hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Nothing is sacred: Hit Points and damage

5:00 PM on 10.03.2009 // Tubatic

[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our moms raised us. Want to post your own article in response? Publish it now on our community blogs.]

"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.

Consider all the stuff built around SoulCalibur as a game. By the fourth iteration, there are potentially dozens of item based buffs to augment how your life bar works, from draining energy, regenerating energy, and everything in between. Death is 0, and your objective is protection or creation of that scenario. Numbers.

*Fun Fact: There are no good pictures of Bushido Blade on the internet

Look then to the Bushido Blade series. Hudless, bar-less, devoid of numbers and stat management. You have a sword. Swords cut people. Good cuts kill you. Blocked cuts won't. Life and death is based on this practical situation that keeps you focused on the action proper. Above all else, you need to manage the pure situation, rather than a numerical construct. The result is profoundly different from the fighter standard, and provides, if nothing else, a unique fighting experience.


"That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Unless you're a ghost. Then you're dead."

A significant obstacle to ditching the hit point system, however, will be implementing some logical consequence into the game world, which has the very real potential of not being fun. While I appreciate that Far Cry 2 forces you to do something gruesome and practical to bring yourself back from the brink of death, the act of doing so doesn't necessarily make the experience more fun. But, it doesn't have to wash out that way.

Take the Final Fantasy series. While still making prominent use of number stats in just about everything that happens, there are logical rules at play in the universe the supercede the digits. In general, curing items will have a damaging affect on the undead. Taken to a further logical step, an item that is made to resurrect, will instantly "kill" the undead! Your task of reducing that HP meter becomes a puzzle to be figured, and a thought process that starts to become more important than raw data being rattled out.

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.

Admittedly, HP is a tough trope to bust. But going down that road has lead to some of the more memorable concepts and experiences in gaming history. What are you favorite games without HP? Do you think most games could benefit from shifting focus away from giving players that discreet life limit or damage attribute?



Tubatic,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Paul S avatarPaul S
GeoHolmes [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/ntf3p5PqS2GteYfXUH33[/img]
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
I have no idea what this game is about but if this isn't the best goddamn cover art ever, I don't know what is. [url=http://imgur.com/3yw3G8S][img]http://i.imgur.com/3yw3G8S.jpg[/img][/url]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
#thanksnintendo.
Shinta avatarShinta
Xenoblade X limited edition on Amaxon now. Will probably sell out very fast like usual. http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=1103729&page=1
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Just got a Vita with a 16GB card for super cheap. What games should I be looking out for?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
So the XCX Special Edition was marked as in stock for 20 seconds and I got a copy! I am disproportionately excited considering what it comes with. Hopefully the art book and packaging are high quality. WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Surprise, Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition has already sold out on Amazon.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Just a heads up, the Xenoblade Chronicles X Special Edition is up for preorder on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Xenoblade-Chronicles-Special-Edition-Wii-U/dp/B014LNTVGK I think it'll be available elsewhere but you know. Nintendo. Love em but hard to find.
Clicks Clacks avatarClicks Clacks
Picked up Valkyria Chronicles for $5 in the Humble Store, figure I'd advertise that for anyone that doesn't have it yet. Sale ends in less than 42 hours after this post yo. https://www.humblebundle.com/store/p/valkyriachronicles_storefront
gajknight avatargajknight
My copy of National Geographic came today. Best subscription I've paid for, worth it for the lovely pictures alone. This one has a story about elephant poachers and ivory tusks with spy chips in 'em. James Bond shit man.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
If someone used the blog reply feature to just divide a somewhat long blog into easier-to-digest chapters that could be consumed at the leisure of readers, would that be kosher?
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
[youtube]https://youtu.be/7bzKWOeSVn4[/youtube]
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
@Barry Kelly It looks like it will get pretty difficult later on. It even has instafail stealth sections according to @Chris Carter #neededanexcuse to #tryouttheatfeature
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
I hope MGS V manages to have some sort of challenge to it. I just replayed MGS 4 for the first time since release and wow that game just practically plays itself. And that's outside of the long sections it is playing itself!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Splatfest Decipticons, Let us crush the Autobot menace [img]http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/attachments/transformers-fan-art/27462687d1408744118-3d-tarn-model-tarn-propaganda-copy-01.jpg[/img]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Hey, all you Australian/UK/German Pokemon trainers out there! The Shiny Rayquaza event is ending, has just started, or will be starting in a few days (respectively), so be sure to get in on it while the getting is good!
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
4 days unt... no, wait... 3 days until Sahelanthropus.
Jish K avatarJish K
Greetings. For I am new. And still struggling to get that dang blog header to change.
From Must Git Gud avatarFrom Must Git Gud
MGSV is looking very good so far! Played to 2% completion last night. Pure stealth seems REALLY hard so far. PS3 version runs fine, loading times are OK, no slow downs, draw distance and pop-in are a bit rough. No glitches. Be prepared! Get it on PS4.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Jealous of all my brethren at PAX Prime. Sad I will miss out on the drinking, orgies and catching the PAX flew. This time next year though, I'll be there! I promise!
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -