Archive for the ‘FPS’ category

Unreal Tournament 4 duel / weapon duel balance

Previous ut4 belt post. More fun from the thread that keeps on giving. Is the shieldbelt OP? These guys are cool but there is some serious cognitive dissonance going on in both these posts when considering the rest of the ut franchise.

nuxx: That isn’t the argument, the argument is the chance of winning a fight by rushing with one of the weapons from a bad position and no armor is big. Of course it should be possible but it happens so frequently some players are beginning to abuse it.

Why is the chance big. The player in question has bad position (assuming heavy +forward), is outstacked and is playing against a player in a potentially defensive location. Why is this player winning consistently if the skill gap (aim/movement specifically) is close. It is not because of the weapons or movement – bother players have access to similar pickups. In the secnario I am describing the stacked, better positioned player should win. Will they take damage? Sure, but they shouldn’t die unless they completely fail in execution.

Why is this occurring? I could take some guesses but they would be overly verbose and wordy and in the end come down to two things. 1) A +forward aim heavy play style is easy. Any player with aim from any arena fps could play this way. The alternative is more nuanced, takes longer to develop and is crippled by 2) its alpha. The alternative play style benefits from things like a good audio system, learning maps heavily (compared to +forward). Yes weapon balance does play a part here but even with a modest stack advantage and firing second the player with belt should kill their opponent if they are truly in a “bad position”.

Are the movement and weapons iffy? Sure. However they are not overbalanced to the point where good positioning, stack and player awareness are completely negated by +forward rockets. If they were threads about max stack being too much (when it was only 50 more than current) and belt being OP would not exist because players would get weapon -> kill opponent regardless of everything.

Flikswich: You should be able to kill someone with more armour by out-skilling/out-positioning them. But right now it’s far too easy :/ You can still have that kind of dynamic, where a player with better aim, skill and positioning can beat a fully stacked player, but it should be a risk to take those fights, not a standard tactic.

Duel in ut is built around naked* vs stacked fights. Perhaps there are times, especially early in a map, where jacket plays off against belt but in general there is no middle ground because the control game is essentially two items – belt and jacket. This is further masked by the delayed/staggered spawn system that is currently in use. With both items ut respawn times it is far too easy to control two pickups but this has always been the case. This is why max stack has been so heavily scrutinized on this forum, even if posters do not realise why they do it. Its shallow. High damage weapons are the only reason ut duel has ever worked.

By virtue of the armor/health system ut duel has always had “that kind of dynamic” and it is essentially the staple for out of control play for the past 15 years.

Look, ut duelers attribute much skill/difficulty to controlling the belt and jacket. In reality this is a simple task, similar to having red+mega^ which is not super challenging. Perhaps the ut duel player pool is so shallow that this is a difficult task. I don’t know. ut has never had meaningful out of control stacking. It has never had a reliable way for the out of control player to lower stack differential outside of damage. What you are describing is the status quo. I know you are fond of 2k4 weapon mechanics but the same two item scenario exists for duel there as well.

I don’t think the belt is OP in any way. It might also sound like I am disagreeing with either of you <3. Not really at all 🙂 The game needs more depth but it also needs to change the armor/health system from the archaic mess they are now. * Single pad pickup is so weak it is hardly worth mentioning for the out of control player. ^ Not exactly due to damage output and whatnot, but the two items in ql are "harder" to control due to 25/35. [wp_ad_camp_1]

Low health armor pickups in ut4

Reading this thread it seems most posters take issue with the belt protecting 100% because players with low health who pick it up get a large one hit survivability injection.. correct? More specifically in duel when a player picks it up on low health after avoiding death, typically fighting over the belt.

One thing to keep in mind that in order to use an entire jacket with current values a player needs around 30 health, granting ~130 health pool. Around 25% less health than the belt which offers ~180. While it does add more it is not a huge amount, especially taking bursty ut weaponry into account.

If the belt was lower – for example 100, players would require less than the minimum health value (~30) above to utilise the jacket in order for there to be any difference. This means a belt with 100% absorption only offers more stack for players with less than 30 health, and even then it is quite a small difference until the player gets even lower at which point the jacket becomes less useful.

Then we have the flip side where a player wins out on the belt and has full health still, walking away with 250+ health. However the general undertone of this thread is that “the belt should not have 100% absorption” and the only time that is relevant is for low health values, which makes this unlikely.

Personally? The belt has a somewhat psychological effect on other players. “Damn I just lost that fight and he just restacked all the health I took with the belt”. However the same occurs with the jacket to a similar degree anyway.

For duel at least tweaking armor 50 points here and there won’t fix the underlying broken system

Maybe someone could gather stats on how often players finish belt fights with less than the amount of health needed to get full benefit from the jacket.

An alternative double jump for ut4

Double jump making a return in a q2/cpma/wsw style could be nice. In these titles when one jump is followed quickly by another – for example jumping up two crates or up a set of stairs – the player receives a vertical boost roughly equivalent to the height of two jumps on their second jump, giving them a total jump height of around three jump. Movement wise there is not much on the vertical outside of lift jumps and this would open it up. It is much simpler for mappers to police who are worried about scale (avoid ledges players can jump+jump up) and adds some vertical movement options. Would probably be nice chaining a wall dodge off this vertical boost. You can jump up those four crates individually or if your timing is good you can do two jumps timed well and gain additional height off the second crate and land on the top of the pile.

While it would give more height than the traditional ut double jump it is also more constrained by map geometry as well as how it gives the bonus. For example it is quite limited and gives a heavy upwards boost, giving players nice predictable flight paths.

Reflex has it, at the start of this video and an example of a “triple jump” using the same idea around 1:10.

If you wanted to add a little, make the second jump receive a similar amount of inertia to a dodge, but in the upwards direction, making the player move faster.

To me this mechanic has always stood out as one of the few quake mechanics that would suit ut rather than strafe jumping or bunnyhopping.

Latest double jump thread

UT4 dueling guides and strategies

ut4 duel strategy

Lets talk about ut4 duel strategy some time

timer and timing practice for unreal tournament 4

There are a few articles hosted here about timing in general – suggested reading would be how to time items in fps games

ut4 duel practice

Practice makes perfect, however there are better and not so good ways to practice. After honing ones aim and movement where should a player look to improve?

Possible changes and additions to unreal Tournament 4 duel

This is being actively edited in case you stumble across it.

Two things about fantasy land below in ut4 duel

1) All iterations of UT lack an out of control game beyond get gun – deal damage.
2) Items in UT do not drive player interaction as well as they could.

The lack of out of control game would be mostly fixed with the following changes. This is the real issue facing duel. The community have various beliefs that relate to why the game plays the way it does, or how to fix it. The vast majority of these views look at a single aspect and ignore the bigger picture. These fixes try to make what is there work marginally better so as to mask duel in UTs short comings.

The most popular aspect to look at is armor values which translates to maximum stack vs fresh spawn. Logical place for UT players to look at since this has been a key function for about 15 years now. But it is not enough and by tweaking this no depth is added to the game.

The changes outlined below would fix things from a duel perspective and not have huge (any?) repercussions in other game types. The below would keep the “UT DNA” intact with belt + other armors. It would also create a duel game completely different to any seen before.

One assumption throughout this is that weapons will be roughly the same power at their intended range. This means the flak/rocket are powerful in close and the rifle is powerful at range.

The idea to copy quakelive simply to copy quakelive is not good. But we can learn much by looking at past unreal and quake titles. Not to simply steal aspects/mechanics from them, but more importantly to understand why a particular game plays out the way it does in duel. Why some play better than others. This is a topic for another post but the idea of simply “take this whole games armor” or “add this aspect” has more repercussions than most posters realise…

.. not to mention the posters in question usually misunderstand the other game..

.. not to mention that transplanting another games system is hardly needed to fix and add depth.

Ahem. Sorry.

Traditionally in UT duel when one player has full control (belt+jacket) there are limited options for the out of control player to pursue. Obtaining a weapon and applying sneaky damage is about the extent of out of control play. To UTs credit this works quite well, generally much better than it does in quakelive. The main reason this works is the ridiculous amount of damage a player can front load with good shots. In this way even full stack can be reduced to nothing in short order. However it does mean swings in control rely on excellent execution and more than a bit of luck. The changes here should allow players to lower stack differential in other ways.

