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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Let's rethink Hit Points.

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114 posts found
  Mendel

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 643

 
OP  9/22/13 1:19:56 PM#1

The gaming industry has used the same basic methods for abstracting conflict resolution for so long now that the fundamental gaming aspect has gotten stale.  Weapon damage is resolved by random numbers and spell damage with bigger random numbers each whittling away on a target's (both mobs and players) pool of increasing silly HPs.  Healers (and potions and regeneration effects) rapidly try to replenish that pool of HPs before the pool reaches 0.  Additionally, there are all too many games that bestow Hit Points from items, further increasing the totals of characters and is a root cause of mudflation.  At some point, this abstraction will need to evolve; hit points can't be the best (and only) way to simulate the human body.

Hit points abstract a person's ability to continue fighting coupled with defenses.  It doesn't abstract pain, nor bruises, nor broken bones, nor cut tissue, nor pulled muscles, nor internal injuries or any other side effect of one object hitting flesh and bone.   Hit points are not very good at dealing with lasting effects such as burns or poisons or lack of use.  Try throwing a ball with a broken wrist, or kicking a ball with a twisted ankle, you might be able to accomplish the task, but it will not be as sharp or accurate as an unhindered effort.  The basic hit point system is now dated and MMORPGs need another way to abstract the human's ability to retain life.

Hit points were used to create a single number in a dice-driven pen-and-paper gaming environment.  But with computers, is there really a need to boil everything down to a single number anymore?   Why not an alive/dead abstraction with separate pain tolerance levels (abstractions) for each area of the body?  Or various, constant pools of health points associated with each hit location?  Or fatality percentages for each hit location?

Changes to this basic Hit Point abstraction has ripple effects throughout the entire game system.  Combat, natural healing, magical healing, combat magics and other affects use or manipulate these values within the game world.  I've tried making several non-HP-based systems.   I've not gotten it good enough to be satisfied with, and I've been trying for almost 25 years now.

It's not an easy mechanism to replace, but I think it is time that MMORPGs break its reliance on this RP tradition.  And I believe that the next big challenge for MMORPGs is to find a better model for the human body than the Hit Point model.

Your ideas and opinions are welcome.

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  5Luck

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/23/10
Posts: 172

9/22/13 1:31:36 PM#2

I followed darkfall's initial develpment and back then 03-05 they worked tirerlessly to try and do just that. Make multible hit boxes work. After years of toil and trails of vapor they ended up confessing in a seamless non instanced world where 1000s of players can connect it just was not feasable to have more then 2 (front and back) and sustain decent conectivity.

 

They did try making it head and body but with there only being 2 the head only occuered in testing a very small percentage and not worth the effort so they made it back damage.

Now if they were to acomplish 6 pr more hit locations and add in each to have a %functionablity via a seaperate healthbar and reduce the number of functions per "limb" per %fuct marker it would need to be a single player game at this point IMO

Note fallout 3

 

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

9/22/13 1:41:19 PM#3

You need a way for players to know if they are winning or losing. I've tried a lot of ideas for replacing hp with some other inventory of injuries, but all I've learned from it is the more complexity there is, the less players like it. There may be something clever I've not considered, but personally, I've given up on coming up with alternatives and accepted that on some level, hp will always exist in any game without sudden one-shot death or long strategic turns.

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 775

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

9/22/13 1:44:28 PM#4

I agree. The HP system is dated, And given that we can do so much more with how damage is received now. It does make HP systems of  damage weather simple or complex feel bar minimum. Even the fallout series (which I enjoyed the damage system from a lot) really just broke the hit point system up into something you micromanage.

 

I think there should be several ways a character can die, or be unable to continue (or do so with diminished capacity). The issue is in pulling this off in a way that is non-invasive to actually playing the game. You have to keep it relatively simple or things become...not fun anymore.

 

To start with i think we should keep the HP bar, let's leave it colored red as well. But, only as an indicator of general over all health. We should probably also drop any kind of MP bar in favor of two others. An energy (yellow) and focus (blue) bar. The focus bar could can govern things that are more mentally exhausting then they are physically. And, the energy bar can govern things that are more physically exhausting then they are mentally.

 

Now we come back to our HP bar which actually has two layers to it. A green and a red. The green layer represents loss recoverable with no aid (besides simply resting, aiding it with boosts, or stopping to recover). It should always be mostly covering the red layer.

