Sign in to follow this  

Wasting ammo on reload

This topic is 3460 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

This seems like one of those questions a game designer ponders before they even start to dream up a project, but I'm going to run it through here once to see what everyone has to say. Realism aside, what do you think about the game-design choice between saving the unused portion of ammunition in a weapon, and tossing it away, during a reload? As a player, I obviously prefer saving my ammunition. But at the same time, I usually find the reload button to be mandatory on a second-span basis because of it. In Half-Life 2, for example, I would reload after every small encounter. No enemies in sight means to reload. There wasn't much of a choice to it. What exactly happens when the ammo that's in the weapon gets wasted on reload? Obviously, it makes players think twice about keeping a full clip. But is it cruel to make them choose to waste a few rounds to avoid running out in the first few shots of combat? Are there any other positive or negative side effects?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well I think that this truly depends (and has depended) on whether or not you are playing with a squad where you have the luxury of cover (as with many military WWII games for example), or if you are playing a single solo character in something like Doom or Half-Life, etc.

The game mechanic for having realistic "X-number of ammo per clip" forces the person to throw away clips that aren't full or mostly fully before each major confrontation, unless if they have supportive fire. If they have teammates, it is a matter of shoot until out regardless of how full your clip is, then duck and reload while another takes your place. However, this kind of mechanic when implemented in a solo-character FPS does sort of make people purposefully waste low-ammo clips just to receive a new full one in order to prepare for a new possible encounter.

And its probably that reason that many solo-character FPSes don't use the "ammo-per-clip" model, they just use the "ammo-pool" model (where ammo is not organized into clips) because it provides a much more continuous sense of shooting, to which in a squad-based military or police game, your teammates provide that for you.

I've always explained this away to myself by saying that because in solo-character FPSes, the character you are playing usually controls the entire pace of the game's story/progression by himself, as such he would perhaps have lots of side time that isn't shown in the game (much similarly to eating or pooing) to take out the bullets in nearly depleted clips and fill them into other clips to make all full.

Another thing to factor in here is the weapon designs themselves (which is related to game setting, but still can ultimately depend on the game design itself). Many FPSes are sci-fi or fantasy, as such, have no need to model their ammo-loading system after clips, for they might use something else entirely different. Your gun might not take clips, and instead, take individual rounds, like what a shotgun does. An "ammo-pool" system would then match for weapons such as these.

So I guess if your game is to focus on squad-based shooting, then having an "ammo-per-clip" model would emphasize such team-based gameplay. If your game is to focus on the individual experience of having a single main character survive through the entire game world by himself, then the "ammo-pool" model would be better suited for that gameplay.

[Edited by - Tangireon on June 22, 2008 2:24:42 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, here's another angle to consider... Are the clips thrown away, or simply topped-off? Also consider tube-style magazines such as those used in shotguns or most lever-action rifles where you can simply add more rounds as you see fit.

Most people in real-life carry a few loaded clips for fast reload, but don't throw them away when they're spent; they just reload them when there's down-time.

That might be a mechanic you could pursue as well; Having some number of loaded clips at the ready, and having to take on a lengthier process of reloading clips when the action's not so hot.


All that said, the guiding principle of game design should be "But is it fun?" for some games, taking the time to reload can be a part of the game-play mechanic, such as a team-based shooter where relying on your comrades for cover is part of the experience. For a single-player game, forcing the player to take on lengthy reload sequences in their down time, or "taxing" them ammunition for being prepared isn't any fun... You'd probably end up compensating by making ammunition more readily available in the environment anyhow, in which case there's no real penalty, just an annoying thing you have to do and no sense of finite availability of ammunition or the suspense that can cause (See Half-life 2's Ravenholm level or any of the Resident Evil games.)

It's not a bad idea across the board, but you have to consider carefully whether it adds to the fun or to the experience.

I once knew a guy who's "Ultimate MMO" idea was to be hyper-realistic to the point that dressing yourself in armor would require 10-15 minutes and a pair of assistants. The high-point of the sequence included cinching and buckling each and every strap where the tightness or looseness of which would have positive/adverse affects on protection, speed and dexterity.

Realism for realism's sake makes a terrible game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alien vs Predator 1 had ammo-discard features, it all but forced players to reload for new encounters because you could die so quickly. Since there was little choice but to reload or risk loosing health (40 minute missions with no saves encouraged keeping health), it basically ended up forcing players to lose either way.

While it can definitely help promote tense situations, it would have been nice to have had some way to recycle those "lost" rounds, even if it was time consuming (and thus, not always practical).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Tangireon
I've always explained this away to myself by saying that because in solo-character FPSes, the character you are playing usually controls the entire pace of the game's story/progression by himself, as such he would perhaps have lots of side time that isn't shown in the game (much similarly to eating or pooing) to take out the bullets in nearly depleted clips and fill them into other clips to make all full.

That was my biggest concern as well. At some point, characters are going to have a collection of partially used clips, and find it worthwhile to take a five minute breather to combine them. Perhaps emulating this would be the best answer? Partial clips get sorted into a seperate inventory stack, and only get used if all full clips are gone. Once the player is away from danger, they get organized (either automatically, or through player action).

