Tutorial for New Players

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This page is a text version of KovaaK's Reflex Tutorials on Youtube.

Episode 1 - Introduction to Reflex

  • Reflex is an Arena First Person Shooter that is heavily influence by Quake. If you aren't familiar with this genre, compared to games like Call of Duty and Counterstrike it's very fast paced with unrealistic weapons and relatively longer time to kill in fights. You'll spend more time juggling your opponent with rockets and chasing him down than sniping and peaking around corners. The focus of the more competitive game modes is on control of items as they respawn such as health and armor.
  • Right now, the three biggest features that make Reflex stand out above the competition are:
  1. Netcode - anything under 80ms feels wonderful, so most people playing on the same continent get a great experience. I've been playing FPS games at a high level for over 15 years, and Reflex has hands-down the best netcode.
    As an example, a professional level Counterstrike player by the name of AZK has won the last two duel tournaments in Europe despite playing from North America. The netcode is fantastic, and the disadvantages of higher ping are greatly diminished.
  2. In-game map editor. Press one key, click and drag to create geometry, place down items, and more. Right now, the community uses www.reflexfiles.com as a repository of maps (over 300 user created maps as of writing).
    Side note here - notice that when you change the map geometry everything becomes full bright. In order to get shading back, you need to rebuild the lightmap. Once you build it, it is saved to your hard drive and valid unless a new version of the map comes out. You build lightmaps by doing r_lm_build in the console, and it does take a few minutes (or longer if you are on a very detailed or large map).
  3. Scriptable User Interface similar to WoW. If you've been in game in Reflex, you've probably noticed that my UI looks a good bit different than yours.
  • The reason Reflex is so fast paced is because of the movement system. Without getting too much into the history, it is based on a Quake 3 mod called Challenge Promode, which combines the advanced techniques of Quake 1, Quake 2, and Quake 3.


Episode 2 - Reflex Movement

The map referenced in the video can be downloaded here.
To display the movement keys being pressed on screen, type cl_show_keys 1 into the console (or 0 to turn it off). There are speedometers in the user interface that can be used to see how fast you are going (which is measured in Units Per Second, or UPS)

Movement options in Reflex:

Base running speed

Base running speed is 320 UPS
There are two options for moving faster while still grounded:

Wall running

If you are parallel and up against a wall, hold forward and the strafe key while turned slightly toward the wall. If you find the right angle, the max speed is 507 UPS.

Circle Strafe Turning

This method has "circle" in the name because it is the path you would follow while performing it. While you can technically gain extra speed by only holding forward and turning, it works best if you hold forward and a strafe, then turn in the direction of that strafe. For example, hold forward, left strafe, and turn left. This also caps at 507 UPS, but the speed is based on finding the correct rate of turn, which is highly dependent on your mouse sensitivity and muscle memory. You can alternate going from left to right and vice versa to move silently and quickly without being near walls.

Queuing Jumps

  • When you press the jump key, it queues up the ability to jump until the next time you are touching the ground. Note that once it activates, holding jump any longer serves no purpose. Be sure to "refresh" your jump prior to touching the ground by letting go and pressing it again.
  • By holding jump prior to touching the ground, friction will not affect your movement speed. If you always press jump in time, you will never lose speed. Practice this and make sure you never lose speed.

Circle Jump

If you use the Circle Strafe Turning ground movement option mentioned above and jump when have a high speed (say, 480 UPS or higher), that is called a circle jump. Circle jumps can be anything from a quick 30 degree flick and jump to a full 180 degree turn and jump.

Strafe Jumping

Once you are in the air, you can do Quake 3 style strafe jumping to gain massive amounts of speed and turning slowly. This is achieved by holding forward, a strafe, and gradually turning further in the direction of the strafe. UI add-ons can be used to display the optimal angle to be facing to gain the most speed.

Bunny Hopping

A second option in the air is to do Quake 1 style bunny hopping. By only holding a strafe (no forward this time) and turning in that strafe's direction, you can gain a little bit of speed while changing your direction much faster than Quake 3's strafe jumping. Be warned that if you turn too quickly with this method, you lose speed.

