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I am trying to add features into a third person shooter that suit a sniper style of play, in addition to the current rush/deathmatch style it was designed for. The current gameplay is similar in style to Gears of War and Battlefield, perhaps similar to Call of Duty in terms of combat ranges but a little slower paced. The levels are similar in size to large COD maps, or medium Battlefield maps.

Two things which I was planning to add includes some long sight lines and also some "sniper nests". I am concerned though because these two features can open the door to a lot of camping. Sniping and camping are not the same things in my opinion, but it can be easy for campers to abuse such features for easy gain, when they were intended to promote tactical sniper use. That said, I don't believe in blaming the flaws of a game on a player's choice of play style.

Sniper: Uses long range rifles, may stay in a specific spot that is tactically advantageous at the time, but knows how to move to other locations good for sniping. Provides spotting and suppression for more offensive/rush style team members.

Camper: May use any weapon, always stays in the one spot and waits for players to pass by, leading to easy low risk kills. Follows the same strategy regardless of what is happening in the game/match. Is more focussed on own performance as opposed to supporting team members.

So, I am trying to think of some ways in which to try to discourage camping while still allowing legitimate sniper play and preserving the original rush gameplay.

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There are two main things I know of that in other games have made camping as a sniper difficult. 1. Not using hit-scan calculations for sniper rifles, and 2. Giving players a way to move quickly in and out of sniper sight lines. (Like skiing in Tribes) – Logarr Mar 14 at 20:31
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One thing that I thought always worked in Halo was the use of tracer rounds or other highly visible indicators on the long range weapons (sniper, beam rifle, Spartan laser). – Cormac O'Brien Mar 14 at 21:10
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Worth considering is realism vs. gameplay. A lot of the suggestions make no real-world sense and can be frustrating on a game that's supposed to be realistic. For example, the idea that sniper rifles are magically inaccurate if you don't spend 5 seconds looking down the scope -- with line of sight, you should be able to hit anyone within 50-100 yards without even opening the scope covers. Gameplay-wise, it forces switching to a weaker sidearm for close combat as a trade-off against long-distance superiority. Likewise for wildly-inaccurate assault rifles at over 100 yards even in single-shot. – MichaelS Mar 15 at 4:50
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Not enough to be an answer, but you should also consider how other games handle something like this. For example, in Metroid Prime 2 during multiplayer, if a player did not move from a spot for a period of time, they were outed as a coward and every player was given their position. – Leon7C Mar 16 at 16:10
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IRL, if you are in a fire fight a sniping without moving, you can be pretty sure you are about to eat a rocket or mortar. Do that. Whenever someone uses a sniper rifle, hit the area with a shell. If they move, camping problem solved. If they stay, camping problem solved. – Shane Mar 16 at 20:01

28 Answers 28

up vote 24 down vote accepted

How games I've played do this

I've played about 300+ hours of Counter Strike: Global Offensive and find the sniper in it to be quite balanced. There are a variety of ways this game helps counter snipers (AWP).

  1. The map has little clutter with a lot of entrances to points of interest.
  2. You can go to the other bomb site if there are campers in a strong camping spot.
  3. You can use a different entrance to a bomb site to kill snipers that are camping, from a place they are not looking.
  4. You can use a flash bang to blind the sniper and assault them.
  5. The AWP is a one shot kill so if you know where they are camping you can one shot them, before they do you.
  6. The AWP makes you move slower, so it's harder to get into cover. When scoped you move a lot slower.
  7. The AWP reduces your FOV and so you can't see people entering from other places.
  8. The AWP has both a long chambering duration and reload time, that makes you extremely vulnerable.
  9. The AWP is very loud, so everyone can tell where it is from.

If you want to know possibly more tactics then I mention around how the sniper in CS:GO is balanced you could look at the AWP page, there are two other snipers, but they aren't used as much as the AWP.


I remember in a few Quake games some friends and I played there were two maps with sniper positions:

One allowed you to be shot from near enough anywhere on the map, and there was a button to kill everyone in that spot.

On the other map the spot was so far away it was hard to be accurate with the sniper.


Both Halo and Call Of Duty use smoke trails to show where the sniper was.

General mechanics you can implement

  • Have a sparse map: Less cover, easier to see the sniper.

  • Have lots of entrances to the sniper nest: Harder for the sniper to protect themselves.

  • Don't allow the sniper nest to have more that 50% cover of the player: Only hide their legs, this reduces their 'camouflage' one of the most important things for them.

  • Have a built in way to blow up the sniper nest: If you shoot it with an RPG for example and you destroy it with everyone in it, it will discourage everyone going there.

  • Allow opponents to be able to pre-camp the sniper nest: This allows for an easy counter to what could be an OP spot.

    Say it takes player 1 5 seconds to get into position to kill the player in the sniper nest. And it takes player 2 either:

    • 10 seconds to get into the sniper nest, peek and be shot.
    • 4 seconds to get into position to snipe player 1.
  • Give the sniper a long reload time: The opponent can now just stand there and shoot them.

  • Make it very inaccurate if not resting: This makes sniping good. But if you're in close quarter combat the gun will be luck based.

  • Give it a small amount of ammunition: It'll make the sniper happy when they die. And will encourage the player to not waste shots.

  • Give it a smoke trail to show everyone where it's come from.

  • Give it a loud, global audio, and distinct sound.

  • Make it only fatal on head shots: This makes it harder to use, and makes small accuracy changes become massive gameplay changes.

  • Make the economic benefit of getting kills with it worse than other weapons: Say you get points in your game, get like 5 points for a sniper kill and 10 for a pistol kill.

  • Reduce the FOV: Makes the sniper more vulnerable to back/side attacks.

