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lostzac

Hitpoints Outdated ?

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Just wanted to bounce this off people to see what they think.... I have never been a fan of Hitpoints, it's not that I do not understand the use, I just think no matter what level you are you get whacked on a few times with a sword you should feel it or be going down...it lacks a certain realism. (I know some would argue realism has no place in Video Games)... I am working on this for a system to my game... The player would have a body point system based on their stats (Health Endurance, Strength)...This point system could increase in small amounts depending on the skills the player has chosen (Toughness, and the like) but overall would be very low and would not raise just because you have earned a new level of experience... These points would be divided to the major pares of the body (Chest Arms ect ect) So lets say you have 50 body points, your chest may have 15 points, Each Arm 10 until all the points are divided. Minus any new skills you have learned this would stay the same through out the game...Your Armor would act as a buffer to these... so if I am wearing chain mail, i would have will say for sake of arguments 20 armor points defending my chest... Combat would basically work like this...(I am still ruffing it out, so bare with me) First we would take in considerations if you could even hit your opponent...This is done by looking at your offensive attack rank vrs there defensive attack rank, and a die roll (which symbolizes the random luck that happens every once in a while) if your attack is stronger then their defense then you score a hit...simple enough Then the engine would take in consideration your attacking strength, and the weapon and make of the weapon vre thier armor rating on the part of the body targeted. to figure damage... the damage would be subtracted from the Armor rating first, and a small proportion would be taking by the body points, the greater damage the armor has the more damage the body takes... I am thinking this way if your low barbarian whos walking around with nothing but a loin cloth on, gets whacked with a battle axe, does not matter which level he is hes gonna feel it after the first blow...where your Knight who was smart enough to invest into plate mail is gonna take a few shots before hes howling out in pain... Now i realize an issue may occur in balance in game play as those who can and do wear armor are going to have a significant advantage in close combat (which in all reality should be)...I am thinking the way to balance that is by giving them advantages to ranged combat and fleeing skills equivalent to a character who specializes in close in fighting at same level.... In the end the game would come down to which skills you mastered and choose then a die roll and better hit points.... Any Ideas to help me flesh this out more ?

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Any Ideas to help me flesh this out more ?

You are not actually getting rid of the Hit Points concept, but instead making it more complex. The question is not about realism vs gameplay, but one of complexity vs ease of use.

If the rest of your game is complex, then this added complexity could be too much for the players. If the rest of your game is simple enough, then this would not create too much complexity.

I tend to use a rule of thumb in these instances: The Human mind can only consider a maximum of 7 things when making a decision. This includes other events outside of the actual decision itself (ie the next situation that is coming up, and the situation just left). This means that the players can practically only handle around 5 factors at a time. For decision that need to be made quickly, you will probably want to only have 3 (or 4 at most) factors.

So lest look at your system:
Factors:
1) Skill: What skill does the opponent and player have in their defences. If the player has some choice over how the points are distributed between the locations, then this would count as an other factor, but as you haven't stated this, I am assuming that the distribution is pre-set.

2) Location: Different locations have different hit points and potentially different armours.

3) To Hit: You need to know and factor in how hard it is to hit your opponent.

4) Weapon vs Armour: There is the factor of the weapon vs the armour type to consider

5) Damage to Armour: As damage to the armour changes the effectiveness of the attack this is another facto that the player has to consider.

Ok, we have hit 5 factors here. It is a lot, but not overwhelming. However, if the player has to make these decisions quickly (ie a real time combat system), then this might be too much for a new player to handle and even challenge a veteran player.

Dropping the hit locations (or making the location hit randomly determined), then this only reduces the complexity to 4 factors. An improvement, but it does bring it into the realm of a challenge for an average player while not making it trivial for a veteran player.

However, if you are using a turn based system, then that 5 factors is not excessive at all. Although it is probably as high as you would want it (challenging for average players, and still non trivial for veteran players).

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Thanks for that input.. I am thinking turn based combat..as I tend to like a little more strategy...The Hit Boxes would be random, maybe with a skill that would increase that chance of hitting certain targets...

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I try and make these decisions game based. Discrete hit points are great for quick arcade games, continuous hit points work well for jrpg type games.

Lately first person shooters, on the console at least, have started using a regeneration system. If you get too much damage in a certain amount of time you die, but a while of not getting hit causes your health to regenerate. Even more interesting this is often not communicated through a hud, only sound and graphics.

