There are many custom HUDs available for Quake Live; most make all numbers larger because, hey, everything is important right?

An example custom HUD

Obviously, this can't be the case. Something has to give.

I believe that damage to death is more important information than health and armor counts. Maybe the health and armour count would be handy to have around to know what item should pick up first, but I believe a far more common scenario is questions like "can I be oneshotted by a railgun this very moment"?

All of the points made in this quickly closed question do not apply to Quake 3 — damage is distributed between armor and health independently from the source¹. There are no side effects to having low health.

In my opinion, this would also help understand what these numbers really mean. Say, for example, you have 25 health and 0 armour, then picked a red armour. Now you have 25 health and 100 armour. Quick: will a railgun (110 damage) oneshot you?

[Answer: yes. Indeed, 75 damage are enough to kill you (-25 to health, -50 to armour). Good luck calculating that during the game…]

The only real downside would be not knowing what I should be looking for: health or armor. However, I believe this is a question separate armour and health bars would answer more than adequately. (more on this below)

Is there something I'm missing from the big picture? Why is there no mod that tries to do this? Is keeping different counters this important in Quake Live?

¹The only difference would be for the lightning gun, which due to rounding deals 5 armor damage and only 2 health damage.


To make myself crystal clear here, I'll post a picture of what I had in mind:

Please note the separate bars!

Separate bars would answer the "what I should be looking for: health or armor" question, but the actual numbers (the "count") wouldn't be displayed. Why would you want it? This is my whole question.

Hope this helps.

  • Here is, for reference, a picture of the default HUD.
    – badp
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:10
  • I think you misunderstand how health and armor work in Quake 3. When you are shot, 2/3 of the damage is taken from your armor and the remainder (or any debt left over if you have no remaining armor) comes from your health. So they are treated independently by the game. (source: www.quake3world.com/q3guide/armorhealth.html) Jul 14, 2010 at 16:21
  • i.e. you could have 100 armor and still die... Jul 14, 2010 at 16:23
  • 2
    @Galactic: indeed, that's my whole point against separate counters. 1/100 would give 3, for example. The number displayed wouldn't be the sum, but min(hp + ap, hp*3) * (1.5 if guard else 1) (if I got my math right).
    – badp
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:27
  • Yeah, your math seems to be correct. :) Jul 14, 2010 at 16:49

3 Answers 3


This is something of an expanded comment, more than an answer in itself.

There are two effects that your choice of compound HUD has in comparison to a default display of two numbers.

  • Instead of displaying the numbers of each value, you have a bar displayed. The effect is advantageous to those who work better on visual differences and relative changes, but disadvantageous to those who rely on values and absolute changes.
  • There is a compound display for the post-calculated "damage limit". This is advantageous to those who cannot do a quick calculation immediately, and disadvantageous to anyone who relies on seeing the separate counts.

This is a matter of information substitution, not addition or subtraction. You are given exactly the same information as everyone else, the only difference is how it is rendered, and how well you interpret that information. The HUD itself provides no advantage or disadvantage.

  • ...which would be the whole point of a custom HUD: rearranging information. I'm just surprised this particular rearrangement wasn't thought of before.
    – badp
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:49
  • I think what Grace Note is trying to communicate is that, unlike your statements in this question and the other question that got closed, you're not really missing or losing any information using this approach. It's just represented in a different way. The separate items are still represented - what you have essentially done is added a third, composite value that adds to the available information. Now, if all you showed was the composite value then, yes, you'd "lose" that information and be at a disadvantage. Jul 14, 2010 at 19:11
  • @GalacticCowboy Technically, no, the composite value does not add to the available information. The information is already available as a derivation from the actual Health and Armour values. Which is why the only difference is how this information is being conveyed, not what information is being conveyed. So in terms of the information, the playing field is level.
    – Grace Note
    Jul 14, 2010 at 19:14

The only real downside would be not knowing what I should be looking for: health or armor.

I think this is a giant strategic downside. You could have a high number in your (to death) and you run over a ya and nothing changes (or very little) and you start wondering why and you are using your precious time in trying to figure out how much health you need and where it is instead of knowing that before you touched the ya.

  • "However, I believe this is a question separate armour and health bars would answer more than adequately." Actually -- "you run over a ya and nothing changes (or very little)" is perfectly the use case that makes separate counters dangerous. 200 armour is not going to do much good if you only have 10 hitpoints, but the separate counters don't convey this critical information!
    – badp
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:06
  • The thing is that, if you know how much armor and hp you have (and if you have max armor and low hp), then you know that ya isn't going to help you and you look for hp orbs instead of wasting the time with ya. Jul 14, 2010 at 16:11
  • 2
    @badp - the point is that you need to go looking for whichever is lowest. If you're low on health, you should go looking for health packs. By combining them together, you lose that critical piece of information, to know which one you need. Jul 14, 2010 at 16:11
  • @badp Are you asking for an interface to your game which merges the two counters into one that you watch for, or are you asking for a mod which doesn't have separate health/armor bars at all (and not simply from a display perspective)?
    – Grace Note
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:11
  • 1
    @badp But it's not being displayed "instead of" the health/armour count. Bars are being display instead of the health/armour count, and the compound count is displayed in addition to it. Alternatively, a combination of bars and a compound count are shown instead of separate counts. You can't isolate the compound count as the entire HUD element when it also has the bars there, which are critical to associating the relative health/armour values.
    – Grace Note
    Jul 14, 2010 at 16:26

The only real downside would be not knowing what I should be looking for: health or armor.

For this, you either need to have the two numbers again, or, well... Shiny bars.

Don't be distracted by shiny bars.

Consider that in Quake Live, your importance should lie in the game itself and staying alive.

You should thus make any UI components the least distracting; really, a line that jumps up and down?

You shouldn't care whether your health is 10% instead of 20%; but, you should rather care when your health is Red instead of Green. Green means that you can take a hit and go aggressive, Red means that you need to stay back/hidden in a defensive manner and fetch some more Health.

The not that small bar could mean that you can take another shot, don't introduce that risk.

In other words... Don't focus on being nearly dead, focus on being alive.

Consider this:

  • Change your route/timing so that you pass more health/armor at the right moments.

  • Focus on how to deny your opponent from taking the health/armor, so that he dies instead.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .