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LucasPenney Blog

"Hah, Missed Me!" - "But I shot you in the Head!"

By reading the title of this post, you probably have a general idea of what I am talking about. Either A, people lagging in online games avoiding being killed, or B, games that generally are built badly, and count impacts to the side of someones head as a direct hit.

First, the topic of people lagging. Now, most servers for online games have lag compensation, where they "estimate" where the player is and make it appear to everyone else that the person is there, simply because the connection between the lagging player and the server is weak. To the lagging player, who may or may not be having choppy gameplay, he still has a human mind, and may make sudden movements that the server cannot keep up with on a slow connection. So although it may appear that the player is in front of you firing in the opposite direction, he may actually be behind you, putting a sharp object into your spine. However for someone to move that great of a distance secretly through lag is very rare, as servers often take precautions to prevent this, such as having a minimum connection speed to the server. This also brings up the topic of lag switches, which temporarily disables or severely weakens the players internet on purpose on a flick of a switch, allowing them to take advantage of this lag. Obviously most servers thesedays have counter measures against this, as I mentioned previously.

The second topic, bad hit boxes, is simply the fault of the game, and is rarely improved over DLC. These days it is pretty accurate, you can shoot someones ear and it will kill them, but shooting just outside their ear wont. However slightly older games or new games with older engines still suffer from this, and it is up to the developers to ensure this is avoided. Often times it is only noticed in first person shooters, as sniping often has to be accurate down to the skin cell for it to count.

Why should this matter? Just think about what could have been at fault before calling "HAX!"

Teamwork, Anyone?

I always wondered why games that put emphasis on their multiplayer never seem to put emphasis on the need for teamwork. Is the multiplayer function of a game simply to have more of a challenge, or is it a way to be involved in that games community by working cooperatively with other players?

As I mentioned in My Last Blog Post, there are several things that can destroy the realism of an otherwise realistic feeling game. In multiplayer games, there are a few extra killers of realism. One is generally the annoying sound of someone putting their low quality microphone up to some low quality speakers that are playing some low quality music, generally producing a sound similar to that of a whale vomiting. That being said, sometimes it can be funny occasionally, but when you are trying to play a serious game, it is simply annoying. Even worse, only some games have a feature which allows you to mute players, and the games that do not find that voice chat is rendered completely useless, which can even lead to a team becoming uncoordinated and not win the match. As for the other complaint that many have, people playing the game that sound too young, I do not mind it one bit. I say good for them for having the courage to use their mic in the first place, and as long as they are not being annoying, they are being productive.

That being said, sometimes people refuse to work cooperatively. Whether they are shoving you off a building, friendly firing at you until you are on the ground, or leaving you to die while injured on the ground, people that refuse to play with teamwork are generally the worst part of any online multiplayer experience. It can even lead to a civil war on your team, with people trying to get revenge on each other, providing the game you are playing has friendly fire on. People that purposely disrupt otherwise civilized games (well, if having a random team deathmatch is civilized) usually do not realize that they are making others frustrated, and often we do not find it funny that you managed to shove an active grenade down our throat.

The solution to remove these troublemakers? Well unfortunately such a solution does not exist yet. Some games have systems in place to prevent troublemakers, such as no friendly fire or punishments for it, or no character collision so you don't get shoved off a building, and so on and so forth. My advice to you if you ever get stuck in a game with some troublemakers is to avoid them completely until they leave or stop causing chaos. It's the only thing you can do, unless the game you are playing has a kick or vote kick option.

Why do we bother with teamwork though, anyways? Generally because the more coordinated you and your allies are, the better you play. That is not just a thought, it is a fact of almost all games. So the next time you go kill some zombies, terrorists, or do anything online, consider playing with teamwork, you will be amazed at how communication between players can increase their ability to defeat the opposing team. However, I do not recommend trying any sort of teamwork in a free for all game. It will not turn out well.

-Lucas Penney

Gaming Realism Mistakes

We all know that games are becoming more realistic with movie quality graphics, high quality physics, and basic things that make it feel real. However I have a bit of a beef with game developers on the small things that they could easily put into games to make them be more realistic and generally improve the quality of the game itself.

But first lets review, what are the things that are in most recent games that are realistic?

-In first person shooters, recoil effects weapon accuracy

-High quality graphics on objects and models

-Projectiles are effected by the laws of physics/bullets can penetrate weak surfaces


-Somewhat destructible environments

-So much more, just think about your typical game like Call of Duty or Motorstorm, and the physics and graphics that they have.

Now personally, I think that games are still missing many small details that would make the games just that more interesting, allowing you to submerge yourself in the game, and possibly never put down the controller. Small details make a difference in gameplay, regardless of the game genre. Here are some examples.

-Realistic shadows and lighting effects (few games have this)

-Ground objects such as grass should have 3d models that flow in the wind (note to developers, grass is not a texture)

-Fully destructible environments (Red Faction: Guerrilla, thanks for setting the example!)

-Explosion realism (One would think grenades would make stuff other than dirt go flying, and did you know that when you activate a real grenade, there is only 5 seconds until it explodes?)

