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Making a weapon feel powerful.

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I've been playing games for a long time now, and I've noticed a lot of weapons in a lot of games "feel" very powerful or very weak when they actually aren't. Halo's brute shot, for instance, feels very powerful but testing reveals it to actually be fairly weak compared to the other weapons. Meanwhile, most of Fallout 3's weapons feel shamefully weak, even many of the ones that are actually pretty strong upon inspection. I get some of it, like sound and visual effects, but I'm certain there's something I'm missing.

 

I want to make sure all the weapons in my game feel as powerful as they possibly can, especially the ones that aren't especially damaging, so that players won't abandon useful weapons. I don't want them, for instance, throwing away their rifle in favour of a (legitimately more damaging) melee weapon, because that rifle has a lot of useful properties (like, you know, range) that many other, more damaging weapons don't.

 

So I thought the best way to do that would be by making the rifle, and all other low-mid damage weapons, feel as powerful as possible. What are some good, general ways to make a weapon feel very powerful without changing its practical effect on the target?

Edited by JustinS

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If a weapon has range you could put a visor on it to make that more clear to a player.

You could also make it bigger so it will feel more powerfull(yes, two l's) if you insist, but it seems less usefull to me.

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Make range actually useful. Players will pick the most potent weapon for the situation, not just the most numerically powerful.

That said, for faking it, graphics and particle effects and sounds. Players that aren't playing the most optimum weapon and going to be playing the coolest weapon. Make the shots sound strong, make the tracers gorgeous, make the impact have impact.

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If a weapon has range you could put a visor on it to make that more clear to a player.

You could also make it bigger so it will feel more powerfull(yes, two l's) if you insist, but it seems less usefull to me.

 

Putting a visor on the weapon is impractical and ridiculous.

 

Bigger weapons are impractical, these are realistically sized and practically designed, these are weapons that are specifically designed so they'd work quite well if you had them in the real world and many of them are quite real. The first rifle you can find is a Lee-Enfield Mk.4. Not an early production model, a collector's model from the 1980s, but it's the same gun where it counts. Mostly stock, no scope, not in the best shape after sitting out unmaintained by a night stand for twenty years, and you only get 30 rounds for it when you first find it, but it's still a very good rifle.

 

Oh, and I was spelling powerful correctly.

 

Make range actually useful. Players will pick the most potent weapon for the situation, not just the most numerically powerful.

That said, for faking it, graphics and particle effects and sounds. Players that aren't playing the most optimum weapon and going to be playing the coolest weapon. Make the shots sound strong, make the tracers gorgeous, make the impact have impact.

 

Range is already very useful in this game. The range of these weapons gets pretty ridiculously long, maybe even longer than the real thing since the game lacks a lot of the atmospheric factors that foul a real weapon's flight path. Since this game (a survival game) has huge outdoor sections, you'll usually be able to spot enemies from however far your draw range can afford to be, easily hundreds of metres and possibly over a kilometre. (Have fun hitting anything at that range. Seriously, go ahead and try. The round will go that far, but with travel time, air resistance, drop and wind, you probably won't hit your target.) This game has wounding, so an enemy that you've hit is weaker than one you haven't, and it has bleed, so they'll keep getting weaker. An enemy eight hundred metres away with most weapons (if they have a weapon at all, most enemies here are animals of some sort) is no threat to you, and if you put a hole in their chest from that distance, multiple holes if required, they'll bleed out before they stand any chance of reaching you or even getting in range for most weapons.

 

I did get the notion that the muzzle blast should be very clearly visible, kick up snow and dust and the like, and leave a bright spot in a viewer's eyes for a short period. The report should be loud enough to send a player scrambling for the volume button the first time they fire it, and come with a reduction in sound volume and ringing after firing to simulate tinnitus. Hitting a target should produce a convincing wound graphic and a more genuine blood splatter (real splatter from a gunshot has pink bits in it, that's flesh coming off) and with a rifle likely come out the back of the target more than the front as the rifle travels clear through a target. The ability of the rifle to punch through objects (yay, more flying bits) is a realistic, practical thing, but it also makes a weapon feel very powerful, especially when you're on the receiving end and you thought you were safe behind a wall or whatever else can't actually stop a rifle round. (In the case of a typical, modern plaster wall, it won't even seriously slow it.)

 

And we don't use tracers. Nobody should be using tracers in this game. There's no call for tracers.

Edited by JustinS

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I would say that the impression of the weapon is very important. I forget which game it was, but I read an article about how they had a weapon that was underused because people felt it was underpowered, but the problem was audio only. They just increased the bass and it was good to go.

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I would say that the impression of the weapon is very important. I forget which game it was, but I read an article about how they had a weapon that was underused because people felt it was underpowered, but the problem was audio only. They just increased the bass and it was good to go.

 

Yeah, I hear about that kind of thing a lot. That's the main part I already took into account.

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From my personal experience playing shooters I tend to favor weapons that have strong "kick" when fired. Properly timed camera shake, weapon "kick" animation, and a loud and echoing blast.

