Player Death and Consequences

Each game has its own set of rules about how player death is handled, what consequences are doled out, and how players must recover from it. In some games death even has a habit of evolving from one set of parameters to another, even increasing in scope how players can come to their own demise. While the death of a character may not always seem like a factor that should drive the mechanics of your game, if it’s not setup correctly or in a way that positively effects you game (go figure), then this is a feature of your game that may cause you some serious headache down the line. Death of characters also provide you, the game developer, with unique opportunities when you create an online game. Not only do they give you the potential to keep player stats, items, development, etc, in balance, it gives you the potential to create new levels of detail or experiences in your game that don’t follow the typical game progression.

The Basics

There are a few things that a life system offers in a gaming environment. In most cases, and in most games, your characters are not usually truly immortal – that is to say, there is very rarely a game that does not punish their players in a death style manner, if they mess up. Player death and life systems of a game provide you, the developer, with the idea to keep game play and advancing through your game in check; it allows you to sprinkle a few caveats throughout the mechanics of your game, making it necessary to think before you act. Is it a good idea to go guns blazing with your most expensive (and perishable) equipment, if the situation seems like it may very well end in death? If those items die upon death, it may make the player decide to rethink their actions, or at least put a bit more thought into the situation before rushing through various situations you’ve so carefully setup.

Death, in some games, is also a way to keep a players progression through the system in check. In many games, especially MMORPGs, its been a traditional mentality that death should penalize the player in a reduction of stats. This mentality says that this will then make players work harder to regain those points, thus creating extended game play time. The same philosophy can be seen behind making certain expensive items break upon death. While this was a readily accepted mentality for most RPGs years ago, it seems the tide is beginning to move away from this. EVE Online for instance takes away all items attached to a ship (and the ship itself) when it is blown to bits. In some cases and depending on the situation your character can also suffer skill/stat points. However, EVE does provide players with the ability to insure their ships, and create ‘clones’ of their current skill sets so that in the event death occurs, little is lost. Nice, eh? This is an example where the developers of the game have clearly said “Yes, death should have a penalty”, but they have also said “But… We should give players a chance to hold onto their goods, even if death does come their way.” In many ways this approach appeals directly to more casual players who would be incredibly turned off by losing it all, simply because they were killed. This has special meaning because it is fairly easy to die in Eve. More on this later.

Development Opportunities

It may sound strange that in death there would be opportunities for additional game play and experiences, but it’s true. A player being killed in a MMORPG does not need to be a completely painful experience. In a more old school RPG, Ultima Online, the creators made death a bit more interesting. Instead of just making it so that players would resume where they left off upon returning to the land of the living, they made it required for the departed to locate someone who could resurrect them individually. While this adds additional game play time to death, it also adds in new elements of the game play that players are forced to deal with – interacting with other players, and working together. There are numerous other approaches to death. What if the return trip from the underworld spawned additional quests that were only active to those who had perished? What if death actually was a part of the game in that there were unique skills and items to gain once you’ve perished? Since death is such a normalized part of most games, why not make it something that is truly designed? In many ways creating a crafted death experience for your users when they come to an unfortunate demise can also change how those players perceive death. Is it merely a consequence put in place to add time to their game play, or is it an experience that actually has some merit and adds to the game?

Implications of Death

Depending on how easy it is to die in your game, how easy it is for other players to kill one another, what happens when a player does die, how they recover their character from it, how they retrieve their items, and so on, all play a part in how death is perceived in your game. Ultimately, if you’re like most developers you want your game’s death system to have some bite, and for players to fear it for one reason or another, but you certainly don’t want players to hate it so much that they leave your game over it. Because death is an inevitable part of most games (and most likely yours!) it’s important to consider what your “death penalty” does to a player.

In most cases if a character is killed off for good as a result of dying, players will probably be incredibly upset and unsatisfied by those results unless this is readily expected from the beginning, and it’s easy for players to recover what they may have lost. In most cases games that have “perma” death tend to be games where players don’t get a chance (and aren’t expected) to become heavily attached to their characters. Additionally, games where perma death occurs don’t leave much room for player made history or development, especially if death is a frequent occurrence. Even the looming possibility of perm death, say after 100 disposable lives that players can come back from easily becomes a bit hard to digest. Unless you can find a way to work it into the game play and storyline flawlessly, it would be wise to keep your distance from such an approach.

Like EVE, Guild Wars has a fairly balanced and reasonable approach to death. When players die, they don’t “perma” die, but they are resurrected at a shrine closest to where they were killed. When players set out to continue their journey, they have a timed handicap that limits their health and mana. If the player dies before the handicap has expired, their new penalty simply adds onto the old one. While not creating permanent stat penalties, this can slow down game play and force you to be a bit more careful as your progress (at least until your stats are restored).

