Tobold's Blog
Monday, September 15, 2014
Movement in video games

Try a little exercise: Stand on one spot and try how fast you can turn a full 360°C. You'll find that it's not so fast (especially if there is friction on the ground and you can't spin on one foot), usually it would take over a second. I was reminded of that when I played Destiny on a console, where rotating around your axis with a gamepad takes about that realistic amount of time. It would also be the time it would take to rotate in many PC games if you use the keyboard to turn. Only if you use a mouse on a PC you can suddenly turn much faster, a fraction of a second, depending on your settings.

That made me wonder why developers don't put some mechanism in which makes such a movement the same speed regardless of which form of input you use. It certainly works in World of Tanks, where the speed with which you can turn depends on your tank, and not your mouse settings. But then again you also have an obvious advantage in a shooter game if aiming with a mouse instead of gamepad. I wondered if I was doing well in Destiny because the game *assumes* that I'll be slow targeting the enemies, as the gamepad is my only option. Do PC shooters require faster aiming, because faster aiming is possible?

With the army using video games for combat training, one has to wonder how realistic movement in video games actually is. Not just the speed of turning. But for example most games allow you to walk sideways at the same speed and ease as forwards. Try that is real life! I hope we aren't training our soldiers to do things like circle-strafing, because that wouldn't really work so well in reality.

Do you know of any video games with more realistic (and thus slower) movement? Does that work for a game?

Turning around is faster in video games, aiming is not, especially long distance aiming. Now, accuracy will suffer with speed more in real life, but the actual movement required can be very fast.
Many shooters with slower turning and movement tend to use it to amplify the sensation that the character is pretty hefty. Like Samus' power suit in Metroid Prime or a mech in Mechwarrior games.

I think the best compromise so far is the system in the Assassin's Creed series. You do not have 1:1 control over the character; You can tell him what to do, but it can take a bit of time to fulfill that command. For example, if you change directions, the character will turn at a realistic rate, and if he was running, the turn will be wider than it would have been while walking. Likewise, pressing up while climbing causes the character to grab the next available ledge (even if it was to the side) or stop if none are within reach.
Being used to mouse and keyboard I fail miserably at trying to aim using a controller even though I enjoy using a controller for movement. My viewpoint sways around drunkenly any time I touch the right stick.

My stopgap solution is that if a enemy is in front of me I often find it easier to step sideways till they come into my sights than to try and turn to line them up.
In pc MMOs if you turn with your keys then it is slow...but if you turn with a mouse is super fast and I like it that way..I got used to it.

I don't like games that have slow turn and with no option for "mouse sensitivity" which adjust how fast you turn..
I agree that mouse control is so enhanced beyond reality that it feels like cheating after you have spent sometime with a pad.

The speed at which I can check all around me in Counterstrike is ridiculous. As is your ability to pick out footsteps in a noisy environment. It all conspires to make you think less about where you are and where enemies may be as well as reducing the need to coordinate with team mates to watch each others backs. It just puts an emphasis on twitch skills.

But I don't think you will ever convince the mouse fans that a slower more weighty character could improve the experience.

These people seem to be vigorously opposed to using pads even in console games where they are at no disadvantage.

I prefer to keep my skills sharp on both types of control and do prefer the more realistic pad movement versus flinging the screen around as if I could move my head like a small bird in a PC shooter.
To each its own. Racing games are great with a controller, so-so with kb and mouse. On the other hand, playing any fps with a controller is absolutely "doable" but not the best way to experience it.

"Reality" in this case has nothing to do with gaming and shouldn't be used as an excuse for any input choice (controllr, kb, mouse).

I've been playing Pathfinder Online's alpha recently and they have limited mouse turning speed to a similar level with the keyboard.

To be totally honest, it works poorly in my opinion. The idea might suit some games, but lends it self badly to tab-targeting based MMORPGs. Movement in Pathfinder feels clunky, limited and, to put a word on it, annoying.
Rather than turn 360, try this -- pick up a stick and try to look and point it 90 to 180 degrees behind you.

You can do that significantly faster -- maybe not at near instantaneous speeds, but certainly much faster than turning 360. Also, when I rotate my body, I can also turn my head and see even faster.

My point is that there is "movement" and then there is "aiming" and we can perform them at different speeds.
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Make it too realistic and I'll probably be unable to play it because I'll be too busy being motion sick and puking all over the keyboard.

Sure, that's going to make me say good things about your game and recommend it to my friends...

Half Life 2, never made it past the dune buggy level. Stomach kept twisting inside out as the buggy flipped over.
I think it invites the opposite question: namely, how do we make IRL movement faster?
My point is that there is "movement" and then there is "aiming" and we can perform them at different speeds.
Which is what MechWarrior, Metroid Prime, Battlezone and Planetside 2 do.. but only for big hulking killing machines. Infantry can still turn instantly on a dime.
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