TrickJump: On First-Person Movement

By Jim Rossignol on November 29th, 2010 at 10:24 am.


My weekend consisted in playing a bunch of games from different points in the past: Quake III, Unreal Tournament 3, Battlefield 2, and Mirror’s Edge. It all got me thinking about movement.

What follows was the result of me being annoyed. It’s basically impossible to get a normal game of Quake III right now, due to Quake Live. As excellent as Quake Live has been, what I really wanted to do was play a game of Rocket Arena 3, which isn’t supported. The reason I wanted to play this was because its basis in unrealistic movement was more extreme than any of the vanilla Quake modes, at least when the damage from rocket-jumping was switched off. Set up like this, Quake III became a kind of auto-pinball, with players richocheting themselves around a level with mad inertia. It worked on a number of levels – partly the joy inherent in the game’s weird, physics, with the awesomeness of those perfect strikes that sent you flying up onto a ledge, or out of a stick situation, and partly in the levels specifically designed to encourage these modes of movement – and was probably the pinnacle of this peculiar mode of transit (if you don’t count ongoing efforts from War§ow). Rocket Arena 3 was just one offshoot of the kind of niche first-person movement that had developed after Quake. The most extreme variants of this came in deliberate trick-jump exploits and their attendant maps.

(For anyone who looks that video without understanding what is going on, go get Quake III and try to replicate that kind of movement for yourself. Really.)

You can see how this might have evolved. Bunny hopping movement, which was basically a fluke of the original engine physics, was formalised because it worked better than simply making the players move faster. For a first person game to be about speed and inertia, jumping – and trajectory – is actually more interesting than pure pace. The calculations the player makes about where to jump, where to land, and where to place their explosive propellants all make for a spatially interesting experience. /Interesting/ because it was a hard thing to master. While aim, timing, and map knowledge was key to the Quake games, it was only when you picked up on the nuances of bouncing around with extreme precision that you really began to master the process.

This evolution was also, perhaps, why the Quake school of movement came to an end within mainstream game development. It was purely Darwinian: the games market selected for the kind of movement which would appeal to the most people. This Quake manner of movement was rapidly phased out as more realistic game environments were phased in. While the bunny hop still persisted in Counter-Strike for quite some time, I think it was CS that pushed all of shooterdom towards the Medal Of Honour / Call Of Duty approach of pseudo realism. Gone were the crazed conceits of the Quake game, and in came crouching, using cover, and all the other tendrils of that philosophy of game design. Even the Unreal Tournament games, which had made their own moves in the direction of formalising impossible player movement, really rolled it back for Unreal Tournament 3. If there was going to be movement in a first-person perspective, our prevailing fashion dictated, then it was going to true to life, even if that meant true-to-life wall-bouncing acrobatics and hoverboards.

The problem with this was, well, realism. These are videogames. Pure digital fantasy. Why are we trying to mimic life? Surely we /should/ be investigating alien physics and impossible locomotion? Why settle for a tedious quagmire of crouching behind waist-high rocks? Fortunately, realism appears to have come to the rescue of itself. Thanks to Le Parkour and the rise of free-running, game designers seem to have realised that human beings can vault and leap and slide about, and that means humanoid game protagonists should do the same. We can’t bunny-hop, of course, but perhaps there could be a half-way house that will settle our woes. Which – in my weekend quest for movement – was how I ended up playing this.

Now, I have some serious reservations about Mirror’s Edge. Constantly falling to my death is one of them. The other was the way combat was handled . Despite this it’s impossible not to admire what DICE did with this game, especially when you look at the time-trial maps – in the DLC they are beautiful abstract things that, once you got a handle on what you can do with the game, create a weird, fluid experience, not unlike the trick movement of old. It remains constrained, of course, and still “realistic” despite the unreality of some of the environments. But it is a step back in the right direction.

Regarding Mirror’s Edge and combat: I was initially in the camp that cried “why did they bother including combat at all?” But it’s worth remembering that the game was intended to be a full-bore shooter in the first place – albeit it one with interesting movement. I couldn’t help wondering whether this game might have, had it remained in the sphere of combat, become the experience that would have soothed my grief over the loss of games like Rocket Arena 3. Hell, it is still possible. If DICE can do for movement in multiplayer what they did for destroying buildings, then we could all go back to leaping and sliding about, rather than plodding our way to the next capture point.

Of course Brink is hoping to get there in 2011, and that’s basically what got me into this line of thinking in the first place. Splash Damage, born of Quake 3 modding, now working on their dream game, which again includes outlandish – although still realistic – possibilities for movement.

But even once Brink hits, I will still be a long way from being able to satiate my desire for interesting, unrealistic movement. The modern FPS simply doesn’t support it – it’s not gone from gaming entirely, thank to oddities like Plain Sight – but it does seem permanently diminished within the big combat titles.

