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No need to kill

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Has anyone ever considered the concept of unnecessary enemy NPC death? Basically, when characters get shot, sliced, and bombed, they just don't die. Or at least not usually. In the real world, most people would usually be willing to give up a fight before death. Something as simple as a gunshot wound to the arm would be enough to drop someone and end a conflict. But it doesn't need to be in the arm. Even bullets or swords to the torso could be made to wound characters more often than kill them. I'm not really asking if it's feasible. I know it is. I'm wondering what incentive there is to cause "the last blow" to kill. It could just cause them to fall, disabled. They could lay there moaning, crawl away, or even get up and run from the fight. As long as the player gets whatever reward they would have gotten from a kill, the gameplay is the same. And the result would probably be more realistic. I'm not suggesting that death should be disabled. Characters would still be able to die. But it just wouldn't be necessary to kill or knock them unconscious to "win" against them. When enemies drop or give up after being outdone, the player would gain the same amount of experience and loot that they would have gotten by killing them. Any thoughts?

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Well, a big problem, is that, even after some super bad terrorist guy (enemy) gives up, he can still attack. It doesn't take much for the enemy crawling on the ground to pick up his rifle after you turn away, and shoot you in the back. And since you're going for realism, you can't take too many rifle blows to the back. Also, you have to assume some enemies will do this, otherwise there's NO difference between disabled and dead, and that's just unreasonable IMHO. Therefore, it's possible, that once a player realizes that disabled enemies tend to shoot them, they walk up to each one, and let of a few rounds in their head, killing, silencing, and thereby creating that nice, happy place we all like to be in. So you've actually probably gone and made the game more violent (Headshots on disabled people seems more violent than just letting off a clip into their chest)

The only remedy I see, currently, is to either make the chance of a disabled person retaliating after the players has turned away very small, allow a way to tie up people once they've been disabled, or a similar way to incapacitate them (allow a character to knock them out, via club, kick, or drug injection).

It could make for an excellent gameplay addition, being able to disable the whole of your enemy, then tie them all up (of course, one person might be able to free them, so this is dangerous as well). You could go through whole games challenging yourself (as a player) to not kill anyone at all. This could also be reserved for bosses, people with power than aren't so keen on giving it up, and the chance of an enemy retaliating could go up if they're part of an assassins guild, that kills its failing members. Just needs a lot of thought/work and possibily balancing. But I think it's totally plausible, and possibly a very enriching idea.

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Original post by Dekasa
Well, a big problem, is that, even after some super bad terrorist guy (enemy) gives up, he can still attack. It doesn't take much for the enemy crawling on the ground to pick up his rifle after you turn away, and shoot you in the back.

As designers, we have the ability to avoid giving the AI the potential to exploit our own systems. When characters are finished, it would be obvious. They would crawl or limp away in an obvious posture, and would no longer pose a threat.

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Also, you have to assume some enemies will do this, otherwise there's NO difference between disabled and dead, and that's just unreasonable IMHO.

Why is it unreasonable? Most people would be willing to accept defeat before they're dead.

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Therefore, it's possible, that once a player realizes that disabled enemies tend to shoot them, they walk up to each one, and let of a few rounds in their head, killing, silencing, and thereby creating that nice, happy place we all like to be in. So you've actually probably gone and made the game more violent (Headshots on disabled people seems more violent than just letting off a clip into their chest)

Just for clarity, the goal isn't to reduce violence. Shooting people is violence. Having them die from it, isn't.

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The only remedy I see, currently, is to either make the chance of a disabled person retaliating after the players has turned away very small, allow a way to tie up people once they've been disabled, or a similar way to incapacitate them (allow a character to knock them out, via club, kick, or drug injection).

The chance for them to retaliate would be zero. They've given up. They want to live more than they want to win.

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Assuming we're talking about an RPG-ish game, this is actually just a small part of a realistic combat and injury system.

Some more points of interest:
- Characters shouldn't fight at full capacity once they have been wounded.
- It shouldn't be possible to heal merely by resting.
- Injuries should be modeled based on area (arm, leg, chest, hand, foot, head), and should disable a character accordingly.

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It doesn't take much for the enemy crawling on the ground to pick up his rifle after you turn away, and shoot you in the back

Only in the movies. Between the pain and blood loss of a significant wound, you're not likely to be doing a lot of moving.

