Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Ashaman73

FPS-RPG hybrids and enemy health indicators

This topic is 2599 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Shall a game display the health state of an enemy ? When we display it, how to ? As part of the GUI or in an immersive way ?

Well, it really depends on the game, but let's discuss this topic in the context of FPS-RPG hybrids. In RPG games, coming from a more tactical, slow pacing corner, enemy health is often displayed, atleast after selecting the enemy. On the other hand, FPS games due to more action and fast pacing, displays the enemy health seldom or is trying to hide it in a more immersive way.

But modern games are more of a mix of these two variations. Games like Fallout3/Oblivion , Witcher, Deus Ex etc. are RPGs with a strong focus on action. Still, enemy health are often only displayed as little healthbar when pointing at the enemy.

First off there's a game impact. When fighting an enemy without seeing his health in whatever form, you never know if your attacks has any effect at all or if he is almost dead.
When you don't have this information, it is really hard to make any tactical decision (switch to other damage type, retreat etc.), other then pumping as much damage as possible (=bullets in FPS) into the enemy until either he or you are finished. Is it valid to dispose enemy health indicator in a RPG or would it kill an important tactical feature ?

When you decide to indicate the enemy health state, how to ? In slower paced games you always have the option to select and anaylse an enemy, but in a faster paced games it gets really tricky. One enemy could be handled, but what about a group of enemies ? In this case a GUI solution looks like the wrong way to go. Floating health indicators above the heads of the enemies could really kill the immersion or atleast could be quite confusion when fighting a group.

It seems, that indicating the health of an enemy in an immersive way would be the best solution, but how to accomplish this without work/art explosion ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Numerical health indicators
  • are a substitute for immersive/in-world representation of "health" that goes back to the earliest text-only games where it was really the only option. Because of limited resources on early systems, early graphical games kept the numerical health indicator: Instead of having multiple sprites showing enemies becoming more and more wounded you could reuse the same sprite and just update a number. These days the main reason to keep the numerical indicators are tradition I think, people playing RPG's have a very ingrained opinion on how such games should look and play. They are mostly very conservative and will balk at any violent break from tradition (or at least not buy the game which hurts profits.)

    FPS'es in the other hand have never had a pressing need for health indicators because the enemies are often very short-lived. When an enemy dies from a single headshot with a shotgun I don't really care if he had 50 or 100 "health". The amount time from you seeing a live enemy till he is dead is counted in seconds, so health indicators would just be needless information overload. Even when I need more than one shot the game conventions tell me that it is okay to keep shooting, eventually he will go down. One of the worst sins you can commit when making an FPS is making enemies immune to your normal attacks without clearly and unambiguously communicating it to the player.

    However, special enemies, typically bosses, even in FPS'es, takes longer to kill. Here I think many FPS'es are doing things RPG's could learn from: Instead of a health bar show the enemy in different states of break down. The tank becomes dented and sheds armor plating, the T-Rex starts bleeding and walks erratically, the super soldier bleeds and becomes bent over with pain (or simply turning glowing soft spots off, but that is really just another kind of health bar). Just be sure always to have visible progress in the fight and you don't really need the explicit numerical health indicators. Of course, this increases the amount of art assets, especially in an RPG where there are many different enemies. But it would definitely be cool if we could loose some the numbers from RPG's.


  • Here I also consider a health bar a numerical health indicator. The bar is just a graphical visualization of the underlying numbers.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Even when fighting mobs of enemies, it is important for the player to know the state of the one he is currentlly aiming at.

    Mass Effect, for example, had a floating life bar, and it was totally okay -- the player didn't pay attention to it, as it was just a way to give information, and the brain didn't pay to the way the data was relayed, only what it meant.

    I think that displaying HP has rarelly been the reason for breakin immersion. Only way I can think of to break a HP meter would be to make it all sparkly and more detailed than the whole game. Other than that, gamers got used to how information is displayed.

    While you read my words, do you give thoughts to the fact that you are staring into a flat surface, which emanates different colored lights, and you are following a string of characters composed of blac pixels? Of course you don't, your brain skips that part and allows you to translate something that is incomprehensible to a dog, to something you can understand and think over. I believe that is the case with health bars and the GUI in general

    Maybe in the early days people groaned about the numbers and all different things showing up on display. Now, when we are several decades into them, it no longer matters
    -- We accept displaying our ammunition state, despite the fact that no normal human could count how many bullets a minigun hosed.
    -- We accept that when we look around, our character is (in most cases) composed of 2 hovering hands and a gun (in the case of FPS)
    -- We accept the existence of dragons, knights that can run in 2 ton armour and space travel.
    -- Finally, we accept that by punching at the WSAD and moving the mouse, we are able to look around in a game world, and in most cases we aren't aware there is a keyboard.

    Evolution did all the heavy lifting for you, we adapted to how games work. You can introduce new stuff -- best way to check is to create a mock up version of a playfield in Unity, implement the way you want Health to be displayed, and take a stroll in a cube enviroment. Make the enemies move and HP counters appear and dissapear at your conviniece -- then you will be able to check if your idea is good or not. Unity is made just for that (testing stuff out), and it works well in that regard

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    In the Monster Hunter games the health of the big monsters isn't indicated at all, but they do give clues. A weakened monster will enrage more often, and an almost dead monster will limp when it moves.

