Thursday, March 08, 2007

Weapon-design that rewards practise?

Sometimes when one tries to outline how something should or ought to be it can be easier to start outlining what it shouldn't be. It won't get you all the way, but atleast it will get you a chance to formulate a rough cut and a general direction of your idea.

Weapon-design, especially the behaivor, is one of those areas. Or atleast it is when your overall design in very handgun focused - as ours are - with infantry, men with weapons, in focus.

So when I started outlining the gun-handling from this perspective I took a cue from weapon-designs from famous games and mods. They are easily accessable for other team-members to relate to and one doesn't have to spend too much time explaining the unique points one is refering to.

The weapon-design, the gun handling, in AvsB: PMC Warfare has from the start been described as aiming for 'intuative, accurate and rewarding'. These words will undoubtetly mean something completely different to some other designer, and might to another team-member that wasn't with us in pre-production, so here is a basic lineout of what it means. Using the above 'what it is not'-setup.

It's not a game where the guns have very low recoil and a lot of initial and built-up spread, where the bullet-placement ends up being very random. This can partly be seen in several games but perhaps most notably in BF2. Also, unlike BF2, any and all spread-indicator must accuratly show the spread. No using max and min-values of the GUI to limit the amount the crosshair travels, even when the spread goes narrower or grows out to a lot more. A player must always be able to accuratly judge how precise their shots will be launched at their intended targets.

It's not a game where the spread of bullets will be located anywhere else then directly down the barrel. The exact opposit is in Counter Strike, where the bullet-pattern travels up above the crosshair, making a player aiming for the enemies feet at the end of the burst. It's syntetic way of saying 'you/your character might be well trained but cannot handle this burst and will loose control of the weapons up-rightwards travel due to recoil'. In most cases, this just isn't true. Yes, the up-rightwards recoil due affect the ability to precisly land bullets upon ones target, but it can 1) be countered via training 2) isn't as dramatic as is usually the case in many games. Not with finer caliber weapons and supposedly highly skilled personel - something a player is usually representing in games.

It's not a game where you will press the trigger and hope for the best. Randomly spraying bullets towards a target will sometimes land you a hit, but in many cases it will not. But while a tre-round burst or two-round tapping will give you the most accurate delivery of fire, even fully automatic fire can be used in the proper situations to effectivly lay down the target. Some of the supposedly 'realistic' games (especially Rainbow 6 games suffer from this) have a very harsh stance towards being able to handle fully automatic fire for anything but hitting the broadside of a building, while standing directly against it. The exaggerated effect that happens once you're holding the trigger for more then the initial shots in these games isn't intuative, especially for anyone with any experience handling weapons themselfs. We never want a player saying 'hey, wait a minute, I'm only a grunt but even I could hit target x at y meters!', since it means a player wont be able to jump into the game and be able to count on the weapons behaiving like expected.

In the v1.1-update to our previous project Silentheroes I incorporated something, that I also first had released as mini-mod for Bf42 some months before, that I dubbed 'Recoil-driven spread'. In short it tries harder to mimic the actual cause of a soldier loosing aim of its intended target via the recoil pushing the weapon off-center (predominantly up-right if used by a righthanded shooter) and the soldier having to re-set the aim between fast single-action shots or constanstly work with the aim during full auto.

What was very clear was that in the beginning, not only because if was a big change from the normal behaivor of the weapons in both BF42 and SH before, it was hard to keep ones gun on target during full auto and any firefights over medium distances would have to be done with single-shots or short bursts, but that almost every player trying it instantly started getting better and increasing their aim. And continued doing so the mor they played and was able to read and predict the behaivor of the different weapons. At last I really felt that not only was the system rewarding towards experienced players, but it also more normally allowed the players to be able to push their skills more the more they practised. Using normal spread in games, that is something in a 50/50-mix between recoil and random spread in a circle around the crosshair, there is always a critical limit one can reach where it's just impossible to gain any more experience to improve ones aim. This can most eaasily be detected in any games that support modding by removing any and all recoil, aim upon a intended target some distance away and fire full automatic. The placement of the bullets and the amount of the landing on the intended target vs the total count shot will give you a very good idea of not only the spread but the amount of spread no training will ever be able to remove, since it's hardcoded behaivor towards the weapon. If instead the weapon is purely recoil-driven, with only a mechanical spread (not counting any from running, jumping or anything else for now), every bullet will reach the intended target if placed within proper distance for the weapon. This means that the only limit to how good one can become is ones own reflexes and rutine on the weapon in question.

And that is according to me much more rewarding.


Bt said...

Only having real experience from BF2 and BF1942 I could not get the full picture of what you meant.

But this information was very interesting and I really hope that Splash Damage has thought about all this!

If not this mod will be even more interesting!

10/3/07 10:19  
Limber said...

Word. A few notes though.

A player must always be able to accuratly judge how precise their shots will be launched at their intended targets.

Depending on how hardcore you are, it could be debated whether this should be indicated by the GUI. It could also be a question of knowing your weapon well. But that is not the point of your text, I think we can all agree on the fact that spread should be based on realistic factors.

11/3/07 11:20  

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