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drakostar > This concept would be seperate from injuries. Injuries can still be part of the system. But I'm talking about what happens when the character "dies" because of depleted health. Depending on how the "death" happens, it doesn't always need to be equal to real death.

For example, an NPC could have 50 HP. Shooting them in the chest 2 times would drop the HP to 0, they would fall straight back onto the ground in pain, and lay there moaning. Possibly to later crawl away from the battle, if the player sticks around long enough. The player could indeed shoot them again and again to really kill them. But apart from being sadistic, there would be no incentive to do that.

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Standard RPG cliches mean that the bad guy you foolishly let live halfway through the game is bound to turn up right at the end but three times as powerful. Only Bond villans make that mistake. [grin]

Slightly more seriously, you're going to have to offer incentives for the player to offer mercy vs. finishing them off. Maybe letting them go earns you more respect at the cost of less loot, maybe finishing them off earns you more XP but decreases your reputation (making shops less likely to sell to you).

You could add all sorts of incentives really once you start thinking about it. And if it's a difficult choice then you'll make the game more interesting and probably increase the replayability factor.

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I could be mistaken, but didn't one of the original Rainbow Six games have bad guys that would surrender? I seem to recall that without handcuffing them, they would start fighting again if you left the room.

Anyone remember for sure?

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Haha I love your idea - though not for the reasons you would expect. I would love to shoot an enemy in the leg, and follow him around the level as he crawls away just so that I can shoot him in the head once I've had my fun.. Or just start shooting each of his limbs one at a time to watch how he reacts.

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What you've described is completely just a "skin" on standard game death scenarios. Instead of becoming a corpse, they remain animated but no longer dangerous. Basically, they become a prop.

My question: is the huge amount of work it would take to make all of these animations and write the complex A.I. worth the tiny bit of "realism" that it adds? And is that realism actually more fun? Is watching them slink away injured more or less satisfying than watching their head explode in a technicolor fountain of blood and grey matter? (eww...)

What you've really described is a torture simulation, Wavarian's post is really the only actual interactivity that would be added by the addition of "injury as death". But giving the player a million different ways to torture and maim their enemies while they cry helplessly sounds like it would be far more disturbing and wrong than fun to most sane people.

I'm not sold on the idea at all.

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Original post by OrangyTang
Standard RPG cliches mean that the bad guy you foolishly let live halfway through the game is bound to turn up right at the end but three times as powerful. Only Bond villans make that mistake. [grin]

Doesn't really make much of a difference, does it? If that bad guy doesn't show up, someone else will.

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Slightly more seriously, you're going to have to offer incentives for the player to offer mercy vs. finishing them off.

Why? There's no incentive to kill, so there's no incentive to avoid it. There's no reason you wouldn't be able to attach gameplay effects to it, like the whole dark side vs light side concept. But I'm not really a fan of good vs evil alignment. The bad guys in my own project aren't really bad. They just have conflicting goals.

Unless the player is purposely aiming for head shots, or spraying excessive numbers of bullets, whether the target lives or dies is out of their hands. The gameplay effects are minimal, or maybe even non-existent. The purpose is to add detail and realism to death and combat. To avoid the cliche of death being easy and instant, and the cliche of bad guys needing to be incapacitated to win a battle.

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Original post by Kest
Why? There's no incentive to kill, so there's no incentive to avoid it. There's no reason you wouldn't be able to attach gameplay effects to it, like the whole dark side vs light side concept. But I'm not really a fan of good vs evil alignment. The bad guys in my own project aren't really bad. They just have conflicting goals.

Unless the player is purposely aiming for head shots, or spraying excessive numbers of bullets, whether the target lives or dies is out of their hands. The gameplay effects are minimal, or maybe even non-existent. The purpose is to add detail and realism to death and combat. To avoid the cliche of death being easy and instant, and the cliche of bad guys needing to be incapacitated to win a battle.

Well it depends on what you're after. If you're just after a little extra gloss and polish then sure you can add it in, but as JBourrie points out it's not really changing the gameplay any. Maybe that's what you're after, and I agree it'd certainly make things visually more realistic.

But it seems a shame to go to all the extra effort of adding in new logic and animation, without somehow exploiting it for additional gameplay variety.

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Original post by JBourrie
What you've described is completely just a "skin" on standard game death scenarios. Instead of becoming a corpse, they remain animated but no longer dangerous. Basically, they become a prop.