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Some great suggestions here! – FrontEnd Mar 15 at 12:23
    
While I've never been a competitive player, I know that I've been on several CS:GO & CSS pub servers that put a cap on the number of AWPs (& maybe autosnipers?), which doesn't suggest great balance. – lase Mar 15 at 18:45
    
@lase The AWP is actually very balanced in competitive play for all the reasons Joe states above. Essentially, it's just too unwieldy to use in close combat and the maps / objectives don't allow only long-range sniper battles. It is also worth noting that you can only carry one main weapon so switching to a pistol leaves you relatively poorly armed at close range. However, the one shot kill on pretty much any part of the body makes it very tempting to less accurate players. The cap on sniper numbers is probably to prevent games being lost immediately rather than won too easily. – Chris Petheram Mar 17 at 17:20
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@lase The AWP is completely balanced for high level play. Balancing anything on low level play is pretty much impossible. (I hate the AWP in high level play, because one flash, one smoke, one flank or one miss and you are dead, but on lower levels people don't use these tactics). Just hop into a deathmatch and count the number of AWPs. 80-90% AWP games aren't uncommon there. However, in high level competetive play, if the enemy can afford 5 AWPs and still manages to win, you've already some many wrong that you've basically lost. – YoYoYonnY Mar 17 at 18:17
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@YoYoYonnY I don't disagree that it's balanced for high level play, I mean to encourage the OP that an ideal balancing wouldn't force the (much larger) low-to-mid level community to create a rule to self-police themselves. – lase Mar 17 at 19:05

Force players to visit an area not suitable to sniping, to continue playing, for example limited ammunition. Or advantages instead of disadvantages - buffs that only last a while that you cant get in the sniper tower, or distant lights that you need to activate to actually see the targets when in the tower (or any other mechanism that could interfere with sniping if not in the correct state).

Another dynamic Ive experienced, is shift the enemy/friendly territories over time, such that no point on the map is always under control of one team. This means that eventually what used to be a friendly tower, is now an enemy tower, and sooner or later an enemy will come and kill you with ease. To make this more effective, make it difficult to know when this territory transition happens without knowing whats happening outside the sniping position (so staying longer increases risk).

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+1: I was literally just posting an answer about limited ammunition, but it doesn't even have to be limited to just that type of resource. – John H Mar 14 at 16:40
    
This is similar to what I had in mind. My experience is with the Quake family of games. My suggestion would be to keep resources away from the sniper nests so that the sniper is required to leave the nest. Don't put important items (like Quake's "Quad Damage") anywhere near a sniper nest. – TecBrat Mar 14 at 17:55
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The last technique is one that always seems to work well in certain CoD maps. I'd also add that you can leave long sniper sightlines, but also add in some "CQC" routes which can get you in behind the sniper tower if your team gets control of them. So if the entire team try to snipe, they just get outflanked – Jon Story Mar 15 at 11:08
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@DCShannon Yes, they would probably either move smoothly (slowly pushing your team elsewhere), or be actively moved by your team (important: you need to encourage teams to shift their territory for that to work, like take over enemy base while weakening your existing bases to let enemy do the same). Enemies probably shouldnt be randomly spawned all over territories either way... – Waterlimon Mar 16 at 2:25
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I just bring it up because chaotic spawns have been the ruin of a number of Call of Duty games. Having the spawns move slowly and continuously regardless of player actions might be interesting. Never seen that before. It could even be transparent to the players, like a moving zone on the map. Can't complain too much when someone spawns right next to you if you were warned. – DCShannon Mar 16 at 2:40

Ensure that the positions are not defensible, but just hidden

One way to get snipers to be mobile is to mirror real life military tactics that generally prescribe snipers to immediately vacate their position after executing a shot or two (either moving to a nearby alternate firing spot or retreating) - the 'defensibility' of sniper nests come from camouflage, and as soon as you fire and give your position away, the position should be totally vulnerable, thus discouraging camping.

One way to do that is to give players access to powerful indirect fire weapons - e.g. request mortar fire to a specific spot; an explosive hit with a delay of, say, five seconds (and a much longer cooldown) that will kill anyone nearby with splash damage. This mirrors reality and obviously makes camping in a single spot a losing tactic, since if people know or think that you're exactly there, they can kill you without even seeing you.

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Something like flashing the position of sniper shots up on the minimap could work too - one shot gives an approximate circle, and subsequent shots within that circle will shrink the area to be more accurate: akin to your team working out where the enemy is from seeing/hearing the shot come from a certain area – Jon Story Mar 15 at 11:11
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Sniper rifles optionally could fire "Tracer rounds" that leave a visible trail back to where they were shot from. – ApproachingDarknessFish Mar 16 at 6:59
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Mortars/artillery are definitely the solution here. Heck, WoT combines snipers and artillery into one - cowardly players who don't move are doomed to get plinked to death by artillery, but artillery that stays in the same place will also eventually get counterbatteried. – Fadeway Mar 16 at 11:00
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I love the "in-character" tell-tale signs of a sniper that some games have... smoke trails, sunlight/artificial light reflecting off of the scope lens, the echoing sound of the shot, etc. Even better if you're on a map with wildlife such as birds or domestic animals that start flying off or howling/making noise when you shoot near them. That also mirrors real life. – TylerH Mar 17 at 18:30
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Thing I don't like about this one (second paragraph) is that the team(s) will memorize coordinates of nests and simply call indirect fire regularly to the exact location, rendering the nest useless – CGCampbell Mar 18 at 19:54

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!"

