Archive for July, 2010

The argument for bunnyhopping

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

First things first: Make no mistake, I love bunnyhopping and I’m biased as hell. This post is an argument for implementing bunnyhopping in NS2.


For a few months now there’s been a debate regarding bunnyhopping in NS2 on the NS2 forums. At first it looked like it was going to be the usual name calling contest with occasional attempts at serious but uninformed discussion. This time however, several intrepid posters made sure the debate got taken to another level. The debate has mainly concerned the viability and balancing of bunnyhopping in NS2. Considering the awesome posts made, I don’t think I can add anything to this. Therefore I’m going to start off by quoting some of the most important points.


Quoting the posts in their entirety would take too much space, so I’ll have to boil it down to the bare essentials. I highly encourage you to read the full posts though, especially the ones by TeoH. They’re probably the most well written and thought out posts I’ve seen on the subject — ever. I’ve provided direct links to the posts I’ve quoted.



Posted by spellman23

You’ve got many who see it as a way to gain an edge via skill, increasing the skill ceiling and allowing better, more dedicated players to gain an advantage. It’s also a very smooth skill-to-performance system. You can progress about linearly in bhop skill and get about a linear gain in performance.


Posted by TeoH

In order for melee vs ranged to work at higher levels of play in a FPS, it’s necessary that there is some skill quotient to the melee side that will properly scale all the way up with player ability, in order to match the wild scaling of people’s aiming ability when using accurate weapons. Since aiming really isnt relevant at all to a melee class, a complex and very deep movement system is ESSENTIAL to making these fights work at all skill levels.


If all the skulk has to work with is incredibly basic ‘push forward to go forward’ movement, and a leap button with no quakeworld bananajump control, along with the ability to stick to walls which is exactly the same form of motion as being on the ground… While the marines have precise aiming while moving to develop… The inevitable result is that if you balance skulk vs marine at any particular skill level, your balance will be wildly off at skill levels significantly higher or lower than that.


Posted by TeoH

NS has fairly accurate rapid fire hitscan weapons. The thing about fairly accurate rapid fire hitscan weapons is, in the absence of more interesting movement techniques, the most effective way to dodge against them is to spaz left and right in as random and meaningless a pattern as possible. As it happens, spazzing left and right in a random meaningless pattern is not much of a deep skill. However, if you add techniques such as bunnyhopping and quakeworld air control into the mix, which may be preferrable to random spazzing because of the speed advantage they have in closing a melee vs ranged fight, things become more interesting.


Posted by TeoH

To clarify something for people who haven’t necessarily played at a higher level: Once people start to be able to aim properly, jumping is not an evasive advantage against a hitscan machine gun. Practically any form of movement that locks you into a particular path is bad, jump arches can be tracked easily. Bunnyhopping while closing distance is viable as a result of the speed advantage it gives, inspite (not because of) the disadvantage of a more rigid movement path. As i’ve said, the most effective way to dodge an accurate hitscan weapon is randomly mashing left and right, because tracking becomes inpossible, prediction goes out the window, a lot of the skills that players with good aim develop become null and void. If you increase skulk base movement speed and stick with generic forward/back/left/right movement, all that happens is people mash left and right quicker.


The speed boost from moving through the air is the lure that encourages players to adopt this form of movement instead of the brainless alternative that would be adopted if it had no speed advantage. The result is the skulks practice to develop their advanced movement skills, speeding up in the air while intentionally hitting good lines of attack, instead of mashing strafes randomly – and marines develop the aiming skills of reading and tracking skulk trajectory through the air, getting familiar with the curves they’re likely to take to maximise speed and the limits of their air control. This is good for both players, and results in interesting and indepth combat that scales well for both sides.


Posted by TeoH

I’m afraid i don’t have an alternative to hopping that serves the same gameplay function through different means, in 15 years of FPS games nobody has developed one yet. Intentionally creating such a thing is incredibly difficult, it took the early quake players several years just to fully explore the physics and the implications of all the little tricks they could do in that engine. It is a very simple set of physics quirks that cause all the hopping, acceleration and air control techniques to work, incredible complexity arising from a few simple rules, developing such a thing from scratch would take some real effort.