Yes, it's just cosmetic. But I think it could change immersion and player perspective significantly. It would for me.

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My question: is the huge amount of work it would take to make all of these animations and write the complex A.I. worth the tiny bit of "realism" that it adds?

Well, after removing the exaggerations (huge, tiny), I believe so.

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And is that realism actually more fun? Is watching them slink away injured more or less satisfying than watching their head explode in a technicolor fountain of blood and grey matter? (eww...)

I think it's fun for the same reason. Exploding heads wouldn't be excluded because of this. As I said, death can still happen. It just wouldn't happen nearly as easily or often.

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What you've really described is a torture simulation, Wavarian's post is really the only actual interactivity that would be added by the addition of "injury as death".

Having the ability to mass murder civilians in a game city doesn't make the game a mass murderer simulation. It would only be a torture simulation for those that want to torture.

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Original post by OrangyTang
But it seems a shame to go to all the extra effort of adding in new logic and animation, without somehow exploiting it for additional gameplay variety.

There's nothing stopping that from happening, once the system is in place. But the only appropriate gameplay effect I can think of is good vs bad karma.

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SWAT 4 (and maybe earlier ones, never played them) encouraged you not to kill. You got additional points (and a higher mission ranking) for reducing casualties. You could choose from some less-than-lethal weapons to accomplish this, and sometimes you wouldn't even have to shoot to get an enemy to surrender. Just yelling at someone with your gun pointed at them could get the enemy to drop their gun and put their hands up so you could handcuff them. Other times you have to keep blasting at them with your beanbag shotgun until they gave up, yelling at them all the while.

You have to be wary even when they start to drop their weapon, sometimes they fake it and shoot you.

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Original post by Kest
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My question: is the huge amount of work it would take to make all of these animations and write the complex A.I. worth the tiny bit of "realism" that it adds?

Well, after removing the exaggerations (huge, tiny), I believe so.

The "exaggerations" were intentional, because it IS a huge amount of work. Death animations that then turn to physics-based ragdolls are easy, and once they're in ragdoll it's a single universal chunk of code that works for every enemy type. Once you start doing specialized post-death animations, these are different for every character and has a snowball effect.

Not saying it's impossible, just big and expensive for no interactive gain beyond...

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What you've really described is a torture simulation, Wavarian's post is really the only actual interactivity that would be added by the addition of "injury as death".

Having the ability to mass murder civilians in a game city doesn't make the game a mass murderer simulation. It would only be a torture simulation for those that want to torture.

...the people who want to torture. In the average game, most players aren't going to give two shits about whether or not the enemy died or if they just slinked away because the conclusion is the same: I won the battle. The only way it would actually affect interactivity is if the player chose to interact with those people, usually by shooting them again and watching their reaction. Kind of morbid, but then again I'm the one who made an entire game about filling a room with dead corpses and climbing on them to escape (a reviewer once described Rumble Box as the most violent game ever made, and nobody even realizes it).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I'm just having trouble envisioning how it would improve the game... I can imagine a few games entirely based off of this idea, but a a herding game where legbreaking is an option sounds a bit extreme [smile]


I guess I'm just curious: do you have any interesting ideas on how this could be used not just cosmetically but to improve gameplay?

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Kest: I quite like the idea. It reminds me a little bit of the choices you have in Deus Ex and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
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Original post by JBourrie
I guess I'm just curious: do you have any interesting ideas on how this could be used not just cosmetically but to improve gameplay?

I can. Imagine an RPG where you go around getting in fights via random encounters. If you continually kill what you are faced against, and it doesn't have a chance to get away or to tell others that you are a murderer, that species of creature doesn't fear you. If you do encounter a particular species on multiple occasions (assuming it is a halfways intelligent species), and you let it go out of mercy, eventually the rest of the species regard you with greater fear, and are less likely to fight you. Depending on which creatures you decide to kill and which ones you let go, it could affect how you level up or gain new skills.

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Original post by JBourrie
The "exaggerations" were intentional, because it IS a huge amount of work. Death animations that then turn to physics-based ragdolls are easy, and once they're in ragdoll it's a single universal chunk of code that works for every enemy type. Once you start doing specialized post-death animations, these are different for every character and has a snowball effect.

