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Health Regeneration

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Most of us probably know this problem: You just won a difficult fight, and you're left with barely any health and no potions or medikits. Now of course your Hero's health replenishes over time. At a speed of about 2 HP per second. With a maximum of 250.

As far as I see, this problem was mostly prevalent in games that were made in the years between 2000 and about 2008.

Before that, Health mostly didn't replenish by itsself and you had to find an Inn, medikits or potions, or you had to finish the level.
Now, on the other hand, health usually replenishes itsself very quickly, in many shooters nowadays you can just take cover and wait for your health to fill up, which only takes seconds.

The problem left for us, is to find out which of the above approaches is the most rewarding for the player, and which one supports the flow of the game best. Or is there even a better way? A combination? Or something entirely different?



The first situation described above is, without any doubt, the worst. It forces you to basically wait and stand still, sometimes for minutes, just for your health bar to be full again. This destroys the flow of the game, is unmotivating and stretches the playing time in a very frustrating way. What's the point in having a long game when half of the time was spent doing nothing?

The second one can also be frustrating: What if you're not left with enough health to actually beat the level?
It can also be very rewarding: Having to fight an enemy with extremely low health leads to a much more intense experience and is very rewarding when you manage to win.

The third one on the other hand, can lead to the game to not being a challenge anymore, or can lead to the player just carelessly letting their health drop, knowing it'll be full again in a few seconds. This usually means the game is more action- and less thinking-oriented, which can both be good or bad, depending on what you plan to do with the game. It also leads to the game missing the 'rush' of having to fight a difficult enemy with a low health bar.

How do you handle this in a videogame?

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you forgot my favorite hybrid, protoss from starcraft 1, had a heal bar and a slowly regenerating shield (mana shield-ish) :)

honestly though it depends on the game, a tactical game isn't go to refill your bar every few seconds in fact i don't play any games that do this.

the main thing is make sure that as a developer your in control of it, if they don't get any healing at all you have to make it so they can beat the
level on what they have if they play tactically.

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It depends on what the focus of your game is.

If gameplay is focused on attrition and how far you can go in a dungeon without resting, then having no regen makes sense. If you instantly regenerate, it makes efficiency gains pointless and makes the dungeon crawl a series of easy boring battles. You want the player to optimize his minion bashing strategy to keep enough resources for the boss.

If gameplay is focused on each individual encounter by making them possible to wipe you out, then having instant regen makes sense. You want the player to be challenged by each encounter, not by the dungeon as a whole.

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I've always found the idea of "Health" as a number a little odd - 1 hit to the chest is the same as 3 hits to the pinkie toe?

The counter argument to this is of course is, what else can you do? You need a way of "being able to lose" without causing the player to immediately die every time they make a mistake.

I would like to see a system in a game where a player builds up different levels of "Injuries", where each injury has a negative effect on the player. Then, you could either have a maximum "Injury level" (a health bar in disguise?) or make the game impossible to continue without some kind of healing. Or.. you could have minor injuries automatically heal over time, leaving the major injuries for some proper healing.

Just writing it out like this, I can already see issues with such a system - but at least it's different!

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The first situation described above is, without any doubt, the worst. It forces you to basically wait and stand still, sometimes for minutes, just for your health bar to be full again.

In Quest 64, your health didn't recover - your mana did. You also had a heal spell which healed about 5% of your HP. Your mana only recovers when you move.
Thus, you ran around in very tight circles hoping enemies didn't attack you ([size=2]usually bridges were safe - but not always), and memorizing the magic menus, repeatedly (6 or 7 or so times) spam heal (video - [size=2]unfortunately, no running in circles in that video being early in the game), each time having to re-traverse the menu ([size=2]N64 controller: C-pad down, C-pad left, A button. Later when you get Heal Lvl 2, it's C-pad down, C-pad left, C-pad left, A button). Ofcourse, since if you have no mana after doing so, you'll get wiped out in the next battle, so you ran around in circles again until you got enough mana for the next battle.