Quote:
Another thing to factor in here is the weapon designs themselves (which is related to game setting, but still can ultimately depend on the game design itself). Many FPSes are sci-fi or fantasy, as such, have no need to model their ammo-loading system after clips, for they might use something else entirely different. Your gun might not take clips, and instead, take individual rounds, like what a shotgun does. An "ammo-pool" system would then match for weapons such as these.

Actually, I think a futuristic weapon might be even more badly geared in that direction. Single rounded ammo takes a long time to load, so it makes sense to combine everything into one item that can be plugged in. A battery, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In the Infiltration mod for UT, unspent clips were stored in reserve and reused in order of most to least full when players ran out of full clips. I thought this worked particularly well, especially since you rarely knew how much ammo was in each partial clip. It added to both realism and tension. The matches were short and ammo limited, so it wasn't practical to throw any away or refill partial clips. In single-player games with quiet time, providing a mechanism for consolidating partial clips would be in order. This sort of question only really comes up during combat. Players expect to do some micromanagement during quiet time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The idea is cool, but adding the ammo loss penalty on top of the current lost-time penalty for reloading might be a bit extreme.

I figure reloading should be a lot faster than it is in games, especially if your character is trained in firearm use. After all, if I'm some kind of cyber-ninja from the future, I should reload like this guy. Or maybe this guy.

With the time loss reduced, adding the tactical decision of when to reload would become more reasonable.

It seems to me that you'd drop the magazine on the ground if your'e reloading in the thick of things, but if you've got a moment's breathing space, you could catch the partial mag and tuck it into a pouch someplace for later. After the dust settles, you could go back and gather dropped ammo, top off partially full magazines, etc.

So, have three operations:

Fast reload - Discards current magazine, loads weapon with a new one. Almost instantaneous.

Tactical reload - Takes a few seconds, preserves current magazine for later use.

Magazine recharge - Turns an empty or partially empty magazine into a full magazine, takes a while and consumes loose cartridges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
The idea is cool, but adding the ammo loss penalty on top of the current lost-time penalty for reloading might be a bit extreme.

I figure reloading should be a lot faster than it is in games, especially if your character is trained in firearm use. After all, if I'm some kind of cyber-ninja from the future, I should reload like this guy. Or maybe this guy.

It usually is pretty fast, isn't it? I reload after every small scuffle in most action games, and I rarely find myself regretting it.

Well, sometimes I get a little carried away with it and reload with a single bullet missing from the clip. Sometimes before the enemy I shot with that bullet even hits the ground. Before you know it (less than a second later), an unseen enemy comes from around the corner. But that's just crazy. I only abused it to that degree because the reloading was so cheap and fast.

There's really not much to lose. In most games, you can even move around while you're reloading. So if you get caught with your hand in your pocket, you can just slide behind cover.

I'm not sold on the idea of throwing the unused ammo away. But I think something that makes reloading right now a less obvious choice would be positive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is a solution that is realistic and easy to play.

tap R
  • clip weapons
    if there is a fuller clip in inventory, remove the current clip and swap with the fullest.

  • individual bullet weapons
    load one bullet into the weapon.

double tap R
  • clip weapons
    a faster reload, if there is a fuller clip in inventory, drop the current clip on the ground and reload with the other clip.

  • individual bullet weapons
    perform a different reload animation, perhaps longer but cooler looking.

hold R
  • clip weapons
    remove the current clip and swap with the fullest clip in inventory, then start filling it up with individual bullets, if run out start taking bullets from the smallest clip
    continue holding R
    • 3 sec delay
      start filling up the next fullest clip with bullets, then the next etc.

    • 3 sec delay
      start taking bullets of the same type out of other weapon clips and filling the current weapon clips.

  • individual bullet weapons
    continue filling the weapon with bullets until finished


This whole process would have onscreen representation of what's happening, including when a clip is full etc - perhaps with diagrams.

This is of course not a definitive system, more of an illustration of the double-tap and time based actions of a single key press.

Another interesting use of one key is Call of Duty 4's stance toggle button. If you are standing, holding this key takes you through crouching into prone. If you are prone holding takes you through crouching back to standing. If you are prone or standing tapping the key takes you to crouching. When crouching holding the key takes you to prone, tapping takes you to standing.

Of course this adds a little more time for going to prone.

Edit: Formatting

[Edited by - Umbrae on June 22, 2008 7:19:03 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Red Orchestra has an interesting take on this. Not only are you limited in how much ammo you have, you also don't have it listed on your hud. You know how many clips/magazines you have, but NOT how many are currently in it. When you reload, if there is unspent ammo left in the mag, then that goes back to your 'ammo pool' as another magazine to load into your weapon.

If it is full (or nearly full) when you load the mag into your weapon it will say "Magazine feels heavy", if it is low on ammo it tells you "Magazine feels light". However this isn't as great as it could be. It works well for smaller magazines like the 10 round rifle mags, however for larger ones like the PPD-40 with 71 round drum magazine this leaves you guessing at how many rounds you would have left, where as in real life I could likely tell the difference between having 71 and 40 rounds, and 40 rounds and having 10 rounds. A finer scale needs to be added as your round count rises.

