Bashiok has posted the most detailed (so far) info we’ve seen on death penalties in Diablo III. They’re pretty much non-existent, apparently.
We want to separate being in town and being out on a quest/adventure/dungeon as much as possible. Leaving the safety of a town should not be a decision you take lightly. We don’t want to remove the sense of suspense and danger by making town something you’re always going back to pretty much whenever you like. The intent is to create a greater separation from being in town, and not, and to make your time away from town a lot more tense.
On that same note we also don’t want to remove the player from the action. Throwing them back to town for every death really breaks up the action, and not in a fun, interesting, or necessary way.
So, with these things in mind we’ve found that a check point system works really well. Throughout your adventures, and generally at the ends of each “floor” of a dungeon your character is saved to a checkpoint. When you die you’re dropped back at the last checkpoint with a small amount of health, and the rest regenerates slowly. It’s obviously a very forgiving system as it is. It’s just too early to put a ton of thought in to what penalties there should be, if any, added on top of it.
Regardless, potential penalties aside, this is the death mechanic we’re currently using and it’s working really well so far.
Conveniently, I just overhauled the Death page in our D3 wiki over the weekend, and this new info from Bashiok fits in nicely with the other quotes on the subject from the D3 Team.
What do you guys think of this non-penalty approach? Should there be a sting to death, or should Softcore death be nothing but a few second’s inconvenience, since people who want to avoid dying can always play Hardcore? I’d comment more now, but this seems like a good subject for this week’s On the Drawing Board column, so I’ll save my opinion for a couple more days, yet.