Sky-lining is a concept that I think a lot of DayZ newbies are not familiar with. In DayZ sound is a lot more of a crucial element, but a close second is your visual picture. 99.9% of all combat is going to be within sight of someone else, and if you can see them – they can see you. To a lot of veteran gamers managing your sight profile is second nature, but lets examine the subject more deeply.
How Our Sight Process Works
In my Words of Wisdom post about movement I explained how easy it is to see and be seen in DayZ while on the move (or Oscar Mike as we call it). Staying still is very effective if you have the right cammo or ghillie skin, and you use terrain and objects to either mask, break up, or confuse your outline from being seen. Like I said the human eye can very easily catch movement, especially out of the periphery.
Another thing that really catches the eye and your attention is any shape that looks like a person, face, gun, animal, anything that tells the brain “HEY! Something is going on over here” something is coming through the background clutter of trees, rocks, bushes, and dirt. This is usually in our sub conscious, but if you don’t quickly learn how to tap into that part of your brain then you are not going to “do well” in this game. Don’t think I am saying I am some bad ass elitist. Not getting your brains blown out on a regular basis is considered “doing well” in this game.
The most obvious, eye-grabbing, attention-getting moments are when the familiar shape is silhouetted against a solid color object. That could be the sky (hence the term sky-lining), an open field, or the white wall of a red-roofed barn. Making sure that you do not put yourself in this situations, and learning to recognize when others are in this vulnerable zone, is a key to being “good” at DayZ (and most other FPS games).
In the screenshot above a player has clearly sky-lined himself. If you were quickly scanning this area his shape and outline would instinctively tell your brain to stop scanning, and focus in on that object. At this range it is very hard to see a face, gun, even clothing. The shape is what gives him away. More specifically, the anomalous bump that is created on the naturally smooth ridgeline.
Generally speaking, if you are at the top of any ridge there should be at least two different places that you can be seen from. Lazy players often follow ridge lines and even the best players get lazy sometimes. When I am moving I usually keep a count in my head of how many places am I vulnerable from, and I am always trying to keep that number to one or less.
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How to Avoid Sky-lining
In the second screen shot, above, you can see that now the player is much closer, probably about 100 meters now. He is not sky-lining anymore though. He is off the ridge line now and this has two benefits. For one he is much, much less visible to me. Although he is twice as close now he would be much harder to spot in a quick scan because he is not breaking the horizon and making it easy to spot. This effect is multiplied though, because he can not be seen from the other side of the ridge. Now the number of sides that he is vulnerable on is only 1. Anyone on the backside of the hill will never see him.
When you are moving, you can follow the ridges but pick the side you are LEAST LIKELY to have contact (contact means someone seeing/hearing/shooting at you, or you seeing/hearing/shooting at them). When you move, stay about 10-20 yards down off the top. This is called the “military crest”. You should always stay on the military crest, not the actual crest. This basically makes a wall on one side and covers your movement. If you are in a draw, gully, valley, or ditch then that can be good too. That means that although you are vulnerable from above on both sides, anyone below the tops of the flanking ridges can’t see you. I will have another post later about using ditches to assault targets.
Use these tips to stay off those ridge lines. In the coming weeks I will be writing more about many subjects, but a lot of them will revolve around your silhouette and visual profile.
Thanks to heretic for teaching me the term military crest.
Please comment below and share your stories about how you caught someone by using these techniques.