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MilchoPenchev

Single heath bar vs Detailed Damage indicators

27 posts in this topic

I think this would add some interesting dynamic to the game. Although as you say it increases the complexity of the game tremendously. The head, torso and legs separation seems like a good balance point though. But it really depends on the game design, breaking your legs is game over in a platformer if you don't have some interesting mechanics when that happens.

 

Maybe the player would need to defend him/herself from enemies while not being able to move when having broken legs for a while, and having the leg health automaticly regenerate.

 

You could also get different disadvantages depending on where you're hurt. Lets say there's three damage stages:

Normal - Everything functions as intended.

Hurt - There are some disadvantages. If your head is hurt maybe you have decreased vision, are confused etc.

"Dead" - Torso and head damage here would be fatal but damage to the legs may result in the scenario I described above.

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I like the idea of multiple health bars, but I think they tend to make more practical sense in 3d games, where an arm or a leg can be easily targeted.

 

However, the three zone division seems like a good way to do this in 2d. One way to handle the leg-damage issue (just falling over and the like) is to have the character die when the legs are out of health, but have the legs only take damage from falling. That way there's no specific targeting issue (I don't know how the combat in your game is going to work, or whether or not the player will be able to aim). Likewise the body could function normally (like a single health bar), and the head could have some other form of damage, like having really high armor (or whatever you decide to use) but really low HP, such that you could take many little hits (no damage to the head at all), which is somewhat realistic, but one good blow would put the character down.

 

Anyway, that's what I thought of on the bart-ride home. Hope it gives you some ideas.

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Addressing both posts above:

Not sure about leg health auto-regeneration. I have plans for an item that can be used to heal, but the problem is still that you can only have a limited max number of them (small number, like 10). Maybe a 'Restart Level' button is appropriate if it is only necessary when the player is out of the healing items,

 

I do like having some sort of effect depending on health. I'm not really planning a combat game, so it's possible to actually disallow any sort of shooting by the player if the head is damaged. By possible i mean it should hopefully not have a major impact on gameplay, other than increased difficulty.

 

The zone division is really only going to be concern for the player being hit by enemies, not the other way around.

As I said above, it's not going to be a shooter-focused game. The player will be able to aim, but the weapons used by the player are not actually going to be normal projectiles. (basically there are only 2 player weapons, an electric gun and a knockout-gun, both of which have very little and limited ammunition. Essentially the limitations on weapons are there to force the player to NOT go through a map shooting everything in sight, but to be more of a just-in-case.. but I get off topic)

 

Dying when leg health drops to 0 might be an option, but since healing is present a Restart button might be a better idea. However, I do agree that falls from great heights should kill the player. Well, not necessarily heights, but collision speeds - but yes, I think I need to account for that too.

 

That's another part of abandoning the simple health bar - the situations I need to account for, code-wise, starts growing. 

On second thought, I might just separate the areas into just two - lower and upper body - to reduce unnecessary complexity even further.

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In DnD when you are using unarmed combat, your character deals fatigue damage. If your fatigue damage is equal to or greater than your health then your character passes out.

 

I would invision this as single health bar with an off color, opaque overlay in a different color. Something like that would still be a single bar with the benefit of the seperation.

 

You could set up the levels in such a way that you can get all sorts of sweet cool stuff and upgrades and all that whatnot. Add in a grapple hook you could do all sorts of complicated moves to get said stuff. If your legs are busted you still *could* complete the level but you'll miss out on the loot.

 

Something to get ideas flowing. :D

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I spose it depends on the damage types in the game but if it were me, I'd separate the limbs, torso and head then create animation for damage (both in receiving damage and displaying the type of damage taken) for example, limb and torso damage effects different controls and creates dead arm, limping or doubled over animation. As you indicated head damage would effect senses, vision, sound or lose control of certain movement. Its worth the extra animation, since this visual indication connects the player to the game character immersing the player with empathy instead of data analysis.

