Gameranx Has a Suprisingly Fascinating Explanation of How Bullets Work in Video Games

A lot more goes into the way bullets behave in first person shooters than you ever thought.

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Complex Original

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There's little doubt that first-person shooters rule the world of video games, but have you ever thought much about how bullets really work in the ones you play?

Is there actually a virtual projectile moving virtually through the virtual world you're shooting people in? Is the environment of that virtual world—wind, rain, or distance, for example—having a real effect on whether or not that virtual projectile lands squarely in the head of the virtual enemy you're trying to kill? Or is there something else going on to simulate those shootouts?

Gameranx has a surprisingly in-depth and fascinating explanation in their new video, "How Do Bullets Work in Video Games," and the answer to both of those questions is yes, sort of. 

The video breaks down the difference between the hitscan method, essentially a laser-guided, on-off switch that ranks a shot as either a hit or not (with no possibility of dodging), which is used in older games (Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64, for instance), and newer games where realism isn't as important, versus truly hardcore, realistic shooters that make use of an actual virtual projectile. In those more advanced types of games, way more systems are in play, from the acceleration of the bullet, to the wind speed to the degradation of an overused weapon. 

Then you've got games like Splatoon, which turns the whole genre on its head. Watch the video and you'll understand why that game wouldn't have even been possible a few years ago, and possibly shed some light on why you prefer older or newer shooters.

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