Having your fun - part 3

Floor show

Death by a thousand needles

So far the emphasis has been on sending an Elite shooting off at speed, but you don't have to do that. If you just pump him full of needles and back off, you can enjoy seeing him racked with needle explosions on the ground - and maybe blast him with a rocket launcher or Scorpion or Banshee while he's exploding. These 'ground fireworks' can be good fun. In BCM123 you can see what happens when you use about a thousand needles (I used a pre-frozen Elite, whose low position makes him easiest to needle). The needle bangs can go on for more than 90 seconds!

Needle bang formula

While working on that movie I spent a while trying to figure out how many post-release needle bangs you get for a given number n of inserted needles (assuming no plasma grenades are getting used). At 13 needles you've effectively primed 2 bangs, and each additional 7 needles primes another. However, on needle 29 a bang goes off early, and you seem to likewise lose a priming for every additional 23 needles thereafter. This leads me to the following formula for the number b of post-release bangs, as long as n is at least 13:

   b = int((n + 1)/7) - int((n - 6)/23)

In that formula, 'int' means 'integer part of', and the term int((n - 6)/23) accounts for the number of primings you lose to pre-release bangs. For n = 1000 you get b = 100 interestingly enough; but I doubt there's any significance in that. Incidentally, for n below 13, b = int(n/7).

Injection pattern

Bear in mind that your injection pattern will affect the Elite's dynamics throughout his noisy ordeal. In particular they'll affect what happens at the start. If you were to put all the needles in his chest, you can expect him to shoot up into the air (because bangs in the chest contribute an upwards push), and it could be quite a while before he gets back down. That doesn't make for an ideal floor show, so I suggest also putting plenty of needles in his back or sides. Things can get balanced out that way, so he doesn't initially shoot up.

Some folk might call this overkill

Ensuring an exact number of needles

If you want to be sure of getting an exact number of needles into your Elite, you'll need to take some care because of the possibility of misses. In particular, needles fired during a bang can quite easily miss (possibly even getting deflected), and you may not notice it - especially if needles have become invisible, which starts around clip 23.

To guard against misses, you can check that you get bangs at certain easy-to-remember points, assuming you're using full needlers (always recommended). For example there should be a bang on needle 98 (i.e. 2 needles before finishing your first needler), because 98 is 29 plus a multiple of 23. Likewise there should be a bang on the first needle of clip 7, (you should've had no bang at all during clip 6), and 1 needle before finishing clip 13. Make a note of such points (you can figure out more) and keep a check as you go. If a bang isn't at an expected place, you'll know that at least one needle has missed; and you can then compensate by adding needles from a separate 'top-up' needler until you get the requisite bang.

Avoiding slowdown from blood build-up

The longer your exploding Elite remains in one location, the more spilt blood builds up, and the more the game slows down because of all the splatters it's having to render. To avoid getting severe slowdown you'll need to keep blasting the Elite to new locations, unless he happens to be moving along nicely by himself. If you're on foot, you'd better have a full rocket launcher. There's also going to be a lot of blood from all the needling where he stood, though you do have the option of waiting about four minutes while it fades away.

More ideas for fun

A few more ideas for your recreational enjoyment now.

Fancy seeing you up here!

Launching in a Banshee

You can potentially do the launching by crossing the release line in a Banshee. This can allow you to be high up as a firework launches, giving you an unusual perspective as he perhaps zooms up towards and past you, maybe still screaming! Being in a Banshee will also allow you to give chase of course, and maybe even blast him in mid-air.

It may be slightly awkward to keep the Elite in view as he launches, but it's possible to slowly back over the release line while looking down. Alternatively, just fly forward across the line then quickly arc around to see him coming up. Maybe both Elites together!

If you have a good idea of where he's going to go however, which would especially be the case if you've done some pre-blasting (I'd recommend doing that for this Banshee fun, and adding a few needles each time), you could just start heading that way, crossing the line in the process, and wait for him to come into sight zooming past you or whatever.

Bear in mind that your Banshee can take damage from close needle bangs or plasma bangs. If you want to get silly you could actually try to get blown up in mid-air, but you'll want an already damaged Banshee for that.

There they go!

