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These Trippy Heatmaps Show the Differences Between FPS and RTS Games

There is beauty in the way you move.
Image: Peter Hunt

Redditor Peter Hunt has taken r/dataisbeautiful by storm by dropping some incredible heatmaps tracking his mouse movements while playing different genre games like Overwatch and Age of Empires II, with code he created himself.

The mouse tracks and heatmaps recorded from Overwatch clearly show an all-round movement style you'd expect from a first person shooter (FPS), with the mouse also pulled towards the centre.


Overwatch mouse track. Image: Peter Hunt

The mouse tracks recorded from an Age of Empires II session, on the other hand, demonstrate the gaming style expected with a real-time strategy (RTS) game, with the mouse darting to the bottom corners of the screen for taskbar clicking, and then moving back to the centre of the screen.

"From the RTS stuff you can clearly see that you should be using more hotkeys ;)" jokes one Redditor.

Age of Empires II mouse track. Image: Peter Hunt

Hunt told Motherboard that each game heatmap and mouse track took a few hours to make, with the general desktop movement track and heatmap running for around a week.

"Around 60 times per second the main script will check the mouse and keyboard for any new information, and send it to a background process to do the heavier stuff," Hunt told Motherboard in an email. "Currently it records mouse movement, mouse clicks and keyboard presses (and more recently mouse acceleration—the idea came from an artist who commented on reddit)."

Age of Empires II heatmap. Image: Peter Hunt

Hunt's code is available on GitHub. "The script is still work in progress. You'll need Python to get it working. It'd say it's like 95 percent done, there's just a few more tweaks I need to do to the image generation before actually releasing it," he said.

General mouse movement heatmap. Image: Peter Hunt

Hunt was inspired by the Razer's Synapse tracking software, but said that it has a tendency to break if resolution is switched a few times. "Eventually it gets to a point where the heatmap is entirely red and the tracks are entirely white, so I liked the idea of a tracking program you can just leave running forever without it getting filled up," he said.

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