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UT2k4 | UT2K4 Predictions

Predictions.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt - Sun Tzu, The art of war

Once you’ve established a certain basis of skill, you’ll notice that aim isn’t the only skill that is used in a First Person Shooter. By now, you undoubtedly found out that a rocket that is aimed perfectly at an opponent, will rarely result in a hit for the simple reason that he or she has stepped aside by the time the rocket arrives at the spot. This is where prediction comes in.

Prediction Of Players.

According to ocr*Flocutus, there are 3 ways to predict where players are. Each of these kinds must be trained and mastered to become a good FPS player.

1. Leading The Target.

This prediction comes down to ‘shoot where your opponent will be when the projectile hits’. The rocket launcher is a classic example: if your prey is running from left to right, aim more to the right. If your opponent is in the air, shoot where he or she will land. And if your enemy is heading for an exit or a specific item, you should aim for that position.
Both the distance to your target and the projectile speed must be taken into account to calculate out how to hit your target. Even trace-hit weapons require a small bit of leading: no one is born with perfect reflexes, and it will therefore take some milliseconds between the brain order ‘fire’ and the actual firing of the gun. If you’re playing online, there is even another variable you have to take into acount: ping. Ping is the delay in milliseconds between the contenders and the server; the higher the ping, the more you will have to lead people.
Leading is so commonly used that in the end, it becomes a complete routine.

2. Prediction On Site.

Prediction on sight is trying to predict where your target is going to, and to await him or her at the destination point. It’s usually easy to tell whenever someone predicted you on sight: it’s when you turn around a corner or go through a door, and are immediately greeted with a pack of rockets or some flak.
To use this kind of prediction, you often need a good knowledge of the map, because you need to be able to head off someone. Using higher ground is therefore usually a good idea.
Keep in mind that prediction on sight is based completely on the element of surprise, as players will act differently once they know you’re on to them.

Prediction on sight also has defensive purposes: if you’re being chased, you can turn around a corner and shoot behind you when you expect the chaser to come through the place.

3. Prediction On Sound.

Did you ever pondered about the fact that everytime you do something, you emit a specific sound? Wether it is from firing a weapon, from picking up items or even simply running around, you always make a lot of noise that points at your location. Listening to the sounds and using them in the game can be learned, but you’ll have to make a sacrifice for this one: turn off all useless sounds.
Playing without music can be strange at first, but after a while you won’t even notice it’s gone (you can bind an alias to toggle sound).

But there are more ‘1337′ settings that affect your sound: go to your user.ini file, search for bPlayOwnFootsteps, and set it to False. It’s gonna be hard to hear other players footsteps if your own pace interferes with it.
Note: you can only disable your own footsteps if you turn off weapon bobbing as well (Settings-Game-Weapon bob uncheck).

Another setting can be found in UT2004.ini: search for AmbientVolume, and set it to 0. This setting controls sound effects like wind, dripping water and other distracting stuff.
Warning: I’ve noticed that Assault’s alarm sounds (activate when an attacker comes too close to the objective) are also controlled by this setting, so only turn it off if you never play this gametype.

So…What kinds of sounds will you be watching for? Simply put: all of them.
Weapon sounds are the most commonly predicted: change your destination whenever you hear rocketfire from out of the blue. There’s a good chance that it is aimed directly to where you were going to. It’s an extra advantage to know what weapon your opponent uses, so you can adjust your combat style to it.

Item pickup sounds are the best way to predict someone’s position. Each weapon has a unique pickup sound, but it’s more likely you can tell wherever that player is by listening to the direction the sound came from. Adrenaline and health vials are often grouped in strings, which do a very good job of betraying positions. In fact, I sometimes leave one of this ‘worthless stuff’ behind, just in case my enemy is behind me.

The sounds of power-ups are the most important ones, as they tell you an important part of the enemy’s arsenal (crucial in a 1on1 match). By noticing the sound of power-up pickups, you can time these as well as your enemy.

Finally, there are the matter of footsteps: many types of ground generate a noticeable sound if you walk over them. Some metallic floors make hollow sounds while wooden floors tend to crack; pools make loud splashing noises and even regular stone ground echoes footsteps. All these sounds are low, so your enemy must be around if you hear them. Crouching or walking stops your own sounds, but you’ll move slower.

Other Predictions.

Predicting where players are can be a full-time job and won’t leave you much room for anything else to predict. However: there are more aspects of the game that can be predicted. The more you know and use in the game, the better your chances to win. Especially duels (1on1 Deathmatch) rely on predicting things.

1. Timing.

Everytime an item is picked up, an internal timer starts running. No matter what happens, the item will respawn after X seconds. If you can manage to remember the time someone picked up a specific power-up, you might be able to get back to that spot at the time it will respawn, to be able to pick up the power-up right when it respawns. With that said, it’s time to take a look at the respawn times…

  • 13.5 seconds. Cicada, hellbender, manta, palladin, scorpion, SPMA, raptor.
  • 27.5 seconds. goliath, health pack, health vial, adrenaline, weapon ammo, shield pack, weapon (if weapons stay is off), weapon locker (time until you can stock up on the same locker again)
  • 55 seconds. keg o’health, super shield, target painter.
  • 82.5 seconds. double damage. ( Lasts 27.5 seconds )
  • 110 seconds. Leviathan, redeemer, ion cannon.