Also note that if you change to this method while you are facing certain angles, you will lose speed. Note the examples of doing a left circle jump and trying to just hold +left after dropping +forward. Or changing from Strafe jumping in one direction to bunny hopping in the same. Alternatives to avoid this loss of speed include either changing to the opposite side for bunny hopping, or temporarily using Air Control.

Air Control

A third option is to only hold forward. This is a method that lets you turn as quickly as Quake 1 bunny hopping, but it does not gain you the speed. It is also harder to lose speed with this method.

Double Jumps

If you jump once and can find a way to jump again within 400ms (0.4 seconds) of the first jump, the second one will have additional height. Jumping on level ground takes too long, so you need to either:

  1. Jump onto an elevated surface/stairs, then jump again quickly
  2. Jump just before a teleporter, then jump again shortly after
  3. Bump your head on a low ceiling

Triple Jumps

Certain maps have spots where you can triple jump. It's as simple as a double jump, just with an extra jump in there somewhere :).

Two notes on jumping toward on and around stairs:

  1. If you want a stair to consume your first jump's height, it will more reliably keep you grounded if you are going faster on the ground (use circle jump style movement or even wall running).
  2. If you are in the air and approaching stairs, whether you are rising or falling determines if your next jump will be grounded or not. If you are rising, you will stay in the air after you jump. If you are falling, you will need to press jump an extra time to get back in the air.

There are other great maps to learn trick jumps, but I find z0_beta is the best one for beginners. Reflexjump has a lot of practical jumps on popular maps, but many of them are too difficult for people with no experience in Quake/CPM/Reflex.

Episode 3 - Game modes

Note: you can vote to change a server to a different game mode by bringing up the console and typing "callvote mode <your choice>". For a listing of the options, just "callvote mode".

The two basic types of modes in the Reflex are game modes with pickups and game modes without pickups (most of which are called Arena modes).

In any Arena mode, you will start with all weapons, a fair bit of ammo, and 200 armour/100 health. When you die, you are out until the next round begins. All arena modes have a timer that counts down from 90 seconds, after which point all remaining players take a small amount of every few seconds until only one player or team remains.

Arena modes are great for learning combat and map layouts. The Arena modes are:

Arena Free For All (AFFA)

All players join in at the start of the round, and the winner is the person who was alive at the end. This unfortunately encourages players to hide more than fight. You cannot hurt yourself with explosives in this mode, but your own rockets do propel yourself (damage-free rocket jumps for speed and height).

Arena 1 versus 1 (A1v1)

Two players at a time enter, and the one living at the end stays while the loser goes to the end of the line. You cannot hurt yourself with explosives in this mode, but your own rockets do propel yourself (damage-free rocket jumps for speed and height).

Arena Team Deathmatch (ATDM)

Teams Alpha and Zeta fight until all players from one side are defeated. The best strategy is generally to be close enough to teammates to support them when you run into an enemy. You cannot hurt yourself or teammates with any weapons, but knockback still applies.

If you play ATDM, try to keep an eye on the scoreboard and make sure the number of players on each team is even. You can hit the escape key and change teams at the click of a button, or spectate until an extra player joins in.


The modes with item pickups are:

Free For All (FFA)

In Free For All, you will start out with only Axe and Burst Gun, 0 armor, and 100 health. You need to collect item pick ups to get stronger. All players who want to play will be in, and you can respawn 1-5 seconds after dying. Every time you kill another player you gain 1 frag, and if you kill yourself (by explosives, falling into the void, or lava/slime) you lose 1 frag. The winner is the person with the most frags at the end of the time limit.

FFA is a great mode to jump into if you are new - you will learn the importance of fighting with a wide variety of weapons, map layouts, and general game mechanics. It is a low pressure mode compared to the next two while still maintaining all of the game mechanics of item pick ups.