The other important goal is to drive better player interaction. The items are the structure for duel and push the game forward and the players together. Again UT in the past does this poorly.

Control should not mean one player has all resources and the other has none. Control should mean that a player has a resource advantage, at the expense of time. 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 breaking control that does not rely on execution and/or luck. 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.

This is duel.

remove this? There are a number of ways to gives a player “ins” back into control. The quakelive method is non-binary slow stacking. I don’t think this fits what UT, mainly because it is played with weaponstay off and its bursty weapons, so lets go another route. Hard lock outs that allow denial and sacrifices/decisions need to be made by players. The goal here is to offer a certain number of “moves” in a spawn cycle. After the second spawn cycle.. well you will see what happens.

Preface: This is heavily based on ut99 armor. The description here ( is wrong. Read the Unreal belt description on the same page for a rough idea.

Armor (jacket+pads or big+small) are separate to the belt but share the same “slot”. They will work on a overwrite system. From this point on “armor” refers to jacket/pad item and belt refers to the belt.

The last point is to allow a player with 20 belt a jacket pickup without forcing clunky self damage. From a pickup perspective the belt is always considered superior as it offers the most protection in one pickup.

This is essentially how ut99 worked minus bugs and stacking weirdness. The main difference is overwrite on armor pickup at low belt values.

1) Give jacket/pads the same level of absorption.
Removes stacking confusion and “how much armor do I have” issues. This is also because thigh pads offer very little protection compared to UT damage output. Removes possible confusion in relation to stacking.

Spawn time on these armor pieces would be 20-30 seconds.

The absorption amount is dependent on weapons and movement – hard to gauge at this point.

1b) Pick a max armor value that sounds good.
As the total itself is fairly meaningless lets go with 150. Protection can be tweaked at a later date via absorption %. The goal is to have armor offer more protection than belt at a full stack.

The total number is important in relation to the “armor” pickup numbers as a “how many pickups do I need to stack to max armor” which comes later.

2) Allow jacket/pads (big/small armor) to stack with themselves.
This allows the non-belt player to stack using a single pickup multiple times – it also gives reason for denial after a non-belt opponent picks up an item, which drives player interaction harder. With the current setup once a player has an item their opponent is free to ignore picking it up until they deal damage unless they opt to deny it for after the other player has taken damage.

Have at least three of these items on a map, at least one big. Armor values something like 100/50.

3) Lower belt spawn in line with mega
55 seconds is too long and allows too much freedom to the belt player. At first glance this appears to be a huge buff but in reality a player with belt now has to worry about this pickup much more often. In addition it offers out of control more chances for ambush at the belt. It also ties into one other change.

Somewhere between 30 and 40 seconds.

Give the belt around 100 points. The important point from a UT DNA perspective is 100% absorption.

4) Add keg to duel maps
One thing glossed over when posters discuss ql armor/duel is mega. Across the board it is the one item included on every duel map in current rotation and the vast majority of all competitive duel maps ever played. However the keg in ut has a very long spawn time (or did) Change this to the new shorter belt spawn.

Cap max health at 200 (or 199). This could be lower for balance but 200 is a good starting point.

5) Disable health tick down
This may not exist currently but it is important for how this system would work. Prevent pickups of mega/vials when at max health.

6) Lower weapon respawn to 15 seconds, halve ammo pickup with weapon

This forces players to return to weapons for denial more often. Boosts importance of ammo and revisiting weapons. Takes pressure off the out of control player as they will have weapons available more often allowing them to defend themself. Allows throttling of weapon use via ammo scarcity as a mappers choice. For example is a map is heavily based towards rifle due to being open, having one rifle spawn and no ammo on the map causes the player denying the rifle to return to it frequently in order to deny it and because of ammo and also for their own use.

This is a minimal change and personally I think the way weapons are used in duel should be revisited, however because this overview is intended to demonstrate a way to add depth to duel using an existing title (ut99) pickup system with a few changes more major weapon adjustments will not be discussed.

Overview of changes:

In this way a limit is placed on control. Obviously players can do things like self damage to circumvent the belt+mega “problem” but it needs to be considered – is it really worth dropping 100 points of belt in order to deny 100 points of health? If I have 199 health/100 belt and mega is available it is probably not in my interest to do this. They then need to play tethered to the mega going forwards unless they want to cede it to their opponent.

This allows the out of control player to stack to a decent amount with a single item (or two items) via armor. One item not one item pickup. It adds another item for the in control player (keg) and at the same time caps out their ability to deny it if they have belt. Blocking pickups at max is similar to tickdown (also suggested in this thread) but has an obvious effect on the game.

And we end up with two stack types. Belt+max health and Max armor + max health. Ideally max armor has a higher max hitpoint potential but takes longer to arrive there, especially from an “out of control” situation where the player stacks on small armor + vials.

Belt – Big armor 100% absorption (30-40 second spawn)
Jacket – Big armor X% absorption (<100%) (20-30 second spawn)
Pads – Small armor X% absorption (<100%) (20-30 second spawn)
Keg – +health over base max, no tick down (30-40 second spawn)
Vials – +health over base max, no tick down (same as keg + normal health)
Helmet – Blocks a headshot or whatever.

Weapons – 50% less ammo on pickup. 15 second respawn.

How this plays out

In comparison to existing unreal titles this is an item rich game. Consider the two routes to stacking.

1) With belt a player can deny: Belt, armors, keg (once) unless their belt is used entirely and their health is lowered from max.

A player using belt must consider the keg and how to deal with their inability to pick it up. Do they defend it and cede armors to the other player? Do they leave it to deny armors and leave the keg for the other player?

2) With armor a player can deny: Armors, Keg indefinitely as low incoming damage will allow pickup.
A player using armor has a similar situation to deal with. If they take the belt they nerf their maximum potential. Thus they must make decisions about leaving it up/guarding it/denying other items.

Notes: If you opt for the “stronger” armor route you have to deal with the belt. If you decide you cant deal with the belt being up you effectively limit your maximum further while at the same time limiting your keg denial ability.

the belt player has to take – the belt. the belt player has to deal with – the keg. the belt player has to deny – armor

At this point maps become a problem. But that is an issuefor another post. Ideally maps should have something like sb/j/t/t/k or sb/j/j/t/k or possibly on smaller ones j/j/t/k or even sb/sb/j/k

This may sound like a lot of armor but it is one item more than previous titles plus the keg.

About spawn times and how many items?

In case this has not become apparent yet spawn times and in/out of control will now be discussed.

Revise section – sounds retarded : One main problem with ut duel is the lack of items. Players in ql* often run red, mega and a yellow. Three items every 30 seconds or so. This will be the goal in order to occupy the in control player . In order for the out of control player to have stacking options the in control player needs more than two (traditionally ut) items to keep them busy, preferably located in separate parts of the map. Deck is possibly the only map (belt, boots, jacket) where this occurs but one of the items is not stack specific (boots) and the “out of control” armor is near the high sniper, hardly worth the risk for the protection pads offer. Plus with jacket+boots close proximity it becomes trivial to line them up – ie minimal time requirement – max stack vs fresh spawn health prevails again.

The goal is to have one player running three items while the other player can stack on one plus vials. The player with more items would be considered “in control”, however unlike other duel games this control is not open ended. The out of control player can stack a meaningful amount and the speed of this stacking is directly proportional to the choices the in control player makes.

If a map contains sb/j/t/t/k the in control player with belt and keg can limit the speed at which their opponent stacks by taking the jacket and a pad. In this way the out of control player needs to take 3-4 spawns to stack on their remaining pad pickup. During this time the keg will become unavailable to the belt player unless they take damage. It might seem prudent for the out of control player to push for the keg pickup straight away, however if they fail and only have part of a stack (two pad pickups instead of three to four) they set themselves back that amount of time and have to start again.

This means that going forward maps need the above mixes – A map with sb/j/j/t/k makes the “in control” player hit belt then denies at least one jacket per cycle.

*which is a “better” duel game, has a longer history, more players and as such better “upper level” benchmark than ut. Players can do three items relatively easily, thus more than three are probably required without hard lockout like quakeworld – which does not play all that well in duel because of this.

More ut4 1v1 stuff

Hey man, sorry I’ve been a bit slow replying.

I was rereading your link about duel in ut99/ut4 and I was wondering some things.

At the start you say that spawn times being the same don’t really matter as they are the same in QL and players can’t run all the armors.