Perhaps, though, we might yet return to a realm of supernatural FPS movement. If we do, then I think it will be not via a formalisation of relatively abstract movement and physics anomalies, which gave us bunny hopping and trick-jumping, but instead an attempt to realise the super-powered possibilities of game protagonists from approaches set out by Mirror’s Edge and Brink. These kinds of movement systems, but with stronger, faster characters, make a lot of sense. The reason why Mirror’s Edge and Brink make sense is that they are closer to our own understanding of how to move, in first-person, through the world. Games are now in a position to extrapolate from that, rather than getting us to mesh with somewhat codified, alien systems, as they did in Quake. What would it be to play a first-person super-hero, leaping between skyscrapers? We’re not far off. Think of the powered leap of Crysis’ nanosuit, but amp that up, and up. Merge it with Prototype’s insane vaulting and leaping, throw in Just Cause 2′s grapple hook, and give us Section 8′s falling to Earth from space. A wingsuit, a rocket-launcher, a pogo-stick. It’s not that we lack the palette of appropriate physics, it’s that no one has yet put it all together satisfactorily.

One day, perhaps, I will be back in the Rocket Arena, and it will have an entirely new vocabulary of movement – one that sees everything that is possible within the realms of first-person physics, however outlandish. I’ll be on the walls like a spider, and hurtling through the air like a baseball struck with a landmine.

One day. Well. I can dream.

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150 Comments »

  1. Schaulustiger says:

    Rocket Arena is nothing compared the beauty of some of the DeFrag stuff in Quake. What started as a simple mod for Quake 3 trickjumping, evolved into something so spectacular that even nowadays lots of new maps are created.

    Have a look at:
    w3sp strafes
    and
    Event Horizon 2.

    The latter is team trickjumping, the timing is just breathtaking.

    People ask me why I still think that Quake multiplayer was superior to any of the modern FPS’ and then I just show them the beauty of Quake movement and they understand.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Right, but Rocket Arena is *still a game*. Trick-jumping is more like performance art. While it’s impressive it’s not what I’m interested in, or looking for.

    • Schaulustiger says:

      Most DeFrag levels have a start and a finish and the goal is to reach the end in the shortest amount of time, similar to Mirror’s Edge’s challenges. I think that qualifies as a “game”, too.
      In DeFrag movies they sometimes just show tricks in so-called “freeform” levels that don’t have any time limits or such stuff. But still, the majority of DeFrag playing is leaderboard-like time trials.

      EDIT: You’re correct if you say that DeFrag is not an FPS, though. Tbh, I prefer Rocket Arena, too, mainly because I totally suck at the more difficult movement tricks in Quake. I still admire people who are able to do a plasma-wall-climb in the midst of a frantic 1on1 match.

    • Schaulustiger says:

      Something else comes to mind (sorry for blabbering, but I have a day off work):

      DeFrag also has a timed mode where it measures your time to cap the flag on any CTF map. Back in the days, we used to spend an hour or so on every LAN party where we tried to break our cap records on wcp9, both in cpm and vq3 mode. That is why I fondly remember the beauty of cpm bunny-hopping. wcp9 was a perfectly crafted map for wide, circular jumps.

    • sidhellfire says:

      CPM is like resemblance of man flying without help of machines. With those wacky Quake physics it gives you so much of… freedom. Something you cannot find in corridor shooters which are dominating market today. Even though Q3 also had walls, within their limit you could perform some unbelievable things, and the wall itself – was rather a tool/toy than an obstacle (visible or not) limiting you.

      There are still ladders and rankings for defrag time attack competitions, aren’t they? Definitely a game for me, and challenging one instead of Mirrors Edge, which in fact, didn’t require much skill to get decent time.

    • teo says:

      I also spend the weekend strafe jumping in Quake 3
      Just recorded this demo \o/ go me!

    • Jac says:

      As far as I remember the physics in ra3 were the same as vanilla quake3 but with no splash damage to enable rocket jumps like the article suggests. I miss the ra3 maps too – the nearest thing is a game of clan arena on quakelive which is essentially the same. There’s a few new maps that are designed for it. Not the same but still worth a try. One of them is actually awesome – clan arena map 3 I think.

  2. P7uen says:

    No double jumps! Sacrilege!

    I was overjoyed after having been kindly gifted Plain Sight the other day, at the freedom you feel when bouncing around everywhere (although it is occasionally confusing).

    A lot of people can’t handle Descent style things these days, or even something like Mario Galaxy, which made my brother want to vomit :(

    • b_baxter says:

      Glad you are enjoying it!

      The oddity and freedom of the physics in Plain Sight is remarkable at times.

  3. Roguemonkey says:

    You are a bad man. If only because seeing an ME image on the front page made me think you would have some news about ME2. Now I’m off to cry myself to sleep.

  4. SquareWheel says:

    Wait, Mirror’s Edge had DLC?

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Aye. On the PC it’s only available from EA Store I think, and it’s not (officially) compatible with the Steam (and possibly anywhere other than EA Store) version of the game.

    • Sinomatic says:

      And it costs as much as I paid for the game.

      You’d think it’d be worth their while to reduce the price, and make it available on steam, and perhaps even bundle it with the game as a special edition or something. Essentially, just make it worth buying.

      Tis a shame because those DLC levels look stunning. Not £5 stunning though…

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Not not-buying-it-on-Steam stunning…

      If it were on Steam, I’d grab it in a heartbeat. Haven’t publishers learned from all the other times I’ve waited for them to put their DLC on Steam before I’ll buy?

    • Diziet says:

      If you enjoyed the movement and fluidity of the game and thought to yourself “What would this be like with no combat” at least once then it is worth 5 quid. imo.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      So when you say ‘officially’ does that mean it works anyway?

