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Player interaction and fights in ut4 duel

Gametypes in arenafps games are item driven. This means that the items form the game and player interaction is dictated by items. We will start at the beginning and explain how this works before going further. Items in these gametype are resources and generally consist of armor, health, weapons, ammo and powerups. These pickups are scattered around the map players compete on and have a predefined respawn time after they are taken. Respawn is the act of the item reappearing on the map so it can be picked up again. Deathmatch is the base gametype in arenafps and has existed since quake1. This gametype is likely where the arenafps moniker of likely originates. Deathmatch can be played with two teams and is referred to as Team Deathmatch (TDM). 4v4 and 2v2 are common player numbers for TDM. The goal of deathmatch is to score the highest number of kills (frags) – suicides subtract a point.

Gametypes that were added after deathmatch, such as capture the flag(CTF) remain item driven but hapopularve additional objectives. In these other non-kill based scoring gametypes items dictate when players can attack with a higher likely hood of winning. Quite often items are overlooked in these other, non-deathmatch gametypes which is why they are worth mentioning. Items could almost be considered the objective rather than killing as they enable killing at a greater efficiency.

Overview of items

As previously mentioned items are resources in standard arena fps DM based gametypes. A player who has more resources has a better chance of winning a game. Players who collect items will have more health, more armor and more weapon options available. Basic health packs will heal a player to their base health which is usually 100. Armor adds a layer on top of health allowing players to take more damage, generally splitting damage between health and armor. Armor is one of the large player interaction drivers.

If a player has enough health to use the armor they have equipped then their stack is the sum of both. In cases where a player has low health and high armor it becomes more difficult to ascertain their exact stack at a glance. When armor has 50% absorption damage is distributed 1:1 health:armor. When absorption is 66.6..% damage is distributed 1:2 and when armor has an absorption of 75% damage is distributed 1:3. The shield belt in Unreal Tournament provides 100% absorption, protecting the players health pool until the belt is depleted. Absorption % does not play a large part in armor “strength” provided it is 50% or above, the absorption does change player behavior and overall macro movement of players but not the the amount of health available from armor unless the % is very low or the amount of health available >100 is large.

Weapons are important because they open up positioning options and provide utility along with raw killing power. Weapon options vary widely as they have different fire modes in arenafps compared to modern shooters. These fire modes can open up more efficient engagements at different ranges and with good weapons selection as well as appropriate positioning players can gain a large advantage over their opponent.

Items are removed from the map when they are picked up and respawn a set time after. Keeping track of this time is referred to as timing. This cycle of pickup and respawning sets the pace and tempo of the game and dictates where and what players want to be doing at a given point in time. Think of this as the overall macro of a game, it is one of the last skills a player will learn. When better players tell new players to “learn to time” this is actually what the end point is. The flow of the game around the map. This document will primarily be concerned with duel as it relies heaviest on a well thought out item setup, it also breaks the earliest if the setup is poorly thought out.

Items as player interaction drivers

The assumption from this point onwards is that making players fight often is good.

Because items are resources and raise the chance of winning they cause players to move around maps in somewhat predictable manner. That is provided players understand that items are important and can follow the flow around the map – see previous note about being a “late to learn” skill. Players move around the map and fight over resources. New players may simply get a weapon and start trying to shoot their opponents. Intermediate players may understand their stack but not their opponents. Larger items are more sought after and are more likely to generate fights between players who want the pickup. Items and thus resources are limited by their respawn time. The respawn time also dictates how often part of a map could be used and maps are setup in a manner to facilitate interesting fights around larger items.

Smaller items help move players around the map and also provide sound cues to indicate where they are. Maps are often also designed so these items are not easily defensible, offering a large advantage to a player who simply arrives first(?). Players gain an advantage from picking up items and can then kill their opponent more efficiently (weapons) or have more effective health through health and armor. This allows players to deal less damage over the course of an encounter and come out ahead. For example in a situation where two players trade shots a player with 100health will die before their opponent with 200 health.

Control, stacking and denial

In Unreal Tournament duel the primary interaction driver is armor. The larger armors have the strongest pull on players as they provide the largest benefit – these are usually the shieldbelt (150a) and the vest (100a). During a duel players want to take items to buff themselves as well as deny the pickup to their opponent. This is commonly referred to as stacking – and total player health/armor numbers referred to as stack or their stack. The goal is usually to have as much stack differential – difference in stack as possible.

At the start of a game large items may be split and players may have similar stack, however as time passes, damage is dealt or players die one will come to have control. Map control. Item control. However you choose to spin it. Once one player establishes control they have a significant resource advantage and able to refresh their armor and health each time a major item spawns. This player is referred to as the in control player. The player without access to the higher value items and without stack is called the out of control player.

Player behavior is heavily dictated by their stack and their level of control. When players pickup items they take note of the time on the game clock then return to the area to pick it up again once the respawn time has passed. The player with control tries to keep the advantage for as long as possible and the player out of control works on gathering smaller resources before fighting (contesting) a larger item. This slow build for out of control sets how long the player in control has an advantage. Historically this advantage is permanent in Unreal Tournament provided control is maintained. There is no way for a player to slow stack to match the in control player.

The most popular article on this site is related primarily to Unreal Tournaments lacking out of control play. The premise is that ut does not offer enough for the in control player to do while also hamstringing the out of control player too heavily. Since writing that piece it has occurred that while the system is flawed for out of control play it works as an interaction driver very well. The interaction driver aspect is one of the reasons why a quakelive armor transplant is not suggested often on this site and why I have not backed suggestions that are not fully thought through. At a basic level simply copying quakelive armor is unlikely to work because there are other factors at play in the game that help make it the game it is. Armorware demonstrate this. As does the “new” nerfed base armor system. Both “break” surprisingly quickly.