Probably the most important factor to consider when determining what the penalties for death are is to decide and figure out how frequent death occurs for the normal player. If, like in Eve, it is fairly easy to blow up your ship and everything inside of it, you probably want to make death something that is 1. reasonable and 2. something that players can mitigate on their own (like in eve through purchasing insurance plans that protect your assets). While making sure that every player in your game is “happy” with every aspect of your game should not be your primary concern, making sure that at least most of your players are satisfied with the consequences for such a big system (like death) is incredibly important in retaining the people who play your game.

What do you think about all of this? Have you ever encountered a game that had an awesome method of dealing with player demises? Let us know!

– The Game Studio

Guide to Live Dealer Roulette at Online Casinos

Live dealer roulette is becoming incredibly popular in the online gambling universe. Live dealer games provide an air of realism in what is a largely digitized world, helping to bridge the gap for players who have yet to make the switch from land-based casinos to online gambling websites. For players who are unfamiliar with the platform, this article will provide an overview of these games and how they work in the online world.

Live dealer roulette is essentially a cross between online casino games and land-based offerings. A dealer in a remote location is broadcast to the player via webcam, and the game plays out in exactly the same fashion as a traditional casino game. The dealer spins the wheel, so there is no need for a random number generator; the dealer carries out any actions needed to move the game forward. In addition to roulette, live dealer baccarat and blackjack are also available in the online gambling world.

There are two main types of live games. The first is streamed from an online casino and broadcasts a dealer from a private studio. The set up is optimized to create a comfortable online gambling experience. The second type of live dealer software broadcasts a dealer table from a land-based casino. Players can see all of the other players at the table and watch as the action unfolds in the exciting casino environment.

When playing this type of online casino game, the player’s screen is divided into two sections. The top half of the screen broadcasts the dealer – and displays the bet limits, chat box and timer. The bottom half of the screen is a digital representation of the dealer’s table. In games like baccarat and blackjack, the cards that the are dealt appear here. All of the wagering options also appear in this section of the screen, and the functions are similar to those in a completely digitized online casino game.

Live dealer software is provided by third-party developers rather than individual casino operators. Companies like Microgaming and PlayTech supply the software that make online roulette, blackjack and baccarat into live dealer games. As the market continues to grow and develop, more developers who specialize in this type of gaming are emerging. Smaller companies like Evolution Gaming and CWC Gaming specialize in this type of software development and are slowly gaining a portion of the live dealer market share.

Game Developers Conference

GDC – For Professionals Only

The Game Developers Conference, also known as GDC for short, is the largest annual gathering for professional video game developers produced by UBM TechWeb Game Network, a division of UBM TechWeb, LLC.

Touted as the world’s largest professional-only game industry event, GDC has showcased essential forums that focus on learning, inspiration, and networking of the creators of computer, console, handheld, mobile, and online games.

The event has been known to have attracted over 18,000 attendees, and has been considered the primary forum where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and others involved in the development of interactive games gather to exchange ideas and discuss possible improvements and developments in the industry.

The GDC was initially focused on the computer game industry, but now the industry has begun to diversify to the point that it now includes a number of other platforms such as dedicated console games, handheld devices, cell phones, and online games. Even today, the GDC continues to define market innovations and future vision, providing insight into the future of gaming.

“Learn, Network, Inspire,” is a recurrent theme that the GDC want to impress to each of its participants.

The GDC has always been presented in San Francisco during the spring of every year. But nowadays GDC conferences are held simultaneously around the world through GDC Austin, GDC Canada, GDC China, GDC Europe, and of course GDC San Francisco.

The conference highlights a series of interactive events which includes, but is not limited, the following:

a. GDC Expo

The GDC Expo has been an avenue wherein most companies are able to demonstrate the innovative tools developers use to create their games that are released or will be released in stores shelves in the near future.

b. Learning Activities

The GDC also features learning activities that includes a variety of tutorials, some lectures, and roundtables discussion by industry professionals on game-related topics, which can cover a wide range of subjects including: programming, design, audio, production, business and management, and the visual arts.

c. Independent Games Festival

Independent Games Festival is managed and developed by GDC’s organizer, UBM TechWeb. The organizers believe that the independent game development community plays an important role in supplying fresh game ideas and concepts, while being able to disseminate them throughout the larger community of developers. It is through this that the Independent Games Festival was conceptualized.

First launched in 1999, Independent Games Festival is the first and largest competition for independent games. Independent Games Festival serves to encourage and reward innovation in independent games. It highlights the innovative achievements of developers ranging in size, from individuals building PC titles to studio teams creating console downloadable titles.

d. Game Developers Choice Awards

The Game Developers Choice Awards has been considered to be the game industry’s only open, peer-based awards show. Game Developers Choice Awards are the only premier honors awarded through peer-recognition in the digital games industry, at the same time celebrating creativity, artistry and technological genius.

