Why Regenerating Health Is Slowly Killing Gaming

Posted: December 19, 2010 by CptToffer in Features
Tags: , , , ,

Hello all and welcome to another edition of antiherogaming!

Today, while fighting the battle between mankind and the common cold (it’s kicking my ass, seriously a BFG 3000 wouldn’t go amiss here), I’m going to speak about my feelings about regenerating health. As you will come to learn over getting to know me through these blogs, I’ve been gaming for the better part of 20 years and as such as seen a lot of trends come and go. However this one seems to be more resilient then a case of herpes. Recently we’ve seen a few games move away from it, but it’s still knocking around and I’m going to give an overview and an opinion on the whole thing.

To start with let’s look back at when this all began. Due to it’s commercial success (no im not sure why either) people regard Halo:Combat Evolved as the first time a regenerating health system was used in a game. While it may seem that I’m pedantic when stating this I don’t believe it to be the case. Halo had a regenerating shield bar and a separate health bar that you could get health kits for. While it may of also made the concept popular, the first game to actually use this was Faceball 2000 originally for the Gameboy then later ported to SNES. As the Halo series grew in size, the health system under went many changes but I believe they all featured some sort of shield / health balance, according to Bungie.

The first Halo game was released back in 2001, and as we draw to the close of 2010, we have seen an explosion in the use of regenerative health / shields in one of the corner stones of gaming; the First Person Shooter. Attaching itself to one of the most popular forms of gaming has allowed this form of health system to spread to other well known franchises such as the Call Of Duty and Gears Of War series. If it’s so popular why do I think it’s a bad idea?

For a start I believe it heavily impacts the fun factor of gaming. I understand that there are different roles within shooter games today. There are your Serious Sam’s who wade in all guns blazing. There are your Theif’s who have to sneak around and not get spotted. There are literally hundreds of ways of playing today’s games. However the fun factor is hampered when gaming becomes a task of returning fire, taking damage, then hiding behind a rock for 5-10 seconds. It just isn’t realistic. People will say that not all games are realistic. Fine, but if I’m playing as some hulking space dude who’s circumventing Saturns fourth moon, while riding my chocolate and swede rocket ship, I want to be able to shoot at the evil space slugs of the planet Lorn, without having to worry that I need to go hide behind the nearest Asteroid Belt, incase I got shot a bit to much. I appreciate that the future of mankind may allow us some sort of regenerating health, so maybe that fits well with those sorts of games

However if I’m currently playing a game set in Medieval England, or out in latest nameless country some ones invaded in some shooter, and the developers are trying to portray “real war” I don’t count getting shot with a rocket, and then quickly scurrying behind the nearest car to regenerate my left arm and right kidney totally correct for the style of game I’m participating in. I just don’t feel it has a place there in the context of the situation. It breaks immersion in my opinion, and immersion is the reason why games work so well.

Secondly I believe regenerating health impacts the skill factor involved in gaming. Unless the game in question has particularly gifted A.I there is nothing to stop the player from hiding behind the nearest solid object and slowly picking off the opposition. I would much rather know that after I get shot a couple of times, I’ve either got pull off a massive win and cap the last two guys without dying or make a dash for that health kit. It does not enable the sort of player development that I found crucial five – eight years ago as you can literally wait each fire fight out. I find that in order to make games for difficult the ‘hard modes’ of today’s main stream games just propose to throw more and more bodies at you, and you succumb to the fact that too many people are shooting at you at one time, in an attempt to sap your super human powers.

Linked to the skill factor, is a lesser point of fairness. Now don’t get me wrong, at this stage your probably thinking that this is a rant because I suck at games. While I am by no means as amazing as some people I know and have watched, I am not the worlds worse gamer. I played with a successful clan for the better part of three years and enjoyed winning a lot of matches and competitions. However the use of regenerating health in multiplayer has a negative effect on the experience. If I’ve spotted you, shot you and you manage to get behind cover, well done. Have a cookie! I, however have injured you, with my deft shooting and as such you should now be at a disadvantage because you were busy being about as self aware as an banana. What I propose to be totally annoying and down right agitating is that when said banana pops his head up and starts blasting away at me, he’s returned to full health, and me, the total mug in the open, making a mad dash to get to him before his magic health bar refills, is now totally and utterly screwed. People will say I should of killed him first time, or I should of waited, but why should I? This is a game, I want to get over there and finish the git off.

