Aiming Mechanic: A Recipe for FPS Success

Fanboys brace yourself, I am going to mention COD.

The most basic and fundamental game play mechanic of any FPS is pointing-and-shooting. One thing that COD does very well is make the joystick angle deflection correspond predictably to in-game rotational velocity. There are no acceleration jumps or delays, no plateaus, and the velocity growth is very linear.

The following charts plot joystick angle deflection with in-game reticle velocity.
NOTE: The values on the left represent the Joystick deflection % (basically the angle of the joystick). Going from dead center 0% deflected, to pegged 100% deflected.
The values on the right represent in-game aiming velocity. The rate in which your reticle is moving.
The number on the bottom are simply the incremental steps of the joystick deflection.
Default Sensitivity -

Max Sensitivity –

Additionally: In COD, all aiming vectors extend perfectly outward from their center point of origin. COD accomplishes this because it has a perfectly circular deadzone, which allows the joystick to smoothly express all the subtle diagonal aiming adjustments (whereas Halo 3 has a square deadzone and Reach has an oval, resulting in a stair-step like behavior for diagonal adjustments). COD handles X+Y axis values appropriately for diagonal aiming, whereas many games have diagonal bugs when adding X+Y axis together, resulting in velocity jumps. COD provides an impressive maximum turn velocity, far superior to any console game. COD also has subdued auto-aim/aim-magnetism, and true-to-image hitboxes.

When you add it all up, and throw in 60 frames/s frame rate, players develop an intrinsic connection between their physical input and what happens on screen.

If Halo 4 can learn anything from COD, its not in the high-level game content, but rather from more fundamental FPS features. Why has COD has been so successful? The answer is simple, the basic process of lining up a shot is done right. After all, 90% of all FPS game play centers around shooting at people.

Bravo.

Is there a way of creating a similar chart comparing the games in the Halo universe? Aiming felt noticeably smoother to me in Halo CE and, to a lesser degree, Halo 2 than in 3 and Reach.

> Bravo.
>
> Is there a way of creating a similar chart comparing the games in the Halo universe? Aiming felt noticeably smoother to me in Halo CE and, to a lesser degree, Halo 2 than in 3 and Reach.

I did not put the chart together. The chart was actually put together more in response to Valve coming out with Counter Strike:GO on Xbox360, and there was a great deal of worry that they are going to completely mess up the aiming mechanic for the classic shooter. They are a PC focused studio, and their track record for console aiming mechanics is not great (as seen with portal… ugh… great game but awful aiming).

> > Bravo.
> >
> > Is there a way of creating a similar chart comparing the games in the Halo universe? Aiming felt noticeably smoother to me in Halo CE and, to a lesser degree, Halo 2 than in 3 and Reach.
>
> I did not put the chart together. The chart was actually put together more in response to Valve coming out with Counter Strike:GO on Xbox360, and there was a great deal of worry that they are going to completely mess up the aiming mechanic for the classic shooter. They are a PC focused studio, and their track record for console aiming mechanics is not great (as seen with portal… ugh… great game but awful aiming).

I have no idea how Counter-Strike could be played without a keyboard & mouse and still retain its essence. You absolutely need the precision of keyboard & mouse to get non-watered down but still fast gameplay.

If they don’t make it easier to shoot, then gameplay on consoles will be so slow compared to PC. If they make it easier to shoot, then gameplay will be totally watered down since precision (and controlling recoil with precision) is the heart of CS gameplay. Could you imagine CS with bullet magnetism? Yuck

Could you explain the chart a little more in depth? What are the units on the bottom and right?

I think CS:GO would work fine on consoles with the COD-like look mechanic and subdued auto-aim.

But more importantly – I think Halo 4 would gain much by improving the more fundamental FPS point-and-shoot features of the game.

> Could you explain the chart a little more in depth? What are the units on the bottom and right?

The values on the left represent the Joystick deflection % (basically the angle of the joystick). Going from dead center 0% deflected, to pegged 100% deflected.

The number on the right represent in-game aiming velocity. The rate in which your reticle is moving.

The number on the bottom are simply the incremental steps of the joystick deflection.

The charts trace the linear relationship (or lack their of) of deflecting the joystick, and how that corresponds to in-game reticle velocity. COD has by far the most linear relationship, creating very predictable in-game outcomes to user input.

I am not bashing Halo – it actually does a decent job compared to other games, but there is much to be desired.

> > Could you explain the chart a little more in depth? What are the units on the bottom and right?
>
> The values on the left represent the Joystick deflection % (basically the angle of the joystick). Going from dead center 0% deflected, to pegged 100% deflected.
>
> The number on the right represent in-game aiming velocity. The rate in which your reticle is moving.
>
> The number on the bottom are simply the incremental steps of the joystick deflection.
>
> The charts trace the linear relationship (or lack their of) of deflecting the joystick, and how that corresponds to in-game reticle velocity. COD has by far the most linear relationship, creating very predictable in-game outcomes to user input.
>
> I am not bashing Halo – it actually does a decent job compared to other games, but there is much to be desired.

With my limited knowledge, I’m guessing that you saying to get rid of smoothing. (a term used for what I think you mean). If so, it has been discussed with similar charts but only comparing the halo games. This is slightly more in depth though so, we’ll see how this turns out.

Excellent post. Excellent.
I love those charts.

> With my limited knowledge, I’m guessing that you saying to get rid of smoothing. (a term used for what I think you mean). If so, it has been discussed with similar charts but only comparing the halo games. This is slightly more in depth though so, we’ll see how this turns out.

Not sure exactly what you mean by “smoothing”, but I would answer that I do NOT want to get rid of smoothing. Rather, I would like Halo 4 to have a “smooth” linear relationship between the joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle velocity. So that for every increment of the joystick angle, you have a linear corresponding increment with in-game reticle velocity.

