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Tournaments  /  15 Sep 2008, 01:49
Custom shaft model on QWDL
Intro

QWDL is the first QW league to allow a custom shaft model called: Bolt2.mdl.
In fact, any custom model is banned on all other leagues/tourneys, not just the shaft model.
Being a part of the QWDL admin team, i know that this rule was pretty much decided on the fly, without giving it too much thought or discussing it properly. I must admit however, that I didn't really see it as something significant at first. I thought to myself what many others might also think: "If people want to customize their QW appearance, then why the hell not? This is only a matter of eye-candy and has no influence whatsoever on the gameplay/game machanics". Quickly enough though, i've started seeing many people complaining about this rule, claiming this is a cheat. None of them however, could provide me with a good reasonable explanation for this claim.

Eventually I decided learning more about this issue. I found certain people, that could finally give me long and very detailed explanations. These explanations were a bit hard to understand, and also got very technical at certain points. Eventually though, I began realizing my first assumption was wrong, there's a little bit more to it than meets the eye. I've also found previous threads on the qwnu forum, which discussed this matter, but IMO the explanations there were just noot good enough.

As someone who had no problem with this rule only a very short time ago, I can still relate to all people who don't understand what's the big deal. So being the nice person I am, I've given it some thought and decided to simplify things as much as i possibly can, in order to provide you all with an easy, clear and sharp explanation. Let's begin:


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Explanation

First of all we'll have to define the term "tracking skill".
Tracking skill is your ability to keep a moving object in the middle of your crosshairs at all given times. This skill is mostly based on 2 abilities:

1. Nervous System Response Time - The amount of time that passes from the moment a visual change is presented on your screen, till the moment a neural signal reaches your hand/finger, causing it to move. There are online tests for this. If I'm not mistaken the best players score ~160 ms.

2. Hand/Motoric Accuracy - No explanation needed.


Is LG skill a tracking skill?
Well... not exactly. LG skill is ALSO a tracking skill. You are still required to keep the enemy in the middle of your crosshairs at all times. However, when you fire the LG, a new model, the shaft model, appears on your screen. This makes things a bit more complicated. The shaft model creates 2-4 new challenges/skills (depending how you look at it), that need to be mastered. I will now explain these new challenges:

1. The distraction factor

1.a. Secondary moving object - You are now seeing 2 moving objects on your monitor, your enemy and the shaft model, instead of just of just one. This is more information for your brain to process, thus a distraction. By just being there, the shaft model is very likely to distract you from focusing on the enemy and hurt your tracking performances.

1.b. The bolt's lag - Due to technical qw issues, which i won't get into as they are a bit complicated, the visual display of the shaft model is delayed. Instead of seeing the shaft model in your crosshairs, it is always a bit behind. The higher the ping, the bigger the delay. This is yet another distraction. Your goal is to keep the enemy in your crosshairs, but seeing the bolt behind might confuse you alot. There's a good chance you'll make the mistake of adjusting the bolt model to make contact with the enemy (at least on your monitor), instead of always keeping him in your crosshairs. This issue can be "solved" using the cl_fakeshaft command. To my knowledge, fakeshaft has been permitted in all qw tourneys/leagues, which is another controversial decision. You can read more about it on the fakeshaft thread, but please don't argue about it here.

1.c. Form changing - The bolt model changes its form constantly, even if you just stand in one place. It creates a shape of a moving zig-zag, and not a static line. This is only a visual distraction, on the server side the bolt is basically just a line.


2. Hidden Areas

Any model shown on your screen conceals what's behind it. The bigger the model, the bigger the concealment. The shaft model is no different, it hides certain areas of your view while you use it. It can hide your way(stairs, windows, teleports), items(weapons, armors, etc) and most importantly your enemy. If your enemy is concealed at certain moments while you're using lg, this will obviously make it harder to aim at him. This issue forces you to maintain some kind of a visual image of the map in your brain, so if certain parts of a room are momentarily hidden, you can still "see" them. Your enemy however, unlike the map, is a moving object and not a static one. If you can't visually see him, you have to predict where he is, which is another challenge/skill. The LG model can even hide a rocket coming in your way, leaving you with less time to dodge it.


So now we can finally define what LG skill is.
LG skill = tracking skill + avoiding distructions + dealing with momentarily hidden areas.


So how is the modified Bolt2.mdl connected to all of this?
Using a custom shaft model, namely a straight and a smaller/thinner one such as this, takes the shaft skill one step closer being only a tracking skill. It makes the other challenges that come with the lg less significant and much easier to overcome. I will now show this on each issue:

1.a. Secondary moving object - Yes, you are still seeing 2 objects on your screen and not just one. However, the new object, the shaft, is now much smaller and will distract you alot less than it did before, making it easier to focus on your enemy.

1.b. The bolt's lag - Yes, the bolt is still lagged in case you're not using fakeshaft. But once again, being smaller now, it will distract you alot less than it did before.