 

As we use focus and energy the green layer depletes. As it depletes revealing more of the red layer. The part of the red layer that is revealed is representative of damage we are extremely susceptible to taking and sustaining (as in it is damage that won't recover on it's own, but require some form of aid to heal).

 

So, aside from protective modifiers like, armor, special gear, and the players levels. messing up can result in the red layer being reduced to the level of the green layer on the HP bar (and the green layer cannot exceed the level of the red layer).

 

So, if we are fighting hard we are losing focus and energy as we do so. Which makes us more likely to take damage that we will have to stop to actually heal.

 

Having the green layer fully cover the red layer of the Hp bar, does not mean we can't take red layer damage. It simply means we are at out maximum ability to resist red layer damage. If we take red layer damage in spite of being at our best. The level at which it lowers to, is also the level the green layer drops to. Because having taken damage it makes sense that out over all ability to perform is reduced. Respectively the energy and focus bars may lower.

 

If the injury is something like poison damage. Perhaps at first only the focus bar lowers. or it lowers and continues to lower at a greater rate then the energy bar. Sudden physical external injury might lower the energy bar significantly to a fixed amount it can slowly recover from. But upon first instance of taking this damage actually boost the focus bar (because we have been suddenly alerted and are understandably, adrenalized).

 


[had to re-write this my browser is not liking this sites margins and bullet points for some reason an it was messing things up something fierce]                                                                                                                                                                                                      

  5Luck

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/23/10
Posts: 172

9/22/13 1:44:41 PM#5
Originally posted by maplestone

You need a way for players to know if they are winning or losing. I've tried a lot of ideas for replacing hp with some other inventory of injuries, but all I've learned from it is the more complexity there is, the less players like it. There may be something clever I've not considered, but personally, I've given up on coming up with alternatives and accepted that on some level, hp will always exist in any game without sudden one-shot death or long strategic turns.

This is true enough.

 

I mean when in FO3 you jumpped off something a little too high and your legs broke.. Was that kool ? or did that just make you go urgghh and log out?

  barasawa

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/05
Posts: 209

I have a wandering mind, but that's ok, it brings back presents.

9/22/13 1:47:35 PM#6

Hit points are a very simplistic solution, and for many people, not that great.

Then again, you are playing a game, and too much reality destroys any attempt at fun unless you enjoy playing the unforgiving 'ironman' games.

 

Yes, computers can handle a lot more variables and interactions, but since you will still have to feed the results to a human that is playing a game for fun, it will have to be abstracted to a simple and quick to understand system. Reality must take a backseat again.

 

A compromise that might not mess up gameplay could be be achieved. I'm not saying this is the best way, but I'll give one example here.  

Each creature has various hit locations, and a damage doll display that shows them. As each part gets more damage, the doll will display it, and increasing damage will have increasing effects on the character. Don't make too many locations, or your design fails. For a human, 6 to 8 is a good number. If an arm is damaged (maybe yellow display) all actions using that arm are at a 20% penalty. If heavily damaged (red) maybe an 80% penalty. If the head is damaged, that'll mess with pretty much everything, and at higher levels, even start obscuring vision and have other detrimental effects.

Limbs could reach 'destroyed' damage levels, and the character may survive, but if a more vital area reaches that, such as the chest, you're dead.

PnP games have been fooling with these kinds of things for a long time (at least since the early 80s), and when things start getting too complicated, the players dump those parts. They just don't work, and it's not just because they may take a long time to calculate, but because it's just too much freaking realism for a GAME.  If I recall right, Space Opera had 100 hit locations, and the various games from TriTac had blood, tissue, bone, and nerve damage, as well as taking into account shock.  There are many others, but you can find them for yourself.

 

So yes, I would like a more interesting damage system, but I can't abide by making it too complicated or realistic in something that is not a medical emergency simulator. This is still a GAME and needs to be kept FUN. 

 

Lost my mind, now trying to lose yours...

  5Luck

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/23/10
Posts: 172

9/22/13 1:51:38 PM#7

You can always make a matrix array over each textured bodliy area and have each posistion in the matrix have a specific rate of damage over functionality.

 

a torso could look"

L129921R

.1699961.