TDM

TDM is mechanically similar to FFA in that all players start with the same resources and respawn 1-5 seconds after dying. However, fairly in depth strategies emerge when teams start to control certain areas of the map to provide reliable resupply spots for their teammates. The winning team is the one with the most frags after the time limit.

1v1

In 1v1, only two players face each other for 10 minutes at a time. Similar to the above two modes, you start with Axe, Burst Gun, 100 health, and no armour. This is currently the most hard-core of the existing modes - many players have practised similar games in highly competitive situations for years. It requires extensive map knowledge to be successful.

List of 1v1 maps in currently in rotation of tournaments:

Race

Race mode is special in that players can't interact with one another. You can see and hear other players, but you run straight through them and your shots have no effect on them. You can rocket jump freely for yourself. Map makers have the option to set starting and ending points that will keep track of the time that it takes you to go from the start to finish.

Sample race maps:

(Can someone add a better list of race maps)

Capture The Flag

Steal the flag from the enemy's base, touch your flag, get your team a point. If the enemy has your flag, someone on your team needs to return it before you can capture it. Carnage is a major focal point of this game mode, and it spawns every 90 seconds (usually at the middle of maps).

When it is 4on4, typically you will want two players on offence and two on defence.

  • "Flag Defence" stays near the flag almost all the time (and even doesn't stray far if the flag is taken lest it get returned and immediately stolen again).
  • "Forward Defence"/"High Defence" roams the base a bit more while supporting fights for carnage.
  • The better the two attackers can coordinate their offence, the easier it is to steal flags from the enemy.

Episode 4 - Reflex Health/Armour system

Health

Health is simple. If you run out, you die. If you have over 100, you lose 1 per second.
There are four types of health pickups: 5's, 25's, 50's, and the mega (100).
The 5's/25's/50's all respawn 25 seconds after being picked up.
The mega health acts as a powerup. When you grab it, it will not start its respawn timer until you have taken 100 damage, which includes the "losing 1 health per second when over 100". After you take 100 damage, it will respawn 30 seconds later.

Armour

Armours all respawn 25 seconds after being picked up.
Armour is slightly more complex than health. There are different tiers of damage absorption percentages, and there are different quantities of armour. The different colours also go to different maximum values.

Armor Types
Color Absorption Added Armour on Grab Max Armour without shards
Green 50% 50 100
Yellow 66% 100 150
Red 75% 150 200

For example, if you take a rocket to the face (100 damage) with Green armor, 50 damage will go to your armor and 50 will go to your health. If you instead had Red armor, 75 damage would go to the armor and 25 to your health.

Armor shards always give you +5 to your current armor to a maximum to 200, and it does not change your absorption percentage.

Dropping down to a lower armor tier

Since armors have different absorption values, if you want to drop down to a lower tier you will need less armor than may be intuitive. For example, if you have 140 Yellow armor, you can grab another yellow to get back to 150. But if you have 140 Red armor, the game will prevent you from picking up the yellow because the game considers the higher tier absorption more important. The magic number is actually 131 red armor allows you to pick up a yellow armor.

Other Powerups

Carnage

Carnage is a quadruple damage powerup that lasts 30 seconds. It will respawn 90 seconds after grabbed. If you die, it drops to the ground and the powerup timer does not tick down (but the respawn timer keeps ticking).

Shield (coming soon, not sure on name)

There have been dev screenshots of a shield powerup that is in the works. Expect it soon.

Episode 5 - Weapons

First thing's first - Move Rocket Launcher, Ion Cannon, and Bolt Rifle to keys you can hit while you are dodging and fighting. They are the weapons you want to use in most fights, and you don't want to be fumbling around with the mouse wheel or pressing distant numbers.

