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Aim punching unbalances mechanical skill and strategy
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PRIORITIZE ISSUE FOR VALVE: THUMBS UP (fix), NO VOTE (not important right now), OR THUMBS DOWN (do not fix)VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
I’d like to preface this by saying that in Counter-Strike 1.6 and Source there is a close balance between mechanical skill and strategy. Players must utilize both to play competently. The fact that mechanical skill and strategy are so closely balanced creates a large gradient in which player skill is defined.
A few weeks ago players were petitioning the development team to add flinching animations similar to those in Counter-Strike 1.6 so they could more intuitively tell when they were hitting an enemy. Hundreds of posts as well as a handful of very clear example videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp1J1vxiGic) were made in order to communicate exactly what players wanted. Out of nowhere came a patch that added the new “aim punching” feature, making players’ aim kick up whenever they are hit with no mention of the flinching animations that players petitioned for.
The balance between mechanical skill and strategy in the previous two Counter-Strike games creates a variety of situations that, were those two areas unbalanced in favor of one or the other, could not reasonably occur.
Example: as T on Dust 2 you are traveling through short A to the site, as you’re nearing it the only remaining CT peeks out from the ramp at the back of A and opens fire on you. The most likely outcome is that the peeking CT wins as he has an easier shot on you as well as cover for most of his model. The less likely outcome is that you headshot the peeking CT. The first outcome is the result of the CT being rewarded for getting the jump on his enemy from behind cover. The second outcome is the result of the T displaying excellent use of mechanical skill.
This example conveys the power of mechanical skill and positioning in a broad sense. However, examining it closer reveals why it can occur and how a feature like “aim punching” could cause it to not occur (or occur at such a minimal rate that it is a non-factor).
In the example I used, the “aim punching” feature takes the T’s already miniscule chance of turning the tables on his attacker and reduces them even further. The “stretches” of time in which engagements play out in Counter-Strike are incredibly small. Players die in a fraction of a second. In our example, the T has a very small window in which he can successfully headshot the CT if he wants to turn the tables. If we add in “aim punching” to this situation, the T’s aim kicking up combined with his small window of success (in terms of time and the physical size of his target) makes the second outcome near impossible, compared to it previously being very unlikely.
This devalues aim and makes individual players less powerful in a way that is unneeded, at least without redesigning other aspects of the game along with it. Consider the effects that this change has on already powerful strategies. Cover is more powerful. Getting the jump on someone is more powerful. Engaging a player while you outnumber them is more powerful. Engaging a player that has a pistol while you have an SMG is more powerful (especially in early rounds, where players frequently have to choose between a weapon and armor). Were any of these things not sufficiently powerful before?
If this feature was added to the game independent of being a misunderstanding then you should be asking yourself if it’s intended result was to unbalance the game such that many situations that previously had a large gradient of outcomes could be reduced to rigid “if x then y” statements. It’s also worrying that this mechanic, which didn’t exist until last week, had it’s name changed to “flinch aimpunch”.VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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