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Noob Orientation
Written by BASH Staff   
Thursday, 19 August 2004

ribbonb.jpgNOOB ORIENTATION

Hello and welcome!

You clicked on the BASHandSlash.com NOOB button and unless that was an accident, that means you are interested in learning a bit more about online FPS gaming.

FPS Gaming

This site is dedicated to FPS games, like Medal of Honor (Electronic Arts), Battlefield and Call of Duty.

Call of Duty (or CoD as we call it generically) is a series that contains some of the best multiplayer FPS's ever made.

Call of Duty is produced by Activision and developed by two companies: Infinity Ward (IW) and Treyarch. PC games CoD, CoD:UO, CoD2 and CoD4 were created by IW and CoD:WW by Treyarch.

The multiplayer for "modern-day" MoH and Battlefield Bad Company 2 is engineered by the Swedish developer DICE.

The most exhilarating way to play any FPS is online. While the console versions of FPS games can be fun, the lack of an accurate aiming device makes online play a "pray-and-spray" affair, in which battles are won and lost depending on who can better cover large swathes of open space with machine gun fire. On the contrary, the PC version of these games tend to produce more skillful play due to the pin-point-accuracy of the main interface tool: the mouse.

 

Becoming consistently good at PC-based FPS gaming requires practice. The skill gap between a "good" and "novice" player can be dramatic. For this reason, novices are known as "noobs". If you are reading this, it is likely you are in this latter category and hopefully we can do something about getting you to a higher skill level.

 

READYING YOUR PC FOR COMBAT

The biggest hurdle you will face when playing online is that many of your more "hardcore" opponents will have fine-tuned their PC hardware for optimal performance.

You should as well. As a first check, let us see if your PC can even run any of the CoD games competently. A successful online career will require that your computer have capabilities above those recommended by the developers.

Can you run the game?

Does your machine meet the recommended specs? Does it even meet minimum specs? A quick way to find out is by using this excellent resource. The site is called "Can You RUN It?"

You will need to allow the site to download an ActiveX or Java plug in. I find that Internet Explorer is the browser to use on this site as Firefox gets a bit confused.

Once you have determined that you can indeed run it, we'll move on. 

 

Installing the game

Loading your game on a nice, clean install of Windows is always best as your system will run as fast as it will ever get. Running your games on a spy ware-choked system that has been optimized in years could lead to frustration.

Fresh install

If you choose to re-install Windows, remember that there is a sequence you should follow when re-installing your drivers. A typical process for installing Windows follows:

1. Boot from DVD
2. Quick Format drive
3. Install Windows DVD
4. Install Windows patches
5. Install your Motherboard drivers, your latest video drivers, and finally your sound drivers - in that order.
6. Install additional miscellaneous drivers. Make sure you check online for any updated drivers for your system.

Installing games on an old install of Windows

Cleaning up your PC is a good first start to efficiently running your new game. The following are procedures that can be followed to ensure that your game runs as good as possible on a PC with an old installation of Windows.

1. Download and run CCleaner. This will cleanup all the extraneous files you may have lying around on your computer.

2. Run your favorite Anti-Virus/Malware software and make sure you do not have any trojans or spyware on your machine that might slow it down.

3. De-fragment your hard-drive. This increases the probability that your new software will be installed in one contiguous chunk on your hard-drive and that could mean your game will run faster.

4. Shut-down any extraneous processes running in Windows. Learn what processes are running by clicking (in XP) Start-Run and type 'msconfig' (no quotes), then click the services tab and click the box that says "hide all Microsoft services". Which processes to shut down is outside the scope of this article, but poke around and see if there are any installed pieces of software that are still loading at start up that you are not using anymore.

Load the game software

1. Install your game software.

2. Install any outstanding patches. You can find these patches in our game sections, for example CoD2 , CoD4 ...etc. The patches are summarized on the game FAQ splash page.

In some cases you will need to update DirectX support. This can be done by downloading the following file from Windows:  DirextX End-User Runtime

3. Update the anti-cheat software that came with the game. For CoD, that means Evenbalance's PunkBuster. The software should do this automatically, but chances are it will not if you have a firewall, so do this by hand.

