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xycos

Camera design in 3D 3rd-person game

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This is more of a general wondering than anything that'll come to any kind of fruition, but what sorts of camera design do you perfer in a third-person game? 1. A camera that always foillows directly behind the player (a la Max Payne). 2. A sweeping camera that attempts to find its way behind the player eventually (a la Mario 64). If this option, with or without user control, and if with, just how much user control? 3. A camera aimed from a specific position in relation to the player, whether top-down or isometric (a la Metal Gear Solid). 4. A camera whose placement is dependent on the area (a la Resident Evil). Also, should player movement be player-centered (up moves the player foreward) or camera-centered (up moves the player up)? Just some general wonderings on what everybody thinks. Personally, I think option #2 is terribly cumbersome (plus it takes a lot more programming than any of the other options), but if enough people like it, I might give some thought to it. It seems to be used in a lot of games, so apparently there must be some merit to this approach.

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Allways camera relative, it's what people expect.

The type of camera depends on the game. If you need to aim with the camera you will have to have it tether tightly behind like in any 3rd person shooter. If there are acrobatics like in POP the camera need to be a bit more free so you can see the combat and the acrobatic elements. In such a game the camera needs to be controlled in certain areas that have complex acrobatic elements, to assist the player.

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If it's an action game, that requires both hotkey use and the mouse, I MUCH MUCH prefer fixed isometric. This allows the player to not have to mess with panning the camera while trying to execute actions. The richest 3rd person action games will use both the mouse and keyboard for actual combat, etc. anyway, rather than just one or the other. This is especially true for on-line games. If the camera can be moved around you find you are always forced to use it, since it often gives you tactical advantage, meaning that many duels (or whatever) are decided by lucky initial camera angles. If I'm playing an action game (like nose-bleed fast action), I don't want to have to mess with always playing with my camera.

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I had a lot of trouble deciding on this myself. I ended up going for a 2D-like isometric camera. Diablo or such, but a little closer. There are options to make the camera rotate automatically, but they are off by default. Basically it just hovers around to keep you in view, but keeps it's rotation fixed.

There are a lot of situations where I still feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. When the player walks behind large structures, the camera obviously needs to do something or he's hidden. That or go with transparency effects which totally ruin the immersion. It can be as simple as a huge tree. If an enemy just happens to be launching arrows at the player from behind (in view) this tree, the player is at a huge game-only disadvantage and needs to rotate the camera to see the target. I guess situations like this are the biggest drawback to the iso view.

The biggest problem I had with behind-the-shoulder type views are that they're basically first person. Or they might as well be. About the only difference is the fact that you have a player head hiding the bottom of the screen. It is still better than first person for melee type combat. Seeing your character execute these style attacks is pretty important.

My 4 cents.

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Kind of off topic... actually mostly to do with the post above me.

Quote:
If an enemy just happens to be launching arrows at the player from behind (in view) this tree, the player is at a huge game-only disadvantage and needs to rotate the camera to see the target. I guess situations like this are the biggest drawback to the iso view.


This might also get annoying, but if someone can hit you that would mean there's line of sight. In said case could you set the camera to be behind the character opposite the angle of incident (where you're getting hit from?) though still keeping the same isometric type angle?

Or have it on a targetting system and always aim the camera the best it can torward the target. That way if you have no target, and you get hit, you can set your target and have your camera take care of the work.... I always liked that in games, that way your movement is relative to your target (think Kingdom Hearts or Devil May Cry). I love those sorts of camera systems...

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One of the ways to overcome line-of-sight issues with fixed cameras is to use a transparent minimap overlay. It will have a "show" range for hostiles and friendlies greater than the size of your screen. In fact, you can make this range a game variable and something the player has to invest in to improve, like "perception" or whatever you want to call it. Diablo 2 did a decent job with this and the Diablo 2 maphack from Mousepad was actually quite a decent improvent for PvP, though it hurt the PvE aspect. And no, I'm not advocating hacks, I'm just stating what it was: better than the original. In any event, you either allow the mini to show off-screen attackers or you require the player to frantically spin the camera around to find the attackers. I prefer option number one. The more "action" oriented your game, the more I feel a fixed camera is preferable. In a game like Guild Wars, for example, the action is much slower than in Diablo 2. In GW, the computer fights for you while you toggle skills and toggle through your enemy/frinedly lists for targets. A moveable camera is more justifiable in that game due to its slower pace and how the combat is structured. In Diablo 2, it's twitch combat, at least in high level PvP. Having to mess with cameras would make it far less fun and shift skill more into camera manipulation and luck.

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In the game market you see a lot of #4. You also see alot of poorly implemented #4. In a game with any kind of real time combat, especially fast paced, this can cause problems. I know we all have played games where the camera gets stuck and there is no way to fix it. If levels are not designed with this in mind then it becomes very easy for enemies to be hidden, and still in combat with the player. This leads to uneccesary, but not unwarrented, anger at the game.

For a game without insane action I prefer the isometric for most all circumstances. For quick paced action, but not first person, over the shoulder works very well.

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