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Third person cameras

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There's a lot of behavior that needs designed for a 3D third person camera: + Following style (delays then pulls, or tightly rigged) + Looking style (player controlled, or automated - for typical shooters, it usually needs to be player controlled) + Height relative to the player (can you see the player's feet? does the player take up the whole screen?) + Stride relative to the player (for example, Dead Space uses a large to-the-right offset) + Zooming in and out + Collision avoidance (zooming versus rotation, or both) + Switching modes (crouching, melee to ranged, getting into a vehicle) Does anyone have any annoyances with these types of cameras, or any behavior preferences? Or is this just one of those things players will easily accept, even when they find the behavior abnormal? For example, I hated the Prince of Persia cameras. I liked that the game wanted to alleviate the player's responsibility of moving it around, but the rotations to avoid visual collisions were fast, and really messed with my character maneuvering. Are there any other examples of things other games did right or wrong in this area?

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In the newest Zelda, the camera can get rather annoying. I noticed annoyances in Metroid as well. Most often my quible is with making me deal with pointing the camera. I don't want to feel like a camera man following the PC I want to feel like the PC! The camera needs to follow and look such that the player is always looking at the character's back. Also, the direction controls need to be relative to the camera and not the character, always and without exception. If it is relative to the character and the camera rotates 90° without warning, the character isn't walking in the direction you intended. Metroid in morphball did this constantly. It would adjust camera angles for the odd turns, but then you would start going backwards because it just reversed 'front' and 'back' on you.

Smooth collision avoidance is probably an art, and one that needs to be mastered as well.

I prefer no stride, im in third, not first person, but im also not an actual third person either.

Looking is usually best when you make a good automation for typical gameplay and allow manual deviation from that angle with a snap back. The game needs to be fully enjoyable without using manual though.

I have no preference of delayed then pull, or tight. A smooth feel is usually good so a slight delay and pull is best I guess, but too much or too little would not be terrible either.

Height needs to be such that you can fight and explore and see what needs seeing, thats it.

Overall, transitions need to be smooth but responsive, the camera has to show everything the player needs to see at all times, and it should all be automatic such that the player is controlling his character and not his cameraman.

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Original post by JasRonq
Smooth collision avoidance is probably an art, and one that needs to be mastered as well.

There's a rather simple gimmick that works pretty well for this. Attach two spheres to the camera - one just big enough to prevent intersection of the view planes, and one a bit larger. The larger sphere doesn't respond to collisions. Instead, it starts the smooth motion to get away from them. The closer any collision is from the large sphere to the small sphere, the faster the camera moves to adjust. With the right settings, it works very well for me. However, I've noticed myself hating the types of collision adjustments some cameras use, and provided a lot of options to control this behavior.

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I prefer no stride, im in third, not first person, but im also not an actual third person either.

Well, in third person shooters, if the camera is zoomed in, and you can see most of your character's body, you definitely need some horizontal offset, or you won't be able to see what you're aiming at. Hitman did well without using any, but the view also cut the player's body off around the chest.

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I don't think the automated camera will ever offer a good feel to it, not any time soon anyhow. It's like top down control brought to 3D but instead of just orienting your character you gotta deal with the camera too... not smooth. I would just use a top down perspective then build the combat design to emphasize the perspective, such as the character model briefly coming into close contact with the camera (like during a special jump attack, for a glimpse the model is very huge / close to the camera) plus make the the special abilities appear near the camera a lot too (like calling a storm of chinese stars). That would show off the top down camera rather than just let it get criticized.

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In most point-and-aim shooters, such as Dead Space, Hitman, Gears of War, and my project, the camera isn't very automated. It represents the direction your character is looking (and what movement is relative to), and is completely under control of the mouse (or analog stick). However, most of the mentioned behaviors still apply.