    Although implementing a similar system in an FPS or RPG would be a lot more work than a health bar or numerical display I think it would pay off well. Show opponents staggering from blows, limping from crippled limbs and losing strength in a natural way.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Of course, this increases the amount of art assets, especially in an RPG where there are many different enemies. But it would definitely be cool if we could loose some the numbers from RPG's.

    I think it is mostly a budget/risk issue. With so many different enemies in RPGs it would kill any budget if you would go for differnent wound representations. This could have been done 20 years ago, but was avoided due to the high production costs. Art creation in current AAA titles is even more budget demanding than 20 years ago, a typical character went through a pipeline of sculpting, modelling,texturing,rigging,animation. I bet that no publisher will take the risk to make an creature variation rich rpg this way. Any indie and hobby developer can only dream of it.
    So, when using integrated, more immersive visualisation of wounds in a RPG it must be done in an other way.



    Mass Effect, for example, had a floating life bar, and it was totally okay -- the player didn't pay attention to it, as it was just a way to give information, and the brain didn't pay to the way the data was relayed, only what it meant.

    Could you point me to some screenshot. I tried googling, but I didn't found any screenshots with floating life bars.


    While you read my words, do you give thoughts to the fact that you are staring into a flat surface, which emanates different colored lights, and you are following a string of characters composed of blac pixels? Of course you don't, your brain skips that part and allows you to translate something that is incomprehensible to a dog, to something you can understand and think over. I believe that is the case with health bars and the GUI in general

    Don't missunderstood me, I'm not against GUIs in RPGs. I just want to discuss a good, modern, and feasable way to represent enemy health in a RPG-FPS hybrid. When fighting a crowd of lets say 5 goblins, wouldn't 5 floating health bars not be confusing ?

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Deciding whether to show or hide enemy health info has quite an impact on game-play and the sensation you get from playing. A while ago I was faced with the same question, to be or not to be. I tried them both out and I really noticed a difference in play style. On boss fights where I was unable to see the health of the boss I was very careful all the way but it was very exciting. When I was able to see the health of the boss I was doing more risk management, taking larger risks when the boss was low on HP but I was less excited. In order to decide if you should or should not show any information I'd recommend you to just try both out and decide what feels best for your game. You might not be able to test all different configurations, but you can test what effect it has on you when you know stuff and when you don't.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    It also depends on how the player can interact with the game, I think. In an FPS, player skill is the only factor in keeping the player alive-- you can dodge around corners, weave to avoid fire, and manually target enemies for greater effect. In an RPG, a lot of that is abstracted away to dice rolls tied to stats and scripted actions.

    The RPG style makes data really important. You see a lot of features that are basically stat tweaking, and the player needs quantified feedback to be able to make decisions on how to develop their character and approach challenges. A health meter is a very direct, easy, and cheap way to convey this information to the player in a form suited to tactical analysis.

    There's a continuum between FPS and traditional RPG play, and the closer you get to FPS the less raw information the player will need. But closer to the RPG end demands that players get that information, and if it isn't represented as a meter or number it has to be expressed some other way. I can't think of an approach less abstract than the health meter that doesn't require some obvious signal of health on individual enemies, leading to the art explosion in your OP.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Playing Halo 3 I didn't find myself concerned so much knowing what enemy health was at. Vehicles showed damage effects as well as platforms but I'm not sure that affected my play style much since I was more focused on not getting shot. And I don't think that fighting one of those scarab tanks would've been the same if there were health indicators everywhere. I think some indication of a successful hit is necessary and in Halo's case the sounds were the main feedback that I remember. I need to (quickly) know somehow if what I'm doing is useful or if I need to try and find another way to defeat an enemy. Seeing a number would certainly do the trick but there's probably other options that can be explored.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites

    Could you point me to some screenshot. I tried googling, but I didn't found any screenshots with floating life bars.


    If memory serves, Mass Effect shows the health of the last target you targeted. I think it was showed in the top center of the screen in both games. Unfortunately I don't have any screen shots either.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    It seems, that indicating the health of an enemy in an immersive way would be the best solution, but how to accomplish this without work/art explosion ? [/quote] Here are some ways I've pondered over in which Health can be represented in a natural way within the FPS environment without Health Bars and a "work/art explosion".

    Graphics
    1. Procedurally Generated Damage Animations such as rag-dolling individual Limbs could be incorporated without requiring massive amounts of art.
    2. Procedurally Generated Walking Animation such as those generated by NaturalMotion's Endorphin.
    3. Procedurally Generated Damage Effects could be used to provide Visual clues Geometry Morphing, Real-time CSG, Particles (Fluid Loss), and Textures Blending.
    4. Facial Expressions {Eyes, Eyebrows, Mouth}
    Audio
    1. Sound FX and Music are often reused and could provide Audio Clues to State of health . Screams of Agony (Roars, Growls) increase in frequency as the health deteriorates. Sigh of Relief is exclaimed as health recharges.
    2. Dead man's Theme initiates when Health is critically low.
    3. Sound of a Heartbeat increasing in pulse rate and volume as Enemy Health deteriorates.
    Force Feedback
    1. The sound of the enemy's Heartbe increases in pulse rate and volume until its rumble can be felt in the controller's Force Feedback.
    Artificial Intelligence
    1. Enemies Attack Speed, Accuracy, Duration, Frequency is reduced.
    2. The Enemy retreats to avoid sustaining more damage, seeks out cover, or recharge station.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Sign in to follow this  

    • Advertisement
    ×

    Important Information

    By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

    GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

    Sign me up!