The "problem" of camping is vastly over-stated. That someone might get an easy kill by means of an ambush — which is what most sore losers define as "camping" — is not an issue. That is a valid tactic. If the hapless victim then goes back the same way, in the same manner, and gets themselves killed again, well then another maxim becomes relevant:

"Madness: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result"

Camping becomes a problem if the spot chosen is impenetrable. If the attacker cannot remove a camper (or ignore/evade them) without considerable luck or high cost (such as dying several times), then you have designed the map/game wrong, and only then do you need to do something about it.

The solution is that no spot can be made impenetrable. One ambush, sure, that is quite alright. But after that the victim must be given a fair chance to combat or avoid the threat. Anyone that after that walks into the same ambush over and over without heeding the immortal words of Gunnery Sergeant Highway...

"Improvise. Adapt. Overcome."

...are the architects of their own humiliation, and you as the game designer are in no way obligated to accommodate such players.

I personally - as a player - despise when people try to force my round playing style into a square hole. It is a bad idea to shame people for how they choose to play, or to twist their arm into playing in a particular manner.

The only thing you should be concerned with is to give everyone a fair chance. One ambush kill is not unfair, if you give the "offended" party the possibility to get their revenge.

Oh, and for the record: I never camp, ever, because that is not my style of play. I am always mobile, relying on stealth and being unpredictable. If a fellow player chooses to give up those things for a couple of easy kills, I have no problem granting them that...

...because I will be hunting their leaden arse with a vengeance since they are kind enough to remain in the spot I last saw them at. Sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. :D

EDIT: Example from my own experience. I play Ghost In the Shell: First Assault. Snipers there love to take up position in the few spots that allow them a long line of sight up a very narrow field of view, and wait for people to run into their cross-hairs for a few one-shot kills.

My response? Find a place of my own that is within grenade throwing range of the sniper spot and is in cover, then "Frag out!" indirect fire style, I.E. lobbing the grenade high to get it to drop in from above.

The ironic part about this is that the snipers themselves are usually just as thick and stubborn as those that — after getting shot for the umpteenth time in the exact same manner — cry "Camper!!!". They keep coming back for more! All I need to do is say "thank you" and reap the easy kills.

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+1 for a different spin on a common theme throughout these answers: make it possible to kill them if they stay there. – DCShannon Mar 15 at 23:49
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+1 for 'The "problem" of camping is vastly over-stated.' Personally, I find most FPS games so difficult that finding a moderately secure spot from where I can at least land a few hits before being obliterated (or forced to retreat) is the only way to participate as something else than a constantly respawning victim of the others. I see it as a realistic military challenge to identify the respective locations, and I am quite annoyed when other players then accuse me of "unfair tactics" (so-called "camping"), and just as annoyed when games make this achievement artificially difficult. – O. R. Mapper Mar 20 at 13:57

You mentioned having wanting to add sight lines and sniper nests. These provide a tactical advantage to one side, but require a certain kind of skill (the ability to aim over a long distance quickly and accurately). You can balance this by providing an appropriate disadvantage at the same time (one that requires a different skill), such as making the sniper nests fairly dangerous places to sit for a while.

The perfect sniper's nest would allow lots of great sight lines, be hard to spot from outside, and difficult to get into so it's very easy to defend. Don't make those kinds of nests, that will just encourage people to sit there forever. Instead, consider making your nests fairly accessible, so foes could come from any direction, including in some cases from the opposite team's side of the map.

This will permit players to take advantage of the sight lines, but discourage them from sticking around long after taking a shot (or if they don't get a shot after a few minutes), because they are so exposed. They could be approached easily while focused on what's on the other side of their scope, and having multiple paths to the nest makes it impractical to guard the area with a bunch of mines or whatever.

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...and make the "multiple paths to the nest" be paths that the nest doesn't have sight lines to. – Dan Henderson Mar 14 at 21:30
    
Yeah sniper nests that have good control of objectives, but are easily out-flanked (ie they have one side with good cover, but the other is wide open) works well – Jon Story Mar 15 at 11:09
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This gave me the idea of having "destructible" sniper nests. Therefore if the person stays there for too long they will break, exposing them or even damaging them during the destruction. – FrontEnd Mar 15 at 12:04

You could represent the floor of the map as a heatmap that tracks where recent activity occurred. Of course that would look very unusual / abstract, but if balanced game mechanics are your primary goal, then by all means. Maybe have a toggle on-off button for that?

And what about temporarily closing off areas that are frequently used as camping spots? You might need to compartmentalise the map a lot (many doors which perhaps only the map's own omnipotent AI can control) but that should also help if you fit it in alongside existing dynamics.

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How about the reverse: have the power pack for the player's life support/weaponry/whatever emit enough heat or other detectable radiation of a form that will, over time, "warm up" the place the player is standing, so that a person can enter a sniper's nest and use it for a little while without it showing up on a heat/radiation detector, but their visibility would increase the longer they remain. For additional strategic interest one allow players to adjust their "heat" output within a certain range, so they could heat up a sniper's nest and then move elsewhere to snipe anyone attacking it. – supercat Mar 14 at 16:59
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Anti-sniper class with IR goggles that give away the prolonged position of any person (and also highlight the person themself in vivid colors should they be in the line of sight, but also can't be used together wth any other tool at the same time / drain a lot of power / ...), plus perhaps some stealth widget and hefty bonuses from knife kills. I like. – Jan Dvorak Mar 15 at 9:17

A lot of great answers have been posted here.

I'd just like to add that it's worth considering whether you want to discourage camping behavior, or encourage non-camping behavior.

For example, an easy way to discourage camping behavior would be to give players access to area-denial weapons, and make sniping without giving away your position very difficult. If the sniper briefly shows up on the minimap or his rifle leaves a long-lasting tracer trail, and the player has an easy to obtain albeit slow-moving area-effect rocket, then it becomes very hard to camp in position for more than a short amount of time.