“So if not regenerating health then what else CptToffer? “You can’t be critical without some sort of better option.” Luckily my dear fellows, I have one. Far Cry 2 represents this better option. For those not familiar with the concept it uses a mix of regenerative health, segmented health bars and health kits. This means that perhaps the health bar will be split into four, twenty five percent bars. If your health empties out of the segment, it can only be regained by a health kit. If you take a slight hit and it knocks a little bit out of the segments then given a few seconds it will refill. Lose the majority of your segments and first aid will have to be used, perhaps by removing a bullet, or setting of a broken bone?

Kids, if you get shot, call an ambulance. Don't get your mums finest silverware and play operation.

I’m not saying that this is perfect nor is it above criticism. If I thought pulling a bullet out of my leg would solve any health issues after being shot over thirty times then I would of picked up a real gun long ago. It is however I think a step in the right direction.

In closing I leave you with this thought, and something that honestly only struck me while writing this article. I’m currently playing a lot of Call Of Duty: Black Ops (and to be honest the only people who aren’t probably don’t have electricity) which has a regenerating health system. Grenades regularly get thrown at me because I’ve got into the habit of killing people. Now with a health pack system, I would be running and diving for cover, grinning like a madman if I managed to survive with a small piece of health. However with the regeneration system I view this grenade, this rolling ball of death as nothing more than an inconvenience. I can’t kill it, it will be gone soon, and there’s a good chance it won’t kill me. I watch it roll near to me and wait. It explodes, I take damage, I wait, I move on. The grenade might aswell not of even existed. This reaction (or lack there of) is created by regenerating health. It totally removes the fight or flight response that gaming brings out in me and for that, I find regenerating health is slowly killing game.

I welcome any feedback both via comments or email at waldo5@hotmail.com Thanks for reading and see you next time.

CptToffer

Comments
  1. Kutler says:

    You sir, are an idiot. You have no grasp on what gaming is becoming or where the industry is taking itself.

    • CptToffer says:

      Kutler,

      Thank you very much for your explanation of why you think Im wrong. I do enjoy your counter argument, it’s very valid and full of fun facts.

      I would ask however that you refrain from telling me I have know idea what gaming is becoming or where the industry is taking itself, as I doubt you are able to predict the future either.

      Regards

      CptToffer

  2. SpaceDuck says:

    I actually agree with you CptToffer, for the most part it is killing games as a hole, taking all the challenge out of them, but for some games, its needed i would think, makes more sense for it to be in the game than to go by health kits. But I actually like the segmented health bars, Those make the game a lot more interesting to play, knowing that if your down to your last, you only have 25% health till you get lucky and find something to heal yourself with, adds a lot to the challenge and makes you think about what your doing.

    • CptToffer says:

      Thanks for the comments guys. Appreciated!

      • e. says:

        I think that FEAR 1 (FEAR Combat) had the best health system, especially in regards to multiplayer pacing. It had regenerating health until 25% HP and then you can pick up a health booster from an enemy you kill and there are medkits that spawn on the map similar to Quake / UT. A 25% regen cap still gives you a chance make a last stand to survive without making the damage your opponent has done to you completely worthless.

        Knowing that you are not going to magically heal by hiding behind a box adds tension to a match where you know you have to pull off some epic kills to survive. Also, it seems to me that if you manage to take someone’s health from 100% to 5%, having them jump out from behind a box 10 seconds later with full health is robbery of damage that you earned against them before they were lucky enough to run around a corner. Being able to stock up on a couple of medkits also encourages faster and more aggressive gameplay rather than hiding and getting cheap kills. Being able to grab a health booster from a downed player means you have to actually earn your health by killing enemies rather than by scratching your butt in a dark corner.

        With regen health, there is less incentive to move around the map and make aggressive moves because players will just hide to regen instead of moving around to collect health from dead opponents or having to earn them by winning a battle at choke points where medkits are placed.

        The hide and seek gameplay of the regen health we see in the current batch of shovelware sequels (COD 7, Halo 10000) is getting old. I’m hoping some developers have the balls to break free of the mold everyone seems to have pigeonholed themselves into in terms of game design choices, I’m sure they’d find there are still lots of gamers out there who would like to see a fresh title with a return to an old school health system.

      • CptToffer says:

        E.

        Thanks for the comments. I didn’t have a chance to play FEAR online, but I can imagine what you are talking about. Everything you’ve said has pretty much re-enforced what I was saying, and Im glad there are those that feel similar. I don’t feel we’ve moved forwards in terms of health systems.

        Thanks and hope to see you again.

