Explaining HP and XP to a Non-Gamer

HP and XP may seem like alien concepts to a non-gamer, like arbitrary meters that which have no basis in reality. This is somewhat true, but that's because HP and XP aren't based on real world concepts, but on narrative concepts. I like to explain them to non-gamers (or new gamers) like so:

Think of "the story" in a game as a kind of "god". However, unlike most gods, it doesn't have a specific personification in-universe. Instead, the story is a nebulous "cosmic will" with a certain "plan", and wants nothing more than to elevate characters that make the story itself more interesting and epic. When the story doesn't like the way events unfold in its universe, it either prevents them from continuing in that way or requires restarting the story's plan from a certain point. The story's only other ability is to grant boons to characters that help fulfill the story's plan.

In a game's story, a character's Hit Points (HP) are a measure of their remaining amount of "cosmic luck". That is, how much luck they have in the grand scheme of things as granted by the will of the story. Every time you hear "HP", think "cosmic luck". Every time something attacks the character, the character tries to avoid becoming seriously injured. That is, when the character narrowly dodges that serious injury, dodging that injury consumes some of their "cosmic luck". As their "cosmic luck" runs low, they become at greater and greater risk of "their luck running out". Their luck running out may be represented in that game as falling unconscious, becoming winded, or even starting to bleed to death.

All "healing" effects in the universe's story may be doing some actual curative minor effects or helping the character recover from further serious injury, but most of what they're actually doing is "restoring cosmic luck". Healing effects make it more plausible that the character could shrug off or dodge a potentially-grievous injury. Auxiliary effects that come with an attack (such as poison) still work within this understanding of HP because every attack is only narrowly dodging a grievous injury, so a scratch or other minor injury could still have happened from an attack that would bring on that auxiliary effect.

A character's Experience Points (XP) are a measure of their growing "cosmic importance". That is, how important they are in the grand scheme of things. Every time you hear "XP", think "cosmic importance". Every time a character experiences something relevant to the story, the character is becoming slightly more important in-universe to the overall story. As a result, the story takes more of an interest in that character on a cosmic scale. Because the story is taking more interest in you, it rewards you with more "cosmic luck" along with other benefits relevant to the story. When it grants a character these new benefits, it's called "leveling up". "Levels" are just a numeric measure of how much the story (as a cosmic entity) is invested in that character's effects on the story's plan. The story wants to see what you'll do, and wants to guide you along towards meeting its own needs.


Shortchanging in Character Creation


These people are discussing "BESM", a tabletop roleplaying game.

Character creation is point-based, where you have a certain amount of character points and you spend them to buy things such as "attributes".

Attributes have "levels" (a.k.a. "ranks") where you must pay a certain amount of character points to get more levels (these values are called the "points per level" or "cost/lvl" or "pts/lvl")

There are things you can buy called "variables" which you can apply to an attribute to enhance the attribute
There are things you can buy called "restrictions" which you can apply to an attribute to hamper the attribute.

Variables cost you extra points to attach them to an attribute.
Restrictions give you points back for attaching them to an attribute.

As-is, BESM has attaching variables and restrictions affect the final cost of an attribute rather than the attribute's cost per level.


[Alice] I think I may of just pinpointed what exactly is the root cause of why the character creation process is so broken, and a relatively-simple fix that could be applied that might of fixed it


GDC 2010 Day 5

A relatively boring day until Session #5, which made the whole trip worthwhile.


GDC 2010 Day 3

Gods my feet are killing me.

The companies represented at GDC are generally worldwide studios and/or those based out of the California area. Thus, unless you are...
  • out of college or only have one semester left, are
  • living either not in the U.S. or are but in the California area, or you're
  • willing to move.

...I can't really recommend the Career Pavilion. I must admit I'm biased, as I'm based in Texas and have two semesters left on my Bachelors at time of writing, but I believe it still holds.

GDC 2010 Day 2

Only one new photo in the GDC 2010 album, and it's not even from the convention.
At least the company has a sense of humor.

Anyway... today (like yesterday) was pretty boring.


GDC 2010 Day 1

I've uploaded a photo album of GDC 2010 that I'll update over time.

NOTE: The timestamps on the photos from Start through Mar 9th are in U.S. Central time. All photos in the album from Mar 10th on will be in U.S. Pacific time.


Console Generation 7.5

A lot's happened in this "seventh" generation of videogame consoles.


Time Chess

Imagine a 6-turn cycle of turns in regular chess. These six "phases" represent times of day. There are three different types of phases:
  • Day = During Black's daytime turn, Black can only see Black pieces (day blindness)
  • Twilight = Both players can see all pieces
  • Night = During White's nighttime turn, White can only see White pieces (night blindness)
There are two turns, one black and one white, in each type. The arrangement is such that each player once a round has no idea what their opponent's last move was. This introduces a great deal of uncertainty to the game.