What prevents someone from doing this? Isn’t the Mega’s overlapping spawn time all that is interfering? I would think players don’t try to go after all the armors because they need the mega to build a full stack, not because of other reasons.
I’m not an expert on quake so this isn’t entirely clear to me.[/QUOTE]


He implies that control is harder in ql because items are staggered (have different spawn times). He wants ut to adopt a similar setup. The spawn times in ql are similar to ut already. That is most armors on the same spawn, one item on separate timing. This being:

ql: armor (25) vs mega (35)
ut: armor (27) vs belt (55)

I disagree with his implication that adding more conflicting spawn times will fix ut like ql – It won’t because this is not the reason why in/out of contol plays differently in ql compared to ut. In fact his assertion that items have staggered spawn times in ql is flat out wrong.

It is true that the belt spawn is twice the armor spawn in ut and possibly changing this to be something different might help a little. But only marginally.

“You are looking at it the wrong way and this is the problem with duel in ut from a traditional sense. You are partially right with the comment about control being too easy, but it stems from a more complicated problem than simply times being the same. Times are the same in ql.. so a similar problem should exist there right? “

Control is strong in ut not because items can be cycled easily but largely due to the inability for the out of control player to stack to a meaningful amount in order to challenge for control. In addition the in control player has minimal pickups to worry about so can pressure the out of control player too easily.

In duel your stack and level of control (both are connected) should be dictated by how much free time you have available to pressure the out of control player.
Adding more items and making them harder to time (everything with different spawn times) would make some aspects easier. However at its core the ut out of control game is quite limited compared to ql. Control is not simply the in control players actions but also what the out of control player can do. This is the main theme of my post you were reading.

Now to your question of “why can’t they just run everything in ql”. In actuality ql players can run everything, its just fairly rare to see someone doing it. You are right when you say that the mega is the only item in ql that is different, on some maps this matters, on others it is not as important. For instance, ztn (bloodrun) has red and mega right next to each other and it is common for a player to have both, the split is not significant. On another map, T7 (furiousheights) mega and red are fairly split. Both items spawning at the same time is a common occurrence and out of control players can use this.

I like the idea of time being the currency in duel. In order to exert full control (all armors+mega) on the majority of the quakelive duel maps the in control player has no time to do anything else. They will never be able to chase or push the other player as all their time is taken up with pickups. When they do opt to chase the out of control player gaps in their cycle will appear.

It also rarely happens because the armors really need to be up to instigate the cycle. For example if a player gets mega + two of the three armors on ztn (commonly occurs) and the remaining YA is not up when they get to it they cannot add it to their cycle – they need to get position on the next spawn that is coming up. They can wait for a short time period then need to leave. I can only think of a few games on the larger maps where this has occurred over the past few years between good players.

I recall cooler doing it in a faceit final at one point on ztn – he had no time to do anything else and that includes pushing his opponent who has 11 shards (55 armor) to stack to 200 at will because of this. I believe cooler ended up losing anyway because he was two frags up when he started the cycle, kept it going for 5-6 minutes then ended up dying.

Out of control stacking is limited in ut. Thighpads are the extent of the armor the out of control player. Stack differential is important when looking at out of control vs in control. I see posters comment on “200 is too much armor” but the number itself is fairly meaningless. The potential stack difference and the opportunity for the out of control player to make these numbers more even (either through damage or pickups for himself) is important. The total number is only important when the game is the way ut is – no options to stack.

Finally the lack of player interaction forced by items hurts duel. This is also outlined in the post you were reading. The in control player is very predictable.

You also talked about the belt in UT providing a full armor stack, but currently in UT4 it doesn’t. similar to UT3 you can combine it with other armor to build up to 200 armor. Two belts don’t give 200 however.

Do you reckon this is a good change because it forces the belt player to go after other armor or do you think this is a bad, change as it allows the in control player to get a larger 200 stack instead of the old 150?

I’m leaning towards the latter as belt players tend to go after other armor anyway so the main change in that view is there being a larger gap between full stack and new spawn health, but I’d like to know what you think.[/QUOTE]

Again the problem is not the amount of armor (150 vs 200) but rather the possible differential between the in and out of control players.

I feel you are correct in saying that the belt player tends to go after the jacket anyway.
This change initially this makes the belt player weaker but once control is established and one player has belt and jacket they will run both these items because they want to deny them. I don’t think small armor vs large armor difference has been a huge problem in any ut iteration.

I think its better but ultimately a band aid solution that does not address the lack of non-execution out of control play. If the out of control player could stack to 150 armor using thigh pads, the stack differential is much less.

Duel and weapon denial in ut4

As a side note someone mentioned working out an opponents preferred weapon and locking that down – this is not really how weapon control should work.

At high level all weapons are roughly equally dangerous at their effective ranges. Denying a low level player his rocket launcher (because he is useless with other guns) is well and good but at higher levels it is not really an option as your opponent will have access to flak which is roughly interchangeable at the same range. In 1999 specific denial like this was good due to players preferring one weapon, players needing one weapon because of connection and general lack of aim overall.

With the current weapon implementation denial works sort of like.. scoop up everything you can and pray. 2kx may have been different due to reliance on lg/shock hitscan, however this dynamic does not occur when all weapons are roughly equally useful. In addition there are very few demos of this occurring in game, which leads you to think that does not really happen.

In addition unless players are familiar with each other identifying “preferred” weapons is unlikely to occur. This is a chicken or egg situation – a player that is not good enough to be efficient with the entire weaponset is unlikely to realise what weapon their opponent wants – if players are at a level where they could identify weapon preference they are probably beyond the point where they “need” a weapon in order to play well. A better way to structure weapons in duel is by range. In this way players can take advantage of gaps in the other players arsenal, this is quite easy to understand. ut does not offer this due to double up on fire modes.

Think of weapon pickups like class abilities that are paper scissors rock. Long beats short/medium at long, medium beats short/long at medium and.. well you get the idea.

So rather than looking upon duel as locking out your opponents “preferred” weapon (because as player skill increases there will not be a preferred weapon, plus it is ineffective to play this way) players should instead look at locking down a specific range – in this way the player controlling the sniper/shock can leverage long range encounters to their weapon stack or the player controlling the rockets/flak can dominate in close.

In a game with a tiered weapon set (either quake2 where there are good/bad weapons or 2kx where hitscan is dominant) denial based on grab everything (everything in the “superior” niche”) works to a degree. However this also leads to face stomping as the controlling player has the better weapons.

A game where weapon respawn is shorter leads to players becoming more predictable and better drives player interaction. If I know you have rockets and mini/pulse then denying sniper or shock is a good step in the right direction – I can then utilise my advantage (long range) over my opponent. Players can also predict where their opponent will be going based on weapon.

The problem with ut4 weapons is there are simply too many for the game to work like this in duel in a reliable way. Some maps partial situations like this might occur – for instance deck. It possible to lock down mini and pulse as they were right next to each other. In general maps were not designed with the flak next to the rocket or the mini next to the pulse, resulting in the aforementioned range lock down from happening. This could be viewed as a good thing (never getting locked out of a range) except players view locking out _everything_ as a viable strategy.. so something less severe and reliable that adds another level of strategy should be embraced with open arms. A setup like this would be much more reliable than the current mess. It would also serve to drive player interaction better – as per the previous example I know you have short and medium range weapons so you are likely to seek out the long range slot in order to compete.

In many ways range based lock out is as effective as total lockout. How do you counter rockets or flak in close when you do not have either or how do you counter sniper at long range with only rockets or pulse? You can’t. You don’t. So you stay away from encounters at the range you are lacking. You play at the ranges you have access to, which you have weapons for. You are still dangerous at the ranges you have weapons for, just not the ones you lack vs being ineffective at all ranges due to no guns at all.

So since I am now off on a massive tangent – rather than simply changing respawn times I propose the following. Change respawn time to 15-20seconds and bundle weapons.

  1. Rocket + flak
  2. Pulse + mini
  3. Shock
  4. Rifle
  5. Bio+other

In this way range lockout becomes possible by concentrating on one pickup. This adds more nuanced play to the game and gets away from the “collect them all” mentality. If duel then becomes locking out specific ranges also becomes a reality compared to currently.

Decreased spawn time serves to send the player back to the weapon they want to deny more frequently, increasing predictability.

