Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shotguns in Video Games or Wonderful IRL Tools Reduced To Stereotypical Anachronisms

If you're a hardcore gamer like yours truly, growing up with first-person shooters, you pretty much recognize the standard fare of today's virtual arsenals: melĂ©e, pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, grenade/rocket launchers, rail guns, and last but not least, the BFG.  The names and models may change, but the physics remain the same.  Gun goes bang, bad guy fall down go boom, next in line.  As far as gameplay goes, the recent proliferation of competitive multiplayer gaming, the most notable of which was pioneered by the landmark mod Half-Life: Counter-Strike, set a whole new standard for laying the ground rules as to how firearms are supposed to work in the virtual world.  And, more often than not, the rules have been stretched a bit.  We've all heard the stories of 360 no-scopes and the magic game-winning pistol shot from across the map, but those are not the focus of this post.

In today's essay, we shall take a look at one of the biggest class of boomsticks to get the shaft as far as effectiveness and user-friendliness goes in today's modern shooter: the shotgun.

If you're familiar with this blog at all, you will recognize this photo from a previous post in which I review one of my personal firearms, the Mossberg 590A1.  This is my shotgun, and I love it.  It serves me well, it does what I ask of it, and it works when I need it to work.  Many times I have said to myself when I was browsing the weapon select windows of the latest FPS game,
"SELF!  Why couldn't I just code my Mossberg into the game?  I'd much rather use it than any of these other laughable excuses of pixellated iron and steel!"  And rightly so.  Without mincing words very much, shotguns in video games are a joke.  Straight out.  Bear with me a bit here, I'm gonna start talking ballistic jargon here.  If you want game talk, just skip forward a paragraph or two.  If you want to learn a few things you might not know, keep on reading.

First, before I get swamped with comments, I'll say this first of all.  Yes, shotguns are traditionally close-in weapons, with a maximum effective range of about 50 yards with 00 buckshot.  Fifty is a pretty small number when you compare it to the effective range of, say, an M4 carbine, which is 400 yards.  But rifle and shotgun cartridges are two completely different animals.  Shotgun shells are normally made out of cardboard or plastic, sometimes all brass if it's a specialty or discontinued gauge, and have lower overall pressures than rifle cartridges.  But therein lies the rub.

Rifles are, on the face, a one-trick pony.  They shoot a well-aimed projectile on a fairly flat trajectory to a determined distance within the rifle's effective range to strike a target and bring it down.  Shotguns, on the other hand, have a wide menagerie of shotshells they can feed and fire to match pretty much any scenario you throw at them.

Above are examples of rubber projectiles designed for crowd control and less-lethal takedowns.  They also make beanbag rounds and Flite-Rites, shotshells filled with tear gas designed to be shot through walls and windows in a siege situation.  On the more conventional side of the coin, the variety of shotshells goes from itty-bitty birdshot to the heaviest bear slugs, and anything in between.  You normally never get a choice as to what is loaded in your shotgun in a video game, so let's say for the sake of argument it's a standard 12-gauge, 2¾-inch shotshell loaded with nine pellets of 00 buckshot.

Normally, the maximum effective range of buckshot, as I said above, is about 50 yards, give or take.  Past that, the round pellets, not being spun by rifling, go their own merry ways like musket balls of old and start losing velocity, and accuracy.  But within that 50-yard window, buckshot shines.  From the muzzle to around 15 yards, a proper 00 Buck payload should stay in a tight group about the size of one's fist, causing massive trauma to any flesh it strikes, even with a cylinder choke.  At point-blank range, buckshot can take off a limb.  So, taking that into account, let's imagine a little scenario in a video game.  You, the player, has a shotgun with eight rounds, a full magazine.  You are standing at one corner of a hallway 20 yards distant, about the length of a first down in football.  At the other end of the hallway are three terrorists.  Let's take cover behind a chest-high wall, peek over top of it, and take aim.  Pull the trigger.

Knowing what we do now, our well-aimed buckshot should strike one terrorist with about seven of the nine pellets.  In some games, you might see the same outcome, you may see all three terrorists being hit, or you may see a bunch of sparks as the buckshot spreads out and misses them all entirely.  More often than not, the latter outcome has become de rigeur for shotgun ballistics in the virtual world.  Instead of a nice bell shape for shot trajectory, it turns into a big nasty cone.

Game programmers must think shotgun barrels are 25 yards long, given the accuracy one sees out of the current crop in today's shooters.

