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All FPS's I know of return unused ammo in a removed magazine back to the users overall ammo count.

For example, I have 3 magazines with 30 rounds in each, I fire off 25 rounds and do a magazine change. I do this another 2 times so i technically have 3 magazines with 5 rounds in each, but when i reload I have a magazine with 15 rounds, somehow they have all jumped into the one magazine.

Yes, I am overthinking it and it probably wouldn't be fun. I'm just trying to narrow down the reasoning, especially games like modern warfare 2 which in terms of weapons are pretty much accurate in every other regard.

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"especially games like modern warfare 2 which in terms of weapons are pretty much accurate in every other regard." I loled – AttackingHobo Sep 4 '11 at 21:36
I don't want to change the topic, but I have worked with the F88 Steyr which is the Australian version of the AUG, and the F89 Minimi which is the Australian version of the SAW, and can say both behave as expected - the exception being that there are no stoppages. I'd be interested in why you 'loled' – Chris Sep 5 '11 at 8:30
up vote 7 down vote accepted

There is a similar concept in many games; that you don't have to explicitly do every little thing. Some things can be assumed, ie. unless you are literally under fire all the time, you will have time to consolidate those 15 rounds into a single magazine. The fact the game doesn't show this is for the exact reason you've already highlighted: sitting down and moving ammo around isn't fun. Shooting things is.

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May as well ask why you don't have to press a "suck in air, blow out air" button every second or two or die of choking ;-) Because it's not fun. +1 – Patrick Hughes Sep 5 '11 at 1:36
It's not exactly the same, although I do understand what you're getting out, you don't want to have to goto the virtual toilet either, or even eat and drink - but the weapon system does tie into existing systems – Chris Sep 5 '11 at 1:59
This, combined with the fact that all commercial games are developed under time, capital, and labor constraints means that only the features which really drive the core game-play of a particular title will end up being included. Unless your game design has a good reason to include realistic magazine management (survival horror games in which ammo management is a large part of the 'survival' aspect are a pretty good example), it's probably just not going to be considered worth the development and testing time necessary to make that feature happen. – Charles Ellis Sep 7 '11 at 1:13

Realism isn't always the primary goal in game design. Often it's providing the maximum fun possible. Having said that, it does seem a little odd that shooters like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. CoP do this, and then make the ballistic system very realistic in all other regards.

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I think that is a sort of traditional systems. The frists FPS did so, the people accustomed to this (the player expose a behavior when plan when and how reload) if someone switch to a more realistic system the accustomed people may experience frustration (they have to rebuild a new optimized behavior) lowering the fun. If a customer buys a game because of its extreme realism, the "rebuild" may be a pro (the new behavioral construction is part of the challenge) – FxIII Sep 4 '11 at 11:16
Failing at consistency is annoying though; Mass Effect 2 goes a long way describing how its ammo system works (the heat is absorbed into a solid block of mass, which is then ejected when it's too hot) and then fails to fully adhere to it (if that's how it works, why doesn't the block slowly cool over time when not in use, returning you some ammo?) – romkyns Sep 16 '11 at 13:14

I agree with all here that it won't be fun to watch the guy reload his magazines - however, maybe there could be a system where you have, say, 5 magazines, and when you are not engaged in combat, you reload those automatically. While in combat, those are the ones you have, and so be it. Something like Metro 2033, where you have to pump up the air powered rifles, and quickly get into the habit of doing so when not actively fighting.

There are some games where you do lose the remaining ammo in the clip - see the list at

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Off the top of my head, Battlefield 1942, 2, and 2142 (not sure about the Bad Company series) are mainstream games (which aren't focused on realism) where unused ammo in a magazine is lost when players reload, and I always figured that was to promote "think before you shoot" - firing a few rounds from a rifle suddenly either wastes a clip (if you reload), or you're in a sub-optimal situation for your next encounter (with less bullets in your magazine). – Caspar Sep 9 '11 at 1:26

Having asked this very question to a student team building an FPS, their answer was that they wanted to reward "prepared" players who reloaded often (making sure they had a full clip before going into a big fight). If they lost 3/4 of a clip every time they reloaded, that'd be, in design terms, punishing them.

Ultimately, it was s a result of design balancing to sacrifice a minute element of realism for the sake of rewarding player choices.

THAT BEING SAID there are a few games where you lose the clip each time you reload, meaning the player has to choose between having a full clip readied and losing ammo, or preserving bullets but only having 1/2 a clip. This seems to be more suited to survival/horror style gameplay rather than action.

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You don't have to take the bullets away. Some games allow you to carry multiple clips that are not full. Often, the game prioritizes full clips, but your later reloads will be more sporadic. Seems like something Tom Clancey did in his games. – Joshua Shane Liberman Jan 29 '13 at 16:45

In those situations the games in question aren't going for realism. Instead they are simplifying the game for the player by not punishing the behaviour of reloading too soon.

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