Realistic Weapon Behaviors

Here at Shy Snake, we have a focus on realism. Let us explain how that carries over to weapon design and balance.

The nuts and bolts

We start with the real properties of a weapon, the real basics such as how many rounds it holds. We don’t use “proxy” statistics such as bursts or taps. No weird logic that leaves you with a pistol holding 4 rounds while somehow being as accurate as a sniper rifle.

This means the weapons will have the same realistic controls you would expect in real life. Most will have a single-shot mode. Quite a few have a burst mode, or full-auto mode. You may remember our earlier post, in which we talked about timelines. In a timeline-based model, if a weapon has full-auto mode, it’s 100% up to you how long you want to hold that trigger: fire a short burst or rock’n’roll until you’re empty -- completely up to you.

Accuracy and chance to hit

Here we make a pretty dramatic break with most squad-based strategy games. Rather than using a basic “hit chance” with modifiers for range and possibly cover, we go in a different direction. Our system is based on CEP (Circular error probable).

While it may seem like a lot of fairly abstract math, in practice this concept is very simple to explain.

It goes like this: The player specifies an aim point for a character. The system then calculates based on skill, time spent aiming, situation, and weapon, where the shot actually goes. From there it determines hit or miss.

This also means things such as hit location fall out of the calculation naturally. A skilled shooter with a good rifle and time to aim should consistently miss by just a couple inches at most at normal ranges. That’s probably going to be both a hit AND hit something important. A less-skilled shooter panic firing a pistol is much less likely to hit what they aimed at, and may well be a hazard to those around them.

There are three primary factors that will determine where the shot actually goes.

  1. How well did the shooter do at pointing the weapon in the right direction? Based on their skill, the time they spent aiming, and conditions such as standing, kneeling, or prone.

  2. How accurate is the weapon? Does it put the round right where it’s aimed or does it vary widely on it’s own?

  3. How stable is the round once fired? Does it veer wildly off the intended trajectory?

At typical combat ranges the first is the dominant factor. It’s also where a lot of the gameplay balance for the various weapons happens. The powerful heavy weapons tend to be slow to aim and vice versa.

  There's a reason the military carries assault rifles

There's a reason the military carries assault rifles

So just as in the real world, you wouldn’t want to use a sniper rifle to breach a room, just as little as you’d want to use a pistol for picking off an unaware target at long range. These curves are actually generated from the length, weight, and grip of the weapon, and are unique for each.

The player will have a wide range of options for servicing the enemy.

Recoil and burst or full auto fire

Once the player has aimed and begins to fire, the accuracy model continues to be important.

One thing almost all games get wrong, is that burst fire doesn’t affect the chance of the first and consecutive rounds fired hitting their target. In our system, once the first round is headed downrange, the recoil of the weapon is calculated against the shooters stance and ability. This degrades the aim of the weapon.

As a result the next shot will be less accurate; and each subsequent shot will be even less so, until you reach the point where the character’s ability to control the weapon will stabilize any further loss of accuracy. This means that low-recoil weapons are more desirable if you plan to throw lots of rounds downrange in a hurry.

For a look at how our game deals with damage and damage modeling, stay tuned. That’s a subject for another post.