Extra Punctuation: Why Regenerating Health Sucks

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i think we have regenerating health so that it DOES enrich the experience by allowing the player to make more mistakes without punishing them with more "game over" screens.

it just makes it more accessible to more audiences, and who wouldn't prefer some Saints Row 2 to Grand Theft Auto 4 when it comes to fun?

Halo: Reach sort of has this. You have your main shield which regenerates with time and you're health will regenerate but only if you have taken minimum damage. I think if it's past the 75% mark you have to find a health pack to regain your health. They also quickly restore health and shields if you need a quick heal.

The old Syphon Filter games had a health system but even better it had a danger bar, which sounds like a fun place to get drunk but was actually a lot like the luck system mentioned. When it filled you started taking hits as your enemies got more of a bead on you. It made great sense as crappy crims and terrorists would have shite aim whereas the professional puppy strangling secret agents on later levels would have crack aim.

I am deeply offended that Yahtzee never played a 14 year old semi-obscure PS1 game and call his credentials into question....

(edit: beaten)

I still think that Halo Reach has the best health system: Shield bar regenerates, health only recharges when you get a health pack. It may not be the best health system but it works really well in the campaign and the multiplayer. Better yet, it lets the player overcome challenges by letting you push your body out of cover for a second to kill enemies while your shields takes the hits and duck behind cover when it gets too low. Of course, some of the AI realise your weak in this state and they run up to you to finish the job.

Also, I can't read the second word in the spot chapcha, it looks like some arabian symbols.

Regenerating health does make a lot more sense in puzzly games like Portal and Mirror's Edge.

Xanadu84:
Entitled to your opinion sure, but frankly, Yahtzee is just plain wrong here.

What an odd thing to say.

If you disagree with someone, you can just say it without this weird "I give you permission to have this opinion" thing that people seem to like doing.

thereverend7:
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.

You mean like Brothers in Arms:HH ?

With a luck system does it regenerate at all? Regeneration of health is used because the problem with health bars would be getting a checkpoint with low health then being screwed on a game like CoD. It totally depends what type of game, regeneration is better for CoD.

Another point: Some games (e.g. Assassin's Creed) shouldn't use both medicine etc and regeneration for gaining health. Although having more armour = more health is a good idea I haven't seen other games use it.

I always felt the regeneration from... Well I can't actually remember which game, it might have been Medal of Honor Airborne. Anyway, you had 4-or-so "bars". Those bars worked so that when 1 was empty, the next would start to drain, and you wouldn't be dead until they were all empty. A shot to the torso would take 1 bar or so, to the head would be 3-4 bars, and arms and legs (non-criticals) would be 1/2 of a bar. Obviously something more elaborate in the form of hit-boxes could be made, just to give you an idea.

The thing is, a bar can ONLY be regenerated if there is some hp left in that bar (regardless of how little). When the bar is empty and a new one has started draining, that bar is lost. A way to remidy having to go around with 3/4 or HP all the time after your first confontration could be by bringing back the medic class (I'm obviously talking multi-player here, sorry for not mentioning that earlier), which has the unique ability of applying bandages, 1 bandage would bring back 1 bar at say 10%, and it would then regenerate itself to full. This could be done as many times as needed to get the full 4 bars.

In my opinion, this is by far the most sane system that the developers could be using at the moment, and I really wish they would as it would also allow us to carry more magazines again, now your killing ability must be limited by only letting you carry a few magazines (typically 2-4), which is very annoying in my opinion (especially for games that seek to be realistic, seeing as the average soldier would carry 8-12 magazines if not more).

EDIT:

DugMachine:
Halo: Reach sort of has this. You have your main shield which regenerates with time and you're health will regenerate but only if you have taken minimum damage. I think if it's past the 75% mark you have to find a health pack to regain your health. They also quickly restore health and shields if you need a quick heal.

I guess this is sorta what I'm on about =3.

I think a way to justify "Healing by Killing", especially for a fast-paced action game, is to have health represent some sort of "Strength/Resolve/Endurance through Self-Confidence and Spirit," since it's already established that no health system can be realistically implemented and fun at the same time.

It's also the most sensible from the abstract when the point of the game is kicking names and taking ass, because since losing health is punishing screwing up and failure, success and doing things right rewards you with more health.

I like an idea you didn't mention, but I thought of when reflecting on Halo's system: Give two health bars, either a "Health from Time/action" like the Walk it Off, Health-through-Murder, or Regeneration systems, and one "Recover-through-depletion", like immobile health packs, med-stations, and usable Healing Potions; or a "Easy, short-term recovery" and "Hard, long-term Recovery" system, like that seen in Left 4 Dead, with its pills and first-aid kits.

