I apologize for creating a new thread, but because I put a fair amount of work into this I’m not burying it 33 pages in some existing thread. I am not intending a flame war on this topic either, so please actually read and understand my points, and put forth actual analysis if you disagree. I also apologize for the length, but in reality one could write 50 pages on this topic.
I think the push against sprint is counter-productive, but more importantly I think a sprint-less Halo would potentially negatively impact its popularity, which is why I’m bothering to look at it. I address the three major arguments against sprint in turn, and then address why I think it’s important to have it in the game, and finally end w/ a compromise position. At the outset I think we ought to clarify exactly what sprint is. It is a third movement rate (crouch and base being the other two) that, in exchange for moving faster than base speed, incurs certain penalties in its use. Those penalties are 1) you lose movement speed if shot (technically you should characterize this as a 4th movement rate, but for simplicity we won’t here); 2) you cannot shoot unless you stop sprinting; and 3) there is a small time penalty from the time you stop sprinting to when you can begin firing. With that clarification, let’s jump in.
1. Sprint is not a “get out of jail free card”: The primary argument against sprint is that it is a “get out of jail free card” that allows bad players to escape the consequences of putting themselves in bad positions. The unspoken, and I believe fallacious, assumptions behind this argument are 1) that players cannot gauge the distance they can safely be from cover and 2) that they cannot gauge the distance they can sprint without being killed. Most players don’t like being killed. Over time, they learn how far from cover they can stray and they learn where they can get to without being killed.
What sprint actually does is increase the distance you can stray from cover and the expanses you can safely traverse (I’ll get into the consequences of this more below with respect to map design). The notion that people don’t understand these distances through experience, and so are just blindly wandering around like mindless automatons and being sprint-saved is completely unsupported. Your house cat understands cover and how close it can let your obnoxious little brother get to it before it has to jump. Players have, simply, adapted to having sprint in the game.
If you did not have sprint, people would simply decrease their distance from cover and the expanses over which they attempt to traverse according to available movement rates. Therefore, they don’t need a “get out of jail free card” because they purposely aren’t putting themselves in jail to begin with. You, as a shooter, have to revise your understanding of when someone is, and isn’t, in a bad position. You can argue that sprint allows idiots to survive, but the “slows you down when you’re getting shot” mechanism cuts against this, and I have not personally observed a tremendous amount of “stupid-ness” in map movement that goes unpunished. What I see is a difference between what was once a stupid position and what is now a stupid position - what I see is understanding and adaptation to existing conditions, the single most powerful characteristic of the human race and the reason for the rise and dominance of hominids (not to be too dramatic here ;).
2. Sprint does not “break maps”: The second major argument against sprint is that it breaks maps. While it certainly influences (or should influence) map design, the notion that it breaks maps is a bit overblown. Let’s start with the most common complaint: it destroys power positions. If I want to create a power position I make an expanse (open ground that needs to be traversed) leading to high ground that takes about the same time to traverse by sprinting as the kill time of a precision weapon (in H4’s case, I make a section that takes around 1.6 seconds to sprint across since the kill time of, e.g., the DMR is around 1.6 seconds; it can actually be significantly less than this because of the “slowed when shot” mechanic). There is nothing magical about this – the sprint speed is fixed, kill times are fixed; you simply match kill times, player movement rates and distances based on what your goals are in map design. Now, that is not to say that sprint won’t break a map which is not designed for sprint (whenever I hear this argument about sprint they almost always reference some map not designed for H4). To the extent that you think there has been a decrease in power positions, though, I would say this is a design goal, not an artifact of sprint.
I personally believe that 343, at least in its original maps, has purposely decreased the ability for a given team to completely dominate a match through position, and that notion is consistent with their overall ethos of making Halo more accessible (I’m not debating that ethos here). Haven is an excellent example of this – they just didn’t put in any really dominant power positions. But it has nothing to do with having a third movement rate and everything do with design choices. As another example, take top ridge on Settler, a mid-size, older map recycled into H4. That, is a power position, sprint or no sprint. Therefore, while sprint should influence map design, there is nothing intrinsic about having a third movement rate that makes it impossible to have good maps or to have power positions. The recent forge map, Opus, provides another example; controlling top purple and rockets leads to victory, and sprint has no effect on whether you maintain control of that power position or not.
3. Sprint Does Not Just Lead to Bigger Maps: I’ve never seen anyone making this argument actually calculate possible distances traversed in relation to kill times. The notion that it just leads to large maps is overly simplistic, since sprint is punished by its associated penalties, listed above, particularly the slowed when shot mechanic. Also, maps can be small because if you decrease distances you decrease the need, impetus, and advantages provided by sprint. I think maps are, again, larger in H4 because of design choices rather than to deal w/ sprint, the success of Skyline providing the most powerful (and I would say damning) counter-example to the “maps have to be big because of sprint” argument. The recent success of Onyx provides another example. The more I’ve thought about this argument the more I realize there isn’t anything to it. People just haven’t “done the math” because the slowed when shot mechanic is so dramatic and kill times are intrinsically linked w/ movement rate/distance in the context of map design. What people have done is seen big maps, assumed the size was because of sprint, and used that as an argument against it. On to part 2, Why have sprint? below