Zoom sensitivity

Hello OA-people! Today Guild has some game and config information to share with you.

Have you ever felt that the sensitivity in game when zooming doesn’t feel quite the same as when you are unzoomed? You are probably not alone.

The zoom sensitivity formula in OpenArena vertical_fov / 75.0. This formula is a bit flawed if your want to preserve the exact same sensitivity feeling when playing zoomed and unzoomed. There is a better and more correct formula explained below!

What is wrong how could it be better?

The first way in which the builtin +zoom formula is flawed is that it assumes the vertical FOV is 75. This is eqvivalent to approximently 91 Hor+ FOV. The other way the formula is flawed is that it scales the formula linearly using newfov / oldfov

The mathematically correct formula is tan(newfov / 2) / tan(oldfov / 2). In this formula it doesn’t matter if vertical of horizontal FOV is used for the calculation as the result will be the same.

This formula can be proven by drawing a triangle with the points A, B and C. The angle at point A is the FOV divided by 2 and the side BC is half of the viewport where the players view gets projected. To calculate the ratio of the size of the viewport when the angle A changes you can use the formula tan(new_A) / tan(old_A). Substitue new_A for newfov / 2 and old_A for oldfov / 2 to get the sensitivity scaling formula.

So how does this affect you in the game?

With a script using xdotool to move the mouse exactly the same distance when zoomed in and zoomed out, shooting to mark positions and taking screenshots we can see exactly how much of a difference it makes.

In game comparasion results between the formulas

On the upper row of the picture we use the mathematically correct formula tan(newfov / 2) / tan(oldfov / 2). As you can see the 2 dots in the middle line up on all pictures which shows that this formula works.

On the lower row we use the linnear scaling formula of new_vfov / old_vfov (the one OpenArena currently uses for +zoom). As you can see the dots does not align as well as when using the other formula.

How do you fix this?

If you feel like using +zoom makes your aim worse, you can make config that changes your zoom sensitivity using the optimal formula. But doing this requires you to switch to a zoom-bind that you press to toggle the zoom instead of holding for it. Instructions on how to do that has been created here on the OpenArena wiki.

You might also prefer that the mouse sensitivity feels a bit slower zoomed than unzoomed, or you have maybe gotten used to the zoom sensitivity of +zoom. Then it might not be worth changing.

Bonus tip!

If you ever want to change your cg_fov you can use this formula to preserve your exact mouse feeling when doing the switch! This should preserve you current muscle memory for flick shots.

You can use fovsenscalc script here to calculate what your new sensitivity and acceleration values should be using the optimal formula.


You are playing with cg_fov 90, sensitivity 3.75, and cl_mouseAccel 0.5. What should sensitivity and cl_mouseAccel be if you switch to cg_fov 110?

Use the script as follows ($ is shell-prompt):

$ ./fovsenscalc --new-fov 110 --old-fov 90 3.75 0.25

So if you want to preserve the exact mouse feeling you should set sensitivity 5.35556 and cl_mouseAccel 0.35704!