However, you have to consider the effect this has on players who lead towards camping behavior - it does nothing except frustrates them, and frustrating your players into doing something is the worst possible way to make them do that something. When trying to balance a game, the best option is always the least frustrating option for your players, unless you have a particularly masochistic player base. Adding, for example, a long windup time to the beret in Soldat was the end of me using that weapon. It was simply too irritating. Adding a minimum range to the rifle-using class in World of Warcraft was frustrating enough that I didn't even continue my free trial.

A better way to go about this would be to give the camper some kind of incentive to break cover. For example, felled enemies could drop dog tags or some other kind of reward or powerup when killed. Perhaps the kill only counts as 'confirmed' if you can bring back their tags, or perhaps they simply gain a bonus for doing so. Additionally, you can "kill steal" or "bonus steal" by taking tags that have been left on the ground for more than a certain amount of time.

Camping would then become a risk-reward strategy. The camper would balance camping for kills with not wanting to leave his trophies open for too long and risk losing them. Additionally, with the right amount of sticky friction, picking up dog tags could be very satisfying for the player, which actually trains them to enjoy moving around over camping.

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Blacklight: Retribution solves this by literally giving everyone wallhacks. Not all the time of course, they have a "battery" and you cannot shoot while using it. There is also a enable/disable delay where you're vulnerable.

Other options are Battlefield-like scope glint, which is basically a reflex on the scope lens that is triggered when someone else has the camper on their peripheral vision, if the sniper is aiming.

Depending on the gameplay style, the ambient could leave tracks of a camper: birds flying away when he shoots, moving grass when people go through it or similar indirect feedback.

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The ambient idea is quite unique. You could for example have chirping birds sit down around the player if they don't move for long enough, which would draw attention to the location, and the player would have to deal with the birds flying away when they fire, further drawing attention to their location. – FrontEnd Mar 15 at 12:20
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I've always LOVED the usage of birds, that way. The catch, though, is that it generally would take a while after a first shot before birds would be comfortable landing in that area, again, so it would only work for the first shot. Additionally, with the general size of maps, in modern FPS games, it would cause every bird in a map to flee. Having only birds in a 10ft radius flee would just look silly - despite its effectiveness. – Khale_Kitha Mar 15 at 17:48

My definition of camping involves killing players as they spawn with little to no time for the respawning players to react. One example of this is Halo's grifball gametype. As for how to keep snipers from camping in this fashion, the following list is made of methods I've seen other games using.

  • Have a spawn point that is inaccessible to the enemy where the enemy cannot even see into. Team Fortress 2 is a good example of this.
  • Have moving elements that will block sniping lanes between the tower/nest and the spawn points. This can be something that pops out from the wall/floor to block line of sight or even a conveyor-belt style where the enemy can follow behind a moving object and end up next to the sniper. Halo has a few maps like this.
  • Offer multiple spawn points. Whether the game chooses from a list of spawns or the player can choose between some different bases to start by, this makes it harder to simply watch one point and pick off players as they respawn. Halo has choose-from-list style. Section 8 had a system where you choose any point on the map and jump down from orbit.
  • Grant temporary immunity. If players take no damage for a few seconds after respawning, they have time to get to cover. Mario Kart's battle mode has something like this.
  • Have ammo spawns away from the sniper nest. Most FPS that have ammo can be examples here, but if your game has something that can be dynamically placed and refresh ammo (like the Dispenser in TF2) then this may not be as viable an option.

If players have a hard time figuring out where the snipers are hiding, you can add kill-cams that show the sniper or trails that show the path the bullet took.

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Camping is finding a spot and not moving. Killing players as they spawn is "spawn-killing". Those are 2 very different things. – Dunk Mar 14 at 19:16
    
One what I would think to do this is to not allow ammo/player respawn to occur if the given area is hot with other players. It would also help distribute players across a map better. It would be more difficult but you could also disable spawn points that are being watched by snipers. (back when I still played games alot a spawn kill was when a respawing player was deployed on top of another player killing the first.) – Matthew Whited Mar 14 at 19:21
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@Dunk I always heard it called "spawn-camping" which naturally shortens to camping. I've also heard things like "They are camping in that hallway" but that's less of a sniper nest scenario. – David Starkey Mar 14 at 19:33
    
@MatthewWhited This is how Halo has always done it (and many others) but occasionally a game's plot or setting might use alternatives, such as the TF2 bunker-spawn style – David Starkey Mar 14 at 19:34
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Of note, the original form of the question explicitly mentioned spawn-camping, so this is at least a partial answer to the OP's intent which isn't addressed in the other answers. – MichaelS Mar 15 at 4:37

Make the snipers more visible when they shoot, and perhaps add a period of time they can't fire. If they can't fire for a second after, and they are very visible, it might help others to find them. Make sure there's a reasonable way to sneak up on the sniper if they are found as well.

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I agree with Josh's comment that it's hard to provide an accurate reply with the details you've given us, but I'll try anyway.

There are actually several different approaches you can consider here.

Mechanic Design

Shootmania had a really unique way of dealing with the situation you're describing - unique at least to me - in that one of the game modes there, Royal, had a tornado that would close in around the map, forcing all players to the middle. From the wiki entry:

Royal is the survival, free-for-all mode where the goal is to be the last player alive at the end of the round. There are three ways to score points during a round:

  1. Staying alive as long as possible
  2. Capturing the the pole at the center of the map
  3. Eliminating the others players

Capturing the pool at the center of the map activates the Off-zone, a storm like environmental effect that will eliminate players on contact. This forces all players towards the middle of the map until only one player remains and the round ends.