        Chris

  3. dood says:

    A lot of fun gaming experience is when my health is low and I’m hiding behind some box praying to whoever listens that I can take out that enemy near that small health pack, fun times.

    • Fion says:

      I completely agree with you. I’ve been playing shooters since their origins with wolfenstein and of course Doom and I played Quake and Quake 2 professionally and while the days of dashing for the health pack and armor are behind us and IMHO probably wouldn’t work in your modern ‘realistic’ shooters (which your article clearly points out, are anything but realistic) we need to move away from not only regenerating health but the path that shooters have started to take ever since Halo.

      Perhaps I’m just an old school PC gamer who doesn’t really enjoy were shooters have gone in the past near-decade but I think you are spot on. Regenerating health/armor ruins the immersion, the difficulty and more importantly, it does not build skilled players that are enjoyable to play with and make you think. The last multiplayer shooter I played I felt more like I was playing with children then skilled shooter fans. Regenerating health works because shooters today are pointed toward the lowest common denominator. Everyone should be able to enjoy a game no matter their ‘level of skill’ but it should also provide a challenge and a fun, immersive atmosphere for those who enjoy a challenge.

      • CptToffer says:

        Fion,

        Thank you very much for the comments. Im committed to answering everyones comments as they’ve taken time out to leave me a post. I certainly wasn’t expecting this though. Its mental!

        Anyway, I suppose Im abit of an old school gamer myself. I played CoD UO and COD 2 professionally and for me COD UO is still the top of my list for multiplayer. It’s not that im a total fanboy or anything I have a sentimental attachement because of the memories. I agree there is problem with immersion and for me it’s a deal breaker. I also think there is a lull in the skilled players that regenerative health just does not produce. It does produce skilled players I suppose but just not the same pedigree that was once there.

        Thanks for the comments pal, looking forward to hearing from you again

        Chris

  4. Jason says:

    Regenerating health is a love/hate relationship for me.

    On one hand, 90% of battles are resolved right then and there with the regenerating sheild only benefiting the winner.

    On the other hand, it makes mid and long-distance fighting almost impossible. It’s brutal for sniping because unless you land the head shot they can keep ducking and covering forever between body hits.

    Personally, if I had to pick, I think I’d choose regen over straight health bars, but by a slim margin. I find both methods of fighting fun but it does change how you play significantly. With health bars you go from balls-out to skulking pretty quickly when your health hits 3%. With regen you jump from balls-out to balls-out continously.

    One thing regen has in it’s favor though is that it prevents “assisted suicide”. At 3% health I often choose to die now and jump back in at full-bore rather than allowing the other players to fly past me in kills while I skulk for health or sneak-kills.

    • CptToffer says:

      Jason,

      Thanks for the comments, and that’s a very valid point you make about the assisted suicides. I played COD UO in a clan for over two years and this was a problem we found in matches. I’ve been playing regenerating health games for so long I’d forgotten about this!

      Please visit again!

      Chris

  5. Charlie says:

    How do you feel about “hardcore” or other similar game types online where health regeneraton is turned off, and instead, you have limited health and no way to get it back?

    How do you feel about games without medkits specifically, but with medics, like MAG, Team Fortress 2, or Battlefield: Bad Company 2? (BFBC:2 is a strange exception because your health does regenerate, just regenerates faster with a medkit involved.) In other words, do you think it’s a good idea to have portable medkits that can heal anyone, including themselves, as long as they’re close enough? Or is that too much like having unlimited health?

    Really enjoyed the article and I think you make an excellent point, I can very easily see where you’re coming from.

    • CptToffer says:

      Charlie,

      Appreciate the comments, and can I just take the chance to say, this is the most constructive comeback I’ve had so far. Thank you for asking me questions back.

      In response I enjoy Hardcore Mode in games. It is a good, tense way of gaming. It does reward careful play and razor sharp reactions. I did manage to earn a nuke in Modern Warfare 2 in Hardcore mode. That I was quite happy with as you can imagine! I do enjoy them, and it does add a very large dose of realisim to the game. It also rewards the use of killstreaks and perks alot more as they play a bigger part.

      I’ve played TF2 and I did play Battlefield 2 solid for almost two years. TF2 isn’t really my cup of tea generally, but I did enjoy BF2. I think the use of portable medkits is a great idea in gaming. I enjoy class based games, especially with friends or over comms. Trying to do it without either gives mixed results. I can certainly see how people might view it as unlimited health, but I think that add’s an even deeper strategy to eliminating the medic so that he cannot heal people.