One important point to note is that resources are for picking up more resources. They are not, under normal circumstances for “spending” killing your opponent. Winning the fight at the first 100a spawn means a player has (depending on small armor pickups) a 100h benefit over their opponent going in to the next major spawn, which is the first belt. If a player was to get the 100a and then pressure their opponent heavily over the next 30 seconds they could potentially enter the fight at the belt spawn with no stack advantage, meaning they are less likely to stay in control. Players need to fight in order to get kills but they need to take fights at the right time and place and skew things as much in your favour as possible. This plays into later points about player interaction.

Trade off potential gain for stacking or denial.

Large vs small items. Mega+ RA vs YA. Belt+100a vs 50a.

The size and importance of items determines the level of commitment a player will make. The amount of benefit (you/them) an item gives also determines the level of player commitment. For example when both players have no armor the 100a pickup is beneficial to both. When one player has 100a the item is still important to deny from the opponent in order to maintain stack advantage. However when both players have the item or the same amount of high armor neither needs to take the pickup until they suffer damage. It could be said that taking the item in these situations is bad as the larger pickups tends to put the player in a disadvantageous position, risking the stack they have. This depends on the map but is an acceptable rule of thumb when discussing the ideas. At this point players no longer need to contest items. A player no longer needs to make the dangerous trip to the belt on deck, or the 100a area on asdf, because it does not benefit them and it will no longer benefit their opponent.

Depending on the score line players can simply turtle up, possibly with a retreat line to resources. This idea can be extended further. In the current UT4 system a player on 100/75 is unlikely to commit to a fight at a large armor when they can take a small one elsewhere to get to 100/100. Unless their opponent is running all items this is easy. Likewise, even at the smaller armors the player does not need to commit heavily if their opponent is there before them as the gain is minimal. They may wish to use this opportunity to put damage on their opponent.

Another example of items that players may not want to commit to is the thigh pads on dm-deck16][ in ut99. This is because the item itself is in a precarious position in an area of the map the in control player is likely to be. By attempting to take the thighpads the out of control player is allowing damage. The risk:reward is very low. Larger items demand conflict and fighting over while smaller ones can be ceded or avoided at lower loss/gain.

By thinking about this we can understand how armor limits player interaction via “full” stack. This was not the case in previous titles when a player had control (UT2003 aside) as they always had belt+100a to work with at all times while the out of control player always had less. Because of this the in control player always wanted to deny the belt+100a. In older titles “control” was not belt only or 100a only. It must be both large items on a map in order to keep the requirement of picking up the items.

Items as an interaction driver and level of commitment related to their relative sizes. Once we understand control and denial and reasons for why players seek to pickup items we can see how different items have different values. Players either want to stack themselves or limit their opponent’s resources through denial. These are the primary reason why players fight over pickups. These are the primary reasons players fight in duel. This dynamic/macro is the game.

A player can lose a fight at an item and not get the pickup but the fight can still be beneficial because the damage helps keep their opponents stack lower than if they did not contest. Note this does not mean dying, just losing the fight and backing off. In Unreal Tournament the time at which you deal damage in relation to items spawns is important. Using the UT99 armor system as an example which has similarities to all the UT titles, with the exceptions being 2k3 (stacking) and current ut4 (stacking) and ut4 armorware. Dealing of damage is somewhat backwards if items are the reasons players fight as the optimum time to deal damage is after pickups. This is because 100-150 armor damage dealt before large primary armors that cause fights will be refreshed. This is due to the maximum armor vs pickup values. In order to deal effective damage that is lasting a player needs to hit their opponent after he picks up the armor, this way he is at a lower armor value going into the next large spawn, provided this is not refreshed on the 50a/25a.

It is “backwards” because while fights are setup at an armor the most beneficial time to damage the in control opponent and risk your lower stack is after they have taken the pickup. This sets your opponent at a lower total going into the next item spawn.

For the out of control player contesting is questionable as you need to deal >armor value worth of damage in order for it not to be refreshed. Using the “old” ut4 system If a player is on 100/150 and take direct rocket(100) just before picking the 100a they will be on 60/150. If the 150 was belt they will be on 100/150(50b/100a).

This is not the case in quakelive as the armors do not max out/almost max out armor in one pickup so players are less likely to be at full stack. In UT this is backwards to what should occur and helps to make fighting at armors less appealing. With the UT system it cannot change as the items are large and stack to max very quickly. This is a feature of Unreal Tournament duel and a contributing factor to why in control is strong while having strong interaction drivers but at the same time is why interaction drivers can break.

For example a player locking down the two largest pickups in all existing games will have an advantage over their opponent at all times and in order to continue this advantage they need to keep taking the belt + 100a. Their opponent has no way to stack armor as the pickup behavior in older titles does not allow this. However they know exactly where their opponent will be due to the strong requirement to keep picking the belt + 100a up. This leads to the player being able to contest an item reliably.

Note that this may sound like it is going against the previously linked popular article, however that still stands – in control does not have a large time spend and out of control does not have a way to stack. What does exist is the requirement for the in control player to take items. Once the out of control player gets the 100a due to mistakes on the in control players part they are free to do what they like. We have reached the point of reduced interaction incentive.