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Kenji:

I'm not sure how fatigue would apply to my game, since I have no plans of introducing fatigue in it. It doesn't seem fitting for a more constantly-on-the-move game, whereas in an RPG where you can potentially do things like rest/sleep, visit inns, or just walk around and talk with people, a fatigue system seems more at home. As much as I like RPGs, I'm not making something like that. 

 

Oddly though I had 'grapple hook' as a mechanic on my "feature creep" section of tasks. I think I dropped it because I really want to keep the game as simple as possible and dealing with the physics while using a grapple hook isn't really something I want to do (physics, as in not just swinging, but collision with different tiles). In any case, it's not an option for me to consider how to handle broken legs.

 

There's also no 'loot' in the game, and the challenges are focused pretty much on completing the levels (so far). This is getting off topic though.

 

Mratthew:

There's really going to be only two sources of damage to the player (well, there's one instant-kill thing, but that's not 'damage') - fall damage and bullet damage. The game is also a 2d side-scrolling game, which is the main reason I was looking to minimize the separation of areas. Of course, a bullet hitting the player can just roll a random number to indicate where it hits, which would allow for complete limb separation (left arm, right arm, etc.), but I am not convinced that there's any benefit to that much detail.

 

My current thoughts are to have only two areas: Upper body and Lower body.

 

I definitely like the idea of animation/effects indicating the health, and dropping the UI elements. However, let's take the case for lower body:

I don't want minor fall damage to affect your running/jumping capabilities. So, if leg health is above, say, 50%, there shouldn't be any animation differences or speed difference. Without indicators, the functionality at 51% and at 100% will be visually and physically indistinguishable. So it would make it hard for the player to realize if they can heal their legs further (if they're at 51%) or if healing won't have an additional benefit (if they're at 100%).

 

I also need to consider that the game is in a scifi setting, so having some sort of health indicator is not completely unrealistic - especially since the 'healing' I talk about has the in-game explanation of using nanites. I think I could simplify the damage though, instead of giving a number, or a healthbar, simply give a short description of the upper/lower body health - something like "Healthy", "Bruised", "Damaged", "Severely Damaged" and "Disabled". 

 

On top of this adding an animation effect for several stages would work - like limiping/reduced speed and forcing player into crawl mode. Not sure what kind of effect to apply for the upper body being damaged, but this is currently thinking too far ahead (animation is on my 'long term goal' list..er well it was)

 

Thanks for the input guys!

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I'm a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned Fallout yet; each of those games featured damage to specific body parts (head, torso, each arm and legs) and the more recent ones (Fallout 3 and FO:New Vegas) would show the player the state of each of those parts on his/her character. It had very interest ramifications on gameplay. You could explicitly target an opponents leg, for instance, and on a solid hit you'd see that opponent move more slowly and with an obvious limp. Likewise, if your own leg was damaged (e.g. you step on a mine) your own movement would be slowed. Head damage was very interesting indeed, as your vision would blur and quiver, making it very hard to get by. I feel like these games make a good case study for your goals here.

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I'm a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned Fallout yet...

 

Seconded. They handled the different injuries quite well I felt, though it seemed a little too easy to fix crippled limbs out in the field, making them a minor nuisance rather than a genuine threat.

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I'm a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned Fallout yet...

 

Seconded. They handled the different injuries quite well I felt, though it seemed a little too easy to fix crippled limbs out in the field, making them a minor nuisance rather than a genuine threat.

 

To be fair, a lone man in a wasteland with a broken leg is as good as dead; it might make for an entertaining novel as the protagonist barely drags himself to salvation, but I suspect that'd make for some belabored gameplay. :)

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I wasn't meaning to use fatigue. I was thinking that in your game, your display would would represent the seperate parts of the body. Just gettin the noggin to do some legwork as it were.

 

I can just imagine now, crawling to a near by health item. almost... there...

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Fallout is a game series that keeps popping up when I talk to people, but somehow I've never gotten around to playing it seriously. I tried out Fallout 3 on a friend's PC once, but I guess the post-apocalyptic world was kind of depressing, and I wasn't a fan of the 50's style.

