I have a MOBA hybrid type called Baseship Commanders. It's been running for a few months now on Battle.net got a decent 4 star rating. Pretty fun game and has some of the basic MOBA features with a slight twist. Each team has a Base Commander responsible for building defenses and equipping Ship Commanders with buffs.
Currently the punishment system for dying involves losing a percentage of earned income and increasing the respawn time before respawning your hero.
However, I want to see what you guys think. And I want some ideas of other ways to punish players for dying. Obviously, we want a balanced system, something that is not too overbearing, but my current punishment system seems fairly weak.
Players that get the kill do earn a considerable amount of income/experience for the kill, but the players that die only lose a bit of money and +4 second respawn time. Because purchases are made through upgrades available in a submenu on the hero, most players are constantly spending all their money so the loss of money is pretty minimal.
The game does not feature leveling but instead focuses on upgrading features of each hero. It's impossible to upgrade everything so what you choose to upgrade determines your build more or less.
I had the thought today that every time a player dies, he/she loses the last upgrade they purchased in addition to the money and death timer. In the late game, upgrades become considerably more expensive, so dying in the early game would not be that insignificant
What are some other ways you feel would be good punishment for a hero for dying and what do you guys think of my idea of losing the last upgrade the player purchased?
Of course there is the problem of actually implementing the De-upgrade VIA triggers and undoing all of the upgrades the DATA editor causes to the unit/abilities, weapons etc.
I am generally against punishment for death. In most cases, the killing player is better at the game. The losing player is worse at the game. Reward the better player, punish the weaker player, and watch that gap grow!
A reasonable way of doing it, without the snowball effect, is to have rewards based on kills/points the killed player has achieved. The pro carrying his team will offer a larger reward, while cherry-picking noobs does not offer much. The same can be said of penalties.
This will allow noobs and pros to play a game they both may enjoy, without telling noobs that they suck and they need a helping hand. It may even deter players from picking on noobs, and racking their kill count up; which will make a death more painful, and make them a target for better players.
You do need some reward for victory though. Having everything be fair and balanced sounds good on paper, but it doesn't feel good in-game. Of course, it depends on the game type. Permanent death punishments in a game like Overwatch isn't going to go down well. However removing any thrill of victory will just cripple your game. What good is fairness if it doesn't feel good to win?
Ideally you want to reward victory instead of punishing defeat. One way I like is bounty. Killing a player grants you their bounty, but also increases your own. This creates a "fuck yeah" moment for scoring a kill, brings with it risk (since you are now worth more to the enemy team) and doesn't create too big of a gap between the winner and the loser over a long game (unless the teams are grossly unbalanced).
I'm not a personal fan of long death timers. I end up just tabbing out and losing all interest for the duration of the timer.
Still, punishing the loser can feel good too. However it has to be absolutely crystal clear as to why the loser died, why it was their own fault, and how they can avoid this in future. This isn't easy to accomplish, and it doesn't work well in games where you can die due to no fault of your own. Star Battle is an example of a game which does this correctly. There's never a time where dying in Star Battle is anyone's fault except your own, and the severe punishment for dying fits the game very well.
I was thinking about that bounty system. What do you guys think about this? How about everyone starts at a default bounty of 500. It cannot go below 500, but it can go up. If someone is in the negative because they have died 1 or more times with 0 kills and someone kills them, the killing player would still get the default reward.
Now, lets say for every kill a hero gets, they are worth 50 more. Every time they die, they are worth 50 less, but it would not fall below the default 500. This way there is still reward for killing them regardless of their kill/death ratio. The player who has killed a lot will entice other players to go after him, and subsequently be rewarded for their endeavors.
Snowballing in itself is not a bad thing in my opinion. What is problematic, is if the game transitions into an unrecoverable position for one team, but still isn't near to the end. In that case one or both teams are just wasting their time progressing to the end. For the losing team this is obviously not fun.
A little bit of snowballing should be in any competitive game, because otherwise the early stages are essentially meaningless, aren't they?