      Again thanks for your comments, and please visit again during the week for the next article

      Chris

  6. MarkyMarkcus says:

    Regenerating health breaks immersion but scouring a game for little magical health kits that instantly cure bullet wounds, broken limbs and any other ailments does not? If anything, regenerating health allows players to focus on the game and not on scavenging around for health packs.

    As for the complaints about Black Ops multi-player, I think hardcore mode resolves the issues you seem to have with the standard mode.

    • CptToffer says:

      MarkyMarkcus,

      Thanks for the comments bud. It is true that looking for those medkits can be a pain. I think there does need to be a balance to an extent. The Farcry 2 system does this to a degree but is far from perfect and has disadvantages for a multiplayer that is quick paced. The hardcore mode is enjoyable and it’s not an issue I have personally. I’ve got alot of feedback saying that what Im saying is wrong. However I wasn’t saying it was right, just wished to start a discussion which believe me it certainly has. It’s just an opinion and everyones entitled to argue their corner.

      Thanks again

      Chris

  7. Andre says:

    Why is it that most gamers have such a horrible grasp of the written word? You all need to go back to the days before voice-acting was used in video games, and everything was subtitled.

    — “more resilient then a case of herpes”

    “Than” is the word to use for comparisons, not “then.”

    — “incase I got shot a bit to much.”
    “In case” is two words. there is no such word as “incase.”
    Also you wanted “too” instead of “to.”

    — “While it may of also made the…”
    — “People will say I should of killed him first time, or I should of waited”
    This is my biggest pet peave ever. “May have”, and “should have.” Tons of people do this because it sounds the same as “Should’ve” which is short for “Should have.” IMO it’s still completely inexcusible.

    I’m not normally a grammar nazi, and I would normally let it go in comments or somewhere else, but this is a your blog, take some pride in your work. It’s really hard to take someone seriously when they have such a terrible grasp of the language they choose to write in (be it native or not).

    * As evidence that I don’t care about such things outside of published articles, you’ll note that I didn’t ridicule you for the terribly offensive use of the work “know” in your comment to kutler.

    • CptToffer says:

      Andre.

      Thanks for the feedback. It has become quickly apparent to me that people cannot stand poor grammar or spelling. I find this intriguing as people will trawl through loads of crap on the internet to get to what they want but hay-ho. Suffice to say I was aware Im an awful speller before I started doing this. I’ve managed to secure an editor to look over my work before it’s put out to you fine people, so you have my word it will be looked at prior to being put out. I’ve posted this comment because Im not worried or upset by people telling me I can’t spell for peanuts.

      Also please note that the “know” comment was a typo. Im not a complete moron lol. They do happen as evidenced in your next comment.

      Thanks again

      Chris

  8. Andre says:

    … and of course a type-o rears it’s ugly head at the end of my comment. I meant ‘word’ not ‘work’.

  9. DeStRoYeR says:

    100% agree, well written article! If only the games industry would take note…

    • CptToffer says:

      DeStRoYeR,

      Thanks for the feedback. I doubt there will be a change in the mainstream series anytime soon, but we need innovation in the big titles. Im hoping that the surge in Indie developers will help this.

      Please visit again in the future

      Chris

  10. arparp says:

    Realism is not necessarily fun. Good game mechanics are not necessarily real world mechanics. Usually game designers know this, however game consumers often think that the more realism means better. They’ll argue about which game has more accurate representations of what weapons and the more proper muzzle velocities. They will argue against the 3D spotting, lack of friendly fire or regeneration, and sometimes the developer will appease that portion of their audience with a hardcore mode.

    The expectation of realism is often based on style of presentation. People have no problem being immersed and entertained by something like Mario Kart, but if you made the same exact game with realistic graphics you’d find people complaining about the poor physics and lack of vehicle damage.

    Is it possible to immerse yourself in a reality that doesn’t quite follow the rules of physics but still tends toward a realistic visual style? I think the sustained success of games like BFBC2 argue that it is. ArmA’s lack of success may be due to the fact Bohemia Interactive doesn’t have the resources of EA, but it could also be simply that their game isn’t as accessibly fun.

    I personally love simulations, and I care about the accuracy of tire physics in racing sims and flight model accuracy in flight sims. That said, Mario Kart and Afterburner are damn fun games. Lack of realism is part of the legacy and future of gaming, not its doom.

    • CptToffer says:

      arparp,

      Thanks for the comments. You raise some very valid points. I can definatley agree on the points about realisim. I think it just depends on the setting. Mario Kart is one of the best series going but has no place under the banner of “realisim” I think there needs to be a balance to a certain extent, if your going to have a realistic visual that doesn’t follow realisim as we know it.

