Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take Comfort in Your Skill

It has been a couple days since my last post, but I have good reason. This new post has taken a bit more elbow grease on my part than usual (even worse than editing artwork of controllers on Paint.)

It all started when I began to think of the usual responses from PC gamers about the disadvantages of being a console gamer. Most of them I find acceptable, like lack of updates and the inability to create maps. But there has always been one that has bothered me a bit more than the others: CONSOLE GAMERS HAVE LESS SKILL.

This never, ever made sense to me. At what point did the game require less skill? If everyone on a computer games with a mouse, their controls are equal, creating an equal playing field in that respect. Similarly, everyone on the Xbox 360 uses the same standard controller. If the level of threat is equal from everyone, when does the PC users abilities make more influence against other players? The answer is that it doesn't.

Certainly, if a PC gamer came along with a mouse onto an Xbox 360 match, they would probably be extremely successful because the mouse is a superior input device. Instead of going through this much thought, however, PC gamers, instead, say that they have superior skill. This is completely untrue. In fact, if our input device is inferior and we accomplish the same things, that would actually require more skill.

When I had made peace with this, I heard another comment that deeply disturbed me. I was told that Team Fortress 2 on the Xbox 360 had auto-aim. "It isn't true," I told myself, "every frag of mine is my own, not assisted by some coding!"

"Maybe it wasn't so bad," I thought after awhile, "many 360 games use auto-aim, like Halo 3 or even Call of Duty 4. Heck, even Half-Life 2 used auto-aim on the PC!" My confidence was growing again, but only on the surface, and I would often remember this comment when I went on a 15 kill streak or sniped a Scout that was right in my face.

Soon after, I had my first air-shot kill with the Rocket Launcher (one of the most exhilarating moments of my gaming career, coming close to winning that Strider battle at the end of Episode Two.) But the experience became less exciting when I realized that it had been the game, not me, who had shot that soaring Soldier.

Then it hit me fast and hard. I had predicted that movement, not the computer. Auto-aim didn't make one difference in this case. I felt real success and I now considered Soldier to be a class of ridiculous skill because he couldn't rely on auto-aim.

But sometimes I still thought about auto-aim, and the more I played, the more I'd think about it. I began to watch my reticule while I played. Did it ever bend towards players? Could I miss by just a little and still do damage? When I was sighted in and I took my thumbs off the sticks, did my reticule follow the enemy?

The answers to these answers were all, surprisingly, NO, and in one day, months of discontent became confusion. How was auto-aim implemented if it did none of these things? Then I did something I should have done much earlier. I asked Robin Walker.

In his own words:
Hi Neal.
Nope, there's no auto-aim on the Xbox.


So now I can take comfort in my skill. That is, unless I get lucky.


Somedood said...

Well. I don't know about that. I originally bought The Orange Box for PS3 and I couldn't go without all the awesome updates that the PC version got so I eventually bought it too. This might just be me, but I have gone back to the console version every now and then and ever since playing on the PC version, I've gotten loads better.

But that might be because I've been playing it for a looong time.

Anonymous said...

Ok, congratulations on not having auto-aim. But that doesn't have much to do with the first half of your rant about skill levels.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

There are certain maneuvers that are impossible without a mouse such as flick rocketjumps and stabs, hence the console versions have a lower skill ceiling. This is a fact.

You seem to be very passionate about this game, so why limit yourself to the 360 version?

I do envy the fact that the Xbox version has a maximum of 8 players per team. Thats a sweet spot for team size imo. Lots of the maps on PC are overcrowded spamfests with 32 players.

Will Taylor said...

Auto aim on a console often works by speeding up the rotate speed of the crosshair when moving towards an enemy and slowing it down when moving it away. this means that you are always closer to their body than you "deserve", though really it's not a problem.

pretty much the only way i know to test this is to place an enemy standing still in the middle - long distance, and move your crosshair over them very slowly at a constant speed. notice if it speeds up as you get close to them and then slows as you start moving away.

because come on, if everyone has auto aim, it's still the same "difficulty"

Neal Kenneth said...

To Will Taylor,
It is good thing that we don't have to worry if our skill is affected by auto-aim, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

There is a mild problem with your argument. Two input devices cannot require the same skill to operate because that simply makes no sense. Yes if a console gamer could perform the same operations on a controller he would be VERY skilled, sadly it is not possible so this is irrelevant. PC players operate a higher speed, so in other words it does take more skill and more reflex to survive an actual competitive match.

Anonymous said...

We can't do flick rocketjumps and stabs? Then there's always the option to change our look sensitivity in accordance...

Anonymous said...

360 version has look acceleration on permanently. This alone prevents players on the 360 from getting near PC skill, let alone the inability to increase your sensitivity past your allotment.

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