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newperspective

"no healthbar" gameplay mechanic for fps/tps

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newperspective    132
Hi everyone, I've been thinking about a game mechanic that eliminates the health bar from fps and tps for a few months now. Since reading the "Health Bar" topic in this forum, I just had to respond -- it's good to find other people who've though about the subject too. Background: To my knowledge, there aren't that many fps in which there is some alternative to the health bar system. As mentioned in this topic: http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=486283, one of Monolith's early shoot-em-ups, "Blood II (1998)," featured a "limb loss" mechanic that was removed in development after a tester repeatedly made Monty-Python-style "Black Knights" out of enemies in MP mode. Obviously, this must not have been fun for the victims. In "Deux Ex," if a turret shot your leg off, you would fall to the ground and move very slowly. Currently, "Soldier of Fortune: Payback" continues the SOF tradition of gory dismemberment, but this is mearly an animated gimmick. Furthermore, these games (and many others) rely on numbers. If your health hits 0, you die. New Gameplay Mechanic: Basically, I want feedback on the fun-factor of my mechanic. Will it lead to stimulating gameplay or just serve as another reason why we all love the health bar system? I'll be concise: Each player is a robot composed of a head, two arms, two legs, and one indestructable core that joins all the limbs. The purpose of the game is to shoot off an enemy's limbs and carry their valuable core back to your base. Each core in the base counts as a spawn. The game is like a round of capture the flag where everyone is a flag. A player can choose to "terminate" themselves and activate another spawn if they feel they are too damaged to contribute to the fight. There are two challenges. First, players can reattach their own limbs and can also help teammates reattach theirs (if a player is missing both arms or a head, for instance) -- expediency is the key to immobilizing opponents before they can repair themselves. Second, there are obvious penalties for losing limbs. If a player loses a leg, as in "Deus Ex," they will be forced to crawl. If a player happens to lose the arm they were firing from in combat, they will be forced to pick up their missing arm and dropped gun. Alternatively, they can fire from the other arm, but zoom mode will be dissabled because they lack their second arm to stabilize the gun. I don't need to explain each scenario because it is (hopefully) obvious what happens. In turn, the second challenge also presents itself to the attacking player. Which limb should they shoot? Perhaps shooting a fleeing opponent in the leg is the best idea (followed by a grenade they can't escape!). Or maybe it's top priority to shoot the arms or head off a highly skilled player. One thing that needs to happen for this mechanic to work, although a bit contrived, is making it very difficult to land a head shot, since players lose all vision upon dismemberment. Alternatively, losing the head may force the player to use some rudimentary secondary vision in the indestructable core. That's all for now. Depending on how interested everyone is, I'll follow up with an explanation of the weapon/damage types that also add a level to this hypothetical game. Finally, I hope you guys see this game isn't about massive amounts of content, but rather an intuitive mechanic that leads to many possibilities. Thanks for reading!

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brandonman    102
That's fairly interesting, but I don't know about losing all limbs to die. Seems unrealistic, but then again, how else to get around the whole healthbar. Maybe if they lose 3 limbs they die?

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Humble Hobo    255
Quote:
Original post by newperspective
The game is like a round of capture the flag where everyone is a flag.


That just made my day.

When I hear this game described, I imagine a action-packed, 'cartoon-style' FPS like Team Fortress 2. It sounds like the kind of thing I'd be up till 2AM playing with my friends and laughing.

This would be great for king of the hill style as well.
You could also add other modes of play, like where one player from each team gets to be a super-robot with 12 legs.

Great idea.

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newperspective    132
Good thing you brought that up Brandonman...

The point of this mechanic is that you NEVER die: you're a robot with an INDESTRUCTIBLE core.

Let's say you've just lost all of your limbs and you're sitting on the ground like Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars III. Hopefully, an opponent doesn't carry you away to their base, thereby "terminating" your control of the core. You could just terminate yourself prematurely and grab another core at your team base. Or, if you trust your teamates enough, you can wait for them to reattach enough limbs for you to get back in the fight.

The opponent can NEVER directly force you to respawn besides taking you back to their base. It's up to the player to decide whether to terminate themselves or wait -- regardless of how many limbs are missing.

Hey, if your teammates are good enough (or lucky), they could shoot the opponent carrying your core away and save you! Oh, the possibilities!

