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Situational Awareness IRL v. FPS

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  • Situational Awareness IRL v. FPS

    One thing that seems very difficult to replicate in a shooter game, no matter how realistic its mechanics, is situational awareness. In real life I can smell cordite, I can feel vibrations through the walls or floors and figure out that someone might be near me or touching a connecting beam, etc. I have peripheral vision, I can feel windage, I can hear people breathing if I am close enough, I might even be able to tell if someone is injured or conscious just by their breathing.

    In the shooter we are completely dependent on visual cues, and a much more limited range of cues than we have in real life. Aside from the aforementioned peripheral vision, there is also depth perception; IRL objects have much more complex and specific shapes and colors which means I can often easily distinguish things in reality that look very similar in the game. In the other direction the complexity of real environments and the flexibility of the human body mean there are actually many more ways and places to gain cover and concealment than is possible in these games. And in real life if I want to move from one position to another I just think about it, I don't have to use keyboard controls to manipulate my body movement. In some ways I think making a lot of things manual (as in ArmA) is almost unrealistic, in that a trained soldier would do these things automatically, and an athletic man does not need to perform piano gymnastics (keyboard multitasking) in order to leap over a wall while tucking his head down.

    I am not sure how you could implement these sorts of cues or abstractly reflect them in a shooter game, but it certainly makes it possible to sneak up on a person in ways that would never be possible against an alert human being IRL. I don't have to rotate my entire body to look behind my back! I can even keep my rifle shouldered and pointing the other way as I do it. Likewise it means that small, detail cover which could actually be used IRL (for example, contorting my body to sit behind the thick portion of an oak desk, or laying flat next to a small rise in concrete) are practically useless, your character's model is just too rigid to do these things.

    Something like the on-screen indicators you get in GRAW indicating where you're receiving fire from (the red on one side of the screen) and even a visual cue to indicate what direction sounds are coming from (changing in transparency or size or something based on loudness). A full blown Fallout/GRAW style ESP that lets you pin down someone's position through walls would be way too much, but in some ways that's not much more unrealistic than being a camera with no tactile senses.

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