Tuesday, June 15, 2010

healing grenades

As you might expect, I'm reading and watching a lot on E3 news. I might offer some impressions later. For now, I've got two words for you:

healing grenades!

Dynamics are the name of the game, so why not make healing a bit more interesting? Imagine a grenade or vial of healing potion that you must smash against the ground. Throw it down at your feet and it heals you. Throw it by some allies and all in the area of effect are healed. But throw it too close to an enemy... and your enemy is healed.

This creates opportunities for many memorable moments. If your fellow player or AI companion is toe-to-toe with an enemy and hurting, you can try to aim your throw behind your ally so it heals him and not the enemy as well. If the fighters turn at just the wrong moment, you might heal the wrong person, or both of them, or neither. There might even be a possibility that the grenade can be batted while in the air... flying across the battlefield to land who knows where.

Even more, healing grenades might react differently to different objects. They might burn particular enemies. They might explode when they touch a particular metal, hurting friends or foes alike. If two healing grenades hit one spot simultaneously, the healing effect might be exponentially increased.

The basic idea is that, like the sticky grenade in Halo, there are countless possibilities that make each counter feel fresh and potentially surprising. Healing grenades might not fit a particular game, but all games should include at least one dynamic like this.


  1. Making healing gameplay more interesting is also part of the bigger challenge for next-gen MMO designers who, if they've got an ounce of creativity and conscience, are working hard to bust up the "holy trinity" of MMO classes (DPS/healing/tanking).

  2. For obvious reasons (Star Wars + Bioware), I thought The Old Republic would have both the opportunity and the influence to shake up that industry standard. I held this hope in spite of having heard Damion Schubert lecture at an Austin GDC years ago about MMO combat, defending MMO stagnancy, and then learning he had been made the game's lead combat designer.

    But, alas, what do I see in the SW:TOR demonstrations at E3? A character standing still, casually ignoring blaster hits to the chest because he's the "tank", while a jedi stands nearby to heal him periodically.

    Oh well. Here's hoping The Agency makes a ripple.

  3. @Aaron Jedi's that heal?! Now that's a new one. Where did a Jedi heal anyone in any of the Star Wars films? That sounds like very poor character development.

  4. It seems that you've put a great amount of time into your article and I want a lot more of these on the internet these days. Well, anyways... it certainly was very informative for me.

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