Recently there has been some commentary about death penalties. There are some people who feel that the current penalties are too low.
My question is:
Why is it so important to punish failure?
I mean, you shouldn't reward failure, but I don't really see the need to punish failure either.
No one really wants to fail. And failure is often obvious. Your character is dead on the ground and you have a corpse run. You can't really miss the fact that you failed.
Do high death penalties really make players better, or do they just make players more cautious? It's arguable that one of flaws of lower tier raid guilds is that they don't fail enough. They'll wipe 5 times and then call it, or move on to something easier. While a high end guild might wipe 200+ times when learning a really hard fight. I don't think that an even greater death penalty would help these guilds, and it might actively hurt them.
What you do want to keep in check is the ability to fail with partial success, so that several failures add up to a success. The ability to zerg something needs to be carefully watched. But that can be done without harsh death penalties. Quest timers, group respawns, instances that prevent you from zoning in while a fight is in progress, requirements that you do X without dying, etc.
Of course, you do have to be careful with this. If quest progress was wiped on death, and you had a quest to kill 100 boars, it would really, really suck if you died on the 99th boar.
Of course, some people insist that punishing failure in raid groups is the appropriate way to go, like docking DKP for making mistakes. But is the punishment the key driver of improvement, or is it the fact that the mistake was specifically identified and called out, giving the player the feedback necessary to improve?
I don't think that actively punishing failure works when the player wants to succeed. So I don't think that death penalties need to be harsher, and if anything, they could stand to be easier.