Weapons
Weapon Type Damage Time between shots Max DPS
Axe Very short range hitscan 100 1 sec 100
Burst Gun Projectile 3 X 10 0.5 sec 60
Shotgun Hitscan with spread 84 max 1 sec 84
Grenade Launcher Projectile with Gravity, bounces, explosive 100 max 0.8 sec 125
Rocket Launcher Projectile no Gravity, explosive 100 max 0.8 sec 125
Plasma Gun Projectile no Gravity, small explosive 12 0.1 sec 120
Ion Cannon Medium range hitscan, no spread 6 0.044 sec (?) ~136
Bolt Rifle Infinite range hitscan, no spread, pierces 80 1.5 sec 53.3
Stake Launcher Projectile with Gravity, pierces 80 1.25 sec 64

Hitscan refers to a weapon that instantly scans in front of you a set distance when you fire the weapon and either hits or misses. All explosives do their max damage when they are right next to the target, and the damage linearly falls off until it is at 25% of their max damage. (Can someone fact check me on that for the Plasma?) All explosives do half damage to the person who fired the weapon.

Weapon notes:

  • Axe is difficult to use but hits like a truck with crazy knockback.
  • Burst Gun greatly loses its effectiveness over a range since the projectiles spread out wider, but it can still be used to make someone dodge.
  • Shotgun has respectable knockback and DPS. The spread pattern is predefined and not random.
  • Grenades explode on contact with other players (they pass through you), but they bounce off of walls. If they don't hit another player, they explode exactly 2 seconds after fired. The hitbox on these is fairly large, but you generally only want to use them for area denial.
  • Plasma can be used to spam corridors and entrances to rooms. The small blast radius on each projectile allows you to climb up walls and make jumps that would be just barely impossible otherwise.
  • Rocket Launcher is the most versatile weapon in the game. Since rockets explodes on contact with any map geometry or players, you want to aim this weapon at the feet of your opponents. You can also use it to spam entrances of rooms and deny your opponent access to what he wants.
  • Ion Cannon, being hitscan, is much easier to aim than Rocket Launcher. If you can set yourself up in a good defensive position, you can focus on aim and do serious damage.
  • Bolt Rifle has the lowest DPS of any gun in the game. Try to avoid using it when your opponent can easily return fire with a better weapon. Use Bolt when you can immediately duck behind cover, or you are far enough away that rockets and ion cannon won't reach you.
  • Stake Launcher was removed from the game. Previous stakes can be used to make jumps that aren't otherwise possible since they created small collision boxes that stuck in walls for 2 seconds. Sometimes the piercing projectile did double or triple damage to opponents, which is likely the reason they were removed.

Episode 6 - Configuration

Reflex's options menu is actually pretty good as far as settings go. Most of the important options are readily available, and the presets work well depending on what you desire.

Console and settings

The console is a very handy tool for changing settings in game if you know what you are doing. Something that helps immensely is tab command completion. You can type the first few characters of a command and hit tab - if there is only one possible command that your input could lead to, it fills in the remaining characters. If there are more possible commands, it will show you a list of them.

If you want to bind keys to actions, the simple format is "bind <key> <command>". You can also specify that a bind only work in game or in map editor by doing something like "bind me space me_snapdistance 16" and "bind game space +attack". That would make the space bar set your map editor snap distance to 16 units if you are an editor, and it would make the space bar attack if you are in game.

There are a few options in Reflex that you can set in the console that are currently not in the options menu, such as:

  • cl_weapon_offset_* (x, y, and z - changes the position where you hold the gun on screen)
  • cl_player_outline_color_friendly and _enemy (changes the color of the bright outline around players - make sure to set these two to different values) (these are not commands anymore, but they do have enemy and team colors you can set in the options menu)
  • cl_show_gun
  • r_lm_build (builds the lightmap of the map you are currently in. It takes a few minutes to perform, but do this if you want the map to have shadows. Note that lightmaps remain valid until the map you are on has a difference in geometry to what the lightmap was built on.)

FOV

There is a stereotype of high FoV being common in Arena FPS games, but you often do see high end players using low values for better hitscan aim. High FoV is good for visual awareness, but most of the time you know what your opponent is doing based on sound. Competitive duel players are more likely than team players to use low FOV, but it's largely personal preference.