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in Vaerydian, i use a regeneration mechanic. Right now, its just a pre-defined rate and amount. In the future, it will be based on character stats, skills, abilities, equipment, and active effects (positive and negative). Each of those will modify various aspects by certain degrees. I feel that lets the player choose how important regen is to their gameplay.

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Hmm, I thought of another possibility. You regenerate health, but only to a certain maximum figure. Getting injured lowers your maximum health, e.g. max health = average of 100% health and the lowest your health has gone since you've had a medkit. A medkit brings actual and max health back to 100%. If you let yourself get beaten to near death you either need to complete the level with only 50% max health, or find a medkit. Consequences, but not too bad. Thoughts?

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Star Wars Galaxies had a mechanic I really liked before the dark times, before the NGE.

You had your health with auto regen after combat, but you had combat fatigue which you gained at a very slow rate across many battles, which reduced your overall max health. Every so often you had to visit a cantina and be healed by an entertainer (or just by being in the cantina, but that was extremely slow).

As always though, it depends on the type of experience you are trying to create for the player. Don't just pick a mechanism because it sounds cool.

There is a system based on injuries, it's called GURPS and is ... not for those who like action. Hitpoints a generalization of how close you are to not being able to be combat effective. It's a good general system. If you want to simulate injuries then you're going to end up with "first hit hits your trigger pulling finger, now you can't fight at all" and you're dead. Sound fun? Not to me.

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Star Wars Galaxies had a mechanic I really liked before the dark times, before the NGE.

You had your health with auto regen after combat, but you had combat fatigue which you gained at a very slow rate across many battles, which reduced your overall max health. Every so often you had to visit a cantina and be healed by an entertainer (or just by being in the cantina, but that was extremely slow).

As always though, it depends on the type of experience you are trying to create for the player. Don't just pick a mechanism because it sounds cool.

There is a system based on injuries, it's called GURPS and is ... not for those who like action. Hitpoints a generalization of how close you are to not being able to be combat effective. It's a good general system. If you want to simulate injuries then you're going to end up with "first hit hits your trigger pulling finger, now you can't fight at all" and you're dead. Sound fun? Not to me.


Dwarf Fotress simulates lots of death I have head. Skin layers, muscles, limbs, eyes, head wounds, guts coming out and so forth. Too bad they can only do that because ASCII.

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I would like to see a system in a game where a player builds up different levels of "Injuries", where each injury has a negative effect on the player. Then, you could either have a maximum "Injury level" (a health bar in disguise?) or make the game impossible to continue without some kind of healing. Or.. you could have minor injuries automatically heal over time, leaving the major injuries for some proper healing.


play fallout 3 or fallout nv, it has health, body party injury and radiation to contend with. (i havent played fallout 1/2 so i don't know about that)

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Hmm, I thought of another possibility. You regenerate health, but only to a certain maximum figure. Getting injured lowers your maximum health, e.g. max health = average of 100% health and the lowest your health has gone since you've had a medkit. A medkit brings actual and max health back to 100%. If you let yourself get beaten to near death you either need to complete the level with only 50% max health, or find a medkit. Consequences, but not too bad. Thoughts?


Just Cause 2 has a health system similar to this. Getting hit a couple times is just a "flesh wound" and heals back after a couple seconds of not being hit. Getting hit more than a certain amount before regeneration occurs will lower the point that the flesh wounds will regenetate to. Stationary 'health cabinets' would fill you back to 100%. Typically there is only one health cabinet per military outpost, so you're encouraged to occasionally use cover, but allowed to fight like rambo if you want.

The regeneration point is clamped to a minimum of about 25% of your maximum possible health, so if you're in a really tight pinch, you're forced into cover fighting, but aren't necessarily doomed.

It seemed to work pretty well, I have no major complaints about that system.