      I too have been wondering about this DLC. I have the game on Steam and was under the impression the DLC was only for consoles.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I seem to recall someone mentioning it was possible with a bit of a hack to get it to work on the Steam version, but I’ve not tried it myself, and can’t remember where I heard that. I ended up just getting the DLC on the console version. Also, it’s cheaper to get the PS3 version of the game on its own than it is to get the DLC on the PC, and the DLC is free on the PS3.

      If you have a PS3 that is.

      The DLC is excellent though, it also requires you to learn to do a few things that were only ever optional in the main game.

    • Sinomatic says:

      @Diziet But the game already had the no-combat time trials….so the DLC is nothing more than a map pack, albeit a pretty one.

      Many people might be happy to pay that much for a few maps but when I’ve paid £5 for whole games, that doesn’t seem like good or even middling value to me. Value is relative, of course. Also, I lack pennies, so that’s a huge factor for me.

      Incidentally I did really enjoy the time trials in the original. Those moments when you really hit everything ‘just so’…..wonderful.

    • Urthman says:

      Here’s a link to the hack for getting Mirror’s Edge DLC to work with Steam version of the game:

      http://on-mirrors-edge.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=3964

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Mirror’s Edge had combat? I mean, besides the spoiler-ific hand to hand bit?

    • bill says:

      Why did no-one tell me about this?!?! And why did no-one show me how awesome it looks??
      and why does it have to be expensive, ea-store based, hard to get into steam????

      Does look awesome though.

    • mbourgon says:

      Yup. Massively vertigo-inducing though. I’ve strafe jumped, rocked jumped, even played Descent – and of them all, this one made me want to hurl the most. Man, I _so_ have a fear of heights, not in the game so much but definitely in that DLC.

  5. Rinox says:

    Far Cry 2 deserves a mention too, imho. It may not be all that flashy when it comes to movement, but everything else it did with the first-person POV was pretty daring.

    • qx says:

      Which has nothing to do with the article.

    • Rinox says:

      Might try not being a dick, even if you’re right.

    • Zyrxil says:

      Please enlighten us how he could’ve been less of a dick than neutrally saying “Yeah, but that’s completely irrelevant to what’s being talked about”. Perhaps by assuaging your ego and assuring you your point is incredibly interesting otherwise? Now I could’ve been less of a dick in this post, but I don’t really care about people who take offense at everything.

    • Rinox says:

      I don’t know, just ignore it?

    • Stephen says:

      I propose a compromise – if he’s a dick then you’re an idiot. That way you both get a neat badge so it’s fair.

      Seriously, you say yourself “it’s not all that flashy when it comes to movement”, and the title of this post is “Trickjump: On First Person Movement”. Did you not think that might be an issue when you decided to bring it up?

      It seems to me that the person here who probably should have ignored something was you when you saw his reply. Everyone messes up sometimes but even pets know not to draw attention to it.

  6. Elbo says:

    You should check out Warsow.
    It’s free, and pretty popular. You can watch the trailer here, or, if you lack the time, fas forward to 00:30, and take a gander at the movement (or click here to avoid the trouble of fast-forwarding)

  7. Loomchild says:

    I personally love games that let me move in unusual ways. However, I fear that when moves become too complicated many players will struggle with orientation and control. Some might even get sick. Of course seasoned players will get used to it and a few will excel to unbelievable heights, but beginners will probably lose interest fast and that’s bad for sales. Other than that, passionate and passionating article. Thank you for this very nice read.

    Oh, and there is a small detail that bothers me. Parkour comes from the French parcours, which is a masculine noun. So shouldn’t it be Le Parkour (if you absolutely must use capital letters) ?

  8. BabelFish says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention of the tribes series in an article on FPS movement.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY6vZuCNX0Y (this is just part 2 of 3)

    Skiing was another quirk of the physics engine that really defined the game.

    • Spectre-7 says:

      I kept expecting to see a Tribes mention as well.

      While we’re at it, I’ll mention Fallen Empire: Legions, a Tribes successor that used to run on the InstantAction network while that was still running. The game was essentially Tribes but with more focus on skiing, with smoother, better sculpted levels, and an overdrive mechanic that boosted the hell out of your speed.

      InstantAction has gone the way of the dodo, but they turned over development of Legions to a group of fans who are calling the new version Legions Overdrive. I’m not sure when it’s due, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

  9. Lewie Procter says:

    I remember thinking that Mirror’s Edge with super jumping, decent shooting, and more green, would have been exactly what I would have wanted from a Matrix game.

  10. DiamondDog says:

    I still miss my TFC clan days for this exact reason. Conc-jumps, rocket-jumps, bunny hopping. There was so much to master just in terms of moving around the maps. It’s sad that FPS games, especially online ones, seem to have lost this. Maybe it’s just about what’s in trend and it’ll come back?

    • Rinox says:

      Playing a force-a-nature scout in TF2 will go a long way to satisfy your needs!

    • DiamondDog says:

      I tried to like TF2, I really did. It just felt a bit weird, playing something that reminded me of TFC but didn’t really play anything like it. After a little while I found myself wanting to do all the things I used to in TFC. That’s not to say TF2 isn’t a good game in its own right, I just wanted TFC: Source I suppose.

