Players Want to be Able to Die

May 4, 2010 Written by Zak Islam

The Prince of Persia franchise is renowned for its abilities to allow players to cheat death in the game with its infamous rewind time tool. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands‘ lead game designer now gives his opinion on how he feels death should apply to video games.

Lead game designer for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Thomas Simon, explains his personal opinion during an interview with VG247 on player failure and death within video games.

This is only my personal opinion, but while it may seem to be a paradox, I think players want to be able to die. This basically means that players must be aware that failure has a price, or else they might have little motivation to succeed.

Yet, as developers we must balance that risk. For me this is critical in error management: finding the right balance and ensuring the game is never needlessly frustrating. The Prince’s time rewind ability is a remarkable way of empowering players and letting them manage their error but is not the only tool we use. A smooth learning curve is probably the greatest asset we have at our disposal but also an extremely tough one to “nail”. This is why we do extensive playtesting to research and, hopefully, confirm our ideas. It is a tool that gives us information that is extremely useful when developing a game and has been used extensively in the Prince of Persia series, back in the Sands of Time days.

Some may remember in the last Prince of Persia game, that it introduced Elika who gives the prince the ability to rewind his actions – ultimately getting rid of death in the game. So, what’s your take on death within video games? Do you think it’s needed for players as it makes it more challenging or should checkpoints be canned and games should just do it the Prince of Persia way – rewind time?

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands will be released on May 18th, 2010.