I was pleased when I read that character aging will finally be included in an MMO. The inclusion of character aging, together with permadeath, has the potential to greatly enhance immersion and to increase players’ experience of the game; to coax from them new behaviors, and to possibly change the way MMOs are played. For one, it has the potential to move the goal of the MMO from one of mere advancement and item collection, from the realm of mere game, to something more dynamic and engaging.
Knowing that one’s character has an approximate lifespan, and thus a limited time to accomplish whatever goals the player may have set, could perhaps lend a greater sense of purpose to a player’s actions. It would give one an ultimate sense of completion with each character, and could also likely create an entirely new paradigm, eventually affecting the other features of the game world, particularly the social sphere and politics. I can imagine ambitious upstarts biding their time until the tribal leader dies, or a particularly wealthy character bequeathing her belongings to her heirs, or perhaps even searching for some legendary source of immortality.
Character aging seems particularly appropriate for a game such as Xsyon, which seems very community-driven and strives for a small, intimate, dedicated group of players (at least in the beginning). It seems almost as much social experiment as MMO. Additionally, I think that the limitations put on PvP, or rather the consequences for engaging in PvP willy-nilly, will help prevent the game from degenerating into nothing more than an uninspiring free-for-all PvP-oriented experience (of which there are sufficient examples already). This will allow features such as character aging (and other features that encourage emergent behavior) to flourish and evolve, while still maintaining a healthy open-ended PvP environment.
As part of a simulated environment, a blend of game and sociological experiment, I think the concept of character aging could unlock a wealth of possibilities. For example: beginning as a child and progressing through adolescence, young adulthood, old age, etc (though I think there might be some legal problems involved in presenting player characters as children). Other possibilities include: character heirs and building a dynasty, an in-game couple producing offspring (to be played by either, or by an entirely new player), etc.
One year per real time month equates to a little over RL eight years. It is my opinion that such a rate may be a bit too slow to properly convey an impending sense of mortality and to adequately create an atmosphere of change and evolution within the game world. I am not sure what would constitute a proper ratio. Personally, I might opt for one to two RL years per generation (100 years or so). Additionally, I think randomizing the age limit for each character would not be a bad idea. Thus a player would not know the exact date of his characters death. This could be further tweaked later to include such factors as environment and how healthy a life a character has lived, though this may be a bit much. Just my two cents.Xsyon Dev Response:
Characters currently age at the rate of 1 year per real time month.
Game time in relation to real time is something that we are open to changing. Any opinions here? Would you prefer characters to age quickly or slowly? How many real time game years would be reasonable for you to reach a ripe old age and die?
One question: Will characters health and physical abilities deteriorate with age?