      Thanks again!

      Chris

  11. Kingmob says:

    Some good thoughts.

    I don’t believe regenerating health is killing gaming.
    It all depends in how it is applied.

    If it is a trickle effect or a long wait period then it allows continuous play without the use of medpacks. If it is a quick duckdown and you are healed then it does take away from the tension of playing.

    I think regen of some sort is here to stay but I think like any other mechanic is best used judiciously.

    On a final note the recent Halo returned to its roots with primarily regenerative shields and a health bar.

    • CptToffer says:

      Kingmob

      Thanks for the reply. Appreciate that you say I’ve got some good thoughts and then offer counter points. Three cheers for constructive comments!

      I’ve not had a chance to play the latest Halo yet. As crazy as that sounds funds are tight at the moment (moving house) so I could afford literally one game. It is on my rental list though if that gets there first. I am looking forward to it, as everyone says it’s the best in the series.

      Regards

      Chris

  12. Rob says:

    I’ve played something relatively recently with segmented bars like you describe. I’m wracking my mind trying to think what it was.

    Darksiders maybe?

  13. Scott-ism says:

    I tend to agree as well that regenerative health really takes away challenge from games. Recently I played through Mafia II and it was a breeze because I only had to hide behind a pillar or conveniently placed cement barrier when the screen got a slight red hue on the borders. I didn’t feel threatened or worried for my character. Now I’m spending most of my time playing the original Deus Ex and then occasionally cutting loose in Just Cause 2. The differences are rather polarized.
    In Just Cause 2 I can walk into a fully packed government base and kill everything and everyone, I play the game for maybe 20 minutes at a time and just get some stress relief, on the whole I’ve logged 3 hours on the game and died maybe 4 times (once because I purposefully crashed a jumbo jet I stole into a building.) but I’m not playing the game for the challenge because there really isn’t any. I get shot and heal without even needing to find cover.
    Deus Ex on the other hand. well my character got his legs shot off in an enemy airbase and has been forced to crawl around everywhere. and i love it. sure i could have reloaded a save but the challenge isn’t the same at all. I’m scrounging for everything that can give me an ounce of health. I may be in the minority in this situation but the point is for that game the lack regenerative health gave me even more experiences and challenges than if i had to just wait behind a wall for my legs to regrow. (i do know there is an augmentation in the game that heals you but I’ve not made it that far yet)

    • CptToffer says:

      Scott-ism,

      Thanks for the reply, I’ve played both of these and totally agree.

      Just Cause 2 was a rental. I went into it with an open mind having never played the first. The fun factor was there for the first hour or two but after that it became far to easy, even on harder settings. There was very little challenge and deaths were usually a freak accident or the result of messing around. It got returned after I’d completed maybe 20% of it simply because I didn’t feel it was worth the time.

      Deus Ex on the other hand is one of my other all time fav games. I replayed this as recently as last week and challenged myself to not put any skill points in the most obvious groups (electronics, lockpicking, guns) and into the more obscure ones (medicine, swimming etc) It made for a totally different gameplay experience and I found area’s I had not previously discovered. I know a guy from PC GAMER did an article where he tried to complete the first level without killing anyone directly. Very difficult and resulted in near death.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Chris

  14. Xenovore says:

    Amen, brothah! =)

    I agree that Farcry 2 has a good mechanism. I play Farcry 2 all the time (I may in fact be addicted to it), and I think the mechanism there is one of the best — it tends to feel fairly realistic without going to the extremes that Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon did.

    Another option which works very well is some sort of temporary health boost. Left 4 Dead does this with Pills, where taking the pills boosts health up to 80%, but then it slowly twindles back down to the previous level.

    So yeah, I don’t mind having some sort of health regeneration in a FPS game, in fact I rather like having it there in a limited fashion. But it should *never* allow a player to regain full health; only some manner of first aid/health kit should allow that. (Or if it does allow regaining full health, it should be quite slow.) As mentioned above, some of the best fun I’ve had in any FPS — whether Farcry 2 or QuakeLive — has been when I’ve had a sliver of health and managed to survive and win in spite of it.

    • CptToffer says:

      Xenovore,

      I didn’t notice this when I responded to your post earlier on, so thanks again!

      Farcry 2 is a great game. Unfortunatley I’ve sunk about 80 hours into it and a bug has forced me to stop playing. I will replay and finish it one day, but not currently which is an awful shame. I agree that some of the best fun I’ve had in any game is when I’ve had almost zero health and have managed to win it.

