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#1 Posted by Ravidge 4 years 6 months ago
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I don't like shooting targets when trying to run for top-times, I've tried forever to make it work for me, but it just doesn't click.
I held off writing this thread because 'Shooting range' was not a good example of a target map imo. Escapade is much better, but the target elements of it just drive me crazy still, so I decided to make this thread now that I've played a more standard 'race' target objective map.

As I see it, when the objectives become targets instead of checkpoints, the amount of things to take into account increases dramatically, and I don't think it's the kind of complexity I enjoy. It feels like something difficult that I can't control very well and I can't learn it because it's different in every run and every target has its own set of complications.

Let's take a typical scenario where you have to fire a grenade. The point of this thread is NOT "how do I kill this target??", I don't need tips on how to approach this objective, I am using this image to explain myself more clearly. The majority of the following text should be applicable to any target shooting scenario.

1. You have just come into range for a target, you adjust your speed, most likely stopping acceleration since you will need to aim your ship in another direction to shoot. So you're at the mercy of gravity. Effectively you stop having control of your ship around this point (where the '1' is drawn) and you better hope you positioned yourself perfectly and not going too fast or too slow.

2. This is where you're in the middle of aiming, you now have no control over your ships trajectory. Here we need to take into account the turn-rate of the ship. If we are traveling too fast it's just not possible to line up the shot in time.

3. So you managed to aim the shot in the general direction it needed to go, but being accurate with this cannon is hard, because just a tiny degree of error in your aim translates to a definitive miss, the distance of the shot matters a lot here, the further away, the more pixel-perfect you need to be with your ship rotation.
But the cannon isn't even consistent, the grenades are affected by gravity so you need to take that into account as well. Then you have to charge the shot, and the power ramps up quickly, holding off the shot for just 0.2 seconds extra means it will have a vastly different trajectory. Same goes if you release the fire button too early.
And then there's a kickback on the ship, proportional in strength to the grenade charge time. Often knocking you off-course if you charged for too long. And since you don't really have control of your ship yet (you just fired, the ship is still pointing towards the target) surviving a kickback that is just a little too strong is difficult and sometimes impossible.

4. And then you're finished with just one of the targets. Now you regain control of your ship, and you hope you find yourself in a position where you can actually react and survive. Turn-rate comes into play here as well, but also you initial velocity, trajectory and then kickback strength is what decides if you're gonna survive the sequence, and get away.


So in summary, things that can go wrong:
* Bad positioning = you end up in a spot where you just can't pull off the sequence of the shot and also get away, very rarely can you adjust your position for the better mid-sequence.
* Moving too fast = you'll just crash, or you won't be able to rotate fast enough to aim the shot.
* Moving too slow = gravity will pull you down sooner than expected and you crash/miss the shot/miss your exit route.
* Your aim is off = miss the target. As I sad, your ship only needs to be a few pixels misaligned for the shot to be completely off.
* Your timing is off = miss the target. Lining up for the shot, calculated the perfect strength and angle but fired a fraction too early/late.
* Your shot was too strong = Can make you miss, but not always. The kickback will mess up your positioning, and most likely kill you.
* Your shot was too weak = miss the target.

And all this happens really damn fast, and multiple times since there is usually more than 1 target per level.
And since each run is unique, you have to consider all these parameters on the spot. Sure you can run things into a routine and do it reliably, but that is a lot to ask of people. Just a tiny difference in velocity between runs messes you up and you need to adjust everything to match this new situation on the spot. And if you're racing for a top time, you don't have time for that shit, things need to go according to plan.

I find shooting targets frustrating and not fun compared to the standard checkpoint races.
I don't know what others think about grenades/targets, but that's my take on it.
#2 Posted by Acegikmo 4 years 6 months ago
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Great thread and explanation, thanks for bringing the issue up! :)

Shooting is very hard at the moment, and on Escapade it does become clear as you're dealing with higher velocities with targets that are further away, as opposed to Shooting Range's short ranges and relatively low velocities.

The first thing we need to do is to check whether or not this is a problem for many.

