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Lynck

Prefered Health Projections

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What is your prefered way to show health in a game? The little meter on the side that shows 100% then goes down, or a vial of blood that slowly empties (like in NOX) or real-life style "hey, where''s my arm" system?

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Health should be stored in a boolean. You don''t really need a meter that way, but here''s a fun way to present it (from the HHGTTG text adventure):

Front of House, lying down Score: 10 Moves: 13

>get up
The bulldozer driver gives a quick chew of his gum and slams in the clutch. The bulldozer piles into the side of your home.

Your home collapses in a cloud of dust, and a stray flying brick hits you squarely on the back of the head. You try to think of some suitable last words, but what with the confusion of the moment and the spinning of your head, you are unable to compose anything pithy and expire in silence.

>go south
You keep out of this, you''re dead. An ambulance arrives.

>consult guide
You keep out of this, you''re dead and should be concentrating on developing a good firm rigor mortis. You are put in the ambulance, which drives away.

>wave towel
For a dead person you are talking too much. As the ambulance reaches the mortuary a fleet of Vogon Constructor ships unexpectedly arrives and demolishes the Earth to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.

We are about to give you your score. Put on your peril-sensitive sunglasses now.

...

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"real-life" style is the coolest, but it doesn''t work well in a lot of games, and is always the most difficult to do. The game should give you enough info so you have a good idea of how much you damage you can take, but shouldn''t give you too much info.

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I don''t like things that make the display too cluttered. I like to be able to see as much of the action as I possibly can, so: for an rpg I prefer to see numbers (ex: 534/1275 HP); and for action/fps games I like just a plain bar, nothing too fancy. It also depends on the pace of the game. If the rpg is fast paced, then I still like to be able to see the numbers, but a bar in addition would be handy for when I only have time to glance and see about where my health is.

Grandia 2 had a really good hp display for an rpg.

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for FPS games i think that numbers are much more important, as it gives the exact figure which can be vital at points such as:

"I have 50 health, BFG jump takes off 48, i can make it"

"I have 8 health. the fall will take off 10-12. I cant make it"

trying to judge how full the gauge is (or rather isnt in most cases) it much harder than looking at a number and doing simple math. it's impossible to work out accuratly how much damage you just took to with a bar.

Of course, why not just do both

i.e.

50/100 OOOOOOOOOO__________


Now, here's a few suggestions for the types (yes, some genres do appear twice):

Meter - rpg, fighting games
Vail of Blood - action (max payne used a similar feature), rpg
Real Life - fighting games, robot action (e.g. mechwarrior).
Numbers - fps, rpg, simulators (flight, train, etc)

hope it helps.

[edited by - MENTAL on June 11, 2002 6:12:15 PM]

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The trick with GUIs is to show only whats needed. With an RPG, numbers tend to be better because you''re doing solid math in addition to strategy. On an Action game, all you need to know is that you''re still alive. However, when the number becomes important, like on how to survive a fall induced by odd usage of a weapon, then the numbers have to be shown. However, thats not to say that you can only pick one or the other. Tick marks on the meter, or a colored line beneath the numeric display are interesting compromises. Basically, keep it short and concise, since its only a quick gauge.

If you want it both ways, a detailed summary screen works too, like pressing F1 in quake2. You can always do precise number displays there.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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I like Thief''s method of a line of dots or small icons along the bottom of the screen... spread out enough so that they don''t obscure a section of the viewing area, and also taking up a large enough space that you can''t really miss it. Changing the colour to show when it''s critical is another good idea as it provides another way of imparting the information.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files ]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
what about the deus ex method where a small transperant box had your body, different colours for approximatley how damaged/hurt you were. This is better than a number as it represents locational damage.

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I''d say: Don''t show too much! No sense in numbers etc. Doing the math to survive isn''t good gameplay IMHO. Make players guess about their health but do give some pointers toward it.

The best healthmeter I have seen so far is the picture of your head in Wolfenstein (old one) and Doom. The less health, the more beat-up you looked. You could also see the various powerups (like invurnability) on it as well as a few other things.

All in all a very small indicator with just enough info to give an indication about a lot of things. Great work.


Sander Maréchal
[Lone Wolves Production][Articles][E-mail]

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I''m quite fond of the health bars in Myth III.

Each of your men has a green 3D cylinder standing vertically beside them, which acts as the health bar.

"If people are good only because they fear punishment and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." - Albert Einstein

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