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spaceship camera (like Descent..)

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i'm trying to write a small game like Xwing vs Tie Fighter and i've got some problems with the camera: basically when i try to rotate up or down i need to CONTINUE the rotation (not to stop like when i look up/down in a fps)... this way i could complete a circle if i wish. in my old fps engine i used this function to rotate the camera with the mouse:
void CCamera::SetViewByMouse()
	POINT mousePos;							// This is a window structure that holds an X and Y
	int middleX = g_Width  >> 1;					// This is a binary shift to get half the width
	int middleY = g_Height >> 1;					// This is a binary shift to get half the height
	float angleY = 0.0f;							// This is the direction for looking up or down
	float angleZ = 0.0f;							// This will be the value we need to rotate around the Y axis (Left and Right)
	static float currentRotX = 0.0f;

	if( (mousePos.x == middleX) && (mousePos.y == middleY) ) return;

	SetCursorPos(middleX, middleY);							
	angleY = (float)( (middleX - mousePos.x) ) / 500.0f;		
	angleZ = (float)( (middleY - mousePos.y) ) / 500.0f;		
	currentRotX -= angleZ;  

	if(currentRotX > 2)
		currentRotX = 2;
	else if(currentRotX < -1.0f)
		currentRotX = -1.0f;

		CVector3 vAxis = Cross(m_vView - m_vPosition, m_vUpVector);

		RotateView(angleZ, vAxis.x, vAxis.y, vAxis.z);
		RotateView(angleY, 0, 1, 0);

what should i modify? Does someone know a tutorial or a link?

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There is a very simple way to do this. I had it on my old Tie Fighter game, lol. All u need to do is comment this line:

SetCursorPos(middleX, middleY);

This will stop the mouse being set to middle. And the distance will keep being added the further away u are from middle. Good Luck

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Basically, I can see 2 problems in your approach :
- you calculate the angles using the mouse movement only. You should "add" the mouse movement to previous values of the angles ;
- you might want to use a quaternion to store the orientation. You will avoid gimbal lock problems.

Tell me if you want me to post some code. I have a class that handles the position and orientation of objects/cameras that is pretty easy to use.

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What I do in those cases is store the orientation of the ship as a 4x4 matrix (a quaternion works too).

From this matrix, I can extract the up/side/forward vectors through matrix multiplication so I can move the ship the right way.

To rotate, I simply generate a new rotation matrix (around the X Y or Z axis) and multiply the previous matrix by the new one: this changes the orientation as by a real rotation.

The "view" matrix is the inverse of the orientation matrix multiplied by the translation matrix (which you get from the position of the ship).

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@rodzilla: it would be very nice if you post your camera class :)

anyway, i've changed my approach: i don't need anymore to rotate the camera with the mouse, i have to use only the keyboard. So now for example, if i keep pressed the UP key, the camera view changes doing a complete circle if necessary.

I hope i've been clear...

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Here's the class I use to handle camera/objects movement.

First the math-related stuff ; you probably have your own classes so I won't put mine in here. All you need is a Vector3 and a Quaternion classes. You should define glTranslate and inv_glTranslate for the Vector3 and glRotate and inv_glRotate for the Quaternion.
glTranslate is straightforward, glRotate is:

glRotate() const {
float scale_2 = x*x+y*y+z*z;

if (scale_2 != 0.0) {
float angle = acos(w);

float inv_scale = inv_sqrt(scale_2);
glRotatef(114.59155902616464175358*angle, x*inv_scale, y*inv_scale, z*inv_scale);

Here's the PO (position-orientation) class:

class PO {
//! Position.
Vector3 m_position;
//! Orientation.
Quaternion m_orientation;

//! A vector facing forward.
Vector3 m_forward;
//! A vector facing up.
Vector3 m_up;
//! A vector facing right.
Vector3 m_right;

void update_vectors();

//! Default constructor.

