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Health in Video games.

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I sometimes wonder if there are any new ways to give players a way to restore health that coincides with the gameplay itself.

Like if I'm playing a Top-Down Space shooter, a health pack seems out of place.

I mean, it's not like it'd be a big deal, as the gameplay should be fun enough that players won't really think about it, plus it fits with what people have seen before in numerous other games.

And regenerating health seems like a cop out, but also there's rarely a game-related explanation for that either.

Has anyone else ever thought about things like this?

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People think about this every minute (or I could just be insane).

Does it still seem like a cop out if you rename "Health" to "Armour" and explain the auto regenration by way of nanobot repairers installed in your ship?

If you don't like auto regen or health packs, make a repair ship fly to meet and dock with you, or have landing pads you can dock at to repair.

Often you just need to change the name of something for it to make sense.

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Having the player freeze/lock up instead of loosing health has always seemed more entertaining to me. This way the player is still punished for getting hit, but he can play continuously.

Of course, this type of damage system only works in a few situations. I just think it's worth mentioning because I don't think many games take this concept. A lot of games(mainstream shooters with the hardest difficulty enabled), you die and you have to go back and play the part over and over again until you memorize the scene and where to shoot.

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Re: Slateboard

Are you talking about a single player or multiplayer game?
If it is multiplayer, are the players on the same team or against each other?

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Re:

I like system where the shield system and weapon system use the same energy system, similar to R-type or Biometal (although not top-down). In such systems, the player can either choose to keep the "orbs" close for protection, or shoot it as a form of attack.

What about health?
No health, if you get hit you die. Either dodge
the attacks or use the shield, don't get hit.

Are you considering recoverable health because of the story?
Certainly it makes more sense that the ship somehow repairs itself,
than to spawn a new ship, when it gets hit and explode.
Is that the reason you want health?

How you implement it probably depends on your style (i.e. non-sensical vs realistic) and the story. And that depends on whether you want the chicken to come before the egg. You could design the game to fit the story or design the story to explain the game mechanic. Or if you go the non-sensical route, it can be more flexible.

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For a shooter, I was thinking of an experimental ship that can initiate self-repair using the debris from destroyed ships.

So enemies or allies, if there's parts laying about, they can be used.

I felt it'd be more forgiving than one hit deaths, though such a mode would likely still exist as an optional challenge.

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I think the main item to design with that idea is to make sure that the game flows fluidly.

Perhaps you could make it Kirby like system, where you could eat enemy ship in a melee type move. Once the enemy ship is in your "mouth", you could either "swallow" it to heal yourself or "spit" it as an attack. The catch is that once you have something in your mouth, you can't shoot. Enemy that get shot explodes and leave nothing for you to eat. Bosses will all be too big to eat. You might shoot it to break it and eat the small pieces.

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Interestingly the concepts of self repairing objects are getting closer to reality.

For example is the RepRap, an OpenSource 3D printer that can print mant of its own componsnts (so one you have one, it is easy to make more, or have spare parts lying around to repair it). Also there are robots that are being designed that can assemble themselves from basic building blocks ( http://www.metacafe.com/watch/200373/molecube/ ). Although we are still a long way off completely functioning self replicating/repairing devices.

These also show the assumption that for a device to self replicate we need molecular or atomic manipulation technologies.

SO a ship that could take in raw materials (or even mine them) and use them to self repair is not unbelievable science fiction.

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Lets not forget Star Wars. Maybe create a new character that hops around the ship, holla 'atcha R2D2!

Seriously, you can add strategy to this, ex...the ship cannot move around fast (or at all) while it is being repaired, but the ship may be repaired at anytime for any length of time. But obviously you can't do this when the player is swarmed as the hit damage rate would exceed the repair rate.

People are going to say, "Horrible idea! What a rip-off!". Be creative...maybe use a robot arm that extends out of the ship(like you see at car factories).

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How about a Homeworld-style Resource Collector beam that "sweeps" a defeated target for raw materials which are subsequently used for replenishing your own strength. The quality of the target could affect the quality of the rebuild, possibly resulting in your <ship> taking on some characteristics of the target (ablation, absorption, deflection, etc.). Assuming the standard game levels of weaker defenses on the fringes moving towards stronger defenses at the core, this provides a built in mechanism for perma-upgrades for the player. It also allows for more weapon effects from the enemy rather than 1 shot = 1 kill.

Also, blow-through (over-kill) could affect quantity of material available for rebuild. Say you deal "100 pts" of damage to an enemy with exactly 100 health. You just barely defeat it, leaving a lot of resources available for harvesting. Do 150 pts to that same 100 health vehicle and there are much fewer resources left. Do 200 pts to that same 100 health vehicle and it's completely obliterated.

This can affect play style and weapons loads. One player might bank on being able to avoid being hit, thus not needing to harvest resources, thus wanting a BFG to obliterate opponents as quickly as possible. Another player might believe that being hit is inevitable, wants frequent upgrades and is okay with needing lots of smaller shots and a quicker rate of fire to disable opponents.

Depending on the angles involved (Galaga-style vs. Asteroids-style), effective armor equivalence could be modeled. The weapon might only do X damage, but the angle of impact determines actual effect (and this works for kinetic and energy weapons).

Hope you get something useful from this. Feel free to ask questions if anything piques your interest.

[Edited by - justicar on December 4, 2010 11:21:13 AM]

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Glad you approve. Do you have a specific (for certain values of specific) idea for a game in mind? Care to talk about any it or any of these ideas more? I can puke out everything here or off-list. Whatever you like.