      Thanks again

      Chris

  15. Xenovore says:

    Whoops… where’s the edit button?

    “…Dwindles back down…” not “…twindles back down…”. =\

  16. Flamingice says:

    Despite it’s other flaws, Alone in the Dark actually had a reasonable health system IMHO. You had to bandage yourself up, spray yourself with health spray etc and you had to decide which body part to mend first – so had to choose wisely if you had limited health!

    • CptToffer says:

      Flamingice,

      Thanks for the reply. I’ve not had a chance to play this yet, but I was aware of the health system and it’s probably something I should of mentioned.

      Thanks again.

      Chris

  17. Kyle says:

    I wholly agree with your article. You explain the flaws with the regenerating health system extremely well. I know for a fact that when I play games like CoD I’ll be out spraying and praying because there’s really no consequence if I can just duck behind a rock for a few seconds and continue. This is the reason that I play BC2 and BC2: Vietnam almost exclusively any more as far as online FPS games go. While there is regenerating health to an extent, it does not regenerate past about 1/4 full if you are repeatedly shot. This way you still have that frantic feeling that you only have a tiny bit of life left after surviving being shot, and you hope you can get to a medic in time before someone finishes you off with a stray round. Furthermore, when you see a grenade land near you, you can bet that people will go running rather than with the CoD system where if the grenade takes you down to 1/4 health, you’ll just sit there and regen all of it in a few seconds.

    I really like the Far Cry 2 mechanics regarding health. It’s too bad the rest of the game was terrible. STALKER also does a good job, where depending on shot placement, you’ll either lose health and/or begin bleeding to varying degrees, with the different levels of bleeding causing you do lose health faster or slower until you can use a bandage to stop it. You’ll then need a med-pack to regain your lost health. All of this happening while being shot at or attacked by pretty smart AI is tough, especially when different areas of your body being hit result in different amounts of damage, also taking into account your armor, and what body parts your armor protects more than others.

    Anyway, this was a great read and I’m looking forward to reading more.

    • CptToffer says:

      Kyle,

      Really, really appreciate this pal, one of the best feedbacks I’ve had. Alot of people have assumed this is a rant, and while it does focus on the negatives it is a small article on a massive subject, and something I plan to expand on over time. I had totally forgotten about STALKER (awesome game) and how that worked. It would of been perfect for the article. I’ve not had the pleasure of playing BC2 but everyone does rate it. Shame on me!

      I hope you do check back. Im kinda flying blind here at the moment because Im determined to reply to every post as people don’t have to leave me comments, but they choose to and I think I should be showing appreciation, even if the comments are just insults, which have happened today. This is my first ever blog or writing I’ve put out onto the net so this level of response has blown my mind. I don’t know if people have subscribed, or if I can tell if they have, but please feel free to come back. My next piece will be something different; although I like a good debate, I also want to show appreciation for games old and new by way of reviews, previews and features.

      Regards

      Chris

  18. yonder says:

    Superb. I’m very old school myself. Grew up on a C64 as a kid in the early 80s, then Amiga/Nintendo, when all my other friends had horrible x86 machines (seriously, how can those compete w/ Amigas?). Got one just in time for Quake. Then, for me, the next milestone was UT. Holy crap wow. UT99 is my all-time historical favorite FPS. These kids who have grown up on regen’ing health can’t comprehend. So awesome, so fast, so full of, you know, CONSEQUENCE.

    Was part of *superb* CTF team. Had a blast for years. Never got into Halo because, well, why would a PC elitist who has UT99 want to play friggin HALO on a friggin controller?

    Mind you, since then, I’ve become a PC-loving 360 fanatic. My gamerscore is over 40K, so I think I’m qualified to compare… and honestly… I think consolification has a lot to do with it. And that’s sad. Tell me, what was the last built-for-the-PC-from-the-ground-up, pure shooter out there not named Crysis? Honestly? Half-Life 2? And I mean like UT, not like STALKER. Hate to say it, but the closet thing to “an old-school shooter” for the PC, for me, is…. L4D!!!!! (yes, it’s for consoles too, but it’s obviously made for PCs)

    And I don’t mean indie shooters or anything.

    I love, love, love, love my xbox… but I miss my hardcore shooters.

    Don’t get me wrong… Halo was superb… “for what it was”. And Kutler is a comment GOD!

    Also, kudos for getting on bluesnews. No idea how common that is for you, but this is a great blog.