.1699961.

.1333331.

 

1 being a flesh wound and 9 being a mortal wound

R&L represent a %fuct to each limb reduction You droped your gun ect or aim less if hit carry capacity reduction. All of whitch are reductions in play-ability and equal less fun for most players.

  krage

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/22/11
Posts: 415

9/22/13 1:57:06 PM#8

if a more realism based game were to come out i would like to see bodily damage accumulating over decreasing HP.

 

The one downside though is the snowball effect from it. Pretty much makes the first few blows the defining outcome for the rest of the battle, once someone is injured it is very unlikely they will win....but ya know what thats ok imo if the game is build around it.

A non HP based, body damage game system that may work is from Bushido Blade, can most likely be improved upon.

Bushido Blade (Video Game) on Wikipedia-Quote from instruction manual:

'Unlike most fighting games, however, no time limit or health gauge is present during combat. Most hits will cause instant death, where traditional fighting games required many hits to deplete an opponent's health gauge. It is possible to wound an opponent without killing them. With the game's "Body Damage System," opponents are able to physically disable each other in increments with hits from an equipped weapon, slowing their attacking and running speed, or crippling their legs forcing them to crawl.'

Video of gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnfNpUEfuWw

I will tell you what though with such a system the environment, weapon selection, and timing is wayyyyy more important than in traditional systems since it is so unforgiving.

  Ridelynn

Elite Member

Joined: 12/19/10
Posts: 3492

9/22/13 2:02:25 PM#9

It's all just various ways of approximating reality. None of them are going to be equal to reality.

I mean - if you get hit in the head with an axe... first and foremost, maybe you die immediately (lop your head off), maybe you don't. But regardless your gonna probably stand there for a least a few seconds dazed wondering WTF just hit you in the head. Blood in your eyes may mean you can't see for crap to hit back. The fact that you just got hit in the head will have a lot of immediate repurcussions, but after the fight, assuming your head is still attached - maybe you have a concussion now and after the fight are dizzy for a few days. Maybe you got brain damaged and have some permanent repercussions (seizures? blurred vision?)

You can model that to any type of precision you want, based on any number of assumptions you want to make - but it will always be just that, short of actually hitting yourself in the head with an axe when your avatar gets hit.

  TheRealBanango

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/13
Posts: 75

9/22/13 2:30:17 PM#10
I think what is outdated is portraying hit points as a number or as a health bar. The hit point system is fine for now. Developers have to hide that system under visual ques. Instead of tracking your health through numbers and a health bar on your screen, show nothing on the screen, but if your character gets heavily wounded, maybe he starts limping and slowing down. Different character animations would give you clues as to what where your state of life is at. Blood could be another clue, the more you get injured the more blood appears on your armor or robes. That would bring the system up to date, i mean console games have been doing that for years now.

  Electro057

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/09
Posts: 537

9/22/13 2:35:26 PM#11

You know what I think should happen? You get hit fatally.....you die, end of story. Character deleted, do not pass go, do not collect 100 exp, please start over from the beginning. You get a punctured lung, or a severed artery? You slowly start to die on a timer and when you die, you're dead....You get 10 minutes to perform CPR on the bloke and after 7-10 they have a negative intellect score from permanent brain damage, from now on you literally have to carry them, change their armor, and wipe their ass. 

How much fun would that be?!

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  Morrok

Novice Member

Joined: 12/26/08
Posts: 132

9/22/13 2:46:16 PM#12


Originally posted by Mendel
The gaming industry has used the same basic methods for abstracting conflict resolution for so long now that the fundamental gaming aspect has gotten stale.


First of all, i can't agree with that.
The HP system (nor it's "reuse" in different forms in basically all MMO's) isn't responsible for "the fundamental gaming aspect" getting stale.
I don't think the HP system is a "stale" gaming aspect either.

Computers are about numbers, that's what they do best.
The first RPG-related programs were DM-aides to sort random encounters etc, to speed gaming up and keep the session/story fluid.

True, reducing the whole character body to a single number is oversimplifying things perhaps, but a system that allows for location-specific tracking (especially with lasting effects/maiming) require a lot more numbers, both for the single character but also for each mob, which in turn exponentionally increase client (and/or server as well as bandwidth) load.
In the early days, where these systems were established, that was simply not feasible.