Even my favorite tabletop game, D&D, uses a Dual-health-bar system, with Standard Hit Points and Temporary Hit Points on top of those.

And: Halo 1 had a better system than Halo-Reach, by not extending the Shield bar to also include half the health bar.

I found from watching several playthroughs of Dues Ex, that I prefer their use of health. You can find FA kits, you can replenish at medical robots, and you can even get a augment that regens your health by consuming Bio-electrical energy. This probably wouldn't work in COD, of course, but still a decent system.

I agree that regenerating health alone is a pretty poor game mechanic; I don't think, however, that it is without its uses in a discerning design. For instance, I'm working with a triple-mode system in my own pet RPG/action-adventure project:
1. Regenerating health in order to allow you to fight each enemy on essentially even ground - this is, je pense, an important function to have, as it can keep you from getting truly stuck in a long string of fights.
2. Wounds system (think Dragon Age: Origins) to give some consequence to poor blocking/dodging/fighting skill. Wounds should matter, but not leave you completely ineffective.
3. Energy/food system to give you a resource to manage. Fighting, running, and doing things take energy; energy recharges slowly but drains your "stomach," which you must keep full by eating. If you're starving, you can't fight.

I liked Bioshock, where not only did you use health kits and stations to heal yourself, the enemy did, too. Well, at least the health stations. Until I sabotaged them. muhahaha!

I like the old school health bar & kits. Why fix something that's not broken? Dead Space does it pretty craftily, as it's a health monitor system resembling your spine, I rather liked that - it didn't detract from the game's immersion, but fit into it.

Don't like the regenerating health systems, I agree, they are less fun.

I still like the regenerating health idea. I don't mind either way, I just slightly prefer regenerating health. Sure, you might take some of the tension away, but it isn't good tension when you're at the tail end of Half-Life 1 and you only have 1 FUCKING HEALTH and you fall just little bit and you lose that 1 FUCKING HEALTH. Did that the first time, I hate the last little bit of HL1.

I think Halo 1 had a good idea - health bar under a shield. That way, you always have a bit of health but only having 1 health bar is still very close to death.

Or Far Cry Instincts, where you had 1-100 health like Half-Life, but it refilled very slowly. And I mean incredibly slow. Like Metroid Prime 2 waiting in shields in the Dark World slow. It was a measure of patience for one to wait around while it refilled.

Or Just Cause 2 - it only refilled a little bit.

There are plenty of alternatives and combinations to either health bars/numbers and regenerating health. Different games require different approaches.

Fronzel:
Regenerating health does make a lot more sense in puzzly games like Portal and Mirror's Edge.

Xanadu84:
Entitled to your opinion sure, but frankly, Yahtzee is just plain wrong here.

What an odd thing to say.

If you disagree with someone, you can just say it without this weird "I give you permission to have this opinion" thing that people seem to like doing.

It's not that odd. There's often times hate over opinions, and what people personally like. Someone tells someone that they are dumb for liking something, for example. That is wrong. Yahtzee likes a certain type of game: Games with hit point systems instead of regeneration. If that's your thing, more power to you. I will not criticize an individuals taste. However, Yahtzees tastes say absolutely nothing about the validity of regenerating health as a whole.

I for example don't like peanut butter. I can say that I don't like peanut butter. But the fact that I don't like peanut butter means absolutely nothing to anyone else. If there was poop in a jar of peanut butter, I could say that, "This peanut butter is bad because it has poop in it". And I would have an excellent point about the peanut butters quality. If I just said that peanut butter is bad, im not adding anything to any meaningful discussion. In this article, Yahtzee isn't pointing to poop in the peanut butter, he is saying that peanut butter is gross.

The luck system would be great in a shooter. You're running from cover to cover while under fire, and the more you get shot at, the more likely you are to get killed.

the thing with those ideas is, all of them can work, including the regenerating health bar system.
Like so many things it all just depends on implementation, and there are a lot of ways to screw them all up.

I actually prefer regenerating health. I feel like a health bar takes me out of the experience, while regenerating health keeps the game flowing and moving forward. Nothing is less fun than getting blown away over and over just because you made a mistake 2 rooms back and there's no health kits nearby.

I'm not terribly fond of the instant-regen-at-end-of-combat in the Dragon Age series, personally. There's absolutely no incentive to try and push your party to the limit so that you're not taking massive damage during the fights, because you only have to make it to the end of THIS fight and everything's fine.

Contrast this with other games where you have to use potions or rest (although the resting mechanic has been mangled in some games to basically be a post-combat reset button, so it's little different from instant-fix) in order to restore lost health/mana/whatever. Taking a lot of damage in THIS fight can mean you'll be ill-equipped to handle THAT fight later on. So it's a lot more fun to look for strategies where you don't get hurt.