Download the pbsetup.exe program from Evenbalance's site and run it manually.

Get online 

For CoD, click on the multi-player icon.

CALL OF DUTY ONLINE GAMING

Online gaming is what it is all about and Call of Duty online gaming is hands down is the greatest FPS multiplayer experience you can get into. The series features superb graphics, excellent gameplay and a large community of players you can test your mettle against.

1. Create a profile.

In CoD2 and CoD4 the profile is stored on your hard-drive and you can choose any name you would like, they are not unique. In CoD:WW your profile name is unique and stored with Treyarch and the names are unique. Many players have found that their CoD4 name was taken when they created their CoD:WW profile.

2. Set your controls and your options. When you exit from the game the settings you have chosen will be stored in your own personal configuration file.

For example, in CoD:WW, these configuration files are called config_mp.cfg (multiplayer) and config.cfg (single-player) are found in:

For you XP users:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Activision\CoDWaWbeta\players\profiles\playername

For you Vista users:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Activision\CoDWaWbeta\players\profiles\playername
3. Backup your config_mp.cfg and your config.cfg files.
In CoD4 and CoD:WW you can "rank-up", that is gain experience points (XP's) so that you can attain ever higher ranks. For this reason, you should also backup your

mpdata

file as well, just in the case you need to reboot your machine - and you do not want to re-start the ranking process from scratch.
4. Selecting your controls is a personal choice. However, you might want to give your keyboard layout some thought, because the faster you can get to your most used controls, the better you will do in online play.
For example, the use of the keyboard keys
W (forward), A (Left), S (Back), D (Right)
is a time-honored default selection on just about every FPS out there.
This set-up restricts the keys your left hand can reach on a conventional keyboard.
Given the large number of useful keys that you can use in CoD games, we highly suggest that you shift your hand over one (or two) keys to the right on the keyboard to allow your fingers to access more keys.
For example: instead of W-A-S-D, choose
E (forward), S (Left), D (Back), F (Right)
This will allow your left hand to reach at least five more free keys. For the touch-typists out there, these five extra keys (5-T-G-B-N) can be accessed without looking.
5. If you are serious about online play, you will get yourself a gaming mouse. This will allow your right hand to access many more functions without having to search for them on the keyboard. For example the G5 from Logitech gives me two thumb switches, and up and down scroll wheel function, a left/right and a middle button, and two additional buttons next to the scroll for a whopping: 9 functions.
For example, I have bound my "attack" (fire) to my left mouse button. Aim-down-sight (ADS toggle) to my right mouse button. The middle button lets go a frag grenade. My thumb switches are reload and swap guns. My scroll wheel is used call in an airstrike.
The mouse should have good resolution (~2000 dpi would be an excellent choice).
Your mouse sensitivity setting should be set at a comfortable level; however, know this, the best players have set their mouse to LOW sensitivity levels.
I have seen anywhere between 0.8 and 2. I personally use 1.8 with a 2000 dpi mouse.
Low sensitivity allows you to aim very precisely. The downside is that you cannot spin around as quick and your "throw" is quite long. It is not uncommon for really good players to move their mouse back and forth (mouse throw) 10-15 inches during a game.
Get comfortable with ONE sensitivity level. Do not change it as you are trying to develop muscle-memory.
Check out this forum post for more information: Mouse sensitivity.

 

General concepts about online play

The Game Server

Unlike console gaming (Xbox Live for example), PC gaming online depends on another gamer buying or leasing a server for you to play on. These "server admins" pay money to provide "public" servers for their own enjoyment and that of their friends. Generally, you can play free on most of these "public" servers, but if you become a "regular" player you should offer the admin some money as a token of appreciation. Bandwidth is not cheap and these servers can cost upwards of $40/month.

When you "connect" to a server, the server downloads the "gamestate" to your PC. The gamestate contains the positions of all players/objects in the virtual world you are playing in. Players are continuously uploading their positions and actions to the server which in turn relays that information to everyone else.

The server arbitrates over who did what to whom.

Ping

Due to the fact the no two players are exactly the same distance from the server, ping (the round trip time between you and the server) plays a large part in successful play.

