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    What is a pwipe?

    A pwipe, short for “player wipe,” involves the complete deletion of player data files from a game, effectively resetting the game environment. This allows for a fresh start for all players, often reinvigorating the game’s community and dynamics.

    Pwipes are particularly common in online text-based roleplaying games where player progression and game scenarios can significantly change the virtual world.

    The concept of a pwipe originated in the early days of multi-user dungeons (MUDs), where administrators needed a way to balance the game and fix large-scale issues caused by updates or bugs.

    Over time, pwipes became a strategic tool to renew interest in games that had reached a developmental plateau or where the player base had become too powerful, skewing the game’s original intent.

    Pwipe FAQs

    What is the typical reason for a game to undergo a pwipe?

    Games usually undergo a pwipe to clear accumulated player data that may be causing imbalances or stagnation within the game environment. By resetting the game, developers can introduce new features, balance gameplay, and provide all players with equal footing for exploring new content or changes.

    In roleplaying-heavy games, pwipes are used to reset the game environment, begin a new story, and to give all players a fresh start.

    See: Investment, stakes, and conflict in RPIs for reasons to employ a pwipe in a RP game.

    How do players generally react to pwipes?

    Player reactions to pwipes can vary widely. Newer players might welcome them as opportunities for a level playing field, while veteran players might view them with frustration due to the loss of long-earned achievements and status.

    Game communities often experience a surge in activity following a pwipe as players rush to experience and re-master the game.

    Are pwipes common in all types of games?

    No, pwipes are mostly found in multiplayer online games, especially text-based roleplaying games and some persistent world games. They are less common in single-player games or games where data persistence is a key feature of the player experience.

    Can players prevent or avoid a pwipe?

    Generally, players have no control over whether a game undergoes a pwipe, as this decision is made by the game’s administrators or coders based on broader game health and balance considerations.

    However, players can usually prepare for a pwipe by backing up character information, concluding their storylines, or completing major game objectives before the reset.

    What are the alternatives to a pwipe?

    Alternatives to a pwipe include targeted resets where only certain aspects of the game are cleared, such as specific leaderboards or problematic elements, and rolling restarts where changes are implemented gradually. These strategies can mitigate player frustration by preserving some continuity in the game experience.

    Myths about pwipes

    Players always lose everything: While it’s true that pwipes involve data deletion, many games provide systems to save or record certain achievements or milestones. For example, data saved at the account level might be preserved, even if data on the character level is not.

    Pwipes are used to punish players: Rather than punitive measures, pwipes are typically used to rejuvenate the game and solve systemic issues that cannot be addressed while maintaining current player data.

    All games benefit from pwipes: Not all game types or player communities benefit from pwipes. Their utility and impact can vary greatly depending on the game’s structure, culture, and player base.

    Pwipe examples

    • In a MUD, a pwipe might occur after a significant update to the game’s codebase that fundamentally changes mechanics, requiring a fresh start.
    • Some RPG servers perform a pwipe when introducing a new major storyline or world expansion to ensure all players start the expanded content on equal footing.
    • A pwipe may be scheduled regularly every few years in long-running games to prevent older players from dominating the game landscape indefinitely.
    • A game plagued by widespread exploitation of bugs might undergo a pwipe to correct the game balance and give players a fair environment.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."