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Alternatives to Hit Points.

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I kind of have a thing against the basic Hit Point model in general.  I think its overused.

 

What alternatives do we have?

 

I can only think of:

A) One-hit kill (2% of games)

B) Health (98% of games)

C) Independent limbs having health (Vagrant Story / Deus Ex)

 

You can mix it up a tiny bit by making enemies immune to certain types of damage, or damage from certain directions, but these are just mechanic "decorators" on top of the basic systems.

 

There's probably more mechanics to be invented. Do you have any ideas?

 

 

I figured I'd start a new thread.  Now, this thread title is a bit of a misnomer, in that at it's core, some sort of damage tracking has to occur, and will almost always boil down to some sort of number tracking mechanism.  But, that said, I really hate how hit points are used in almost all computer games, which is a standard integer number and said character merrily goes on about it's way as long as it has at least 1 hit point.  It's a really basic and overused system, and it has all sorts of weird problems, and people try to tack on weird systems on top of it to fix those problems.  (Like Aggro systems, which aren't needed as much in a system where running past and exposing your back to someone with a sword is a bad idea instead of a minor nuisance)

 

Anyway, these are game dependent of course, but semi generic. 

 

Wounds:

Someone hits the player, they can receive a wound of varying severity, depending how successful the attack was.   [Light, Moderate, Serious]  For every light wound, the player gets a small penalty to their actions / defense /etc.  But other than that, they can have an unlimited amount of small wounds.  Moderate wounds cause greater penalties, and the player can only have X of them, Serious wounds are deadly serious, incurring major penalties, and the player can only have one, if another is incurred, they are knocked out / dead.

Now you'll notice, this is basically hit points, but it's bucketed.   You can still whittle someone, but they won't die from taking 1 damage.  They will die because all the whittling will have incurred a bunch of stacking penalties, allowing someone to get a serious blow through.

 

You can also do things like go into more detail (Light Head Wound), Have bucketed healing (resting after the end of battle auto heals all light wounds). 

 

For Vehicular combat, I'd like to see more warthunder like combat systems.  Damage components and internals, armor penetration over hit points.

 

 

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Is the purpose of the thread to discuss existing alternatives to hit points, or to brainstorm new ones?

 

Some strategy games like the Advance Wars series, or Civilization series, use hit points, but not in the same way most games do. Units in these games can have 0 to 10 HP, and this is the percentage strength of the unit. So, a unit with 5 HP is fighting at only 50% of its full strength, barring terrain bonuses, etc.

 

No matter how the game decides to represent health, though, even if it is with some system like limbs/components or wounds, there's still arbitrary numbers (essentially HP) going on behind the scenes, like you said. So are you wondering why games don't depict this in other ways? Or how games don't realistically alter the character's abilities at lower health (Mario jumps just as high at 1 health as he does at full in Super Mario Sunshine)?

 

Do you think you could elaborate on your complaints with the whole idea of hit points a bit more? You say it has problems, is basic and that it's overused, but that's not much to go on (someone could say that about any commonly used aspect of video games - graphics, sounds, etc.). It seems like you're unhappy with the way most games have the player being able to perform the same stuff whether they're perfectly healthy or almost dead, but is that it?

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Bushido Blade has a "points" system that I appreciated greatly. It's a fighting game with weapons. But instead of an energy bar or hit points, you had limbs. If someone hit the right limb it went limp. If someone went for a killshot and succeeded you were dead on the spot.

[spoiler]
[/spoiler]

Though personally in an action or adventure game the idea of visual cues or capping abilities (ex: as previously mentioned, not jumping at high, if not all when injured) can be good.

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Fallout 3 has a cool hp tracking system. Where you can have crippled limbs which need to be treated separately from your hp pool. The limbs effect how well your aim is and how fast you move and such.

Fight Night has damage that accumulates during the fights on different parts of the body making the player take more damage/stamina depending on where your hitting them and if there is an injury there or not.

