Archive for the ‘FPS’ category


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.

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.


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?

Mysterial
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.


Unreal Tournament Australia and New Zealand

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how the shockwhores used to make scrubs cry..

Previous Unreal Tournament Australia community sites included OzUnreal (of OzForces ISP fame), oceaniaut and gibblets for instagib..

Unreal Tournament New Zealand community sites included Jetstream Games, Skankyflat and Paradise.


Unreal Tournament 4 Unlocks and Cosmetic items

UNLOCK NEW ITEMS With the opening of this new season, you’ll earn in-game rewards as you hone your skills in Basic Training, compete online in official Epic hubs, and complete offline challenges. These rewards are only available until the conclusion of the Pre-Alpha season in late October, so you’ll be able to look back and show everyone that you were here when it all started.

Unlock items are available via three methods. Progression, which is multiplayer. Challenges, which are predetermined secnarios vs bots setup by epic (eg 5v1 CTF) and Training. Overall the unlocks are intended


Zaccubus Duel Analysis

Zaccubus is posting new demo analysis videos. I am not a fan of these super in depth stop/start demo analysis for any game since players do not have time to think such in depth thoughts during play, and hindsight reveals everything. They tend to make the commentators look very clever. A better alternative is demo analysis of good players, outlining why they do specific things.

In general the video says what it needs to and probably teaches many players something, but there are some glaring points that should be addressed. The highlights, for me, are when zacc points out specific times to be aggressive, push for kills and most importantly, the why.

First spawn options
Videos opening is disappointing, calling two spawns similar when one is significantly better. Lucky for the viewers zoh makes the right choice.

Rocket spawn options: Rocket -> Lift to shock (potentially flak) | Rocket -> lift to pulse + vials + sniper. Mini/bio are not choices as they take too long and give up too much.

Bio spawn options: Bio -> Shock | ignore bio -> shock | Ignore both -> bounce pad to rifle -> vials + pulse or flak.

The rocket spawn is better. A player picking the bio spawn specifically to go for shock runs the risk of their opponent spawning at rocket then taking the lift dodge to shock. They are then contesting shock with an enforcer, or best case getting to shock ahead of the rocket player then taking a close range fight vs rockets with shock. Neither is ideal. Not 100% sure if the flak spawn can get to shock in time but that is another consideration. There is a spawn near pulse that would also allow killing of the player coming from bio to shock.

Spawning bio then ignoring shock and taking the bounce pad to rifle is potentially dangerous. Can you hear the flak pickup from the bio spawn area? If you cannot you might end up going lift into a flak shell OR the player at flak hears you, opts to go shock -> rockets, leaving you with rifle, pulse, vials and maybe mini for the first jacket spawn. This could work, depending on your play style. There are also spawns near mini that have fast access to shock. Potentially these spawns suffer from the same problem if you opt to simply bum rush shock. However if one player does this from bio and the other from the mini spawns, someone will likely die. Bit of a dice roll.

The spawn that can generally go safely to shock first is the one on the bridge above rockets.

Bio is a low % spawn choice to get a preferred weapon. You run the risk of not getting items you need or running into a player with your pants down. Looking at potential starting spawns can open up early opportunities. At the very least you can walk away with a decent group of weapons for opening encounters.

First Spawn (Video 1:50 / Game clock 9:45)
There are two possible weapons left on the map after this kill. The pulse and mini. Fjaru was headed towards pulse so assume that is gone. The rocket spawn is around 2 seconds closer* to the mini (using the lift near belt) compared to the flak spawn, so picking this was not entirely wrong. The rocket spawn is probably a better choice of the two, however putting a small delay before selecting the spawn would possibly have avoided death here – there is nothing else at rockets for fjaru to get so he has no reason to drop down. Pausing on the spawn increases the likelyness of him going to flak, or in the very least away from rockets, to look for you.

*A gut feeling rocket was closer while writing but had to test this in game.

The main problem at this point which is not addressed by zacc is that the only weapon still up once fjaru takes pulse after the first kill is mini. There is ample time (15 seconds) for fjaru to go to the mini before jacket instead of attacking down to rockets. This would have left zoh with nothing to contest jacket spawn. Except bio, if he can even get it. This is not to say that this is a mistake on fjarus part but more to point out the potential problem for zoh. Fjaru playing slightly less aggressively would have yielded even worse results for zoh. For example fjaru has a decent idea where zohs initial spawn was due to the shock pickup that would have been heard 100% near sniper/flak.

At this point in the game keeping track of what weapons are up is relatively simple. You know what you have and how much time has elapsed. Nothing has respawned yet.

Ignoring spawn choices the question could be asked if zoh made the correct move off the rocket spawn he picked. If we want to look at “mistakes” this is surely one – rather than going to lift he up to mini he makes a bee line for the belt. Rewinding even further you could say he makes the mistake straight off spawn when fjaru is above him / drops down. Rather than going left he potentially could have gone right, up the lift. There is a good chance he would have died anyway, however because fjaru drops it is the “best” avenue of escape available. Also using hammer alt while trying to escape..

Second Spawn (Video: 2:15 / Game clock 9:38)

Clicking in straight away here is portrayed as a bad thing by zacc. Zoh took the only spawn with a weapon left, assuming fjaru went and got the mini after killing zoh near belt – reasonable assumption. This was the only way to have a weapon for the upcoming jacket spawn.

