The Great Timer Debate

From the tastyspleen.net forum thread: http://forum.tastyspleen.net/quake/index.php?topic=614.0

“In my wanderings on different forums, I found this debate about timers:

http://www.r1ch.net/forum/index.php?topic=489.0

So I wondered what the people around here think of the whole timer debate. Personally I don’t think they should be used at all, but unless there would be a way to stop them entirely, it gets a little sticky. It would present an advantage in say a 1vs1 against someone who didn’t have them, and it eliminates the skill of using your brain to actually time things. Out of curiousity, does anyone know of any other FPS games that use timers, I don’t play many others and wanted to know. I think the timing of items and such should be entirely the player actively using his skills to time when the items come back. Afterall, if you can start off in control of a map, you can figure out the timing for the items because you gobbled them up in the first place. I could be off my rocker by thinking a game as old as q2 needs built in timers because people still play it that hardcore. I can understand why evilpope put them in the client, but I would have tried to find someway of stopping them all together. Perhaps I am a dreamer.  ;)

-[BTF]EyEsTrAiN

“I think it’s cheating, I don’t and will not use them. As far as other games, I’ve seen people on other forums talk about using them in various games, such as Halo.”

-ĄƦçɧąɳɠҾԼ

“Well, i dont consider them cheats.  i dont really care if my opponent is using them or not.  i have a good idea of when the spawn just be “feeling”.  i have used q2a with the timers, and they basically just confused me anyways.  They bother me on the screen too.  But that is just me. :D

-[BTF]Gator

“I don’t think it’s cheating. I think it’s cheap.  But I consider many things cheap in q2 (bfg – quad etc..).  My views are pretty simple about this.  It’s impossible to stop it – so up to you. I don’t mind playing people using BFG or Quad even though I will never use these items. Its pretty much the same thing regarding the timers.  If i’d take things more seriously – id prolly use them.  As with any form of  ‘cheat’, if you dont like who you are playing with, or how they are playing, you can simply leave.  It is the only choice you have any control over.  i dont come unglued if i think someone is not legit.  i just try to work harder.  Or if it is too frustrating, just leave.  That easy for me.”

-Laurelin

“Good topic!

First off, to make it simple every item in quake2 has respawn times, which means the time it takes from the item is picked up untill the item reappears. The basic respawn times are:

armor – 20 seconds
weapon – 30 seconds
quad – 60 seconds
invu – 300 seconds (5 min)
megahealth – 20 seconds after the last person who picks it up gets 100 health or lower

Timers are tools that help you to keep track of the time from you pick up the items till it respawns. Most common is the wav-timer. It is a .wav file that last as long as the respawn time of the item you want to pick up. It usually counts down using a voice saying “20 – 10 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1” or just beeping. In order to use a wav timer, you need to place the .wav file in the baseq2/sounds folder, and “bind key play timer.wav”. When you pick up the item, just press the key at the same time and you will now have an easy job timing the item. Recently with q2advance there is the addition of on screen timers, that are triggered automatically. Meaning each time you pick up an armor a clock will appear on your screen counting down the seconds till it spawns. The automated timers in q2a only triggers when picking up armor, quad, invu, adrenaline and ammopak, so it doesn’t time megahealth or weapons.

Think timers first were introduced to the European quake2 scene really early on, and over here they have been used almost since the early days in teamplay mods. Even was a client that had automated timers way back (xania). However automated timers are now looked on as a cheat over there, while manual (wav-timers) are allowed. Not sure how the scene in NA was standing when it comes to the use of timers. But lately timers are really common in teamgames.

As for teamgames, the main use of timers are to keep track of the quad on quad maps. And at times keep track of important weapons/armors. It does help quite a bit, but it never makes or breaks a good team. If noone on your team can time the quad down to the second without the use of timers, then the team has bigger problems than just timers. So think noone really mind timers all that much in teamgames, it’s a tool used to keep focus more on the game than the actual item timing. Makes the game more organized and less random, I guess.

However, when it comes to 1v1 it can be really different. Some maps have a few key items that completely controls the map, and on these maps someone using a timer gets a significant advantage over anyone not using it. The down to the second accurate timing of several items at the time just can’t be done as easily in the head. So even against an experienced player you could actually control the map just by completely control the itemspawns. It’s very noticable on maps with red armor, such as dm7, ztn2, ztn3, ptrip and fury. On all these maps the use of timers makes it a lot easier to control the items, locking down the map. You may have a good feeling for the spawntimes, but you can’t outfeel a clock ticking down. You may not notice that when being outskilled by an opponent, but when playing a more equally skilled opponent it becomes very visible at times, and it will make a otherwise close game a really loopsided one. And where you in teams players are given positions and usually focus on only one or max two items at the time, in duels you need to be more strategic in what items to control, and how to run your routes. Being able to keep your head focused on sounds, on attack/defense and thinking about your next move while timing the RA and RL requires a lot of skill. However if you don’t need to even think about the timing aspect of the game, it really makes easier to play. Take under consideration that you can time several items at the time without much more effort, and you can get some weird gameplay. Keep in mind this is if one player use timers and the other does not. Which quite often is the case on NA servers these days, some players use them, while the majority doesn’t use them (how many of you used timers in the tastyspleen tourney? Don’t think there were too many). If both players are levelled with timers and have the same possibilities to time items, it’s of course more fair and makes the game closer to what it should be. However is it really that fun when there is almost no room for human error in the timing of items? At times missing an item spawn can completely turn the game around. These things doesn’t happen all too often when players use timers.

A look on timers in general: timers are not allowed in quakecon for the 1v1 tournies and I think that says what the intention of the game was. Timing items is a highly valued skill in 1v1, it has been so in every quake game from what I’ve read/watched, and is the same in competetive 1v1 games like painkiller and quake3. Using the onscreen clock to time is how it should be done. Not by using scripts or commands that never were intended for that use in the first place. Read how people reacted to the use of timers on various forums, and most people agreed that timing was as skill that was basic/universal. It should be possible to time items just as good in quake2 as in quake3. Keep in mind I’m mostly talking about the 1v1 aspect of timers. When it comes to teams I understand there are several ways of doing this in various games, so if others have info on that please bring it forth.

I personally use timers in teamgames, especially in 4v4, when playing experienced players who use them too. Playing FFA players in teams I just don’t use them, it’s just another advantage on top of every other advantage i got in teamgames already (teambinds and playing q2dm1 24/7). In duels I used to use them at times playing people using timers, but now I don’t use them even then. I try to work on the timing aspect of the game, it’s not easy for me. I often go by the feel, sometimes it works, other times it just doesn’t. But that’s a part of the game I need to improve on, and as I see improving as the most fun part of quake2 it just makes me even more motivated to play this game :D

Hope I made some sense, and I agree with Laurelin, I don’t see it as a cheat but it’s cheap. I wont ban or refuse playing anyone using timers, but I wont give them much credit for their timing skills. That’s for sure ;)

-daelmun

Many more thoughtful responses found on the forum links above.

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