On self-improvement

In order to explain why this is important, a little background is necessary.

I’ve been playing PS2 for almost 2 years (didn’t do beta, first installed a few days after launch). Prior to that, I played a little CS, and a little TF2. I was a COMPLETE casual player – never changed settings from default, and just shot people for a little bit and logged out. I spent more time in MMO games like EVE online. When PS2 came out, it satisfied many things I was looking for in a video game, and I became hooked. And to cut the bio short, I went from a casual FPS gamer to a pretty hard core one.

The only problem was that I never really learned “good habits” with my past FPS experiences. I basically started playing PS2 with default settings, made a few minor changes, and just developed my muscle memory and skills from there. Through sheer time investment and willpower, I went from a casual gamer to the highest scoring infiltrator in the game. I joined a competitive outfit (NNG) and participated in various events, from PAL to CommClash and ServerSmash. Yet, through my video recordings, analysis of performance during these matches, and in comparing myself to other well known players, I was struck by an unavoidable truth: My accuracy is trash.

I am OK with not being the “best”, especially in a game like Planetside. But I started studying the “pros”, and saw just how large of a skill/performance gap there was between them and I. I decided that it was time to try and close that gap a little.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I was there. The next step was asking for help. I went to twitter and was very impressed by the feedback I got from many people. Vonic (from DasAnFall) and Visigodo (along with a few others from AC) were of particular help. Here is what I did, and where I am now.

Mouse sensitivities/DPI: This is going to sound painfully obvious to veteran players – but I was essentially playing with 4-5cm/360 degree sensitivity. I played the entire game with my wrist. When I tried to use Visigodo’s settings (his useroptions.ini file is here: http://pastebin.com/faAUSeRH) I couldn’t even turn the corner to enter a room! While I may get there one day, I sought a middle ground. Vonic uses 15-16cm/360, and I like his very rapid gameplay and movement, so I started there. I’m slowly turning down my settings each day until I get to a point where I am comfortable.

Why use lower sensitivities? Here’s what I learned (although there are many opinions out there, and some Quake/CS pro’s had settings similar to mine). The high sensitivity I used was fine for twitch shooting (i.e. sniping) once you develop the muscle memory. But it is very difficult to track moving targets, or be precise on snapping to aim at the head and hold it there with such high sensitivity. As a sniper, I was mostly fine. However, when it came to SMG/Scout rifle use, or when I played other classes, I began to see a discrepancy in performance. While I will always love sniping, I need to be a well rounded player, and this was a natural first step in becoming more competitive.

Graphics settings: I have a GTX680, 3770k, 16gb RAM and a pretty decent setup. I can run the game at 70FPS with most things turned up. However, I have been plagued by memory leaks for the last 6 months, and furthermore, in large fights ( which are now common on Emerald), I would get FPS hiccups down to the 20-30 range. I took an axe to my settings, closely mirroring what Visigodo had. Shadows, flora, texture… all minimized. I realize this was going to make the game uglier. But what I didn’t realize was that I was gaining more than just FPS…

In a game with so many explosions, gun effects and graphical treats, it is a gorgeous, immersive experience. But as a competitive player, these visual effects are simply distracting. You want to focus on the model of the enemy, aim on target, and get a clean kill. In lowering my settings, not only did the game play smoother, but I was seeing targets more clearly. This has had a substantial impact on target acquisition for me.

The last step I’ve taken towards self-improvement: diversification. I played a lot of medic and LA to get the directive weapons, and in doing so, it has really helped me retrain my aim and learn how to use the forearm for mouse movements. Going back to the scout rifles last night, it felt real good, and I was hitting head shots more often, and killing targets without spending the entire paltry magazine.

I know I can still improve as a player. But these simple steps took only a few hours of my time, and are paying dividends. When you combine that with my existing knowledge of the game, I have had some very good gaming sessions over the last two weeks. I’m frequently at or near 100KPH, with between a 3-7 “true” KDR. My “fake” KDR with revives is usually 6+.  And here are some early results:

 

Acc Improvements

 

While my accuracy is only an A or A*, it has already had a large impact on my weapon specific KDR, as well as KPH.  I purposely don’t aim for the head unless at close range, so there’s a reason for the low HSR.  The true test will be when I use the NS-11A Platinum, and compare it to my existing NS11-A stats.  And yes, that TORQ-9 KPH is #2 in the world right now.

 

So what is the point of all this?  For you veteran players, stop and take a look at your setup.  Are there any changes you could make to become a better shooter?  For the new players – there is a LOT to learn about PS2.  But don’t neglect the details.  Set yourself up for success from the beginning, don’t do it like me and wait 2 years to make a few simple changes.

 

I’m going to post this live but when I get home I’ll link my current useroptions.ini for you all.

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8 thoughts on “On self-improvement

  1. I’m really interested to hear more on this. I’m pretty much going through the exact story you told in the beginning: I painfully lowered my settings to around 10 cm/360°, and I’m slowly starting to increase my HSR. (I should probably lower the sensitivity further, I finally got a decent size mousepad…)

    Obvious first question here is: Why do you avoid head-shots at medium range? Do you do this for all automatic weapons? what about dedicated long-range, like T5-AMC?

    Also on accuracy: I tend to take the long-shots, and fire outside of my range for the chance of a kil (fleeing enemy etc). Do you avoid those to preserve your A-rating? Or do you not think of that at all while playing?

  2. Early on in the days of ReachCast, Noxx did a segment on mouse sensitivity and I ignored it. I know I’m not pro, not even close, but I know I’m at the first step like you. I’ll probably start tweaking after SOE Live.

  3. One quick point on the subject of graphics settings.

    Depending on how good your CPU and GPU are in relation to each other, it may be worthwhile leaving your texture settings on high. The reason being (from what Wrel has said on YouTube) is that Planetside 2 texture files are set to high and uses your CPU to downgrade them (and you GPU to upgrade them). I currently run with render distance set to 1000, textures on medium and everything else as low as it will go. I’m currently getting a stable 45FPS which doesn’t drop even in some of the massive fights on Emerald, rather than the 15-30 FPS is was getting with my textures on low.

    My PC specs are:
    AMD Phenom II X6 3.3GHz (with core unlocking switched on)
    16 DDR3
    ATi Shiteon HD 6570

    • I just halved my sensitivity, and I’m surprised how well my aim still is. There are times when I move half the distance I should, but once I’m on target tracking is very easy.

      turning around (180°) is a bit of a problem, but I think that will come with time. Also it’s easy to train just by running back and forth.

  4. For sure, with that mouse sensibility, aiming and controlling recoil is easier… but how can you control movements of the character?!? I’ve tried and I cannot turn!
    In any case I’ve halved my settings, and now I aim better, thx

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