Launching from a ledge

Another novel way to release fireworks is to do it while up on a ledge. Fly up and drop yourself off on the sharp corner of ledge above the left side of the pass entrance. At that corner you're still within the launch zone, but if you move along the ledge you'll cross the release line, causing a launch. You can be looking down at your fireworks as this happens. There's an example of all this in BCM24. Aside from getting a novel view from up here, you might also like to take a few potshots as a firework sails up. If you've still got another Elite left afterwards, you can actually get down without damage by having your fall cushioned by the protruding base of the cliff. Nifty descent!

But wait! You can also cross the release line at the other end while on the lowest ledge; and again it's possible to have fireworks in view as you launch them, despite the frightening steepness of the ledge. Also you can still get down afterwards, though it's maybe a bit less forgiving this time.

At both ends, it's also possible to cross the release line while on the higher ledge, up where it's getting misty. However, you'll only be able to peer down at your unlaunched Elites from the end nearest the tower's front door, and in both cases I don't think you'll be getting back down alive!

High landing

See if you can get your firework to land in specific places, just for the challenge. The obvious target is the roof of the tower, but there are also the two high platforms to go for, as well the ledges running around the area. Pre-blasting could help you achieve your goal. You could either use it to provide all the boost, or just to provide most of it and then you'd finish off with some fine-tuning - like a final few rockets and perhaps some needles for spectacle.

I'd say that was another hit

Clay-pigeon shooting, cyborg style

How about a spot of target practice? Send one or both Elites up and try to score hits with your weaponry of choice. I often take a few shots with the sniper rifle while tracking a firework, and if he's not too distant you can see spurts of blood through the zoomed sight. For Elites that aren't going so high, there's always the pistol to try. To increase the challenge in both cases, you could tag an Elite with one or more plasma grenades and only allow yourself to shoot after the mid-air blast - which is likely to divert his trajectory of course, adding an element of randomness.

If you want to be able to shoot again and again without having to do launching work each time, just do some appropriate pre-blasting and get the new checkpoint when just near the release line (possibly up on a ledge), with your desired weapon at the ready. You can even prepare by facing a particular direction in anticipation. Each time you revert, all you need to do is cross the line and your targets will sail up. This is defintely the way to go for some serious shooting.

Much harder than using a sniper rifle or pistol, see if you can score a hit with a rocket. With the low shot speed this is a rather different ball game of course. You're probably best off trying to intercept him near the top of his arc, where his speed is low.

Oddities and observations

In this section I'll mention a variety of quirky things which are interesting but relatively incidental to the main firework fun.

Restored weapon grasp

Usually, an ejected Elite will initially not have hold of his weapon. It'll be frozen a short way from his hand. However, the application of a first needle or plasma grenade makes the weapon suddenly jump into his hand again! You can see this in BCM23 for example.

Speedy dust puffs

Dust puffs shooting off

Blood clouds aren't the only thing subject to cumulative blast. A blood spurt from a needle impact behaves the same, and likewise the small brown dust puff effect (which seems an odd effect to be getting, given that the needle is hitting an Elite and not part of the scenery). Try getting behind those puffs as they fly off. It's quite fun to see a trail of them shooting off together.

Insubstantiality weirdness

Earlier I mentioned that sometimes you can pass through a frozen Elite even before having killed him. I had one case where a red Elite with flickering shield was partly like that. It seemed that I could pass through any part of his body except for his right leg. Weird! Also, he was insubstantial to a Ghost, in the sense that I was able to drive though him and it had no effect (normally any contact would kill your Elite). Strangely, he wasn't insubstantial to a Banshee however; contact from that would kill him.

A red makes a close geological inspection of the cliff face

Passing through rock

As you may notice when you follow your firework with a sniper rifle, his body can sometimes be partly embedded in the cliff face as he skims along it (the tower surface too). But I've seen a much more striking example of this 'passing through rock' behaviour. When I shot him off at high speed in the general direction of the nearest platform, he went clean through the jutting rock that forms the first ledge! Not just skimming, but straight through a massive section of rock. Give it a go and I expect you'll see it yourself if you get the aim right. Stop press: I think I saw it with the second ledge too, when giving an Elite extreme speed.

Deterministic bouncing

If you've done some pre-blasting, try releasing an Elite without doing any further work on him. Repeat. What I found is that when an Elite goes bouncing around the cliffs or whatever, it's almost completely deterministic and he'll always end up in exactly the same spot and with the same body position.