A note on personal vs enemy stack

Both your stack and your opponents stack are a consideration for what resources players want to take and deny. Your stack is a consideration for obvious reasons – do you need armor? Do you need to risk your stack for more armor? Can you stack more in a less dangerous manner? Eg taking the 50a to go from 100a to 150a rather than contesting the belt or 100a for an additional 50a. Your opponents stack is less obvious and enemy stack estimation plays an important role here. How much does your opponent have – if you are full/high and they are full/high then contesting or committing to a fight is not required as the benefit from the pickup will be minimal for either player.

A note on weapon stay off as interaction drivers.

Beyond armor Unreal Tournament 4 weapons behave in a similar manner to small armors, or armors that will only give players a small boost – the aforementioned 50a instead of belt/100a scenario. Players are unlikely to commit to a fight over a weapon since their stack/life is more valuable than the potential benefits of a weapon. Weapons are a one way street per life, once they have picked up a weapon the player has it till death. Because of this players can opt to avoid conflict at weapons and return later. Even in 2k4 where weapon denial was potentially important there are very few examples of players actually fighting over the weapons (LG/shock). On top of this there were few examples of players running hard control on LG/shock. Once again this is because players are not going to commit to a fight for just a weapon, in a game where the weapons are all quite strong.

Weapons were timed as major part of the game in quakeworld TDM but no other arenafps that I am aware of. This dynamic is less interesting for duel/1v1 because it creates a situation where you need a weapon in order to contest a weapon that you need. Once you have a weapon you do not need to revisit it unless you wish to deny or if it is the only ammo source on the map.

Resources cap out, armor/health system break player interaction leading to less fighting.

Resources are the reason players fight and when resources are not required players should no longer be fighting over pickups. This goes beyond the individual player needing it as denial is very important. Once both players have a decent armor stack they should be less willing to risk themselves for large pickups where fights will usually occur. For example using armorware (max 150) a player on 125armor no longer needs to contest the belt or the 100a as the 25a or 50a is sufficient to cap out, provided their opponent also has decently high armor. If we were to have a scenario where player A has 150a from contol and player B has 100a from smaller pickups over a longer time period neither player needs the large pickups anymore. This leads to a less focused game and makes players harder to predict as fights are not setup by items. If there is score differential in this situation then the leading player can turtle up and play defensively.

Why is mega is good for duel in quake

The mega in quake makes the above scenario impossible and makes sure there is always an item that both players want. A single pickup for a different resource ensures there will always be at least one pickup both players want. Both want it when neither has it in order to stack. The player that got the last spawn wants it to deny, even if they have not taken damage. The player that did not get it last spawn wants it to stack. Both of these will occur every spawn because it is unique, there is no other way to gain health over 100. +5h bubbles are rare in ql duel and do not change player behavior in relation to the mega. This is without taking health decay into account, which further amplify the in control players want for the item. This is where decay makes sense, unlike armor where once a player caps out they only need +25 every 25 seconds to stay at max stack. A single pickup on a longish (35s) respawn means that even without damage the player will want to take it.

In base ut4 the belt is trying to take the place of the mega by being the only “overheal” item available. However its long spawn combined with its low benefit (+50 instead of +100) mean it is ineffective at being a large driver in the same way as mega.

Quake Champions Duel Stacks are very different to quakelive

kluczmen: using rail in QC is a bit of a gamble,

Is that because of relatively low stacks compared to ql.

With even a light stack in ql (lets say 100/100) a player would shrug off 80dmg rail at range as they need to take another two hits without picking any health before death. A sinlge 25h would make this three hits.

200-80 | 120-80 | 60-120 | dead

The initial rail does not put them in a dangerous situation.

This extends to a more heavily stacked player in ql – who can basically ignore rails when at 200/200. If they have control the smaller armors a rail after 200/200 will put them at ~173/146 – which will be stacked to ~173/~200 on their next YA pickup.

When one compares this to the lighter stack heros in qc the problem becomes more apparent. You can take two rails and a small amount of extra health before death.

Perhaps it would be interesting to look at how qc with ligher champions plays compared to t4 in ql as stack is potentially much lower there in an even game.

This “steps of damage to death” is an interesting aspect and has been roughly the same in all the previous quake games. It is not just the amount of effective health (400hp@full stack) but the damage weapons in relation to this and the number of hits it takes to kill a player.

Looking at the amount of damage a weapon deals is not the whole story, which is why switching around the rail damage a little bit (60 or 70 or 90 or whatever) is only a small part of the story. Does this matter? Not overly because you still only need to take one rail before you are one rail + a touch of lg away from death.

What the fuck does this have to do with what I quoted? The lighter characters cannot play a run an poke game because as soon as they trade rails they are heavily on the back foot compared to ql where they are still two rails away from this point.

This means in order to play run and poke they are gambling their rail % vs their opponents vs their opponents situational awareness on them. If their opponent hits they are heavily on the back foot.

This aspect is very much like ut. In ut a fully armored player has around 350 effective hp BUT this can be burst down in two shots and the out of control unstacked player has maybe 150 which can be one shot. This is a very simplistic overview so please no pedantics.

UT duel could potentially be an indicator of what qc duel ends up looking like.

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50% Armor absorption : Is belt or armor better?

As of writing the Unreal Tournament 4 armor system has been 50% absorption for about a year. This has some interesting and potentially unintended flow on effects that are worth looking at.  These are not specifically bad or good and this is not an attempt to paint the system in a bad light (that is reserved for another post) however the consequences of 50% absorption are worth looking at.

50% causes health to be sought out more often and raises its value. This is because any time a player has even health to armor ratio and damage occurs they will seek out health as it the only thing (besides belt) that increases their effective health pool. Health is the easier to get because is more abundant on maps and is on a shorter respawn than armor. With 50% absorbtion any armor above your health will not be used before you die.