In CoD2 low ping meant that you saw the enemy first and that was advantageous. In CoD4 and CoD:WW, things are a bit more complex with the introduction of anti-lag.

There is little you can do sometimes to reduce ping (it's limited by geography after all). However, sometimes, a slow computer can create artificially high ping.

Read how to improve your ping.

Lag

If a player has a very large ping, he/she may seem to "lag" the play. A shot that seems perfectly aimed on your screen may in fact be a miss if the player is lagging. Remember, the determination of whether the player was hit or not is done by the server - not by your computer.

For this reason, you might need to "lead" a player with your fire to be able to hit him. The idiosyncracies of lag.

In North America, lag is a way of life for gamers due to the large distances between players. In Europe, a combination the combination of high bandwidth and smaller inter-player distances means that lag is not as great a problem.


Keys to online success

1. Practice

Though it is tempting to use high-rate-of-fire weapons, CoD-pwnage is usually achieved by becoming proficient with more "skilled weapons". The M1 in CoD2, the M1A1 in CoD:WW and the AK47 in CoD4 are examples. Becoming proficient at these "harder-to-control" weapons can take months.
 
2. Movement is life

When you first start out in online play, you will be tempted to "camp". Camping is the art of hiding out in one spot on the map and simply fragging (shooting) anyone that comes along. Camping is considered passive-agressive behavior in FPS games and immediately singles you out as a noob.

In stock servers, learn to run'n'gun (aggressively attack).

Spectate other players, watch demos, do whatever you can to adopt this more pro-active tactic.
 
Though this seems counter-intuitive, your best protection on the virtual battlefield is to move. This is due to a few reasons:
A. Running makes you a more difficult target.

B. Rapidly changing your direction (in two-dimensional space) and jumping (moving in the third dimension) makes you an even harder target to hit.

C. Due to the fact that your position always has some uncertainty (the server sometimes needs to extrapolate your position based on your last location and your last known speed), moving - especially erratic motion - can mask your true position from the enemies' point of view.

If you sit still for prolonged periods of time, there is no uncertainty.

3. FPS Sweet spots

Players with powerful computers generally have an edge over adversaries with lesser systems.  Generally, higher FPS screen refresh rates provide you with better bullet-registration (that is, you hit what you are aiming at).

An idiosyncrasy in CoD's gaming engine (based on Quake) results in "Sweet-spot" frame rates. Hitting these sweet-spots can result in the ability to jump higher (which provides tremendous tactical advantages).

Most CoD players strive to achieve the following "sweet-spot" values:

Frame rate => 125 frames/second (set by the variable com_maxfps)
Upload rate =  100 (set by cl_maxpackets)

4. Graphics and Performance

If your hardware (video card/CPU) does not allow you to achieve the sweet spot values, dumbing down the graphics is the best option to explore, before shelling out more money on a better video card.

Hardcore competitive CoD gamers tend to turn their graphics down substantially compared to the average player.

If your aim is to beat your opponent and not to have the best eye-candy experience, then this should be a natural choice.

Generally, the best results here are to turn down your resolution one level at a time. If you are currently playing on 1024x768, try 800x640...etc.

Turn off anti-aliasing or specular features. Read more on maximizing your frame rate.

5. Tactics

a) "Never walk. Only run or crouch". Sage words from one of BASHandSlash.com's readers: _Sanity. Truer words were never spoken. In crouch you do not make noise. When you run, you make noise, but you are difficult to hit. Walking creates noise and you are nearly a sitting duck.

b) Sound is extremely important in any FPS games. Many times you can hear your opponent before you can see him. Turn up the sound and listen.

If you are pinned down by someone firing at you and you cannot see them, try to triangulate the sound by rotating 90 degrees from your current position. You should be able to narrow down where they are by comparing the two positions.

c) Flank. Flank. Flank.

Reduce the probability of the enemy seeing you. Flank them and hit them before they can put their sight on you.

d) Reduce your exposure to enemy fire

Sounds obvious, but this one will require you to constantly be aware of your surrondings while playing. For example, firing when you are at a cross-roads exposes you to enfilading fire from two separate directions. Do not expose yourself to large numbers of possible enemy locations.

e) Hit and Run

Once you open fire, every enemy within ear shot knows where you are and will return fire. Prevent yourself from getting shot immediately after you have fired by taking immediate cover.

