that a drowning sailor's fate may require intervention from the elements of Oceanus' realm itself is definitely good story. :)

Hope that helps! :)

I've always liked this idea as a plot device. While dolphins are an obvious example, a more recent and interesting one I've found that I love is the large crustaceans in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive. A drowning sailor being saved by the surfacing of a colossal (and possibly indifferent) creature that alternates between the depths and the surface instead of washing up on land would make for a hell of a homecoming tale if they survived. And it's fantastic enough that the ensuing easter egg hunt would be amazing.


To touch Divinity, one must be prepared to brave Reality.

6/12/2019 6:40:26 AM #36
+1

I like the idea of permadeath in the ocean with one exception. I dont think others players should have the power to end another player's subscription by simply pushing them, hands and feet bound, into the ocean. I guess thats speculating a bit, but I would hope that its not that easy to drown. Grabbing onto floating wreckage to prevent physical exhaustion would be a nice feature.

As for random respawns or being washed ashore, I think its a great idea, but some limitations and penalties would have to be implemented. Ive seen this mechanic abused in other games where players will die naked and basically fast travel saving hours of time while losing nothing. Some people dont care where they spawn, as long as its not where they are currently. And they can abuse it repeatedly until they get somewhere they want, for instance a specific biome.

A combination of the two seems like a very interesting option. Drowning could put you on a random nearby shoreline with an increasing chance at permadeath the more a player drowns or something.


FC: 13AB08

6/12/2019 12:55:32 PM #37
+1

Posted By ilakyd at 01:40 AM - Wed Jun 12 2019

I like the idea of permadeath in the ocean with one exception. I dont think others players should have the power to end another player's subscription by simply pushing them, hands and feet bound, into the ocean. I guess thats speculating a bit, but I would hope that its not that easy to drown. Grabbing onto floating wreckage to prevent physical exhaustion would be a nice feature.

As for random respawns or being washed ashore, I think its a great idea, but some limitations and penalties would have to be implemented. Ive seen this mechanic abused in other games where players will die naked and basically fast travel saving hours of time while losing nothing. Some people dont care where they spawn, as long as its not where they are currently. And they can abuse it repeatedly until they get somewhere they want, for instance a specific biome.

A combination of the two seems like a very interesting option. Drowning could put you on a random nearby shoreline with an increasing chance at permadeath the more a player drowns or something.

Yep. So maybe your respawn point is always back in the direction you came from if they don't go the deserted island route. No respawns on land you have not yet set foot on.


6/12/2019 2:59:36 PM #38
+0

I like the idea that you would float to a nearby landmass via the current, and then spirit walk to your body from there. Kinda like climbing onto some kind of floating wreckage, and the current taking you where it does. Yes, you might be stuck on a deserted island, but that's the risk you take at sea.

Unless you have your body be found, not instantly, by a nearby ship. That doesn’t let you fast travel to a shoreline. You can then spirit walk to the ship that found you, and you can respawn on the ship safely. Being killed on a ship wouldn’t let you fast travel to land because you would respawn on the ship. No issues there other than coding.

I agree that being far out to see, deciding you want to go back to land fast, kill yourself by drowning (not permadeath), and then spirit walk to your body on the nearest shore/shore you left at, is a way to fast travel. That should not be allowed, and I understand why the thought of permadeath at sea would be considered. Not to mention easier to code. By keeping players alive, making them float to safety, and then surviving on the land the current took them to would stop people from abusing the spirit walk system to fast travel.


I have a Rocket Launcher. Your Argument is Invalid.

6/12/2019 8:32:10 PM #39
+1

This is a very interesting topic. I am really glad SBS is considering something other than just perma death. Maybe a combination of the two is in order. If you are close enough to a "known" shore than you wash up on shore. If you are in the middle of the ocean, then you port back to your home (however, you lose half of your spark) or something similar. It would still be a very harsh penalty for dieing out in the middle of the ocean, but allow for local water travel without fear of perma dieing.

Or to Snipes point, maybe you can wash up to new shores...but there should be some kind of game mechanic for "discovering" new continents. Like planting a flag. That way you would have to get there alive for it to be discovered. If you get there by dieing, then you may end up living the rest of your life there, but that would be all. Also, the game mechanic for using the stars to identify a location would have to be amended. If a person was on unknown shores then they wouldn't be able to identify location. Otherwise, a person could use that skill to share their location with another player ooc who could then "discover" the land.

6/13/2019 3:55:02 AM #40
+1

With respect to finding the location of a place where a character is stranded, it is not difficult to estimate latitude (with knowledge of navigation), but it is impossible to find longitude without a very accurate timekeeping device. In my opinion, the built-in game clock is not an appropriate timekeeping device for such purposes. The baseline for being lost at sea is that no possessions are retained. Instruments necessary for navigation such as astrolabes and chronometers should certainly be unavailable to one marooned.

Without instrumentation, all that a castaway has available is the general idea of location dependent upon his knowledge of where he was just before his misfortune. For all except those with specialized skills, that should not be sufficient to provide any more information than a legend. Of course, the out-of-game information network would be able to provide some of the missing information. To mitigate that, the in-game information the castaway can provide out-of-game should be fudged in the extreme.

Another thing I've not yet seen mentioned is the effect of family affinity. Would family members know about the status of one lost at sea, whether dead or alive? Would they have a general idea of his location? If the latter, that would provide the in-game rationale for the out-of-game information about general location.


6/14/2019 4:23:26 AM #41
+0

Excellent idea!