If you have 100h 100a and take 100 damage you will be at 50h 50a. In order to raise your effective health you must take health packs, mega, vials or the belt. Of these health is the primary method as it has the shortest respawn and maps usually have a decent amount scattered throughout. This is not too different to higher absorption, 66% or 75% as players want to heal up with this armor as well, however there are other options. With 66% when a player at 100h100a takes 100 damage they will have 66/33 – allowing them to take armor in order to stack up as well as health. Historically the player with 100/100 is usually in control.

*something about health being ooc players resource in higher %s as the in control player can get armor to “stack”.

The flow on from here is interesting in macro duel dynamics. 50% weakens in control as the player has to spend time getting health when in the past they could potentially get by with armor only. This pushes players to health more often which has some flow on to look at shortly.

However before that we will go back and compare 50% and 66% absorption and while we are at it lets look at belt from earlier ut4/ut99 perspective with 150 points of 100% absorption armor.

Is armor or belt better historically?

Been wanting to write this for a while.

Belt offers 100% absorption for 150 points of armor. Armor offers less than 100% in smaller amounts. In arena fps games popular absorption numbers are 66% or 75% – probably because these translate to 2:1 and 3:1 damage to armor:health. When ut4 development started there were massive misconceptions involving armor. Players believed that belt was significantly stronger purely because of its 100% absorption. Some of the math posted early on was cringeworthy, to be completely honest up until overwatch release players still did not have an understanding of how health/armor interacted.

For a single pickup and time spend the belt is better, it nets the player more resources than the 100a or 50a. Belt is superior to armor is when player health is very low and picks it up – it instantly translates to remaining health (lets say sub 20 to be super low) plus 150. Quite the effective health boost to 170. This scenario was a main gripe from the “nerf belt” camp. Going back to the hilarious math one common-ish suggestion for belt was to “lower the absorption a little bit below 100%”. If we lower absorption to 95% players need around 5 health to service 100 points of belt. This manages to do nothing to address the perceived problem as the low health player can still use a decent amount of the belt.

Low health pickups of belt did not happen frequently, however it could easily be considered “annoying” as it would occur when the out of control player takes the pickup from the in control player. This annoyance and skewed perception of the problem is due to cognitive bias. Players losing control to sheer luck of not getting off quite enough damage then their opponent resetting their health with a belt grab.

However for most other situations armor is better. We will use the current armorware settings (66% absorption) vs belt (150@100%) as the example here as it is the simplest to demonstrate with. For this example players will take 100 points of damage. Comparing a player with 100h/150a(66%) vs 100h/150b(100%)

After 100 damage the armor player (100h150a) will be left on 67h84a. This player can take health – a readily available pickup, that is included on maps quite freely on a 20s respawn. By taking two health packs they are back to 100h84a – 184 effective health. They are also able to stack on armor which the game has them contesting anyway.

The belt player (100h150b) will be left on 100h50b, the same total as the armor player. In order to increase their effective health they need to take armor or belt. They are unable to heal with health packs as they have taken no health damage. This means that if an armor is coming up soon they are forced to contest with 150 effective health. This is a disadvantage.

Health packs spawn faster and there are usually more of them on a map than armor. Likewise players are not fighting over health packs in the same way as belt/100a and armor is rarely left up like health. In a “normal” duel where players are contesting the belt/100a the previously mentioned damage has a good chance to have occurred during a fight over one of these two items. This actually segues into an interesting subject – when is the best time to damage a player who is taking a pickup? Before or after pickup? Consider it.

This is where armor becomes better than belt for the same amounts, and this scenario of backing off before dying and healing occurs frequently in high level play. This is why armor is generally superior to belt for most situations. If the above scenario played out ten times over the course of a duel the player with armor who consistently heals ends up with a ~350hp benefit over their opponent. 350 additional damage needed to be dealt out by their enemy. This is not to say that players have a great deal of control over how this occurs, or that players would leave the belt up because they think armor is better, but in some ways belt is more limiting for the in control player.

This is one of the side benefits from lower absorption armor. If you take a fight at 100h100a, suffer 100 damage you are now on 50h50a. Healing with health packs to 100h50a give you an effective health pool of 150hp. If armor is 66% you will have  100/34a. In some ways this benefits the player in control by making armor last longer than it would otherwise, while also making the in control player need to use health at a faster rate than higher absorption values. It also skews things towards the in control play by virtue of them having more armor. If you are 100h/50a@50% and take 100 damage you end up with no armor. If you are 100/50a@25% and take 100 damage you have 25h/25a. This is a potential benefit of lower absorption on the thighpads in ut99.

Back to 50%, how does this affect the overall macro of duel

Because 50% causes health to be sought out more often players will gravitate towards health packs more than in the past. This allows players to setup ambushes on health. Health ambushes have always been an option and a clever way to convert kills, however with the higher importance of health they occur much more frequently at 50%. This is because health, not armor, becomes the go to, even for the in control player.

This is where problems arise. The game in its current state is skewed more towards setting up fights on health packs than in the past. This in and of itself is not a problem, however maps are designed to have fights around the belt or the 100a. Most maps are not designed to have fights at their health pickups. Health packs are shuffled off in corners, generally not setup in interesting ways.

So mappers could make ut maps more interesting, but currently they are not. This is the biggest problem from the current armor system.