I'm not asking for a complete overhaul, I'm just asking for a little more authenticity in the way shotguns work in FPS games.  Close quarters accuracy should not stop simply at arm's-length from the player.  Real-life shotgun pellets do not immediately exit the barrel and go willy-nilly all over Creation, missing everything remotely resembling a target, allowing oneself to be open to a knife in the belly by some 13-year-old pest from Kalamazoo, MI calling you a faggot.  Within 50 yards of an ingame world, shotguns should be just as effective as an SMG or even an assault rifle, maybe more so.  I also have qualms about certain types of shotguns and their fire modes, but that's a separate rant for another day.
If you are a game developer interested in making shotguns more palatable to hardcore players, take a look at the scene from Robocop, where Peter Weller's character gets cut down by four gang members wielding shotguns at less than five feet.  Of course, the movie took some dramatic license to intensify the gore a la Soldier of Fortune, the effect on actual human flesh is not too far removed from the truth.
DISCLAIMER: the following link is very NSFW, click through at your own risk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VclFEwUGdY0

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Eight Candidates You Should Be Extremely Worried About or Think Outside The Beltway

As millions of people (myself included, at the time of this writing) watch the CNN Tea Party GOP Debate, we can only wonder as November 2, 2012 looms closer, which one of these people at the lectern will be the Republican candidate for the Presidency.  I have an answer for you all.


If any of these so-called Republicans whose names get more recognition than John Lennon's famous Jesus comment are selected as worthy of the mantle of President of the United States, we are all in for a reality check.  It's as if all the major news agencies (if you can call them that anymore) are simply name-dropping to ensure that when (not if, WHEN) Obama is voted out as a lame duck, the nation's executive branch will be occupied with more of the same.  Let's take a look at the field, with my opinions attached, after the break, shall we?
(Author's note: the pictures are provided without names; it's like Pictionary.  If you don't already know who they are, or can't be bothered to read the blurbs, the internets might be able to help you.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bay Area Mindset: No More Pets

If you needed another reason to find out that people who are sequestered in San Francisco or its environs operate on a different wavelength than the rest of the entire Western world, look no further.  The list of things which are absolutely verboten within the city limits has grown to include handguns (later struck down by the state Supreme Court), circumcision, plastic bags, smoking pretty much anywhere outside of your home, toys in kids' meals, the battleship U.S.S. Iowa (!!!), sitting or laying down on the sidewalk, and the unsolicited delivery of phone books.  YES, PHONE BOOKS.

The newest idea to ensure the unique common-sense deficiency of the Bay Area is set in stone is an inititative to be put on the ballot for voters in November to ban the sale of all pets within the city.  Quoth the L.A. Times:

[T]he Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal is on its way to the Board of Supervisors, and it hopes to protect everything from Great Danes to goldfish.

Yes, goldfish. And guppies, gobies, gouramies, glowlight tetras, German blue rams. No fish, no fowl, no reptiles, no amphibians, no cats, no dogs, no gerbils, no rats. If it flies, crawls, runs, swims or slithers, you would not be able to buy it in the city named for the patron saint of animals.

 Representatives of the $45-billion to $50-billion-a-year pet industry call the San Francisco proposal "by far the most radical ban we've seen" nationwide and argue that it would force small operators to close. Animal activists say it will save small but important lives, along with taxpayer money, and end needless suffering.

It's easy to see that the bill was made to react to the puppy mills and kitten factories, which are not nice places.  But somewhere along the line, the lawmakers got it into their heads that, hey, why not just extend the ban to EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL, regardless of what or where they are?

The ban does not prohibit the sale of live animals for eventual human consumption, like crabs, lobsters, or Rhode Island Reds.  (At this point I would say something about the questionable cuisine of Chinatown, but come on.  That's far too easy.)

...I've got nothing.  San Francisco is a liberal social entity unto itself, and deserves to fall in the ocean with the rest of this morally destitute and ass-backwards state.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Two Minutes' Hate: Operation Fast And Furious

If you were looking for a reason to pick up a heavy object and heave it into the nearest wall or expensive piece of household electronics, allow me to oblige, because that's exactly how I feel about this.

The House Oversight And Government Reform Committee, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa (D-CA), launched an investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' poorly-thought-out and monstrously mismanaged Operation Fast And Furious after it was revealed that an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle which was allowed to "walk" under the operation's guidelines was used to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona in December of 2010.  On Wednesday morning, the investigation released its findings, and what they found will make everyone blessed with the gift of common sense scream WTF at the skies.  Read the entire congressional report here (PDF) and observe the quackery after the break.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Bleeping Much Should We Have To Bleeping Take?