I think hanging around was a mistake – we know the rl is spawning shortly after the armors as zoh started here, so getting bio, going down to rl for pads + rockets then potentially shock -> flak+helmet is probably the way to go here. This is the fastest known way to get back into weapons. We know fjaru has rifle and flak, however the flak spawn is potentially further away from the flak than the rocket spawn that zoh started on.

What – Gameclock 7:09 to next spawn

Fjaru did not deny the jacket because when he was taking the shock (and potentially checking the jacket spot) it was not up. It spawned at :39. There was a good chance fjaru did not have the pickup time as he was near/using mini jump-pad when zoh picked it up at 7:09. Sure, he should be playing with it in mind, even without a time, but this is all rather razor close for someone who does not know the spawn time. Fjaru picked up the shock, if he checked the jacket visually here it would not be there – going to pads the way he does is a good option. He may have also healed up, as he came from the low passage at rl.

Out of control 3:34 Game clock

zoh is not out of control. He took the last jacket – fjaru was likely at belt so does not have timing on it. In/out of Control get thrown around too freely in ut. Control is when a player has belt and jacket timing (or control) and their opponent has neither. If a player has belt, gives up multiple jacket spawns in a row and the next belt, yet manages to loose no armor their opponent is not really in control. They have no stack advantage.

I disagree with having more shots here. Fjaru has belt, zoh is 86/76. In order to be in a condition for the next jacket pickup (or next belt) he should preserve the limited stack he has. Playing safe like this and avoiding damage is good, especially when the player has a lead. Obviously he did not contest the next jacket pickup.. but he still has stack and missing the jacket was not as crucial as it would be if he had no armor.

The next pause when zoh ambushes fjaru at shock after jacket pickup has similar comments about control – as if landing the combo damage changes control. It removes fjarus stack but but does not automatically give zoh control. Control is achieved on the next set of armor spawns/pickups.

One last point here – this combo damage was quite low, fjaru took a direct rocket at the next belt fight and the belt glow did not disappear.

The last belt kill + fjaru suicide
Even before this point the game is won. Zoh can play defensively, take the next jacket while fjaru is at belt and waste the last minute. Unless this is a competition match I strongly believe that trying moves that are not ideal is not terrible. If zoh died and failed he has three frags to drag out off a fresh spawn, harder to practice than +backing with a decent stack and weapons.


Slow stacking non-binary armor and time restraints in duel

Sir_Brizz: Yeah, for add stacking or in relation to the concept above of having “mini shield belts”, for example.

Lets call this slow stacking.

TLDR; It takes longer/is time consuming to build/maintain stack and makes out of control stacking to reduce stack differential via pickups rather than just damage an option. It restricts the in control players time, movement and opportunity to pressure the out of control player while giving them a way to stack to challenge the in control player.

It depends how the armor system is setup. To simplify pretend we transplant the ql stacking armor (only armor) with the current ut values, everything 30s spawn, max 200, belt becomes 60% (or whatever , no shards, no mega, nothing else. Obtain two pads and have 100 armor. Obtain 2 jackets and have 200 armor. Obtain a jacket and pads and have 150 armor. Obtain 4 pads for 200. Etc.

Slow stacking/non-binary duel is about time management. Control and stack comes at the cost of having time to push the out of control player and out of control costs more time to build a stack that can be used for a direct confrontation.

Player stacks and actions are controlled by time – in order to service a large stack and heavy denial a player should have little opportunity to pressure their opponent. At the same time the out of control player has freedom of movement at the expense of stack. This also ties to their aggression as a failed attack, even without dying costs them the next X period of restacking time.

In my opinion control should not mean one player has all resources and the other has none, which is typically how ut armor/duel works. Control should mean that a player has a resource advantage, at the expense of time and predictability. This resource advantage should not be permanent (provided items are collected) and by giving the out of control player a method of stacking that allows the resource difference (stack differential) to be equalised they have a method of contesting control that does not rely on execution – with ut damage this would always be an option anyway. The in control player must use the advantage in the window it takes out of control to stack to an amount in order to challenge them – the in control player must take the out of control players potential stack into account.

There are other repercussions – +forward is slightly more favorable before critical mass is reached as players take longer to stack. There are more opportunities to control players stack when contesting pickups. This means if three items are run by the in control player, the out of control player can apply some damage at each pickup, negating the pickup the player is currently taking. It has a potential to introduce a “balanced” state where players trade damage and pickups for longer periods than with the current setup, even after one dies.

To highlight the difference using the current ut4 duel – if a player has control (jacket + belt) they can ignore the pads. They are a one time boost to the out of control player that is small compared to belt, they can still be one shot with current damage values. If pads stacked the in control player has to make a choice – spend more time denying the pads or deal with the other player having 100+ armor at some point in the future 30-60 seconds. This is actually why this change alone would not fix duel – in control player would just move pads higher up their priority list and take three items instead. Some claim that this is required currently, some not, however allowing stacking would make it a serious consideration.

The easiest way to balance duel is by looking at it as time management which can be spent on different aspects. This change is more about providing options to out of control.

Watch the first map in the video below. See how Dahang ends up with heavy control yet cannot push onto Cyhper, in large part because doing so would allow items to spawn which he could potentially miss. Notice that while Cypher is under pressure it is not the same as +forward pressure you might expect and he has a decent amount of freedom to move around.