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Behind this mysterious title I'm hiding some hard work that might be published someday ;) The purpose of this blog is to share thoughts with you who love/hate MMO.

Author: Deewe

Time to get rid of HEALTH BARS!

Posted by Deewe Wednesday November 5 2008 at 5:01PM
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As you all know a few non MMO games tried to replace health bars without much success.

Both for PvE and PVP, being able to see them turns the combat into a statistical thing. It is even worse when you are able to know the exact amount of hit points.

The consequence is players tweaks their macros like formula one engines, removing any stress and hazard form the equation.

Still I think we need 2 systems embedded.

   1) Give a precise feedback to player of the actual status of his character.
   2) Give only a general feedback of the enemy status.

With the first one, the actual health bar system would not be changed. So the player still has the control of his character.

For opponents the bars would be replaced with general status icons/colors/txt. For example it could be Healthy, Lighly Damaged, Moderately Damaged, Seriously Damaged, Dead.

This would make combat and particularly PvP more appealing and challenging.
Still, there’s the question for allies and group mates. Maybe something in between would work, not sure.

What do you think?

Sovrath writes:

Not all games allow you to see your opponent's health bars

Wed Nov 05 2008 5:56PM Report
Bakoryo writes:

someone has been playing too much fallout 1 and 2 lately o.o


But yeah, it's not all would like, some people prefer to calculate you know.. "I take 20% damage from each mob but regen 5% of my hp everytime so blablabalbal"

Wed Nov 05 2008 5:58PM Report
nomadian writes:

"For opponents the bars would be replaced with general status icons/colors/txt. For example it could be Healthy, Lighly Damaged, Moderately Damaged, Seriously Damaged, Dead."

Surely that would be more or less the same thing though? Otherwise I do like the idea of this in a mmo because it would add an element of discovery to the game in finding out the toughness of various mobs. Only drawback is someone would probably compute it and it would all be known in quick time which would sort of defeat the system.

Wed Nov 05 2008 6:19PM Report
nomadian writes:

haha okay I see the rest of your posts- very funny.

'time to get rid of timesink' 'time for a social mmo' 'time for a casual mmo' 'time to get rid of healthbars' 'time to get rid of decays'  :p

Wed Nov 05 2008 6:20PM Report
Deewe writes:

@Sovrath: could you give us some MMO names plz? I don't know any.

@Bakoryo: will stop as soon as I put my hands on Fallout III ;) I agree not everyone.

@Nomadian: you are right it's kind of the same thing but adding some grey zone. You can compute but as all players have different HP pool, won't help much.

Guess you saw the trend and enjoy my blog! So what do you think should be my next one?

Wed Nov 05 2008 6:31PM Report
nomadian writes:

Time to get rid of levels- nope you already beat me. Time for a great mmo to come along. That will do.

Wed Nov 05 2008 6:41PM Report
Deewe writes:

Time for a great MMO, hey I like that sounds awesome /takenote

Wed Nov 05 2008 7:21PM Report
Trissa writes:

In Lineage II you can only see name and clan of your opponents. No bars, no any other information.

Wed Nov 05 2008 7:29PM Report
Deewe writes:

Thanks for the info Trissa! I played Lineage beta II for I hour till someone said in regional chat: "does all elves move like they had 1 hour sodomy session"...

As a note how is the feeling of combat? I think it should at least give you some hints of the status of the opponent.


Wed Nov 05 2008 7:53PM Report
WRyan writes:

Why not just make it so that players and opponents... limp when they're hurt?

I mean, if you're going to get rid of Health Bars, why replace it with some other HUD icon?  Doing so would be beyond dumb...

Wed Nov 05 2008 8:22PM Report
AlloughN writes:

I've enjoyed reading your blog, since you deal with a lot of issues, and for most of them, its obvious you have put some hard thinking into them.


Can I suggest 2 future topics?

1. Evolving MMO's

2. What would the role of a guild be in a evolving MMO.

Both are new territory for MMO's

Wed Nov 05 2008 8:26PM Report
Deewe writes:

@WRyan: the idea is you don't have anymore the exact feedback of the status of your ennemy like in RL combat.

@AlloughN: thank you very much for your kind words.

I'd say evolving MMO is the core of my blog but for now I work more on enhancing existing concepts not making new features.

Now the guild part is really interesting, I think it's one of the core concept that is under exploited, same with friends lists. That goes with my idea MMO means socialization.

Wed Nov 05 2008 8:38PM Report
Sovrath writes:

Deewe- Wed Nov 05 2008 6:31PM
@Sovrath: could you give us some MMO names plz? I don't know any.

I have to ammend that statement. In pvp, you do not see your enemies hitpoints in Lineage 2.

The other two online games that came to mind when i wrote that (ddo and Archlord) do actually show the hp. In DDO you see it in the lower right hand corner portrait. Whenever I'm fighitng I only look at the screen therefore there is no hitpoint bar above the characters,  but that discounts that game. The other I was thinking of was Archord but apparently it's been a long time since I played it and I rememberd that incorrectly.

So, in conclusion, I'm getting old and senile and only pvp in Lineage 2 comes to mind. sorry about that.

Wed Nov 05 2008 9:13PM Report
Deewe writes:

No worries Sovrath, anywayd thanks for the input. Still I'm  pretty sure there are some F2P mmo out there that have this feature. Thing is there are so many can't test them all!

Thu Nov 06 2008 7:25AM Report
Raston writes:

I would prefer to see them get rid of health points and move to health levels with the concept of wounds and shock.  Take for example the White Wolf System where you have wound levels, but for MOST people they are the same, only those who have taken some ability to increase their wound system get more wound levels and as this would tie in well with the getting rid of level concept, it works even better.