I'm a big fan of incorporating health into a gameplay mechanic, but only if it doesn't take away too much from the game. I don't like frustrating interfaces like pausing the game and looking at a heartbeat monitor to see what your health is. The way I intend to show health in my 3rd person shooter is through the character on screen and their animation. If they are near death it will be obvious - they will be stumbling and dragging their leg (if hurt) or holding their arm (if hurt) and bleeding.

In the same vein I'm not a fan of health packs. I would have a slow regeneration but you can sit down when not in immediate danger and tend to your wounds. They won't fix themselves straight away but they do get better fast if you fix them up.

I don't like inconveniencing the player, but I do like realism and tension.

So yes, I think hit-points are outdated if you don't think of any other option. Take your game mechanic and think about what style of health system would work the best. Look at other games, but don't think they show all that is possible. Perhaps you arrive at hit-points anyway - at least you've considered the alternatives.

I guess you're asking from an rpg perspective, but I hope this adds to the thread anyway.

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Original post by lostzac
...I just think no matter what level you are you get whacked on a few times with a sword you should feel it or be going down...it lacks a certain realism.


I remember hearing somewhere about hit points representing both physical health and a character's ability to avoid being hit. You could say that a player with 100 hit points could still be killed by a single sword strike, but he is five times better at dodging than a character with 20 hit points. You could probably come up with other reasons to suit your game.

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I implemented something similar to what you described in my game. It uses a mortality system. Each body part has its own hit points, and a mortality rating. For example, the head and chest have a mortality rating of 100, while a foot has a mortality rating of 5. The percentage of missing hitpoints for each part is multiplied with its mortality rating and subtracted from the character's "hit points".

So if a foot is 50% dead, the character will be down by 2.5 hit points. If the chest is also half dead, the character is down by 52.5 hit points. When the character is down by 100 hit points, they become incapacitated. There are also individual effects for each part being completely destroyed. Taking out someone's foot will cause them to limp, while destroying their shoulder will penalize their offense.

Depending on an NPC's abilities, some injuries can cause them to just pass out. The player character is excluded from that type of effect though. Once a specific part with low or medium mortality (such as a foot or hand) is completely dead on a player character, having that part attacked does nothing to harm them, other than cause stun effects.

It is an RPG, and the character's health points do not increase through leveling. But some armor skills reduce the amount of damage by a small amount. With all of this complexity, I still have the ability to show a simple linear number as the player's health, as well as the ability to show all of the specific details in medical displays.

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Usually when someone gets hit by an attack, he/she is substantially wounded. Like the OP said, it's not realistic to get hit 50 times and bounce back like pinata ready for more. If you split up the hit point system so that each body part is damaged individually, you still haven't gotten rid of your problem. You made it harder to work with though.

So put yourself in the character's shoes. A man just lunged at you with a broadsword. You have a sword in your hand. What should you do? Bare your chest so he hits your armor? Or maybe... block the attack with your sword?

In essence, a more realistic system would consist of minimal physical damage to the characters as they fight, most of the damage being absorbed by blocking and dodging. So rather than increasing a player's defense or hit points, you increase his/her agility with the sword or strength to be able to retaliate against a strong hit.

Determining when an enemy has finally been worn down can be measured by an energy guage, which feeds all the other skills and techniques used in battle. Heck, you can even give the sword a durability meter.

Although this system sounds new, it really isn't at all. It is the hit point system applied to a different entity so as to increase realism.

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I had heard that Hitpoints represent the characters ability and such as well...but I think there is a better way of doing it then using such a broad bar to cover all, I realize you can not cover all the details of a single combat move into a game, there'd be way to many calculations to consider.. I just think that breaking the actual combat into 3 systems...The Ability to Hit (Skills & Fatigue & Enviroment), the ability to defend (Skills & Fatigue & Environment), and the Damage System (Body Endurance + Armor) would make for a better turn based combat system...

Like I said I am still fleshing the ideas out, and thanks for a lot of the great input...

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Original post by lostzac
it lacks a certain realism. (I know some would argue realism has no place in Video Games)...

You've recited this, but you haven't explored or internalized it. What makes your system fun, and how?

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Well the fun factor I think would be in the development of how your character acutely fight....

Depending on how you set up your character the skills would determine how and what they could do in battle...this is a little wide open so Im going to try to place an example based on current game doc design...