Any member of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and industry professionals from around the world can be nominated for the Game Developers Choice Award, free of charge. The winners will then be selected through membership votes.

The Game Developers Choice Awards has been launched since the year 2001.

History of GDC

Originally, GDC started out as the Computer Game Developers Conference (CGDC) which organized its first conference, under the leadership of Chris Crawford, in 1988 at San Jose, California. The first conference was held in Crawford’s own living room and was attended by a small group of twenty-seven designers. Undeterred, Crawford launched CGDC’s second conference later that same year at Holiday Inn, Milpitas. This time the conference was able to attract 150 developers to attend.

By 1991-1995, CDGC has been growing steadily popular among developers and has shown increased attendance from 538 to 2387. Ernest W. Adams, then director of operations has decided to hold the conferences in different facilities in Santa Clara, San Jose, and Long Beach. Which revolutionized and help CDGC grew rapidly

CDGC’s growth was remarkable that it was able to change from a small, undercapitalized company with previous financial losses into a profitable million-dollar business. The growth figures were so immense that by the year 1994 CGDC could afford to sponsor the creation of the Computer Game Developers Association.

After a few years under the cloak of CGDC, it has decided to adapt a new name. In 1999, Game Developers Conference, or GDC, was born and replaced CGDC forever.

Throughout the years GDC has shown that it was able to develop and launched new line of ideas, concepts, and events that were able to pique the interest of game developers. The GDC hosted the Spotlight Awards from 1997 to 1999; followed by the Independent Games Festival in 1999; and the Game Developers Awards in 2001.

In the year 2002, the GDC launched “GDC Mobile,” its first event focused on developing games for mobile phones. In 2004, the GDC started to engage in a partnership with Game Connection to present its Game Connection @ GDC event, a live matchmaking service for developers and publishers. The event then expanded to include Game Connection Services for outsourcing and other services by the year 2007. The GDC also partnered with Video Games Live, in 2006, to feature their symphonic performance of videogame music as the closing night event. Such events and innovation lead to an increase number of attendees from a roughly 2000 in 1995 to 12,000 in 2005 and 18,000 in 2008.

GDC @ 25

This year, the GDC has just celebrated their 25th year last February 28 to March 4, 2011. GDC’s 25th year commemoration was marked with over 400 lectures, panels, tutorials and round-table discussions on comprehensive selection of game development topics taught by leading industry experts.

Rockstar San Diego’s critically-acclaimed Wild West adventure title Red Dead Redemption was the big winner at the 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. The game won a total of four awards which includes Best Game Design and the coveted Game of the Year Award.

In the 13th Annual Independent Games Festival, Swedish developer Mojang’s acclaimed 3D world-building sandbox title, Minecraft, was awarded the Best Independent Game for 2011.

UBM TechWeb, GDC’s organizers, has announced that over 18,000 professionals have participated and attended the said event.

Online Casino Games – You Can Start Playing Today!

You love the casinos and you love to gamble. How about trying something that is a little less risky, but just as fun?

Did you know that you can download online casino games and play them on your computer? You can even enjoy online casino slot games without downloading.

Gambling using your computer lets you feel the rush of gambling, without having to leave your house! It’s your choice whether to play with fake or real money. Also, you feel like you’re in a real casino. Another benefit is that you can play some games in multiplayer mode, with friends or family anywhere in the world, using the Internet!

Here is How to Get Started

First, find the games you want to play, using an online search engine like Google. Enter a relevant search phrase, like “online casino slot game”, or “download online casino game”. This will likely give you a big list of websites you can check.

Next comes the tedious part. At least it can be tedious, but if you look through the search results listings one by one, you should be able to identify one or more sites with games you want to play.

Make sure that you are aware of any costs that are going to be incurred, when selecting a game to play. You don’t want to be surprised by anything once you dig in and start playing.

For both online and downloadable games, check for any system requirements. You may find that you need to install flash player, Java, or.NET components. Once you have checked that your system can run the game, there are some tips to consider BEFORE you download online casino games.

Downloading Tips

If you are getting ready to download online casino games, make sure that you have good anti-virus and anti-spyware (anti-malware) programs installed on your computer. Make sure they are updated and running. Use them to scan all downloaded files, as this will allow you to filter out anything that may be tainted with a virus, trojan, or adware. It’s better to delete a downloaded file before ever running it, if it contains a payload that could slow your computer or cause it to crash!

Have Fun!

After you’ve prepared your system for your games, go ahead and play! Casino games are really fun because you can come back to the website hosting the online game, or the game installed on your computer, and play whenever you get some time. Online casino slot games are especially quick to play, so you can get in a little game play between other duties. Have fun but don’t bet more real money than you can afford to lose! After all, it’s just gaming!