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newperspective    132
Also, to Humble Hobo...

Yes! I had almost the same vision. Cell-shaded characters in an Unreal/GOW-style background. If you've seen the arms of android soldiers get shot off in the "Appleseed" movies, picture that as an animation for losing limbs! I'll be back to respond tomorrow. Stuff to do, thanks for the replies so far guys!

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LmT    208
The game Fear Effect for the Playstation used an oscilloscope of the heart method (heart rate) although I'm sure numbers played a role in the background. Perhaps you could implement some form of trauma system. Standing still and walking would keep a normal heart rate while running and jumping would keep it at a healty, but increased rate (more risky to run when injured though). In the middle of combat it would be at a heightened rate due to physical and mental stress. With the onset of hemorrhaging due to combat injuries, the player would be in critical condition. The player can possibly die in the near future as a result of the following: the onset of hemorrhage would cause the player to bleed out, a wound to the chest will pierce the heart (speeding up the previous), wound to the lungs would result in asphyxiation, and a shot to the neck/occipital lobe would would essentially mean instant death (as would your generic head shot).

Those were just some ideas I thought of and hopefully you can use them in your game. Combine that with movement impairing effect such as a sliced leg or gunshot wound to the arm and you'll have a great, challenging game.

EDIT: Just thought of some more things to add. People can actually die of heart attacks and traumatic stress so you could throw that in your game in place of a health bar as well. Perhaps you would have various character types: the steel nerves soldier would experience less stress and fear during combat whereas your average puny medic would pee their pants and suffer a heart attack if cornered by a man with a GIANT gun.

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newperspective    132
"Combine that with movement impairing effect such as a sliced leg or gunshot wound to the arm and you'll have a great, challenging game."

That's basically what I had in mind for my weapons system, it's like you guys just GET IT -- great ideas too, but I'm trying to make this a "less violent" tps/fps. I'm trying to stay away from human death and dismemberment. It's all about the robots.

My weapon/damage system compliments the main "limb loss" mechanic. There are two weapon types (no more fps cliche AK-47/M-16, though they have their place):

Armor-Piercing (AP): these weapons pierce through limb armor (the core is indestructable) and, upon inflicting enough damage to the robot's inards, disables the damaged limb. Again, the concept is intuitive. What do you think happens when a player's leg is damaged by enough AP fire? They limp temporarily. When a player's head is damaged, their vision is temporarily impaired. Eventually, the player's limbs regenerate their full-functionality for fun gameplay.

Intertial: Inertia, force, whatever you call it, these weapons dismember limbs. Slower, higher recoil, more powerful...When you shoot an opponent in the leg enough with an Inertial weapon, they do what I mentioned before -- they fall over and are forced to crawl.

AP weapons will be faster working because their effects are obviously weaker. Disabling limbs with AP weapons, then blowing them off with Inertial weapons is the fastest way to dismemberment. Think Halo: alien weapons for overshields, human weapons for armor. The final possibility is to entirely destroy limbs (but NOT actually "kill" the enemy) by shooting opponent limbs with AP weapons AFTER they are initially disabled.

AP weapons do NOTHING to the core (again, it's indestructable). Land enough shots on an opponent with the Inertial weapons, and guess what, they get knocked down!

There are only two more elements (I've covered two) to this game idea that I've yet to explain. I'll wait until one of you guys goes over it! (Hint: it has to do with classes) Thanks for the replies!!!

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newperspective    132
Also, LmT, my roomates happen to have a Playstation, so I'll go try Fear Effect this weekend. Thanks for the suggestion! I enjoy playing unique games, even if they aren't that great overall.

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Sneftel    1788
Clever game mechanic. I like it. It has a couple of rough edges, though.. if a player suicides, can the opposing team still carry off the old robot as a flag?

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newperspective    132
Absolutely! There has to be some penalty. If death isn't it, then the player has to have incentive NOT to get shot. Losing your core to the other team effectively gives your team one less spawn and their team one more.

A player who terminates their core before the enemy drags them off is basically saying one thing: "I've lost too many limbs to fight effectivley and no one is going to save me."

The player has to decide when it is worth it to give up a core.

