1.20.2004

GAMES - Snipe Hunt

Jakub Wojnarowicz, Games Editor at FiringSquad, touches on a volatile subject in the gaming community. Sniping rifles.
That sniper rifles are the bane of first-person shooters is an indisputable fact, yet people choose to dispute it anyway. Why?


Since it's a rant, I understand why he only states what he dislikes, without providing any resolution. I can't really comment on the issue, because I'm super-poor and can only afford to play Enemy Territory and America's Army. These games are pretty fair in weapon and class balance. He mentions Enemy Territory and BF1942 as two games with fair and balanced snipers, but I think that AA is pretty fair, too.

Have snipers become the new rail-guns (or rocket launchers)? I guess so, but I'm not sure if there's really going to be an answer to the "Finger of God" syndrome. Players want to be a "God", that's the appeal of games in the first place. Developers have to stimulate the imagination of gamers, and give them powers that are somewhat incredible.

However, Sniper players are a little different than the rail players of the past. "Campers" are damned annoying, but I don't think that they are "ruining" the game. Most maps have particular spots that attract snipers, giving them a vantage point over the three or four main travel routes. We can address this problem without resorting to removing sniper rifles (or rails or rockets).

The answer is for level designers to give more cover on the main routes, and to provide routing alternatives. BFVietnam will give regular players much more cover with jungle foliage, which can provide a deterrent to traditional sniper players. Another way to deter snipers is to use some type of natural distraction, something that occasionally distracts a sniper. Steam vents, fog, birds, moving vehicles. A level designer can use these as subtle ways to prod a camper into revealing themselves through repositioning.

Developers also have a responsibility to analyze play-testing trends, and provide options to players. Let players run servers that filter out certain weapons. If you don't want to pigeon-hole the players, then weaken the sniper classes and provide better armor to the other classes. Restrict the power of snipers, and drastically slow their reload speed.

The current generation of games indicate that many designers are listening to the gaming community. I agree with Jakub's rant, but there will be alternatives for the players who want to play fair games. Players will always find some way to exploit maps and weapons, and developers have to find ways to limit these options and prevent them from becoming game "killers".

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