I've seen their quite detailed targeting system, and that's about as detailed as a game could probably be without going overboard. Didn't really get to play enough to experience injuries. But I agree that realistic portrayal of injuries in a game could lead to boring gameplay, unless your entire goal of a game is to simulate that sort of thing (Robison's Requiem again comes to mind, which was also received as 'boring' by some reviewers).

 

This just makes me lean more towards just having a 'retry' button, though writing a game in a scifi setting where nano-technology exists certainly gives me a credible explanation for the ability to rapidly heal severe injuries, even mend broken bones. There's still going to be a limit to the healing (nanites need power), so the retry button can't be escaped :P. I wish I could escape it, it just seems like such a cheap copout and a very immersion breaking mechanic. Maybe I'll try to come up with an in-universe explanation (kind of how Borderlands had the New-U stations as an in-universe explanation for resurrection, though that sort of scifi is really soft, and I'd rather have slightly harder scifi)

 

Kenji, correct me if I'm wrong, but what you described as the health display just sounds like having multiple health bars, but have them overlapping in some manner. I'm not sure I get what you describe. I was actually planning to have the items necessary for healing be put in tough spots, as a means of trying to get the user to use the physics in the game more, so I don't think crawling to them is going to work that well =P

 

Alpha, I've never owned a PSX, so I can't really comment on that. Care to explain maybe just a little bit how it was handled, and why it was good?

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In Bushido Blade, when you fail to parry or dodge an incoming strike, whatever body part that strike hits is incapacitated. Hit in the arm? You're one-armed. Hit then in the other arm? Well, you have no arms (and your opponent will quickly finish you thereafter). A hit in the head, neck, or center of mass was death (iirc). The game had a very steep learning curve but when two players knew both their own chosen weapon and the chosen weapon of their opponent, the duels were really a pleasure to both play in and observe. The game was very, very cool.

 

I'd assert that the theme of Fallout is just this: being a hero is often a thankless but still worthy job. In so many cases in the games - especially the major story arcs - the main character would choose to do the right thing only to suffer for it, but then the people you'd helped would at least seem grateful and would thrive due to your efforts; that was much of your reward. Fallout 3 added a very interesting reward mechanic, where the radio personality Three Dog would speak about the Lone Wanderer's heroic efforts, as if you were the Batman, or the Lone Ranger, etc. I personally drew a ton of satisfaction from his commentary on the quests I had completed.

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I haven't read all of the replies so this might of been mentioned/covered already. I have a similar intention for hp display in my project (A.E.). 

 

Few proposals which tie into what I was planning on doing in my project:

 

Damage to specific parts affect those specifc parts as well as your health bar.

 

For example. You said three areas of seperation for now so I would split the effects as follows:

 

Head = 75-100% hp depletion. Result: critical condition or death/restart of the level (or reset to check point).

 

Torso/Arms = 25-50% hp depletion. Result from higher end damage to this area: damage caused/accuracy reduced. Damage and accuracy reduced should be based on amount of hp lost from damage to this area.

 

Legs = 10-30% hp depletion. Result from higher end damage to this area: movement speed and ablility to jump slowed as well as lowered. Both should be reduced according to the amount of damage taken to hp due to this area.

 

Hope that helps smile.png 

 

Edit: Great comparison/source Thade

Edited by SinisterPride
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Like I said, I've decided to separate just two areas - Torso and Legs - mainly just to have separation of fall damage and bullet damage.

 

The basic rules about death:

1) If your Torso health drops to 0, you die. 

2) If your Legs health drops to 0, you don't die

 

So, discarding other effects right now, it's Healthbar UI design time!

 

Stacked Healthbars:

+ Leg / Torso health resolution independent. 

+ Leg health falling to 0 does not visually signal 'death' ( case 4 - When legs are broken, healthbar still has overall size )

+ Both Leg and Torso health equally visible (though, is this really a + since Torso health is a bit more important?)