Phew, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with the point I want to get across. I’m going to quote a few more posts to set the mood.



Posted by TeoH

mastery is what you want to have in the game, it’s what keeps people playing beyond the initial novelty of being in some sort of aliens movie spaceship scenario and looking at a big fleshy rhino monster. Mastery motivates people, and it results in player satisfaction from accomplishing something that they knew took substantial skill and effort. That’s a feeling you can’t get from Mario Party or snakes and ladders.


Posted by DarkFrost

My belief of what makes NS great is its unpredictability. A relevant to topic example being the way people can surprise eachother even after playing it for 8 years because perhaps the marine does a little but fast silent crouch hop onto a railing and flys over the others head.


Posted by jiriki

Its exactly the skill-based movement that keeps melee vs ranged interesting



My point is this: Bunnyhopping is FUN!



1. Rewards time spent practicing, giving an incentive to keep playing.

2. Gives a great feeling of mastery.

3. Encourages creativity.

4. Opens up new possibilities in combat.

5. Makes it possible to create ace players on the melee side of combat.

6. Can even create a game within the game.


I’m going to elaborate on these points in the following, using videos from Natural Selection gameplay to exemplify.



Bunnyhop example 1: Sub-sector rails



This is a fairly easy but efficient jump combination to take out marines building the RT in Sub-sector on ns_veil. This is a good example of bunnyhopping creating new possibilities in combat. Without bunnyhopping, there would be zero viable opportunities for the skulk to attack the marine once he’s gotten to the RT. Just straight jumping over the rails and running towards the marine is too slow and he’ll be able to disconnect from building the RT and shoot the skulk down with ease. It’s still a risky move though, half the time against equally skilled players, the marine will kill the skulk. Teamwork between two skulks doing the same maneuver or one distracting radically increases the chances of success.



Bunnyhop example 2: Maintenance jump



This is a bit more nuanced example. This isn’t the only way viable way to frag a marine building the maintenance RT — it isn’t even the safest way to do it. The safest way is to go through the vents below the RT and sneak up to the marine. However in this scenario bunnyhopping creates an additional opportunity for attack. An attack option that’s also spectacularly flashy. Without bunnyhopping it’s impossible to get enough speed to cross the gap. Now, one could simply make the gap smaller or the skulk faster and the opportunity would be there without bunnyhopping, but that’s disregarding a very important part of the equation: mastery.


If it was possible to do it by just jumping normally over the rails, anyone could do it. There wouldn’t be anything special about it. When it becomes difficult to do, it also becomes more interesting to do. Now you have to practice to be able to do this particular attack. This gives incentives to keep playing the game and rewards time spent practicing.


This particular video is a very good example of that. Many years ago I practiced for weeks just to be able to do that jump once on an empty server. It took further months to be able to do it every time and even longer to master it in a combat situation. But it gave me a great feeling of mastery, great satisfaction, to be rewarded for my efforts. Tricks like these are why bunnyhopping makes melee vs. ranged combat more fun.



Bunnyhop example 3: mu vs. Levitacus



This is an example from an actual match, from the first season of ENSL back in 2005. Knife, a tournament favourite, was playing against Levitacus, the tournament dark horse, in a match that would likely decide which team got to the final. At the time Levitacus had one of Europe’s best shotgunners in Talis and their marine round was highly centered on him succeeding in taking out alien RTs and skulks quickly. Obviously Knife had to stop him somehow. The original plan was the usual one: to ambush the marine offence team while they were trying to kill the RT. This is usually a 50/50 situation for both teams, but with Talis’ shotgun skills they had a clear advantage.


Mu however, thinking on his feet, managed to take out Talis through very creative use of bunnyhopping and wallwalking before they even managed to get to the first RT. That gave Knife a vital advantage in the early game and they eventually won both the round and the match. Mu was rewarded both for his time spent mastering bunnyhopping and also his creative thinking using an opportunity only available because of bunnyhopping. Pulling off something like that is the height of fun for many players, including myself.