Also player interaction is increased – when my opponent has 2+4 from the above list it is worth my time to visit 1 as that is the gap in their arsenal. Improved player predictability is a benefit from these changes as well. If there are 7 weapons (rockets, flak, mini, pulse, shock, rifle) that are sought after, predicting player movement beyond shock is much harder, bordering on impossible.

Newer ut4 weaponstay discussion


Preface: I love weaponstay off*.

nuxx: This is fairly obvious stuff but I said I’d point it out and it would be some of the reasons I think changing weapon spawn times might impact the game negatively. It also ties in some of the stuff why I’m against item timers

The codex example is the argument for why weapons should be taken off the armor spawn time for ut4 duel and possibly TDM. Not necessarily shorter and the weapons are not necessarily the items that should be changed..

Having different times forces the player to consciously time/control specific weapon(s) as well as the armor. Not simply run a lap. It makes players select weapons they want to deny and further restricts in control player movement and limits available time. Limiting available player time is the goal here, the side effect is making control “harder”.

In the codex example with 20 second weapon spawns the shock would be coming up before the armor. The player has a choice – hang at the jacket for the next 10 seconds leaving weapons spawning or go collect weapons, to arrive back at the jacket in time for it to pop. Keeping in mind if they managed to pickup the same weapons you did there will be some they cannot get to before the jacket becomes available. In addition weapons would be spawning while the in control player is going for the jacket, making denial selection more important than it currently is.

20 seconds is plenty of time to control a large number of weapons – but it will be harder and the player will have to be much more deliberate. This forum is full of posts about weaponstay off adding depth but in general there are very few examples of how. Rankin in 2kx with lg/shock/50a/vials is the most commonly cited example. Out of 15 years of games if there is one example where players deliberately play differently there is something up.

Interestingly changing the jacket to 20 seconds would have a similar effect, at least for duel.

Historically there is a precedent for shorter respawns in the base game – health packs in ut99 have a 20 second spawn.

Fun side stuff.
Quakeworld TDM essentially has one weapon: the rocket launcher. It is on a 30 second respawn and one of the core maps has a single pickup (e1m2). This creates an interesting, almost class based dynamic in TDM where players without weapons become scouts or hunt in packs to kill players with weapons. Unweaponed players dying is unimportant. Avoiding weapon drops on death is important. Not to say that ut should go down this path of slow weapon stacking but it does give a different perspective on things. The armor has a 20 second respawn so there are often more armored players than there are weapons available.

*In fact I would like to see it off in some manner for all game types, not in the same way as traditional ut, but something that allows shorter term denial. eg 5 seconds in ctf so a flag runner could grab weapons on the way out of the base to neuter chasing by fresh respawned players, 3 seconds in ffa so a player can deny a weapon for the duration of a skirmish, etc.

Hoonymode and Round based duel for Unreal Tournament 4

A round based alternative for duel already exists and keeps most of the duel pros while eliminating the down sides.

hoonymode solves a good portion of the less palatable problems* duel has while retaining the core components. It stays an item driven game type rather than whatever 1v1 ra is.

“HoonyMode is a form of tournament introduced in November 2003 which is loosely based on the rules of tennis. During the warm-up, each player chooses a spawn-point or they are randomly generated if none are chosen. One player typically has a “stronger” spawn and the other a “weaker” one. When the game begins the player with the stronger spawn is considered to have the “serve” and each player death is treated as a point. After each point is scored players and the arena are reset and a new point is played; players switch spawn-points, so the player who had the “weak” spawn for the previous point now has the “strong” one, effecting a change of serve. All in-game behaviour (i.e. weapons, physics, etc.) remains the same as in the standard deathmatch.”

Drop the spawn selection as it is unneeded – random alternating spawn pairs work well enough. (1a 2b, 1b 2a, 2c 1d, 2d 1c) Originally introduced to “fix” imbalanced spawns in quake the delayed armor spawn “feature” in ut can be done away with as result as well – allowing players to get straight into it off spawns that are setup with items in mind.

All of the fun fighting over control, none of the problems associated with longer unbalanced play time.

The main aspects lost from traditional duel:

in control – no more killing naked players as once a kill occurs the map resets and the game starts again.
out of control – no more getting back into control after making a mistake that gets you killed.

Completely out of control situations become less frequent as it only occurs when a player takes heavy damage, recognises this and adjusts after damage but before dying. Even then weapons are not “reset”. This is what sets great duelers from the rest – they recognise these situations and back out before getting killed, even if they take large amount of damage.

There would still be in control/out of control situations, however it would never progress to the point of a player having no weapons and not having access to anything.

One possible change I would like over the quake implementation is to see each round progress to +2 points rather than resetting each death. In this way a player can “come back” from a first death, the game retains more of the traditional in/out of control play but the entire game will never snowball to 15 minutes of spawn kills. A close kill (one player dead, one almost dead) can then be followed up on quickly by the dead player to equalise at 1-1. Likewise when a player puts themselves in a strong position and kills a player then follows up quickly they are rewarded by winning that round swiftly. And in/out of control dynamic is preserved and it is still possible to come back from a death. Games where players go neck to neck in points are exciting.

The main reason to change is simply because it is more fun. When players are somewhat balanced stack wise the best games occur. The better dueler will still push the weaker player off items and kill them – much like what occurs at the start of 1v1 currently. This part of the game is quite often the most enjoyable for most players. Unfortunately it is a short part of a 15 minute game.

In addition it also allows smaller maps like aerowalk to be played, which imo is unsuitable for 27 second weapon respawn times due to the small size. The map works in quakeworld and quakelive because of weaponstay on / 5 second respawn. Not to say we should copy quake, however with hoonymode each player is guaranteed to get weapons off spawn. There will rarely be a situation where a player has no weapons unless they royally screw up – and they we will get an opportunity to rectify that screw up after dying on reset.

Now you could say this sacrifices the importance of weapon control in duel, however in many ways it amplifies it and forces players to concentrate on sets of weapons rather than the traditional “get everything” attitude that is so prevalent on the dev forum.

Every round there will be missing slots in a players arsenal and every death players must concentrate on fleshing out missing weapon ranges. It pushes both the player in control and the player out of control more.

Going back to weapons because this was the OPs concern with traditional duel – hoonymode reduces the importance of weapon control from a complete lock out standpoint because players will always have something off spawn. At the same time amplifies its importance in more interesting ways. Each round players will have gaps in their arsenal they need to take into account and they should aim to exploit the gaps in their opponents weapons. As an example a player that receives the shock on a map with a single shock can lock this down for the duration of a round and as a result have a significant advantage. Because of the large number of weapons in ut and both firemode and effective range double up weapon control in traditional duel is less subtle than in quakelive where a player with rl/lg/rail has an advantage over a player with only two of the three main guns, both in combat and knowledge of player movement.

The general attitude towards duel weapon control, at least on this forum seems to be one of “lock out all the guns”. This would no longer exist and instead be replaced by a more interesting and frequently resetting “what do I/opponent have and what do I want to deny in order to keep a gap in their effective range for the current round”.

Problems: How to score and how to limit game duration would be the main problems that spring to mind. If played to +2 points are the full points added to the score or simply 1 point to winner of each round? So four rounds totals look like this

2-0 | 3-1 | 2-0 | 2-4 (9-5) or (4-0)

How would time limits play into this? I dislike the TAM “count down health/armor after 2 minutes” method. Perhaps a running timer that stops once a map has been played for a total of X minutes. Perhaps score numbers based on map – so aerowalk is first to 9(+2) and deck is first to 3(+2).

Lets not forget that the ut armor system in any previous titles is not really suited to out of control play. ut4 duel armor notes

By changing duel to be based on hoonymode this is of less importance and the mismatched armor system would benefit the round based style of play. One player does end up with less favorable items and is then dead. Rather than having to leverage a system that does not really cater to out of control play, the game is reset and the player can try to not end up in the same situation.

It would be important for the gaps between deaths to be quick. Player dies – play stops for three second – players respawn and start straight away.

*I don’t consider them problems and enjoy out of control more than in control play provided the game provides ways back in. However the majority of players do not like this aspect.

Duel is demanding and very hard to get into. Hoonymode is fun, makes losing less demanding, offers frequent resets which in turn improves player learning. In a regular 15 minute game you get one chance to not screw up your initial spawn. In hoonymode you might get.. 10?

Spawn rules and protection in ut4 and arenafps in general

This post started due to..

