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RPGs & The Camera

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In an isometric RPG, would you rather that the camera is fixed on the player, ie he stays fixed in the center, or have an RTS type camera where you can move the screen away from the player and have a look in front of you (possibly restricted by LOS). Of course in the latter, you can set hot keys to center on the Player or other party NPCs. Plus, what flaws do you personally see in each approach?
"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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Morfe,

We played with that for a while and ended up leaving it in. It''s kind of cool but it has the following flaw:

Lets say you base it on LOS and the character is in a long corridor, so you move the camera and place the character in the bottom right corner of the screen. The character can see all the way down the corridor(to the top left) which is cool. But if they turn around or change directions suddenly, you have to re-orient the camera. If you do it automatically then suddenly the character moves to a different corner and it can be very confusing for the player.

Alternatively, you can lock the camera in place and rely on the player to change it''s position, but, to use the situation above, thier field of view is reduced to almost nothing until they move it to a new position.

The main reason we left it in is because when you''re traveling in one direction for a long period (like running through the wilderness from one town to another), it''s cool to be able to readjust the camera and see more of the screen. We also use it to orient the screen on important (plot relevant) NPC''s, items etc, like in an FPS when you press a switch and the camera shows you a door opening.

Just my $0.02

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2 things here:

1st) morfe, is that geocities/mind_phuq link to your personal page?

2nd) As for camera position: My first thought is to keep the camera "centered" on the player and not move it around. My choice for this was keeping a sense of exploring or adventure involved with the character. By allowing the player to move the camera, i would not call it cheating because thats too strong a term...its more like peeking..and grandma would slap your hand for that.

aka John M.
Never give up. Never surrender!


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I''d recommend centered. You have an issue of character identification: The more you can see your avatar, the more you identify with them as he responds to your input.

That doesn''t rule out a special view mode, btw, which works like an RTS camera: say a special spell mode, or a binoculars.

If you''re worried about screen realestate, is zooming an option? Or maybe you can orient the character along the edges of the screen?

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by GalaxyQuest

2 things here:

1st) morfe, is that geocities/mind_phuq link to your personal page?

Yes, and it''s the new design so it''s not complete as of yet. So please be lenient 8)
quote:

2nd) As for camera position: My first thought is to keep the camera "centered" on the player and not move it around. My choice for this was keeping a sense of exploring or adventure involved with the character. By allowing the player to move the camera, i would not call it cheating because thats too strong a term...its more like peeking..and grandma would slap your hand for that.


That''s why I mentioned the LOS. If your player''s view is restricted to direct line of sight, you won''t be able to see most things, but you will normally be about to see further than the screen usually allows.

I suppose an alternative would be to have a fixed camera but an adjustable zoom, allowing the player to zoom out for a quick peek at the surrounding area, and then zoom back to an optimal viewing range. This, however, would really only work for a full 3D environment.



"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

I''d recommend centered. You have an issue of character identification: The more you can see your avatar, the more you identify with them as he responds to your input.

That doesn''t rule out a special view mode, btw, which works like an RTS camera: say a special spell mode, or a binoculars.
Why do I think of the sniper mode on MDK 8)
quote:
If you''re worried about screen realestate, is zooming an option? Or maybe you can orient the character along the edges of the screen?

As I mentioned above, zooming is really only an option if you have a 3D engine. In the sort of system I''m referring to, you''d have pre-rendered sprites on an isometric terrain.



"NPCs will be inherited from the basic Entity class. They will be fully independent, and carry out their own lives oblivious to the world around them ... that is, until you set them on fire ..."

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While thinking about our project we had the same discussion... And to be plain: If you have one character it''s probably better to fix the camera - if you have an entire party the camera should be free like in RTSs!

To fix the camera when having a party is not elegant, it confuses the player by jumping around between the characters and he/she loses sight of the other party members easily.

If your game only has one character (Diablo), then it''s IMO better to let the camera focus on the player. As Wavinator said, this way you identifiy better with the character - and what reason to scroll around is there anyway? Look at Diablo and how it works there...

Just my $0.02...

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www.BadEntertainment.net

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One thing I just thought of is a variation of what''s been discussed in an earlier thread.

The player character could be put at the bottom of the screen, facing up. That way, there''s already a rudimentary LOS, since you cannot see behind you. What is also possible is either an adaptive zoom: if there is no other character or threat or object near you, the system automatically zooms out a little, and when the action is thick and close, it zooms in.
Another possibility is to lower the view angle instead of zooming. So, when there is little to see, you''d have a very low viewing angle, seeing in an almost first-person perspective, and again, when the action is thick and close, you''d have an almost top-down view. That would also kill the isometric nature of the engine though, because you''d have to use 3D rendering, or even stranger tricks, to perform the lowering of the viewpoint.


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

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A comment about the zooming:
Ive played a game called infantry which is a military squad game with basically an "isometric" view. The way it handles zooming is this: when u wish to zoom out, it scrolls the camera in the direction of you LOS so you can scroll camera away from somewhere of about a full screen lenght away...also taking into considerations of not drawing moving objects outside your LOS. This is good for those long range rifles or missle weapons. You can then either use a retracting zoom which scrolls camera back to your position or you can press a centering key. The camera so to say follows an actual line in a direction straight ahead of you. So, this is how i would use "zooming" if i choose to implement it.

aka John M.
Never give up. Never surrender!


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quote:
Original post by MadKeithV

One thing I just thought of is a variation of what''s been discussed in an earlier thread.

The player character could be put at the bottom of the screen, facing up


Though not just limited to facing up, I just wanted to be clear that this is what I meant about having the character drift toward the edges of the screen. If he was facing right, then he''d be on the left. If he was facing down, he''d be on the top of the screen.

There was a game called Firefight which used this method. Although it was for a starship over land, it was dramatically effective. When you were stopped, you were centered. As you moved more quickly, you drifted in the opposite direction of motion. The great thing about it was that since you were so focused on enemies and the motion was so smooth it felt natural.

Just wanted to clarify...


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Just waiting for the mothership...

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I would personally go for (and am using it in my own project) the approach that allows the camera to be moved. This allows the player to see everything not covered in the fog of War.

This seems even more important given the fact that the player in my game may control several characters and these may be scattered across the map.

However, to avoid the problem of disorienting the player I am using same technique as in Baldur''s Gate:
The view always has an arrow in the direction where each player is so they are easy to find.

An alternative technique could be to centered the camera on a character every time the player ordered him to move. This would orient the camera automatically every time needed and would still allows the player to examine the map in detail.

Just my 2 cents.

Jacob Marner

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