 

I think something that is overlooked sometimes is appearance of the projectiles speed and size. A pistol that looks like its firing BB's wont draw in a players attention as much as that 50 cal. rifle that fires what looks like a baseball that penetrates through multiple tree trunks in one shot. The Effects a given weapon has on the environment can play a role too. A strong weapon could shoot through or destroy things that a weaker weapon wouldn't scratch. 

 

Some games make how powerful a weapon feels relative to its intended use. For example, fighting a tank with an M16 would be very ineffective (and feel weak), but that RPG would appear to be extremely powerful in the same situation... on the other hand you wouldn't want to use that RPG (even though its considered Powerful) for hunting deer (for obvious reasons), but that crossbow can make your job more effective (which can translate into power). I think that last point is really dependent on your games design though...  

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Firing animation, sound fx, particals and enemy reaction animation to that weapons ammo type.

 

The firing animation should show the gun has kick without giving the player much actual recoil even shaking the camera, the sound should be metallic with decent bass, the particles should clearly indicate the weapon is effected by firing (smoke, heat warble, muzzle flash, etc) and the weapons ammo type (which can apply to other weapons obviously) should trigger either good knock-back, penetration, gore, etc on the enemy units. 

 

I would prioritize enemy reaction animation, as its not as broad in scope in most games and was IMO what made old games like Golden Eye for N64 stand out and still does in modern games today. Its one thing to kill the enemy, but its good to have feedback for grazes, minor wounds, armor hits, debilitating hits, and major wounds to let the player know they missed the mark. 

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Firing animation, sound fx, particals and enemy reaction animation to that weapons ammo type.

Don't get carried away. Enemy reactions have a big gameplay effect, this could easily lead to stun-locking if handled poorly.

The firing animation should show the gun has kick without giving the player much actual recoil even shaking the camera, the sound should be metallic with decent bass, the particles should clearly indicate the weapon is effected by firing (smoke, heat warble, muzzle flash, etc) and the weapons ammo type (which can apply to other weapons obviously) should trigger either good knock-back, penetration, gore, etc on the enemy units.

A few slight nitpicks:
Gunshots do not sound metallic, they sound like bombs going off.
Modern guns do not produce significant smoke.
No firearm can knock a target back, physics won't allow it. (Newton's third law.)
Gunshot wounds are small and really aren't that gory. I could show video if required.

I would prioritize enemy reaction animation, as its not as broad in scope in most games and was IMO what made old games like Golden Eye for N64 stand out and still does in modern games today. Its one thing to kill the enemy, but its good to have feedback for grazes, minor wounds, armor hits, debilitating hits, and major wounds to let the player know they missed the mark.

Again, you MUST keep this under control or you get stunlocking.

And here, how this works:
Enemies have a chance of flinching directly in proportion to the damage dealt. They also have a (way smaller) chance of staggering, a (way, way smaller) chance of falling down and a (way, way, way smaller) chance of passing out. I just did the math and found a .303 british round of standard in-game quality (modern powder) deals 253 damage against a typical low-level human, which is pretty good for a rifle, and has a 100% flinch chance, 25.3% stagger, 2.53% knockdown and 0.253% knockout against an NPC. The chances decrease more rapidly for a PC or special character, so 2.53% stagger, 0.025% knockdown, and 0% knockout. Location is important. Headshots, for instance, are different. (100%, 100%, 100% and 100% base for an NPC, 100%, 100%, 12.65% and 1.265% for a PC.) These are all base values, of course, there's more to it than that, such as adrenalin and the target's stats, and they'll actually end up much lower most of the time.

Enemies also have their stats reduced by wounds, as well, through limb damage, health loss and a couple minor things. Every 25% of a limb's health lost also triggers a status effect, shows damage and changes animations, as does every 5% of their health score. So an enemy shot in the knee will hobble around, losing speed, stability and control, and as enemy that's bled out half their health is slow, weak and liable to fall down and be unable to get back up.

Make sense?

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Gunshots do not sound metallic, they sound like bombs going off.

 

Just a tiny counter nitpick if we're going super realistic: Gunshots can sound pretty different for the shooter, then for anyone standing next to it in my limited experience...

I remember trying the m16 once, and all I could hear while shooting it was the spring in the stock... Made it sound like I was using a toy gun.

That combined with the plastic "toy" feel of it made me kind of loose my respect for it :D

 

But the same is true for anything I've fired (mostly military stuff), there is a lot of sounds from the mechanism mixed into the explosion sound.

Or just general rattle from every part of it, like for an ak47...

 

Though, I used ear protection of course...  quite a different thing without it.

 

But in any case, with this level of realism, I assume you just want to use actual high quality samples of the actual guns firing or some gun close to it in model.

 

I don't think you should go for trying to give people problems with hearing or neighbours by mixing the sound level too "relistic" in volume. Better then to simulate it in-game with reduced volume on atmospheric sound, ringing, blurry vision etc.

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