> Not sure exactly what you mean by “smoothing”, but I would answer that I do NOT want to get rid of smoothing. Rather, I would like Halo 4 to have a “smooth” linear relationship between the joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle velocity. So that for every increment of the joystick angle, you have a linear corresponding increment with in-game reticle velocity.

“Smoothing” is when you have some acceleration applied to the angular velocity even when the stick is at a constant angle. If you jam the stick to the left in a game with smoothing, your rotation will speed up with respect to time.

Without any smoothing, the angular velocity is directly proportional to the current angle of the stick; given only the current stick angle, you can precisely calculate what the angular velocity is.

> > With my limited knowledge, I’m guessing that you saying to get rid of smoothing. (a term used for what I think you mean). If so, it has been discussed with similar charts but only comparing the halo games. This is slightly more in depth though so, we’ll see how this turns out.
>
> Not sure exactly what you mean by “smoothing”, but I would answer that I do NOT want to get rid of smoothing. Rather, I would like Halo 4 to have a “smooth” linear relationship between the joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle velocity. So that for every increment of the joystick angle, you have a linear corresponding increment with in-game reticle velocity.

I believe smoothing is a reference to how the reticule slows over a viable target allowing for smoother tracking.

> > Not sure exactly what you mean by “smoothing”, but I would answer that I do NOT want to get rid of smoothing. Rather, I would like Halo 4 to have a “smooth” linear relationship between the joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle velocity. So that for every increment of the joystick angle, you have a linear corresponding increment with in-game reticle velocity.
>
> “Smoothing” is when you have some acceleration applied to the angular velocity even when the stick is at a constant angle. If you jam the stick to the left in a game with smoothing, your rotation will speed up with respect to time.
>
> Without any smoothing, the angular velocity is directly proportional to the current angle of the stick; given only the current stick angle, you can precisely calculate what the angular velocity is.

Gotcha, then i would update my response to say I do not want any “smoothing”, acceleration, or delayed reaction to my input. COD has virtually instantaneous in-game response to your physical input. If you peg the joystick, you instantly start turning at the max velocity (and that max velocity is set via the sensitivity setting in-game). COD makes the physical learning curve for aiming very easy, because the brain’s physical input to visual output response has a linear relationship, and so muscle memory begins to form much quicker.

> > Not sure exactly what you mean by “smoothing”, but I would answer that I do NOT want to get rid of smoothing. Rather, I would like Halo 4 to have a “smooth” linear relationship between the joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle velocity. So that for every increment of the joystick angle, you have a linear corresponding increment with in-game reticle velocity.
>
> “Smoothing” is when you have some acceleration applied to the angular velocity even when the stick is at a constant angle. If you jam the stick to the left in a game with smoothing, your rotation will speed up with respect to time.
>
> Without any smoothing, the angular velocity is directly proportional to the current angle of the stick; given only the current stick angle, you can precisely calculate what the angular velocity is.

Smoothing is the opposite of what OP desires in that it destroys the linearity of the relationship between joystick angle of deflection and in-game reticle movement.

Smoothing (or aim acceleration) essentially destroys strafing, as seen as Reach. As you move you stick from side to side, you are constantly have to start and accelerate your movement speed, making it very slow and sluggish, and more importantly, you barely move.

Removing smoothing is vital. I see no reason to have it

> Smoothing (or aim acceleration) essentially destroys strafing, as seen as Reach. As you move you stick from side to side, you are constantly have to start and accelerate your movement speed, making it very slow and sluggish, and more importantly, you barely move.
>
> Removing smoothing is vital. I see no reason to have it

I think you are discussing strafe acceleration, which is different (although also an important topic).

Just played the Ghost Recon Future Soldier beta - its like they tried to combine Gears with COD. The worst part about the game though was the aiming mechanic! It was awful.

If games can learn anything from COD - its in their aiming mechanic.

> Fanboys brace yourself,

I quit reading right. There.

Troll OP. All of the OP, is trollishness.

:wink:

> […] If Halo 4 can learn anything from COD, its not in the high-level game content […]

COD. High-level game content. Seriously? It has fancy, noobfriendly features that are ‘inventive’, but the most important thing about a competitive game, balance, they can’t even get right.

Also, give us the source of those graphs, because now I’m assuming you pulled them out of your rear.

However, i do agree that the whole aiming system should be adjusted. And 60 fps is awesome.

> > […] If Halo 4 can learn anything from COD, its not in the high-level game content […]
>
> COD. High-level game content. Seriously? It has fancy, noobfriendly features that are ‘inventive’, but the most important thing about a competitive game, balance, they can’t even get right.
>
> Also, give us the source of those graphs, because now I’m assuming you pulled them out of your rear.
>
> However, i do agree that the whole aiming system should be adjusted. And 60 fps is awesome.

I misunderstood the word “high-level”. High-level, in that context, doesn’t refer to quality in any way or form. “High-level mechanics” are gameplay mechanics that are laid on top of the fundamental, low-level mechanics. To better put it in context, high-level mechanics are mechanics such as loadouts, equipment and anything that isn’t exactly necessary for the game to function properly. Low-level mechanics on the other hand, are mechanics that the game needs to function. These include movement, aiming, jumping, weapons and any mechanic the game can’t do without.

That’s what he meant by “high-level”, not high-level in the sense that it would somehow be better than mechanics in other games. It has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the content.

The graphs on the other hand, are simply graphs showing the level of aim smoothing in games. Looking at them, and the point OP is trying to make, there is nothing suspicious about them. They’re simply showing the level of aim responsiveness in different FPS games, that’s all there is to them.