With this system, you could find yourself in a battle with a low wound level mob that has a high toughness (hard to damage, but when you do, it dies quickly) or a low toughness mob with a high wound level (ie, easy to damage, but harder to kill).  Adding in shock damage would be the way to account for bleeding damage, this would be sorta like hitpoints, but not level driven, would be stat/skill driven, thus each mob/player would be a little different, but not significantly so.  Some mobs would have to be more resistant to bleed damage (if not outright immune, like undead where the loss of blood, if the even have it, is irrelevant).

The advantages of such a system?  The player gets to decide just how tough they are though the manipulation of their stats, but also it doesn't allow for as huge a gap between the noob and the veteran, which is desperately needed in MMOs (IMO).

Thu Nov 06 2008 8:07AM Report
Deewe writes:

Hello Raston,

thanks for taking the time to pass by!

I like WW system but I think it's better for P&P games. Even still much better than the actual HP bars systems.

I agree in P&P games you never know the exact HP of the monster, I mean apart player those who learn by heart D&D monster manual and GM who don't adapt...

So it is the role of the GM to give you a feedback of the monster status.

Thu Nov 06 2008 9:00AM Report
rat4pay writes:

The Realm Online 2.xx and early 3.0 did not have a Health bar for Enemies.  They still have the damage text in the game now, even though you can see enemy bars now.  I think it goes like this:

Dark Fairy is Hurt! --- 25% Health

Dark Fairy is Hurt Badly! --- 50% Health

Dark Fairy is about to Die! -- 75% Health

Thu Nov 06 2008 1:33PM Report
fansede writes:

You get rid of health bars and someone will invent a  UI Mod to establish values for life points.

Thu Nov 06 2008 3:17PM Report
Deewe writes:

@fansede: would work only if such mods are allowed or hacking the client. So I'm not really worried it isn't worth the hassle

Thu Nov 06 2008 3:38PM Report
Trissa writes:

@Deewe: The hints you get in Lineage II are: if you can recognize at sight the equipment your opponents are using you can guess more or less level and class before the combat starts (your guess could be wrong of course). Damage numbers given and received and the skills used  help a lot to know if you need to run or may be you got some possibilities. Of course if you got to know the players in front of you your estimates will be a lot more precise.

I know some people are going to disagree about it, but for this lack of information that made the whole process very exciting and a lot of other things, i enjoyed the PvP in Lineage II a lot more than any other game i have played. But just me. You know all is about tastes.


Thu Nov 06 2008 5:14PM Report
Wizardry writes:

My answer is an obvious one,your looking at it the wrong way.If you removed health bars from the mobs,how on earth would you incoporate any skillful combat?You would not have any clue what so ever as to how or what your next move would be.

The only reason health bars exist is to emulate a real life scenario.In real life you can tell easily when something is extremely injured or near death,correct?well in games you can't.You could add a few different animations to the foe that give some impressions,that would work,but that adds a lot more work for developers and they have all shown to be too lazy,or lack the time to do it.

Thu Nov 06 2008 5:15PM Report
Trissa writes:

Sorry, to avoid misunderstandings, In Lineage II you can see health bars when PvE. Only in PvP the bars are hidden.

Thu Nov 06 2008 5:28PM Report
Raston writes:

I still think the WW and/or Masterbook system could be adapted to MMOs, where you are either unwounded, wounded, heavily wounded, mortally wounded or dead. 

Then you can add an even further situation of armor and damage absorbsion to the point where you could theoretically hit a mob and do no damage if the armor were to absorb it, but for how long would the armor be effective, is there a chance it would break in combat (a double botch?) does its effectiveness wear down as a battle goes on?  There are so many variables that a PC/Console game could take into account but don't that would dizzy the mind of even the best GM and do it with a percision and effectiveness that can't be done manually and still play a game.

And while you are on the tangent of adaptability, it shouldn't be hard to have a mob with some 'variations' to their abilities and health levels to keep things...  interesting.  Have the mob created with a 'range' of abilities and have the system take from that selection at random (based upon the unix time of spawning to make it as random as possible)

Thu Nov 06 2008 5:50PM Report
Raston writes:

oh, and the L2 PvP was probably the best I've ever seen, I used to hang out by the elf starting point playing guard to the noobs there, skinny down to my lower level gear and just wait for the ganker to show up and then mow them down.

I remember one case where I was there guarding my IRL wife who was playing and some ganker one shotted a lowbie near my position, I saw him start to run and drew back and nailed him in the back.  Was classic :)

Thu Nov 06 2008 5:53PM Report
ta_erog writes:

I think feed back is the answer to the "bar X" removal.
Health and other bars are only there because it was easy to do render and easy to understand but it blows immersion.
Take Farcry 2, Fallout and even Gears of war as examples of high immersion low bars.
Yes all of them have some HP gradient of some sort but the graph is mostly hidden and often replaced by Visual, auditory and even control cues. Blood on screen/face, red or blurry vision, High and/or loud heartbeat, Cracking of bones, scaled grunts of pain, and damage to limbs effect movement/actions.
Add these together and you get a VERY real and visceral feel of how well/bad you are doing and often helps with adding degrading effects (to counter the 0 hp dead >0 perfect health style).
The more feed back the less the need of bars and the batter game immersion.
Also this can help in other ways (non just HPs) . . feedback/game effects for limited sprinting, stun, lib damage, drugs, critical damage, vertigo, and more.

Fri Nov 07 2008 9:59AM Report writes:
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