FPS, Refresh Rate, Monitors, V-Sync, and Screen Tearing

First, let's talk input lag. This whole section has to do with minimizing it, and there's a good reason. If you are trying to use your mouse to actively track someone who is rapidly dodging left and right, how much input lag do you think you'll be able to tolerate before you start missing significant chunks of hitscan? 30ms? 20ms? 10ms? 5ms? Really, the lower you go, the better your aim gets. The higher you go, the more likely you'll try to predict them and fail.

There is a meme of "but the human eye can only see blah frames per second" that I think almost everyone knows is false by now. But there is an important interaction in the way your PC draws frames to send to your monitor, and your monitor displays those frames. Simply put, the higher framerate for your game, the better. The higher refresh rate on your monitor, the better. It all adds up to a more responsive game that lets you see your mouse movements on the screen faster.

Some quick technical information - your LCD monitor draws an image by scanning from top to bottom. When your graphics card has an image to display, the monitor checks what a line of the visuals should be, and it draws that on the screen. If you turn V-Sync on, there is a buffer that keeps the image the same until your monitor finishes at the bottom of the screen. If you turn V-Sync off, the image that your monitor is drawing may change to something different in the middle of drawing it, which results in a horizontal split on your screen where one part of the image is not like the rest. This is called "Tearing", and it's most noticeable in Reflex when you are turning at fast speeds. The benefit of tearing is that the image you are looking at is more current, so the action of moving your mouse has less delay until you see the update.

I run Reflex with com_maxfps set to 500. I have a 120hz monitor. Doing the math, my monitor will have five separate sections of the screen which will be drawing a different picture than the others. Many people in PC gaming will tell you that they can't tolerate tearing, and they turn on V-Sync. I believe they have an issue with tearing because they are used to low refresh rate monitors and relatively low frames per second. As you get more frames per second, it is true that there are more tears on the screen, but the relative difference from one section of the screen to the next is smaller. As such, it's visually less distracting. The benefits of less input lag outweigh the negatives, in my opinion.

For more information, check out the articles and forums on http://www.Blurbusters.com.

CRTs are still the king of gaming monitors. The downsides to CRTs are: very difficult to find good ones (not being manufactured), heavy and difficult to move, their higher refresh rates are only applicable at lower resolutions. Still, if you have a good CRT, moving to an LCD will be a noticeable downgrade in responsiveness.

That said, LCDs are better these days than they used to be. There are many great options for 120hz and 144hz LCDs (again, check out http://www.blurbusters.com). With 120hz and 144hz LCDs, the monitor is scanning from top to bottom of the screen at twice the rate of normal LCDs, which makes them much more tolerable for fast paced gaming.

Note that G-Sync and Freesync, while nice for many games, isn't usually of use in Reflex. They are best applied when you are in a game where your framerate will flucuate somewhere between 60-144. In Reflex, hopefully you will be able to sustain over 250 with a decent computer. Additionally, I believe these options add a small amount of input delay, so don't use them with Reflex.

Mice and sensitivity

Very commonly in FPS games people use low mouse sensitivity for solid aim, huge mousepads. You can change your mouse sensitivity with the command "m_speed", but the value mean nothing by itself. If you've already got a good sensitivity from another FPS game that you want to convert to reflex. check out http://www.mouse-sensitivity.com/.

A better way to talk about your mouse sensitivity is it start your mouse at one side of the mousepad, move gradually until you've done a full 360, and measure the distance with a ruler. If it takes less than 10 inches to a 360, consider lowering your m_speed. If it takes more than 20 (which wouldn't be out of the ordinary for a CS player), you might want to raise it for Reflex. You do need to turn fast enough to do the important trick jumps, and close range battles can be pretty hectic.

If you are looking for a new mouse, there is a lot to consider. Quality of the sensor determines the max tracking speed. Will the shape fit your hand? What is the USB refresh rate? Higher is better (unless it has known tracking issues at higher rates). DPI is generally a marketing gimmick - just make sure the mouse tracks well by looking up reviews of it by knowledgeable sources.

