By dream431ca 12 Comments
Some people classify me as an old school gamer. My first console I ever played was the ColecoVision. I don't remember playing it that well, but it obviously had an impact on me as a child. The one thing I remember from that era of Video games (Nes, Genesis, Atari) was that games were very tough (especially some of the NES games). One miss step and you were back at the very beginning. That is an example of games being to hard and people lose interest very quickly if they need to go through that nonsense over and over again. The one redeeming factor of those games was the tension you felt playing them. Because one miss step could send you back, it was like walking a tight rope during an earthquake and some people loved that. I love tension in video games but that kind of tension is meaningless to me because if I have to start at the very beginning I begin to lose interest.
As gaming progressed through the years and as developers were starting to take advantage of the new hardware that was being released, games began taking on a more atmospheric level, where the visuals were good enough to stir emotions in people regardless of the difficulty. Graphics became the top selling point of games for a while. After the developers and the gaming community settled down after the introduction of better graphics, that's where developers started to make the best games I have ever played (1993-2004). These games were so great because they were well balanced, atmospheric pleasantries that challenged you without it being incredibly hard or repetitive. Some of these games were Starcraft, Thief, Doom, Doom 2, Metal Gear Solid, Halo 1 and others. The pacing also factored in to the games where it gradually up'd the atmosphere and tension instead of throwing you in the frying pan. These games were also difficult to a certain extent. You always needed to watch your health, look out for medkits and other things that might help along your way to getting through a difficult level. Tactics also played an important roll. For example, if you were low on health and there were no medkits around, at that moment you need to force yourself to change tactics or die. When you completed a relatively difficult section of the game, you felt like you accomplished something. Speaking for myself, I remember many times playing these games I got great satisfaction from completing a difficult level in a game through using different tactics in different circumstances. The tension during those situation made the game even more satisfactory and immersive.
Today though (in my opinion) it's quite a different experience with a small group of exceptions. It's funny how one small change to games can take away so much. That change is the introduction of regenerating health. If your relatively new to gaming you could have a hard time understanding how big of change regenerating health makes to games. No longer do you need to worry about finding things to survive, no longer do you need to change your tactics. Just hide and heal and move on. No longer is there any real tension. Can you imagine if you were playing a game like Dark Souls, and all you needed to do to get your health back is to stay away from enemies for a few seconds, would that kill all tension in the game? I would like to think so. Instead of using tactics to defeat enemies in Dark Souls, just stand there and get your health back. The game would be meaningless with no challenge, no feeling of accomplishment.
What is the developer standpoint or regenerating health? The developers that do use it say it's there to keep the action going without any slow down. My question would be, what's the point of having all action and no substance? Sure it's nice to see everything around me explode, but if I can come out of that unscathed without needing to do much of anything, where is the experience? Where is the balance between action and survival? Any sense of tension and accomplishment is lost when I know if I just avoid enemies for a few seconds, I'm back to full strength. I would rather have a game that challenges myself and rewards me for getting through those challenges instead of hand-holding me through the experience.
Am I saying that games today are too easy? No. What I'm trying to explain is that, I remember a time when video games were an experience, when getting through a difficult situation felt rewarding, when changing tactics meant changing the gameplay experience. Can regenerating health be a good thing? Yes, if used properly. For example, you only get regenerating health when you equip a certain item, but at the same time, that item should have some negative effects for instance, you get regenerating health, but you lose points in other attributes. You now have turned regenerating health into a tactical choice rather than build your game around it.
These are just some of my thoughts on regenerating health. Thanks for reading.