The reason this was good is because you could choose to risk running to the pole, with the possible reward of capturing it for more points, or sitting back and waiting for someone else, or the timer, to activate it instead. The interesting thing about it is that if you were near the pole when the tornado started to close in, you would have opportunities to kill players coming towards you as they try to avoid the tornado. That meant you had to know when to hang back to snipe a bit more, and when to move towards the centre of the map.

Enemy Player Detection

Arcane Engineer's answer covers this, but you could actually go a few steps further. As an example, you could have a (rare) item which detects heat signatures that spawns somewhere on a map - either in a fixed position, or as part of a random event on a map - which a player could equip to detect heat signatures, particularly after rounds have been fired. That means two things:

  1. Players have to risk moving around to get the reward of enemy detection.
  2. Better players will learn to move around more after they fire, as it won't necessarily be apparent when someone is able to detect them.

Resource Gathering and Load-outs

For games where combat is the primary focus, resource gathering isn't as popular as it once was, with those games seemingly preferring the idea of 'load-outs' instead, in which players predetermine the type of gear they start with. This forces players to loot the corpses of other players, or items, if your game supports it, to get extra ammunition.

This requires a fair bit of testing to come up with an ammunition level that's suitable. If you set it too high, players can camp, but, if you set it too low, players don't get to snipe. I think it's best used in combination with overall mechanic design, rather than the map design, but that's my own personal preference.

The other way to look at it would be from the standpoint of resources that are needed for survival: food, water, medical supplies. If people are also having to manage their survival, camping can only go on so long before they have to move.

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Further to @Waterlimon's excellent answer, consider dynamic sniper spots to force snipers to move from spot to spot to find a place worth sniping from. Some examples:

A pillbox with windows or shutters that are opened/closed elsewhere, or @Waterlimon's point about lights which can be turned off/on elsewhere. Equally useful would be searchlights on your sniping tower which require repairs (poss requiring an engineer or other non-sniper-class?) if shot out.

Most obviously, moving ones. A train roof which gives an excellent vantage point of different streets as it moves around the area, until it runs into the tunnel, killing whoever hasn't jumped off beforehand... and if you leave jumping off too late, you leap into the lake and must slowly swim out, making you an easy target.

A low wall facing a road, which is only really great for sniping when all lights are red on all the cross roads; otherwise traffic gets in the way.

Consider also periodic hazards. The back of a parked trash truck, has excellent vantage and defense, but occasionally starts crushing and gives the snipers within only moments to escape, (perhaps on a timer, or randomly, or when foes run up and hit the button).

Just about any scenery element which moves can be used to make a sniping place good or bad, by regularly getting in the way of the sniper's fire, sight, or both; by regularly exposing or hiding the sniper from view; or by regularly killing or evicting the sniper. You can change the quality of the sniping spot simply by changing the speed or direction of movement: a cart which runs smooth and straight along a road is far easier to fire from than one which zigs and zags randomly.

Most maps seem to have multiple approaches to the good camping spots, many of which are hidden from the camper, so you can get the jump on them. The major disadvantage of a sniper is that people can very easily sneak up behind them. Of course, this isn't a fix for a teamed pair, one sniping from the vantage point and one bagging those sneaking up behind.

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How to encourage snipers

The benefits for sniping are obvious.

But perhaps provide a mechanism for other players on a team to mark/highlight likely sniper positions to their sniper team mate. It will give that sniper teammate a bunch of options to use depending upon the needs of the battle.

How to discourage camping

A simple mechanic that you could add is a sort of situational awareness. The more shots coming from a sniper position, the more likely you will know the source of that incoming fire.

A real human would be using all senses (especially sight & sound) to locate the sniper. FPS don't provide that sort of situational awareness, so add it in. Every time a sniper shoots, give the opposing team a chance to "locate" the source of the incoming fire. If the opposing team "locates" it, highlight it on the minimap.

If the opposing team is smart, they'll set up an "antibattery" type sniper position to take out the enemy sniper or perhaps "rush" the position.

Proper use of this mechanic might cause each team to set up an SOP of "you get five shots" and then scoot to the next sniper position highlighted on your map.

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In the real world snipers have two main vulnerabilities. The first is that the need to reach their objective undetected and so have to avoid patrols and whatever sensors or surveillance may be deployed against them. This is made more difficult by the fact that their military role tends to include intelligence gathering as much as offensive action so they may often have to move through enemy held territory.

The other issue is that once even the general location of a sniper is known to the enemy they are very vulnerable to crew served weapons such as mortars, heavy machine guns and artillery. These can either kill them outright or suppress them, allowing them to be flanked and assaulted by infantry.

The long range of sniper weapons compared to infantry assault rifles effectively give them the opportunity to evade detection and escape before they can be effectively targeted but if they stay put and allow enemy infantry to close range they are highly likely to be overwhelmed as soon as they can close the range and put down a weight of fire that a sniper cannot possibly match.

This also leads on to the concept of suppressive fire and' winning the firefight', something which is crucial in real warfare but hard to represent in a video game. Conversely setting up an accurate shot from a properly concealed position takes time and preparation and in games which often have greatly condensed ranges and scales of maps what is called 'sniping' is often just sensible infantry tactics where maps are a few hundred metres across rather than 10s of km.

Having said that one practical approach would be to have clear differences in the mechanics of sniping and assault weapons.