And I lost interest, then heard the beyond unreal podcast 20 and some unusual comments prompted me to flesh it out and post. I will preface this by saying I like arena FPS because the random aspects and like spawn selection being out of the players hands. However the current handling does not work all that well either, so lets look at some possible changes.

Enjoy and correct me where I need correcting please.

Recap TLDR version without reasoning

A spawn system appropriate for FFA, duel and TDM. The aim is to remove spawn protection with a better spawn system.

The basic idea is to make spawning players less predictable so they cannot be picked off instantly on spawn.

What is spawn protection

Spawn protection aims to give spawning players some sort of chance. Players should not spawn then die, or so the concept goes. It only sort of works in games I have played and I don’t think implementations in any other games is really that great – because if it was it would simply be copied.

Looking for Fortnite Double Pump help?

Players should not die because they happened to spawn next to a dude with a rocket launcher. They should not die because the spawn system can be gamed/exploited/skilled in order to make them spawn nearby a stacked player. They should not die to a % play of timing a shot on a nearby spawn point, unless that % is so small it is unimportant.

Basically players who are rejoining the game should not be sitting ducks and be obliterated instantly. Or so the proponents of spawn protection think.

Current spawn protection implementation

As of writing (11092014 and 21102014) the system works like this. Players spawn with 2500ms invulnerability (previously 3000ms), which is cancelled on attack. The player can move as far as they want in this time. They can run away from anyone trying to kill them. They can run and get a weapon.

And thats pretty much all. It is not a new take on spawn protection, it has been used in other titles in the past.

A question: I don’t know if things like locking down spawns in TDM or shooting close spawns (or known spawns if a system worked that way) in duel is actually good gameplay or adds much to the skillset. Yeah it takes player knowledge but is it good to have? Should it be a skill? Should timing a shot and shooting a spot on the ground after killing a player yield a % possibility to get a free kill?

The current implementation of spawn protections does not function well – I haven’t even played with it and know it is flawed. Battlefield 3 is a great example here. Spawn protection works in a similar way to ut4, the player is invulnerable (also does not take suppression) however protection is cancelled on attack or movement rather than just attack. It is also significantly shorter in BF3 due to the spawn in black screen delay. You can spawn then rotate view with mouse and aim down sights. Anything else cancels it – movement, medpack drops, weapon changes (I think), grenade throws. Given the short ttk and loadouts in BF3 this is quite powerful – as a spawner you have enough time to almost casually line up a shot and kill the player attacking you – optional for even better performance wait until the player shooting at you starts to reload/in between bursts in order to avoid suppression. Spawn protection did not ship with BF3 and was added later due to how respawns have a delay with black screen when popping into the map. Or it shipped but was much “weaker” initially. It was still quite short in comparison to 3 seconds.

Sounds good right?

However, and this is the problem, few people knew how it worked. Few knew the game had spawn protection or even used it. The vast majority of players simply spawned, +forward and were mowed down if they were on a contested point. They spawned on their teammates under fire (derp) and died due to pressing W. Players being unaware of the mechanic was good because if everyone used it properly spawn protection would have detracted rather heavily from the game. As it was not really ever used on pubs. Players died on spawn because they moved straight away.

The same will happen in ut4 duel and other game modes – the vast majority of players will shoot when they spawn if there is someone to shoot at and cancel spawn protection. If they do not cancel it will be because there is nothing to shoot at. Now the obvious argument here is that “well then spawn protection will not break the flow of the game as most players will exit invulnerability unwittingly anyway!”. Unfortunately its not that cut and dried. Most will cancel it and as a result they will not benefit from protection.

Thats fine – like the BF3 example it will not detract from the game for most players.

Yeah there are probably ways to make it more obvious, etc. But it is counterintuitive. Much like holding fire to wait for spawn protection to run out when a player spawns in front of you.

It will be abused by the minority that understand it, like BF3. Personally I feel that abuse of this type of mechanic is just as bad as spawn killing it is trying to fix. This is why discussion on the forum about spawn protection specifically is pointless. We should be discussing ideal spawn systems (plural for different game types) rather than trying to work out how to cludge invulnerability or some other nonsense in a way that is not too distasteful.

A Better Spawn System

Is the problem spawn protection or is the problem the spawn system?

For the sake of this article let us assume that the spawn system should not be influenced by other players. Players should not be able to force, or at least make it more likely that the player they just killed will spawn in front of them or at a known location. On top of this simply knowing spawn points and aiming at/shooting at should not yield kills reliably.

In short the goal is to have a spawn system that cannot be influenced by players and dead players spawning will have a very low chance to instantly die. After this all bets are off.

The first main consideration is stopping players being killed as soon as they spawn then there a number of easy fixes. Adding limited invulnerability is not the solution, at least in my opinion. It is somewhat jarring, breaks the flow as many other posters on the dev forum have pointed out and also allows the player too much freedom if they know what they are doing. It also does not really protect players as highlighted by the BF3 example. It is there but because players have not been educated they will just cancel it.

In short it is both useless and exploitable. If the goal is to alleviate spawn killing due to players exploiting that particular system, adding another that can also be exploited makes no sense.

Invulnerability can cause some other unintended side effects besides interrupting flow. If the spawnee plays correctly and does not attack back then they may be able to get a weapon without taking damage. Is this ok? Is this fair? This is akin to spawning them with a rocket launcher or shock rifle. It is negative feedback for killing players. You can argue that it is ok and they should be given a chance and I agree, but I do not think it should be at the detriment of the player who is trying to kill them.

I understand the argument from the pro-spawn protection crowd, and even agree with it to a point (thus this post), however we need to look at better solutions. Better spawn systems.

Whatever solution/fix is picked needs to be seamless and not negatively impact either player and most importantly not be gameable if the goal is also to remove this aspect, lets assume it is.

The current solution stops player being killed. This is all it does, and could barely be said to achieve even this. It disrupts the flow of the game. While many seem to be of the opinion that this does not matter to the pro-spawn protection group, my question is this: If there is a solution that does not have the same downsides why not use that instead?

Plus the current implementation has problems and is exploitable. If the goal is to stop newer players from getting killed as soon as they spawn tying invulnerability to +attack is the wrong way to go about it. Players who are not interested in learning how the spawn system works* currently will not make the connection between shooting and cancelling protection. They are not the type of players that will understand spawn protection. In this way they will always be killable because they will attack back upon spawn. On the flip side their spawn protection informed brethren will be able to do the inverse – not attack and run towards a gun, dragging out invulnerability as long as possible. The way of the world means the better players may be the ones to know the mechanic and the less regular, dare I say casual, players will not be aware of it.

So we end up with the current situation reversed – rather than the killer exploiting new spawning players the new spawners are exploiting protection to damage/kill other players. Imagine being the less savvy player, working hard to finally get a kill then the other player seemingly not dying to your fire? Omg lag, hax, whatever. Frustration.

It could be argued that this player should then go and look into WHY this occurred but we know that is unlikely to happen.

*no negative connotations intended, this is a fairly niche aspect.

And so we have a situation where instead of chain dying, the less keen players will die when they spawn (because they +attack) and when they manage to kill the better players they will have less opportunity to kill them again because the better player will be more likely to be aware of the mechanic. This might be a marginally better situation than chain death but it is not idea.

Fifteen years ago spawn protection in this manner was possibly acceptable, less players were looking at games at this level. Obscurity like this does not work anymore.

In duel this could be because the spawn system is setup and the other player can “force” the spawn to where they want. In TDM this might be due to locking down part of the map, covering spawns with some members of the team and killing respawning players that the rest of the team kill. In CTF it might be killing players who are spawning in your way out of the base with a flag. I don’t have the experience to comment on CTF.

A Better Spawn System before spawn protection

This is my opinion on what a spawn system should be. This sort of setup alleviates many of the problems associated with spawning and spawn killing in arena FPS, particularly in duel and ffa.

Firstly spawns should be random. 100% random. Any algorithm that spawns players based on X, Y or Z can be reverse engineered. Spawn farthest, or safest spawns or whatever can and will be worked out and abused. Also some systems promote not-killing players as it may give away items – it may also promote /kill in order to ninja in on a particular spawn. Obviously the latter can be addressed with a different spawn system for self kills but the point stands, if the goal is to remove spawn killing and manipulative aspects of spawning the only real solution is random. Removing mechanisms that makes the spawn system predictable/gameable in any way completely levels the playing field.