Note that items spawn within a multiple of 27.5 seconds after they’re picked up. Though that makes things easier to memorize times, it doesn’t make timing any easier.

Timing works different for vehicles. Here, the timer starts as soon as soon as the vehicle is destroyed, or when it dissapears (aka ‘despawn’) after long abandoning.

The Shield pack, keg o’ health, super shield, target painter, double damage, redeemer and ion cannon don’t spawn at the beginning of the match: they appear 27.5 seconds in the game. This is to prevent people from rushing toward this good stuff right away, taking an important advantage toward the other player(s). These power-ups are also the most important ones to time.

Timing happens in 4 parts:

1. Remembering the respawn time. Take your time and don’t try to memorize the whole list at once. If you can remember 55 seconds for keg & super shield in full combat, you’re on a good start.

2. Learning to check the timer clock whenever you pick up a power-up. The first couple times, you might want to say to yourself it is now 13:37 or something, until it becomes routine.

3. Fast calculations. Since the clock usually counts down, it’s the easiest to add the remaining seconds to the next minute. Like pick up keg at ?:37 → +5…so it’s gonna respawn at ?: 42 You can work out a routine for each one of the power-ups. If possible, do your math as soon as you pick up the stuff, but it isn’t something you should do while you’re in combat. When practicing this kind of timing against bots, you can pause the game to take your time to calculate.

4. Remember to get back there at the right time. Most levels can be crossed in about 5–10 seconds, but it’s always somewhat trial / error. If you run to the power-up too soon, you’ll draw your opponent’s attention to that place, giving him / her the chance to steal it, or at least start timing it himself / herself. If you arrive too late, that opponent might have already picked up ‘your’ power-up, and you will be left with just a vague assumption of when the thing is gonna come back (depends on how much too late you arrive on the scene).

2. Predicting Your Opponent’s Health.

It’s your job to bring your opponent’s life back to zero. Zero, not −124, not −1…zero. I am making a point out of this because UT2004 allows you to switch weapons in half a second, but I barely notice this in combat! Why do people insist on shooting me with a lightning gun after they got a hit on me so I’m down to 30 health? On other occasions, I had to dodge away from minigun bullets while I was at 100 health. And I once had to fight off a retard who charged me with a shieldgun while I was at 100 health and 100 armor. Everyone seems to have a favorite weapon…Everyone but me.

To predict another one’s health, it’s important to know what amount of damage each weapon deals, so feel free to check out my weapons page. Start out with whatever you like and shoot at anything hostile. Every time one of your shots hits, you can subtract that from his/her life total (listen to the hit sounds). If that estimated life total gets low, you should switch to a spray weapon to finish the job. Oh, and try to block the exits: quite some players tend to run off when their health goes down.

Keep in mind that the starting health can be higher than average. If the map contains lots of health vials and armor, consider your enemy’s starting health at 150. The keg o’health is a power-up, so if you haven’t picked it up, you can be sure that he / she has (at least in duels). Armor is easier to predict: hitting someone with armor sends out a slightly different sound and the person glows yellow for a second. Add in 50 health to the total…or 150, if you don’t have the 100 armor yourself. Assuming the worst possible beginscenario makes it easier to fight carefully. And you must fight cautious in a duel, as that extra health status will make a difference. Just drain that health and don’t let go of him/her. Of course (s)he can run, but escaping usually don’t boost your health up much higher than 100. On the other hand: in the presence of health packs can escape routes regain hit points fast. Add this health by their estimated total if you fail to deny it to them.

Finally: reset your estimation if you completely lose sight of your prey.

3. Predicting Your Opponent’s Style.

Each player has a predefined set of characteristics like accuracy, aggresiveness, agility, tactics and weapon preference which are all fixed at a specific level (not just the bots ;-) ). You should explore these settings in the course of the match to find out their strong and weak points, and then try to use these in your favor. If your opponent has better aim, you should try to avoid open spaces and go for close combat. Find out if the other side is timing something, and await him/her at the item point. Try to deny a specific weapon if your enemy knocks you around with it. And how well does your opponent play if Z-axis is involved? This technique is not so pretty on pubs, where good and not-so-good players are mixed up. In a Free For All DM game, it’s always the new player who gets picked as prime target, because these players don’t defend themselves as good as the others.

Being Unpredictable.

I’ve got some bad news for you: this isn’t your personal website and this material is nothing but exclusive. You might think you’re ‘1337′ because you have improved some knowledge on First Person Shooters, but you’re just one of the millions who read this page every day (well…not millions, but enough to make me feel great about myself). What I’m trying to say is that in the course of the game, someone will try to make some predictions on your moves and playing style…Guaranteed if you’re playing duels. Try demorecording once in a while and watch it afterwards. While overviewing your actions, pretend you’re an enemy wanting to kill that character you’re watching. What are his strong and weak points? How is his agility? What can be improved? Does he play too cautious, or just too reckless? Knowing yourself is just one thing; the next step is to train your weak points. Luckily, UT2004 comes with dozens of mutators that can help you train in every aspect of the game. Try instaGib if your aim sucks. Mix in LowGravity if you want to expand your Z-axis skills. And what about the arena mutator to get better at a specific weapon? These mutators can do great work in improving your bad characteristics, which will make you a better player in the end. Sometimes it’s not even needed to add a mutator: Devote entire matches to timing or trickjumps, while placing your frag count as just an ‘optional’ part of the game.

Page last modified on October 30, 2005, at 07:53 AM