Yep I just committed heresy...
The reality is most of the MMO's - and computer "adventure" games (managing a character's advancement and calling that "Role Playing" is a whole 'nother Sacred Cow I'd love to slaughter)... are Hack 'N Slash driven... that is to say; combat plays a very heavy part in the game play.
And yet, most combat is fairly BORING. And ironically; far from genre-representative.
I mean REALLy what book or movie have you EVER read/seen where the hero stands toe to toe with a Giant Undead Demon Whatsit and beats it... BECAUSE he out-slugged it? I can think of NOTHING less heroic or wrong to the eye.
As an example; and at risk of sounding like I'm picking on these two; look at the TRAILERS for the two biggest upcoming fantasy games...
Does it LOOK like they are trading blows until someone runs out of HIT POINTS? Or do those wounds look like they HURT? Does it look like they are IN DANGER?
Most of each battle is trying to get a telling blow IN... creating or exploiting an opening... Completely unlike the actual combat systems of any modern game I can think of (most games Do have some block/parry mechanic now - but failing them is hardly catastrophic)
Part of this involves the scared cow of Hit Points - and the short version of this would be simply to point out HIT POINTS were NEVER intended to mean that a character could take so much actual punishment that a Ballista-bolt thru the gut or a giants axe could be shrugged off!
It was supposed to represent that he avoided most of the damage with SKILL.
And of course all this fell apart with increasing abstraction (necessary abstractions for a game that started as a tabletop tactical minis wargame...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainmail_%28game%29)
Leery of going into too many tangents here; and wanting to clarify that i understand and agree that some characters WILL have supernatural resistance to damage; I think the point remains.
One of the reasons combat is often boring is we are watching 2 sets of numbers exchange numerical hits. One of the hoped-for advantages of computer gaming was TRANSPARENCY. Showing the wires is never a good thing IMO.
Relatedly is that combat doesn't FEEL dangerous; usually. I know I can take sword hits... a few at least.
YOU DO? How many "Hit Points" do you have to have to not be CONCERNED about an ARROW or SWORD going into your body? ? ?
One of my hugest disappointments lately was when one of the WAR links led to a class description that explained so-and-so was the traditional tank that could ABSORB damage for his companions...
THATS A SACRED COW I want to slaughter RIGHT THERE. You're going to Purposefully ABSORB DAMAGE? Have you SEEN what weapons DO????
ARE YOU INSANE? ? ?
Unfortunately to really get into that I also have to look at another Sacred Cow - easy cheesy healing. And unfortunately this is derailed enough ALREADY.
In any case what is what is ironic is that both games ae based on IP's where wounds are DANGEROUS... True heroes in WH tabletop may have multiple wounds - but that is only because they are fighting while grievously wounded when no one else would...(and suffer a penalty)
...Not because their little red "hit point" bar is barely scratched. Its also worth pointing out that "To Hit" in WH tabletop is ENTIRELY based on skill vs skill (or was last time i played :) )
A game i feel at least attempts to address this- despite the animations still being.. in progress... is medieval2 total war- very few of the units there can suffer more than 1 serious wound- you actually get a sense that they are struggling to kill each other - i see it as a beginning of the animations showing blocks; parries; etc..
Its not hard to guess I prefer skill based systems; but dont see them as necessary - what I'm really looking at here is STALE COMBAT SYSTEMS.
years ago; 2 games both offered some alternatives - Wizard's Crown and Knights of Legend.
One was a commercial success ( it allowed the company to do the first-ever LICENSED D&D computer products); the other was barely noticed ( IMO it was before its time- and was victim of a poor interface)...
But the pont in both was that you could actually BLEED (in KOL you got tired)- and that a lucky hit was dangerous to anyone.
In both games; your "hit points" also never really increased... GASP! !HERESY!
Think about THAT next time you fight a Giant or something similar.
ONE hit from that club ISNT going to take a few of your hit points that your cleric is going to heal for you WHILE YOU'RE FIGHTING ( his deity doesnt mind him squandering power on nonbelievers on quests TOTALLY IRRELEVENT to His purposes)...
No that Club will KILL YOU.
Both Warhammer AND Conan IP's are VERY much along that line of visualization...
And games did this and WORKED...
So all i ask is QUESTION your assumption - your sacred cow - of these stal and boring combat systems. Sacred Cow enough that Damage-Absorber classes are appearring in both upcoming games...
Sacred Cow enough that even in a nominally SUPERHERO genre game; you have Healbots - because no one is willing to try NOT leaning on the TIRED AND USED FORMULA.