Glad I came up with it ooh slightly more then 2 yeas ago.

https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/19182/ocean-permadeath-too-harsh

I'd like to thank Takeda_Shinukage for helping to keep the thread alive and at the top of the aging-and-dying sub-forums which I think contributed to it being noticed by the devs. I'd also like for folks to note the difference in positive/negative response ratios the exact same thing gets when a dev says it, community objectivity could stand for an upgrade.

Now to clear up a few misconceptions.

No one is proposing that a body at sea has to fast-travel at any time. Ocean currents by definition move slower then boats. Sea-creatures carrying a body might be marginally faster then a boat but your not in control of which direction you go. So no one can ever get anywhere faster then by staying in their boat and rowing.

Personally I favor maximizing the 'castaway' scenario and to that end an instanced island separate from the normal map would be something to look into. The map generation for a small island every time someone drowns is likely prohibitive, so a portfolio of a hundred or so could simply be used with each individual (or small group if they drowned together) placed onto a randomly picked one. If folks ever start to learn the islands, just rotate newly generated islands into the portfolio and old ones out.

This Instanced island system has many benefits, such as..

1) Eliminating any chance of a return to the mainland which might make for a very easy (you end up in a place you know) or very hard (you end up in enemy territory) experience. Instead the post death-at-sea can be far more consistent in challenge or scaled in a appropriate way, such as the farther out to sea one was when drowning the harsher the island given.

2) Ensures that the castaway/s are and remain alone. Any permanent island (which I absolutely want to see in the world) will eventually be discovered (and I think we want to avoid drowning as a means of discovering them) and eventually inhabited and very likely have ships visiting it regularly. This would greatly debase the cast-away experience if one can simply hitch an immediate ride back home. Likewise being in an off-map instance would block anyone from launching a rescue operation to pick you up.

3) Forced self-rescue. With no outside assistance coming the cast-away individual must go through a mid to long duration survival game on limited local resources, on minimal tools in unfamiliar terrain and build from that situation a means of escaping the instanced environment (moving away from the island in a raft being the most obvious, but other options might exist). At the moment of escape the can be returned to the normal map at the exact location of the original drowning, (or even a point even further from land), again further eliminating any concern over fast-travel.

Once back on the map they are not out of trouble though, further challenges and even repeat deaths and island instances could result (this was actually fairly common in a real cast-away scenarios, escaping one island to end up on another). But the central idea is that the player would be actively involved in this struggle at all times, with their fate very much in their own hands.


Seneschal for the Hrothi County of Iskar, Recruiter for the Duchy of Aritaur

https://discord.gg/qRQ3Zj6

6/14/2019 4:36:06 AM #42
+0

This has been discussed so many times and this idea brought up so much over the course of 3-4 years. I don’t think it’s any one persons idea. But I’m glad it’s something that’s being looked into


6/14/2019 5:11:20 AM #43
+0

Posted By VioletWinterlynn at 12:36 AM - Fri Jun 14 2019

This has been discussed so many times and this idea brought up so much over the course of 3-4 years. I don’t think it’s any one persons idea. But I’m glad it’s something that’s being looked into

In the sense of lots of people not liking perma-death at sea, yea that was always common, and it's easy to just be opposed to something. If you just read the title of my thread it might seem like that's all I said, but if you read the whole thread I linked you can see I did come up with the exact solution now described, float the body to land with the player then being stranded/lost, ideally re-creating a 'cast-away' scenario.


Seneschal for the Hrothi County of Iskar, Recruiter for the Duchy of Aritaur

https://discord.gg/qRQ3Zj6

6/14/2019 6:19:07 AM #44
+0

@Lodrig,

I'm not a fan of instancing, so the instanced island idea is always going to be a third-tier or fourth-tier choice for me.

I would rather the islands be non-instanced, but isolated enough to be rather difficult to get away from. Even the shores of continents can be hard to travel any distance from. Think about barrier islands or the coasts of places like Big Sur.

In the unlikely event that a castaway ends up on an undiscovered continent in a relatively safe place, travel from that place should put him in at least as much risk as venturing into the wilderness in his home biome, without benefit of any local survival knowledge. There will of course be opportunities for skill advancement, although not necessarily in the character's preferred skills. That is acceptable, and does not yield any "unfair" advantage to attempted travel-by-suicide. Since the character is already on land, repeated death of any sort simply results in spirit-walk under normal rules.

Of course, it is always possible that an individual adrift at sea succumbs with no remaining spark for any multitude of reasons, given the need for some kind of sustenance that is unavailable when adrift. There are any number of ways to model this without hitting either horn of the dilemma -- automatic permadeath or exploitative self-stranding.


6/14/2019 9:09:36 AM #45
+0

@Poldano

Not really hearing any argument against instanced islands.

You seem to agree that isolation is good and washing up on undiscovered land presents possible exploits that could encourage self-stranding. Instances give the desired effect and eliminate the possible issues without complex workarounds (the code to put a drowned player in an instance might be complex but conceptually it is a simple set of rules for the player to understand).

I think you just have an anti-instanced bias because instancing has a bad reputation from the way it's been used as a design tool in most MMO's. That of instanced dungeons to make players not interact while grinding content in the theme-park model.

Because these instanced islands are not core content (they function more like a time-out from your characters 'real' life) no one is going out of their way to 'grind' them. All actual 'island' themed content that the game might have should be on the normal map. An instanced island would have no treasures buried on it or other means to profit from visiting it, a chance to not perma-dying is the only benefit it offers.

The intent of instance use here is to increase difficulty of the stranded scenario and to restrict discovery of new land to legitimate explorers. It also protects legitimate isolated islands that are part of the real map from being swamped with people washing up on shore.


Seneschal for the Hrothi County of Iskar, Recruiter for the Duchy of Aritaur

https://discord.gg/qRQ3Zj6

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