      You’re right though, TF2 still champions that kind of hyperactive gameplay that used to be more common in FPS games. I’m drawing a blank on other examples.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      TF2 still has rocket jumps & sticky (pipe) jumps for Soldier & Demo plus some of the stuff you can do just with the Scout double jump can be pretty impressive.
      There are plenty of TFC players who thorougly enjoy TF2 for what it is.

      Evolution.

    • cfoust says:

      That’s what Fortress Forever is for. TF2 is fun, but the movement is really restrained, comparatively.

  11. The Sombrero Kid says:

    omg you’ve no idea how much i agree with this whole article (except the criticisms of mirrors edge, the disarmament mechanics are excellent) .

  12. Rich says:

    I hate jumping. Nothing worse* than an FPS with crap physics and no ledge-grabbing mechanic suddenly throwing a jumping puzzle at you. Mind you, Mirror’s Edge is built for it, so I imagine it works fine. Others do a good job too, but plenty don’t.

    *Well maybe baby-sitting missions… or sneaking with instant fail if you’re spotted.

    • Stephen says:

      I think jumping puzzles are a different kettle of fish. The reason that I don’t like it when my FPS turns into a platforming game is that I own platforming games and if I wanted to play a game like that I could have. Using jumps to move about a FPS level is much more palatable to me.

  13. andrewdoull says:

    There’s a lot of room for improvement in even so-called ‘realistic’ military simulators. Red Orchestra does it best; ARMA II isn’t far behind. Tactical Gaming Done Right is still the best survey of the field.

    • Jaffo says:

      The movement in the ArmA games is shocking imo, it’s the reason I stick with OFP (and that has it’s issues).

    • Howard says:

      @Jaffo
      Gotta agree with you there. ARMA’s movement is just appalling. I can see what they are trying to do but they are landing so far from the mark its hilarious.

  14. MrEvilGuy says:

    climb that beanstock

  15. grrawr says:

    Oh man, this article is like right out of my head. From the hyperjump ability in The Matrix Online to collecting orbs in Crackdown and as you mentioned swooshing all around in Prototype, I absolutely cannot fathom why games aren’t exploiting movement more. I am so very sick of walking around, and maybe sprinting for up to seconds at a time.

    I’m actually rather sick of all this gritty realism in my video games in general. What is this, a fucking documentary? I hope it’s a phase that’ll pass. Soon.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      I think it’s partially an issue with games wanting to be a “real” medium, and also the unfortunate end result of the FPS world’s obsession with extremely realistic graphics. Games like Quake and Unreal can get away with being very weird and having weird physics because nothing in the game looks like it does in the real world. I want to say it’s because it’s stylized, but it might just be because graphics weren’t that good yet. But then as graphics engines started to be able to render more human looking people, it looked strange to see people do bunny hops and rocket jumping, so a turn towards realism occurred, the feel of the game matching the look. The commentary track on TF2 talked about this a little bit, as part of the reason they went with a cartoony, stylized look was so that all of the strangeness did not require any explanation. A Bad Company 2 avatar with a medic gun looks weird and unreal, too strange. A TF2 character looks fine, because it is obvious from the look of him that none of it is meant to be particularly realistic, it is in a different world with different rules.

      This is partially why FPS games have become so dire. This focus on hyper-realistic visuals forces us to deal with increasingly realistic movement. It’s a problem that is even creeping into other gametypes, like some terrible wasting disease.

    • Tim Maly says:

      Bad news. FPS gaming has been dark and drab since the beginning. Quake III was a somewhat shining exception to a sea of black and brown apocalyptic landscapes. Old Man Murray’s Rune review gets you a good sense of the flavour from back then. There is no golden age of brightly coloured shooters. I don’t think that it’s a phase that’s going to pass so the real hope is in a widening of the diversity of environments in games.

    • mbourgon says:

      Prototype – loved the movement, disliked the combat. I think I wound up acing all of the movement challenges while sucking mightily on, well, all the combat challenges. Only annoying part after a while was that the town was big, so it still took a couple of minutes to get somewhere, even if you were jumping or flying the whole way.

  16. Moot The Pointy says:

    I never understood all the bad things people were saying about Mirror’s Edge. (apart from the price)
    Played it for about an hour every day and it was ultra-fun! Graphics were beautiful, music as well, controls perfect, “levels” interesting and story was ok. One of the greatest gaming experiences for me.

    Also trick-jumping = nice ; Bunny hopping = annoying

    That’s my 1723891791 cents…

  17. subedii says:

    One game that I feel really deserves mentioning in with the rest is Bionic Commando (granted it’s not in first person, but since Plain Sight was mentioned, I thought this might count as well).

    Ignore the singleplayer for a second, and just concentrate on the multiplayer and the awesome multiplayer levels. It has a joy and fluidity to its motion that really is special. The swing mechanics give enough player control and mobility to allow for plenty of nuance.

    I could literally spend 10 minutes simply gleefully swinging around deserted multiplayer maps, nailing the well timed swings, doing flyovers of items for a quick item grab before grappling around a corner and landing on a platform 4 feet wide.

    The way this played into multiplayer was awesome, because everyone had a ridiculous amount of mobility, and could travel huge distances when they were timing their swings properly. But the flipside was naturally that this made it much harder to hit anyone else. It forced a constant tradeoff between being super agile and taking the time to aim and hit your targets.