  • Give sniper weapons great accuracy at long range but at a cost eg include settings for range and windage which need to be set by the player to get accuracy at long range. This could be approximated by having a long settling time for the targeting reticule or even force a short blur on the sight when taking an aimed shot, making them ineffective for close combat.
  • Only allow players with a sniper rifle to take a short range pistol as their secondary weapon.
  • Nerf accuracy of sniper rifle from a standing position.
  • Give players access to mortar fire support with high lethality and large area of effect but with maybe a minute or so delay as a means to take out a sniper who camps for too long.
  • Careful design of maps with a mix of cover and open ground to make sniper hides more obvious.
  • Force snipers to sling/unsling weapon (takes a few seconds) between running and firing.
  • Aimed shots with a sniper rifle only possible at full health

The above nefts to a sniper's agility could be balanced by much greater weapon range and power.

Its also worth considering that if you really want proper sniping some sort of stealth mechanic would be good. A simple solution would just be an invisibility mechanic which switches off when the sniper runs or fires a shot and resets after a certain period of inaction.

In summary an overall realistic approach to allowing snipers but not making the dominant would be to force players who take the sniping option to be careful and deliberate in their shots and movement and make sniping capable weapons all but useless at close quarters.

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Introduce an anti-camping character

Take a look at the Team Fortress 2 Spy (gameplay) for a good example of an anti-camping character.

  • Uses invisibility and disguises to infiltrate into enemy territory.
  • Kills instantly when stabbing their victim from behind.

The spy balances the game by allowing the enemy team to fight back. It is now dangerous to camp, and becomes more dangerous the longer you stay in one spot.

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Verdun is a WWI video game that is predominantly one hit kill bolt action rifles in trench-filled map that really empowers the defence.

The maps themselves use a (way too fast) player-killing mechanic that forces players to assault other trench lines or to defend their own line when getting attacked, lest the game just auto-kill you after 10-30 seconds for being outside of the current field of play. Major (and pointless) bonus points are offered for following your corporals commands, and attacking / defending alongside him. Squad play helps to encourage momentum and attacking.

The attacking a defending swapping happens so fast that it doesn't really offer the feeling of being 'entrenched' but it does encourage an otherwise sniper-dominant game to instead be fast and hard hitting with people driving over hills toward the enemy under sniper and artillery fire every minute.

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As a veteran FPS player, here is my suggestion: make the sniper rifles very precise weapons, but lacking in refire rate compared to more standard weapons. What this does is it makes them potentially very vulnerable to being rushed, but if they can keep their enemy at a distance, then they have a dramatic advantage. This discourages camping because sooner or later, someone is going to come looking you and you will need to relocate (example: original Call of Duty). The main thing that is likely to cause problems with this plan is if the game has a strong tendency to form relatively static lines of battle (this can be seen in Planetside 2 for example, where snipers camp all the time, but there, the fact that bullet velocity is modelled keeps sniping from getting overly frustrating to play against).

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Add concentration and fatigue associated with staying in one place. In other words, the precision (or damage amount if you support concept of partial damage) of the shot goes up drastically for a period of time and then steadily declines. You can use the impulse-response curve as your reference if you want both partial concentration to come back after a slow decline. The steady-state value of the curve would have to be lower than the value of the curve at time 0 (to make sure that staying in the same place for a long time is a disadvantage).

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Personally I think I'd just go for a class divide on mechanics.

If you play as anything else but the Sniper Class, then you get penalized for staying still for too long. However there needs to be a balanced downside to being a sniper like sniper preparation time, slower running or something else similar.

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As previous answers have stated, in the real world, snipers become more obvious/vulnerable the more shots they take from a single position. So make them easier to hit or spot or both.

Easier to hit could be in the form of increased bullet accuracy based on how many shots they've taken * how long they've been in one spot, or if you prefer awareness, highlight them for longer on the minimap (if you have one) the more shots they take from their position.

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If you are familiar with the game World of Tanks, the SPG (artillery) class was implemented mostly due to complaints about camping. You could implement a similar anti-camp method using mortars and overhead targeting.

Also, spg's in WoT spawn in a different part of the map, so you might even have some players who become dedicated "anti-campers" using long range artillery from an area that is separate from the main fight zones.

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A lot of great answers already.

I would like to add this list I came up with to avoid camping (indirectly, for directly avoiding camping see the other answers):

  • Add a concept of teritory;
    • Add activatable spawn beacons (Flags for example).
    • If one team enters a key area, the other teams spawn point gets moved back.
    • Work with 'lanes' and 'stations' (Key locations);
      • If all stations on a lane are taken, then the lane is taken;
      • Stations connect multiple lanes.
      • Stations are easy to defend from the connected lanes, but hard to defend from the lane it is on.
      • Stations contain new equipment (Extra ammunition, Extra health, Extra armor, etc.)
      • Stations contain stationary equipment (Rocket launchers, Tanks, Turrets, etc.) (TF2 has a great playstyle where you can place down your own equipment)
      • To avoid deadlock (A state where both teams can easily defend their stations, making it disadvantageous to attack), make the number of stations slightly larger than is possible to defend. About one station for every 2 players I would say. Also keep the number of lanes small (7 lanes at most, 3-5 when <32 players)
      • Avoid interactions between lanes at places other than stations. (One or two 'sneaky entrances' at most)
      • At the start of the game, teams get only part of a lane. (Giving both teams a full lane from the start might be interesting aswell)
      • The number of lanes should be uneven or at least in some way balanced (Yes, people mess this up).
      • Lanes and stations are easier to defend near the middle of the lane.
      • There should be a 'middle' lane, which is:
      • defendable (Defend-Defend playstyle; If you take the lane, you can keep it), or
      • attackable (Attack-Defend playstyle; If you leave the lane open, you lose it).
      • Either way, both teams should have to put pressure on this lane.
      • Important: lanes, not trenches!!!
  • Slow down the pace of the game.
    • Slow down the players movement.
    • Make players more vulnerable when moving fast.
    • Increase capture times.
    • Increase the distance between cover ('Minitrenches')
  • Group players together
    • Add medics.
    • Add objectives.
    • Add lanes.
    • Add 'overpowered equipment' (Tanks, turrets, miniguns, whatever, not actually overpowered, but hard to take out without teamwork, a 'engineer' or 'heavy' class usually prevents these things from being overpowered).
    • Give players extra points for sticking together.
  • Remove hiding spots.
    • Remove unnecessairy cover. (Anywhere you don't need to go in order to complete the objective. As a rule of thumb, remove cover near the edges of a objective and add cover in the middle.)
    • Remove small, tight corners (of ~90 degrees) wherever possible. (Unless it is to slow down attackers)
    • Remove three-way junctions. (You can't look two ways)
    • Avoid tight coridors. (You can't defend yourself if you can't take cover)
  • Don't make players too vulnerable while moving. (Don't force players to jump into a vulnerable position if they can't shoot while jumping for example (Yes, this happens too))
  • And of course, in general, make camping disadvantageous (See the other answers for this)
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Here's a unique approach: add an "inactivity-induced fatigue" penalty that makes weapons dramatically less powerful when the player fails to move around on the map. The penalty would be inversely proportional to the average distance travelled by the player over time.

