Extra Punctuation: Why Regenerating Health Sucks

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Why Regenerating Health Sucks

Yahtzee thinks waiting a few seconds to be at full health is bad.

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Believe it or not, i had a similar idea to yahtzee's about that "luck" system. you could have a character who is considered "very lucky" and as he's getting shot at, the bullets whiz by or he happens to dodge them. once your luck bar runs out though, its close to curtains for you. you would have a very limited health bar and once the bullets started hitting you, it would be realistic and you would die in one or two shots.

Well, I wouldn't say I feel that regenerating health is inherently bad, but I would say it is definetly overused. I feel it hurts immersion. Nice article.

depending on the game i can agree, but on online gameplay i disagree, i much prefer each encounter between enemies and myself to have equal health for equal opportunity, when i kill someone in a game without regenerating health all it takes is someone to go around the corner and they have me dead probably 95% of the time, they have to be extremely bad for that not to happen, in which this process just keeps continuing until either someone has the OP weapons and are in an OP spot in the level, or someone is just that good compared to the really bad people in the room.

so depending on the game once again, i can highly agree, especially on single player, but for multiplayer purposes i get annoyed highly when i drop a couple guys only to be taken out by some pee shooter in my foot from having a lack of health.

Far Cry 2 had the best healing system: get shot, pull that motherfuckin bullet out. You only had to do it when you're health was really low too.

The luck system is kind of how you're supposed to think of hit points in D&D. It's really just some arbitrary counter representing your skill at minimizing hits that slowly gets taken down as you get tired.

I know that regenerating health is supposed to allow designers to more carefully craft the experience and guarantee's that the player will have a full health prior to each encounter, but the more I look at games, the more I think 80% of the fun comes from things the designer either didn't plan for or doesn't have direct control of. If that's the case, why bother carefully crafting encounters for the amount of health someone has, just throw us in the pit with the game elements and see if we're having fun.

Which is why Fallout New Vegas has a decent healing system if you play on Hardcore! You have to manage limb condition with expensive doctor kits and general health with Stimpacks. xx :)

a recently example of this, especially the health by murder/environment system, is arkham asylum. you regained your health by killing enemies, or solving riddles. in a combat scenario, you gain more health by a bigger combo score. points only get added at the end of the fight too, which means when you enter a fight, that is your set amount of health, and there's nothing you can do about it.

That last idea sounds pretty good to me.

I agree with health by murder. In a shooter youre obviously going to have to shoot something to kill or destroy it. TF2 has gotten a number of new weapons that give health boosts on kill, And i will investigate them when i feel like it.

The only question is if we go with on kill effects or health drops.

Then theres the lack of challenge presented by it. I suppose it can be put like this; People who have played God Hand, how much easier would it have been if Gene had health regen?

I still don't know why developers don't use the segmented health as seen in Far Cry 2, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Chronicles of Riddick.

Your health bar is divided into smaller bars, and each bar regenerates, but only until that bar is full, and never more than that.

Basically, if there's some health left in the bar, the bar will regenerate, but it will only regenerate that bar. That means developers know players will always have at least one bar of health, and can plan accordingly.

Or you could go the Brothers in Arms route and if a player hits a checkpoint with no health/ammo left and they die a few times, they get the option to restart at the checkpoint with full health and ammo. Since, you know, even though war isn't fair, a game should be. And thats the actual message when Brothers in Arms gives you the option. In Road to Hill 30 at least.

I like health by station, backtracking enables you to restore your health before a hard level, but the inconvenience of having to go back to find a "station" acts as an incentive to not get shot.

'Health by walking it off' would be a nice addition to a Kinect game.
"Oh no I've been hit by a rocket." "Quick do the funky chicken! Flap those arms, Flap for your life!"

I agree with most of what's said here....regenerating health does take out some of the challenge and it is silly. I much prefer good old health kits. That, along with Resistance's 4 bars system. I thought that worked well.

The health system is one of the best bits of dead space 2, where you stock up some health packs from fallen enemies or from one of the shops, and you think you're untouchable, and then some necromorph bursts out of a wall and gets you off guard, and you panic and blow all your health packs really unnecessarily and you have to be really careful as wounded isaac stumbles groggily around, stopping to catch his breath every few metres.

I'd also like to add that regenerating health has also led to bad AI programming where enemies have ridiculous aiming ability and will basically track you through walls and shoot at you as soon as you're the least bit exposed. In modern games, you know you've encountered a battle because 1/2 your health has been instantly wiped away, but it will be back in 2 seconds!

I've never had an issue with health regen systems in action games because the keep the pace of the game up; but then again, you do lose the tension of being down to your last sliver of health and have that courageous/awesome moment where you defeat the big bad with a single point of life left in you. Now, your walking it off strategy has a lot more merit than traditional regen systems. At least here, you need to be active and need to be quick. When you're hit, that tension that you will soon die is imminent. I think that would be the best alternative to modern regen systems.

