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Discussion Pros Vs Cons of a Quake-style centered weapon

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by whoft, Oct 22, 2023.

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Centered Weapon in FPS

  1. Centered

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  2. Non-Centered

    0 vote(s)
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  3. Right Side

    2 vote(s)
    100.0%
  1. whoft

    whoft

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    I'm building a minimalistic arena shooter and seriously debating using a centered weapon like in the original Quake or in ULTRAKILL's Classic HUD. I am going for an unconventionally smooth feel for gameplay but I've been wondering why more games don't use centered weapons. What are the pros/cons/drawbacks and what else would be similar?
     
  2. kdgalla

    kdgalla

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    I'm guessing the main problem with a centered weapon is that it's blocking the best screen real estate. THe player might feel like it's blocking their view. A weapon the right side is moved out of the player's immediate focus, especially now that screens are wider.
     
    whoft likes this.
  3. CodeSmile

    CodeSmile

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    A centered weapon simply is not realistic. Take Quake‘s rocket launcher for example. Would you hold that centered just in front of your crotch, and then dare to fire it? :D

    I disagree with the screen real estate though. Quake‘s weapons are particularly well designed to block very little screen real estate and the bottom center part is also almost irrelevant when it comes to FPS as there is hardly anyone sneakily crouching just in front of you. Of course if you are on a ledge looking down this can be an issue.

    But personally I find the issue with weapons held to one side more pronounced as it may block view exactly where an enemy might be. Some FPS and in particular some of the FPS game kit assets on the store have vsome very terrible weapon designs. One of them has a rocket launcher that blocks most of the right side of the view which just feels terrible, almost as if you have a wall stuck to your right that is moving along with you.
     
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  4. Marscaleb

    Marscaleb

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    That's the exact opposite of true.

    When you aim a firearm, you look down the sight. You don't hold the thing in one hand and hold it off to the side. You use two hands and put it in the center of your view.


    Even with a rocket launcher (which works nothing like it does in a game) they have dedicated scopes that you use for aiming, so properly using one of those would still result in looking at something centered in your POV.


    In video games, the reason why we always put the gun off to the side is because if we put it in a realistic position it would look like this:

    ...it becomes difficult to tell guns apart because you can't see any detail. Basically every gun is just a black tube with only minor variances, and a player has to learn the minute differences to be able to identify what kind of gun they are using. You want a game to make it easy and clear for the player to know they are holding a shotgun, a rifle, a multi-phasic plasma-based bio-disintegrator, a handgun, etc. Putting the gun off to the side looks better, and shows the player what they are wielding.

    Keeping the weapon centered really only works if you have a small arsenal of very unique weapon designs. Quake kept their weapons centered, but look how vastly different the nail guns look from each other and the other weapons. Doom was the same way. Now compare that to the weapons in Duke Nukem 3D. There was enough variety in their shapes that they COULD have kept them centered, but they wanted to show off what these weapons looked like. The shotgun looks great because you can see all the detail that looks like a shotgun, not just a barrel.
    Compare the Doom and Duke3D shotgun sprites. One is a black tube, one shows all the delicious shotgun beauty.



    Also, if you keep the weapon moved off to the side, then you can add a mechanic of aiming down the sights, like is done in Call of Duty. This adds a GREAT deal of realism AND fun mechanics, because now the player can choose between making more accurate shots or making faster shots.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2023
    CodeSmile and rdjadu like this.
  5. Marscaleb

    Marscaleb

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    And I forgot to mention: the DISADVANTAGE of having a weapon displayed off to the side is with projectile weapons. When a rocket or a plasma-burst is spawned into the game world, if it looks correct with an off-center weapon it will have to spawn off-center, which makes the aiming reticle inaccurate. There are various ways to handle this problem, but usually games just fudge it and let the projectile be slightly off-center, which depending on the design doesn't make much of a difference. Most visible projectiles have width to them, so a large plasma ball could just be wide enough that technically it does hit where you aim.

    Or alternatively, the projectile spawns in the center of the view, which looks a little odd because it doesn't look like it was "Fired out of the gun." The way to fudge this is with the firing animation; you can make a large muzzle flash from an already large rocket launcher to cover the rocket for a couple frames, and usually by the time the player can clearly see "where" the rocket is it is where they expected it to be.
     
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  6. CodeSmile

    CodeSmile

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    You are correct, and thanks for all the detail images. Cool stuff, particularly that BF rocket launcher! :D

    I totally agree with your perspective but there's one important aspect to this: most games don't make you think or feel like you're aiming down sights.

    When they do, as in sniper rifles, you typically have an animation that brings the weapon up close and to the center of the screen while the sight is somewhat obstructed (blurred or scope).

    When you stop aiming down sights the weapon swings back to its off-center position.

    This means: the player isn't normally aiming down sights but firing off the hips more or less. That's why I say you wouldn't hold your weapon against your crotch and then pull the trigger. ;)

    The only exception, at least from the games I remember and if I remember correctly, are pistols. They tend to be held higher up and closer to the center, if not centered, typically with two arms grabbing the gun, holding it further away from the player's point of view than the rest of the weapons. Exceptions of course are double-pistols, one in each hand. These also look really odd in any game that uses double-pistols.
     
  7. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Aye, and even when you are looking down the sights, a computer monitor can't replicate what it really looks like.

    Check out that police officer in Marscaleb's first image - both eyes are open. For an extreme example, pick up a pen and hold it against your nose pointing away from your face. Most people will simultaneously see two different perspectives of the same object. So even when aiming down the sights, because the gun is pressed against our shoulder rather than our nose, and we have two eyes (and in many shooting styles they are both open), there is still some perspective of the gun being to one side or the other.

    Something else worth noting is how people move when holding a gun. With the exception of slow movement with some smaller firearms, the aiming stance is not typically maintained while running around. So unless a game has an aim mode, this all comes down 100% to artistic interpretation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2023
  8. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    With regard to the aiming reticle, it's always going to be inaccurate unless the gun is in the center of the screen both horizontally and vertically. Obviously not desirable!

    Honestly, though, I'm frustrated in games far more often by a projectile being too low and clipping the top of my own cover than I am by any sideways slippage. That's because when I'm stepping around cover I don't typically need down-to-the-cm precision, but when I'm trying to lean over cover juuust far enough to make a shot then that's usually exactly what I need.

    But... most games just fudge it in both situations. I did some experiments with Doom 2016 last time this topic came up and, from memory, the projectiles spawn where the weapon looks like they should, but magnetize to a line pointing directly away from the screen. And if you're standing close to an obstacle which would obstruct the path, your gun actually moves out of its way. It's all blended in expertly so that things look correct nearby, minimise player frustration, and behave as you'd expect at a distance.