Also, i don't think that the HP system is "responsible" for mudflation as it came across in your post. Responsible for the ever-increasing HP (and damage) totals isn't the HP system, but the Dev's which go the most easy and most "visible" route of increasing numbers instead of increasing variety.
It's just too temping (apparently) to outdate older content and gear through "mudflation" and herd people into playing/farming the newer content (and keep players paying) for the higher-HP and damage gear instead of maintaining a high-quality standard through offering "true" challanges and choices or features.

.
Anyways, no matter by which system you are going to replace the "single number system", you're looking at a whole lot of other problems that need to be addressed too or additional workload that needs to be worked at in the same release-interval.
All that and the result isn't such a "make or break feature" nor in most cases even visible enough to warrant the additional effort, at least not on a character level.
(you'd need not "that 3D model", but several, and different 3Dparts showing that lasting damage in addition to the numbers for example)
I don't think it's realistic to expect that the HP system is going to be replaced, at least not anytime soon.
And i don't think it's necessary either, since the major faults that you attribute to the system have, in my yes, either nothing to do with the system as such or could be resolved by easier, more cost-effective, means.

  Draemos

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/20/10
Posts: 1469

9/22/13 2:57:22 PM#13
Gemstone IV (a mud btw, no idea why you think this is a concept thats something new, the text based combat is FAR more compex than graphical engines) uses an injury system and while intriguing, it's ultimately just annoying.  The end result is the same, when something breaks to the point of being too detrimental you  stop and need to get it fixed.  It's not really any different than a more active gear repair system.
  sacredfool

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/04/07
Posts: 732

9/22/13 2:58:30 PM#14

I don't think it's possible to fully get rid of hitpoints. 

I imagine in singleplayer games you can make the game engine responsive enough to make a system where if you get hit on the head with a sword you die. It'd actually be quite fun to play I imagine, having a game rely on dodging and parrying or taking the right cover.  

In a multiplayer enviroment it's not really possible, even CounterStrike has hitpoints. 

 

What I do dislike in games however is the random factor when calculating damage. This is one thing that could could and should be removed - it'd lead to more tactical combat rather then rely on getting a "lucky" high damage crit in harder encounters.


Originally posted by nethaniah

Seriously Farmville? Yeah I think it's great. In a World where half our population is dying of hunger the more fortunate half is spending their time harvesting food that doesn't exist.


  Draemos

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/20/10
Posts: 1469

9/22/13 3:02:13 PM#15
Originally posted by Electro057

You know what I think should happen? You get hit fatally.....you die, end of story. Character deleted, do not pass go, do not collect 100 exp, please start over from the beginning. You get a punctured lung, or a severed artery? You slowly start to die on a timer and when you die, you're dead....You get 10 minutes to perform CPR on the bloke and after 7-10 they have a negative intellect score from permanent brain damage, from now on you literally have to carry them, change their armor, and wipe their ass. 

How much fun would that be?! 

Gemstone also does this with fatal critical injuries to specific body parts.  It's not much fun, as you allude,  it's a lot of bullshit instant death mechanics that are largely unavoidable.  Granted the penalties aren't quite so harsh, you have to earn your stats back... And ass wiping is more to the effect of cleaning their lifeless corpse of all fatal wounds so they don't bleed out again when you Rez them.

 

The 10 minute limitation and the dragging their dead body around is fairly accurate though,

 

 

  AlBQuirky

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/24/05
Posts: 3296

Tomorrow's just a future yesterday...

9/22/13 3:24:51 PM#16

It may sound interesting, but I have to ask:
What does this aspect add to the game?
What do you do with a broken leg?
Does that help your game play?

- Al

Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
- FARGIN_WAR

  aesperus

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 4782

9/22/13 4:15:39 PM#17
Originally posted by maplestone

You need a way for players to know if they are winning or losing. I've tried a lot of ideas for replacing hp with some other inventory of injuries, but all I've learned from it is the more complexity there is, the less players like it. There may be something clever I've not considered, but personally, I've given up on coming up with alternatives and accepted that on some level, hp will always exist in any game without sudden one-shot death or long strategic turns.

This is very true ^

The majority of players enjoy simplicity, and the ability to feel 'epic' or 'badass' in an easily accessible / understandable way. This basically re-affirms hitpoints, and the mechanics which center around them, because everyone can understand them.

