To die or not to die...

I’m in the bad habit of not saving stuff, be it games or work, unless I finish playing for a session.

So if it crashes (work or game), I lose whatever I’ve done.

If I die (only games so far…but my office isn’t that exciting so I should be okay) it means I start from the beginning, or the end of the last session.

Dying, therefore, annoys me.

Do you prefer playing games where the player dies, or do you prefer games where death is not possible?


If I die in a game I almost always type undo, unless of course I’ve already screwed up so much that an undo isn’t going to get me anywhere (usually in a time-limited scenario.)

I don’t mind dying in a game, as long as there’s a good reason for it, I’ve been warned that it’s probably going to happen, and I can prevent it with a reasonable command.

That being said, I prefer not having to worry about it. I mostly play IF for the stories, not for the puzzles, so dying really doesn’t do much for me.

I don’t mind death on general principle, but nothing gets me typing >QUIT faster than a game that kills the player with no warning or for no reason. If going east results in my death, at the very least there had better be a mention of the cliff with the unstable looking rock ledge in that direction.

If I do something really obviously stupid, or am maybe just not fast enough during the big showdown with the villain, than I don’t mind getting a bad ending and having to type ‘undo’, but I know that a lot of people do find it annoying, so it shouldn’t be something the author does lightly.

Though the other end of the spectrum, where you refuse to kill off the player at all, could actually be harmful to the game. Let’s say the villain has caught you snooping around in his house, and now he’s going after you with a butcher knife.

Kind of kills the tension, doesn’t it? :wink:

I don’t mind death in games provided it’s not done too much. If I’m getting killed every few moves, even if it’s logical and makes perfect sense, I find my enthusiasm waning. It’s nice to be able to UNDO the move that led to you getting killed, but sometimes you’ll find yourself with a timed event (like an hunger daemon) that kills you off after X amount of time. UNDO doesn’t help you there.

There was a game in the IFComp a few years ago that killed me off after X amount of time, yet never gave me any indication beforehand it was going to happen. I was just wandering along, taking my time, exploring, and then without any warning whatsoever the game just killed me off. My opinion of it dropped sharply after that.

There was some discussion on RGIF (maybe RAIF) a few weeks ago, about this. It might have even been after last IFComp. I don’t know why it’s not such a big deal in video games (I’m about 2/3 of the way through Halo 2 presently, and I’ve died repeatedly). Maybe because you don’t usually lose all your progress (Halo and Halo 2 are both really good about giving frequent checkpoints – at least on “easy” mode).

Death in IF usually means a single “undo”. If you’re a newbie, and you don’t really know about “undo” (and if it’s not an option in the end text), then it could be a problem. In The Orion Agenda, from IFComp 2004, there were some interesting sudden-death situations, but a single undo resolves it. I remember having mixed feelings about that, but overall thinking it was no harm done, and even a nice twist to the story.

After Distress, it may be a while before I write another where the player can lose. Death in Distress isn’t always resolved by a single “undo”, because the creature has its own agenda. If Huchess and Covegn have already been taken and it’s coming after you, there is no way to avoid it. You have to reload an earlier save, or start over. An “undo” will usually work if either of the other two are still around, provided you were killed simply for attacking it. From reviews, its high placement in the IFComp results, and the “best puzzles” XYZZY, I think this all worked for the majority of players. It gave credibility to the dangerous, urgent tone of the setting. But, I think it worked because the game was short, and because it was about survival. Throwing death into a longer or more relaxed game probably wouldn’t be looked on as favorably.