Be aware that there is also an option of mouse acceleration, and I'm not talking about Microsoft's single option of "enhance pointer precision" or Logitech's low/medium/high. The only game that ever got it right was QuakeLive. In QuakeLive, you can define your starting sensitivity, when the acceleration should kick in, how much the sensitivity raises as you go faster, whether the increase in linear or not, and where the sensitivity can cap out.

Povohat wrote a Windows driver that implements all of QuakeLive's features and more. I wrote the GUI, and I've been using it for a few years now. My curve is set to let me track with hitscan weapons at about 20 inches of mousepad to a 360 for slow speeds, but if I flick fast enough I can do a 180 in 5 inches of mousepad. See http://accel.drok-radnik.com/ for the driver.

Episode 7 - Reflex Combat tips

Positional advantage

  • Positional advantage is dependent on what weapons you have available and what weapons your opponent has available.
  • As stated in the weapons video, there are places on the map that are just better to fight from if you have access to certain weapons. Many elevated locations are good choices for the big three weapons of RL, IC, and BR, unless you have less cover than your opponent.
  • If you can keep track of which of the big three weapons your opponent has, you can find good unconventional spots to fight from. For example, if your opponent is limited to just the RL, you can make his life difficult by fighting from stairs (assuming he's at the floor above the stairs).
  • Note that the sound of "low on ammo"/"out of ammo" are global. If you hear a "click" from your opponent, what weapon was he using? Can you take advantage of that before he resupplies?

Dodging in combat

  • For weapons with longer reload times like RL, BR, and SG, you want to appear to be predictable, but make a change in your pattern just as your opponent is ready to fire another shot.
  • For dodging Ion Cannon, rapid strafes work very well against many opponents. Even when your strafes are rapid enough that your opponent shouldn't have to move his mouse much, your appearance of dodging is enough to make people overcompensate and miss. Of course, if you find yourself eating tons of Ion Cannon, start moving further.
  • Some people have low enough mouse sensitivity that they can still track you, so you might find sweeping strafes can throw them off.
  • Different people have different strengths. Try to have an awareness about what your opponent aims best against, and don't get caught in those situations.
  • One of the great things about Reflex Netcode is that when an opponent is using Ion Cannon, you see the beam hitting pretty close to where it really is doing damage. Dodge it as if you're on LAN - you can appropriately react to the location of the beam, because it is a good representation of what you need to avoid.
  • If you get popped in the air by a rocket, immediately switch to holding one strafe and try to spin to prevent your opponent from getting more free damage on you. Even a small adjustment in your trajectory can prevent you from eating another direct rocket.

Know when you don't need to dodge

  • If your opponent is running away from you and is not a threat, stop dodging. You're only throwing off your own aim at that point. If you need to move in a direction to give yourself more time to line up a shot, do that. If you need to literally stop moving to aim the Bolt Rifle and punish him, do that. It's much easier to aim when you are stationary.
  • High level players do this stuff frequently too - even in the loser bracket finals of a recent tournament I saw memphis stop to hit an important Bolt against HAL9000.

Be a hard target, even when running away

  • Reflex movement is fast, but you're still predictable when you have high speeds. The best way to make yourself a hard target is to fire a shot at your opponent and force him to dodge.
  • If you absolutely must run away while not facing your opponent, spam grenades and erratically turn in the air with left/right strafe (Bunny Hopping) when you think he's lining up a shot.

Episode 8 - Reflex Subtleties

I'm going to have 1v1 in mind as I talk about these mechanics, but they still have takeaways that apply toward other modes.

