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"If you prick us, do we not take 528 initial damage and an additional 406 damage over the next 30 seconds?"
That's not how that quote goes obviously, but that's about what the concept of "bleeding" amounts to when you look at games. Game characters don't have actual blood, or a systematic need for a circulatory system.
By and large, the ability to live, the life force of a game character relies on the the filling and emptying of a meter, containing the totality of that character's will to live: HP, Hit Points, Life Bars, Stamina, Hearts. At worst, arguably, its a number that the player stays keenly aware of, watching and recalculating like a hawk to maintain one's grasp on this virtually mortal coil. At best, its an abstract and finite limit that responds to damage and healing in contextually appropriate ways. But even then, its still this linear, quantitative meter that rules our decision making at any given moment.What if we did away with the numbers, in favor of a generally more practical system?
"I walked through fire and didn't get burned...but by the fifth walk in, the elemental damage was way past my fire resistance threshold!"
Hit Points are everywhere, so it a little tricky to cut them out cold turkey, as a cut and dry order of progress. However, there's a certain effect that comes about for games that do not work under a Hit Point system. Consider the fighting genre and two games in particular: SoulCalibur IV and Bushido Blade 2.
inFamous does a great job with these ideas in an HP world. Electricity and water sometimes mix in ways that you'd expect, allowing you to subtly fry a persuing enemy by running through a puddle, for example. What if inFamous worked directly on a principle of electric effects, regardless of a hitpoint/damage concept? Do I really need to increase the "damage" of a lightening effect? Shouldn't a headshot cause major neural breakdown, all the time? Perhaps in a world of powers, the nature of your attack will mean everything, and the raw level value of your unmysterious "Magic Attack Power" will mean nothing.