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I've been messing around with an idea for a first person shooter where taken damage places strain on joints; take too much, and you'll lose an arm, leg, or your head. Otherwise, health regenerates CoD style.

So it's a different take on the 'health regenerates TO AN EXTENT' system.

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I've been messing around with an idea for a first person shooter where taken damage places strain on joints; take too much, and you'll lose an arm, leg, or your head. Otherwise, health regenerates CoD style. So it's a different take on the 'health regenerates TO AN EXTENT' system.


Dwarf Fortress is famous for this type of health system, its anotomical detail is amazing. You can end up cutting tendons and muscles, breaking bones, etc. The system even lets you target body parts as well. Toady did an awesome job on it.

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Dwarf Fortress is famous for this type of health system, its anotomical detail is amazing. You can end up cutting tendons and muscles, breaking bones, etc. The system even lets you target body parts as well. Toady did an awesome job on it.


It sounds like such a fun (and realistic?) system, but how taxing is something like this on a game's resources? I mean, I can't imagine a AAA FPS using such a detailed system without becoming unplayably slow every time you get shot at.

From everyone's name-drops it's clear there are loads of different options, but to the "injuries cause lower maximum health" list I'd like to add Metal Gear Solid 3 (and, possibly later editions, I haven´t played them). Different types of attacks cause different types of wounds (bullet wound, burn, broken bone) which cause injury, reducing max health until you use your medical supplies to heal each individual injury (using the correct individual medical tools for the appropriate wounds).
It was excellent, but I hated it. After every fight I'd spend 10 minutes working my way through menus trying to remember whether it was "knife, antiseptic, bandage" or "antiseptic, knife, painkiller, bandage" for a bullet wound... then again, that could just be me ;).
I'm a fan of the modern "no regen in combat, near-instant regen out of combat" systems, I feel that encourages quick gameplay without making firefights risk-less.

However, at the end of the day, Tiblanc's got it right with "It depends on what the focus of your game is." to be honest. In a murky horror game focusing on conserving limited resources over long periods, I wouldn't expect my health to regen at all - for example.

Wyrm.

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Self-regen should be...leveled. Resting (ie. standing still) should only give you back 5% HP. Sleeping = 15% HP. Hot springs = 17% HP. Sleeping in an inn = 18% HP. Medic or Healer = 100% HP. At least, in an adventure game, I'm thinking Diablo-esque, this would work well. Games like Gears of War.... tweaking required.

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[quote name='Dubious-Tony' timestamp='1332353468' post='4924033']
I would like to see a system in a game where a player builds up different levels of "Injuries", where each injury has a negative effect on the player. Then, you could either have a maximum "Injury level" (a health bar in disguise?) or make the game impossible to continue without some kind of healing. Or.. you could have minor injuries automatically heal over time, leaving the major injuries for some proper healing.


play fallout 3 or fallout nv, it has health, body party injury and radiation to contend with. (i havent played fallout 1/2 so i don't know about that)
[/quote]

That's still really only multiple "health bars" until the health is really low and something gets crippled. I meant something more interesting, for example - get an arrow in the arm and you can't aim as well / hit as hard. Get 2 arrows in the arm and you can't hold items over a certain weight with it and the pain blurs your vision.. something other than "Arm health 23/100"

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An issue with that is defining it in a way that allows power progression. We can assume an expert archer would be able to deliver more pain than a novice archer, which means he can get the 2 arrows in the arm effect with a single shot. When would he switch from 2 hit required to 1 hit? And after he can disable everyone with a single hit, what's left? This creates little room for progression. It's fine for tabletop RPG style games, but for standard RPGs where power growth is the name of the game, that wouldn't work well.

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An issue with that is defining it in a way that allows power progression. We can assume an expert archer would be able to deliver more pain than a novice archer, which means he can get the 2 arrows in the arm effect with a single shot. When would he switch from 2 hit required to 1 hit? And after he can disable everyone with a single hit, what's left? This creates little room for progression. It's fine for tabletop RPG style games, but for standard RPGs where power growth is the name of the game, that wouldn't work well.


