I should preface this by saying that it really doesn’t matter, and that I have too much time on my hands at work right now, and that I’m aware it’s dumb to compare accuracy in a sci-fi rpg game to real life, so take everything with a pinch of salt:
So, I really like the way the original Deus Ex handled bullet accuracy. Yet everyone seemed to hate it.
It’s been a long time since I played, and I have (proudly) almost no experience with real weapons, but I can’t help but feel people are being a little unfair.
Basically, your bullet accuracy in Deus Ex is handled with random bullet spread within a crosshair zone. If you stand still then that zone is pretty small. If you move then that zone gets much wider.
If you stop moving then that zone will slowly contract.
This is strongly affected by your skill in that weapon type, so highly skilled people will get the smallest hit zone most quickly.
Level also affects things like bullet damage, etc… but it seems to be the bullet spread that annoys most people. I’m not really sure why, as it seems the most realistic thing, bullet damage being affected by level seems less realistic to me.
But I guess the issue is that most FPS have trained us that our bullets should go exactly where we point the little crosshair. Which is pretty essential in action games that are about fast accurate combat.
Deus Ex isn’t really that though. For one thing it’s an RPG, and we’ve always accepted that RPGs use RNG to simulate the multitude of different things that might happen in combat. Having a sword but only 10% chance to hit doesn’t mean that the guy is unable to hit the man standing infront of him, but that he only has a small chance of landing an actually effective blow.
But even leaving aside the RPG elements, Deus Ex isn’t really a run and gun action FPS, it’s much more of a tactical/stealth type game where you’re planning your encounters to try and take out bad guys as effectively as possible.
Anyway, ignoring all of that, I can’t help but feel that FPS games have given people an unrealistic idea of how accurate shooting in combat situation would be.
I haven’t shot in combat situations, so I imagine someone from the states will pop up and tell me I’m wrong, but I get the sense that it’s actually rather difficult to hit someone who is shooting back.
Shooting on a range is one thing, shooting in combat is something else altogether.
“ It appears that a soldier’s ability to hit a given target is typically reduced by a factor of ten or so when he is moved from a static rifle range to a field firing area where he has to select cover, move, shoot and so on. It is reduced by a further factor of ten or so if there is an enemy firing back at him. It is reduced by another factor of ten if the enemy has machine guns, or if he has tanks; and by a hundred if he has both.”
Storr argues that most infantry combat is actually won by inflicting psychological shock on the enemy that causes them to withdraw or surrender. While killing or wounding the enemy is an important part of that, so is suppression of the enemy, achieving surprise and attacking from the flanks or rear.
Suppression can be achieved by putting rounds near the enemy, within 1m or so. Pinning them down and allowing the attacker to move forward to finish the job with bayonets and grenades. In my opinion we soldiers do not do enough specific training in the art of suppressing the enemy in order to achieve our required battlefield effect.
With intensive training it is possible to get good levels of accuracy in combat; that’s basically what elite special forces units do, but the training burden is huge - thosands of hours and thousands of bullets per man, and the skill fades quickly unless kept fresh.
The obvious implication for the current debate in the US over firearms is that if you want to be able to intervene in an “active shooter” scenario you need to have SAS-hostage rescue team level training in close quarter shooting. The SAS hostage rescue team invest roughly 1000 hours and 10,0000 per man getting blokes up to the standard (starting with fully trained SAS soldiers remember).
There’s also an interesting report on police firing accuracy, which would seem the closest analogy to JC Denton. (TLDR: despite training, police tend to have a person hit rate around 30% and a bullet hit rate around 20%)
A few quotes:
History suggests that police shoot with far less accuracy than many citizens, public officials, and policymakers believe.
As many researchers have noted, however, police officers seldom shoot accurately in combat situations. And the ability of police to hit opponents in gunfights appears to have improved little over the past 100 years despite improvements in weapons and substantial increases in firearms training. This highlights the lack of handgun training validation and raises the possibility that the limits to how accurately police can shoot under combat situations may have been reached.
Research in neurophysiology and biomechanics indicates that these limits may be unexpectedly low–especially when officers suddenly confront armed opponents at close quarters. Accurate handgun shooting places substantial demands on human nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems because it requires so much steadiness and hand-eye coordination. These demands dramatically increase in complex, rapidly changing combat situations.
During the past 100 years, the amount of handgun training received by police offi- cers has increased dramatically, as has the quality of the weapons they carry. However, on average, there appears to have been very limited improvement in the ability of officers to hit their targets during combat situations.
