Robert Tamayo


You Are Not Sick, You Are Damage Boosting

Gamers don't get sick. We damage boost.

Today I'm talking about Damage Boosting in video games and comparing it to modern game's regenerating health damage systems, which incentivizes what I call Damage Roosting. Damage Boosting is fun. Damage Roosting is not. There is an alternative to Damage Roosting in modern games, and we can use it to bring back proper Damage Boosting without losing out on in-game "realism".

Damage Boosting

Damage boosting is one of the most classic moves in video games. It is something learned instinctively by any gamer early on in their careers. It's found in many games, but not all. It's more common in older platformer games than modern FPS games, but it can still be found in places today.

What it is: 
In some games, when your player character takes damage, the game gives you a brief period of invulnerability during which you cannot be damaged again. Damage boosting refers to intentionally taking damage in order to trigger the period of invulnerability so that you can rush through a particularly difficult or tedious section without taking damage.

Sometimes, damage boosting involves an aspect of the effects of taking damage in a particular way. For example, in Mario 64, taking lava damage makes Mario jump extremely high into the air. Because of this, you can damage boost your character higher or farther than you can normally jump.

Damage Roosting

In most modern games, especially first person shooters, there is no such thing as damage boosting. In Halo, you have a shield. When you take enough damage, the shield goes away. Stay away from damage for long enough, and it comes back up. Because of this mechanic, the incentive is to shirk away from combat or from the objective whenever you take damage. This is where the "roosting" comes into play; the player must sit down and rest while he waits to recover his health or shield.

Damage Roosting is the dominant force around today. Instead of encouraging combat, modern damage systems in games encourage inactivity. There is an alternative, though. We can bring back Damage Boosting, even in games like Halo.

[I would like to add, however, that Damage Boosting does exist in Halo. Players throw grenades around and use them to launch themselves into the air and such. What I'm referring to as missing is more the classic "invincibility" damage boosting from earlier games.]

Changing the Nature of the Shield

Instead of giving the player a shield that offers protection for a set amount of damage, give them a shield that charges up when taking damage. The first shot will hit the player, because the shield isn't charged up. But the energy from the projectile will then charge up the shield and power it up, acting like a battery. In this way, the player could become invulnerable while the shield remains charged after receiving damage.

Imagine a shooter game where players could Damage Boost again. Who knows what might come of it? Maybe something like that has been play tested and failed to be engaging. I haven't seen anything like it, though.

So I would like to see what could become of a modern game, especially a first person shooter, that introduced Damage Boosting, even in multiplayer matches. It could be pretty fun.

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