All through college, I worked at different game companies. At the same time, I had college friends who wanted to get into the gaming industry.
One friend shared an idea he had to improve the AI in the multiplayer Half-Life 2 mod I was working on. His suggestion: more health bars.
This was already a thing in games from this era (2005). A boss might have a really long health bar, and when you exhaust the first health bar, there would be a different health bar with a different color underneath.
But this has stuck with me as a funny and absurd story from college…
The pitch was to improve the AI (artificial intelligence) in a multiplayer Half-Life 2 mod, with no bots or enemies, no computer AI behavior of any kind.
And what does “more health bars” have to do with AI?
Bigger picture, maybe he wanted a horde mode style game – players versus waves of AI – with big monsters and big health bars.
Big health bars as a design choice seem to have stayed in 2005. Modern games don’t really do this anymore. But it was definitely a thing at the time, and game designers always draw inspiration from other games.
For my game, I’m drawing inspiration from Bloodborne.
Bloodborne keeps track of health bar values over time, and gives you a chance to restore health if you can attack enemies soon after getting damaged yourself.