After I explain my last gameplay mechanic, you'll see that the strategy can never be: "I'll just sit here and wait...if I don't respawn, they can't take more cores and, therefore, they can't win!" I'll say briefly that, unlike the cores, the "bases" themselves are destructible. If no one respawns to gaurd the bases, the match will be over fast...

more on this later.


[Edited by - newperspective on March 21, 2008 12:20:22 AM]

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Sneftel    1788
But then suicide may not be a good strategy from a team point of view. If you've got even one limb left, it may be better to fight on rather than surrender a point, since you at least have the advantage of location. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it's something to keep in mind.

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newperspective    132
Quote:
Original post by Sneftel
But then suicide may not be a good strategy from a team point of view. If you've got even one limb left, it may be better to fight on rather than surrender a point, since you at least have the advantage of location. It's not an insurmountable problem, but it's something to keep in mind.


See, now you're already talking strategy! Good! I don't think this is really a problem. You see, I didn't say the player SHOULD surrender their core, but there is always that option.

You're right, it may be better to keep fighting with only an arm left. Maybe you just need to land one more shot to totally "dis-arm" the last opponent. Perhaps you just need to act as a decoy while your teamates flank the enemy. Who knows. But I think this speaks to the mechanic's simplistic strength rather than being a problem. I'm glad to see you're thinking about this one. Keep up the questions. I can get a feel for how well I'm explaining this/how good my ideas really are with posts like yours. Thanks!

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Torfas    233
I realy love this idea. Too bad I didnt came up with it myself.

It should be possible to upgrade the cores and there should be different cores with slightly different abilities. Some cores dont loose limbs so fast, some cores have more energy so you can run faster etc. Maby some upgrades or special cores are located on the map. When you spawn you have to choose between the cores in the base. If you choose the best core all the enemies will hunt you and if you choose a poor core you can take more chances. It should also be several bases and you can choose which one you would like to spawn in. Of course you must also choose which core in base to use. If there are no cores in that particular base you cant spawn there.

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Sounds like a great idea, I do have one suggestion though. If you give a weak default weapon to the indestructible core, and allow it to rotate in all directions, you will give the player more of an incentive to stay with the body rather than just respawn. By altering the strength of this weapon you would be able to balance the risk/reward ratio of respawning vs staying put. Also, am I right in thinking that when you respawn you use up a core from your base?

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newperspective    132
Torfas, you just touched on the last part of my game idea...No cores in the base means you can't spawn in them! I'll just post a CONCISE version of all this in a new topic.

Also, your core upgrade idea is really interesting. It adds a layer of customization to the game that might hold the attention of hardcore players who like long-term rewards. Thanks for all the feedback!

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Kest    547
It sounds like a fun concept. The only flaw I can see is that you've given incentives for waiting (doing nothing) on the ground with a crippled core for an unknown amount of time, which is something no one will enjoy doing.

You may have enough room to allow players that have nothing but a core to slowly recover on their own. Such as magnetically pulling themselves slowly in certain directions to obtain a limb. If the other team secures the core, the magnetic ability becomes pretty useless. But if they were to, for example, set it down to defend a position, the core could try to sneak away.

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CryoVenom    122
Give the core a sniper rifle style gun, delayed wait time to shoot but something powerful enough to make a player want to wait there. The core can be returned to any spawn zone? with spawn zones ranging across the level to places more int he action and ones more towards the main base? This way you can either get people to respawn right near the action or somewhere safe so they don't die when they spawn.


EDIT: And what if as a core, and you kill an enemy, it gives you power to draw back in a limb (like the reverse of how the guy above me put it). If it's a fast game then it shouldn't be hard to get limbs back. It would be cool if you could get custom limbs and build your bot differently than others. Maybe adding little RPG elements. Like if you guys win a round at the end you get to rush in and kill everyone like in TF2 but this time they drop items that could be rare, unique, money stuff like that. Giving players more reasons to play a lot. What about using other player's limbs when you are missing some? I think it would be funny if two players were just cores fighting over some sort of super turret arm that was laying in between them.

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JasRonq    156
Keep in mind that whatever capabilities you give the core, they shouldnt be better than a fully functioning robot, after all, you arent suppose to be fully functioning. Also, if they are too good, the players will want to use them all the time. Having your arms and legs shot off should not be a good thing by any measure.


Besides, you could always respawn, then go get your old core to bring to your base before the enemy finds it.

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