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PC Let's talk about the Death screen

LoM2

Retinazer
Alright, this has been on my mind for... only the last few days, really, since I haven't actually been playing Terraria that much recently... but the Death screen needs a revisit.

Let's look at it right now. I took my character, took off my wings, dumped all my money I happened to be holding into a piggy bank and then threw myself into a pit. Took about eight hundred points of damage, and, as usual, was greeted with this:


(It got a little blurry when I resized it. Shouldn't have relied on paint.net...)

Alright, we've got a nice, big message telling me I'm dead, a message showing everything I've lost, and a snarky message in the corner.

Which, for some godforsaken reason, lasts for ten seconds. (I timed it.)

Now, there are two basic problems with this screen: it's long and it's boring. Watch me dissect them in unnecessary detail- skip the two paragraphs in the spoilers if you're lazy and want to get to the part where I propose a solution- this is just so anyone who wants to argue against me has to wade through a bunch of text first.

Point A. Ten seconds isn't a long time, but this wait is... 98% unnecessary. There are basically two cases where the death delay is actually important in the game: multiplayer boss fights and general invasions/moons. In no other circumstance is this death timer a crucial balance factor, and even in the two I just listed there are perfectly good ways around it. (I'll get into that later.) Meanwhile, this timer decides it must spend ten seconds rubbing your failure in your face- it's even better if you die to a monster and not just by helevator suicide- you get to watch a bunch of monsters do a victory dance around your corpse. The obvious question here is why. Other games with death timers tend to have a reason you have to wait so long- either because it's multiplayer and they can't have you instantly leaping back in, to render previous scenes or to... arbitrarily punish you. The first one isn't a problem even in terraria multiplayer because most multiplayer is co-op (and there's travel time involved, although that has been more or less negated by the wormhole potion), the second... is pretty obviously not a problem (it's a 2d sprite game), and the third is just poor game design.

Point B. If you insist on having a death screen, make it interesting. Right now it literally just tells you 'You have been slain!' and has you wait for ten seconds staring at that. It would take maybe five minutes of code to add a ten second countdown timer to the screen and even that would make it more bearable. Or make it display a fact about the game (see: skyrim). This point really doesn't need a lot of justification- sometimes a death timer is excusable, a boring one is not.

Alright, since I'm not the type to harp on about a problem unless I have some form of a solution in mind (when it comes to my own threads, at least- all bets are off when I'm commenting on someone else's idea): let's talk solutions.

I) Remove/Drastically shorten the death delay.
With the two exceptions I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty sure this would cause basically no adverse effects. If you got to jump in the game after two seconds instead of ten, would that make the game drastically easier? I doubt it. I mean (and some of you are probably going to get real up-in-arms at me about this comparison), look at Minecraft: you die, you get a screen with an arbitrary score that I never understood and a button to respawn, you click the button and you're back in the game within two seconds. It works fine- nobody complains about it being too easy because we get to spawn back in faster.

Issues do come into play when we talk multiplayer bosses/any invasion/moon, so this may not always be viable. However, the death timer is adjustable under different circumstances (according to the wiki, it's longer during Expert mode boss fights), so it really can't be that difficult to set the timer longer during a multiplayer battle (there is literally code in place to change the duration if the game detects expert mode and boss fight- and I refuse to believe the game can't detect multiplayer.) Same is applicable to invasions. Hell, you could probably slap on a debuff with the subtext "Respawn time is lengthened!" just to inform the player.

II) Make the death screen interesting.
If the first option is not possible, a simple way to improve the death screen is to make it show how long it is before you respawn. I mentioned a countdown timer that would be simple to implement, but something that crude doesn't have to be the only option- you could have a row of hearts refilling to show resurrection progress. You could then take this a step further and base respawn time off of the amount of health a player has, so a player starting out would have to wait a shorter amount of time than a player who's already fairly deep into the game. (2 seconds per 100 health? I'm just tossing out ideas, don't take any of my numbers as ironclad).

Take this even further and you could give the player some degree of agency over when they respawn. Have the bar fill up and let the player choose when they've achieved an amount of health they feel comfortable respawning with- maybe set a minimum of 100. If we're not changing the current spawn times, then it should be 100 health per 4 seconds (a 500 health player currently spawns with 250 health), decreasing minimum death delay but allowing players to wait longer if they want to start off with more of an edge.

The last idea began to rub me the wrong way because it still fails to address the core problem (the use of a death delay as a punishment) but it's still a much better system than what we have now.

III) Make it interactive.
Last ditch attempt. If we can't completely eliminate the screen or give the player agency, at least allow us to do something in those ten seconds. Move the camera around or something, or watch the other players if we're on a server. Honestly, I don't really like this option- I just wanted something to round out the list.

That's about it. After all that, I'd like to note that this really isn't a major problem. It's not gamebreaking and I doubt most of us even notice it. But considering all the exasperating annoyances we have to deal with, from idiotic NPCs who seem to be on a quest to open as many of your doors as possible to arbitrary RNG that results in twenty of every Moon Lord drop except a Meowmere, that clearly aren't getting patched anytime soon, I'd like to see if we can get at least one small irritation fixed.