Also overall macro game flow of healing for large item spawns, contesting and fighting is lessened, instead replaced with scrappy fights over +25 bubbles by injured players. But these fights are not assured as players can simply go their own way and heal up from different health locations. In non-serious games this might be more fun, but when winning is important taking the risk to pursue a low health opponent when you are also on low health is rolling the dice. In general better to go and heal. The difference with other, larger, more important pickups (100a/belt in ut and mega/ra in ql) is that skipping them is only an option at times when they clash – and in comparison both lots of health being up is likely.

In older titles with higher absorption the more stacked player could continue going for armors while their weaker opponent restacked on health. Splitting of resources in a manner of speaking. With 50% both players require it at roughly the same rate and this could be considered a nerf to out of controls ability to stay alive as the in control player also wants health as a primary resource. 

Could Unreal Tournament Duel work with weaponstay on?

Allow me to preface this with a note – I am very pro weaponstay off and think it is a defining feature of ut duel. However watching some Quakeworld duel last week got me thinking about weaponstay on in duel because, well.. Quakeworld duel is played with weaponstay on.

It got me wondering, could those ut2k4 1on1 maps work with weaponstay on? It is highly unlikely I am the first person to have this thought – they were simply too small to work with weaponstay off so the logical first place to go would be weaponstay on. Unless you liked strings of spawn frags that is. The downside of turning weaponstay on is the removal of a large part of controls power and almost completely reducing the pickups on the map.

Let us think think through and see how weaponstay off could potentially affect duel.

Firstly why did Quakeworld get me thinking? Because it is played with weaponstay on players need to rely on ammo pickups rather than weapon pickups to fuel their guns. This adds a different layer of resource management. This is an aspect that I feel ut lacks – it is very “two item” centric in duel. 150/100 at the expense of other pickups. Historically it is also skewed towards the in control player.

Quakeworld has an interesting drop system. Players drop backpacks, which contain their currently equipped weapon as well as all ammo they have for all weapons. In duel this means that there is an abundance of ammo, if your opponent is picking up weapons and ammo and you are killing them and picking up their backpack you have a steady resupply. In this way ammo plays less of a role than it could. One aspect that is interesting is the lightning gun. Some maps have very sparse ammo, and over the course of a game the “strength” of the LG goes up as players accumulate ammo and drop it. Initially not super strong due to lack of ammo which becomes more abundant over time. Not particularly interesting in this example but just another quirky aspect of a game.

Dropping the equipped weapon is important in TDM* but not so important in duel. There are two main weapons and if you are killing your opponent you likely have at least one of them already, plus the maps are quite small and the time spend to obtain the weapons is not great. At least on maps like aero and dm4 – perhaps dm2, dm6 or ztn are a different story.

*Important to the point players use binds to autoswitch to/off rocketlauncher when shooting to avoid dropping it on death.

Unreal Tournanemt 4 duel is played with weaponstay off

Weaponstay off allows players to deny weapons and stack their ammo all at the same time. The weapons are typically the largest ammo supply available on the map unless it contains ammo double stacks. In this way it is usually a better time spend for the in control player to deny weapons and stack their ammo using the largest available ammo source – the weapons themselves.

Ut99 and 2k4 duel were also played with weapon stay off and it was rarely suitable to play them with weaponstay on. The primary detractor for ws on from an “end game” perspective is the drop weapon.. bug both games featured. Players who drop their weapon before running out of ammo are able to pick it up again for a free refill. Unlimited ammo.

To me this is a larger problem than removing the strategy/tactics via denial that weaponstay on presents. It leads to less weapon variation due to ammo consumption and creates the opposite of denying your opponents favorite weapon – it allows them to use it at all times, with little fear of ammo running out.

So weaponstay on for the 2k4 1on1 maps made no sense because it heavily “flattens” player requirements. Sure there is still a benefit from being able to use other weapons but if you can just use the one you are most comfortable with the majority of the time it leads to blander, less interesting games.

If dropweapon was fixed to not allow unlimited ammo what would occur? As a respawning player weapons would be much more readily available. This would speed up the game in many ways, allowing players to +forward almost as soon as they spawn if they choose to. The in control player would need to either collect ammo or the weapons they have not picked up yet – initially the weapons probably provide a better time spend for both the additional slots and double ammo pickup.

As in control time progresses we would find that the in control player needs to spend more time collecting ammo as well as controlling belt/100a – assuming that armors stay the same. This pushes them away from weapons as they can no longer ammo up or deny this resource.

Up to this point things have not been super interesting, just slightly different to what exists in the game now, possibly with more +forward potential for the out of control player.

However when you consider that the out of control player could potentially control ammo and to a degree the effectiveness of the in control player, things suddenly interesting. Maps may need to be revisited for this to work decently, but if the out of control player could sweep up the shock ammo on the map, effectively neutering their opponent, the down player is given a way back into the game that is not damage or stacking themselves, it is almost inverse weapon denial to the player who is at a disadvantage.

The fortnite double pump shotgun is great.

Depending on how ammo is placed on the map it can either provide a large time spend with 2-3 ammo locations per weapon, making the in control player move around more or provide a potential conflict point if there is only one spot on the map the in control player can ammo up.

Many vs few pickup locations provides focus

A big part of why ut weapons do not drive interaction and fights is the sheer number of them, combined with additional ammo on the map means that players do not really need to fight for them. They are a resource but they are not an interaction driver in the way armor and health are. Risking stack (scarce) for an item that is very available, especially so after the 20s spawn change is not a good choice. You can almost always go elsewhere and get ammo.

