Dying in The Mana World
When a characters hit point reach zero or another situation causes the demise of a player character, the character lies on the ground lifeless and unable to act. The player can either wait for another character to cast a revive spell on his character or just give up and accept death.
The realm of death
When a character dies it is teleported to the realm of death. The realm of death is a dark, surreal and eerie location where the laws of physics don't apply. Dominant colors: dark blue and purple. Design ideas: a) cave, b) glass floors floating over fractal background, c) 19th century look like the "end of time" in chrono trigger.
People in the realm of death have no access to their inventory, can not attack, use magic, craft or use any other active abilities. The characters actions are limited to moving around and communicating with NPCs and other characters. There is no way to die in the realm of death. The character is already dead, after all. Luckily the realm of death is not the final resting place for a poor adventurers soul. A cunning adventurer can find his way out of the death realm and back into the world of the living.
The Grim Reaper
As soon as the character awakes in the death realm he/she is greeted by the grim reaper. The grim reaper NPC counts how often the character died and responds accordingly. The first time the character dies he will just explain the situation. The next few times the reaper will give the character some useful tips for staying alive.
When the death count increases (and it will increase) the purpose of Reaper's greeting shifts from information to cheering up the player after its defeat using sarcastic remarks, dark humor and occasional 4th wall breaking. Example phrases:
- Died again? That was quick.
- Oh, you again? Did you miss me that much?
- You really seem to enjoy dying.
- Did you bring me a present?
- Wow, of all your 37 deaths this one was by far the most hilarious.
- You died 50 times in a row. This qualifies you for our frequent dier program.
- Ding! Ding! Ding! You died for the 100th time! PARTY!
- Why don't you just activate the god mode cheat? You don't know it? Did you try up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A?
- The god mode cheat didn't work? Maybe you entered it at the wrong moment?
- Oh dear, you used up all of your extra lifes. Now you have to stay here forever. Do you want to delete this character and create a new one? Just kidding, you know the way.
- Congratulations! You died 1000 times!
To escape the world of death the character has to find its way through a maze. The maze is randomly generated for each character and each visit in the death realm, so memorizing it or consulting guides does not help. This is implemented by using a map containing of multiple rooms connected by smart warp scripts. The maze has multiple exits which represent the location where the character will reenter the world of the living. The most desirable location is the one which is furthest away from the players start location in the maze. Exits ordered by increasing desirability:
- respawn at first town
- respawn in last visited town
- respawn on the entrance of the map where the player died
- respawn at the exact location of death
The purpose of the maze is to punish the player by stopping the progress of its character for a short time but to keep the player occupied and entertained during this forced time-out period.
Technical implementation of maze
The script engine randomly-generates a maze of 7x7 elements (or maybe larger - we have to see how the players react on it). Possible element types are:
- straight (x2)
- curve (x4)
- t-crossing (x4)
- crossing (x1)
- dead end (x4)
The algorithm has to make sure that every element of the maze is reachable and it has to generate the maze based on a random seed. The algorithm must produce the same maze when receiving the same seed. Potential algorithms are explained in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maze_generation_algorithm
The start location is the center (a crossing). The exits are the corners of the maze (dead ends facing clockwise). The algorithm assigns the desirability rating of each exit based on the length of the optimal route to the start.
Representation of the maze in the game
The layout of the map the player walks on while exploring the maze does not represent the real layout of the maze. Instead of that there are 20 single, isolated rooms - one for the possible 15 element types + 5 additional rooms for the start and the 4 exits. Each one is used to represent every instance of that element in the labyrinth. The real layout of the maze is "virtual". It is only known to the script.
When the player is, for example, in the south/west curve room of the map he could be in any south/west curve of the virtual maze. Only the script knows the real location inside the virtual maze. When the player leaves the room through the west exit the script checks the type of element in the virtual maze one element to the west and teleports the character to the eastern exit of the appropriate room.
Effect on gameplay experience
All characters who are currently trying to get back into the world of the living are technically on the same map. This means that it is possible to meet other characters while traveling through the maze. But the warp connections work differently for everyone. So when both characters leave the room they met in through the same exit they will most likely lose each other.
Saving the maze
To make sure that the character does not get trapped when the server is rebooted while the character is in the maze the state of the maze has to be saved as quest variables in the database. Only two variables are necessary to do so: Location inside the maze and the seed used by the random number generator for generating the maze.
Relation to Mana
See The nature of mana and magic As sentient mana inhabits a being, it becomes attached to its form. If it gets separated from that form, it still maintains a longing. This separated mana is what enters the afterlife. It seeks to return to the body is was inhabiting, and can do so through the maze. After a lifetime in a body, the mana is tired, and will eventually desert it's form; this is "natural death", and is permanent. After long enough separated from it's body, sentient mana might give up on returning to it's body, and disperse. In the very young, the sentient mana might not have had time to become accustom to it's body, and so it might disperse when the being dies.
Replace the Grim Reaper with two NPCs: Dark Figure and the Pathfinder.
The Dark Figure is not interactive until you talk with the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder explains that he was human and has been in the death realm for forty years. His purpose is to explain how to escape the death realm. He adds that some day he will be replaced by a new pathfinder, but he does not know how long he is stuck in his position. One option the pathfinder gives is that you may let the Dark Figure feed from your mana to be returned to your own world, or you can follow different paths to find your own way out. (The pathfinder can also be the source of the above sarcastic remarks)
After your interaction with the Pathfinder, clicking on the Dark Figure, he will now *extends his hand toward you* and you can take his hand or run like mad.
This would be the 'lore' section of Afterlife
The strange existence of the Death Realm directly correlates to man's discovery of Soul Menhir stones after the Quake. Some who touch a Soul Menhir claim to feel a "strange sensation" as though "your soul leaves your body and becomes one with the stone". Others feel nothing at all, and are presumed incapable of renewed life. Blessed with the ability of resurrection, many seek fortunes as adventurers; as they have all but forgotten to fear death.