Plus, it's just bad game design.

PS: If you're going to be someone who says 'hurr durr here's a solution: don't die': please take that entitlement and shove it somewhere unpleasant. Thank you. I have read threads from other sources and this seems to be a surprisingly common sentiment despite the fact that it makes basically no sense whatsoever.

PPS: I've been talking about the normal respawn time for most of this, and honestly that was just because it annoyed me from a design perspective. Apparently expert mode respawn timers are longer (roughly 13 seconds normally) and I have no idea how long multiplayer expert boss respawn timers are because all of this data has been gathered by myself and I don't have anyone on call- if anyone knows how long that is that information would be much appreciated.
 
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SnailsAttack

Dungeon Spirit
This would be way better than the current death screen stuff we have. I personally like the 2nd and a 3rd options. Support!
 

ClaireValle

Steampunker
I've never really had a problem with the death screens and timers, but it would be nice to see this implemented in the game. I personally preffer the third option.
 

The Law

Terrarian
I like option 3, the interactive one.
I think it would be cool if you watched your character like fall into hell or go into the sky biome depending on how you died.
 

Bethany

Steampunker
I've always assumed the delay is to discourage in-game suicide as a cheap way of getting out of difficult situations in softcore. IIRC that's the rationale behind the existence of Recall Potions and Magic Mirrors.

[edit] I mention this because I think you've overlooked the (IMO likely) purpose of the delay in terms of game design. If this is why it's there, it's not "bad design" but purposeful design. Very mildly annoying, yes. Bad, no.

Now that there are easy ways of getting home without killing your character, it's less necessary than it might have been early in the game's development. I don't find a few seconds to be bothersome enough to warrant changing though.
 
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LoM2

Retinazer
Even if the delay was made to discourage suicide as a return-home mechanism, that was a complete failure because we can still just leave the game and rejoin. Which doesn't result in any monetary loss and even the world loading bar is more interesting to watch than the death screen. Therefore, viewing it in the most positive light I can muster, the delay wasn't put in for any (good) overarching game-design reason.

Also, if you have to put in a timer to deincentivize death, you've done something badly wrong. However, I really don't feel like railing at softcore death-punishment design as well (and I don't have a day to try to figure out anything better) so I'll leave it at that.
 
Personally, when I am playing with friends at my house and one of us dies in a boss fight, it gets SO STRESSFUL to see if you respawn in time. But that is on purpose. The long death time is super annoying, and even just something simple like a better designed death screen would make it better. It could even change during events.
 

LoveSpreader

Terrarian
'hurr durr here's a solution: don't die'
Actually, you could add "tired of seeing this?" in front of that when the death message plays. I think I can get behind sarcastic and witty remarks(and meanness within bounds), and maybe some tips to avoid your next death on the death screen.
 

Shadowaltz

Terrarian
Yes please, any of these.

I'm fine with multiplayer having respawn time, as it actually matters and affects the ongoing fight.
But in single player, your Point A sums up all my feelings about it, it just doesn't add anything to the game.
 

neoselket

Ice Queen
YES. there is literally NO REASON to make me wait 50 years to espawn in expert mode. it just makes death infuriating and rage inducing. doesn't make it any harder at all, just annoying. also, you should be able to open the menu when you're dead, as you cannot currently exit the game until you respawn, and if you get killed too fast after respawning, it can get difficult to get to the menu. and as for your suggestion, i like the idea of hearts regenerating while you wait.
 

Sigma90

Brain of Cthulhu
Agreed, especially for single player.
Yes, I died. I know. Yes, the boss has flown off to the heavens and despawned. Now please let me get back to playing the game! :)

The wait for more health idea is really interesting. It would help with scenarios like: Die, wait 10 secs, respawn with 100 health, get hit with a projectile, die, ... . It would definitely help with invasions. (Pirate Invasion did that to me once. I had to restore a world backup because there was literally nothing I could do to end it.) Perhaps link it to usage of a bed? You respawn in bed sleeping and so long as you are in bed, you're invincible and HP increases following the normal HP regen rules. Any actions and you're out of bed. You can't return to bed after leaving it.

I mean (and some of you are probably going to get real up-in-arms at me about this comparison), look at Minecraft: you die, you get a screen with an arbitrary score that I never understood and a button to respawn, you click the button and you're back in the game within two seconds.
I think it's the total experience you collected during that lifetime.

to arbitrary RNG that results in twenty of every Moon Lord drop except a Meowmere
But that's a good thing! Less Meowmere, the better. :)
 

Warpshard

Retinazer
My favorite improvement is the second version, since I am not too interested in looking around where I died, and I think that reducing the timer is too easy of a fix. Yes, it makes more sense to allow you to just spawn right back in, but wouldn't it be a little more visually pleasing to allow a player to see their health coming back, and allow them to choose when to spawn with however much health they have accumulated at that point?
 

GoldenTerrabyte

Duke Fishron
I agree totally that the death timer is absolutely pointless. In fact, from what I've seen in videos, the Console version actually does let you respawn immediately after dying, I think by just pressing a button or something. And it should work like this in every version. There should be no wait for respawning, because there'd be nothing negative from having it be that way.
 
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