As we can see, a spawn in front of the player below is opened up by backing into a corner.

ztn abuse able spawn

So make it 100% random for duel. Make it 100% random for FFA and TDM. CTF is different and someone who has experience in that department should comment on it. I like the idea of spawning on teammates but I doubt that would go down well 😉

Even in a random system players could opt to upload rockets at the closest known spawn, giving an almost guaranteed conversion frag at (100/spawnpoints)% kill based on timing the shot, knowing where the spawn points are and simply shooting the closest/most appropriate.

This can be solved in a number of ways. Remove the “instant spawn” that ut99 (and from memory later titles) had and replace it with a delay the user can cancel to spawn instantly. In this way players can spawn up to 10* seconds after they die. Why is this important? Because it removes any chance of timing shock balls, rockets or anything on nearby spawn points. It puts the choice of when to pop in the spawners hands. Also make sure not to introduce a Xms delay between death and spawning that quakelive has – if the player wants to spawn instantly, let them, if they want to delay 5 seconds let them. Obviously cap this delay to something reasonable, the goal is to stop players timing shots on nearby spawn points.

Allowing delayed spawns may cause concerns with the existing ut commnity. ql has a similar mechanic and it has never been a problem. In fact it should be added regardless of random spawning – put the time to spawn in the player that is dead hands and run the spawn algorithm when they choose to respawn, again putting more distance between the killer and the information on the spawning player.

Secondly add enough spawn points to a map so a player in each area has more than one place to shoot. This way it becomes less likely to receive a point for simply shooting at a spot.

The alternative to adding lots of spawn points is changing spawn points to spawn volumes and randomly spawning players in them. This way there is no “point” to direct rockets or projectiles at. I like this idea over many spawn points as it allows infinetly more variation on spawn locations but it may be harder to implement.

Of course both more spawn points and spawn volumes require mappers to implement them, just like spawn points need to be placed in logical safe places and not in the open or at the end of corridors that allow easy killing of fresh spawns.

Finally remove respawn sound and visual cues. In this way even if a player spawns close to their death location they are “safe” from the other player provided they opt to proceed stealthily. In this way the killing player can still check for spawns but they “spend” time (the currency in duel) checking nearby LOS hidden spawn points rather than simply knowing the other player spawned there from audio.

Maps and spawn

The spawn system should not try to make badly designed maps work or make maps that are designed for four players work with 16+. Putting twice the recommended number of players on a map should never be a consideration of the game core rules/mechanics. Of course its not going to be ideal.

code187: What about arcane temple in 99 rocket launcher area facing out 2spawn spots spawn kill then they spawn 3meters to the left or right. And again and again and again monster killing… fun as hell for the camper not so much for the spawner***

Firstly this is exacerbated excessively by ut99s weaponstay system (unlimited ammo via dropweapon) and the way most weapon spawns had 2 ammo boxes next to them. Off the top of my head Peak also had this problem in the belt room as well with the spawn in the doorway. On arcanetemple the rocket pickup had 30 ammo including the packs and even if the packs were gone due to another player you could easily weapondrop -> pickup to refill ammo indefinitely.

Also it was also problematic due to 16player games on small maps. When players opt to play in this way all bets should be off.

abuse able arena fps spanws

Bad maps and spawn issues like this should not be a reason to implement an across the board cludge to spawning. The system should deal with this up to the number of players the map is designed for and if it breaks beyond that then that is reasonable. The spawn system should not be designed to deal with content creators having a weapon with infinite ammo + two spawns in front of it (there are actually four since two additional points are in the corridors nearby as well). These spots were terrible for spawns anyway even if the rocket was not where it was. The spawn system should not have to deal with a room with a single door and a spawn in the doorway – peak. This is beyond what the spawn system should be dealing with.

For problems like this look to the mappers and content creators not the base game ruleset for fixes. Look to the developers who allowed unlimited ammo and weird weapon pickup rules. This actually highlights a problem with ut – for all the posters on the dev forum rabbit on about mutators and customisation maps with problems were rarely changed or fixed.

Going back to the arcane temple example with 100% random spawning. There are 20+ spawns on the map. If we drop this to 10 (due to two spawns at the rl) the chance of spawning there twice in a completely random spawn system is very low (one in one hundred). From a “not spawning players multiple times in the same spot because they die instantly” standpoint simply having completely random spawns fixes the problem. Dying once every now and then is fine, dying repeatedly is not – but the likelyhood of it happening two spawns in a row in the same place is quite low, even with only 10 spawn points. Add more and it would occur so rarely that it is not a problem.

The system could also be setup to not spawn players at the same point twice in a row.

Add spawn volumes and the rocket launcher camper on arcane temple can no longer spam at two tightly defined points. But beyond this the problem goes back to the map design. Arcane has a dead end with a pool of water in it. With spawn points. The setup is really asking for it.

Extending spawn ideas

Some random things.

In an attempt to make duel spawning “fair”, remember close/far spawn order then give the opposite player similar spawns when they kill the other player. In this way streaks can be given to the comeback player and spawning close/far. Obviously this steps away from the whole.. “random” aspect I have outlined previously but it could be worked in.

The ability to define some spawns as “initial” spawns that are used for the start of the game. In this way a mapper has more control over what players have access to at the start of a match. This means the “delayed item spawn” that ut features can be removed. Players are given similar powered stacks by the map designer. Not all spawns are suitable for first spawns due to item locations.

[QUOTE=conX5;127043]Armors should certainly be delayed off initial spawn, but I don’t think anything else should really be necessary.[/QUOTE]

Realistically armors/mega should not be delayed. The “no armor” start of the game simply skews it in favor of weapons that are more efficient with lower health pools or weapons that are more suitable for the upcoming armor spawns, etc. The problem is still there, just shifted. Pretty sure this point has been discussed to death over the years.

A better solution to this is giving mappers the ability to define spawns as initial starting points. These are used for the first spawn of the game. Spawn points not flagged as first spawn cannot be spawned on at the beginning of a match.

More spawn points may make sense as the game progresses but disallowing some during the start of the game should cut down on dm6 pillar spawn type problems.

This is how quakelive handles things and from the current pool of popular maps there are only a handful of “bad” starts. YA on aero for example – but even this is good compared to some examples mentioned around here for ut. Others like dm6 pillars have been ironed out. Sure there are still better/worse spawns but not quite as bad as getting belt/boots/jacket.

Another thing that must be done is update maps. Maps are not “finished” when they are released. ZTN for example has had [URL=””]at least three[/URL] spawn setups in recent memory. To my knowledge it was never updated in q3. That particular post is concerned with all spawns in general but the same can be applied to initial spawns easily enough. Basically the mapper cannot be expected to “see” every possible out come and problem that can arise – but they should be able to get it partially right and fix problems that do come about after lots of play time.

That is one way to approach it. Disallow spawns that make no sense or are wildly imbalanced. There is no way to have “perfect” split system because in ut stacking/armor/health does not really lend itself to both players being even – one is always weaker. This “initial spawn” system is validated reasonably well by quakelive, provided maps are tweaked after being played on enough.

However that might not be far enough? Players in ql still whine about some spawns and while the above cuts down problems heavily it does not remove it 100%. As an example high lower YA vs plasma on ZTN. This is more messy than anything else and turns the opening into a large dice roll (based on decisions) more than other spawns.

Solutions? Have “pairs” of spawns setup in a way to give both players some pickups. Create 3-5 “pairs” per map and you have a solid set of not-unbalanced* starts. The previously suggested half time is not needed.

*balancing this perfectly is not the goal. Aiming to remove 100/belt/mega vs nothing setups is the intended outcome.

Sounds like a good solution right? Give players somewhat even splits and remove 100%stacked vs unstacked occurrences via forcing pairs of spawns. The unfortunate problem is this breaks part of the early game that is overlooked and is quite important. By having pairs of spawns players simply know the opening and this becomes very fixed. Some might be considered a good thing but personally I love the dynamic nature of duel and the decision making process at the start is interesting.

If you have two spawns that are ALWAYS the same spawn A will have an optimum opening and a sub-optimal (but probably more aggressive) opening. The sub-optimal, aggressive option becomes less viable when the opposing spawn is fixed as they will know where the aggression will come from.

There are many ways to go about fixing things that are not as overboard as delaying initial item spawns or setting two spawn points in stone.


