Lifebars/Percent/HP counts


For a long time fighting games have used lifebars to show health. For new players this is good because it is a simple visual way to display health.

But once someone becomes competitive/serious, they are a hindrance. Gief and Akuma have different health, but they are represented with the same bar – and what’s the point of knowing a combo does 356 damage in training mode, but there’s no accurate way to gauge how much of an opponent’s bar that is during a match?

356 damage is a different length on Gief’s bar than it is on Akuma’s bar. Magic pixels occur because lifebars are a visual representation of a numerical value. Even experienced players/commentators are forced to estimate if something will kill because in the heat of a match there’s no way to know EXACTLY how much remaining HP you have.

Here’s some UI mockups I’ve been working on for my game:

First up is a version that uses real HP numbers. Useful because you’ll know EXACTLY how much life you have, and combo damage will show up exactly like it does in training mode.

Here is another version that uses percent. Not as accurate as real HP, but still slightly more clear than lifebars (no more magic pixel!)

Thoughts? Curious to see what people think of different HP display styles.

Side note: Does anyone care whether super bar is at top or bottom?


While you do bring up an interesting topic, I personally feel that it shouldn’t really matter on how much health does the character have specifically. If the character’s health is considerably low (and I mean “one more hit and you’re dead” low), then the player/commentator/spectator will know right off the bat on what may happen next. In terms of visuals, not everything needs to be shown in detail, but rather, let the player/commentator/spectator see how this will pan out instead; it’s better that way.


While I don’t agree with everything in the video, they do have a point in regards to numerical readouts. Numbers take a bit longer to read than a bar.


Hmm thanks for that vid.

Don’t know if numbers are that slow though – especially if they’re not fractions like in the vid. Smash for instance, uses numbers just fine. Gonna have to think about how to do this…


I’d appreciate numbers added to the traditional lifebars.

I also like your segmented health bar but I’d make it bigger, SF style.


Haha the segmented bar is actually super meter. That mockup just happens to have them up top underneath the health.



Even so, segmented health bar done SF style with numbers under it and combo counter pop ups would be ideal.

I’d say don’t reinvent the wheel here, just implement numbers into the already popular system.


Doesn’t Pokken show health as both numbers and a meter?

Games like KOF13 use segmented heatlh bars, which is nice because you can tell how much damage you’re doing without knowing the numerical value. In games where characters have different heatlh, I think a segmented bar would be best. It wouldn’t solve the issue with magic pixels, but at least you would have a better idea of how much more/less damage you do when fighting opponents with different HP.


Thanks for the input everyone! For now I’ve made something with traditional bars but I’ll see how I can incorporate some numbers into it without making things look cluttered.


What exactly makes numerical displays better? I also don’t really understand why you are treating magic pixels like they are reasons people lose games.

No serious player ever thinks “Hm, exactly how much health is left?” They think “I can finish him with three, maybe even two, more combos.”

Plus even with numerical displays, you won’t necessarily be able to judge how much damage you are capable of dealing because of damage scaling. You wanna make a display for that, too?


People do lose some games to magic pixels. The best example is a failed chip kill by 10 or less life; some other times you just pull a big combo and waste all bars and they survive. It doesn’t cause you to lose the game but you should never be guessing for the results. “I can finish him with three, maybe even two, more combos.” There’s already a guess right there about what should be revealed information.

What type of scaling are you speaking about? Combo scaling don’t matter: people don’t do the damage sum on the fly but they already know how much damage each combo does. The reasoning should be this: “my combo does 210 damage, he has 200 life, then it should kill him”. Guts scaling complicates that but, even with that, damage could be memorized for each level although that would be more tiresome.I personally hate guts scaling and would rather see them gone, although that’s another matter.


by the time you were to calculate damage in your head to make the right decision to save yourself from dying from a “magic pixel” situation, you’d already be dead before you could even do the first part.

percentage works for smash because the actual percent value doesn’t mean as much as knowing you’re in kill/death range. Also, because you don’t die from no life but being knocked offstage. the color change in the number also helps, as well as the fact that in smash you arent busying yourself with things like meter and supers and confirms and such…

lifebars are probably the best way for a traditional fighting game to display health, and any extra number or feature just hinders the player.

Also, the way you did the timer with a countdown circle also makes little sense, for the same reasons… he player already understands how much time is left the instant they see a timer number. a countdown circle is a lot more esoteric


i’ve always like the super bar on bottom. to me, having all the meters top is a bit crowded and then there’s a lot of dead space at the bottom. the only game i think it looked good was Darkstalker 2.

i’ve always hate damage points like 356 damage non-scaled instead of 350 or 360.

and for representing health information kof13 and pokken are my favorite health bars.


Just to clarify, I don’t want numbers instead of lifebars, but numbers in addition to the lifebars.

Obligatory “magic pixels do matter” moment (3:41 if the damn link doesn’t work; the rest of the video is awesome if unrelated):


theres a reason why most fighting games use lifebars alone… adding a number to it just is annoying as shit and doesnt help but rather distracts the player.


I’ll agree that lifebars representing different quantities might not be intuitive to some people, but it must be pretty damn easy to adapt to cause this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone gripe about.

The point in training mode giving you numbers for how much damage a combo inflicts is for optimizing combos. Fighting games already scale combos for myriad reasons, so I think its a lost cause trying to give players/spectators some kind of certainty a combo will kill their opponent. And consider the numerous variantions on combos. How many combo damage values can you really commit to memory anyway?


While this is true, it also depends on the game. A game with low dmg/low or no scaling would work just fine with absolute values. I’m not talking about retrofitting an existing game with numbered lifebars, but making a new one. UI design and function is tied to the game that it’s made for.

The main reason for this thread is to find out how USABLE numbers are, not how well they work with games that are already out. I could easily make a game that works with numbered UI, but if a numbered UI is hard to read or use, then I won’t.

Thanks for the input though everyone. Here’s the boring ass version I whipped up:


Just put the numbers on the lifebars. Problem solved.


It has been done already, though as less health the characters have, the less damage they get (it also has a gut system)

Not the best gameplay showcase btw



Even if you burn all of your resources and are left with a magic pixel you are usually still at an advantage of some sort, whether you have a life advantage or a positioning advantage. No loss in the history of fighting games has ever been significantly the fault of a magic pixel.

And what’s wrong with guessing about results? We guess all the time when we play. “Will he go high or low?” “Will be try to wakeup DP?” “Is the positioning right for me to do this combo?” Etc.

“Tiresome” is not the word. The right one is “dumb”. Memorizing damage for guts is a far bigger annoyance than magic pixels.