And the thing is--games that push you into "I must prevent myself from getting hurt" have a gameplay mechanic that actually increases immersion to a certain degree. Because all that damage you've been taking MEANS something. Some of the pain of combat gets communicated. It's not all completely detached.

When I think about the games I played before regenerating health having health packs strewn all over a battlefield, I'm glad that we have this type of health recovery now. It's not realistic, but eventually we'll get there.

I think ideally you would either make a game where your character is armored up, the luck system that Yahtzee suggested, or a mix of recovery items, some health regeneration, and some sort of minigame where you or a medic character patches you up.

Been playing Fable III recently and feel the same - what was the problem with Fable II's food/potions? It even added a layer, food makes you fat (or thin in celeries case) but is cheaper and more common then potions.

Also the loss of the health bar has quite peeved me off.

Personally I've always thought, in a realistic game, health should be replaced by a "luck" system. When the game calculates that a bullet is about to hit you, it corrects the trajectory so it doesn't, and you lose a bit of your luck bar. Then when it runs out you finally get hit by a single bullet and go down crying like a big fat girl.

Regenerating health by running around was (sorta) done in Giants: Citizens Kabuto, where Delphi recovers by immersing herself in deep water...and normally has to run round to avoid being shot, or swim way out. She can't use weapons or anything while in the water as well, it's one or the other.

It was actually pretty annoying, really, IMHO.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
because in a truly realistic game you wouldn't be able to continue after getting shot once, and any game that doesn't let you make any mistakes isn't going to be much fun for anyone except insane obsessive no-hit-runners.

Like Trilby: The Art of Theft? Or Super Meatboy? or...quite a few "Life" based games.

Hidden and Dangerous and most of your vaunted "Stealth" games rely on you having to run like hell from a single dangerous encounter.

Yahtzee,

I can definately agree that regenerating health is overused, but I can see why so many developers use it. It's a cheap, easy way to keep the game moving at a good pace. Today's gamers are fickle, impatient people who don't want to spend even 30 seconds diverting from the path foreward to hunt for a health pack. And when they press on without the benefit of a full health bar they get gunned down over and over again leading to frustration and quitting the game. It's lazy, but unfortunately it pleases the low standards of Call of Duty players.

That said, I think you're absolutely right about tying to find new ways to restore a player's health. However, I believe a combination of systems would work as well. I know everyone likes to pick on Halo (for some reason), but I think Bungie had the most effective health system with the first game and thankfully brought it back with Reach. You have your shield, which will always regenerate as long as you're careful, and you're actual health that will immediately give away to one or two shots. You could say that is like any other shooter, but the difference is that you still need to hunt down health packs for maximum survivability. You still get that feeling of triumph after you visciously beat four brutes to death with an empty energy sword handle while your shield is broken, but never really feel like you HAVE to search for health packs in order to continue. It's still a good idea, but not required.

thereverend7:
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.

I thought he automatically dodges or absorbs a punch by leaning into it, but hell get tired of doing that eventually.....

I'll be honest and say that which system is better depends entirely on the individual game. Half-Life 2, a game with health packs/stations, works because of the way the game is paced and how the atmosphere is set. Gordon Freeman mending his fractured bones by standing on them would just feel off. In Duke Nukem Forever, health regen would work because it helps the player feel as powerful as Duke is; able to take bullets like they're candy...or some other metaphor. It also helps that the health bar is named an "EGO" bar. Duke Nukem's huge-ass EGO can deflect bullets and lasers, and absorb pipe-bomb explosions. That alone justifies the regenerating health. For me at least.

But it's not like DNF just gave up its exploration factor by going with EGO. Searching around for interactive novelties, executing "bleeding out" enemies, etc, inflates the overall EGO. So rather than searching for health packs to mend your wounds, you find say for example, a "Balls of Steel" pinball machine. If you get the high score, your overall EGO becomes larger so that you'll have a better chance at surviving future encounters. Yes it's still regenerating health, but it's regenerating health that accounts for the lack of depth that would come from just having the system and nothing else.

Not that this won't stop Yahtzee from giving an almost inevitably negative review of DNF. Yes he's giving it a blank slate, but DNF is daring to not adhere religiously to the way FPSes used to be. That, combined with (possible) DN3D-based rose-tinted glasses, might paint death for the game in his review. It won't matter how good the overall product is, or how old-school the game is designed. He'll decry it almost solely for regenerating health and other modern mechanics, people will forget about his "Praise by exception" policy, and the sheepier of his fans will blindly avoid the game like the plague.

I'm not saying that "All classic" FPSes are bad, but that my philosophy is that the extremes should not be the standard. Whenever people talk about FPSes, they either say "All modern mechanics" or "All old-school mechanics", with no possibility of any kind of middle-ground. DNF is finding a nice balance between old-school action a modern-day action from what can be seen. For me, it'll most likely make the game even better. But for someone like Yahtzee, who seems to prefer "All old-school and nothing else", will probably hate it.