There are games that implement alternatives to hitpoints, but they aren't generally made into MMOs. Both for technological limitations, and accessability reasons.

Simply put, when you create a game that is much more realistic (starts taking limbs into account), it makes skill and latency a MUCH larger factor to enjoying the game. People are used to being able to walk into a room, take a pounding by an army of monsters, and live. That just doesn't happen in a realistic setting.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12401

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

9/22/13 4:28:10 PM#18
Originally posted by Draemos
Gemstone IV (a mud btw, no idea why you think this is a concept thats something new, the text based combat is FAR more compex than graphical engines) uses an injury system and while intriguing, it's ultimately just annoying.  The end result is the same, when something breaks to the point of being too detrimental you  stop and need to get it fixed.  It's not really any different than a more active gear repair system.

PnP and text-based games require much lower reaction time than modern MMO combat. As such, the more complexity to the damage/health system, the slower the combat has to be in order to allow players to follow it. This is an area where both turn-based combat and phased combat could do very well. The player has the time to assess the situation and decide on the action/reaction based on what has happened.

On of the biggest detriments to any kind of meaningful combat currently is the cooldown timer, a design that conditions the player to mash the next available key because a) there's no reason not to and b) each time they don't they are losing out on some level of gain in the combat scenario.

\

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Mendel

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 643

 
OP  9/22/13 5:06:31 PM#19

Originally posted by maplestone

You need a way for players to know if they are winning or losing. I've tried a lot of ideas for replacing hp with some other inventory of injuries, but all I've learned from it is the more complexity there is, the less players like it. There may be something clever I've not considered, but personally, I've given up on coming up with alternatives and accepted that on some level, hp will always exist in any game without sudden one-shot death or long strategic turns.

Definitely.  Feedback to the player needs to be simple enough to easily understand.   But the underlying mechanism can be a lot more involved than the simple HP system.

Originally posted by Helleri

<snip>                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Multiple bars.  That could be useful, especially to relay information to players, but I don't know if it addresses the underlying simulation.  I'll have to re-read your post in the morning and think about your idea some more.

Originally posted by krage

if a more realism based game were to come out i would like to see bodily damage accumulating over decreasing HP.

The one downside though is the snowball effect from it. Pretty much makes the first few blows the defining outcome for the rest of the battle, once someone is injured it is very unlikely they will win....but ya know what thats ok imo if the game is build around it.

I will tell you what though with such a system the environment, weapon selection, and timing is wayyyyy more important than in traditional systems since it is so unforgiving.

Hit Points are one of the most unrealistic things in RP games.  A system without HPs would probably be seen as much more realistic.  That didn't bother me particularly, as I was wanting to make a fantasy simulator, rather than a game.

You hit on the main problem I've encountered several times -- either the combat goes on forever (especially with low skills involved), the first blow determines the nature of the fight, or the first hit kills.   All too often, one combatant would go from perfectly fine to dead in a single instant.  I don't know how 'quick' combat between two equally equipped and equally skilled opponents 'should' be.   Realism has to allow the insta-kill, but that's not fun to play.   I was aiming for a system that required 3-7 shots before death/incapacitation, but my last effort never quite got there.

Another thing about the combat system in a fantasy game, it needs to allow for a 'heroic' battle where one man beats several opponents.  A lot of systems that work in a 1-on-1 scenario simply fail when faced with a 1-on-2 or worse odds.   A side with 5 shouldn't always be able to win against 4 opponents, with 3 1-on-1 battles fighting defensively, and the 2-on-1 fighting aggressively and just rolling up the opponents

You're also right about the weapons and especially timing, but I think I had those aspects pretty well covered.   When you think about it, a 3"x2"x/5" puncture into the stomach from a sword isn't really any different from a 3"x2"x.5" wound in the same location from any other kind of weapon.  You can factor a lot of the randomness out of the weapon's damage, and have fatigue costs on heavier weapons.

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  NagelRitter

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/18/13
Posts: 613

9/22/13 5:23:33 PM#20
The important thing to do here is make the system logical and intuitive enough that it's hard to game and easy to understand.

Favorite MMO: Vanilla WoW
Currently playing: GW2, EVE
Excited for: Wildstar, maybe?

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