28 March 2012

GameTalk - First-Person Shooters

Not one, but TWO questions guaranteed to draw a 7-paragraph response from Guardian!

1) Iron sights or floating cross-hair? Which one do you like, and why?

2) Floating and breathing - should your sights float while and after you move? Should a game allow to "hold breathe" for better accuracy?

By: Jack Nastyface


Guardian said...

You rang? :)

Iron sights (or optics), a.k.a. ADS ("Aim Down Sights"). No floating cross-hair. Any properly trained shooter uses their sights in almost all circumstances, whether it is a 1,500-yard sniper shot with an L115A3, a firefight at 50 yards with an M4, or CQB at 3 yards with a .45. The only exception I can think of is so-called extreme close quarters combat (ECQC) techniques like the "speed rock" when the threat is at contact distance.

Re: "floating" sights, my short answer is yes.

Longer answer: This is a fun, thought-provoking question! I think I may have just had an insight.

What if a serious FPS sim-game tracked the position of your muzzle, sights, and the rest of your weapon separately from your sight line?

And what if you had some control (perhaps inferred?) of the position of your weapon? For example, holstered (for a handgun)/slung (for a long gun), low/high/indoor/patrol ready (context-dependent?), or presented (a.k.a. ADS). And muzzle and sight positions were animated during the transitions and I could fire at (essentially) any time but the bullets would, just like in real life, go where the muzzle was pointing.

Finally, throughout the whole thing, the biomechanics of shooting should be modeled. So, for example, my point of aim would be much more affected by firing a sub-compact .45 with one hand from a "speed rock" than it would from firing a full-sized 9mm from the modern isosceles.


Guardian said...


This enables what I think are some cool scenarios. Let's assume that the player is working with a pistol and go through the standard draw sequence. Let's also assume an Xbox 360 controller.

Start: The player has his pistol holstered for whatever reason. Maybe he's out on a KLE talking to a village elder in Afghanistan or something and waving his weapon around would be considered rude.


The player presses and holds the left trigger (the traditional ADS button) to begin presenting the weapon. The drawing animation starts.

In about 250-500ms, the pistol has cleared the holster and is in the CQB/speed rock position. At this point, the player probably can't see the pistol and certainly can't index the sights, but he could fire. The round will go wherever the muzzle is pointed, which is chest height right in front of him.

Now the gun hand meets the support hand at the low ready position. Again, the player can't really see the sights, but he could fire. The muzzle is pointed straight ahead at upper chest level.

Now he pushes the pistol out into the modern isosceles position. As it is moving into position, he can shoot "through the pistol" like point-shooting, or wait a few fractions of a second more and get at least a flash sight picture.

Personally, I think this is much better than the present either/of model of "from the hip" or ADS. For better or worse, I always play these games the way I was trained. That means that, for example, if I'm clearing a building, I'm in "ADS" mode, can't move all that quickly, and get killed by some 12-year old who sprays 20 rounds at me from the hip with a P90 because it is faster than ADS'ing with an M4 or ACR.

Guardian said...


Speaking of 12-year olds, the knife/melee kills in these games are just totally out-of-hand. I'll admit I have *zero* training in fighting with a knife and don't even carry one unless you count my Gerber multi-tool. That said, little Timmy is sprinting through a building with his P90. We come face-to-face around a corner and somehow, in a fraction of a second, he slings his P90, pulls his knife, and kills me with it in one motion. As I said, I'm no knife-fighter, but I'm calling BS'ing on this unless somebody can demonstrate it to me.

I want animations for weapon transitions and, especially, knife/melee kills too! That would put little Timmy's knife-kill streak to a quick end. BF3 does a little better with this, BTW.

Anyway, back to the question of "floating" sights. So if the game models the player's biomechanics, then, yes, based on their rate of movement (and even the terrain over which they are moving) and level of exertion, the muzzle and sights should have a little "float."

Re: breath hold, in principle, yes. However, most current implementations (at least on the 360, where I do almost all of my gaming) suck for one simple reason: button binding. Hold Breath is almost always bound to clicking one of the thumb sticks. Maybe I'm just a spaz, but I find it difficult to click a thumb stick without throwing off my aim at least a little, which kind of defeats the purpose. Maybe Hold Breath should be bound to one of the A/B/X/Y buttons in a context-sensitive way so that it is only available while you are ADS'ing?

Finally, see my previous remarks "In Praise of Auto-Aim." Manipulating an Xbox controller or even a mouse is *nothing* like actual shooting. Therefore, I think serious sim-games should use a smarter control system that takes the level of control up one level of abstraction. I'm not controlling the fine points of my character's marksmanship and gun handling (except perhaps when sniping?), but his tactics: does he have the weapon fully presented or in a ready position? who/what is he aiming at? single-shot, burst, or rock-and-roll? center of mass or headshot? scan after shooting. quick... transfer to that new threat on the left! That kind of thing.

BTW, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier shows *GREAT* promise. I can't wait!

OK, back to work...