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kingy

Grinning and bearing it - Permanent injury

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Would it be interesting if a hero's serious wounds cannot be healed? I am building a fantasy game that so far has no magic in it. The basic background to the game is that the hero is found guilty of a crime and thrown into the Pit of Penance, exiling him from society, where he is expected to die. I have a hit location system and a critical hit system that reflects real world injuries. Do a lot of damage in one go to an area and it will get really messed up; e.g. broken or severed limbs, brain damage and so on. Superficial wounds can be healed with such items as bandages or by eating things, fairly standard staple fair for roleplaying games. I was thinking about including a surgeon type character in the Pit, as other criminals would be down there, trying to survive, the hero will not be alone although most of the other occupants will be hostile, the surgeon would not. He would be able to sort out most injuries the hero had suffered. However, I am now thinking, wouldn't it be cool if the hero (when he escapes) emerged limping, battered, bruised and with a broken body, by the skin of his teeth, so to speak? For this scenario to exist, I would likely have to make serious injuries as incurable. But then I got thinking; if heavy wounds are permanent then players must just quicksave before every battle and quickload afterwards if one was inflicted. So maybe some reward should be given for sticking with a injured character. Like improving the experience points or some such. Anyway, I wanted to run this idea past some other designers to get a take on it. Its obviously very different to how other games work. Is it too different? Or could it work?

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In a roguelike, it would work. In fact I don't think it's uncommon for roguelikes to have detailed injury systems, with permanent effects. I know Dwarf Fortress's adventure mode does.

In a more conventional story based RPG game, I'm struggling to imagine how it could be anything other than annoying and horrible. Who is going to want to play half way through the story with a permanently gimped character? How can you balance the game so it doesn't become impossible to complete, given that by the end the character might be completely limbless and crawling along using only his tongue?

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Permanent or not, I already have the removal of both arms, or both legs as a game over condition. I think that is fair enough, as the hero's ability to defend himself is practically non existent in that state.

Something that occurs to me is that permanent injury could actually lead to players avoiding combat unless necessary - isn't that a radical idea hehe. Maybe they would try other options to resolve conflict, like bribery, distraction, sneaking or dialogue.

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There are countless interesting gameplay possibilities that are made pointless with unrestricted save and reload. This is one of them.

My advice is to dump it off. Let the player quit and resume whenever they want, and remove "game over", but make their experiences in the game permanent and unchangeable. Now things like permanent injuries seem reasonable. In addition, every decision the player makes in the game has more meaning when they must continue with the consequences.

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I don't think that having a permanent disability is as heroic as you think it is. I mean, other than in the Paralympics sense of "heroic".

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So essentially, as long as the player can quicksave and quickload at any point, permanent injuries are generally seen as being ok.

If the experience reward was high enough, maybe I could encourage the player to continue playing and not reload (e.g. 300% experience bonus for being severely injured, or something like that), perhaps. I suppose I could also fudge the injury chart rolls when the player already has a severe injury, rerolling future ones to make them less likely to occur.

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Original post by kingy
So essentially, as long as the player can quicksave and quickload at any point, permanent injuries are generally seen as being ok.

No. The way I see it, if you can quicksave and quickload at any point, permanent injuries are kind of pointless. Most players will be reloading once they lose a limb. You might as make it a game over scenario or not include it as all

Quote:
If the experience reward was high enough, maybe I could encourage the player to continue playing and not reload (e.g. 300% experience bonus for being severely injured, or something like that), perhaps. I suppose I could also fudge the injury chart rolls when the player already has a severe injury, rerolling future ones to make them less likely to occur.

Now you'll be getting into weird scenarios where it might be advantageous to hack your own leg off. I could see giving strange bonuses if it were part of character creation; that might be interesting. But it gets a bit strange if you make things lucky for crippled characters.

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Instead of making the injuries permanent, why not allow the surgeon to heal them but provide the player a bonus in xp, items or something else for playing the game with the injuries?

This way you'll still get the players emerging all battered and bruised but those who would find it annoying can still play your game and not have to constantly save / load.

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Reaching the end of the game with a bruised and battered hero dragging himself over the finish line will give the player a huge sense of achievement. Having to drag the hero through the last 20 levels, movement reduced (leg missing), unable to fight (arm gone) might get a bit annoying.

I like the idea of permanent damage, but would divide things into two parts. First there would be the cosmetic damage - if the hero ended the game covered in scars and with a bit of a limp then this would provide good feedback to the player and add to the sense of achievement - the hero had been through the wars and had the wounds to prove it.

Secondly for performance affecting damage I might add difficulty levels so the hardcore player could happily drag the half dead hero through the game after that first bad encounter with a giant rat. For the more casual player permanent injury might only result in a 10% drop off on performance.

Also make sure that the player can finish the game with a beat up hero - imagine the hero having to make a last heroic jump across a wide chasm when both legs are broken.

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Thats an interesting idea; not making it quite so black and white.

Quote:
Now you'll be getting into weird scenarios where it might be advantageous to hack your own leg off.


You won't be able to do that in the game. I could justify an experience bonus for being injured as an Injury Survival bonus or something like that perhaps.

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But it gets a bit strange if you make things lucky for crippled characters.


That's how games like half life work; the enemies do less damage when you are critically injured, because dying generally sucks from a player's point of view.

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