If weaponstay was turned on and ammo was limited to one place on the map per weapon (double stacks for most weapons) players, particularly the in control player when getting kills, would become much more predictable while also changing how important the pickup itself is. This would lead to 1-2 locations for a weapon vs the current 2 (assuming one ammo pack somewhere on the map) to 4(three packs). And two locations are only present for the initial pickup, after that the only option player have is the single ammo location, which can be controlled and fought over due to much more limited options. If you forgo picking up ammo or fighting for it you lose access for the next 30s.

Ammo becomes a resource to fight over.

This would also boost the importance of dropped weapons, which could potentially give players a closer “top up” option than the ammo packs themselves.

In control can still deny weapons by camping them but does so at the expense of being able to do other things, get armor, heal or get ammo. Denying a particular weapon becomes a larger time spend than simply picking up the weapon and leaving the area, often on the way to something else. This could also provide a point of conflict as a player who wants the weapon may choose to fight to get it in this situation.

One of each weapon was required on a ut4 duel map in the past because without seven pickups control becomes far too easy with a 30s respawn. If a map only had three weapons you could completely choke out your opponent with little effort. With weapon stay on mappers could potentially create levels with more variety. A map could have three weapons and still be viable. Ammo locations may need to be spread out more in this example as you would run into the same “easy to deny” problem with weapon stay off and three weapons.

The current ut4 weaponstay would also need to be changed so the player cannot pick it up again after 20seconds.

Would it be better than weaponstay on for ut duel?

It would be different and I think it has as much potential for interest as the current setup does. Ideally you would want authors to specify the preferred weaponstay mode for their map.

It would surely add some flavour.

Custom HUD ut4 removing hud elements in

It is straight forward to remove a ut4 HUD element. You need to remove the reference in your game.ini file.

For example remove “RequiredHudWidgetClasses=/Game/RestrictedAssets/UI/HUDWidgets/bpHW_WeaponInfo.bpHWWeaponInfo” to disable the text that pops up when you switch weapons.

The ini is usually found C:\Users\username\Documents\UnrealTournament\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor

Positioning in Overwatch

If you have played overwatch you might have seen guides relating to positioning. These are usually quite generic – stay backline if you are support – stay at the front if you are a tank – stay behind shields – etc. For defence they may be a little more specific – defend from these locations, tanks stand here, supports stand here. But overall the game is no where near as dynamic as duel. In my experience (high diamond/low master) full holds occurred most often in overwatch when attackers were unable to push defenders off their setup “position”. This leads players to believe that this in itself is strong positioning when in reality the defending team never had to adjust their positioning because of deaths or good pushing – the initial setup was good, but beyond that their positioning was never “tested”. On the flip side defence often lost points when they failed to adjust after 1-2 deaths, continuing to play pushed up when they should be “positioned” back more.

In reality positioning is very dynamic and constantly changing and if a team full holds with little to no moving around their positioning might be good, but positioning also takes into accounts adjustments for “other things” happening, which does not occur much at all in the example.

If you were to simply copy their positioning in this situation and then lose two players and stay locked in those same locations – you would lose because you did not change your positions accordingly.

Unreal Prime – A community driven ut4 mod

Calling Unreal Prime a “mod” is somewhat of a disservice – perhaps a better word is vision. Unreal Prime is the vision of ut4 that a group of community members have – and they are in general backed by the competitive community as well as players who are dissatisfied with Epics vision of the weapons. The general idea is to recapture our past loves on the new platform. Perhaps like a less hardcore CPMA for Unreal Tournament 4. Wail sums it up :

Unreal Prime is all about (re)capturing the best of every UT game, the fun, the skill, the innovation, and bringing it all together.

Initial setup includes changes and tweaks to the majority of the weapons, however talking to a few of the members other modifications (movement along with other aspects of the game) are not out of the question down the road. Wail has declined to provide damage numbers, which is somewhat irritating as weapon combinations and stack estimation is an important part of weapon selection. One key factor that will keep many players happy is faster weapon switching. All the weapons have tweaked visuals and modified skins, which differentiate them from the standard Unreal Tournament 4 weapons.

Shock Rifle (Sapphire Shock Rifle) – On the surface the shock appears roughly the same, albeit with different weapon effects. The key points to note here are changed damage values, rates of fire as well as a smaller combo radius. The changed damage values allow two shotting fresh spawns. Max ammo has also been bumped up to 50 (currently 32 in the Epic build) and the combo cost has been decreased to three ammo. Overall it feels fairly similar and allows closer, faster combos while also allowing users to shoot multiple cores and pick one to combo at close range, which is not really possible in the epic build. It also offers superior primary hitscanning – the vanila shock rifle is out DPSed by the enforcer.

Mini Gun (Something) – The Unreal Prime Minigun is a step away from the tradition of slow/fast similar firemode weapon. With his changes Wail has managed to include a high/low rate of fire weapon along with a load up/ super high rate of fire projectile weapon. Primary fire works the way one would expect – a wind up, high rate of fire weapon that deals low damage per shot and gives reasonable accuracy to medium range. Secondry fire steps away from the traditional ut alternative mini and instead loads shots into the barrel – which can be held for a period of time and then released at a very high rate of fire. These shots are fast moving projectiles and are messaged by a series of pips below the crosshair. Finally the primary firemode can be put into overdrive, by holding down secondary. This causes the mini to shoot even faster, with more spread. This tertiary fire mode is particularly suitable for close range combat as its spread renders it inaccurate at longer ranges.