What I like about this approach is that if the campers run from camping location to location, in order to avoid the penalty, they offer themselves the opportunity to be killed by other players.

Snipers, of course, would have to strategically choose where and how long to snipe.

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I've been playing so many FPSs of all sorts and I found a simple game called Ace of Spades and I quite like it, it has HUGE maps and it lets you build your own bunker, it's awesome, anyway, I've been working on an FPS too with HUGE maps, and I've been watching a lot of military documentaries talking about urban warfare and jungle warfare and it's quite interesting, when in urban scenarios with civilians the army snipes the insurgents and then breach and clear the whole area which is dangerous because campers and IEDs, whereas in jungles they form a line made of wedges and as they move they use snipers to watch the area for counter-snipers and moving troops, but it's less likely to have people camping, but still boobie traps all over the place.

That said keep three things in mind about a balanced map:

  • The maps can neither be small nor large (about 1.8 miles squared)
  • Avoid making urban maps because they offer a lot of spots for campers and they are not worth it for snipers
  • Create two identical bases for both teams and a gap in between them so players will get exposed when trying to camp on the enemy's base

Try to balance all weapons in game:

  • Never make it so slow to reload
  • Make the scope-only rifles inaccurate when moving/strafing and shooting
  • Add bullet drop to all guns
  • Add weight to the guns
  • Make it less accurate to shoot after sprinting

Of course, this is just my two cents, if you're going to create sniper nests, which I discourage, you should isolate them from the other buildings so when inside one you have to watch for people coming from basically all directions, the main thing is to avoid creating 90° angle hiding spots like corners behind obstacles or something of that sort and your game won't have that many campers

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There are several tremendously good answers to this question, and I hope my personal experience will at least add weight to some of the other answers.

I used to play an lot of Team Fortress Classic. Some weeks I probably played 40 hours.

If you're at all familiar with TFC, you'll know that they had class-based play, and one of the classes was a sniper. You'll also know that probably the most common map (pretty sure it was the default map if you started a server) was 2 Fort. It looked like this:

TFC 2fort

Each base was a mirror image. Between the bases you have a long bridge over a moat. Beneath the battlements are two doorways with very little lighting. In the middle of the battlements you also have a sort of bunker with poor lighting. In a typical game involving snipers, you would find them hiding in the darkness in the doorways (though less often, as these were fairly high-traffic areas, and the sniper was pretty poor in man-to-man combat), or more usually sneaking out from the top battlements to take a shot.

While the snipers did have one-hit kill abilities, the game was still balanced, due to the following:

  • one-hit kill shots required both time and precision. The sniper had to 'charge' their rifle by holding down the trigger button. Then they had to hit the enemy in the head.
  • The sniper rifle had a "laser" sight, i.e. a red dot that appeared wherever they were aiming. Skilled snipers would do their best to hide the dot until the last possible moment. If you were on the receiving end, typically you'd only know there was a sniper waiting for you when your vision turned red the moment before you instagibbed.
  • When charging the rifle the sniper movement was very slow. This made them fairly easy prey for splash damage weapons.
  • If you could move quickly, it was pretty easy to dodge the hit. Or if they shot your friend in the face, you could take them out while they were re-charging their weapon.
  • There were multiple avenues of entrance to the base. Sure the main courtyard was wide open, but there was a water tunnel that came up under the bridge. If you wanted to enter the enemy base unseen that was a reasonable option. You could then come up behind the snipers either in the bottom of the battlements or up through the main ramp room, past the spawn point, and out into the battlements. Or you could do an assisted jump up the grate and come out by the spawn point and through to the battlements.
  • Pyros had fire weapons, and when lit on fire your vision would be obscured. This made it difficult for snipers to see where they were aiming.
  • Medics and scouts were fast, and if they used a concussion grenade to propel themselves they could easily move faster than most snipers could track. Of course you did get the lucky "skeet" shots. Concussion grenades would also disorient the snipers.
  • Spies could disguise themselves as the enemy. Even your crosshairs would take on the name of one of your own teammates with that same class.

Snipers had certain strategies that they would employ, but there was always some way that you could deal with them - even without becoming a sniper yourself.

TFC also had a nice way of preventing camping - you typically had multiple respawn points (2fort had 3 spawn rooms, two of which had two entrances. One came out the right side of your own battlements, and the other let you drop down in the middle of your own base. The third was near your flag in the basement. But you could go up the elevator or the spiral to get into the rest of the base) and these spawn points had built-in turrets that were extremely powerful. All you had to do to stop someone camping in front of your spawn point was open the door. You might die once, but the camper would be pretty dead right after that.