I'd like to see a system where the AI gets bolder as your health drops, such as being willing to leave cover and hunt you down after your health drops below a threshold. So, you can stay in a firefight and risk dieing, or cower in cover whimpering to regen but risk enemy soldiers showing up to deliver the coup de grce.

Psychotic-ishSOB:
Far Cry 2 had the best healing system: get shot, pull that motherfuckin bullet out. You only had to do it when you're health was really low too.

Seconded.
One of the most immersive health system even though not that realistic.
But I would suggest the block health system.
Y'know the one in Chronicles of Riddick and Assassin's creed 2
It is pretty cool but only fits in CQC situation instead of shooting.

Heath regeneration is a means to a end. That end being flow of action as new develops think never stopping the action is a good thing. It also allows for quicker level design as you do not need a complex maze beyond the single barrel shotgun of a corridor.

What is really sad is that DOOM have more intricate level layouts than most modern shooters.... its sad really...

I like Halo: Combat Evolved's health system for console shooters, devised to help compensate for the lack of pinpoint-accuracy of a Dual-Shock controller. The hybrid of regenerating and non-regenerating health I find to be a great system, because it still gives you the low-health thrill and challenges, but ensures you at least have enough health that you don't get stuck going into a battle where getting hit is guarenteed with only 1 hit left.

Playing Half-Life, I got frustrated by the number of times I really screwed up a battle, and was forced to continue with >15 health throughout an entire mission. Of course, the fact that the Half-life engine somehow gives me motion sickness (I think it's the too-noninvasive HUD) doesn't help.

In short... I'm trying to say regenerating health is good, as long as it's not complete. It serves as a "Heads up" at high health, allowing developers to implement nasty surprises for the player without being a cheap YASD, and as a reprieve at low health, giving you the breathing room to overcome challenges if you're careful enough.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time had a good health system as well for the game style, where you had to be careful with your health in combat and platforming, but the unlimited-use health stations allowed you to fully heal at the right times, instead of having to force the developers to guess how much health you'd need at that point.

If the few posts above me were trying to agree with Yahtzee, they completely missed his point: The idea isn't to punish the player further for having low health, since that's just frustrating.

And to the guy directly above me... OUCH! IGNORANCE IS PAINFUL! I'll have to straighten you out. The reason DOOM had the most intrictate level layouts compared to modern shooters (And the reason levels in general are getting straighter and smaller) is because of the sheer amount of resources needed to make a level, and make it look good. It comes down to the strain of modern graphics. In the first DOOM, anyone could make a map in a matter of minutes, hours at most. Now, it takes WEEKS to make even a simple level, and developers don't want to waste that time on content very few people are going to see.

I blame the decline of proceedural generation.

I can't stand this Health Regenerating thing, so I avoided most of the games (a friend forced me to co-op Gears of War so we can hear the lame puns). But then there is the thing that Extra Credits pointed out: A room could be the most difficult one if you had a single digit of health, or a breeze if you were full on both it and armor. Regenerating health meant that developers could adjust the challenge by knowing how much health you have before the next encounter.

Also I agree, that it makes everything even more boring, since it restores the status quo before each fight. Load on ammo (enemies drop it) wait 5 sec for health to regenerate, go shoot more people/aliens from behind cover.

I don't think there's a problem with HR any more than there is with any system Yathzee mentioned. If anything, it's a system overused in most mainstream games, so that may lead to someone like him to be sick of it.

I liked health system in first Killzone on PS2. It was somewhat similar to Chronicles of Riddik. Your health bar basically health several sections, that regenerate if you took just a little damage, but if damage is substantial your health will regenerate only up to 75, 50 or 25% percent, depending on how much damage you took. To fully restore health you had to find a medkit, that would regenerate it to 100% again. And medkits were really scarce. This system forced you to be careful in a firefight and at the same time you wouldn't suddenly die of accumulated small half-painless falling damage huts.
A shame they made 100% health regenerate in Killzone 2 and 3. But that is basically because of Elite difficulty. Which is, essentially, a no-hit run for obsessed. You get shot - you die, so no point in medkits. And if Elite and other difficulties had different health systems... Well, look at Bionic Commando remake on PSN. Yuk.

I actually preferred Halo 1's health system to the later sequels. You had a shield that regenerated and, separately, you had your health. You shield takes a few bullets before going away [exact amount dependent on the difficulty], your health is chunks of your ass being shot off that have to be healed with med kits. It allows for you to take a little more beating than a traditional health system, encouraging a somewhat more aggressive stance, but gave a real consequence to being shot excessively that wouldn't go away while you were behind a wall.

That being said, I don't think that regenerating health is 100% bad or good. I do think it's overused in modern gaming. But, that's gaming history in a nutshell, isn't it. Something works, then everyone copies it and tries to jam it in their games where it doesn't fit. Cover based shooters, stealth, and 2D scrolling platformers have all birthed this phenomenon.

I pretty much stopped playing the genre when health regeneration became the norm. Being well below half-health and thinking, "Should I run for that big gun, before the enemy gets it? Or should I look for some health?" That adds to the game.