Link Gun (Repulsor) – At first glance Wails Link Gun gun appears very similar to the Epic implementation. It sports a shaft with limited range and it a high rate of fire projectile. Both these firemodes have been tweaked, the projectile mode is less effective than its Epic counterpart, putting it firmly back in the shitbucket, similar to most high ROF projectile weapons (past UT titles link/pulse, Quakes plasma/nail guns). Primary feels stronger, possibly due to higher tick on the damage or possibly because the other weapons are generally weaker overall. To many players it will seem about the same. However Wail has added a combo move that can be used for short range shotgun type damage and also for boost movement. Finally the secondary projectile fire mode can be used for wall climbing, similar to the plasma gun in Quake Live. The pull mechanic from base UT4 has been removed.

Rocket Launcher (Trident Rocket Launcher) – The Unreal Prime rocket launcher is a shout out to the Unreal Tournament 2003/4 rockets with a subtle aftertaste of the earlier titles grenades. Three simultaneous rockets are available in both spread and group fire modes. Accessed in the same way as previous titles (alt fire during loading) the different fire patterns are messaged to the user via a triangle around the crosshair. Grenades are also available and loadable to three and they all shoot at the same time.

Flak (Rebel Flak Canon) – Flak has the least changes usage wise and mainly has much toned down stats, damage, shard collision reduced and range on secondary reduced. The secondary range reduction sounds like a nerf but it opens up more up and over type shots that were previously not possible.

Sniper Rifle (Saint Sniper Rifle) – Like the Flak the Unreal Prime sniper is a tweaked version of the base UT4 weapon. It also features an ambient hum similar to the Quake Live rail gun while also having an audible weapon switch noise played for other users nearby.

Overall reception of the weapons has been good and due to community feedback Wail is planning on further tweaking his babies. Nice work!


Showdown spawn selection broken with double spawns?

2) This is the only gametype that is flat out unplayable with too many players. You put 16 people in a small CTF map and it becomes a brainless spamfest, but you still get to jump around and blow people up with a variety of weapons. The good players still somehow manage to win most of the time. And there have been enough full 32 player servers over the years to know there’s a segment of the population that actually prefers it that way. But you put even 8 players in Showdown on most maps and the game is broken; half the players get to play with the Enforcer while everybody else has weapon(s). It’s not even close to fun. I think it’s good that 3v3 is the optimal player count, but it needs to at least be functional with more. If everybody just gets the closest weapon, then at least they’ve all got something to work with.

It’s infinitely more playable than 5v5 tdm unless teams are very balanced and players play “properly”(or more than 5. or even 4v4 on smaller maps with less than a full weapon load out) with weaponstay off. At the very least in TSD most players will get weapons every round and one team will never get locked out heavily. You are also exaggerating “half the players” as even on small maps with one spawn of each gun there are 7 weapons. This is not to say seven players will get all weapons right off the bat, but four players getting all seems a bit of a stretch – and even if two players on each team get all the guns there are enough with dropweapon for everyone barring one player to have something. The belt/jacket/amp should be regarded in a similar way to a “weapon” and when these are added in there are 9-10 “items” to go for – more if one counts boots.

Dropping weapons and playing together in this way is something that should evolve – just because players are not doing it does not mean the gametype is broken. Perhaps from a purely pub standpoint I agree with your statement – cramped spammy messy 16player ctf has more appeal to the general populace than showdown. But having 7 weapons does not necessarily break TSD at a more competitive level. I know quake gets little love around here but quakeworld TDM maps are very weapon light, to the point one map has a single weapon (rocket launcher) and in general players use their spawn shotguns. It takes ~2 minutes for a team to obtain four rocket launchers.

Maybe the enforcer player could be considered the games equivalent of a hard carry without the eventual payoffs. Or an eco round.

One concession that needs to be made is that the enforcer does not have enough ammo to roll with the bigger guns. To alleviate this perhaps players without gun pickups could be bumped to 100ammo (or something) when there are no longer weapons on the map. Or the inverse, everyone starts with more enforcer ammo which is dropped to 20 when they pickup a weapon. OR players pinyata enforcer ammo on death. However even in 4v4 with only seven spawns it could be said that good teamwork overcomes the ammo problem – the enforcer player uses their ammo, communicates with their team mate who drops a weapon and uses their enforcer. Rinse and repeat for 120 bullets.

On top of this the gametype has not had time to mature – one obvious direction is sharing weapons based on ammo pickups. In this way a player can pickup the rocket launcher and one ammo pack, and a team mate can pickup another two ammo packs elsewhere. The first player can use the weapon down to one rocket then pass it off to their team mate who has ammo. This extends firepower significantly. As rawlph highlights voice for teams is really needed for this level of coordination.

It could almost be said that at one end of the spectrum we have 16 player small ctf, that works on pub but will never work competitively and at the other 4v4 TSD on ASDF sized maps – which would generally be unenjoyable for pub players but would “work” with organised teams.

Mirrored ut weapon spawns are not entirely bad. Some examples.

Tuba shock spawns – Previously there were two spawns, one on each side of the shock tower (no longer exists). This could allow one player to take boots and one to take shock. The player taking boots has 2x health packs to use vs the player who gets the shock. The problem here is potentially ammo for the enforcer player if they want to engage, however with boots they can opt to go to the tower for rifle/amp straight away. In 2v2 this trades some of the boots spawn health (assuming the shock player hits them) for positional advantage (boots) they can potentially use to get the sniper and amp.

Having said that the other mirrored spawns on tuba (bio and pulse specifically) are horribly bad for two teams to spawn at.

