I would be interested to hear others' thoughts, both from a player's perspective and a developer, on the subject of killing players.
What little research I've done suggests it's a complete no-no, but I ask myself why. Dying is something that has always been present in video games - tolerated by players because usually it only results in having to start that particular level again.
It would be difficult to implement such a devise into CYOA games, as they don't involve levels as such, but I'd be interested to learn if it's a technique any of you have experimented with.
I suppose the biggest hurdle is that 'choices' in these games usually amount to two or three, meaning that if a player did make a choice which resulted in death, it wouldn't take a Sherlock Holmes to work out that this option needs to be avoided next time round.
That sounds easy enough to implement into Twine games. Just add a return macro on the death page. But that seems like defeating the object of having deaths in the game.
I suppose one could experiment with a 'hardcore' mode, where death results in the game ending and the only option would be to play from the start again. Although I'm not sure CYOA games have the same replay value as console game, so such a mode would probably not go down well.
I got a working example in my latest game: http://www.kongregate.com/games/mykael/yanduke-1-a-simple-delivery
Endings on the left shows the endings you've reached (not all deaths).
In my first game, which looks a lot like a game book (pointless to link it here since it's in Italian), you can "die" in the first scene - your character has to meet a local noble and if you chose to stay in bed and ignore the appointmnet, you lose and have to restart.
I see, however, how this can be a bit frustrating for the player after many hours of play.
This is why I make sure there is a save / load option always very visible.
I use Harlowe so I am not sure I could implement a rewind option, but I am pretty happy with just save / load + teaching the player early on that they could die, so they save often.
I'm with Melyanna on using saves. While saves are a hassle, especially if you forget to save and then something kills you, it allows you that little bit more freedom as an author to get evil and actually kill the player. I think where there's the possibility of having your character(s) killed makes things a lot more interesting and, with an decent combat system, it really can draw the player in more.
If death does not exist, however, then what's the real risk in your game/story? I prefer to keep death as a possibility, but not something that can normally occur because of a single bad choice made - a favorite tactic of old CYOA books and some games. The real key, though, is to give players informed choices... and in the cases of little information, a logical result - Don't create a choice where it's something like:
"The horrible monster spots you and will be on top of you in moments!
1) Run out the door
2) Whimper and cower
1 -> BOOM. There was a landmine on the other side of the door.
2 -> The monster, feeling bad for you, stops and cuddles you before leaving you alone forever."
The result of Options 1 and 2 could not have been predicted, the author is just being arbitrary and cruel. I see that too often. It's infuriating as the player, not challenging or interesting.
I do agree that random deaths don't really have a spot here because the player has no realistic chance of intentionally choosing to avoiding them.