One main difference in quake compared to ut is these problems are very specific (in ql) and players quite happy to point out the problem on the maps in question. In ut, at least on these forums so far, players tend to post very broad comments about opening spawns. eg “You can get all the armors on deck” or similar. Being specific when discussing this is key. Even if no changes to the initial spawn system are made can spawns XYZ on deck be dropped or moved and a better map result?

It is important to not confuse things. A player making a bad call and not getting items is fine. When there are situations where one player can pillage all important pickups before the other can even show up needs fixing.

Item Driven Gametypes in Arena FPS

Arena FPS is the moniker given to games like unreal, quake, etc. There are many ways to describe them and many factors that make a game more arena FPS than another.

One key ingredient are the gametypes. FFA, Duel and TDM. These gametypes are driven by their items. The items are the game. This factor is quite often not mentioned when discussing arena FPS. Typically people will talk about movement, weapons (types/styles and the ability to carry more than 2), lack of classes, game speed, the fact you pick things up (but nothing beyond that) and time to kill. Gametypes may get an honorable mention but how the gametypes play beyond “deathmatch”, “team deathmatch” or “duel” is rarely, if ever, bought up.

Arena FPS History

FPS game types grew from single player. Free for all was single player items with respawn times (or not for weapons) attached to them. There were different places players could spawn after dying – spawn points. There was a scoreboard to keep track of who killed more people.

Duel and TDM is the obvious extension from FFA. One for going head to head, one for teams. Neither needed much tweaking, duel typically removed damage modifier style items like quad damage and amp.

This was the dawn of FPS, the original game types and to this day the best. Players and developers have created others, in large part due to lack of understanding of these gametypes. They lack objectives players said. They were just about killing. They take no teamwork. Its just aim. Teamwork is minimal.

Flags were added to custom designed maps and CTF was born. Players were given specific roles like attacking and defending. Items were still there but they played different roles, buffing defenders or enabling attackers to push against lower odds. Quad allowed breaking of defences.

And then items were relegated to a menu. Teams purchased them or selected them based on classes. Some FPS became rock/paper/scissor class based affairs and most added heavier emphasis on aim. The latter was unintended but is the result of shifting focus away from strategy and other aspects due to the removal of the game mechanics that allow greater depth.

Finally spray, “realistic” weapons, recoil control, aim down sights and similar mechanics were implemented. Player movement was slowed, strafespeed was slowed, time to kill (ttk) was shortened and we ended up with COD/CS/BF. Players now think that these modern FPS require more strategy, tactics and thinking. They think that BF is a brain game, and becomes an even bigger brain game when played on hardcore mode (less health, faster ttk). While this is a side argument and not really within the scope of the current articles on this site I believe that modern FPS require more aim, reward better reflexes in general and less brain. This mainly stems from ttk, lack of items and the gametypes played. A slow game does not equate to greater tactical or strategic depth which is often cited as a reason why arena FPS are shallow. But maybe that is an article for another time…

Items have all but evaporated from the FPS landscape and with them gametypes that have arguably more objectives, more challenging positional play and greater depth than anything on the market today. Gametypes that are more challenging and push players due to their dynamic nature. Gametypes that drive conflict better than flags. bombs or hostages. Gametypes that work because the players have to overcome a problem to gain an advantage rather than because the time is ticking. Gametypes that at the time they were first implemented were dismissed by the majority as shallow and objectiveless. “TDM is about killing, the most kills win. This is the objective”.

This is a long way from the truth.

This sort of statement is probably one of the more naive FPS related comments ever made. There are issues involved with item driven gametypes, for sure, but they are not what most players thought when CTF was innovated or when modern gamers make comments like the above. There are issues involved with all gametypes but some less than others, and in some game types balance does not matter much at all. The example here would be CS bomb style objective gametypes. Both teams play both sides, map balance or even weapon balance does not matter overly much. A map could be designed so you only have a 10% chance of winning a round on defence, but over 20 rounds total this becomes acceptable and the map is just considered difficult for the attacking team. In fact this sort of imbalance could make for what could be considered close and exciting games. Maybe this is an exaggeration..

Item driven gametypes and made by their items as well as maps. They are highly dynamic, which is quite challenging for most players. In 1999 there was a basic understanding of how to play, since the break between gamers and these game types in mainstream games even more of this understanding will have been lost. Going forward part of the challenge of an arena FPS

The two main factors of items and how the effect the flow of the game is their strength and how frequent they spawn. This could be a difficult to balance – do you want powerful items that spawn infrequently and as such are very important? Do you want them spawning more often so that one pickup difference does not skew balance too much? Do you want infrequently spawning items that do not really add a great deal to a team or players stack, they are beneficial and will be fought over but could they be ignored? How do they related to each other? Is there a cycle that involves a set of items within a given duration and then some others that sit outside it in order to “break” that cycle periodically?

There are a number of games that do this well. Quake is one and Unreal is the other. There are quake and cpm spinoffs like warsow.

The armor system includes health – and rests heavily on values as well as spawn times and how the armors work together.

This may all sound obvious but discussions about spawn times and relative power of items/health are very rare. In fact I cannot remember reading anything in depth over the past 10 years. In part this may be because the arena shooter and this style of gametype is dead so there is little discussion. When these games were popular it was not discussed. It is an important conversation to have because all of this determines how the game plays. People can say that “I just want to run around and kill stuff” and that is fine – the challenge is to balance the game so players that want to do that can^, while others have an option of playing a more structured game. This balance does not need to be in a way that will give the player who chooses not to partake in item control an advantage, but at the very least having a game that is accessible for all levels is good. Obviously this scales differently. In a 8 player FFA game one participant timing will not be as evident to other players as in a 1v1 situation.

Discussions of weapons are very common but are generally related to damage values or weapon mechanics like rate of fire or projectile speed. For instance I think ammo on pickup is an excellent way to balance a weapon , even if it is a little more overpowered than it should be. If it can only shoot four times per spawn its not likely to cause large problems and players will have to consider its use. Just an example. Discussions of movement and very minor issues like air control* in ut go on for pages.

^or players can do that if they do not know any better.

*air control in ut is not like air control conversations in quake. This is more limited to allowing players slightly more “aim” when falling whereas quake revolves around letting players turn sharp corners in the air.

To demonstrate item driven game types working at all levels we need only look at how a player progresses from when they start playing the game. If a player starts FFA they will undoubtedly pick up whatever weapon they can find for the first few games, and continue to do so. However as time passes and they learn maps and weapon locations they will end up seeking out a specific weapon, either because they are more efficient at using it, enjoy using it above others or because they see the potential of using it more. The new player may also opt to play maps they have seen before rather than branching out to other levels, because they will know where the guns they need are located.

For weapons there are two examples in ut99 – the first would be rockets and flak. Both are easy to use and in the past typically satisfied newer players with kills. The latter is the sniper rifle as the new player probably thinks they can use it to engage at long range out of harms way, its fun to snipe. Headshots are fun. One is easy and the other has appeal. The last weapon type, high rate of fire hitscan is probably not that appealing for a completely new arenafps player, however others with some FPS experience, might gravitate towards these as they may already “know” how to aim and something like the minigun is the closest the ut franchise has to an m16 or ak.

So the new player starts to seek out a weapon of choice, and picks up the others along the way while traversing the map. They learn to become more efficient with their chosen weapon while at the same time are forced to use weapons outside their comfort zone due to not having the weapon they want available after every death. Sometimes these other weapons may surprise them and from here they can add other guns to their repertoire. At the same time they also learn the maps, or at least routes from where they spawn to the weapon they want.

This applies to every item driven FPS ever. The beauty of it is the lack of game specificness. It simply works and teaches the player how to play. Telling a new player that the jacket spawn is 27 seconds is not really useful. This can be extrapolated out from simple weapons. The player learns that they can kill more if they look for health. To begin with this could be to preserve their “stack” (in this case the gun of their choice) but as time goes by they will realise they can improve their KDR by not dying. They will realise they can get armor and start taking mental notes of where it spawns. They might like the idea of quad damage and try to take this.

The player starts to “play” the gametype correctly, without instruction. There is a built in learning curve and teach the player to improve. There comes a point where they might get interested and go looking for information on spawn times and whatnot, however for many players this never occurs.