 

Tweaking your player configuration

Chances are that if you are an intermediate player and a moderately advanced PC user, you will want to tweak your game's player configuration file. If so...read our Tweaking Bible. The first volume (yes...I said volume), is found here: CoD MP Tweak Bible Introduction

As in Quake, your player configuration, a text file containing your personal options and control settings, can be edited (tweaked).

On BASHandSlash.com we are somewhat well-known for high framerate configuration files (fps configs).

That is, we tweak the stock player configuration files to exact the best performance from your computer. Most of the better players do this and it is competely acceptable behavior.

Tweaks typically consist of changes to client-side variables (variables that a player can change). Tweaking is legal as long as you:

1. Do not exceed the variable's range as set by the game and

2. The server admin allows you to change the variable in question.

It is possible to get temporarily kicked from a server if you break rule #2. This is not too big an issue, simply change the variable back to stock and rejoin the server.

Breaking rule #1 is impossible by tweaking configuration files. The only way to be able to exceed the specified range is by modifying the source code (hacking). This site is not about hacking. We do not condone nor support hacking in any way.

On this site, we list modifications of the mp_config for various games include the following:

For CoD4

Download the configuration and save it as a *.cfg file. For example, you can download one of our more popular CoD4 configs: yitch3.cfg.

To run it if you like to execute it on the fly. Put it in your main folder

C:\Program Files\Activision\Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare\main

a) You can then run it from the console:

/exec yitch3.cfg
/vid_restart or /r_applypicmip 

b) However, the best way to run this file is to insert it into your config_mp.cfg file.

1. BACKUP your current config_mp.cfg file first!

2. Copy paste yitch3.cfg into config_mp.cfg between your binds and the con_hidechannel  command line.

Note that yitch3 over-rides most F-key binds and KeyPad binds. Check that your binds have not been over-ridden. 

3.  Write-protect the config_mp.cfg file.

In CoD:WW:

You can choose to install one of our more popular CoD:WW configs as follows:

You can download the configuration, here. yitchww1.cfg

yitchww1.cfg does not have any "binds" or keyboard associations with it - with the exception of a few relating to fov, detail and polygon quality.

To use it you should download it and with WordPad:

- insert your binds in-lieu of mine

- remove my player name and insert yours.Or else there will quite a few Jock Yitch's out there in the world. Just what we don't need right now.

- you can also delete the custom classes I have created and insert yours (from your previous config_mp.cfg).

- Now, read this article to find out where Treyarch hid our config files: Where is my config?  The file directory will be different depending on whether you use Vista or XP. Once you find your player profile, copy it for safe keeping. I repeat. Copy it for safe keeping.

- Rename the file config_mp.cfg and put it into the player profile directory. I would recommend that you fire up CoD:WW select the config, select your own graphics options through the game menu (screen size, etc.) exit the program. Lock the config and then re-enter the program.  

- Finally, cross your fingers ...and run the game.

You can view the specifics of the config on this Google Docs page

 

GAME MODS

Some players get quickly tired of the stock game. Fortunately for them there are individuals with programming talent who produce modifications in the game and make those mods available to server admins. The admins load the game mods up on their servers and they then are available for anyone to play.

If you are interested in modding, try out mycallofduty.com for more information. 

 

MORE INFORMATION

Depending on the CoD game you have, you can find detailed information on any of the PC titles by clicking on the game tabs on the left.  We typically separate the categories into NEWS (game related news), DOWNLOADS (patches, pics...etc.), TWEAKS (changes you can make to your own configuration files) and MODS (the major mods for each specific game).

 
The BASHBoards

If you want to ask for personalized help, join our BASHBoards. These forums contain many experienced and knowledgeable gamers with great ideas. Make use of them.



NOOB AWARENESS MONTH

Every month is NOOB Awareness month here at BASH.

We appreciate your patronage and if you make a donation to BASH, rest assured we will do what we can to raise the FPS community's awareness of those unfortunate amongst us who are frag-challenged. 

Thank you.

The BASHandSlash staff 

 

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