So, to anyone reading:
1. What do you think of the shooting mechanic in singleplayer racing?
2. If you try the method described later in this post, does it help aiming, or is it still as hard?
3. If you start up Alpha Arena, fly around and shoot the enemy and respawning it as it dies, "pretending" to play 1v1; do you get used to the aiming after a while, when you're not rushing the shots?

As for your post, I agree to a degree! I can only speak for myself - but when playing multiplayer, where you have another factor to account for (Enemy movement prediction and enemy grenades), it seems to actually work fine after playing for a while, but it might not because I've balanced all the parameters that "need to be right" to hit the enemy, I think it's because I'm simplifying them.

I've found myself to cope with the slim margins by almost always charging to max or near max charge, and aim pretty much only by rotating and timing the release of the grenade.

This is how I line up pretty much every non-arc shot in 1v1 multiplayer:
1. Make sure your rocket will have controlled motion for a while without too much maintaining
2. Start charging when the enemy is approaching your line of sight/aim
3. Let it charge for a while, slightly before the point where the path becomes near-linear
4. Start rotating the rocket in one direction, ie: no "fiddling" around or going back and forth with rotation to line up
5. Time the release to make it travel to the enemy, hopefully hitting.
6. As you fire, do not look at the grenade, focus 100% on not dying.

The idea is to cancel out parameters.
Charging for long means very low gravity influence, plus a long aim reticle, which helps the aim part.
Rotating in just one direction means you don't have to care about aiming in the sense of rotation, only about the timing of the release of the shooting key.

This has worked really well, and helps me consistently hit.

That said, multiplayer combat is very different from target race, because you have entirely different scoring metrics.

In 1v1 combat, the objective is to not crash or be shot, while making sure the enemy crashes and is shot more than you.
In Target Racing, the objective is to shoot targets and finish the level superfast.

If you look at the 1-6 list above, and try to apply it to Target Racing, point 1 and 6 are played entirely differently, though the rest is still applicable.

So this pretty much is the issue:

I think another way to see the issue is that when just racing, you get near constant feedback on your performance, but when shooting, there's always the waiting time between grenades being fired, and waiting to see if they hit or not. A miss means everything you did was pointless and you need to restart. Shooting might simply not be very fit for singleplayer racing play.

We want to keep the game skill based, but it might just have too many things to account for at the same time, making it extremely hard to learn, even on a basic level. Our goal is to always make sure you can learn.
#3 Posted by Pabu 4 years 6 months ago
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I myself find shooting races just to be little different from normal races.
As said in ravidges post there are lot more variables that can cause failure.

Ill use this picture to show how I kinda learn my way through a level

So in a picture you can see in red my past route and in green the expected route.
Im flying fairly slow and pretty close the target to minimize chance of missing.
In order to get my ship in right position afterwards im counting on the knockback of bullet and then flying like normal.

Why I fly so close the target is that i can more consistently hit the target and therefore more consistently clear the track.
After being able to do this consistently enough I can slowly practise shooting the target from different angles of approach and see what suits me best.
To me being consistent equals more succesful tries in doing fast time on the track so when I do manage to get lucky shot at target i can make use of it.
Eventually I might even learn to do "the lucky shot" consistently.

The second target of escapade is pretty complex and figuring out optimal approach is not easy. As opposed to 3rd target which is fairly obvious. Most of people will slide under it and just charge shot and shoot at right time.

Finding the way you want to make your shot at 2nd target is puzzle of its own. Taking it easy and building up consistency is way for me to improve in these tracks and many other tracks too.
#4 Posted by kamyl 4 years 6 months ago
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Most of you probably know my opinion as I wrote it on IRC. In short:
-I am perfectly fine with present shooting.
-Recoil is awesome and it actually help, as you can use it for many ways. Not only in race, but I think in every single game mode.
-Gravity for grenade is nice, but I can't see any problem to add some other spaceship that shoot other type of bullet (remember that map creator pick spaceship for you)
-If that's really too hard for some people, then you can make official maps very short and easy. But please don't limit hardcore maps creator for people that like some challenge. I don't really want the game to be super easy. It's so easy to learn and harder to master and it's the best.
-There is nothing more gratifying than bounce from wall at full speed, charge a bullet while turning if you need to, shoot, use recoil (if you planned to charge the grenade) to get some speed and match into slide and wait for the glass breaking sound so you know you hit the target. Or shoot a target that is far away from you or behind the wall. This is just what make this game brilliant.
-The only thing I would change is to zoom things out so you can see targets that is far away so it's easier to shoot them.
-Oh, sometimes I hit my bullet with another bullet that makes them disappear on Learning Curves as I like to send some quick 2 rocket on each target. I don't know if it bothers me, but it prevent from spamming bullets for sure. :)