In my project, humanoids all share the same animations. There are currently hundreds of humanoid animations. Having way too many death animations was already on my absolutely-to-do list. Adding ten more for this isn't a big deal. Only the humanoid characters and creatures that are encountered frequently would be behave this way. Other types of creatures would either die, blow to bits, or keep attacking.

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What you've really described is a torture simulation, Wavarian's post is really the only actual interactivity that would be added by the addition of "injury as death".

Having the ability to mass murder civilians in a game city doesn't make the game a mass murderer simulation. It would only be a torture simulation for those that want to torture.

...the people who want to torture. In the average game, most players aren't going to give two shits about whether or not the enemy died or if they just slinked away because the conclusion is the same: I won the battle. The only way it would actually affect interactivity is if the player chose to interact with those people, usually by shooting them again and watching their reaction.

It's interactive because you took someone out - and they didn't die. Why should there need to be something that follows? The intention is to add detail and depth, not gameplay.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea.

Then you sure fooled me [smile]

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I'm just having trouble envisioning how it would improve the game... I can imagine a few games entirely based off of this idea, but a a herding game where legbreaking is an option sounds a bit extreme [smile]

I guess I'm just curious: do you have any interesting ideas on how this could be used not just cosmetically but to improve gameplay?

It wouldn't affect the gameplay any more than having death animations. Think about it. Why do we have death animations? We could just make them disappear. Why go through the trouble of showing blood spurt out and having the body thump on the floor if it doesn't add something to gameplay? The truth is that it does add something to the gameplay. Just not in the direct way designers are used to dealing with it.

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Earlier, I made it sound like the player would have little choice between killing and disabling. That's not entirely true. It's actually just that they wouldn't have a choice when they aim at the torso. The torso just happens to be the easiest thing to aim at. Taking out limbs would never kill, and unarmored head shots would always kill.

So while using aimed fire, the player would be in complete control. They could storm into a room, shoot everyone in the knee-cap, then carry on as if they were dead. Those enemies are not going to give the player a reason to finish the job. Most organic, unarmored, sober characters in my own game can be taken out with one shot, regardless of where it hits. That's part of the appeal of this concept. Shooting someone in the knee cap is definitely going to stop them. In most games, for some unexplained reason, you need to shoot them three or four times in the knee to take them out, and then they just fall over dead. As if they had some triple plated knee with a vital organ inside.

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Original post by Kest
It's interactive because you took someone out - and they didn't die. Why should there need to be something that follows? The intention is to add detail and depth, not gameplay.

I'd consider that to be a waste of developer resources. Then again, I think alot of the cruft that is expected in RPGs is a waste of resources. This probably all boils down to a difference of opinion.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea.

Then you sure fooled me [smile]

I said I'm not sold on the idea... I was hoping I was missing something! [grin]

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Think about it. Why do we have death animations? We could just make them disappear. Why go through the trouble of showing blood spurt out and having the body thump on the floor if it doesn't add something to gameplay? The truth is that it does add something to the gameplay. Just not in the direct way designers are used to dealing with it.

Right. I'm just looking at it as a trade-off... at a certain point the time and resources spent making more and more spectacular death sequences is (possibly) better spent on improving interactivity. But that's all a matter of taste, I guess. That's why I'm trying to figure out how it could be used to boost the gameplay as well... then it might be (in my mind) worth the effor.

[Edited by - JBourrie on October 2, 2007 5:20:19 PM]

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Original post by JBourrie
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Original post by Kest
It's interactive because you took someone out - and they didn't die. Why should there need to be something that follows? The intention is to add detail and depth, not gameplay.

I'd consider that to be a waste of developer resources. Then again, I think alot of the cruft that is expected in RPGs is a waste of resources. This probably all boils down to a difference of opinion.

If you think it's a waste, then what do you think should happen when characters are shot in the limbs?

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea.

Then you sure fooled me [smile]

I said I'm not sold on the idea... I was hoping you could sell me on it! [grin]

I'm not entirely confident with the idea either. Just exploring it.

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Right. I'm just looking at it as a trade-off... at a certain point the time and resources spent making more and more spectacular death sequences is (possibly) better spent on improving interactivity.

It really isn't that much work. If I weren't so lazy, I could have already made one or two of them in between my posts here.

I usually take breaks from programming by working on models and animation. And I take breaks from modeling and animation by programming. Currently, I have a lot more programming to do than anything else, so I have nothing to do on my breaks. That usually leads to me adding more animation than I really need.