    You can tell they really devoted a lot of time to getting the feel of the multiplayer and swing mechanics down cold, I think the excellent animation had a large part to do with that as well. It’s just such a shame nobody plays it anymore. One can only go swinging around empty levels for so long, as great as the movement may be.

  18. Aubrey says:

    You should look up JP LeBreton’s “Purity” ( http://vectorpoem.com/news/?p=22 ), which is an FPS focussing mostly on movement mechanics. It’s unfinished, but very interesting.

  19. Harley Turan says:

    Think of a genre and there’s an indie developer exploring what can be done with it. Unity has spurred on 3D game development to no end. Check XXIIVV for some amazing first-person platforming.

  20. Sagan says:

    The Quake video actually reminded me of Trackmania Sunrise, where level builders competed in who could build the smoothest ride with the best trick jumps. Some of those tracks I would ride the entire day, making those same awesomely perfect jumps with those feathery smooth landings over and over again. But that also became unpopular first with the free expansion for Sunrise, and then even more so with United. A shame really…

    Also, I’ve been meaning to buy the DLC for Mirror’s Edge for ages now. I should finally just do it, and ignore my stack of unplayed (lesser) titles.

  21. Bozzley says:

    You know that film, Jumper? Yes, I know it was terrible, but something that games should steal is the ability to run through stuff. Give a player the ability to run through walls and stick a cooldown on it so it can’t be spammed. Use it aggressively to leap through cover and behind the enemy, or use it as a quick retreat.

    • Nick says:

      I think you could do that in shadowrun, leap through walls and stuff.

    • Bozzley says:

      Ah, Shadowrun. I really should have given it a proper go, rather than playing the demo, realising it was nothing like the SNES RPG which I loved, and binning it off. My loss.

  22. chopsnsauce says:

    BAH. Personally I’m glad Quake style movement is dead.

    Its horribly counter intuitive an alienates anyone who doesn’t want to shoot people while bouncing around like a twat (which turns out to be about 90% of the gaming public).

    I’ve never understood why designers wanted to marry a game world that depicts (resonably realistic looking) humaniod players shooting each other with the movement of a rocket powered beachball.

    It’s just totally incoherent.

    If that’s what (some) people want, why doesn’t someone make ‘Beach Ball Death Match Arena: With Rockets’ ???? Probably because its a shit idea that won’t sell.

    • subedii says:

      Because not everything has to devolve into acquiescing to “realism”, at least not when it comes to games. Especially when it comes to games I should probably say.

      Setting and tone of the game naturally dictate a large part of that, but if you’ve got a day-glo sci-fi world like Tribes, jetpacks and grappling hooks are par for the course.

      Actually, that’s one game I notice is absent from the list. Tribes has always been well known for being a game about motion.

    • chopsnsauce says:

      It’s not about realism, it’s about the gameworld and gameplay being consistent with each other.

      Look at TF2, it has rocket jumping and double jumping. But it works because they’ve set the cartoon physics in a cartoon world.

      I’ve never played Tribes, but if its gameworld has powersuits and jetpacks, then players zipping about is consistent with that.

    • Torgen says:

      Wouldn’t mind seeing a RPS Tribes server. I miss the spinfusor….

      *sigh*

    • DiamondDog says:

      Play a multiplayer match of MW or its sequels and you get that weird juxtaposition. It’s stuck somewhere in the middle. You have all the real life weapons and lovingly crafted maps in the middle of forests and military bases. Then the game match starts and it’s all about running around as fast as possible with a shotgun in each hand, calling in a pack of dogs while someone does that stupid jump-prone thing.

      It’s the only bit of the article I disagree with, really. Counter-Strike and the online parts of the Modern Warfare games have never been about cover, or hiding, or any attempt at realism. MW and MW2 are dressed up as war sims but most matches come down to rushing about like loons, with all the skill based on reflex and aim. Just try camping, or using cover for longer than 5 seconds and see the kind of rage it produces.

    • subedii says:

      @ chopsnsauce: Which is pretty much what I was saying with “Setting and tone of the game naturally dictate a large part of that”.

    • Urthman says:

      First time I’ve heard anyone describe the character models in Quake 3 as “realistic”.

    • chopsnsauce says:

      “(resonably realistic looking) humaniod players”

      As in they have arms, legs and a head.

  23. qx says:

    People often say “bunny-jump”, but I believe it’s more correct to say “strafe-jump,” as I think the former refers to the types of jumps you could do in old CS, while the latter exploits the Quake engines by strafing and using smooth mouse movements at the same time to increase player speed.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Bunnyhopping in Half-Life 1 mods such as Counter-Strike was the same as Quake 1 & 2 as the GoldSrc engine was built from Quake 1 & 2 code. iD changed the movement code in Quake 3 which made bunnyhopping even easier (no more having to time your jump just as you land just press jump & you will do it as soon as you touch the ground). The CS team removed Bunnyhopping from beta 7 onwards IIRC (beta 6 definitely had it) but other HL mods released at the same time such as Natural Selection kept it in, although in NS case it was for the alien team only, marines had CS-like movement.

  24. CMaster says:

    Jim – give the HL (1) mod, The Opera a blast at some point.
    It goes for John-Woo movie style movement – big variety of dives, walljumps, somersaults etc. It isn’t perfectly implemented, but its a lot more freedom than the normal refrigerator box.