//! Get the position.
/*! \return the position.

const Vector3& get_position() const { return m_position; }

//! Set the position.
/*! \param p the new position.

void set_position(const Vector3& p);

//! Get the orientation.
/*! \return the orientation.

const Quaternion& get_orientation() const { return m_orientation; }

//! Set the orientation.
/*! \param p the new orientation.

void set_orientation(const Quaternion& q);

//! Move the PO.
/*! \param v the translation vector in world coordinates.

void translate(const Vector3& v);

//! Rotate the PO.
/*! \param q the rotation quaternion in world coordinates.

void rotate(const Quaternion& q);

//! Return the PO's forward vector.
/*! \return the PO's forward vector in world coordinates.

const Vector3& forward() const { return m_forward; }

//! Return the PO's up vector.
/*! \return the PO's up vector in world coordinates.

const Vector3& up() const { return m_up; }

//! Return the PO's right vector.
/*! \return the PO's right vector in world coordinates.

const Vector3& right() const { return m_right; }

update_vectors() {
m_right.x = 1.0f - 2.0f * ( m_orientation.y * m_orientation.y + m_orientation.z * m_orientation.z );
m_up.x = 2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.y - m_orientation.w * m_orientation.z );
m_forward.x = -2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.z + m_orientation.w * m_orientation.y );
m_right.y = 2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.y + m_orientation.w * m_orientation.z );
m_up.y = 1.0f - 2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.x + m_orientation.z * m_orientation.z );
m_forward.y = -2.0f * ( m_orientation.y * m_orientation.z - m_orientation.w * m_orientation.x );
m_right.z = 2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.z - m_orientation.w * m_orientation.y );
m_up.z = 2.0f * ( m_orientation.y * m_orientation.z + m_orientation.w * m_orientation.x );
m_forward.z = 2.0f * ( m_orientation.x * m_orientation.x + m_orientation.y * m_orientation.y ) - 1.0f;

// The default construtor initializes the forward, up and right vectors.
PO() : m_forward(0, 0, -1),
m_up(0, 1, 0),
m_right(1, 0, 0) {

// Moving the camera means adding a given vector to its position.
translate(const Vector3& v) {
m_position += v;

// Rotate the camera :
rotate(const Quaternion& q) {
// apply the rotation to the orientation.
m_orientation *= q;


// Set the camera's position.
set_position(const Vector3& p) {
m_position = p;

// Set the camera's orientation.
set_orientation(const Quaternion& q) {
m_orientation = q;

Here's how to use the PO:

// If the PO is used for a camera you can do the following
// before drawing your scene :
glLoadIdentity(); // Set it to identity.
po.get_orientation().inv_glRotate(); // Apply the inverted rotation
po.get_position().inv_glTranslate(); // Apply the inverted translation

// If the PO is used for an object you can do the
// following before drawing it :
po.get_orientation().glRotate(); // Apply the rotation
po.get_position().glTranslate(); // Apply the translation

// If you want to translate the camera/object, just use
// the translate() method and forward, right, up vectors.
// Here's how I handle keyboard-controlled time-based movement:
float forward_move = (key_state(SDLK_e)-key_state(SDLK_x));
float right_move = (key_state(SDLK_d)-key_state(SDLK_s));
float up_move = (key_state(SDLK_r)-key_state(SDLK_c));
Vector3 tmp = forward_move*m_camera.po.forward()
+ right_move*m_camera.po.right()
+ up_move*m_camera.po.up();

// Rotating is nearly as easy :
handle_mouse_motion(const int x, const int y) {
if (mouse_button_state(SDL_BUTTON_RIGHT)) { // If right mouse button is pressed the mouse
if (x != 0) { // rotates the camera around its forward vector.

Vector3 v(0, 0, -1); // This is the forward vector (in camera coordinates).
Quaternion q(v, x*0.001); // Create a quaternion that holds a rotation
// around this vector.

m_camera[m_current_camera].po.rotate(q);// Rotate the camera.
} else { // If right mouse button is not pressed the mouse
if (x != 0) { // rotates the camera around its up and right vectors.
Vector3 v(0, 1, 0);
Quaternion q(v, -x*0.001);

if (y != 0) {
Vector3 v(1, 0, 0);
Quaternion q(v, -y*0.001);

return true;

Sure this class could be made easier-to-use (add rotate_x, rotate_y and rotate_z functions for example).

Any feedback welcome !

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