The HUD has quickly become a requirement for many games, and is the source of the most important information a play needs during game play. In a fighting game, it is your health bar, your wins, the timer, a defensive or special skills bar, and your character’s name. In a Shooter, it displays your map, ammo, and at one time it also displayed your health. In an RPG it is all your actions and options in combat.
In a nutshell, anything that could effect your experience in a game in a moment’s notice. While it isn’t necessary for every game, it is hard to make sure a player has needed information without one. Could you image a fighting game where you couldn’t see your current health? How would you adjust your risk management of your attacks based on that lack of information? How many time do you drink a potion in games to make sure your health is full, so you can go for all out attacks and finish a battle knowing you will take some damage?
Take Call of Duty as an example, they hardly show you a health display anymore, but the closer you are to death they find a way of letting you know by making your screen red and bloody looking. When you are in this state it makes it harder to see the game, and almost forces you to think of a retreat to let your health restore, optionally you may also be forced to finish a fight quickly to avoid death in that situation. This is playing on the Flight vs. Fight mentality that all living beings have.
The HUD allows a player to understand how they may take risks, by displaying these chunky knowledge bites. But really just how much information does a player need? In League of Legends, a player can see how much movement speed, resistances to magic, armor values, health, mana, health and mana regeneration…etc This is great for the technical game, but there is a lot of info on the screen that doesn’t go away. When making your game HUD you must understand the most important elements of your game. Some games have a HUD that dissolves to transparent, or hides fully when the conditions haven’t changed in a while. This shows a knowledge that that information is no longer needed while those events aren’t happening.
Lately I found a game project on Kickstarter called Kaiju Combat by Sun Stone Games (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14214732/kaiju-combat-giant-monsters-awesome-fighting-onlin ) Which is a good candidate for this study. The game involves Giant fighting monsters with different abilities, health and defenses.
As discussed on their forums, they are going with a Health Number rather than a bar. This choice is good because all monsters have certain defense rates and different health values for game balancing. The game has a health Number ( I.E 100 or more) and conditions that state that when a monster hits 0 and goes negative there is a percentage chance for a knockout which grows as the monster takes more damage below 0.(Condition, first person to gain a 3 KO’s chain, wins. This is based on if I make a KO I get a point, if I get KO’d that point goes away.) There is also a bar which will represent defense, and another one which will be used for special attacks.
The format discussed is currently displayed like this.
(Defense bar, which empties and fills based on your use of it or damage dealt to it, this may have a different value for each monster, but regardless with be shown with a bar between 0-100 %)
(Health Display, which will show your monster’s current health value number. This will also display a negative value once the health is below 0.) One could argue using a bar as well, but in this case a bar would be a bit fruitless due to character health being based on a value, that may only lower by very small percentages.
(Energy display, which periodically fills when not in use, and empties when used)
Someplace in the display, there should also be a Knockout counter to keep score. And the developers would also like to show how much damage is taken or dealt when a monster is hit by an attack.
In the start of a match, we have to know the three basics right away. Health, Energy, and Defense. But we don’t need to see a damage value since it hasn’t been dealt yet, and the KO counter doesn’t have any points scored yet. So I would say these are conditional, and should be hidden while not active. There can be an argument over the Score display, it may be shown if the developers believe that that condition will never change, and that new player may need it displayed to understand the winning condition of a game.
As the game progresses, the monsters fight. Health will lower, and a damage display should show up near the attack origin (Aka bouncing numbers off a monster) or someplace near the Health number. These should be removed after a short time after they become irreverent. The only issue that could arise, is should it display a number based on a single attack? Or a succession of attacks in a short time? Many fighting games like to display a number of successful hits, but in this game there is no other score based on combos.
Simply damage. I would choose a damage display based on successive attacks, because if damage bypasses a “block” it would be nice to know how much damage you have taken. Also since energy attacks may do “beam” like attack and do progressive damage based on contact with said beam it would make sense to sum up that number for the damage taken, because it counts as one long attack.
And there you have it, apart from a profile picture and a name. You have your HUD for a Kaiju game.
Stay tuned for a Part 2 as we go into more depth about HUD use in games.