    • CMaster says:

      I’ve made it available here if you want to grab it. I’ve also got a version of The Opera for HL2 somewhere, but that’s very Alpha and I’m not going to put it on the net. It did have the movement working alright though.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      i remember that mod! You could evem play coop against a bunch of computer enemies. A bit like max payne. Or max payne is a bit like hong kong blood operas, which the mod tried to get the feeling of. I waited for ages for the second incarnation until it just quietly died. Although i’m not sure if the movement today wouldn’t feel really outdated.

  25. Stephen Roberts says:

    I read an article about this some time ago, somewhere on the webternets. Basically it split FPS down two categories as you have. Doom 1, Quake 3 and some other games not made by ID fall into the category of ‘Survival by evasion’. That is, you are very fast, your enemies attacks move fairly slow. Then Halo and Counter Strike and Gears of War(face) turned up with ‘Survival by Cover / damage sponge’. Admittedly Counter Strike didn’t have the damage sponge element, but yeah.

    I think the rhythm involved in movement in Quake three is a far more compelling game mechanic and one that sadly isn’t getting as much love at the moment as your hide behind things, whackamole shooter. Did anyone think that the single player for Bad Company 2 was just an extended shooting range with cardboard targets popping up? Taken some damage? Let your legs regrow as you hide behind this wall. So yeah. What?

  26. TheLordHimself says:

    I never understood why HL2:DM is so unpopular. It has pretty fast paced movement and back when you could use the GravGun exploit to superjump off physics objects it was awesome fun, its a shame they took that out :(.

  27. Thirith says:

    I greatly enjoyed the Mirror’s Edge DLC and I agree with all the criticism of its story and storytelling – but I found that even the flimsy, stereotypical plot, and especially the opponents, gave an urgency to my running that the time trials don’t have. This is one of the only games I know where running away is exciting. You can learn to enjoy the hand-to-hand combat, but trying to evade the police with speed, agility and insane, death-defying acrobatics got my pulse racing like few other games.

    It’s extremely difficult to balance for this; there were too many levels where you couldn’t just outrun the state but had to engage it in combat, which broke the flow. It was always disappointing to discover a situation where you needed sheer luck or gunpower to survive. But the levels where they got the balance right were among the most uniquely thrilling videogame experiences I’ve had.

    • chopsnsauce says:

      The ‘running away’ bit at the beginning of HL2 was also good. Thinking about it, at least half the game was about running away, but with guns and an airboat.

    • Lilliput King says:

      As I said below, I’m not sure there were that many levels where you actually had to engage anyone. The finale, certainly. And that one scripted fight. But apart from that, with a bit of cunning you can avoid fighting.

    • Arathain says:

      Yeah, I just picked up Mirror’s Edge recently, and I’m in two minds about the ever present police. It’s somewhat clumsily done, what with the fairly uninteresting combat and your character being an immersion stretching bullet-sponge, but it does add something of a thrill to the running. Being chased is neat.

      Still, I think the further I get into it the more the fighting bothers me, and the more I want to be left to enjoy the leaping on its own terms.

    • Wraggles says:

      The police thing doesn’t bother me, nor does the combat, seeing as most of it is using movement to get the jump on two guys then dash away before the other 4 get a bead on you. Once you get good at wall kicks and leap/slide disarms you can take out 4 people in a couple of seconds, unfortunately I think they needed to encourage movement take downs, make them easier to pull of and more rewarding, you basically have to discover and set them up yourself.

      And if the combat is not for you, it’s pretty interesting timing your movement to stay out of the firing line, there’s about 3 parts of the game that fighting is really the way to go, and another 2 that you’re forced to. You have the green parking lot. To get out of it is a door that you must stand still at for about 3 seconds to open. Sadly the bad dudes will ALWAYS shoot you up.

      Next is the server room, either you run around until they shoot their own servers or u pick up a gun and get the job done. The last is a long room in the shard with an MG in the middle and at the far end….I fight here mainly because it’s just so much damn fun.

      The sniper section actually is pretty easy, there’s like 2 paths that take you entirely out of sniper view.

  28. salejemaster says:

    ah I miss quake it was awesome!

  29. otzenGulasch says:

    which is exactly why Rocket Arena is so uber-great: nobody had to care about sales or what the majority wanted – it’s a niche mod for players thinking alike. And the reason I feel like having a dead grandpa stuck to my feet in almost every ‘modern’ FPS. I literally fall asleep before encountering an enemy when playing a heavy in TF2.

    You should maybe check out Quakelive again, though. Wit the clan arena mod and the recently added classic RA3 Arenas
    *Thunderstruck; *Evolution; *WindowPain; *SomewhatDamage; *Overkill; *TheatreOfPain
    it almost feels like in the good old days.
    Unfortunately, people seem to prefer playing freaking 8vs8 on a tiny map, instead of ToP, in which it is actually possible and fun.

  30. Santiago says:

    Brink, FPS, CTF, Escort… man even with the fancy movement thing, and all the effort put into it, this looks so dated and boring and seen… sigh… Maybe I´m getting old.

  31. roryok says:

    Regarding Mirror’s Edge and combat: I was initially in the camp that cried “why did they bother including combat at all?” But it’s worth remembering that the game was intended to be a full-bore shooter in the first place – albeit it one with interesting movement.