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Two types of combat-like systems that would not use HP at all:

 

(1) One surrogate for HP can be positioning.  That is, there is no HP, but relative success and failure in a battle is represented positionally.

 

Picture, for example, a sumo match; it's not that you're whittling away your opponent's "points", you're just trying to get them into a disadvantageous position.  Dinofarm's Auro works this way; if I remember correctly none of the characters has HP, you're just trying to avoid falling off the level into the water.  Various board games work this way (since it would be tedious to keep track of "HP" for each piece).

 

Actually, HP is in some ways a subsystem of positioning in many games.  Most games are using positioning as the medium-term goal anyway -- get to the throne room, find the sword in the forest, get to the top of the mountain, etc. -- and use positioning as the medium-term setback as well (lose your HP, die, respawn at a point further away from your goal).  So, rather than use HP/death/checkpoints to set the player back, it would be possible for enemy attacks to *literally* set the player back.  (For example, you can imagine a Zelda-type game where you're trying to get somewhere, and where neither Link nor the enemies have HP, and no one can remove anyone else from play, but *all* attacks knock units back or otherwise change their position to a less advantageous position.)

 

(2) Another kind of setback is inability to do anything -- being stunned, losing turns, etc.  I can't think of any games of the top of my head that *only* use stunning, but it's entirely possible as a basis for a combat system.  The Grandia combat system, after all, was largely about managing the timeline; often the most valuable thing to do isn't to harm the opponent but to cancel their attack and/or send them very far "back" down the timeline so they've got a long time to wait until their next attack.  Final Fantasy X was likewise largely about manipulating turn order -- not entirely, but it was a big part of the game.

 

So I don't know of any game like this, but you can picture an RPG battle system where there's no HP, and attacks are primarily affecting time- and turn-order-related things.  Getting hurt means losing an opportunity to attack, increasing the time until the next attack, or slowing the frequency with which attacks are made.  Winning the battle means being able to do something uninterrupted, like a long spell, or one that involves your whole party acting before an opponent can.

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With the original idea, how would you make someone die from bleeding?

My understanding is that stacking small wound would increase someone's bleeding, but that the system does not allow for this to be lethal, so only major bleeding could cause death? and not over time? (there doesn't seem to be a system in place for wounds to get worse over time on their own without taking more hits here).

 

HP is hard to get rid of, but it can be hidden (Zelda: ALTTP) or used (your attack power is your attack * (current life / max life))

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With the original idea, how would you make someone die from bleeding?

My understanding is that stacking small wound would increase someone's bleeding, but that the system does not allow for this to be lethal, so only major bleeding could cause death? and not over time? (there doesn't seem to be a system in place for wounds to get worse over time on their own without taking more hits here).

 

HP is hard to get rid of, but it can be hidden (Zelda: ALTTP) or used (your attack power is your attack * (current life / max life))

 

You could have a separate category for a bleeding wound, ie a type of Moderate Wound that would become serious after X turns, it's also easy to have a system where sleeping/resting someplace not clean/safe could aggravate a wound and promote it from Moderate to Serious, and Serious to Dead/KO.  For Light Wounds, I think of them as cuts that will close on their own, bruises, etc, and while I'm sure someone could bleed out from a thousand cuts, for gameplay purposes, simplifying that case away isn't  that big of a loss in my mind.

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You said you don't like hitpoint systems, but not why - other than they are over-used. If that's your only reason, then you'd probably hate the majority of systems in games.

 

If your issue is with the reality of it, then a wound-system might make more sense, but isn't likely to be very fun except in a very narrow context. Even with a wound-system, you're using hit-points in some capacity, but instead of one easy-to-track number, you'll have a bunch. Hit points aren't a perfect system, but players expect them, they're easy to track, no-one's confused by them.

 

The slower your game's pace is, the more detailed of a system you could get away with. Most games are fast-paced so players need a quick and obvious way to determine their status, and hit-points are just about the quickest way you can do that.

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