This simple system works well for short encounter and end games like RO has, but a system to allow you to take time between encounters to top off your magazines would be required.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On the up-side, my game setting employs a liquid cartridge for most weapons instead of clips of solid bullets. It wouldn't be stretching far at all to say that they've been designed to allow quick and easy transfer from one cartridge to another. Just plug them together and press a small button. But then, it also wouldn't be hard to sell the idea that you can just plug the cartridge into the gun itself to fill it up.

The absolute best solution (in my opinion) would be something that causes the partial clips to stay partial during battle, then be completely organized once some time passes after that situation is resolved. If the player runs out of full clips, then the fullest partials are used. If the player can carry 3-5 clips, and the number of possible enemies to confront is usually unknown, it would make reloading a decisive action instead of an obvious one, while having no other (apparent) negative effects on the gameplay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Half-Life 2 uses a dynamic reload system. When your holstered (in inventory) weapon has been cold for a while, it automatically gets silently reloaded. That, combined with the arcade-style HL2 ammo management (not wasting style), is, in my opinion, the best combo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Zajoman
Half-Life 2 uses a dynamic reload system. When your holstered (in inventory) weapon has been cold for a while, it automatically gets silently reloaded. That, combined with the arcade-style HL2 ammo management (not wasting style), is, in my opinion, the best combo.

Yeah, Half Life 2 has a reload system that a soldier would want. But as far as enhancing strategy or decision making, it doesn't have much going for it. There's just nothing to lose by reloading. Do it now, do it later, do it both now and later. It doesn't much matter.

The revolver was an exception, having a painfully slow reload, and it definitely required heavier thought to decide when to do it. But I personally don't like waiting on slow reloads, and usually avoided that weapon because of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In Ghost Recon the player has a number of clips and R-key loads the clip with the largest amount of ammo in it. Ultimately the choice depends on desired degree of realism. In my opinion Ghost Recon (the first game in the series) nails it on all aspects by being as realistic as possible without hampering game play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah, I regularly play a game with this discard system, Tremulous.
Pretty much everyone with a clue remembers the amount of hits he needs to take the most common enemy out and just reloads after a battle if the clip contains less than that, even if it means wasting 2/3 of a clip. (And if you need to bash some enemies with a lead pipe, bash them with a lead pipe, dammit)

I guess, in the end, you will run into the argument of casual games vs non-casual gamers.
I dont consider myself a casual gamer, and I wouldn't care about wasting ammo that much and just use weapons with unlmited ammo if I have to (if those weapons don't exist, I'd be annoyed, because thats just not logical :) )
On the other hand, casual gamers might see this as a problem, because they suddenly have to think about reloading or not reloading (and that is, having to cover in the next fight, or not, and maybe not having ammo, and so on, and so on.)

Taking this together, I think one should be careful with this game mechanic, even if you could add complicated things to make it work sort of, because non-casual gamers probably won't care at all and casual gamers will see a bunch of complicated decisions to make.
Of course, if your game is about survival in resource-scarce situations, yes, it is good, but in your regular shooter, see above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some points to make for the last few replies..

1. This isn't about realism, it's about depth, and depth is sometimes worth being less realistic.
2. Catering to casual gamers doesn't require you to avoid making them think.
3. Strapping ammo to your groin is a bad idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kest, you always ask good questions. Just thought I'd add that.

Anyway, this is a feature that I as a gamer usually despise, if for no other reason than feeling like I was robbed of vital assets. Yes, I know that in reality you can't quickly pop out a clip and add a few more bullets to it while running sideways, but in a fast-paced shooter I'd rather just have the reload button do exactly what I'd expect it to: put more ammo in my gun. :) Health and ammo are your only real resources in an FPS like Half life, unreal, etc., and if I ran across a field of fire to go grab 10 extra bullets from an enemy's discarded weapon, I don't want to be cost those 10 bullets if I decide to have a full clip in my gun before I rounded the next corner.

However, in a squad-based tactical shooter, I'd see this fitting in nicely. Especially the old x-com games and their offspring. With a dash of inventory management, it'd be right at home in a "pause and plan" kind of environment.

And, as always, this has all been IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't remember which half-life mod it was (Firearms, perhaps?), but one that I played quite a bit had a nice system I really liked - ammo was stored in magazines, and when you reloaded, the current magazine got put at the end of the list and you put the next magazine in the gun. By repeatedly hitting the reload key, you could cycle back around to the magazines that are partially full. In addition, there was a key that would consolidate all your ammo to create as many full magazines as possible and the rest was placed in the last magazine. The animation for the consolidation just moved the gun down and hands off-screen, and the game played a sound of taking a few bullets from a magazine and putting a few bullets into one - it wasn't at all realistic (duration didn't vary by how much moving was required), but it was just enough to make the decision to consolidate bullets a tactical and important one - forget it, and after a few firefights, you're using half-empty magazines. Do it too soon, and you're sitting there with no weapon available as your hands are occupied with ammo. It was basically just a higher level of reloading that took more time and was thus done less often.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic is 3460 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this