-Vehicle Realism (Last time I checked, if you crash into a brick wall at full speed, you end up dead, not with your car bouncing backwards a bit and your engine taking no damage, MotorStorm is the only game I can think of with somewhat realistic vehicle physics.)

-So much more, some easier for developers to implement than others.

Now, I am not saying that current games are unrealistic, they are the most realistic the world has ever seen to date, however before companies like Sony or Microsoft try to step forward to Motion Capture technology, they should ensure that the games that plan to use it are realistic enough to provide the, dare I say it, "Perfect Gaming Experience" for the first time. We hate to admit it, but graphics and realism has a large impact on how we would rate a game. Personally I would like to see a game that has full weather and wind effects, and a fully destructible environment, with these effects on the environment effecting the gameplay with constant change, such as a high wind speed effecting a snipers bullet or rain on the ground making it harder to control a vehicle. The technology exists, it just requires some extra thought to put it in.

But I would like to ask, what do you think? Are small changes for added realism necesary to improve gameplay? Or should games simply have more stuff to do and see, and make the gameplay last longer? Leave a comment!

-Lucas Penney

Gaming Communities

I have noticed that the gaming communities have evolved greatly, however the strongest community remains with PC gamers. Simply because it is easier to connect over the internet in a browser, PC gamers tend to live in an extremely strong commuity, with several ways for them to share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences that console gamers do not have. With programs and communities like XFire, allow them to record their games, upload them, upload their screenshots without having to do anything in a web browser. They can even have live broadcasts of their playing, which needless to say, is amazing. Also, it's easier for them to access websites like GameSpot, and of course the massive community that GameSpot has speaks for itself.

What do console games have for their communities?

Well, not much. They are not allowed to Mod their games, they don't have extremely easy access to web sites ( Yes I know some consoles have a web browser, but they are not easy to use ), and they have little text-chat options ingame, often having only voice. Technical support, there is also less community support. Not trying to start a console war here, I personally play my PS3 much more than my PC, however when it comes to gaming communities console games tend to be weaker.

The solution? Well, consoles simply need better communities, I would personally think that in-game community would be best, like the Steam in-game community that it has for it's PC games, you just hit a 2 button combination, and you are in the community page. Brilliant. Just a thought, eh?

- Lucas Penney

The next step

I have been playing roughly every type of game out there, but I always wondered, what is the next step in gaming? We already have some awesome looking graphics, which are almost lifelike. Is there any other ways that gaming will improve? What is the next step, and is there a final one? Is it virtual reality or motion-capture technology?

Personally, I think the next step is absolutely realistic graphics as well as motion capture technology, and perhaps throw a bit of 3 dimensional gaming in there. Possible? Absolutely. Cost? Wallet-burning. The problem is not that the technology does not exist, video games have shown to have better visuals than some professional computer generated movies. 3 Dimensional technology is obviously available, you would know that if you have been to a movie theatre recently. The times of 2 different color lenses on cheap paper glasses have passed, now the glasses look like shades, and the 3D is incredibly impressive.

Motion capture technology has 2 options. There is the "not holding anything" approach, like Project Natal, and there is also the "hold something in both hands" approach, like the Wii. They both have their ups and downs, however for futuristic gaming motion-capture technology is the way to go, as the Wii controller approach simply is not precise enough to accurately capture your movements like a camera can.

Which begs the question, why bother trying to create a realistic virtual reality, when there is a real reality that you could play until you die? Because you can't spawn helicopters onto incoming traffic in real life, or get shot with a RPG 300 times and just respawn behind the guy with a rocket launcher. Also, games are just more fun. That's right, I said it, anti-gaming enthusiasts.

- Lucas Penney

The Evolution of First Person Shooters

We tend to think that the basic way that each first person shooter (FPS) operates is the same, however the style has changed dynamically, over the course of it's lifetime. We can notice this the most in more recent games, where graphics are extremely realistic, which helps you get "into the game" and feel as though you are the character shooting a bunch of random innocents. However the graphics changes is the least noticeable aspect of their entire evolution. Noticeably in recent games, idle animations and gameplay changes have made a dramatic effect on how the gameplay works and feels. For example, idle animations for standing or sitting, whatever you are doing, whether you are scoped or not (however it is more noticable if you are scoped), the characters breathing makes him/her move slightly, thus changing the crosshairs location ever so slightly. This tends to have an effect when you are trying to shoot someone thousands of feet away. Going back in time a bit, sprinting is also another thing that was not always in FPS games, but it had a great basic concept, kudos to the developer who thought of that first. Being able to get around a map quicker, at the expense of aim being inaccurate (or not being able to use your weapon at all while sprinting) was ingenious. It is now common in any kind of shooting game, first or third person. Recoil, of course, was another bright idea. No real explanation is needed here, it just works. Guns have it, so any FPS should as well. First person shooters is one of the few types of games in any genre that requires a game to be entirely 3D. That is, having height, width, and depth, it doesn't matter if the graphics look pixelated, if it has those things it is 3D. Well then again, if you think you can make a 2D FPS, I would love to see you try, although it may involve forgetting the laws of physics. Think about it, the next time you shoot a zillion zombies in Left 4 Dead, or "Accidentally" shoot your ally in Call of Duty.