- Hard to tell leg health percentage (since its start is dynamic, based on where Torso health ends)

- Equal in height bars makes figuring out overall health from a single glance

- Worst Fault: Torso Health of 0 is death, but if Leg Health is not yet 0 (or worse, close to full), bar becomes incredibly confusing ( case 7 )

 

Nested Healthbars (with unequal heights, leg health nested inside torso health bar)

+ Easy to tell how close to death, since overall size of bar = overall health

+ No confusing case at near death

+ Easier to tell health from a quick glance - larger size of Torso bar gives good impression (from color/size) how healthy the player is

- Slightly harder to tell leg health, since it's smaller in height

- Near death, when Torso bar is short, the visual resolution of the Leg Health bar drops, since it scales to a maximum of the Torso width. Result: Being near death makes it harder to tell if you'll survive a fall... is this really a negative? That seems like an odd and unexpected bonus.

 

Separate Healthbars

[ no picture, because... its easy to visualize i hope ]

+ Independent visual resolution of Torso/Legs

+ Can scale them vertically just as with Nested

+ Simplest, no unexpected side-effects

- Harder to tell at a glance how close to death player is (which healthbar was Legs? Top? Gotta read labels of bars.. oh, I got shot while reading)

- No unexpected bonuses

- No uniqueness (not really that much of a negative, but worth mentioning)

 

Right now I'm leaning towards using Nested healthbars. Its interesting side effect of making near-death situations even more tense, by making it harder to figure out if player can survive falls, is drawing me towards using it. It's really interesting how a simple UI element like health can have such an impact on gameplay.

 

Other options I considered: Circular bar, where top half is Torso, bottom half is Legs (seems natural) - has the same advantages as separate healthbars in some way, but also disadvantage that its hard to tell how full the bars are near the top/bottom. Also, circular shape makes it harder to figure out overall health. Sadly, didn't try making one, but I might later when I have more time, just to see what it looks like.

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How about health indicators based on the sillhouette of a person? This effectively gives you separate bars and makes it immediately obvious which corresponds to upper/lower body. You could have each section fill up like a bar, or indicate damage with shading (eg white->red as you are damaged) and/or a number.

I imagine the leg damage effectively acting as a buffer for fall damage - a high fall might consume all of the leg health and spill over into head/torso damage somewhat (as if the character crumpled on landing).
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(Emphasis mine.)

 

How about health indicators based on the sillhouette of a person? This effectively gives you separate bars and makes it immediately obvious which corresponds to upper/lower body. You could have each section fill up like a bar, or indicate damage with shading (eg white->red as you are damaged) and/or a number.

 

This is more or less precisely what Fallout 3 did; it's very intuitive and easy to tell what the problem is at a glance. Link. Earthsiege and Battletech also do things very similar to this, albeit in a far more detailed way than perhaps you need.

 

The "stacked bars" idea really doesn't jive with me; it's too cluttered and takes too much brain-processing to peel apart what the issues are...especially when I weight it against other systems I've seen. You want to communicate challenges to your player in as clear and concise a manner as possible: a green body with a red leg very quickly tells me that the red leg is probably hurt somehow, which intuitively explains my slowed movement speed.

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I thought about silhouette of a person, I was messing with it earlier. The main issue for me is that the main way to indicate health is by color. Humans are good at comparing colors when given two next to each other, but we are not good at remembering how close is a color to another arbitrary color (mostly because the concept of color isn't entirely based on what we see, but on things like lighting conditions)...

Anyway, so, I would either have to make some sort of fill in the silhouette, to act as a rudimentary healthbar, or just rely on colors. I didn't think either of those options are that good, but let's see:
lhmG8cw.png
+ Great visual indication
+ Fairly easy to tell at first glance
- Not AS easy to tell the percent damage as rectangular healthbars, but this is minor
- It's still a little confusing why one can die with your legs being at full health
? Need to see if it's possible to give more rigid and obvious limits to what's 0% and what's 100%

I guess you have a good point, I didn't think it would work that well, but it seems to be actually not bad.. Edited by Milcho
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Yes, as WavyVirus said, the legs would act as a 'buffer' for fall damage. If the player falls too high, and the damage done is greater than the leg health, it will be subtracted from the torso health - which does mean you can die (as it should be) from falling. Leg health at 0 will also reduce speed significantly, disallow jumping, and force player into crawl mode - though the last is largely just an animation issue.