For this scenario, I would do something like factor in armor durability into providing protection. Better armor providing better protection, and better archery being able to increase the chance of hitting weak-points in the armor. Better armor having less weak-points, and better arrows causing more loss to armor durability, or a better chance at penetration (critical hits).

As soon as the armor is either penetrated or broken, you start hitting the underlying body parts, and cause more significant damage/impacts.

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The problem of detailed damage models is

[quote name='Net Gnome' timestamp='1332414584' post='4924267']
Dwarf Fortress is famous for this type of health system, its anotomical detail is amazing. You can end up cutting tendons and muscles, breaking bones, etc. The system even lets you target body parts as well. Toady did an awesome job on it.


It sounds like such a fun (and realistic?) system, but how taxing is something like this on a game's resources? I mean, I can't imagine a AAA FPS using such a detailed system without becoming unplayably slow every time you get shot at.[/quote]No, a very accurate damage model would take practically no performance. Visually representing the damage could take a bit of performance, but mostly just work to create the content.
I'm a fan of the modern "no regen in combat, near-instant regen out of combat" systems, I feel that encourages quick gameplay without making firefights risk-less.[/quote]I haven't played many modern FPSs, but I know most of them allow you to regen in combat as long as you just duck behind cover for a while. That specifically encourages risk-less and boring grinding down the enemies until there are none left, getting randomly and instantly killed and quickloading, or both. I find most of the time this design is either by bad designers, for bad players, or both.

If you had to actually leave combat in order to regen - whether by killing all enemies in the area, or really breaking contact so that enemies aren't after you anymore - that is generally going to be more interesting.

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I haven't played many modern FPSs, but I know most of them allow you to regen in combat as long as you just duck behind cover for a while. That specifically encourages risk-less and boring grinding down the enemies until there are none left, getting randomly and instantly killed and quickloading, or both. I find most of the time this design is either by bad designers, for bad players, or both.


Yes, I agree that regen "in-combat" often leads to "I'll just sit behind this rock until my health is back, then shoot some guys, then repeat".
However; Mass Effect 3 attempts to get around this with "Smart" AI that will flank you while you're in cover... Gears of War has those ink-grenades that negate an area of cover. There are certanily systems in place in many games to stop you just sitting in cover - but they're hit-and-miss in terms of whether they work or not.


If you had to actually leave combat in order to regen - whether by killing all enemies in the area, or really breaking contact so that enemies aren't after you anymore - that is generally going to be more interesting.
[/quote]

"More interesting" - 100% agree. Plus, an easier solution than trying to stop the cover-camping whilst maintaining in-fight regen. WoW does it and I have a shooter in my head that does it too - I just cannot remember what it is for the life of me. (Going to bug me all day now).

Wyrm.

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We had a "round table discussion" related to this a few years ago... I dug up the posts, and it seems the formatting is a little broken now, but there's some good information and discussion in there:
Game Design Round Table 0: No More Health (Conclusion)
Game Design Round Table 0: No More Health (This one is the original discussion)

Hope those are useful!

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[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]How about using some form of remote area for health regeneration? (Like a safe room, something to be found or gave to the player for completing a task, or something similar) [/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]This itself has a whole load of flaws to it, but throwing the idea out there anyway.[/font]

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Of course lots of RPG games already do this, it's called "The Inn". Some Rpgs, especially early RPGs had specific tiles you could save on or heal on, or use a tent (that allowed healing). This would be defined as non-regenerative healing in my view though.

One thing about regenerative healing that I think it should be turned off when a player is fighting. If the player is the current target of an npc, or the player is taking damage or attacking, he should not get the healing tick for 5 or 10 seconds.

if(current_time + 10 > last_combat_time) { regenerate() }

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