While perusing my timeline on Twitter, I read an article tweeted by the L.A. Times online, Entertainment section, about the proliferation of curse words being bleeped on network TV just to yank a few yuks from the audience.  To wit:

[T]he use of bleeped curse words on television has risen steadily, particularly over the past few years, according to a recent study by the Parents Television Council, an L.A.-based media watchdog group. Across all networks and prime-time hours in 2010, a bleeped or muted S-word aired 95 times (up from 11 times in 2005) while a bleeped or muted F-word aired 276 times (up from 11 times in 2005).


*DISCLAIMER: The above comments are designed as samples and do not convey actual commentary written to this blog.  Your mileage may vary.  Professional driver on a closed course.  Do not attempt at home.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My friend needs help in giving back to the troops!

This is a shout-out to all my gentle readers, regular, new folks, lurkers, or otherwise.  My friend Heather is a finalist in a contest to win an iPad 2, but it's a different sort of contest, and she needs votes from us.

Here's the pitch: Whoever gets the most votes in this contest will win the device, but also has to do something to prove they want it.  Heather has offered to hand-craft hundreds of pillowcases for our wounded troops in Afghanistan.  And who doesn't want to give our boys over there a little morale boost?  And I would hope that you don't need an extra incentive to do this, but when you vote, you get an extra entry in the website's iPod giveaway as well.

Here is the link to her original blog post all about it: bit.ly/pillows4vets

And here is a picture of one of the pillowcases.  They will each have a unique design on them, so no two will be exactly alike.  Thanks much from me for your time, and hopefully I can pay you all back someday if you can help.

Im in ur newsrooms readin ur emails

TGIF, gentle readers!  So what's the biggest breaking news story to hit our shores?  Not the stories which tell us that several hundred thousand acres of Arizona have been immolated, or that fungal spores are killing residents of weather-battered Joplin, MO.  Oh no, that's small potatoes compared to this headline.  And what, may you ask, would that be?  Why, allow me to indulge. 

The State of Alaska, due to a Freedom of Information Act request from six news agencies, released approximately 24,000 pages' worth of e-mail written by former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin during her time as Governor.  From the L.A. Times:

The state of Alaska is expected to release more than 24,000 pages worth of emails from Sarah Palin's tenure as governor, more than two years after they were requested by news organizations and local activists.

The Palin emails were originally sought to shed light on the then-little-known running mate of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Their release comes at a very different time -- as Palin, who enjoys near-universal name recognition, is contemplating a White House bid of her own.

 Among the apparently aphrodisiac pages have been discovered death threats, congratulations, correspondence between her and Todd Palin, and, what I'm sure all Americans have been waiting with bated breath for: a possible installation of a tanning bed in the Governor's House.

Okay, we get it, the MSM and bloggers everywhere are obsessed with Palin.  They absolutely exploded as soon as Sen. McCain made her his pick for veep in the 2008 presidential campaign, scrambling to try and find out where in the world she came from.  Instead of making valid, concise news stories and blog posts that make you think, well...  I'll let you decide.

Frankly, it's getting pretty damn annoying.  If the best news on Friday is ZOMG SEKRIT DOX FRUM ALASKA, I'm starting to think it might be a better idea to move someplace simpler.  Like Tijuana.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

[Closed] Here's your chance to win stuff! Yes!

My good friend Heather over at HeatherShow.com is having a GIANT blow-out contest going on RIGHT NOW!  You couldn't find a cooler thing to enter if Mr. Freeze was auctioning off his used tighty-whities.

More reliable than the Publishers Clearinghouse.

So here's the scoop: Heather is giving away OVER $500 in great swag to several lucky contestants in her newest contest, which is LIVE RIGHT NOW and waiting for your entry!  Included in this contest are such gems as:
Just visit Heather's official contest page, take a look at the rules, then enter yourself and whoever else you want to win this wonderful stuff!  You can enter once each day, so you and all your friends and family will have a mognostronomosity of chances to win!  Never mind the made-up word, it's true!

Why are you still here reading this?  Go and enter the contest already!  Someone who isn't you is probably winning already, and for that matter, it's NOT Charlie Sheen.  Good luck to all of you who enter the contest, and if you got in from here, tell Heather I sent ya.

Bonne Chance!