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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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