I think you need some more practice or you prefer easier games. That's fine, I bet there's a lot of easy games out there. ;)

About that someone's idea about ability to turn on slow-mo with normal or even faster time going, I think this is very good idea and we should see if it'd work.
#5 Posted by Texel 4 years 6 months ago
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To add with some of the discussion on this point from the IRC, allot of the problem with the mechanic is that it is very hard to pick up, and particularly unforgiving, making it painful for newer players.

To note several of the suggestions from the IRC discussion,

* Consider damping controls when aiming, to compensate for the problem of over-aiming
* Grenades do not have any form of explosion radius, so a near-miss is just as bad as any miss. Having an explosion radius would simplify hitting the targets and encourage use of lower-charge shots.
* Recoil is only desirable when making fast runs, for inexperienced or careful players it adds an additional penalty that is harder to compensate
* Given many shots essentially require that you begin the charge from offscreen, it becomes a game of painful memorization to learn target positions. (Apparently addressed)
* Ammo does not allow for more creative problem solving, and is extremely unforgivingly portioned (Apparently addressed)

Aswell as the suggestion for a time slowing mechanic, presented as, A) While aiming, the the gameplay speed is greatly decreased to allow you to precisely time and aim your shot, before snapping back into the high-speed, or B) An additional button slows the game speed without slowing the timers, which continue to progress in real, or above real time, to allow newer players the ability to complete levels otherwise too challenging, learn the gameplays at lower speed, and devise clever maneuvers without penalizing the 'mastered' playstyle on the scoreboards.
#6 Posted by Ravidge 4 years 6 months ago
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I really dislike the "get better at the game" argument. This is not about skill, even if this is probably just a silly joke remark, I still want to make it clear, this is about game design, not skill or difficulty.

What I'm trying to bring out here is a discussion about enjoyment. Flowstorm doesn't have a whole lot of core concepts that you must learn, but shooting is definitely one. And if such a integral part just isn't fun for everyone to use, then it just failed straight away. It doesn't matter how much gameplay depth or how amazingly high the skill ceiling is if everyone except the top percent of players are annoyed by it just from the basic outset.
#7 Posted by Acegikmo 4 years 6 months ago
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We're going to try some modifications tonight to see how it plays out, in about 3-5 hours from this post! (Hang out in the IRC if you want to be there to try it)

- Longer aim reticle
- Optional soft aim toggle (Slower rotation rate while charging)
#8 Posted by Acegikmo 4 years 6 months ago
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Currently, there's an experimental build up and running, with score uploading disabled!

• The aim reticle is longer, and you can toggle Soft aim by pressing N. This essentially makes your turning slower than usual, while charging.
• You can switch weapon charge function by pressing C, which by default is linear, but you can try some other exponential ones.
• You can tweak the torque that soft aim has by pressing V and B. A torque of 70 is the same as while you're not charging. A torque of 0 means you won't be able to turn at all while charging.

If soft aim is implemented, it will be on by default, but a feature you can turn off if you like.

My personal favorite is Linear charge function, with Soft Aim set to 36. It feels precise enough on long shots and fast enough for short range shots.
It's also the torque that allow you to turn almost exactly 90° before it's autofired, which is probably useful and a more tangible angle to remember.

