Game Development Reference
Sometimes designers even use aim assist as a balancing factor. For
example, Halo is sniper rifle is powerful and accurate. As intended, it's
effective at long range. But its power and accuracy also make it deadly in
close quarters, which overlaps the roles of other weapons. One of the ways
Halo 's designers weakened the sniper rifle at short range was by giving it
zero aim assist when unzoomed. On the surface, it's still a perfectly accu-
rate gun. But there's a hidden challenge to using it in this unintended way
because of the total lack of assistance. This affects its success rate in these
situations, and makes players prefer to use it as intended—all without
anyone ever noticing.
Aim assist is just one type of assistance among many. Jump assist
helps players aim their characters toward safe landings. Attack assistance
helps players cleanly land blows. Driving assistance helps players avoid
spinning out. Movement assistance helps players grab ledges and avoid
obstacles. In each case, designers have developed a suite of methods for
assisting players without misjudging their intent or doing anything that
When you push a button or move a joystick, the game needs a few mil-
liseconds to process the input and create a visible response. This delay is
called control latency .
CONTROL LATENCY is the time delay between when a game receives
input and when it displays perceptible feedback resulting from that
Control latency is unavoidable because it is built into the hardware.
Most modern computer systems use a multistage rendering pipeline. At
any given time, the system has several frames in different stages of pro-
cessing. The progression is like this:
• Frame 0 (Input received) Input—a button press, perhaps—is received
at some point during this frame. It can't be used immediately, though,
since the game has already started processing the frame. Instead, it is
stored until the start of the next frame.
• Frame 1 (Game logic) The CPU reads the input that was stored during
the last frame and updates the game world based on it.
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