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Weapon Properties

The variety of weaponry goes way beyond of the two classes that we identified in the previous part, namely melee and range weapons. Both of these categories are refined according to many parameters, affecting the precision of the weapon, types of ammunition, speed of fire, reload times, and so on. Some of these properties are explicitly designed (for instance, bullet speed), whereas others are indirect consequences (for instance, damage per second).

All these different properties implicitly affect the behavior of the weapon itself. For example, a heavy-contact weapon is likely to be very damaging but also slow to maneuver. A light-projectile weapon will often not carry much ammunition, and have a slower firing rate (for instance, a handgun or crossbow). The capability to inflict damage in different ways is an indirect consequence of these weapon properties. Table 22.1 shows some commonly known properties of weapons in computer games, along with their unit of measurement. The properties in italic are consequences of other properties and can be computed indirectly.

Table 22.1. Some Commonly Known Properties of Weapons in Computer Games, Along with Their Unit of Measurement



Projectile speed

Meters per second

Rate of fire

Seconds per shots


Health units per shot

Spread angle


Damage rate

Health units per second

Because of these different attributes, each weapon will usually perform the same task in a very different fashion. For example, a rocket launcher can take out a tank in a destructive fashion, whereas a small grenade can deal only with the crew onboard. Both accomplish the same goal of disabling the vehicle, but in different manners because of their properties.

In computer games, the contrast between weapons is amplified by the creativity of the designers; in a game world, technological and physical constraints are secondary to entertainment value. Freezeguns or portable railguns may not be far away, but still remain science fiction. Game developers have the freedom to include them in the design. Therefore, the spectrum of possible weapon properties is much wider, which obviously means more variety in the weapon behavior (and even more ways to accomplish the task).

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