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Choosing the right camera style?

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Choosing the right camera style? I, for the life of me, have been unable to find a suitable camera system for my project. My problem is this: - I like the perspective offered in Diablo II, even though this game didn't use a 3D engine and didn't really have a 'camera', per se. It allowed you to see more of the terrain, and essentially left you free to play without worrying about the camera. However, for me, more than anything was the way the camera made you feel while playing the game. It didn't give the feeling that you were surroundedby this immense world. You didn't feel as if you were bound to the ground, even though you were. However, it wasn't very versatile, and it would be hard to use such a simple system for a more complex RPG. The camera in Diablo II also had a unique feel since the game only offered at most a pseudo perspective rendering mode. It seemed as if it were perspective, but it lacked uniform perspective distortion, so you could still tell that it wasn't really a 3D world. - I like the perspective in games like World of Warcraft as well. They allow you to look at the action from many diferent angles, and configure the camera as you see fit. However, the perspective distortion in these games gives the feeling of an immensely massive world, while the limited perspective in Diablo II gives the illusion of an unending world. Perspective distortion curves the landscape towards the horizon, instantly indictating that you are on a sphere. Spheres have limited surface areas. A flat landscape can go on forever. The limited view in an isometrically styled games can give the illusion of an infinite world. My problem is that while I am leaning towards a Diablo II style view, I don't want to limit players to that one view of the terrain, but I also don't want to have the untstructured nature of a free, over the shoulder camera. The combat system I'm using can work with either view, so it comes down to a battle between these two things: - The uniformity, style, and simplicity of isometric camera angles VS - The functional benefits of having a free floating camera I want players to be able to see the sky. But I don't want players to have to play in a third person over the shoulder perspective, and I don't want players to fiddle with the camera. It should be configured so that it doesn't need to be moved around and does what it needs to do. I think developers take liberties with PC camera angles because of the availability of a mouse. But this takes away from the cinematic quality of the game. I can't seem to find a good balance between different camera types. Any ideas/does anyone need clarification?

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In my opinion, if the game is heavily focused on the adventure side of things OR is a turn-based game (or both), a free camera ala WoW is the way to go. If the game is going to have a lot of PvP and/or is not turn-based (i.e. more action oriented), then a fixed camera like you see in Diablo is best.

Playing with the camera, which you are forced to do if everyone else has a free camera, is a major annoyance in PvP. You spend as much time futzing with the camera as you do combat itself. You are always "looking" for where the attack is coming from and jockying angles. WoW, in my opinion, has very annoying PvP but good adventuring. I still generally prefer more of an "action feel" like Diablo than the semi-turn based set-up in WoW, but the other positives with WoW outweigh this negative from the adventuring side of things.

So, I think the other aspects of your game dictate the camera style you will use. Lay out what you want to acomplish and the best camera will probably become much more apparent.

You can help the "limited view" thing in PvP by having a quality minimap overlay with a lot of good info, but that won't really help the adventuring. Though I will say, I haven't had as much fun adventuring in WoW as I did in Diablo with the guys from work. Diablo just had this perfect confluence of factors. So perhaps the fixed is just as good for adventuring as well, as long as the game is good to begin with...

[Edited by - Ned_K on April 24, 2005 11:04:34 PM]

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Hmm.. Playing with a free-roaming camera can be a pain, but it does let me get some good views. Whereas the static camera of Diablo II allowed me to focus more on the gameplay rather than working on getting the optimal view.

If you had to choose between the two extreme's of static Vrs freeform, maybe you could consider going along the middle ground and allowing the player to toggle between several pre-set views/camera angles. Or you could make it so that the player could use a temporary free-form camera angle to setup Static set camera angles that he can quickly toggle through for optimal viewing. This would leave the choice of which is best upto the player, which in the end maybe the way to go.

*edit* You could try looking at Ragnarok Online perhalps as a better example, which used a 3D engine with 2D sprites & a free-roaming camera. The camera (dispite the freedom) seems quite unobtrusive, mostly because people liked staying in overhead, but you could pan around the environment for a better view, & then default it back to overhead.*edit*

Eitherway, playing around with it will help you figure it out. ;D

[Edited by - Gyrthok on April 25, 2005 12:57:15 AM]

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The more I think about it, the more I think free cameras are a MMORPG novelty adapted from the cameras of FPS games. People think they add to the "immersion" of the game when, IMO, they make you putz around with the camera so much you often get slightly dizzy. I was totally engrossed in Diablo 2 without any camera control at all, for both gameplay AND PvP.
Free cameras are a pain. In a FPS, they MAY be required, but in an RPG they are not. Personally, I don't like shooters precisely because the camera thing drives me nuts.

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I'm making a very simular game. The only definite is that it's 3rd person. The camera is basically fixed on the player (aka Diablo), but has a bunch of user options to enable it to be automatically useful. For example, the user can turn on an option to make the camera always try to look in the direction the player moves. Another option enables the camera to always look in the direction the player faces (characters can move backwards and sideways, so moving is seperate from direction facing). There are also options to fix the camera on opponents or incoming attackers. All options have priority settings, so one will override another if two are needed at once (like facing and moving).

Once all of the automatic functionality is set up, the player is still free to override it with manual camera control. But it's entirely up to them.

The most annoying thing I've found is that a camera that works well on the battlefield really sucks when in-doors. When there's a roof over your head, it's difficult to zoom out very far, unless you do the old-school RPG look and make it see-through. It's still annoying in places like caves or tunnels. Which are really nice places to go exploring.

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I think that both options are valid, as long as you can toggle fast enough.

Indeed, for PvE and for exploration, it is important to have a viewthat allows you to appreciate the direction between yourself and your goal. In this respect, a Firest-Person view, or "Over-the-shoulder" view are often found best.

But for PvP, since your direct opponent often finds it easwier to round you in order to make you dizzy, a "direct eagle-eye" view will, in my opinion make it easier for you to find him and direct your character towards him, in order to fight correctly.

In conclusion, I would say that BOTH "direct eagle-eye" and "over-the-shoulder" views are NEEDED in your design, and should appear as alternatives the player can toggle to, not as strict alternatives, set in your design and mutually excluding each other.

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