    I actually found the Mirror’s Edge shooty bits to be a cut above a lot of dedicated shooters. Sliding to pick up a gun and shoot a baddie was one of my favorite gaming moments in the last 2 years at least. The SFX had the echoey feel of HEAT, and ammo was limited and scarce. It was brilliant. I only wish every FPS game let me slide past people and pick up things

    • EALouise says:

      Whoever does the sound at DICE is brilliant, nothing sounds quite like a DICE game.

      I also quite liked the combat in Mirror’s Edge. I found the rubbish shooting makes it really interesting, where it tends to be much safer to just ditch whatever gun you’re holding and use your mobility to run around the corner and kick someone in the knees.

      I really should try and cross Mirror’s Edge off my “games I need to replay” list, it’s a lovely game.

    • vic says:

      +1 on the Dice Sound Observation. The concussion, crack and snap of the weapons and ordinance is just kickass.

  32. a1ex says:

    The Brink Video looks like maneuvering a freight train with leaping ability. What made Quake and even more the mentioned Mods so great is the lack of delay between what you want to do and what happens on screen.
    There is no special ability you have to select to perform a high jump or run fast. No glowing ledge you have to press a key on limiting your possibilities. And you stay in control at all times in the process.

    UT3 actually did the same, with much more “real” feeling physics. Which is not that bad. The crammed looking often kinda boring levels kept me from playing far more, I think.

    Of course its already difficult to use such a movement with keyboard and mouse and probably impossible with a controller.

  33. chopsnsauce says:

    I fully endorse this opinon.

  34. MadTinkerer says:

    Have you tried Surf maps in TF2? Surfing in CounterStrike is one thing, surfing in TF2 with it’s myriad classes and variants on the general Surf map theme is quite something else (and not just for Scouts, before you ask).

    Caster, a game that has been mentioned on RPS a few times, doesn’t have bunny hopping but does have built in super-leaping that’s practically flying when the skill is powered up. It’s technically not first-person, but it might as well be in terms of controls.

    Natural Selection 1 & 2 and Aliens vs. Predator (both PC versions) have wall-climbing for the wall-climbing-critter aliens. From what I’ve played, it seems most refined in NS 2: run up to the side of a wall, slide upwards-ish without pausing or slowing down, then bounce sideways off the ceiling and hit the attack button for a nasty surprise attack! (If only they’d fix the bugs that keep crashing NS2, I’d actually be able to enjoy it!)

  35. Shakey-Lo says:

    In my opinion, this is primarily down to one game: Halo. It figured out how to make FPS work on a console, sold a bazillion copies, and therefore inspired every other dev to copy its mechanics. Pro-level Quake 3 simply won’t happen with a gamepad.

    Think of the powered leap of Crysis’ nanosuit, but amp that up, and up. Merge it with Prototype’s insane vaulting and leaping, throw in Just Cause 2′s grapple hook, and give us Section 8′s falling to Earth from space. A wingsuit, a rocket-launcher, a pogo-stick. It’s not that we lack the palette of appropriate physics, it’s that no one has yet put it all together satisfactorily.

    Uh. Tribes.

  36. Anaphiel says:

    To me the most important thing to be learned from Mirror’s Edge’s movement style isn’t so much whether the movement is realistic, it’s that it feels visceral and weighty. You feel like a body in the world, with inertia and momentum, rather than a floating gun camera.

    Make the game as fast and twitchy as you want or as slow and realistic as you want, let me bounce around like a superball or make me scramble and crawl from cover to cover, just let me feel somehow connected to the world when I move.

  37. Lilliput King says:

    Playing through ME again, I’m actually surprised how little combat is actually required of you. I’ve got to Chapter 7 without so much as punching a mans.

    • Jonathan says:

      There are just two sections in the game that make me think “fuck it, I’ll just grab a gun then” — the nighttime rooftop section where there are snipers all around, and a bit in a red-walled parking lot. I’ve done the rooftop bit successfully without combat ONCE (out of god only knows how many attempts, and the level of precision needed for the final jump is just cruel), but I can see no way of solving the other bit. It’s very disappointing, really — I really wanted that “you completed the game withougt fighting” achievement.

      However, in an old episode of Idle Thumbs I was listening to last week Nick Breckon said he found using a trainer to make you impervious to gunfire made the game much more fun as a pure platformer — that sounds like the way to play it.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Hmm, what chapter is that parking lot in?

      I’d quite like to take a quick look.

      EDIT: Now I think about it, I do remember a green parking lot, just not a red one.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s in Chapter 9, after you blow open a door (see this guide, after you go from a blue bit to a red bit: http://uk.guides.ign.com/guides/949455/page_24.html ). It might just be that I’m failing at it because my patience is wearing thin at that point, I don’t know.

      It also doen’t appear to be a parking lot.

  38. Text_Fish says:

    Sigh. I fondly remember spending hours and hours perfecting trick jumps in Quake 1 and 2 maps. For me it actually started going downhill with Quake 3 Arena as the mappers at ID started clipping more detailed brushwork so that it was nolonger possible to perch ridiculously on tiny bits of architecture.

    The problem I have with concepts like BRINK, is that although they offer a load of fancy new moves, they’re ultimately all still controlled by the game designer so they may as well just bind a key to “DO SOME COOL ACROBATICS NOW PLEASE”.