I think the most appropriate anti-camping lesson you can take from TFC is one about balance. Each class, each position had some sort of Achilles' heel that required teamwork. The best story that I have about this comes from the map called Well. The Well felt like a much larger map than 2fort - again it was symmetrical, with two large bases facing each other over a large courtyard. At the top of each base there was a catwalk that was only accessible via ladder from the outside of the base, but offered a commanding view of the central field, and some camouflage. Below that was a sniper deck, accessible from within the base, and then the main door. The main feature of the central field was a tunnel across the center of the field that served as a sort of wall. However, in that tunnel was access to the sewers, which (if someone destroyed the grate) allowed you access to the flag room of the opposing team.

The most relevant feature of Well for my story though, is that there were only two spawn rooms. They were across the ramp room from each other, and on exit you had two choices - go into the ramp room and left to go into your flag room (large, with a silo), or up the ramps, across the sniper deck, and up into the attic (which also led into the flag room on the other side). The attic had a singularly interesting feature - a large oblong hole in the floor. If you were an engineer, you could place a sentry gun here. At level 3 it would protect well against all but the most coordinated assault. And with multiple supply packs spawning in the attic, a lone engineer could protect their base... as long as their grate was intact.

In my case, however, it was an enemy engineer who set up his sentry gun in our attic.

At that point, my go-to class was a soldier. Slower, but with more armor and firepower that suited me just fine. The team I was on was getting destroyed by the enemy. They were on a cap(ture) run - as soon as our flag was captured, they already had a man waiting to pick it up when it was returned to our flag room. So I walked out of the spawn room, ready to do some damage, when to my surprise I was turned into ground beef by a sentry gun inside my base. Next spawn I tried sneaking out, only to have my leg blown clean off. I even tried throwing a nail grenade up into the attic on a suicide mission, but if the engineer is hiding behind his gun repairing it that doesn't work. And it didn't.

Next I tried a heavy weapons guy. His minigun and massive amounts of armor make him quite powerful. Unfortunately for me, his slow speed also makes him a sitting duck. Or shredded duck, in my case.

Finally I had the right thought - an engineer with an EMP grenade. An EMP grenade will usually take out a sentry gun, and the more armor and ammo you're carrying the bigger an explosion you make. Enemy engineers make very large explosions. Priming the grenade, I ran out of our spawn room and launched it into the attic. The fireworks were spectacular. I destroyed the sentry gun and the enemy engineer (alas, I died also, but you know - respawn), and then went and put up my own sentry gun. I was able to put a halt to their cap run, and even capture their own flag a few times myself.

It was one of my most memorable TFC games. Under most conditions, an engineer would never have made it to that point of the base and had the time to setup a sentry gun. But the players on the team I joined were a little overwhelmed (out of balance). They just needed the scales to not be tipped quite so far in the favor of the opposition.

Balance is what makes a game fun, and is a great way to prevent camping. If your maps are well balanced, and your weapons are balanced, and your teams are balanced, your game will be fun.

If you want to encourage sniping, but you want to prevent the snipers from just setting up shop and not moving, give them a reason to move.

  • Make it dangerous to stay in one place for long, either because the enemy can sneak up behind them, or as others have mentioned, call in an airstrike or mortar or make it possible for them to get hit with a rocket.
  • Make it pointless to stay in one place for long: maybe the battle moves back and forth along the map. Either the sniper has to advance because there's nothing for them to do, or they have to retreat because they're going to die.
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I develop games as well and in the past, this is what occurred to me as a way to keep people from camping.

Track how long they have been in a certain region. If they stay in one general area too long, start emitting bright, noticeable particles (like pink smoke) from their position. This is similar to the 'make the gun put off a lot of smoke and flash' suggestion others have made, except the sniper doesn't necessarily get the benefit of that first shot.

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I agree with points given in posted answer and would like to add that you can create NPC airplanes, tanks, mortars, bombards, cannons for each side of the game like the Scourge and the Sentinel in DoTA, leage of legion games. You add algorithms for the following.

Chances that you get hit by one bullet of the mass-bullets (reducing health point by 15-25% your call) and die by (% to be on radar) a rocket, (% to be hit) grenade, randomly by bomb or other explosive arms, if you stand still for quite a while. The game-play may be more interactive when there is a continuous fighting of (NPC) allied forces. The number of NPC units is totally up to you. You may want to have a considerably small number to prevent your game from becoming an AoS, DotA type.

Also like others have said, you can add fuzzy effect to affect the camping snipers if they become slack and don't bother moving around to find the targets. Fuzziness and drowsiness here I mean is to reducing damage and destruction caused by them.

A combined solution may work well for your effort.

cheers

Pristine,

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If there are teams, they will camp. There is no solution for this.

The only hope you have is making maps complicated, to allow enemy team to surround campers, which will reduce their chance of survival.

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-1; The question is not about removing camping, but about discouraging it. – YoYoYonnY Mar 17 at 18:08
    
@YoYoYonnY Exactly, and I said you cannot "remove", but can "discourage" it by reducing their survival chance. – S. Tarık Çetin Mar 17 at 18:50
    
From what I can read it basically comes down to: "You cannot remove camping. You can only reduce it." – YoYoYonnY Mar 17 at 19:16
    
@YoYoYonnY Your comments conflict with each other. Because "discouraging" essentially aims "reducing" an action. – S. Tarık Çetin Mar 17 at 19:39
    
Not really... Either way your answer is too short and has too little content. – YoYoYonnY Mar 17 at 20:33

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