Feel free to try it out!
#9 Posted by Ravidge 4 years 6 months ago
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I tried a couple of settings, the ones I stayed on the most was:
Either [2] Ease out, or [4] Ease center. SA setting at 30 and 36. (Lower for race, higher for 1v1)
I like that I can let go of the fire button faster and still get some range out of the shot. The sooner I can let go of the charge button the better, that way I spend less time drifting, doing nothing but charging a shot, drifting also means I must keep updating my aim as my position changes, and watch out for walls. So yeah shooting sooner is better for me.

SA setting is just preference, I think it's much better around ~35 than the default 70. But like I said, now that I am allowed to fire sooner, I don't spend as much time charging/aiming. I tried to get some basic rhythm going for the 'start charge -> release' timing, so I could properly adjust the SA setting for that timing window.
The slower rotation just means it's not completely useless to try and do a quick adjustment, like it was before. I haven't found the perfect value for me yet. The thing that matters the most for this value is "for how long are you going to charge", the more time I spent charging, the lower I needed it to be.

A lot of useless text right there.
I think what helps the most is the longer reticle.

I feel more accurate, definitely not as frustrating since I can hit the targets more consistently now. But I'm not sure if I'm having fun with shooting in race yet though.
#10 Posted by kamyl 4 years 6 months ago
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Actually it's easy to get used to slower spinning and in fact, it might be easier to shoot if you charge grenade for long time. However, even if playing with SA seems to be easier, it is not in close combat I think and you could beat someone with slower spinning in some situations if you practice aiming without SA.

I fully liked SA when I played with Minimum Force at max. (played on Arena)
#11 Posted by BumSqueeze 4 years 5 months ago
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Such a good game, keep it up!
#12 Posted by autobots 4 years 5 months ago
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I like shooting things while racing, but not so much having to go out of the way just to hit something. I like it to stay fast.

But one thing I DON'T like is not being able to just hold the grenade charged until I'm ready to use it. I think it would be nice to be able to have one chambered and ready at max power. Not really sure why, it just feels like that's how it should naturally be.

On a side note: I think it would be cool to have different weapon types. We currently have a grenade that takes gravity into account. Maybe we also have a rocket launcher that fires rockets in a straight line, so no gravity. And maybe since the rockets propel themselves, the kickback wouldn't need to occur when firing that weapon giving it a sort of trade-off. Maybe also a machine gun type weapon that doesn't take out objects in one shot but can fire more frequently and provides a more constant recoil. The constant recoil could be used to hold your rocket against a top rail for a longer period of time which opens up new strategies (especially for the min fuel runs where it might help a ton to hug a rail all the way around).

But even just as it is I love the game and feel the shooting works. I find myself trying to land on more objects in levels like the shooting range since it is pretty hard to hit some of the targets. I guess thats the point though. I have to earn it and learn how to play.
#13 Posted by Ravidge 4 years 4 months ago
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I'd like to bump this thread. Even with the soft aim addition, all of the points in my "list of things that can go wrong" in the OP are still a concern for me.

I can rant about what I think annoys me the most with Targets, but it pretty much boils down to this: Racing a normal checkpoint map to the top times requires absolute precision and execution. When adding in Targets there are so many brutally difficult variables/tasks added to the normal difficulty of just racing that it makes it more of a freak occurrence that someone actually does a super-fast time on a Target Level, so many things has to go right in the span of a few seconds.
It doesn't feel like skill, but persistent trying and trying and trying and trying, until you get it by chance, when the stars align etc.
#14 Posted by Qhesz 4 years 4 months ago
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As a (clearly crazy) person who has pretty much only done top time 'accel' runs (and turns off soft aim), the targets never really made a difference to me. That's because, targets or not, finishing any accel run that's going for top time requires masterful control. So I approach every run with the mindset that only an amazingly executed performance will get me to the finishing line, and missing a target is then little different from crashing (both of which happen a lot [99% of the time], and don't annoy me at all). The only difference is that I can continue practising the rest of the level if I miss a shot, whereas I have to start again if I crash.

In fact, I absolutely love the extra rhythm/coordination that is needed for the targets/shooting, especially in Escapade. Having that one extra key that has to be held and released at completely different times to the others excites the poly-rhythm/hyper-coordination part of my brain. :P

I'm definitely not a typical player, but that's my two cents anyway.
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