Say I am creating a Warrior...but I do not want him to be the basic Tank Fighter,

So I choose skills such as Duel Wield, Sword style Fencing, and for Defensive Purpose Dodge (There is of course a lot more skills and things you can do to customize but trying to be brief)

The first thing your going to notice about the game is all fighting styles have there own animations... So the looks of how your character stands and what we call body language is different for each style (but this is more of a fluff or candy feature)..

In the game you can set yourself up in a defensive (reactive) or a aggressive (proactive) fighting stance...which effects your attack rate or your defense rate based on skill level.

So here comes some lonely goblin who hasn't been trained in combat except for club style mash (haven't decided on the actual fighting name for the skill)..

The Mash style allows you greater strength in frontal attacks and those skilled over 50% get a second attack called backhand...

Which if he was facing a character with a straight on fighting skill would come in handy, the disadvantages of the Goblins attack is over extension and leaves the body prone from side attacks...

Being our character has taking the sword style Fencing and Duel Wield together this gives him an opportunity of attack (thanks to the two styles combined) which allows him to block and side step and attack from the side (If his skill was high enough to pull the attack off)

I also think the degree of strategy and building your party would change, thus giving it more of a challenge...Your not gonna want all your fighters on the party to be all straight on fighters, as there will be creatures that use diversion and side steps....

I do not know if I made this more confusing...I hope not

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Okay. And how is that in conflict with the hit point game mechanic? Also, how is it fundamentally different than current category-based tactics? ("So-and-so is immune to fire, and is weak against electrical attacks.")

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well with normal based hit point - in reality it comes down to how long you can stand getting beat....yes they have armor ratings or thaco if you wanna go back old school....so its a my die said i hit i do this much damage...you have x points left - repeat rinse and dry

In the system I am working on it depends more on how you've built your character then a die roll...the die roll really represent like i said the slandered luck chance...the rest of combat is based on fighting style vrs the opponents fighting style, skill levels, before you can even get your hit in...and then if you do it your armor is protection only, if your not protected via magic or armor your going down most likely...

I think of it in turns as lets say i am Black Belt and I am facing someone who's coming at me with a huge two handed sword...because of my fighting style I may be able to deflect it land a counter blow...now if the guy who's attacking me has been fighting all his life and is trained with the blade....chances are hes going to be able to hit me with his attack and no matter how skilled I am of a fighter, as I am not wearing armor to protect me...Im hurt and depending where I am hit..could be dead.

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If you look back, quick or instant player death came way before health bars or super tough player characters. Back in the early era of gaming, players died with one hit. Evasion and strategy was all they had for defense.

Personally, I actually prefer to have the capacity to absorb some damage, rather than having to avoid every little scrape. Halo was one of my favorite shooters because of its shield system. Gears of War falls into the same category. The ability to take moderate damage without any long term negative effects significantly changes the gameplay. It lets you get your hands dirty.

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I am not saying that you can not absorb some damage there are various teachings that (skills) would allow a player to go beyond pain, or ie take more damage to there body then normal individuals could take....

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I see three ways for this to turn out: Either it'd be a paper/rock/scissors system, or you'd balance it poorly and one style would pwn all others, or the straight "level" of your character would decide your uberness, modified slightly by the bonus or penalty that your style gets against your adversary's style.

In the first case, The game would quickly become frustrating, since my fencer can bust up any mace-wielding barbarian, but against a hoplyte, my ass is grass every time, thanks to his shield and the superior reach of his spear. Since his style trumps mine, all I can do is avoid him or train up (either this character or another one) to use the samurai style and get past those guys.

The second case is even worse, since the player is faced with a decision: Do I try to explore the game and solve the challenges, or do I just choose "Jedi" as my style and devour everything that comes in front of me. Few will choose the unnecessarily difficult path.

I'd suggest going with the third system, where a level 4 fencer can beat a level 4 club-swinger, but if he's a level 6 clubber, you're at a disadvantage. That way, there's a sense of your profession mattering, but hard work and patient grinding can eventually get you past any obstacle.

Regarding damage, the system you describe reminds me of Deus Ex or Fallout, where you can just shoot at the guy, or you can shoot at a particular part of the guy, and hits will lead to penalties.

