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In video games, strafing is the technique of moving the player's character from side to side, rather than forward or backward. In the context of first-person shooters, it refers to the movement alone, even when no weapon is being fired. Sidestepping is an integral part of any first-person or third-person shooter as it allows the player to dodge incoming fire while keeping their view aimed at their target. In terms of classical mechanics, "Strafing" refers to rectilinear translational motion along the character's y-axis, while "Circle strafing" refers to Orbital motion around a fixed point.
Particularly in first-person shooters (FPSs), circle strafing is the technique of moving around an opponent in a circle while facing them. Circle strafing allows a player to fire continuously at an opponent while dodging counterattacks. By rapidly circling the opponent, the player evades the opponent's sights. Circle strafing is most useful in close-quarters combat, where the apparent motion of the attacking player is the greatest, and thus the chance of disorienting the opponent by making him lose track of the attacker is higher. The effectiveness of the circle strafing maneuver is mitigated when the opponent's weapon fires projectiles that travel instantaneously (also referred to as a hitscan weapon), or fires a large number in a machine gun-like fashion, although this effect can also be countered by employing firing techniques such as deflection, more commonly known as 'target-leading'.
Circle strafing is especially effective when employed as a form of lag-jumping where the sync speed between the two players affects the defending players' ability to defend themselves. When latency is high, this can lead to the oft-seen phenomenon of two players circling each other, both missing by a considerable margin, until one player unexpectedly collides with an obstacle and is slowed sufficiently for the other to target him.
Many shooters will allow players to zoom down the sights of a gun or use a scope, usually exchanging movement speed, field of vision, and the speed of their traverse for greater accuracy. This can make a player considerably more vulnerable to circle-strafing, as objects will pass through their field of vision more quickly, they are less capable of keeping up with the target, and their lowered speed makes dodging more difficult.
Strafing in melee combat
The concept of circle-strafing has also extended to certain 3-D action and action/adventure video games in general, particularly ones that involve melee combat. Circle-strafing in melee combat can be made possible with a lock-on system that snaps the camera's (and the player-character's) focus on one particular enemy, guaranteeing that most of the player character's attacks will land a direct hit on the target. Specifically, it enables the player character to move sideways around the enemy to dodge his/her/its attacks while staying focused on the enemy. This is seen to a crucial strategy against bosses and otherwise powerful enemies, and is notably employed in various 3-D The Legend of Zelda titles, starting with Ocarina of Time.
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Particularly in older first-person shooters (FPSs), straferunning (known as speed-strafing among players of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, and as trichording among players of the Descent series) is a technique that allows a player to run or fly faster through levels by moving forwards and sideways at the same time. The game combines these actions and the player achieves roughly 1.4 (square root of 2) times greater speed compared to moving in a single direction. The method used by the game can be demonstrated using vector addition. Pathways Into Darkness was one of the first games to allow straferunning.
The games in which straferunning can be employed treat forward motion independently of sideways (strafing) motion. If, for each update of the player's location, the game moves the player forward one unit and then moves the player to the side by one unit, the overall distance moved is . Thus, in games with such behavior, moving sideways while simultaneously moving forward will give an overall higher speed than just moving forward, although the player will move in a direction diagonal to the direction being faced. This feature is even more enhanced if moving along three axes (e.g. forward + left + up), providing (roughly 1.73) times greater speed, in games such as Descent.
This technique is not possible in all games; most and especially modern games would clamp the player's speed and acceleration to a uniform maximum when moving in any direction.
Strafe-jumping was a result of a bug in the code base of the 1996 first-person shooter video game Quake, but it was later decided to be kept intact, as it had become a standard technique used by players. The bug itself relies on mathematics: when pressing a direction key, the game adds a unit vector in that direction to the player's movement speed. The final sum, however, is never normalized - this means that by directing the avatar away from the current kinetic vector but within 90 degrees of it, the player can exceed its own top speed.
Strafe-jumping requires a specific combination of mouse and keyboard input. The exact technique involved depends on the game itself. In several games, there are entire maps devoted to this, much like obstacle courses.
The controls are typically as follows:
- The player presses the forward key, preparing to make the first jump.
- The player jumps, and pressing either the move left or the move right key (ergo the strafe in the term, strafe-jumping). The strafe and jump keys should be pressed at the same time, and the jump key immediately released.
- To gain maximum acceleration and speed, the player must now move the mouse gradually to the correct degree (i.e., turn) in the direction of the strafe, while still holding down the two aforementioned keys.
- For successive strafe-jumps, the player immediately jumps again on landing, swapping the direction of strafe as well as mouse turn direction if necessary to avoid obstacles.
Done correctly, this will increase the player's velocity with successive jumps. Mastering this technique requires lots of practice. Sequential strafe-jumping is mainly a matter of muscle memory, as the maximum angle of mouse motion increases slightly with consecutive jumps. Another way to increase jump speed in Quake III is a circle jump where the player gets over 500 units/sec (standard runspeed is 320 units/sec).
In some games based on the Quake 3 engine, such as Call of Duty and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, fractional increases in jump height can be achieved by playing the game at higher frame rates.
The circle jump start is the action performed by the player at the start of strafe jumping, giving a sudden burst of speed, as opposed to gaining speed with regular strafe jumping. This technique is found to have worked best in Quake engine based games.
The movements are as follows:
- The player stands about 90 degrees from the direction he intends to move in.
- The player then holds forward, the left or right strafe key (depending on which direction he intends to take), and turn to face 45 degrees the opposite way. (The player will have turned 135 degrees from his original position)
- The player now continues into strafe jumping.
Bunny hopping is a term used for different kinds of movement in games. There are two major usages of the term: In any first person shooter with jumping a player who jumps up and down to avoid being shot is sometimes called a bunny hopper. This is a very basic technique that only works against inexperienced opponents.
More advanced techniques known as bunny hopping use game physics to move faster than the base movement speed, combined with air-control (the ability to change movement direction significantly without losing speed while in the air). Techniques that gain speed without the ability to significantly change direction are often called Strafe-jumping. The physics that allow bunny hopping usually have the same calculations as those used in games that utilise Strafe Jumping with a difference that those games generally have an air speed limit of 30 units per second (which equates to approximately 15/16th of a metre or 30 inches in games utilising the Source game engine) and a high acceleration multiplication factor against the predefined maximum airspeed, ranging from 10 to very high numbers, which allow the player to surf on highly slanted slopes.
Bunny hopping is implemented in QuakeWorld, DeFRaG, Challenge ProMode Arena, OSP (only with cpm physics) mods for Quake III Arena, Half-Life (version 22.214.171.124, released in 2001, introduced a speed cap limiting the usefulness of bunny hopping) and many of its mods and sibling games including Team Fortress Classic, Fortress Forever, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, Natural Selection, Warsow, Enemy Territory Fortress (a mod for Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory), Painkiller, Kingpin: Life of Crime, Dystopia, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Xonotic.
Bunnyhopping in some games does not refer to the ability to gain horizontal speed while in a jump, such as Elder Scrolls Online, but rather gain speed through the means of jumping after landing on a sloped surface.
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