Dev Blog: The One Where We Nerfed ENAS
A word from Lead Combat Designer, Tony Morton
Most of what is covered in the blog below was also visually explained on a recent Community Outbreak
What’s up everyone! We wanted to take a few moments to talk about an important topic amongst the players, streamers, and pros alike: ENAS. For those who may not know, ENAS (also known as the Eastern North American Strafe) is a method of movement that involves moving your mouse back and forth rapidly while running forward and strafing to make yourself extremely difficult to be shot by other players. We can give credit to the naming to CDNThe3rd and the technique has become so popular you can even find it in the Urban Dictionary. All that aside, it had a good run (pun intended), but it’s time for it to go. We understand it is a sensitive subject and we wanted to write this blog so we can give some insight and context on why we’ve decided to make the changes we are in order to nerf the mechanic.
As mentioned above, the root of the issue is within the fact that other players become stupid hard to hit when they ENAS. When working through the solve for this issue, we wanted to make sure we had minimal impact on general movement in the game and we only wanted to adjust the feel of the game when someone attempts to ENAS. We discussed a few different options, so let’s go over some of the possible solutions to help you understand how we landed on our final decision.
First up is animation-driven movement: this type of movement can be found in other games and is traditionally used in more immersive types of games like RPGs and not so much in games that have a faster pace. Animation-driven movement means that when you do something like change direction, your character has to animate from one direction to another so while the transition can look very good, the game feels sluggish and unresponsive if you’re trying to maintain a high level of speed and momentum.
Another solution we looked at was allowing strafe input to affect your heading. So, rather than running forward while looking forward when strafing, your character would have a change in heading when running and strafing, causing them to look off to 45 degrees in either direction depending on which way they’re strafing. This can be problematic because it is a massive shift in movement and it impacts ALL movement in game, even when you aren’t trying to manipulate the system to make yourself harder to hit. Since it would have impacted H1Z1 on a global movement scale, we opted out of it.
Where We Landed:
We finally went with a movement modifier on rapid mouse movement. When a player is navigating the world naturally, movement is unhindered and the pace and momentum are carried with direction change. This changes, however, when the game detects frantic mouse movement and it applies a modifier to the character's maximum run speed. The reduction of the speed results in the player now being much easier to hit and should be a hefty deterrent from a player trying to ENAS.
On the design side we have many tuning values and variables that we can adjust to affect when the movement modifier comes into effect and how strong the penalty is. We have control over how quickly the penalty wears off and how much mouse movement is required for it to be applied again. We will be working with the community on the H1Z1 Test Server to tune and make sure we get this feeling as good as we can.
There are also some other fixes that are going in that not only help make ENAS less efficient but improve the game overall when it comes to a combat standpoint. We have significantly improved the player heading update rate which means that when a player turns, you’ll see them turn on your screen at a much more accurate rate. This not only helps a player’s direction and animations become more readable and predictable but it solves a lot of issues based around incorrect player heading. One of the best examples we can think of is when you get killed by a shotgun and the other player didn’t even look like he was facing you, even though he was on his client.
The other fix is to movement speed in general: we’ve decided to slightly lower it. Without going into complex details, the movement speed was increased for the Combat Update in August of 2017 to fix a different movement issue. However, the proper fix is now in place but the movement change was never reverted. One of the biggest positives of slightly slower movement is the reduction of warping and teleporting you see in a match. From time to time you may see a player running across the screen in front of you and they may warp or teleport slightly; this new change fixes that.
So, in a nutshell we hope you have all found this to be insightful and that it provides the context required to understand why we did what we did. All of these changes will be pushed to Test as soon as next week (January 29th) and we’ll be working with you all to get feedback and make additional tuning to ensure this feature is solid before we push this bad boy to Live.