1.c. Form changing - With a new model the bolt is shown as a static line, so this distraction is 100% eliminated.

2. Hidden Areas - The shaft model is now smaller and straight thus taking less space of your view. This means less areas/objects on the screen are now hidden. A thin shaft will probably never completely hide your enemy/objects, not even for a single frame. I've made a quick test with this: I stood on the exact same place and shot above a health pack, once with the original model and once with the thin model. Here are the results:

original model vs thin model

As you can see, with the original model the health pack is almost completely concealed, you can barely see it. With the thin model however, it's still pretty clear.


Final conclusion
Using a straight thinner shaft model makes the lg skill less challenging and easier to master. You don't just "feel" it's now easier to hit, it actually is. As a matter of fact, changing the SIZE of any model in the game will result gameplay changes. For example, using a bigger player model will help you see the enemy before he can see you on many situations.
(your own weapon models are an exception here, since you can make them disappear completely using r_drawviewmodel "0"


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My opinion

Everything stated in the explanation paragraph is based on pure facts. I was 100% objective and didn't include any kind of opinion, but now it's time to change this

QW is a hardcore game, pushing FPS skills to the limit. It's pretty much known everywhere, that QW's learning curve is much bigger than it is in other shooters. This is exactly the reason we all like QW, the challenge is tremendous and almost never ending. Making the gameplay easier in any way, is really going against the QW spirit. No, I am usually not against changes and developments. Improving graphics, GUIs, sound quality, smoothness, connection issues, adding new maps to the pool, etc, is all great. But changing the game mechanics and making the gameplay less challenging is just unacceptable. I've heard claims such as: "If we can both use modified models, then it's fair, cause you can use it too". Sure, the game will still be balanced, but we'll both have a much easier life. Allowing aimbots in the rules is also fair, cause then everyone can use it too. This is just a stupid claim. Instead of taking shortcuts, go and practice!


Making the game less challenging will also create a much less varied skill difference between different players. Divs 1-3 can suddenly all become the same level. The skill difference between low divs to higher divs is really big in qw. Noobs get totally raped by good players, and will only stand a chance after a few years of practice. Let's not change this please.


[This article was also posted on the QWDL forum.
Please post all your replies on the forum thread, not here.]
Comments
2008-09-15, 06:29
I replied to you forum post on this topic

It can be discussed if those things really are facts.
But think you are right
2008-09-15, 09:31
I used this kind of model back in the days (99?) when praccing lg in unofficial games, since I hitted much better and got a feeling for official games so I hitted better. The amount of help aiming was really big back then atleast.. now we have fakeshaft which helps with high pings and smooths out a little bit of distractions but imo the bolt mdl is just too much. It will make the good lg players even better and will make the duels even more "lg only" comparared to what they are now. And if this really is going to be allowed: what's next in f_modified? player.mdl? Shouldn't btw r_shaftalpha 0.0 be an option if this is "legal"? I would rather use that, and if this is the case it will need "ruleset smackdown" turned off.
Then the last issue. Since those who use bolt2.mdl are used to it and the rule wasn't really informed about in advance (yes, I as an admin heard about this last night), those players using it will have an advantage since they are used to playing with it compared to those who haven't.
Ps. Not gonna play an enemy with bolt2.mdl modified in qwdl (jfyi for my mates in the same division, easy wo for you if you want to have it).
2008-09-15, 10:36
Why the hell is this allowed all of a sudden? Whose idea was it? I feel like I should quit the legaue right now.
I don't like the thought of ppl using a modified bolt2.mdl, which could indicate possible whining, when it comes to leagues expecting an "all models ok" response for f_modified. Why encourage a newcomer to use straight shaft, when it's highly unlikely for other legaues (like nqr/duelmania) to allow it?
2008-09-15, 10:48
The only reason for this rule seems to be to allow people to use prettier shaft models. In that case, why not make nice looking model that is just as big and distracting as the default one, and only allow that? Simple white line isn't exactly stunning eye-candy...
2008-09-15, 10:54
Looking at the admin list on the website i'm not surprised (or well, to some extent) that a thing like this is allowed. It's much new and fresh blood, that lacks some conservative pool of players to balance it all.
2008-09-15, 11:13
This article was also posted on the QWDL forum.
Please post all your replies on the forum thread, not here.
1tsinen, bent, Medar and Ake, please repost your comments there as well
2008-09-15, 13:27
I need like a day to gather the mental strength necessary to read all this whine and counter-whine again on the LG topic (fakeshaft,boltmodel,brightskins,crosshair,this,that,its all the same)
2008-09-15, 15:34
* xerp whine'd *
2008-09-17, 14:37
I could volunteer to review the rules and make them as conservative as anyone could ever want. Or not want. I used to be pretty good at the latter
2008-09-17, 22:06
Everyone was scared of Jjonez' rulesets!
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