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But that's all a matter of taste, I guess. That's why I'm trying to figure out how it could be used to boost the gameplay as well... then it might be (in my mind) worth the effor.

I'm not against having it effect the gameplay. But my initial reason for wanting it isn't directly related to gameplay.

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Original post by Kest
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Original post by JBourrie
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Original post by Kest
It's interactive because you took someone out - and they didn't die. Why should there need to be something that follows? The intention is to add detail and depth, not gameplay.

I'd consider that to be a waste of developer resources. Then again, I think alot of the cruft that is expected in RPGs is a waste of resources. This probably all boils down to a difference of opinion.

If you think it's a waste, then what do you think should happen when characters are shot in the limbs?

There are plenty of gameplay-affecting ways that shooting somebody in the legs helps. Shoot his gun arm and he drops his weapon and is unarmed. Shoot his leg and he's gonna have trouble chasing you. Attack his torso without killing him and he might run and get help. My problem isn't in the idea of non-lethal damage states, it's that your proposed implementation is a equivalent to character death, only with alot more necessary content.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad idea.

Then you sure fooled me [smile]

I said I'm not sold on the idea... I was hoping you could sell me on it! [grin]

I'm not entirely confident with the idea either. Just exploring it.

As am I, just in a less optimistic way! [lol]

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Right. I'm just looking at it as a trade-off... at a certain point the time and resources spent making more and more spectacular death sequences is (possibly) better spent on improving interactivity.

It really isn't that much work. If I weren't so lazy, I could have already made one or two of them in between my posts here.

I will admit that I'm not an artist-type. You wouldn't want to ask me to do animations for a game. Ever. But I'm always looking at the opportunity cost of a particular feature to find the best possible use for the limited time and resources that developers have.

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Original post by Kest

I'm not really asking if it's feasible. I know it is. I'm wondering what incentive there is to cause "the last blow" to kill. It could just cause them to fall, disabled. They could lay there moaning, crawl away, or even get up and run from the fight. As long as the player gets whatever reward they would have gotten from a kill, the gameplay is the same. And the result would probably be more realistic.

Gothic I used it already. In fight against intelligent characters you were just knocked down, and possibly killed. In fight against animals you were killed allways.

You could loot the opponent, or kill him if you wanted. (If your other opponents gave you enough time. Looting happened in effectively zero time.)

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I don't quite understand why it is perceived that this would add nothing to the game. What if the enemy had some information? It is fairly common in video games for some villain which has information you need to somehow put him or herself into a position where he or she dies before giving up the information. In a case like this you shoot them in a leg or three and they aren't going anywhere. At this point, assuming they are disarmed, you can get some information from them.

Another example: Suppose you are involved in a complex plot and are unsure of who to trust, including a perceived partner. You get to a point and your partner is doing something he or she strongly believes in and would harm you for trying to stop them and you don't think it would necessarily be worth killing them to stop? Well you shoot them in the leg or somewhere else painful but not fatal.

The system could add a couple things: a perceived moral choice which may have an impact on your character (dialog options change if you are an evil bastard, etc.) or they offer different paths through a game, changing the story. Either way this could be implemented in a way which would potentially result in interesting gameplay.

[Edited by - binchawpz on October 2, 2007 7:51:42 PM]

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Original post by binchawpz
I don't quite understand why it is perceived that this would add nothing to the game.
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Either way this could be implemented in a way which would potentially result in interesting gameplay.

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Original post by Kest
The gameplay effects are minimal, or maybe even non-existent. The purpose is to add detail and realism to death and combat.

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I'm not against having it effect the gameplay. But my initial reason for wanting it isn't directly related to gameplay.

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Yes, it's just cosmetic.

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The intention is to add detail and depth, not gameplay.


And so on.

It's the OP's intended use of the idea that, by his own words, would have little to no interactive benefit. That's the part I don't like.

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Ah, okay. I must have somehow mentally avoided that whole piece. I agree, without any ramifications the results are nearly irrelevant. If there is no meaning to it then they might as well die. Sure, it might be a bit more "realistic", but if you implemented this then each character would have his or her own response to being shot and this would result in much more work than the result is worth, especially considering how annoying it would be to find over half of the people you fight begging for their lives, screaming at you telling you not to shoot them. Or were we going to leave that part out?

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