It actually takes rather a lot to kill a guy in, for instance, a swordfight. Assuming you're not some kind of master swordsman with huge arms and a very sharp sword, you'll find it very difficult to effectively murder even an unarmed, untrained adversary. A solid cut might sever some tendons, or a blood vessel, but your enemy won't clutch his belly and tip over like someone hit his "off" switch. My EMT training is too far back to remember, but doesn't it take 4 minutes or so to bleed to death, even from a severed limb?

And the human body is packed full of bones and sinew and gristle. Imagine the toughest, cheapest, boniest steak you've ever eaten, the one you had to saw at with your knife for so long that you burned more calories hacking at it than you got from eating it. Now imagine that it's ten inches thick, encased in ribs and wearing a leather shirt. Shove a knife through that.

So it's entirely possible for it to take several whacks to do a guy in, with each one doing some damage to his body or gear. You get hacked in the arm a couple times, you aren't going to just tip over, but the arm will be useless, and you'll have conditions like shock, blood loss and excruciating pain to contend with.

And yeah, a knight in armor isn't going to get killed with a sword in any kind of a timely fashion, but he's slower and clumsier than loincloth boy there, and you can beat him to death through his armor, or use specialized piercing weapons on him. Or drown him in a puddle. Or grapple with him and break his arms. Or knock him off his horse and have it drag him to death. Or hold him down and stick a dirk in his eye.

[Edited by - Iron Chef Carnage on August 17, 2008 6:30:20 PM]

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It actually takes rather a lot to kill a guy in, for instance, a swordfight. Assuming you're not some kind of master swordsman with huge arms and a very sharp sword, you'll find it very difficult to effectively murder even an unarmed, untrained adversary. A solid cut might sever some tendons, or a blood vessel, but your enemy won't clutch his belly and tip over like someone hit his "off" switch. My EMT training is too far back to remember, but doesn't it take 4 minutes or so to bleed to death, even from a severed limb?

Actually this could lead to a new system.

If a character has bleed points and that injuries will increase the rate these bleed points are lost. If the bleed points go too low (ie reach 0), then the character is dead. However, the character recovers bleed points at a set rate, and the rate that they are lost will also be reduced over time.

You could then have a Shock score for each hit box that increases with each hit in that area and slowly reduces over time. If your Bleed Points - Shock is less than 0, then the character goes into a kind of shock and is severely hampered in that area.

Bleed points represent a character's actual health where as the Shock values represent a characters ability to ignore injuries.

Locations could also have an effect on the scale of the Bleed point and Shock points. For instance, a Hit to the head have a high multiplier for bleed points and shock points where as a foot might have a small multiplier for shock points and actually reduce the amount of bleed points taken. This could then knock the character out (if it is an enemy then you might think you killed it, but it might survive, as a player, it would knock them to the ground and they couldn't act until the shock wears off - the players shock could be capped at a certain value so that they don't spend hours waiting for their character to recover)

It also has the advantage of that no injury is permanent (I know not reality, but we are thinking gameplay here), except death.

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Original post by lostzac
I have never been a fan of Hitpoints, it's not that I do not understand the use, I just think no matter what level you are you get whacked on a few times with a sword you should feel it or be going down...

Hitpoints are an attempt to add detail to a situation that has been modelled as Alive or Dead. Alive, Mostly Alive, Somewhat Alive, Barely Alive, Dead. It's not a very good system, because there's usually no game mechanics involved. There's only alive and dead. Sometimes with artwork for various levels of dead-er-ness.

And there comes a point when the resolution seems like minutia. Alive, Very Close To Alive, Somewhat Less Than Very Close To Alive, A Bit More Than Somewhat Alive... Hellgate:London & DungeonSeige both had boss hitpoints in the thousands, but killing this 8000+ hitpoint demon isn't different from killing any other monster in the game.

As a counterpoint to this, Starwars:Empires At War had Imperial Star Destroyers -- ships several miles long -- with just a tiny increase in firepower and hitpoints. The range of values was absurdly disproportionate. There was a glaring disparity of scale between the rendered imaginings of the artwork, and the game mechanics.

They did have a good damage system though: It was mostly component based, where hits cause a loss of parts & functionality.

So maybe more than Alive/Dead could be considered, such as morale, blocking, missing. Also, loss of functionality could be incorporated, such as debuffs to speed or ability to continue attacking/defending.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on August 18, 2008 7:27:39 AM]

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