 

I haven't gotten around to implementing enemies/bullets yet, so I'm not sure if I can make it detect if it hit upper or lower body, or whether I'll make it just do the equivalent of a dice roll of which part it hit. I'm ignoring headshots for now - but if I can determine which part of the body is hit I may add a headshot area that's just instant death. (The reason I don't know yet, is because I need to implement bullets as moving projectiles and so far I've only done player-terrain and player-object collision, which acts slightly differently)

 

I need to mess with the silhouette health indication more first though, to make sure I can use it.

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One trap that I still find super easy to fall into at times is one you may be falling into yourself: you mention that 'lack of ability to see %s' as a short-coming...but it's not. smile.png The more numbers and statistics you throw at a player, the more restricted your target demographic is (i.e. what players will find your game appealing).

 

This is how I'd do the damage indicator (again, very much like FO3).

  • Body silhouette where base-color indicates healthy and red (varying over brightness) indicates damage.
  • Hover the mouse cursor over a body part to get a status report and perhaps percentage. (E.G. minor fracture, 60% healthy-ness, whatever)
  • Perhaps an at-a-glance health bar for each part (which is a direct rip from Fallout 3).

A very effective style choice FO3's design team made was to have the silhouette have a face which varied between Happy! and Miserable! (in a cheeky way) with the overall amount of pain the body was in.

 

All of this assumes that damage to a specific body part has a very real and intuitive in-game effect. Damaged legs slows your movement, damaged arms hurts melee damage and attack speed, and damaged head blurs your vision and hurts your aim. Things like that. There's no reason for such a fancy indicator scheme if the issues have no in-game effect. (Which you seem to be clear on, but I felt amiss not adding it, haha.)

Edited by thade
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Right, I did see your links on the previous page.
I completely agree with you that overloading the player with statistics isn't the best idea. As you may have noticed, I avoided displaying the health in any of the mockups as a %. I really want a easy to judge by first glance indicator, and that's one reason I didn't include %s, since those get distracting.

I had this discussion with some friends a year or so back, when I had the "novel" idea to remove most statistics and give rough indicators of health, carrying capacity (no such thing in the game I'm making now but I mean in general here), and basically anything else that was usually given as a number to the player.

The problem is that they didn't seem very enthused about the idea of little information. I'm not saying that it matters that much for a small hobbyist game, but I figured at a healthbar might be a good indicator. The in-universe side of the argument is also that it's a scifi universe, where it's not unrealistic to have your medical condition known within a decent margin of error.

Fallout 3 had a pretty unique theme, of somewhat corny 50s style, mixed with reality. I'm not saying that a more serious game can't do that (obvious example being the original Doom, which also had a great indicator of your health by your portrait).. so, maybe, but more as an addition on top of what I have.. if I have the ability/time. :)

Thanks for the input again guys!

Edit: I'd rather not make a new post.
In terms of only using color for health - I was saying that humans are good at comparing colors, so perhaps something like this:
dVoE5Kt.png
where there's a rough scale of damage, could work. It still provides a decent amount of information at a quick glance, while being vague enough to add some tension.

Perhaps I could actually do this on the 2d character model himself - hold down a key to view the health overlay/damage scale on top of the character. Edited by Milcho
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I can suggest a few tweaks to the silhouette-based indicator mockup you posted which might make it clearer:

* If using a bar-filling-up approach, choose a chunky, exaggerated design which avoids arms extending below the 'belt' line separating the two sections. Maybe position the arms by the sides, so that they merge with the torso rather than extending out

* Thicken the borders, and maybe even separate the top/bottom sections by a few pixels

* It may be clearer to use EITHER bar-filling or colour-based indicators, but not both. I prefer your second mockup using colour only. An alternative would be to use a simpler colour scale (e.g. white -> red) and optionally a number to indicate %
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