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To Die or Not To Die?

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Fiocco
LV 8

As I’m continuing through my new game I’m planning, I now have come across the fact about the lifespan of the animal characters.

In many other animal SIMs, the animals die after a certain timeframe, but I was thinking of not doing that.

I remember sometimes I would get quite upset about the idea of some of my favourite animals dying, so would it be better if the message is a straighforward one saying “Your animal has died” or create something more mellow like “Your animal has left because of middle-life crisis” or something 😂

 

I think the animal dying will be a bit harsh to some people... but maybe the majority prefer for that to be the ultimate outcome? What do you guys think? 🤔

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I think you'd reach out to a wider audience if your game's animals don't have expiry dates, but if for example survival is an objective of your game then it wouldn't make much sense if they never died. I'd say go with what would make most sense to the core themes of your game.

If you wanted, you could do something like include animal death as a feature of your game but freeze the health, hunger or aging mechanics of animals whose owners haven't logged in for x amount of time so the game doesn't feel punishing for returning players. Best of both worlds.

Personally, I prefer games that I can enjoy playing casually.

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Fiocco
LV 8
15 hours ago, Celosia said:

I think you'd reach out to a wider audience if your game's animals don't have expiry dates, but if for example survival is an objective of your game then it wouldn't make much sense if they never died. I'd say go with what would make most sense to the core themes of your game.

If you wanted, you could do something like include animal death as a feature of your game but freeze the health, hunger or aging mechanics of animals whose owners haven't logged in for x amount of time so the game doesn't feel punishing for returning players. Best of both worlds.

Personally, I prefer games that I can enjoy playing casually.

Ah, yes, a bit like Lioden! The game will load only everytime the player logs-in. That’s a great idea, I had totally forgotten about that 😁

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Blix
LV 9

I don't think death is too sensitive to have in a game. They've been doing virtual pets dying since tamagotchis. Sometimes emulating real life trauma can help people (and children) to build emotional strength so they can endure a much harsher reality. 

I would phrase it nicely, though. Like 'x has passed away.' 

I do think whether to have animals die or not though ultimately depends on your gameplay, features, and demograph. If players are going to be spending all their time with a single animal, such as training and building a bond, death  might end up just being a huge disappointment to players who worked hard with that animal. On the flip side, if the game is more about constantly getting new animals (such as with breeding features), then death can help clear out animals and won't be as much of a bother to players who are always replacing them, anyway. 

You could also do both. Have animals die under normal circumstances, but have some way (like an item or feature) to immortalize them if the player really wants to keep a particular animal. 

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One thing to keep in mind is if pets don't die you'll have a HUGE number of pets you have to deal with and keep records for. Generally games have pets and items expire for space/database optimization reasons. I've seen games work without the pets dying but that is just something you should really think about if your pets are going to last a long time you might want to strictly limit the number of pets they can own (ie 3 max) because then for every player account you have at least 3 pets and for every pet if they can equip 5 items you're taking 1,000 players means 3,000 pets and potentially 15,000 items. Now take that and times it by 100,000 players and you can see how it easily becomes more and more of a problem.

Edited by Design1online
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Fiocco
LV 8

@Hare Special items will be totally added then :D

 

@Design1online Of course, all very important points! Database and storage was completely out of my mind when I was planning this 😳 When it obviously should have been taken into consideration from the very start... *embarrassed groan* Ugh, thanks for reminding me!

 

And thanks for both your help 🤗

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Either way can work depending on the mechanics of the game. 

Dying makes more sense and could potentially be more beneficial in a breeding game since your goal would be to breed the strongest/most ideal individuals possible. You'll quickly find yourself in a situation where you'll have more pets than you can manage which can cause decision fatigue. People may get discouraged by the work they have to do managing a horde of pets. 