As a side note the main item driven gametypes (FFA, TDM, Duel) are also the greatest for public play. The objectives improve player net/kdr and overall this is what a large proportion of pub players are going for. These players also ruin games of CTF.

This in turn gives players different options for playing and different areas of their game they can work on. Do they want to play aim +forward heavy game? Do they want to control armors and play pac man. Do they want to concentrate on weapons and optimise their various strengths? Even if they are bad aim wise they can contribute by timing for their better mechanically skilled team mates. ut99 was well balanced at release for non-aim heavy play and I would like to think this is going to make a comeback.

Items tie back to time. Items cost time. In FFA, TDM or Duel time is the general currency. For example, a player could spend 5-10 seconds getting a better weapon in FFA or they can go straight into combat with their spawn gun. If they happen to kill someone they can take that weapon and continue, a kill gained faster than if they

Items are control.

Note: Flow and what items are for. Quad is not for killing, it is for securing armor spawns. Rockets are not for killing they are for securing spawns, etc. Disconnection of items from killing is paramount to understanding how to play. Taking this further – disconnection of everything from killing is key to winning. Item driven gametypes are about control.

Items drive conflict and player interaction since players need to obtain items – it sounds obvious, but without a solid system it falls apart. This is why discussion of the armor/health system beyond posters wanting a belt or jacket or furry coat is important. Items are why the game works on a deeper level than “get gun and shoot stuff”. They have always worked this way, this is what FFA, Duel and TDM are.

At a duel level players should be contesting items regularly. The player who is taking the better items should be constrained in movement and ability to pressure the down player because of them. On the other side of the coin the lesser player can plan their moves around the predictability of the “in control” player – they can try to deal efficient damage (where they take none as their stack is lesser) or they can just opt to avoid the locations altogether.

Weapons do not drive conflict or shape the course of a game in the way armor and health do, at least not in the context of ut99 duel. Or ut4 duel for that matter. For a gametype driven by weapons I strongly suggest you check out DDKs quakeworld TDM videos. In ut99 they do not drive conflict for a number of reasons, the brief version is:

Weapon (or firemode) use is doubled (or tripled) in ut. There are two of each main “attack”. High ROF/low damage hitscan (pulse/mini). Low ROF/high damage hitscan (rifle/shock). Projectile with area of effect (rockets/flak/combos). Most maps had every weapon, often weapons multiple times. In order to drive conflict an item needs to be sought for a reason – they make players predictable and force them to show up at the same place around the same time. With the abundance of weapons they will not drive players together. Sure you can deny weapons (this adds depth, which is good) but from a conflict creation standpoint they do not work well because there are so many of them. Also denying weapons in 2014 is very different to 1999. Quite often players back then would have a favorite weapon. This was quite often due to connection (dialup using shock/rockets/flak). Now players tend to be decent with everything. Also, even in a three weapon game like quakelive weapons do not truely drive conflict. They shape fights when one player is lacking specific weapons, but rarely would you see a fight pop up because of a weapon.

As such you can deny weapons in ut99 but the weapons themselves don’t really drive player interaction in a meaningful way. They do dictate player movement because players want specific guns, but because they are not really timed or controlled in the same way as armor or health conflict does not come about because of them often.

Again this is not to say that sweeping weapons to stop your opponent taking them is not a legitimate thing to do, far from it. However it would be rare for the player not taking a weapon to bother timing it and come back to find their opponent turning up at the same time.

This is an important difference to understand.

And of course there is an exception to this rule and it is a very interesting exception because it shares many similarities with ut but at the same time is completely different. That game is Quakeworld TDM.

The problem of gamers

Beyond the rose tinted glasses issue previously mentioned gamers have a habit of discussing ways to improve FPS games that are very specific. Players generally get hung up on specifics that involve weapon or movement mechanics. cpm has the best movement. The rocket in qw is overpowered but good. UT movement is clunky. The shock rifle is awesome. To an even finer level “I cannot combo myself”. Sometimes maps are a discussion point but rarely does the gametype come up beyond “quakelive duel is the best” or similar.

The gametypes and in item driven gametype, the supporting items*, tend to just.. be. Noone really talks about them. Noone. Weapon specifics are important, super important. But the amount of ammo in a weapon pickup? Unimportant, or rather if you read the forums it is an unimportant question.

*This applies to health, armor, weapons, powerups, miscellaneous pickups and their respective respawn times.

In truth the gametype and how it plays is a large part of why a game is good. In the case of item driven gametypes the items and how they interact is key to the game being good.

Quakeworld is the standout in this department, with comments like “the weapons, items and armors are all overpowered, its awesome!” but generally little discussion about WHY this makes it an awesome team game.. Since the items in item driven game types are essentially the gametype it pays to have a good setup. This is similar to saying that “we need good maps for a good FPS*” but not being able to put ones finger on why a map is good.

*der, this is the downfall of most FPS over the past 15 years.

Discussion revolves around very specific aspects of various games. Comparing quakelive to cpm in a movement. Comparing ut99 to 2kx. Comparing a lightning gun to a sniper rifle.

The problem is the underlying framework changes between games, and while not as fun to talk about as weapon or movement specifics actually give more insight into why a game is good or not.

On changing item driven gametypes in arena fps

Obviously I am a fan of this style of gametype. Who would have a site dedicated to the idea of a gametype rather than a specific spin of a gametype in a specific game?

Items are the gametype, there is no way around this. Suggesting to remove armor or health is not conductive to a discussion about how to improve and balance duel or TDM or this type of gametype in general. Statements like “remove pickups” is akin to saying “remove flags” when discussing CTF. Love it or hate it, the items are the game. Not always the items themselves but how they drive the game. They cause one part of the map to be more important than another. Now this is not to say that other game types cannot exist, I can think of many spins on classic TDM that would make it more accessible while teaching players how to play “real” TDM.

And in the same way holding mid on a CTF map may be more important on some maps while on others heavy base defence or offence becomes important. Camping in the armor room might not be the best route to take, for example dm3 in quakeworld – the Red Armor is best handled by staying in the ajoining area.

In fact if you dislike duel, TDM or FFA and have suggestions on how to improve them that include things like adding loadouts for spawners, free armor to help comeback on spawners please, the door is that way.

If on the other hand you want to partake in a discussion that involves balancing and changing what already exists to give a better game, please speak up!

The slippery slope

Firstly one needs to accept that an item driven game has a particular flavor. It has uneven situations where a player with no weapon or armor is killed by another player with a gun, armor and quad damage. It has situations where a stacked player is smashed by a less than stacked player because of excellent execution and timing.

One needs to look past the fact that respawn frags are simply points, and your team will receive them as well. Think of them as conversions if it helps. A map should not allow one team to farm heavily because of spawn points but at the same time the spawn system should not be constructed in a way that forces teams to spawn on oposite sides of the map at all times as other problems can arise from this.

Once one accepts these things are part of the game and that the underlying structure is acceptable we can stop looking at changing or adding things. The game works at a decent level, adding strange abilities or mechanics to try to cover up one aspect that may be considered a problem is not really needed. Spawn killing in this example.

Why I like UT

I have always enjoyed ut99.

The different ways you could play appealed to me, especially at its release two players could approach the game from very different ways. You could play rocket or flak heavy. You could play with shock. You could play with sniper or mini/pulse. Aggressive and defensive play was catered to. You could play an item heavy game or basically ignore them and go for damage. It was decently balanced so players with high ping could still have fun.

IDS Education

Even with the nice story about the new player, IDS has problems. After a certain point the mechanics become vague and non-intuitive. The main points are: respawn times and how to time. I think in part this is easily addressed in FFA early in a players career. The item timers that Epic are planning on implementing and ID have implemented do not really teach item spawn duration or how to time from a traditional point of view due to adding a mechanic that does not previously exist. Once this is removed the player is left hanging.
The player may have been made aware of the item due to the pie-chart hanging above it and they may have paid a little more attention, but overall they will not have learnt much beyond “this is important enough to attach a pie chart to”.
The goal of this article is to look at how we can educate players better, not change how the game plays.

Hang up on timing

Because item driven gametypes revolve around items and spawns there can be an unreasonable amount of importance attached to timing. Arena FPS in general place a lot of importance on positioning, and while timing is large part it is a very obvious aspect of the game. This actually causes a problem that places too much emphasis on timing at lower levels. Quite often at lower levels timing loosely is sufficient. Reading some comments one would think that the entire game is timing, when it is simply one aspect.