Death/Respawning

  • When someone respawns, there are set locations that the game can choose from. The map maker defined these spots, and it helps to learn exactly where they are so that you can know where your opponent might come back. If you have the map downloaded, you can go to map editor mode to view these locations easily. If you are just on a server checking out a map, you can bind a key to "suicide" to quickly die and see where you come back.
  • Respawning completely ignores the spot closest to where you died, and it has a bias toward spots that are distant from where you died.
    • Consequence of this is that if you are trying to rack up quick frags, you can kill your opponent and take a cross-map teleporter for a better chance of finding him freshly respawned.
  • When you die in 1v1/ffa/tdm, you stay dead for 1 to 5 seconds. If you don't press fire, it will take 5 seconds to respawn. If you press fire, it will respawn you earlier.
    • The implications of this are that if you die and hear your opponent spamming rockets at spawn spots, you can time your respawn to avoid potentially dying again.
    • Another implication is that if you are in the lead with your opponent making a come back, you can delay respawning to maintain your lead.
  • Also when you die, you drop a copy of the weapon you had selected.
    • This can be important because if, for example, the Bolt Rifle is in a difficult to get location on a map, you probably don't want to die holding it. This gives your opponent extra ammo for it without forcing him to go out of his way.
    • The copy of the weapon you drop contains just as much ammo as a fresh copy. It doesn't matter if you had 30 rockets, 1 rocket, or completely ran out, your dropped Rocket Launcher will give the person who picks it up 10 rockets.

Item Control

  • Someone with full Red Armor and Mega health can take 4 times the damage of a fresh spawner. It's unlikely you'll be able to do 2 times the DPS of your opponent, let alone 4 times. As such, armor and health is what determines control in this game.
  • While frags/kills are what win the game, you can only get frags when you have control of the map. Don't sacrifice control for a single frag unless time is ticking away while you are down.
  • Any weapon on the map that wasn't dropped by a player respawns 10 seconds after grabbed. Since health and armor respawn every 25 seconds (or more, in the case of mega health), the most reliable way to maintain control in any game mode with item pickups is to control the armors and mega health.
    • A caveat is that there are some opponents you will face that are a menace with certain hitscan weapons. Sometimes after you get a frag, it is worth your time to run over and grab the Ion Cannon or Bolt Rifle to keep him out of his element for a short while longer.

Other

  • I mentioned in the weapons episode that rocket explosions go through very small floors and walls (8 units wide). Map makers intentionally make certain spots of their map thin enough for this to apply - keep an eye out for them. Examples include: DP4's red armor pad, THCDM13's red armor and bolt rifle pads.

Episode 9 - Some advanced dueling strategies

On the topic of high level duel analysis, there is a nice Youtube video by DDK. He discusses QuakeLive stuff like assigning values to situations in the game, such as positional advantage based on weapons and strengths of the map geometry such as cover and escape routes.

Note that QuakeLive's health and armor mechanics make it take longer to get to a max stack of health and armor, so the resulting gameplay is that it is usually a good choice to fight your opponent for almost everything (unless you really need to back off).

Reflex has people getting to max stack a lot more often due to the larger quantity of armor from pickups. A green armor + red = 200, which is max armor.

So when I duel QuakeLive players in Reflex, I see a lot of them attempting to contest me at every armor. That isn't really necessary in Reflex - you can spend some time avoiding your opponent and grab Green Armors to get by.

In fact, when I get Red Armor, I WANT my opponent to hurt me so that I can steal the next Yellow Armor from him. Otherwise, I'm going to have to a.) leave the armor up for him, or b.) hurt myself with rockets, wasting my own ammo.

On that note, a great strategy is to bait a fight when an armor is spawning soon or already up. You want to stay close enough to the armor that your opponent can't steal it from you, but you want to trade damage with your opponent (possibly even getting a kill), then get the armor you were protecting.