Some Examples from Other Media: 

  • X is gone ... but left a parting gift. (Monster Rancher. In 3 in particular, they leave behind a booster for your next monster)
    • It's a step down from 2 where your monster keels over on-screen and is found dead by you and your keeper. 
    • In 3, it's also possible for your monster to run away if you push it too hard. They may or may not come back. If they're gone for good, they leave nothing.  
  • X has retired and went to live in another part of the pond. (Magikarp Jump - Good Ending)
    • You see them occasionally and have a post-game record, but they cannot train or compete anymore
  • X is done for ... (Magikarp Jump - Bad Ending) 
    • They are actually dead. 
  • X has reincarnated. (Chao Garden - Good Ending)
    • With enough care and reincarnation, your Chao can be reborn immortal 
  • X has been sent away. (Chao Garden) 
    • This is a way of culling Chao without abusing them to ensure they die and not reincarnate 

Pets that stay alive forever makes more sense in games where you train the strongest individual possible -- and training could require a considerable time and financial investment. People may not want to feel like their time and money were for naught when a pet they invested so much in dies. If not handled properly, it can discourage people from playing or continuing to play. 

I don't think the age of your target audience factors into the equation much. There's a growing understanding that children should understand the importance of life and significance of death from an early age -- and when handled tastefully it does not have to be a crushingly sad moment for them. 

Edited by Mobotropolis
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Scorzdon
LV 13

One problem is that if you keep all the animals alive then you run the risk of running out of space in your database.

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Peppermint
LV 12

For Novilar, this is an interesting topic. Novilar is based heavily on breeding, it is not uncommon for a member to "breed" 15-30 pets a week, some do much more. Although we do not have a death mechanic, a lot of these pets are released by their owners (usually the non-sentimental ones). This covers the whole culling down to a users decision versus a forever decision.

We don't carry too much in overhead for pets, which makes their data relatively light.

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I personally don't really like playing games myself that have pets that die.

If you're making a sim that, as much as possible, tries to emulate real life, then I can see why dying is a necessary feature, but I often times find that it can get stressful for a lot of people(myself included). it makes it makes it hard for collectors to become invested, and for users to want to ever feel attached to their pets(or a pet in particular) cause they know theyll pass away. But I guess that really depends mostly on the type of features ur site overall offers - whether its one of more casual Horde And Collect Cute Pixel Pets, or one of Ur An Animal Rancher - Take Care of These Animals, or something in between.

I find if ever, a system similar to what Digital mentioned above, or similar to FlightRising has are pretty nice? It seems they both have a fairly large amount of pets bred, but having them culled down by "releasing" by the users' choice is pretty effective if what youre worried about is database space (forcing it by capping pet limits to a reasonable amount which can be expanded with a fairly large amount of currency). I personally think if u have a fighting-mechanic going on, a system similar to what Pokemon Quest does (you can "sacrifice" a creature to train with another) is pretty nice as well, since it could give another method with which you can get benefit from "releasing" pets.

That said, I think pets running away with a message stating that they left in a bout of mid-life crisis is pretty funny too

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Unknown
LV 2

From a player perspective, I'm pretty lenient on death as a feature. It is a fact of life, and could add realism to the game. If the game is not meant to be completely realistic I would love a way to keep my favorite pets alive, perhaps through an item, but it isn't a deal breaker for me personally. It could help keep a larger audience since players know they can keep the pets that are sentimental to them, and their projects or pets they spent a lot of currency on wont die. As long as it is done respectfully and doesn't have overly graphic text, just a simple "X has passed away," then it doesn't seem like it's be too harsh, particularly if you are looking for an older audience. A game for young children, I can definitely see it being a problem if death were to be added to a game, but a 13+ audience should be able to handle the idea.

From a very novice developer perspective, death or another way of cleaning out the data base is essential, especially when the focus of the game involves breeding lots of pets. Let's use wajas as an example. The youngest pets' IDs are around 8.6 million. What if this site didn't have a way to remove pets? They have to have a database entry for each pet and generate each image separately since they have no limits on markings and mutations, hex color codes, and opacity, and there are players who collect pets with as many markings and mutations on them as possible. That's a lot of data!

If you don't want death to be in the game due to sensitivities or any other reason, there are always other options to reduce the load. Flight Rising has exalting dragons to serve deities, Wajas has the Obsessed Waja Fan, and Novilar has releasing as Digital said. I have to say, I checked out the wiki for Novilar and the text displayed when you release a pet is absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of having releases being the pet's choice and is a wonderful alternative to death. The text also involves lore surrounding the site and it is my favorite example of giving players a feature to remove unwanted pets from the site without the pets dying.

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