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Jonathan Blow's excellent analysis of why regen health SUCKS

subversus

I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
Oct 26, 2009
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From his twitter:

Playing Infinite, I realize that Halo-style recharging shields are actually a huge mistake in shooter design. But all shooters use them now. Since people are going to ask: There are two problems; one is about emotional pacing, one is about gameplay crispness and fairness. With shields, you are always doing okay in the medium and long term. They low-pass filter the emotional high of surviving a tight situation. The crispness problem is: In order to provide difficulty, designers now have to overwhelm your shields all the time, which means designing situations that are spammy (get hit from all directions so you can't process what is going on).These are confusing and not fun. These feel messy to play but they happen all the time because they have to. Or, like Infinite does, have super attacks that take away all your shields at once *and* 1/3 of your health, which feels steeply unfair. With shields, you are always doing okay in the medium and long term. Also, shields train the player to ignore getting hit most of the time, which becomes grating at the end when guys start hitting hard. (You trained the players for one thing but then gave them another!) I think shooters are much stronger experiences when it matters if you got hit. In shield games you get hit all the time, like flies buzzing. You can have a tight situation on the order of 10 seconds, but not on the order of 5 minutes, which matters more. Yeah. I think there is nothing wrong with 30 seconds of fun, if one doesn't forget 5 minutes of fun, 1 hour and 5 hours.
bingo
 

Vire

DancingJesus
Aug 16, 2009
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
 

Hari Seldon

Member
Dec 5, 2008
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That is an extremely excellent analysis. Also dude gets mad props for throwing down "low-pass filter".
 

flaxknuckles

Member
Nov 7, 2012
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It should be in every open-world game. I hate having to go run around and find hot dog stands all the time in Gta 4.
 

Zen_Arcade

Banned
May 23, 2012
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I think its fine as an option, but too mny games have adopted it and used it this gen. There just needs to be more shooters that play differently.
 
Nov 29, 2007
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Great points. I hate that health regen has become the industry standard. Half the time the indicator that shows you're losing health and getting hit is so hard to see, or it happens so fast, that you don't even know you're in trouble until you drop dead.
 
N

Noray

Unconfirmed Member
I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
And yet we're scavenging everywhere anyway in Bioshock Infinite.

I think shields are mostly fine, but implemented poorly. There needs to be a shield gate, meaning a single attack can't do more damage than whatever shields you have left. Mass Effect uses this to good effect.

But yeah I think in general hitscan weapons have made FPS less about skillful play and more about stop 'n pop. Almost everything in Doom was projectile rather than hitscan so there's skill involved in not getting hit. We've lost that with the trend towards more realistic weapons. Bioshock could've broken away from that, too bad they didn't.
 

Randdalf

Member
Sep 5, 2011
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
That's not the point. The problem is that regenerating health isn't a good solution to the very circumstance you describe because it has negative side effects on gameplay flow and design.
 

Zophar

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Sep 4, 2007
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I felt Resistance: Fall of Man struck the perfect balance. You have four hit points total the entire game. You can replenish them through pick-up items, and one point recharges on its own.
 

Derrick01

Banned
May 9, 2011
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
Neither is ruining the entire challenge of a game by hiding behind cover waiting for your meters to refill.
 

Raptor

Member
Mar 16, 2012
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
The same can be said for hiding in a corner in order for the Health/shield to replenish.
 

TedNindo

Member
Nov 7, 2010
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
Bioshock 1 disagrees. At least there the dispensers were useful and scavenging made sense. It felt more like survival.
 
Dec 7, 2012
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It really depends on what the game is trying to achieve. I feel fast paced shooters can benefit from regeneration, while more slow paced shooters, like Bioshock 1, benefit from scavenging.

Infinite is sort of in the middle, as the shield also helps you get passed encounters.
 

Brofield

Member
May 21, 2012
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Everything wrong that I could never articulate myself.

Especially with the GoldenEye remake a few years back. You're a British secret agent, not a goddamn space marine. How the hell does your health regenerate?

While we're talking about the cons of regenerating health, bring back the ability to pick up every weapon, instead of two at a time.
 

Dylan

Member
Jul 20, 2011
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Hate to be that guy, but yet again I think Dark Souls has the best solution for this.

The player knows that he can regain his health by drinking; but he also knows that he has exactly 5 (or 10, or 15..) chances to do it. The player also knows that once he's in the middle of the fight, his ability to take the time to drink is significantly reduced, so every encounter is still exciting, and there is always value in getting through it without taking damage, since doing so will save you a drink for the next fight.
 

Dude Abides

Member
Apr 8, 2009
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He is correct. Loved the experience in Doom where you had 20 health and were desperately hoping that you'd find a stimpack before you encountered a bunch of imps again. Or, conversely, when you had 100 health and 200 shield and tried so hard to play perfectly to keep them up.
 

