“Shoot your shot” is something you hear a lot, and it can be pretty scary. Still, for Julian “Jibb” Smart, a video game input specialist, helped him land the project of a lifetime: developing an all-new gyro-aiming operating system for one of the biggest games in the world, Fortnite. Simply put, Smart “shot his shot”. He emailed Epic Games, essentially saying, “your gyro systems are great, but they could be better, and I know how.”
It was a bold statement. You see, Epic Games created the most famous battle royale in recent memory, further complemented by a highly successful online storefront. In addition, the company developed Unreal Engine, one of the world’s most widely used video game engines. But if you know something well, and you can substantiate it, such a shot is worth it, and perhaps to Smart’s surprise, Epic responded positively, saying, “let’s do it.”
Flick Stick creator and input specialist, Julian “Jibb” Smart
So Smart started implementing a new and improved gyro aiming system for Fortnite on PlayStation consoles, Switch, PC and Android, adding officially approved controls for his creation, Flick Stick – features now live in-game starting today. . We spoke to Smart about how the development went, what it’s like for him to see his passion project in Fortnite, and why gyro aiming and extra options like Flick Stick are not only a win for advanced Fortnite players, but a triumph for Fortnite players as well. accessibility initiatives .
“This was super exciting,” says Smart. “It feels like it’s been a four-year journey, and this is just the biggest step in that. One thing we talk about in the gyro community… is ‘what does it take to hold this stuff’ [across video games] to have an impact?’ and it becomes a huge game; it will be a game where the controls really matter to players.”
That game was supposed to be something as big as Fortnite – it doesn’t hurt that Fortnite is where Smart’s gyro targets landed, and now the one-person developer is extremely excited to see if gyroscopes like this take off in other massive titles. Introducing additional controls and options into a game is never a bad idea as it makes playing games more accessible for everyone.
Smart’s interest in gyro input took off after the 2015 release of Nintendo’s Splatoon, a third-person shooter whose primary target mechanic uses gyro controls. At the time, Smart was eager to get his hands on Splatoon, as it was unique for a developer as prominent as Nintendo to use standard gyro aiming. He always knew that adding gyro to a player’s toolset increased precision and accuracy. Splatoon was a perfect proof of concept.
Smart would start developing new input controls and options as a side job/hobby after Splatoon’s release. He eventually fell in love with the gyro community.
“I’ll learn how to do gyro control right,” Smart reminds himself. “And then I can create resources. I can say to other developers and players with authority, ‘This is how easy or hard it is; this is what you should do. Let’s just do it.’ So I made an open source input called JoyShockMapper†
From there, Smart created a Youtube Channel to show people how to do what he was doing. He also made a website called GyroWiki, a wealth of resources on how to implement proper gyro controls. From there it took off and soon Smart became a well-known figure in the gyro entry community.
Fast forward a few years, and today things are finally official: Smart’s gyro input system is currently available in Fortnite. Smart recognizes that many developers try their best to use gyro controls in their games, but as with almost anything, you could end up with a half-baked version without the help of a specialist.
“They try their best to give other people the control they want, but they don’t [as good as they could be]’ says Slim. “There are a few different things that almost every game fiddles with, and one of those things that’s really important to me is that a player has the option to disable the gyro controls at any time.”
Last week that was not possible in Fortnite. Today it is. A quick look through the latest blog post about Fortnite’s new gyro options reveals how many more customizable gyro controls there are in the battle royale.
“What I’ve really appreciated about Fortnite is the understanding that if these controls benefit people, we need to make sure people know about them, and if people don’t know yet that they’re going to benefit from our controls, they should. we make sure they know how to do it,” says Smart. “In the lead up to the release of this update, I see Epic really getting behind this feature and thinking, ‘how are we going to make sure as much as possible? people experience this? How do we get people to see the potential and just try it?’ And if it’s not for them, it’s not for them. I won’t speak for everyone, but I think most players will benefit from gyro control.”
Smart says it may take some time to get used to, after all, it’s a brand new way to handle aiming in a fast-paced battle royale. But he also says that some players pick it up quickly, and once you get used to it, going back can feel like you’re losing quite a bit of precision from your playstyle. That extra precision is why gyro aiming is such a boon for pro players or even those who just want to take their gameplay to the next level.
“Experienced players obviously benefit from this [precise] immediacy of control,” says Smart. “There are much better players than me who can make moves where people look, ‘that should be a mouse and keyboard player,’ but it isn’t. [thanks to gyro, control precision mimics the same high level of precision seen on mouse and keyboard]† To raise that skill ceiling, to have that precision, that means we’re doing away with aiming aid.”
If you have disabled the gyro control, the aim assist will still be there. If you’ve got gyro on, aim assist is turned off and Smart says that makes things fair. Gyro aiming plus aim assist would be unfair, especially for highly skilled players.
In addition to providing additional options for pro-level players, Smart’s new gyro options also take advantage of Fortnite’s accessibility.
“It’s been really cool to work with players who, be it injury, a temporary disability, or a long-term disability, can’t play games with a standard controller,” says Smart. †[These gyro options] could let them play. I got a lot of feedback in that regard and it was very encouraging to get into accessibility. It’s not “one size fits all,” so the only way to meet everyone’s needs is to provide the options that meet everyone’s needs.”
Smart believes that new options like these are a step in that direction. The push for accessibility in gaming, especially in recent years, has been encouraging and inspired him to continue to advocate for gyro input in games. He will also continue to support the Flick Stick, which will also allow players to make quick moves and reversals, as it will both help pro players and enrich Fortnite’s overall accessibility.
“It’s so awesome,” Smart says when asked what it’s like to see his own Flick Stick as an official option in Fortnite. “It’s so cool. It’s been my hope from the beginning to share this information with the world and see that games can run away from it. Now I’m getting paid to do stuff like this in one of the biggest games in the world , and to see that feature I came up with even as a name… it’s unreal And that’s super bland because it’s a play on words [Epic develops Unreal Engine], but it’s totally spot-on. Seeing my feature film come to the world in this way is really a dreamy experience.”
Now that these features are live in Fortnite, Smart wants to give a big compliment to the entire gyro gaming community:
“They’ve been incredibly helpful, providing feedback, contributing code to JoyShockMapper and other open source projects, helping people and motivating me to keep pushing to change the way games are played.”
He would also like to thank Epic Games for the opportunity and help developing these new options alongside him.
Read more about these new gyro options in Fortnite Gaming Tech Gear’s full breakdown of all new gyro settings.