I have to disagree with Yahtzee here, it all depends on the game. As I've said before, games where resource management is an important part of the game shouldn't have it, but games that focus on action should consider it. In some games regenerating health made the game more intense. For example, in a game with set health you tend to have a lot. If I go into a fight with full health, unless it's the final battle or I'm playing on the impossible difficulty I really don't have much to fear, since making a mistake will usually just result in losing more health than I need to, or at worst losing a lot more. With regenerating health, where you usually have much less to compensate for the fact you get it back, even minor fights can be a challenge since one mistake may mean I don't have time to run back to cover.

Also: Kirchhoff? really captcha?

I like the idea of having health scattered or hidden in the environment. Then it forces the player to explore the level looking for the health, or they can choose to take the dangerous but faster route and just go without exploring.
Also, you're right. There is something weird about finding something that heals you inside something that was just trying to kill you. There's something philosophical about that I'm sure.

Bullshit. Entitled to your opinion sure, but frankly, Yahtzee is just plain wrong here. Regenerating health is a great idea. It resets every challenge, giving a fresh perspective each time. No artificially difficult sections where you have extra low health, no resource management to distract you from the action at hand. There are PLENTY of other ways to add narrative continuity besides a big red bar. Not every game should have regenerating health: Games like Half Life, Dead Space, etc get a good deal of improved pacing and tension from a health system. But honestly, I can't name a game with regenerating health that should have used hit points, or vise versa. For all the design mistakes out there, the health system choice is not one of them. Maybe video games just need more games that have a slower pace, and less focus on manic action. Maybe we need less games that benefit more from regeneration. But that's a completely different aissue. Regenerating health is here to stay. And you know what? Regenerating health may not be realistic, but it FEELS more realistic. Because if you don't die, you can simply assume that whatever happened was an ignorable flesh wound. That feels a lot more reasonable then getting shot in the face, being fine, then dying from a paper cut.

Metal gear solid 3's system has always stuck out to me as the best. it's a semi-permanent/permanent bar that you regenerate by eating animals you have to hunt. It adds a huge depth to an otherwise necessary feature, different animals have different effects and the side quest of hunting becomes something comfortably methodical. I liked how when I was in a down time during the game I'd suddenly go "Right! Let's go get some tasty frogs for later!" and spend some time hunting delicious snacks. Then, after an intense boss fight I'd have a little picnic over his body while pulling out bullets with a knife.

God I loved MGS3...

The Chronicles of Riddick still has the best health system, in my opinion. It regenerates to a point, but also has you hunt down health stations that have limited health in them. And there was that other game (maybe it was Half Life 2?) where your health would regenerate up to ~30% so you wouldn't be completely screwed, but still not enough to make it easy.

I'm genuinely distressed that Yahtzee has thought of my 'luck' system to replace health. For years I thought I was terribly clever to be the only person to have come up with it. Damn you, you behatted semi-Antipodean.

Scow2:
I like Halo: Combat Evolved's health system for console shooters, devised to help compensate for the lack of pinpoint-accuracy of a Dual-Shock controller. The hybrid of regenerating and non-regenerating health I find to be a great system, because it still gives you the low-health thrill and challenges, but ensures you at least have enough health that you don't get stuck going into a battle where getting hit is guarenteed with only 1 hit left.

Playing half-life, I got frustrated by the number of times I really screwed up a battle, and was forced to continue with >15 health throughout an entire mission. Of course, the fact that the Half-life engine somehow gives me motion sickness (I think it's the too-noninvasive HUD) doesn't help.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time had a good health system as well for the game style, where you had to be careful with your health in combat and platforming, but the unlimited-use health stations allowed you to fully heal at the right times, instead of having to force the developers to guess how much health you'd need at that point.

This is exactly how I feel. Halo balanced it well, Half-Life was potentially frustrating if you screwed up but still possible, and PoP used time as a negative to avoid healing in mid battle. (which I would still try all the time.) These methods worked well for health gain.

I think Halo Reach had a nice balance as well, a small amount of health regen on occasion before shields regen, but if you drop alot of health you need to get to the packs. This allows players to keep fighting if they need to while giving uninjured players a decent advantage...until they get stuck. XD

I like the Sonic approach. Damn, those games were awesome.I actually think that could work in a 3rd person action game like Devil May Cry.
For FPSs i like the partial regenerating health bar system that can be seen in Resistence and Killzone.

Oi, Yahtzee?!

Do you remember the Syphone Filter games, the reasonably good PS1 editions? They implemented something very similar to your luck idea. Depending on your position relative to the enemy you had a 'danger' bar that filled or emptied. With the bar empty you were less likely to take hits (bot not totally immune), full bar and the enemy has you ranged, you take hits.

The player character could still take a few hits once the bar was full, but there were modifiers to that. When the enemy had armour piercing rounds, explosives or aimed for your head you suddenly became very squishy. Filling up the bar meant almost instant death.

It worked really well, although it equated to even more hiding round corners than regenerating health, it at least made the hide and seek sessions intense.

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