Thursday, 21 July 2011

I will let you down, I will make you hurt!

I like to think of player health as currency. They begin with a full account, it is then whittled down by NPCs or map events and they earn it back as a reward for surviving these events.

Players will take great offense to their health cash being taken from them due to circumstances beyond their control.
So if a jump is a little too high in your map and the landing causes damage, I've essentially just mugged the player.

I don't see myself as the mugging type really. I'm more partial to petty theft or casual vandalism...

Free credit!

When I build my maps I try and consider how much cash the players going to need up front for the next section. If it's a puzzle where the penalty for failure is death (falling off a bridge or something) then I'll avoid giving them any. If it's a big action moment then I'll throw in a full health charger before they reach the action zone. Think of this as free credit which they'll have to pay off in chunks of their own ass in the future.

Up front payment can of course be avoided by issuing small health loans within the action zone itself. This ups the pressure on the player as they actively seek out heath stashes and I try to use this approach only towards the end of a map where the difficulty is at its highest.

Health can also be used as a lure into a trap or as an indication of the way forward. The player is always seeking health. It is the only sure route to survival.

I try and be flexible with health. After playtesting, try and remove any surplus health that I feel isn't absolutely necessary.
If the player is constantly at 100 health then there is really no challenge there at all.

The best use of health I've found is using it to make the player move in moments of high action. If you place the health around an area at a significant distance apart then the player is forced to keep on moving in order to stay alive.

It can add a whole new dimension to a battle.

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