Bunnyhop example 4: wltrs vs. Levitacus



This last example is also from an actual match — the ENSL season 5 final between nL and Levitacus. In this situation wltrs was alone against two marines waiting for the RT to drop in Sub-sector, after they’d chased away the Lerk. Usually this would be a lost cause: two highly skilled marines in a large open area are almost impossible to take out for a single skulk and wltrs would’ve had to wait for some of his teammates to arrive. Unfortunately they are all busy defending alien RTs on the other side of the map, leaving him with no other choice but to attempt to do something by himself.


Taking advantage of the first marine being distracted, wltrs makes his move. The problem is taking out the second player, Inva, who is on the other side of the room. Normally this would be an easy frag for Inva if wltrs tried to rush. wltrs is also aware of this, but he knows that Inva isn’t expecting him to do something so foolhardy and exploits it by using bunnyhopping to fly forwards and bounce over the rails to take him out. Taking out both of Levitacus’ RT cappers is a big blow to their economy and nL eventually wins the round and the match. An almost impossible frag, made possible by bunnyhopping and great skill by wltrs.


This is a perfect example of how bunnyhopping makes it possible to have ace players on the melee side of the game. Just like Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant captivate audiences by doing the impossible, doing what nobody else can, players like wltrs could take control in NS matches because there was a movement system that rewarded skill and practice. Giving skulks the ability to leap from the start will never be able to replace this. Leap by its nature is not something that truly rewards practice — it’s something anyone can get big results from without practicing much. If everyone can do it, it becomes commonplace. Nobody finds commonplace interesting.



A game inside the game


Lastly bunnyhopping is itself a game inside the game. Not just because practicing it is a metagame, but also because one can have fun doing it without actually playing the game.


A few years back, myself and many other players had a lot of fun just running around on maps and finding jumps that were only possible to do through clever thinking or perfect bunnyhopping. Sometimes to get to places otherwise inaccessible, other times just for the hell of it. This culminated in several trickjumping movies that were a great success at the time. With bunnyhopping you’re basically getting a free second game with the game — is that really something you can say no to?



Natural Selection Jumped 2 trailer



Full quality download here.



Natural Selection Jumped 2



Full quality download here.



Natural Selection Jumped



Full quality download here.



Without bunnyhopping none of these movies, or the many others created by other moviemakers, would’ve been possible to make. Without bunnyhopping we wouldn’t even have been able to have fun jumping around on maps trying to find new and clever ways to use the geometry. Bunnyhopping adds immensely to the game and that far outweighs the slight negative impact it has on the atmosphere and learning curve.


In my opinion Natural Selection had the perfect combination of free alien bunnyhopping and very limited marine bunnyhopping (bear in mind that most of the marine jumps in the trickjumping videos posted above are only possible if you throw away all your guns first). I pray to every deity that exists that a similar system will be implemented in NS2. That said, even just bunnyhopping for the skulks would make a huge impact in terms of gameplay, even if it ruins most of the fun in trickjumping.


I would also like to point out a very common fallacy in the argument against bunnyhopping. Many opponents of bunnyhopping claim that it hurts the ambushing game. What they don’t take into account is that ambushing is still a very important part of skulk play in NS, even for those who have mastered bunnyhopping. Bunnyhopping and ambushing are not mutually exclusive. In many situations, ambushing is still the best way of taking out the marines. Sometimes bunnyhopping even promotes ambushing: Hiding spots that would otherwise be too far away from the expected marine path can now be used because bunnyhopping allows the skulk to close the distance in time when the marines go past.


Bunnyhopping creates alternatives, so that the game isn’t only about finding somewhere to hide and pop out when the opportunity arises. Such gameplay would quickly become boring for the majority of the player base.


In conclusion (tl;dr): The positive aspects of bunnyhopping outweigh the negative aspects by such a large margin that I’m absolutely convinced it should be implemented in NS2 — similarly to how it was implemented in NS.