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FractalBeast

Regenerating health and ammo

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So for a long time I've been thinking about a mod centered around a biomechanical/organic "Doomguy". Think of things like the Guyver armour from the eponymous manga and anime, Venom from Marvel comics, Max Renn's literal handgun at the end of the film Videodrome, or Alex Mercer in [Prototype].

The reasoning why is obvious. Within the context of a Doom WAD, regenerating health will feel weird - which of course is the point when the WAD is about playing some kind of regenerating body-horror.
Anyway, issue is that regenerating anything kind of breaks the flow of Doom. But in my opinion, any game mechanic can work, if you do the work. So here's what I imagine can work - with total disregard whether these things can be scripted up. That's something for later.

 

Health pickups and ammo pickups

 

A big problem with regenerating health is what to do with health pickups. In my opinion, they're too fun to throw in the trash. But their purpose has to be changed from vanilla gameplay.

One method is having them act as overhealth. (That's a term right?) You pick up a health kit, and you'll just get +100 health on top of your regenerating health. Can work as the Doom method (static) or Quake method (decays over time).

A second method is to introduce bleeding effects and make health pickups act like bandages - sure you heal 5 health points per [time unit] but you also bleed 4 health points per [time unit], better heal up lad. But of course, this would slow down gameplay since players would have to fiddle with an inventory. So yeaaah, I'm not feeling it. But the concept of bleeding can be used below.

 

 

We don't really need to concern ourselves with ammo pickups, because I'll split weapons into two categories; internal weapons with regenerating ammo, and external "normal" weapons that require ammo.

 

Regenerating health and ammo

 

There are obvious issues with regeneration rates, but those can simply be altered and tested in a testing WAD so we don't really need to discuss the issues of a WAD with too fast or too slow regeneration rates.

What does interest me is having various speeds of regeneration going from 99% to 1%. Imagine a system where regenerating from 75 to 100 health is relatively fast, but regenerating from 1 to 50 health takes ages. You get both the "power fantasy" of wading through weak enemies like the Terminator knowing that any damage they inflict on you will regenerate, AND you will get that adrenaline pumping action of running away from a Baron of Hell monster closet to the face.

An alternative system (that I don't particularly am fond of because it's just clunky) would be to have a really slow passive regeneration rate, and give the player an infinite use regeneration rate buff item with a serious cooldown. If the player wants to regenerate fast, they'll open their inventory and actively use their regeneration.

We can also reuse the concept of bleeding in our regenerating health system to simulate extreme sudden damage to "Doomguy". Say you suddenly get smacked with extreme damage. You are now hit with a "bleeding" debuff. It can't kill you - but it will sap you of most your regenerated health points, slowing down your regeneration rate.

 

The decreasing power system we have on health can also be applied to internal weapons, a fingerblaster that has 100% "ammo" left will be more powerful than one that has 2% "ammo" left.

 

But wait, there's more!

 

The regeneration of health and ammo happens within the body of "Doomguy", are powered by the body of "Doomguy". By the same powersource. So why separate them? Have them all operate on the same "powerbank". The Guyver manga gives us some nice examples of what happens when health and weapons are connected, the protagonist has several moments when his most powerful weapons are unusable because he's too heavily damaged or has lost the limb that held that weapon.

So if we combine all systems I posted before, we'll get something like this.

We have a battery that powers both health regeneration and ammo regeneration. The lower the health gets, the more power it costs to regenerate it. Sudden heavy bursts of damage will lower your regeneration rate by causing bleeding. The lower your ammo gets, the weaker your internal weapons become, bleeding causes loss of your high tier internal weapons. A system like this would incentive the seeking of health pickups when taking heavy damage or when faced with a depleted internal battery, and it would give a value to external weapons outside of personal taste.

 

Sounds about right, I think?

 

On a normal map, this system would still be pretty unbalanced. So, I think a system like this would work best on maps with respawning items (low) and respawning enemies (high) to avoid the player from just gathering absurd amounts of ammo and health. Like say... a Metroidvania-styled hub world?

Edited by FractalBeast

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I don't have a lot of thoughts, just one. 

 

The problem with regenerating health in single player games is how there's usually not any time pressure. You get hit, you run for cover, you wait to heal, and you're back in the fray as good as new. Combat is no longer difficult. If it didn't kill you in the first second of the encounter, it probably won't kill you at all. Regenerating health can work okay in multiplayer games, I think, because if you're badly hurt then the threat will chase after you and make sure you don't get a chance to wait and heal. It can also work when enemies know how to surround and flank the player - I'm thinking particularly of Watch Dogs 2, a mainly single player game with regenerating health, but a fat lot of good it does you if you're surrounded by enemies with guns and you don't have anywhere to escape to, which describes almost all combat if you aren't very, very careful. 

 

Regenerating health might be interesting and fun but, I think, only if there is some kind of pressure on the player that stops them from cheesing every fight by running away to lick their wounds every time things start to look even a little dicey.

 

Maybe if monsters are faster and have more aggressive AI, or at least some set of them, so that running away doesn't do anything to reduce the threat? Maybe if the AI was tweaked to make it so enemies actually actively try to cut off the player's routes of escape, instead of leaving it up to the mapper's monster placement? Maybe if the player is somehow penalized for every second that a monster is awake and/or rewarded for every kill, and rewarded more for faster kills, to make running and hiding less viable than killing lots of things fast with few breaks? 

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An AI that will hunt down a regenerating player will be very interesting. I know completely nothing about the AI in Doom but I have the feeling it's a bit simplistic, but that doesn't mean it can't be made to act more complex. As is the reward/penalization system. I guess one of the more obvious methods for that is some kind of time-sensitive pickup that dead enemies drop. There are more ways to penalize or reward a player for their time management, but I don't want to get too arcade-score-y...


As for more conventional Doom-engine-y methods of putting pressure on the player, "enemy waves" that fill up the level after a certain time (like how in STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl there is an area called Wild Territory where a huge wave of mutants spawns in every 15 minutes, if you stay there for a long time, you better kill fast or get overwhelmed), or one big beefy strong enemy that seeks you out if you linger in an area for too long.

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Maybe base regeneration on something monsters possess. (DoomGuy as a vampire?!). Or your suit requires power obtained from the suits of former human soldiers. Something to force the player to fight to survive.

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@kb1 An time-sensitive pickupthat on pickup adds regen or restores "battery" power would provide some positive time-pressure.

 

@XLightningStormL That sounds quite similar the overhealth idea. Basically "BioDoomguy" has technically 200 health, but he starts out with 100 health and cannot regenerate past 100 health. He can pick up health items until he's at 200 health, or grab a soulsphere for 300 health. The numbers can of course change, "BioDoomguy" can start with 50 health.

And by combining the two ideas, we can create the ultimate unholy time-pressure... decaying enemy dropped experience which you can use to boost your health or other abilities. Of course, that'd require a robust enemy respawn system because I fucking hate it when experience drops decay over time and there's a static amount of enemies to kill - like in Crysis 2.

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