You can exploit this to have a bit of fun. For example I had a blue Elite who'd go flying off into the mist, and while he was off doing his thing bouncing around the cliff faces, I could run over to a particular spot on the snow, look down at it and wait. And sure enough, he'd slide into position at just that spot! Kind of amusing to see. However, just occasionally he didn't turn up and I couldn't find him anywhere, so I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe there was some kind of glitch or he was removed in mid-flight? Another time I had a red Elite who'd always end up skimming across the snow in a particular area. By giving him a whack near the start of his skim, I could get him to leave a long trail of purple blood in the snow.

Note: If you were to add a plasma grenade in exactly the same place on your Elite each time, determinism would normally be lost; he'd end up in various places at random. This seems to show that when a plasma grenade goes off on him, the blast effect is randomized to some extent. In my experiment, I'd got a checkpoint when looking at the Elite. Each time I reverted, I'd throw a plasma without further ado. I don't think throws are randomized at all, so I assume my grenade was landing on the same spot each time. You'll notice that I said "normally" though. In one case I had an Elite who'd been pre-blasted with 50 Scorpion shells. When I released him, he kept ending up at exactly the same spot even when I applied grenades and needles. That was very surprising and I'm not sure what's going on there, but perhaps needle and plasma bangs have no effect if the victim is going fast enough.

Hey, who turned off the snow?

Disappearing falling snow

Earlier I mentioned getting to the stage of firing invisible needles due to graphical overload. At this stage some other graphical oddities can be observed, such as the disappearance of the falling snow. If you rotate your view however, so the game is having to render fewer needles and less splattered blood, the snow blinks back on again - presumably due to some handling capacity being freed up - and you can potentially fire visible needles again, until you turn back.

In some viewing directions you may be able to see the snow blink on and off as you simply switch weapons between your needler and your other weapon. In my case it was a rocket launcher. Switching to my launcher, the snow reappeared, which I'd guess was due to it being less work to render than my needler. Switching back to the needler, the snow blinked off again. Graphical overload can also remove streamers from any plasma grenades incidentally.

Invisible needles really are there, honest!

More on the invisible needles business. If you want convincing that your invisible needles are really there, fire some at the scenery behind the Elite and wait for impact effects to appear. Quite spooky, and kind of fun!

Muted grenade fizz

If you keep tagging your Elite with grenades, you'll probably notice that on grenade 7 the collective fizzing is a bit muted, and on grenade 8 it cuts out completely or almost completely, at least for a while. After that it can come and go as you move around, or while you just wait. Some sort of audio overload trouble? There's an example near the end of BCM24 when I show an 8-grenade tag launch.

The anti-aim effect explained?

I have a theory about that weird anti-aim effect you can get before an Elite is dead. I think it's actually aim assistance taking into account where the game thinks the Elite is heading, except that it's unhelpful because the Elite is frozen, something the game wasn't expecting. Let me elaborate.

Here's an experiment I did with a pre-frozen Elite on Heroic. Facing him, I placed a rocket blast well off to the left. It wasn't enough to kill him, and it caused the anti-aim effect to manifest. Specifically though, my aim seemed to be getting deflected off to the upper right, where he would've been flying to if he wasn't still frozen. I think the game was actually trying to help me shoot in the right direction to score a hit, taking into account that my shot would need to lead the target. When I fired a second shot in the same place, still not killing him, the effect became stronger. That seems consistent with my theory. The game now considered him to be moving at higher speed, so it was giving my aim an even firmer suggestion. Further such experiments gave similar results; my aim would always tend to get deflected in the expected direction of movement.

In addition, I found that the degree of deflection was significantly less when holding a pistol, compared to holding weapons with lower shot speed. That too is consistent with my theory. With the higher shot speed in mind, aim assistance wasn't trying to deflect my aim so much, as I wouldn't need to lead the target so much. However, I have to admit that I didn't get the same result holding an assault rifle, even though that has high shot speed. In terms of deflection, the AR seemed to be lumped into the same class as the launcher and covie weapons, which doesn't really fit my theory unless aim assistance was simply doing a poor job for the AR.

One other thing. If I'm right in thinking that the game doesn't provide aim assistance for an unzoomed sniper rifle, my theory is consistent with the fact that when you're holding one, you don't get the anti-aim effect.

Further evidence from running poses

Stop press: I've now encountered a further bit of evidence supporting the theory. When getting pre-frozen Elites where you meet covies in the tunnel after the underground bridge, you can get them in running poses, and in such a case there's a strong anti-aim effect trying to divert your aim in their apparent direction of motion. For a picture and more detail see Comments for particular locations.