    • yonder says:

      Part 2…

      btw… I’m actually OKAY with health regen for SP campaigns… who cares if there’s no consequence to my actions… I’ll know. Of course, there’s a way to do it wrong and a way to do it right. But, for me, it completely ruins MP games. Completely. Mostly cuz I can’t HELP but compare them to games like UT99.

    • CptToffer says:

      Yonder,

      Thanks for the comments dude, much appreciated. I know exactly what you mean about doing things old school. I was never as old school as C64 and Amigas (first computer was a Tandy 3000 and NES) I got Halo when it came to the PC but wasn’t blown away by it then. I think the series has gotten better but doesn’t compete with other PC based shooters. I’ve had an Xbox360 for around 4 years now and It is a fantastic console.

      I’d never heard of Bluesnews before the other day. Is it quite popular?

      Regards

      Chris

      • yonder says:

        *sigh* youngins… yeah… you should make Bluesnews a daily check for gaming news. And yeah… Halo was superb “for what it was”. That’s the only reason it was so huge. Do you remember console shooters before that? They couldn’t even figure out that “one stick for movement and one for aiming” was the common-sense thing to do. I remember Medal Of Honor on the first xbox… they had front/back on one stick and side-to-side on the other, with aiming mixed in too somewhere, or something idiotic like that.

        Now I’m *NOT* a “consoles = dumb” by any means, I’ve just noticed these things for years and there is a correlation between consoles and health regen, and it’s sorta sad for old folk like me :).

      • CptToffer says:

        Yonder,

        I do remember those days when consoles didn’t know what to do with an FPS games. I remember this aswell as I remember that platformers were better on the consoles. I think there was almost an exchange of ideas around the late 90’s as when the next gen of consoles hit there was a change, and FPS’s while better on the PC have have grown to be better then they were on consoles

        Chris

  19. Den says:

    Amen. Regenerating health is a scourge. The people who claim that it allows for one to concentrate on the “Game” are probably the same kind of people who enjoy the interactive movies such as CODBOPS and the penultimate entry to the Prince of Persia series.
    Finite health introduces suspense. Suspense and tension lead to emergent strategies and the euphoria of beating something that you thought had you finished by pulling something extraordinary out of the hat. If you’re down to your last 12 rounds and your health is in the red the final sprint to the evac point takes on a whole new dimension to the lazy fartlek afforded by a quick duck&cover behind a nearby chest-high wall.

    I’m sick of this “Casual Gamer” nonsense. There’s a difference between someone who doesn’t have much time to play games (Such as myself) and someone who doesn’t want to put time *into* a game.

    Take your R6:Vegas and your CODBOPS, ram ‘em up your casual gamer rear-end and get busy making some decent modern editions of Mechwarrior, Terranova, Tribes, SystemShock and Deus Ex. We’ve got all the technology in the world to realise the most incredible games to date, and we’re stuck with titles that feature a level of complexity barely beyond Pacman.

    Ugh.

    • CptToffer says:

      Den,

      Thanks for the feedback pal. That final sprint to the finish line, is something pulled right out of my COD United Offensive days. Red health, pistol left, running to the end zone with that god damn flag. Best times of my life when it comes to gaming. Im not sure I totally agree with your take on casual gaming, but then you maybe interested in my next article. Keep an eye out…

      Thanks again.

      Chris

  20. Angelo Lobo says:

    Chris,
    I absolutely agree with you on this score. Regenerating health is like a limited God-mode, in that it allows you to shrug off tons of damage, provided you get to cover in time. Pop-out, take a few bullets, kill one guy while ignoring the other 3 shooting at you. Pop back into cover, wait for your health to regenerate, pop back out and shoot the next guy.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    Games like Gears and even Call of Duty: Black Ops do a great job of making the action fast and frantic enough that you rarely notice the drawbacks of this Regenerating Health System. However, harking back to my days with the original Half-Life, System Shock, even Soldier of Fortune, i cannot help but feel that these games would have been even BETTER with a system that forced you to fight tactically, instead of run and gun.

    One of the best games that had this balance was Lucas Art’s Outlaws. There were two modes. You could choose the run and gun option, where you could soak up more damage, similar to Doom. Or you could choose the realistic option, where the game played like a scene from Unforgiven. Take one or two shots and you’re down and out.

    This gave players the choice of how they’d like the game to pan out. Its interesting to see how difficulty modes have changed over the years. In the early days of the Genesis and SNES, saving your progress was well-nigh unheard of. Lose all your lives in the very last level of the game? Too bad, start over!