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Still early, but I'm thinking of making a top-down shooter. It's pretty simply so far, but I was thinking of some simple changes to make it different without getting too complicated.

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Probably more than you're looking for, but I can't work an idea in a vacuum. If you getting something useful from this that's great.

Galaga-style? Due to preferred style of play or programming related?

Target platform? Some ideas/features would be easier to see with the large real estate afforded by a PC over a tablet or iPhone/Android.

The player's ship could be sort of like the Kuun-Lan from Homeworld: Cataclysm in that it starts with a base configuration and modules are added during the course of play. The player could have some say in module development (between levels, freeze time mid-level, whatever).

Defeated enemies could result in different Drops, e.g., weapon modules, power packs, armor plating, or even just raw materials, etc. Picking these up ads features/abilities to your ship.

Energy Shields:
Absorber -- Represented by a globe around the craft. Incoming fire impacts and is dispersed through the shield ala Star Trek.

Deflector -- Same globe, but incoming fire bounces off. Could conceivably damage friend (in co-op play) or enemies that surround you (easier in Asteroid-style, I'd think).

Shields could be Leaky with some percentage getting through to damage your ship. Some weapons could cause more Leak than others (probably just by virtue of dealing more damage to begin with, but could also attempt to have differences between lasers, particle beams, etc., depending on how complex you want it). Power-ups lessen Leak.

Shield strength represented by ROYGBIV color, with red being the weakest and violet being the strongest. It changes color as it takes damage/weakens and as time passes. Power-ups can be stacked, either to increase time or strength. No enemy is ever going to outright Drop a shield so strong that it takes you from none to violet, but you can build up to it. Suitable Drops might be power packs, reactor cores, etc. Variables could be peak power (strength) and continuous output rating (duration). Shields protect the entire ship.

Alternatively, shield emitters could be on each module. Power could be syphoned from one emitter to another, such that shield strength is not eqaul around the entire ship. You could end up with holes in your shields and have to rely on Armor. This system would be much more rewarding (to play style) in an Asteroids-style game.


Armor Plating:
Ablative -- massive slab of structure that prevents all damage from passing through until the armor is entirely defeated. Boils off as it takes damage. Provides 100% protection until it's all boiled off and then Sudden Catastrophic Failure. Graphically this would be impacts with small chunks flying off from the point of impact. Tink, tink, tink, tink, BOOM!

Standard -- Prevents *some* amount of damage from going through. Armor Degrades with damage, but a certain minimum amount dealt is required to cause Degradation. Power-ups increase the Degradation threshold and increase the number of hits that can be taken before Degradation occurs. Have an example if you need it.

The stopping power of standard armor is similar to shield leak but uses a different mechanism. Shields stop a certain percentage of damage from coming through. Armor stops a specifc value of damage from coming though. Make sense?

Different weapons might be better against some defenses and worse against others, and vice versa. Same goes for your collector/recycling beam. It could have longer duration, longer reach, quicker recharge, more efficient salvaging, etc. Much of what you could do with the collector beam could apply to weapons in general. Kinetic weapons might be small calibre/rapid-fire or one-at-a-time large bore. Beam weapons could have longer and longer beams (with the percentage of the beam impacting the enemy determining how much damage the target takes, like if your aim is off a touch but he flies right through the tail end vs. gettting it full in the face).


So the collector beam is not automatic. You at least need to be within a certain range of the target you're trying to harvest. You might have to have sufficient power to use it. Activation might require a control input/button push. How the harvested resources are used could have an impact on performance. Say you're going with simply harvesting generic resources (i.e., not getting specific system Drops, just generic build material). It would be "cheaper" to convert the material to armor than to shields, but adding armor increases mass which makes the ship slower and more sluggish until the power plant and/or engines are upgraded. Energy shields might be more effective or not adversely affect performance, but they cost more and also require more power. Space Miner has some excellent interactions, if a bit limited, in how ship upgrades work.

For my money I'd rather see something that plays like that (Asteroids-style) rather than Galaga-style because I think it's a more rewarding experience and more can be done with it, but that could be my own creative limitations hitting a brick wall.

[Edited by - justicar on December 4, 2010 6:52:53 PM]

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It would be a PC Game. I'm currently using the XNA Framework and C#.

I chose top-down shooter, because it's a style I prefer as a player, plus it felt like it would be suitable as an application of my preset skills as a programmer.

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Well my current method of representing health comes as a random chance of damage.

Each hit has a % chance of doing a certain type of damage, no damage or total destruction.

Damage has types such as:
damaged rudder (unable to move up, and only move down)
fire (takes 1 'fire' hit/sec until fire is put out)
...
ect (sorry tutorial looms so i must write this quick)


The player can then elect to spend time fixing the damade, whist doing this they are unable to move/shoot. Every 0.5 sec spent fixing has a % chance of fixing the damage and removing the effect.

This way getting hit by a small bullet is safe enough, a big bullet is very dangerous and the ability to evade is decreased the more damage is taken.

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I should preface this with the statement that I am a Dwarf Fortress fan.

But I think hitpoints get used far far too much.
they're an easy way to do it but often don't make too much sense and they've become a cliche.

If you're making a space based game and a torpedo blows off your left engine or your forward weapons array then if you want to make it realistic then it's *gone*.

now of course this is purely frustrating unless you give the player the ability to inflict harm on the enemies in a similar fasion in which case it becomes awsome.
I liked freespace for the fact that while you could loose subsystems you could also target your enemies subsystems which made for great sandbox play.
The ability to toy with your enemies adds a surprising amount of replay value to games.

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