Friday, July 16, 2010

Simulation != Gameplay (bullets)

This time lets talk about something else in games that can make a game not just difficult to make work nicely, but also could get really frustrating for a player.

With bullets traveling in excess of 896 m/s for example, it is something that is riduclously fast. And with pixel resolutions in games not being very good (yes, even todays HD). There is no way to effectively show something far enough away to allow someone to dodge bullets. Once they are fired they are going where they are going. In a side scrolling platform game for example if an enemy fired directly at you, you would not expect it to go past you like it missed. I have seen this used very rarely in games, and am not sure why it hasn't been used more, unless the random element to misses just makes it awkward and unweildy. So another choice of course is to make bullet wounds just do a small amount of damage each time they hit. This however does not really make gameplay er se.
So designers have gone a different route with bullets, making them move incredibly slowly around the screen. In some games you are able to dodge under bullets or around or over incoming fire. This is of course ridiculous from a physics point of view, but is awesome from a reaction point of view. Having control is always something that people enjoy. This is the usual way of dealing with bullet physics, just ake them gameplay eements and forget hyscs most entirely, though some do add gravity to bullets, though this is mostly to make them look more interesting.
There is of course another way.
In newer games there is a lot more memory. This allows a lot more enemy animations to be used in a game. With these extra animations it is possible to make the gameplay part of a shooting sequence more timing based on what the enemy is doing. So instead of timing your duck with the bullet coming at you, instead you time your duck based upon what the enemy is doing. So if he starts going into his shooting stance, you know to duck. Also if you goes into his kneeling firing stance you would know to jump. This is very similar to actually dodging the old slow moving bullets gameplay wise. The biggest difference is the visuals, and we could argue over which visual looks better today, the new impressively fast bullet that hist you as soon as it is fired, or the slower moving bullet spiraling towards you.

Bullet speeds are incredible in the real world, just check out these numbers.
Some Bullet Speeds

With al that talk about physics in games i can now mention where i was headin the whole time. Anyone who has already seen my gameplay footage of A Shooter on Youtube will have noticed how slow the enemy bullets move, yet conversely how fast you bulets move. The enemy bullets were one of the first elements in the game to be worked on, and then i sent many weeks balancing the player ship movement speed against them. They have been constantly tweaked over the months of develoment and of course i beleive this to be a great thing. So enemy bullets move slowly so you can feel how good it is to dodge by them, multiple ones of them. However i could not really make the animation system work as far as dodging their bullets simply because they come from all over the scren, and super fast bullets would render the game not only different, but also probably a lot harder. I did not want to go that route at all.

With that, i am done waffling on about physics in games. At least for the time being.


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