    Then came checkpoints, followed by the ability in some games to save at any time. You COULD abuse the system by spamming your saves, saving the game every 20 seconds, but if you played the game as it was meant to be played, fighting hard but fighting sensibly, saving when you needed, the game was challenging without being impossible, and yet you were always kept aware of the fact that death was only a few bullet rounds away. It grounded the experience, fleshed it out, made each situation you faced something that had consequence. Now, if I mess up, I just head to the nearest rock protrusion.

    Thats about all I have to say about the intent of the article. Now, I’m no grammar nazi or anything, but I do have to mention this…

    Should of, could of…even this sentence “The grenade might as well not of even existed.”
    The correct word in this situation is have. Should have. Could have. The grenade might as well not have even existed. Said quickly or if you wish to abbreviate, it comes out as Should’ve. Could’ve. Sometimes, accents heard make this seem as ‘should of’. That is incorrect usage. It’s Should’ve.

    Just something to remember. :). Other than that, I really liked your article. Look forward to more!

    • CptToffer says:

      Angelo Lobo,

      Thanks for the comments mate. Sorry about the spelling / grammar. It’s getting looked at. It’s a promise. Although you’ll excuse the odd error Im sure.

      I remember Outlaws. I recently got reminded of it and it really was a great game. Lucasarts had a classic on their hands with that game. I played that when I was like 11 / 12 years old. Good times.

      I hope you check back for more

      Chris

  21. Scott says:

    I’m curious how you feel about the other genres. Guild Wars used regenerating health incredibly well. You regened faster when you weren’t fighting, which meant every battle could be more ‘epic’. This is opposed to the old-style RPG where every little bunny taking off an HP bit into your resources of healing magic/items as part of your 2 hour dungeon crawl before you could rest. So developers had to pace the encounters. Hopefully you had enough healing left before the boss :)

    While I enjoyed the tension in those old-school games, I will say I find the battles in the non-FPS games a little more enjoyable with the health regen.

    I totally agree with you on the FPS, my favorite moments in System Shock 2 came when I had 15 health, 4 bullets, and 2 baddies inbetween me and the health station.

    • CptToffer says:

      Scott,

      Thanks for replying again,

      I honestly am not in a position to comment on regen health in other genres. Not to the extent that I’d need to anyway. I don’t want to just be talking rubbish that doesn’t actually form an opinion. Suffice to say the Guild Wars concept you speak of sounds good in practice and prehaps could work in other genres. System Shock 2 was a game that literally forced you at points to spend long periods of time with little health if you were not playing carefully

      Chris

  22. phoniot2 says:

    who wants to go around collecting health all the time when playing a fps? I guess I can see the health bar thing. this type of regenerating health just presents new difficulties not non at all. like any game you adapt and find out to work through whatever is presented. in know way is this killing games. you’ve just been a long way to long in games and aren’t willing to adapt to something new because it’s not what you grew up on. get used to it. games change for a reason. if not, they wouldn’t be fun. it’s about learning how to get around whatever they throw at you.

    • CptToffer says:

      Phoniot2

      Thanks for commenting. You are quite incorrect though. I’ve gone through many changes in gaming, embraced a lot of changes. I will happily play a game with regen health, I just don’t think it’s the best we can hope for in that area. Like I said I did grow up with this because it came around mainly from 2001 onwards which would put me at… 14 roughly. So some of the best years of my life so far were spent with it. As everyone else is telling me I will also ask you to spellcheck your posts before replying.

      Regards

      Chris

  23. Noir says:

    I think you make a valid argument here. In a game that simulates the real world so well, regenerative health is basically a crutch for people who play aggressively, rather than carefully. I think there are problems with games in many different genres because of some novelty they insist on doing. Take racing games, for instance. You can bump other cars and they aren’t affected, but the minute one bumps you, you go into the wall. Bullshit!

    I do have one complaint with your writing. Use of the “of” as in “could of.” The proper way to write it is “could HAVE.” You did it several times in your post. Just thought I would point it out, as it makes your writing seem unpolished. Otherwise, good post!

    • CptToffer says:

      Noir,

      Thanks for the comments. Apols for the spelling and grammar problems, It is getting addressed. I know what you mean about the racing games aswell.

      Do visit again

      Chris

  24. [...] won’t fire back, they will just get picked off. (Once you’ve got through the shields. Oh regenerating health how I hate you ) When there are vehicles involved it literally becomes a case of pot luck if you manage to live [...]

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