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I like to be able to rotate the camera independently of my character when necessary, but mostly have it stay at my preferred zoom and angle relative to my character - this is usually as zoomed-out as the engine allows (10-20 feet behind my character?), and looking downward at maybe a 10 degree angle. It's also fine to have the camera automatically zoom in on NPC's when they talk to you, or anything in the game world that you are being given a hint about or have just triggered.

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I think the most important thing in a Third Person game is to not have a fixed camera. I can keep track of the camera fairly well, I wish games would stop adjusting it every time I move.
Being able to switch between automatic and player controlled cameras on the fly would be the best addition.

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Cpt Mothballs, I hear you there.
I really dislike 3rd person cameras in games where the controls are camera relative, if only because most games insist on having things that adjust the camera to point at object X.
If the game is going to move the camera around to look at things (or keep it pointing down a path) the character controls need to be character relative.
In Zelda Ocarina of Time, i've always hated having to set link facing one way tap 'reset camera' then move the character now that UP on the joystick was foreward, expecially in the few places with thin paths and hard jumps (weren't many, but i hated each and every one of them).
I don't mind 3rd person cameras where they give you good control over the position of the camera (c-stick on the gamecube, or one of the two joysticks on PS2). But they need to either be able to float through walls, OR be able to zoom in. Too many games give you control of the camera, but you just end up fighting it bumping into things as much as you fight having your character bump into things.

Resident Evil did it right. Stylistic, fixed third person views. Character relative controls. (not 4. 4 was NOT resident evil)
Dead Space did it right. 3rd person camera that behaved like a first person camera. Zoomed almost to a first person camera if the area was tight and you were bumping the camera into things.

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Original post by Cpt Mothballs
I think the most important thing in a Third Person game is to not have a fixed camera. I can keep track of the camera fairly well, I wish games would stop adjusting it every time I move.
Being able to switch between automatic and player controlled cameras on the fly would be the best addition.


Amen brother! If I have one major peeve, it's this one.

For a long time I didn't play 3rd person because I could not stand it. I'm still borderline, but a few games have gotten me used to it. But I'm always curious why it can't be an option. I play all driving games, RPGs and shooter first person, and in shooters that are 3PS at least expect first person for things like sniping.

Probably needless to say, but I'd prefer to be as over the shoulder as possible. I'm not sure if it was Brute Force or not, but I remember one nice feature of making the character transparent in order to see targets.

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Original post by Wavinator
Probably needless to say, but I'd prefer to be as over the shoulder as possible. I'm not sure if it was Brute Force or not, but I remember one nice feature of making the character transparent in order to see targets.


You were just playing casper the friendly ghost.

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Original post by Wavinator
For a long time I didn't play 3rd person because I could not stand it.

Were there any specific camera traits/behaviors that lead to your not being able to stand it, or did you have a phobia?

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I'm still borderline, but a few games have gotten me used to it. But I'm always curious why it can't be an option.

Probably usually because first person character mobility/actions are nearly instant, and look terrible as animations, and/or because third person character mobility/actions feel clunky and slow when you can't see why your character is taking so long to do things.

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First-person: camera positioned at the "center" (head or whatever makes sense) of the player
Third-person: camera looking at the center of the player, but that can be positioned anywhere. The whole "on the shoulder" camera thing is to simply but the center to the side.

So what you are asking is how to position the camera in third-person. This is generally a sphere if you can provide the three degrees of freedom: radius (zoom), up/down and left/right.
Depending on type of input, you may choose to provide free control of the camera, just a button to place it behind you, force the camera to always be behind, or automatic follow.
I personally wonder how the zoom is handled with a stick, that only provides 2D information.

I personally find automatic follow very annoying, because it does not do what I want most of the time.
If you couple it with other control inputs it can be bearable though.

Quote:
In the newest Zelda, the camera can get rather annoying

The camera management in twilight princess actually depends on whether you have the Wii or the Gamecube version.
The wii version doesn't have a free camera, simply because the controller doesn't allow it. The Gamecube version does, however.
The sad thing is that you can't play the Wii version with a Gamecube controller.

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