So I guess what this whole wall boils down to is this: It's not the mechanics, it's how they are used and what the game is like. Regenerating health would have been terrible in Half-Life, but health packs in Bulletstorm would have killed the gameplay pacing.

JMeganSnow:
I'm not terribly fond of the instant-regen-at-end-of-combat in the Dragon Age series, personally. There's absolutely no incentive to try and push your party to the limit so that you're not taking massive damage during the fights, because you only have to make it to the end of THIS fight and everything's fine.

Contrast this with other games where you have to use potions or rest (although the resting mechanic has been mangled in some games to basically be a post-combat reset button, so it's little different from instant-fix) in order to restore lost health/mana/whatever. Taking a lot of damage in THIS fight can mean you'll be ill-equipped to handle THAT fight later on. So it's a lot more fun to look for strategies where you don't get hurt.

And the thing is--games that push you into "I must prevent myself from getting hurt" have a gameplay mechanic that actually increases immersion to a certain degree. Because all that damage you've been taking MEANS something. Some of the pain of combat gets communicated. It's not all completely detached.

On the contrary, I like that system. It's best of both worlds. It means each individual fight can be tailored as a challenging tactical encounter, instead of having most fights be throwaway random encounters with disposable mooks. And I still needed to stock a big chunk of my inventory with healing potions with this system; imagine I needed five times as many plus a bunch of Phoenix Down-equivalents. It was a refreshing change from almost every other RPG I've played.

And there have been plenty of times in tougher fights where I was down to one party member, who couldn't spam healing because the potion or spell was on cooldown, and basically had to kite (or engage, if a melee character was the sole survivor) the remaining enemies with hit & run attacks, hoping to drop them before they got in the killing blow. I was on the edge-of-my seat for those.

I also have issues with the health regen system in most games. I liked the first halo a lot where you had a small regenerating buffer but you could still get stuck in a situation where you have a tinny sliver of health and a thin layer of shields protecting you from a bunch of elites. I really wish more people used it, reach sort of pretends too, but I can never be certain when your health will magically regenerate and when it will stay badly damaged.

One thing I could see working well is a much slower and more dynamic regeneration system. Give a player a meter that heals a tick of health every time it is filled up. Standing around causes it to fill slowly, moving causes it to fill a bit faster, shooting at people increases it even faster, and killing someone gives you a bigger boost. You could even have a healing item that, instead of just giving you health, it supercharges your regeneration meter for a short period of time.

Ouch! i got shot, can we have a time out guys from this fire fight so i can go look for health box, Its also to help teach people if they end up getting shot, then that is not were you want to be, and you need to stand somewhere else, or pay better attention without slowing the game down too much or making you leave your npcs all by themselves.

I agree. I don't play shooters often, but where's the challenge if all I have to do when I'm low on health is go back to a room I've already cleared and suck my thumb for a few minutes?

'Walk it off'-healing actually sounds pretty interesting. Maybe make it so you absorb energy from your close environment so that you can't spin in a circle. It'd change how fights go since you'd have to keep moving to heal, but that also makes it easier for enemies to find you.

Only problem I have with generating health is that 9/10 time itīs use it refuse to tell me how much I got left! How am I suppose to know how much % health I have left by just looking at something like this;

Vibhor:

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.

Far Cry 2 health system was basically riddick except for u had to perform surgery on yourself if your health got so low and you had portable morphine shots (ala med packs)instead of a nano-med station.
Personally i like the bar system the most though i do have to mention call of cthulhu's Degenerating health bar, if you got shot, poisoned or recieved a cut that is bleeding copiously then u actually bleed out. If you break your leg or your arm you walk slowly and your accuracy is hindered. To heal yourself you actually had to manage bandages, antidotes etc and had to physically apply them to the whearbouts of your injuries. Also instead of getting jam on your face the game makes the colour contrast fade. This is far better as you can still see whats going on.
Also Vampire the Masquerade: bloodlines system worked well, as it mixed the rebounding health meter, health packs (ala blood packs) and the health by murder system. Your character would slowly regenarate health (about 60 or so secs to fully heal if your were nearly dead), or you could drink a blood pack , a rareity (to be fair i never needed them bar from the final bosses) and providing the NPC was human (or rat) you could drink there blood. It tied in with the plot (you are a vampire) as well as being fun.

I think Yahtzee forgot "no regenerating health"
just get a decent sized health bar for the entire level and have it replenish when you're in the next level, until then your screwed. If I remember correctly that's what they did with the origional Goldeneye and I felt it was a good system

I prefer nothing. Just make it fit.

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