Stolen Pixels #110: Paging Dr. Phil

By Shamus
on Jul 24, 2009
Filed under:
Column

More proof that I am a hopeless romantic at heart.

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1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)

From the Archives:

  1. Hawkehunt says:

    Thanks for the laugh. Needed it today.

    btw, “… our out anniversary?”

  2. Daimbert says:

    Considering that she’s willing to become the mistress of an evil overlord, it’s actually possible that this comic could have been:

    “I thought you were going to get me a gift!”

    “I slaughtered your entire village, including your family!”

    “Oh, you’re so sweet!”.

  3. Julian says:

    “Did you kill my family!?”
    “Did they live in the town.”
    “Yes.”
    “Then, yes.”

    I could see that joke coming and it STILL got a great laugh out of me.

    I see Garry’s Mod hasn’t spoiled you as regards to comic-making, and I’m grateful.

  4. Nyaz says:

    @Daimbert: Actually, that would have been a fun twist xD

  5. chabuhi says:

    Since the original Overlord, I have voiced the voiceless undead master with Kang and Kodos in mind.

    Thus armed, today’s comic was especially funny for me. :)

  6. Joe Cool says:

    Brilliant comic, Shamus. I lol’d. And not just in the sense that most people use the term. I actually did indeed laugh audibly.

  7. BaCoN says:

    Shamus,

    I decided I’d go back and read the old experienced points, and came across something my roommate and I had had a discussion on the night before, while I was playing Battlefield 1943.

    You mention that games often have a “gradient of failure” in the healthbar. But this isn’t even true, anymore, and, in fact, it’s something that bothers me, in truth.

    While I was playing 1943, my roommate asked “Where’s your health?” I said, “When I take damage, the screen goes red around the edges. There’s no… healthbars, anymore. They got rid of that because it was too hard for little girls to have a set amount of health.”

    If QTE are a developer crutch, then ARH(Auto Regenerating Health) is a player crutch. The concept of taking damage and then hiding around a box mid fight for three seconds irritates me. The concept of an FPS is that you are a one man army, sure, but for the sake of minimalist HUDs, the health bar – a sancrosanct mainstay, in my irritated opinion, of the better FPS games, like CS, Doom 2, TF2 – has been obliterated and replaced by a fuzzy red aura. This is equivalent to being able to gain ammo by closing your eyes and saying “I wish, I wish.”

    Hell, Half Life 2, perhaps my favourite game of all time(I’ve played through the entire arc like six times, and I want EP3 so baaaaaad) hasn’t embraced this gamer-crippling frivolity.

    I think my point of this entire rant is that in order to adopt the blood aura of the ARH is that 1943 has removed SO much from the original. The supply cabinets, for one, and the medic class, for another. Are we REALLY sacrificing gameplay, content and challenge for the sake of a few bleeding-aura hearts?

    Man, I don’t even know why I’m yelling anymore. =/

  8. rofltehcat says:

    Well, the ‘red aura’ thing you describe has both good and bad sides I guess.
    I like it in CoD4 because modern soldiers often wear body armor. If they are hit there is a high chance they aren’t dead but a shot blocked by body armor will still be a hefty punch against the chest and make his vision blur in pain. Regenerating from that in cover is fine imo.

    But it somehow doesn’t fit into a WW2 game. Back then body armor was quite rare and impractical.
    It also doesn’t really fit into Battlefield as it makes the medic class obsoletely. BF1943 seems to have only 3 classes, I liked the possibilities opened in teamplay by having so many different classes :/

    I enjoy playing medic, we play a BF2 mod on lan parties and since I never play Battlefield and nearly never any shooters outside of lan parties I can’t hit much. So I stay back a few steps, watch the flanks and occasionally finish off damaged enemies that succeed in killing my teammates. Also giving out lots of medic packs all the time and reanimating them… a medic saves the ticket counter much more than he could ever deal ticket damage to the other team.

    Wait, what does this have to do with Overlord again? Ah, right… I want an army of browns with US soldier helmets and modern dragonscale body armor!

  9. GTB says:

    I think that is my favorite comic you’ve done so far.

  10. Robyrt says:

    I have exactly the opposite feeling about regenerating health: having health bars was a big turn-off for me playing HL2, and I’m glad that they’re gone in most shooters.

    While a health bar may be more realistic, I hate the feeling of finishing a battle at 5% health, then being expected to fight the next battle without a recharge – which is often all but impossible. Since I can’t be sure there is a health pack waiting in the next room, I have to do a lot more saves/restarts to keep my health high, which breaks my flow and results in a less fun play style.

    In multiplayer, a close duel that leaves me at 5% health means the next person to see me will kill me, even if I outplayed him. This is frustrating, and it decreases the frequency of close shootouts, which are my favorite part.

    It makes sense for Counterstrike to have a health bar, because the game already uses semi-permanent death to punish losing players and advance the game state. It makes sense for Halo to have regenerating health, because the game tries to give you small, fun moments as often as possible, regardless of how skilled you are or who’s in whose base.

  11. Mike Lemmer says:

    @Robyrt:

    Good point. Having health eventually regenerate back to 100% once you get a breather makes it easier to avoid wildly varying combat difficulty. Without regenerating health, bad players will start fights with less health than good players, making it even more difficult for them to finish. It’s like having less time to finish your next test because you scored poorly on your last one. Worst case, you replay the previous battle over & over again until you finish it with enough health to succeed on the next one. (And that’s assuming you didn’t overwrite that save.)

    However, in multiplayer battles the round advances whether you die or not, and players are expected to die like flies. A regenerating health bar there would stacks the odds too much in favor of good players too much, as it’s harder to nickel & dime them to death. Regenerating health for BF 1943 sounds like a bad idea to me.

    As for a nice compromise between the two for single-player games, why not divide damage into Permanent Damage and Temporary Damage, like fighting games do? Your HP regenerates, but only to a certain threshold, which gets lower the more total damage you take. The threshold can be raised by finding medkits. The player could even change the difficulty/playstyle by setting the Temporary:Permanent Damage ratio.

  12. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    This may have become my new favourite Shamus Young masterpiece. Thanks for the hard work you put into these, Shamus. It really shows. You are the Evil Overlord of the internet…well, the beneficent Evil Overlord. :)

  13. BaCoN says:

    While I suppose I agree with the concept that it makes it easier for less experienced players, we’re faced with kind of a double crutch. The concept of autosaves – a feature implemented in most games, with a plethora of mini-saves right before challenging spots – combined with autohealth means that even if you DO manage to die, you’re not too far from where you started off.

    To liken it to the idea of taking a test, you can fail the test and almost immediately take it over again, knowing what you did wrong. You can ALSO stop in the middle of the test, hide behind a box and wait for the teacher to reload, and then jump right back into the text with all of your right answers still there, but your wrong answers gone.

    I think I just hate watching people play single player games when they’re bad, that’s all.

  14. empty_other says:

    It has nothing to do with bad or good players. It is all about how they want the player to play the game.
    The “low regenerating” health-type do urge the player to use cover much more, but still be able to take chances without lasting consenquenses.
    The 100+ health-bar makes the playes explore the enviroment for the search of items, or protect the resources one already have (like medics and dispensers). Great for games like Half Life and Team Fortress.
    The 1-shot kill is all about making the player think and plan his every move. This type of gameplay it is very important to give the player choices, or else they will feel there is nothing they could do to avoid death. Typical for tactical shooters like SWAT.

    I prefer healthbars which fit the gametype.

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