Hoo-doo

Member
Sep 29, 2011
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Agreed. The shield thing in Bioshock is so damn stupid. Run around like you're the juggernaut until your shields start beeping- oh I mean that horrible broken glass animation shows up and you hide for a second. Good as new!
 

JWong

Banned
Sep 15, 2009
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I think Bioshock Shielding or Resistance per bar regen is good.

Scavenging can be reduced by having the L4D first aid kit system with controlled checkpointing to replenish those resources.
 

Bravocado

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Jun 15, 2012
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It's a really a design choice. Some games work well that way, for others, it's a lazy cop out. Half-life 1 & 2 are excellent in providing health/shield packs at just the right time, same for most Resident Evil games. But I imagine it's hard to establish when to help the player and when to leave them hanging. So thus, regenerating health/armor. If a game keeps the pace of the action moving well enough, then it's really forgivable.
 

FStop7

Banned
Jan 8, 2009
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which means designing situations that are spammy (get hit from all directions so you can't process what is going on)
And there lies my biggest complaint about Bioshock Infinite.

There were many situations where I was getting hit from multiple directions and the hit direction indicator wasn't helping. This was on Hard.
 
May 11, 2009
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I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
It's more fun than the alternative described in Blow's post. Also, you can *shock horror* design interesting levels where you have to explore for health. But wait! That would mean no more linear level designs and it would also mean the player would have to stop holding the down KABLAMO button for more than two seconds and focus testing tells us that this is bad.
 

GhaleonEB

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Jun 7, 2004
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Oregon
I depends on the game. Halo was designed with a certain cadence to the combat, and the didn't want to create situations where they had to throttle back encounters just because the player might have hit a checkpoint with low health. It enabled encounters to be designed knowing players would always have X amount of health available.

In the context of Halo, it worked very well. It doesn't necessarily in every game. I loved health scrounging in DOOM.
 

Chairman Yang

if he talks about books, you better damn well listen
Sep 14, 2005
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I also despise searching aimlessly for health packs. It doesn't give me an adrenaline high, it's boring as hell. Takes me out of the game.
To be fair, games without regenerating health don't need to make the player hunt for health packs. They can have health stations at key points (like Half-Life 2), make the location of health packs obvious, or make exploration interesting and fun so health pack hunting doesn't become tedious.
 

mattp

Member
Jun 10, 2009
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you guys are saying "scavenging for health packs isn't fun" as if you have to do that
the point is, now you're low on health so there is a rush from going into the next encounter with higher stakes. and you will most likely finding one of those elusive health packs you're whining about having to find, after you get through that next encounter anyway
which is rewarding. a lot more rewarding then hiding behind a rock for 10 seconds
 

Conciliator

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Apr 21, 2011
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I actually really like Infinite's/Halo's combo system. It gives you a reason to kind of move around, makes it tactical. Especially in Infinite it gives you an actual reason to use the skylines. Full regen systems are completely lame and dull though.
 
N

Noray

Unconfirmed Member
Far Cry 3 does it right in my opinion. Only regenerates a portion, you have to use a healing item to get the rest back.
I disagree, the syringe mechanic in that game is basically infinite health as long as you have enough plants (easy to do). It's also extremely detrimental to game pace to run out of syringes and then in the middle of combat dive into a menu 2-3 layers deep to craft some more, then use them. It's even worse than regenerating health/shields.

But hitscan weapons are still the real problem.
 

phosphor112

Banned
May 23, 2009
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Indiana
www.outofcontinues.com
I'm sorry, scavenging for health potions and looking through every nook and cranny praying there is a hotdog in the corner isn't fun.
It's more fun than going prone for 5 seconds to get back to 100%.

I disagree, the syringe mechanic in that game is basically infinite health as long as you have enough plants (easy to do). It's also extremely detrimental to game pace to run out of syringes and then in the middle of combat dive into a menu 2-3 layers deep to craft some more, then use them. It's even worse than regenerating health/shields.

But hitscan weapons are still the real problem.
That isn't an underlying issue of regen health in segments. The menu in FC3 just plain sucks.

Resistance games did the segmented health in 1 and 3 (idr for 2). And there are health packs laid about.
 

vocab

Member
Feb 12, 2009
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regen health sucks. It always has, and it's one of the worst things to happen to multiplayer shooters.


The classic example in mass effect 2 + 3 on harder difficulties.

Fight starts.
You run to cover
Pop your head up to shoot.
Shepard yells shields down instantly


What is the point of my shield if IT FUCKING SUCKS.
 
Aug 27, 2009
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With shields, you are always doing okay in the medium and long term. They low-pass filter the emotional high of surviving a tight situation. You can have a tight situation on the order of 10 seconds, but not on the order of 5 minutes, which matters more.
So he's never played Halo.


The crispness problem is: In order to provide difficulty, designers now have to overwhelm your shields all the time
What is this bullshit?

Both approaches are perfectly fine.