    The best trick jumps are ones that the designer didn’t anticipate. Just the same way, Le Parkour would be a lot less impressive if city councils started designating Parkour-friendly zones and designing buildings with neat little footholds and handrails half way up the side.

    In recent years, the closest I’ve come to feeling that same sense of freedom that Quake1&2 showed is in Half-Life Deathmatch, where you can balance on top of a physics prop and shoot it with the grav gun to send you flying high. Great fun. More of that please — but not intentionally.

  39. Matt Casey says:

    I miss the jumping, wall kicking and ledge grabbing of Urban terror. At the time that mod came out there was nothing like it for the sense of freedom it gave.

    • Adam says:

      Yes it’s a shame the author hasn’t played or remembers Urban Terror.

      It was such a breath of fresh air in FPS movement, the freedom of being able to go up to the typical FPS barricade and just do a pullup and get up and over it was just awesome.

      It’s one of my biggest feelings of contempt for game designers these days that they have never even come close to that quake3 mod to this day. Breach doesn’t look like its even 1/4 as thought out.

      I guess I should be as contemptuous of game players too since we buy their crap as we try to “hop” over most FPS game “obstacles” (oooh 3 ft high rock, no way my character could ever get over that).

  40. stavrosthewonderchicken says:

    RA3 was and remains the apex of pure deathmatch for me. I wrote a ludicrously long love note to it recently, here.

  41. 9of9 says:

    Kind of reminds me of Shattered Horizon, too. It’s not quite Quake 3, but with its Ender-eque zero-g tactics, impulse grenades, ability to walk on any surface and other interesting ways to move about, it seems to me like another good contender as far as the exploration of outlandish movement goes.

    • Simon Dufour says:

      Agreed! I don’t understand why Shattered Horizon wasn’t mentionned. If there was a game where movement was hard to predict, I think it was Shattered Horizon.

  42. hamster says:

    No more bunny hopping please. If someone would make a coherent, accessible (at least initially) system logically adapted to the game world (c.f. quake bunnyhopping – based on lack of friction modelling) then that would be great and would be the next “evolution” of the fps genre.

  43. Lc says:

    So maybe we should forward this article to John Carmack and get Rocket Arena put into Quake Live, and everyone will be happy.

  44. Boar_Amour says:

    I’m reasonably certain that RA3 used entirely vanilla Q3 movement physics, and the video posted showing RA3Map1 is using CPMA physics. I played RA3 almost exclusively for many years, and many of the jumps shown in that video are completely impossible.

    Specifically, the ramp jumping and air control is MUCH more pronounced than I ever experienced in RA3, and looks exactly like CPMA physics.

  45. squirrel says:

    Unreal Championship 2 is a must-have game if you want to have a taste of good “Trickjump”. As you should be aware of it is an xbox game. Someone on web claims to be working on bringing it to PC (try to google for something like “Unreal Championship 2004″). It was specially fine toned for gamepad so I really cannot imagine to play it with keyboard and mouse, even though it is a FPS. Unfortunately Epic Games does not explore deep enough in this field. I hope that they will in the near future.

  46. ZhouYu says:

    An article about movement with no mention of Tribes? For shame.

    Other people have bought it up in the comments of course, but if you want to look at a game where movement is perhaps even more important than in Quake, Tribes is the one.

    You bought up the dichotomy between movement and fighting that games like Mirror’s Edge struggled with, and Tribes nailed that dichotomy.

    It may be an example of a more codified, alien type of movement that grew out of a glitch, but the series still trumps the movement of almost any other fps, with the possible exception of quake.

    The important distinction is that these codied “alien” games like Quake and Tribes were organic in their movement; there was no scripting when a player hit the ground, no “press button x to vault y”. They were fluid systems that could be exploited and played with to do things that the developers never planned for, and its this depth of potential that makes players love them.

    I fear that a movement towards “parkour”-style shooters is going to be a movement towards more scripted, less fluid movement and away from the free dynamics that made the movement of the elder games so great.

    • mcnostril says:

      I came here to shout about Tribes and it’s good to see other people have done it first.

      Tribes basically ruined most online shooters for me. The movement alone makes every other game feel sluggish and constricting.

  47. Al3xand3r says:

    I don’t think it has so much to do with people preffering realistic movement as it is that after a decade or so of the same things they find simple deathmatch and CTF modes boring and therefor lean toward stuff with somewhat more interesting objectives and structure, from Counter-Strike to Battlefield, to whatever else. If someone made a new FPS that was 100% unrealistic but still seemed interesting beyond the “if you put 1000 hours in the game then you can have some pretty sweet matches with other people who also did that” appeal they could still do pretty good. It’s not like anyone can come out of nowhere and top the Quake series when it comes to simple deathmatch so if that’s what you want, that’s what you can play. Unless this whole thing is about getting Quake but with better graphics…

  48. EALouise says:

    I’m wondering if there’s anyone out there tinkering with the idea of an Inception-inspired, spinny-room, wall-crawling game.

    If I had any kind of wit, I would make a clever remark about Jim’s line about dreaming.

  49. nobody says:

    I’m dreaming of a crossover between The Specialists Mod and Mirror’s Edge. That would be really sweet.

  50. Nevarion says:

    Next time I get the: ‘This video contains music from Sony Music Entertainment and is not available in your country’ I’m going to scream… VERY LOUD!

    Off to set up a proxy… Shame TOR is a b**** on bandwidth.