On Health Bars (Day 3)
Still no name! I’ll get there soon (hopefully tomorrow). I’m looking to make this post the last one on Health Bars, as I’d only planned one post initially. Stream-of-consciousness writing has a way of very quickly getting away from you, though, so it’s hard to keep them brief. In the spirit of that notion, let’s get started!
If you haven’t yet, I recommend reading Part 2 (lick anywhere here) before continuing, as this post will be kind of jumping into the deep end otherwise. I ended up talking about different (thematically appropriate) ways to display health in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and I’ll continue to that here. So, instead of a traditional health bar, what if we had…
The Sorrow is the most mysterious character in MGS3, if not the entire series. This is largely because he’s assassinated a long time before the events of the game, but still makes several appearances. Spooky!
The Sorrow was an elite soldier with the ability to communicate with the dead, and is responsible for one of the best “boss” encounters in gaming history. He appears shortly after Snake (temporarily) dies, but his apparition is also seen at various points throughout the game, providing useful hints.
My thought here is that The Sorrow himself would essentially be a health bar. He’s always present, but only visible as Snake nears death’s door. His creepy whispering could be heard (even if it is a touch cliché), and apparitions would appear around the environment.
Alternately, The Sorrow may begin to follow Snake and if they touch, the game is over. He could be speed up as Snake is injured, or simply be immobile unless Snake is injured (in other words, he’d move when Snake is injured until they touch).
This one is admittedly the least “realistic” and is still a very vague metric, with some of the pros and cons of those things covered in yesterday’s post.
And now for something completely different. I recently played the (fantastic) demo for NieR: Automata, and one thing that struck me was the ability to fail the game in the inventory menu.
Players take the role of 2B, an android sent from the moon to fight robots – if you think that’s weird, try playing the original NieR (no, really, it’s amazing). Players have access to her currently equipped “chips”, which are basically add-ons to her CPU. This includes her “OS (Operating System) Chip”, and removing it – like with a computer – results in a shutdown. Players can fail by removing this chip at any point in the game.
Similarly, sections of the UI can be sacrificed for increased combat performance. The HP Bar can be shut off by unequipping the appropriate chip, which makes room for more combat-centric chips. This is amazing – it’s in keeping with established lore, is logically sound (as far as moon androids can be) and creates engaging and interesting gameplay. The point here is that the HP Bar becomes a tool to be engaged with, rather than (just) a passive information relay. I’m going to wrap this up here and not revisit the topic for a
I’m going to wrap this up here and not revisit the HP Bar topic for a while, because it’s quickly becoming overlong and far removed from what I wanted this blog series to be (quick thoughts on particular things).
Still, I hope it’s at least helped you think about health bars in a new light – writing these has certainly helped my own understanding of the topic, and I’m looking forward to what else comes up throughout the year. Feel free to comment or email me with any thoughts or questions!