ASDF rocket spawns – Enemy picks rocket spawn farther from lift. Teammate picks pulse. Enemy team has the mini/belt spawn, your team has a player at bio for jacket. You pick the other rocket spawn closer to the lift. By moving straight onto the lift you can control where the rocket player is likely to go, deny shock via lift as well as bring two players (yourself with enforcer + team mate with link) to bear on the rocket player in short order. The rocket player has few options, none of which give quick access to any important pickups. The bio player can push onto the shock quickly.

Obviously there are ways around this, hammering straight to shock is the obvious example but this slows down the rocket player unless they specifically decided to do it off spawn.

Another point for the mirrored spawns – they allow closer grouping of team spawns. This way two players could spawn in close proximity and then play aggressively together quickly, even though one only has an enforcer. This would be later a later stage spawn picking type thing, if an enemy player is obviously somewhat cut off from the rest of their team stacking your last player near them to assist quickly killing them might be beneficial.

Lag spawn in – Rather than starting the game instantly how about putting players on their spots for the count downs? Might not help.

I’d also agree whole heatedly about impact/rocket jumps. If anything these are even more important early round if one wants to secure early resources. With 200 starting health they are much less risky as you never put yourself near death with piston and early round when you are pushing. One example I would pick is ASDF rocket spawn – hammering to shock (provided the other player did not pick the shock spawn) is faster than taking the traditional lift jump.


UT4 Sniper Rifle DPS and changes

Looking at just DPS does not tell the whole story when discussing ut4 weapons. What I have below does not either, but I feel it adds to the discussion.  This is a break down of how many shots are required (ignoring RNG headshots) to kill a player at different armor levels with the rifle. Obviously this ignores vials and keg, however for illustration purposes it is sufficient. I put it together expecting uproar over the sniper nerf and wanted to illustrate that it does not change as much as one would think. 67 included because I was interested in the difference to ut99. It was intended to show the difference between builds not between the shock and rifle.

Personally I like the number of hits to change stack more interesting than straight up DPS and kill time.
Interpret it as you like.

ut4 sniper hits
ut4 sniper hits

Update 19.02.2016 – With less offical Epic streams Zacc has been hosting a community talkback show. It is fun.

In the latest episode there is quite a bit of talk about the sniper changes this build. For the uninitiated the rate of fire was lowered (longer wait between shots) and the damage was lowered from 70 to 60. All three players involved have good points, one of which is the rifle being made more like the rail in quakelive. The point the commentators like about the ql rail is how it can be whipped out quickly to deal some fast damage.

This is interesting in ql as it allows either finishing shots or quick damage where the rail is required at close range (eg enemy falling away off a ledge, switch to rail and ping) without the caveat of having it equipped all the time and the guys think this is good. It extends the use of the rail beyond a long range only weapon, giving it some viable, if niche, close(r) range uses. However the differences end here. There is a main reason the rail is not optimal at close range in ql is because of the long reload/switch off time. For close finishing shots the “risk” is the reload/switch off time. If you do not estimate stack and hit the rail without a kill you are left extremely vulnerable. The ql switch works like this. Putdown/bring up, like ut as well as the full reload of the weapon. This means the rail has a switch off time of around 2000ms (1500 of which is reload time). Two seconds. This is an exceptionally long time and allows heavy punishment for missed shots or incorrectly estimated stack (hit but player does not die) at close range. The alternative is for the rail player to flee, which is quite often the case, giving up position to avoid damage/death. imo this long delay is one of the best ways to balance a long range weapon at close range.

This is why the rail works well the way it does. It offers long range, “free” damage. It offers close range encounter specific damage. While the DPS has been nerfed over the years via damage downgrades this is not really an interesting way to balance compared to other mechanics, it also removes the potential for risky shots on low health estimated players. What is more interesting, a rail/sniper that is nerfed through the floor damage wise so it simply cannot compete with a rocket launcher, or one that has the ability for that damage in some situations at a risk?

The final piece of the close range rail puzzle is the audible hum. This means at close range a player must either give their posistion away to their opponent via the hum or have a silent weapon out, resulting in a small delay and audio queue when switching to the rail from the silent weapon. This is quite subtle and simply adds to the layers – not really relevant to the current discussion but hopefully fills all the gaps for anyone reading this who has not played ql.

The problem with the ut4 sniper rifle is the refire is faster than the rail and when combined with switch time you end up with a weapon that is quite different to the rail. It currently lacks the quick follow up ability with shorter switch times of unfired ql weapons but it also lacks the long switch off after shooting delay, not really punishing a player heavily for using it in an incorrect situation. In its current incarnation if it was given the ability to quick switch for fast damage (as the guys in the video want) it would also need a longer switch off delay added, otherwise it would only receive the advantage of the rail but not the disadvantage.

The disadvantage is important, mainly because at higher level it leads to players giving up position when they miss an important shot. A player standing down on belt on asdf can use rifle at the opponent near the bounce pad as there is plenty of time to swap to something more appropriate should the bounce pad player choose to push in. However with a longer switch off delay this player would likely need to run back and use the jump pad. A similar situation would occur with a player at vials shooting to pulse. Should they miss (or not kill) their opponent they are required to +back while their rifle reloads for a second shot or switching away from. With the current reload/switch time this is not required to nearly the same degree.

Its entirely possible that the amount of delay for switch off is considered acceptable by epic – who knows as that is a fairly one way street.

In order to balance this I would also be in favor of higher base damage, up to 90 – with 100 for a head shot. This gives RNG one shots to fresh spawns, which is essentially what the current weapon does anyway. No armor levels are one shots. The higher base damage may be required in order to balance out the longer switch off time. If the damage is too low and the switch off time is not worth risking ever what is the point to the change? Of course this can always be dialed back should it appear too abusive.