Firefall: To Use Realistic Physics Or Not?
Videogame physics is an interesting subject, as you’ll never find a consistent standard for it. Look at the varying jump heights in platformers, or the ability to double-jump; these are active decisions the game designer made specifically for their own game. Sometimes they stay strictly accurate to real-world physics, sometimes a developer will take artistic license to improve their game.
When I opened up the Firefall beta, I chose the “Recon” battleframe because in games, I’m a sniper. My favourite level in Halo: Combat Evolved was “Truth and Reconciliation,” where you start off at night with your squad of marines and your sniper rifle, and most of my Mass Effect 3 multiplayer characters sport sniper rifles. I fully maintain that nothing beats the rush when you and another sniper are scoping each other out in Team Fortress 2, separated by nothing but the starting gate. This is why I chose Recon – and honestly? It’s kicking my ass.
The developers have chosen realistic physics for a lot of their guns. On the sniper rifle, for example, there’s a delay between firing and hitting the target, and after a certain distance the bullet arcs downward. While it is more realistic, I can’t handle this. In games, we expect a certain level of fantasy; would holding the ‘up’ button really make Mario jump higher? I’ve adjusted to the simplified mechanics of sniper rifles (as you’d get in the games above), and this is why I’m getting my ass handed to me in Firefall.
I’m not saying that this realism is a bad thing, or that it’s impossible to adjust to (in fact, pretty much every other Recon you’ll find in Firefall PvP seems to have a good handle on it). I’m just saying that this was an interesting choice on the developers’ part. So for game devs out there: think about the physics in your game. Do you want to be realistic, sacrificing the average gamer’s assumptions and forcing them to adapt to your system? Or would you rather make your game less realistic to appease the players who are set in their ways?