Regaining control

  • On most maps when I don't have control and I'm out of armor, I prefer to avoid fighting until I am almost even on health and armor with my opponent. I can literally run away spamming explosives and just grab weapons/shards/green armor until my opponent messes up and lets me get a Yellow Armor.
  • Say I do get a Yellow like that. My next step is to make sure that when my opponent goes to any trap of an area, I always hurt him. It is a trend with map makers to have things like the Red and Mega be traps. All 5 maps in the Sanetopia 2 duel tournament have Red Armor in a position where you can at least hit an easy bolt on the person who is grabbing it, if not some unreturnable rocket or grenade spam.
  • Once you have a leg up on your opponent, you can mount an actual fight for the next armor by getting into a defensible position. Also, a little spam can go a long way.
  • For times when you do have control, you need to be aggressive enough to give and receive SOME damage, but you also need to be careful to not walk into traps where your opponent comes out healthier than you and/or in a better position to grab the next major item.

Delaying grabbing items

In QuakeLive, sounds only travel so far in the game before they are entirely cut off. People frequently delay grabbing major items to throw off the timing of their opponents so that they can keep a fog of war in terms of important information. Reflex map sounds are currently game-wide, and timers remove any question of when things are coming up. Still, there are situations where you want to delay grabbing an armor:

  • Case 1: When you lose the mega health buff, it will spawn 30 seconds later, and RA will spawn 25 seconds after grab. If you get the RA too close to losing mega, both will come up at the same time in the next cycle, which gives your opponent a good chance of getting one of the two. Ideally, you want to Wait on grabbing RA for a few seconds in this situation.
  • Case 2: Imagine control is contested, RA and YA are spawning at the same time. The person with the Yellow Armor is most likely hoping that the YA and RA keep spawning at the same time so that he can get one of them every time. The person with Red Armor, if he wants to get more solid control, wants to get both. So, the person who goes for Red Armor can make a slightly risky play by waiting after the Yellow Armor is grabbed to split the timing up.

Wound and Run tactic

The Wound and Run tactic is where you intend on not killing your opponent, or you know you can't kill him. It has uses both in control and out of control.

  • Case 1: You get into a fight at Red Armor and trade significant damage with your opponent, but he is going to get the Red anyway. During the fight, keep yourself close enough to an exit that you can get out. Once you get out, go around the map and vacuum up all of the healths so that even though he got the Red, he won't be able to take as much damage as you.
  • Case 2: Red armor is going to be respawning on the other side of the map soon, but you just killed your opponent and he spawned near you. Don't kill him again - hurt him to the point where he has to spend extra time getting back into fighting shape so that you can go collect the Red armor.

Episode 10 - How to get better

So, you want to improve your game. Here are some good ways to go about doing that.

Sparring Partners

Find a friend who you enjoy playing against, and practice with them as much as you can. Learn maps together, talk about strategies, and figure out your weaknesses.

  • If you are uncomfortable fighting in certain rooms, go into practice mode and rush one area non stop for a few minutes at a time.
  • If there are some maps where you need to be able to hit some shots (such as when an opponent comes out of a teleporter or is rushing a major item), take turns practicing shutting down the approach.
  • Use Short duration duels (3-5 minutes). Shortened duels are great for learning first spawn strategies, which can be a major part of the game. Talk with each other afterwards about what went well and what didn't
  • Don't forget you can even practice fighting on maps for larger modes like 4on4 and CTF.

+Brain

Any time you are spectating a game, watching a stream, or watching a replay, engage your brain as if you are the one playing. What would you do if you were in the shoes of the player you are watching? Whenever the player you are watching makes a different choice than you would, see what happens. Did his decision give him control? If so, why. Would your choice have worked out better there?

Did you notice any sound cues he missed? Did he seem to have knowledge of an opponent's position that you missed? Figure out how he knew. It might have been a sound, or perhaps just a common pattern on that map.

Demo Reviews

  • If you want to do better in tournaments, I highly recommend watching demos of the top players from every point of view and spending the entire time thinking about what you would do if you were in their position. Again, +brain.
  • Be able to watch your own demos critically and find flaws.
    • If you had a close game versus someone where you felt completely engaged in playing the whole game, download the replay from the server (many servers have replays available on their websites), and watch from your opponent's point of view, then watch again from your point of view. You will notice situations where your opponent took advantage of your mistakes, and you need to think of a way around it the next time you encounter it in game.