As the attention of researchers and policy makers properly begins to focus on this issue, it is important not to overlook a seemingly counterintuitive possibility-that the lack of substantial improvement in combat shooting performance may not be due to inadequate training. Research in neurophysiology and biomechanics indicates that biology may set unexpectedly low practical limits on handgun shooting accuracy in certain situations.
Incident hit rate-the percentage of police shootings in which at least one police bullet hit at least one opponent-is the broadest and most commonly reported measure of field shooting accuracy. The national average during the 1970s was about 50 percent. During the past twenty years Dallas, Los Angeles, and Portland,reported the highest incident hit rates-between 60 and 65 percent. Chicago officers had the lowest at 27 percent.
Person hit rates measure the percentage of police opponents who are hit by at least one police bullet during a shooting. Geller and Scott report that the percentage of civilians hit by police bullets ranged from 22 to 42 percent during the 1970s and 1980s.
In spite of its limitations, bullet hit rate provides the best available measure of combat handgun shooting accuracy. Figure 2 compares bullet hit rates for city police departments for which data were available for at least three consecutive years. Contemporary rates range from 15 to 30 percent. Bullet hit rates calculated from aggregate data for 155 Michigan cities surveyed from 1976 to 1981 averaged 32 percent. Historical data, as will be discussed later, are surprisingly similar. More recent data generally also are consistent with this range.
Just out of interest:
Although data comparing police hit rates with those of their assailants is scarce, the New York Police Department reports that assailants’ bullet hit rates during the mid-1980s were roughly eight per- cent. In 1990, this rate was six percent.
We can learn to accomplish predictable ballistic motions like basketball free throws or shooting at targets on ‘combat’ ranges by training ourselves to forgo the feedback process. Essentially what hap- pens is that we store whole series of instructions in neural buffers-much as notes might be programmed into a player piano or telephone numbers into the speed dial functions of a telephone. When the decision is made to initiate the predictable dynamic motion, instructions are given sequentially. So long as one “stays in the groove” and does not let other stimuli interfere with the instructional sequence, the motion is performed smoothly. Accuracy and speed can be enhanced by repetition, but the limits of both ultimately are set by neuro- physiological and biomechanical factors.
Less predictable ballistic motions such as accurately shooting a handgun in combat situations in which body position and grip are often suboptimal, physical and emotional stress degrade steadiness, and fear argues for a quick shot are much more problematic than predictable ballistic motions. The unpredictability of these situations means that it is not possible to obtain accuracy by initiating a long series of instructions stored in a neural buffer-the strategy applied for predictable ballistic motions. Combat handgun shooting often demands rapid complex biomechanical movement as an officer turns to face a potential target-frequently while moving to minimize the target he or she presents. It also requires precise timing of trigger press during the brief moment that the handgun is properly align% and the potential bullet impact area is free of bystanders. Even if the handgun momentarily appears to be properly aligned, gun barrel movement can cause accuracy to rapidly diminish. Steadiness therefore is likely to be the aspect of combat handgunning most vulnerable to biological limitation-and perhaps least amenable to improvement via training.
So maybe training increasing accuracy isn’t as cut and dried as it is in Deus Ex.
There’s a whole bunch of diagrams and charts about distance and muzzle wobble affecting hit zones, but that seems largely mathematical.
Anyway, as i said, it’s probably dumb to even try to map real world data onto an RPG that’s trying to allow your character to level up. A lot of RPGs tend to start with your character being really weak and underpowered, whatever their in-story status is supposed to be, because they need to give you room to specialize and level up.
As far as I recall, JC is a rookie. He might have training on the range, but he doesn’t have combat experience. He starts with weapon skills as ‘trained’ in Handguns, and basically ‘untrained’ in everything else, though of course you can modify some of that.
As such, his weapon skills seem pretty realistic to me. His hit rate with a pistol is probably about what you’d expect, especially provided he stops and shoots, or takes opponents by surprise giving him time to line up his shots. The thing about him being unable to hit a barn door seems hugely exaggerated to me.
I always kinda liked the Deus Ex weapon skill/accuracy system, because it forced you to plan encounters at first, and your first shots would be pretty accurate, but then as everything went to hell you’d lose accuracy under fire and have to balance stopping-to-shoot with the risk of incoming fire.
But then as you specialized in a particular class of weapons you’d become more and more accurate and deadly and weapons would become usable at longer ranges as a result.
In later missions, I might be able to run and gun with a Master pistol level, but I’d have to stop and shoot when using a rifle or heavy weapon as my skill in that would be lower. Another player might have to opposite stats and a similar trade off to choose between.
Apologies for the long overblown post, but I had nothing else to do at the time and the report I found ended up being kinda interesting to read