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Old 03-07-2004, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default "Controlable" Cameras in 3D Gaming: Thy Friend or Thy Foe?

Sometimes when you play a 3D game the camera goes beserk and you can't see you character, sometimes it simply "disobeys" you and it simply gets in your way....

But sometimes it always there where you need it and it never gets in your way how hinders your progress...

How many of you think that a contralable camera (instead of fixed) is a good thing and how many of you don't?

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Old 03-07-2004, 10:31 PM   #2
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Ghost Master, Silent Hill.

I think you have to go on a game by game, genre by genre basis. It works well here, not well there. For example, in a strategy title like Ghost Master you have full control to pan and zoom and survey to gauge your decisions. But in Silent Hill the narrative demands fixed camera views in chosen spots to augment psychological effects and cinematic suspense (for better or worse).
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Old 03-07-2004, 11:47 PM   #3
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Oh dear, this was supposed to be a poll.... I got an error while posting it and thought I lost the whole thread, but I just lost the poll options...

Back to the thread subject...

You are right, strategy and surivival horror have good camera control, but since its fixed in survival horror, it simply can't give you any trouble.
It's very cinematic, the camera is always in the best place, so it won't ruin the mood of the game...

If we go genre by genre, the genre with most camera trouble would be the action/plataform one...

In plataform games you die constantly because the camera changes in a middle of jump, or because you can't see where you are anymore....

The problem is that the camera is an object in the game, so it can't go through walls and it CAN get stuck sometimes...

I wonder if there are other genres with camera troubles?
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Old 03-08-2004, 01:23 AM   #4
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There are exceptions. If you've ever played Zelda: The Windwaker; you know how a controllable camera can be completely elegant and invisible, but at the same time almost completely guided directly by you. It works, and it is brilliant. In comparison, Mario Sunshine's camera is a lot more clumsy. But the example is present.
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Old 03-08-2004, 04:17 AM   #5
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I think Prince of Persia, Sand of Time has an excellent camera system. It works well enough on its own, following you mostly, sometimes switching to static cameras temporarily, but if you want you can manually turn the camera in any direction and you can get a nice overview of the area.
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Old 03-08-2004, 06:12 AM   #6
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I don't think there's any situation where you can say a game should never ever use a controllable camera. It adds a lot to the game. The only problem, as you pointed out, is having the proper controls for moving it. That's really more of a design problem. I think that almost any game should allow the player to control the camera as long as they can do it right. Otherwise, just stick with the fixed angles because it's not worth it to be struggling with the camera while you're playing a game.

Being able to control the camera really adds a whole new dimension to games that is lacking in 2D games. If you use it right, it almost forces the player to think in three dimensions. That makes quite a difference. The only genre I can think of where you might want to still have fixed cameras anyway is survival horror, but not because of the cinematic effects that Intrepid pointed out. I just think that in a horror game you can make it a lot scarier by confining the player's field of vision.

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Old 03-08-2004, 06:57 AM   #7
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It all depends on how good the developers are at implementing it correctly
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Old 03-08-2004, 07:44 AM   #8
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Early attempts at a controllable camera were laughable - witness the dire Earthworm Jim 3D. Recently, there have been improvements. As Beiddie said it should be evaluated genre by genre. Obviously strategy and games of a similar slow pacing (those involving pause-time gaming, for instance) are more suited that high octain action games, where the player's focus should not be on cumbersome controls. For such games, the camera should be complete intuitive regardless of its form.
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Old 03-08-2004, 01:13 PM   #9
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By implementing a controlable camera you're basically admitting that your own camera control is flawed. A controlable camera should therefore never be a goal on its own... it's just a solution if you can't fix the camera in another way. Things like a camera distract the player from the game experience ("hey, there's a floating camera hanging right behind me and I can control it with my mind!"). I can't think of a single game in which a controlable camera would be a good thing.
But now I am only talking about 3rd person games like Zelda... obviously in a RTS it's a totally different issue. There's really not an option there, but I think the starter of this topic wasn't really thinking about these games either.

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Old 03-08-2004, 01:37 PM   #10
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I think if you were to do a classic styled adventure game in 3D the best way to do it is to have a fixed camera that can track around and stuff ala BS3, but allow the player to look around Zelda style in first person mode, if only to show off that you're in a 3D space. That said, I'd like there to be a puzzle in an adventure game to involve the ceiling for once.

Okay so even though I just posted saying fixed cameras are awesome, I need to sneak one more thing in here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom
By implementing a controlable camera you're basically admitting that your own camera control is flawed. A controlable camera should therefore never be a goal on its own... it's just a solution if you can't fix the camera in another way.
I totally disagree with you.

One of the points of having a realtime 3D space is that you can explore it from every angle. If you're playing a 3rd person game, that is just not possible unless you constantly switch to 1st person mode to look around (or, in the case of a game with a Tomb Raider-style constant behind-the-back camera, you have to constantly rotate your player around whenever you enter a new room).

While I think that fixed still/fixed tracking cameras might be the best way to do a 3rd person adventure game, just to keep the proper cinematicness there and to obey the unspoken rules of atmosphere for a 3rd person adventure game, for other genres, having a totally inflexible camera can be nothing but frustrating.

"What's that slightly off to my left? ... oh, I can't tell because I can't rotate the camera around. Why is this game even in realtime 3D if I can't look slightly to my left without having to reposition my character, who just so happens to be intentionally aiming at something specific at the moment." That's frustrating, and there's no way to avoid that type of scenario if you have a camera that is fully out of the players control.

I don't think the Mario Sunshine style "haphazard crazy cam" that you have to constantly be monitoring is the solution either, but saying "having a camera the player can and sometimes has to fiddle with means nothing but the programmer and designer have done a shitty job with the 3D camera implimentation" is really a little closed minded and over dramatic, and wrong.
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Old 03-08-2004, 01:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom
By implementing a controlable camera you're basically admitting that your own camera control is flawed. A controlable camera should therefore never be a goal on its own... it's just a solution if you can't fix the camera in another way. Things like a camera distract the player from the game experience ("hey, there's a floating camera hanging right behind me and I can control it with my mind!"). I can't think of a single game in which a controlable camera would be a good thing.
But now I am only talking about 3rd person games like Zelda... obviously in a RTS it's a totally different issue. There's really not an option there, but I think the starter of this topic wasn't really thinking about these games either.
Yes, you're right. I think only action/plataform games have camera trouble...

But its good to know that other genres don't have these problems...

I'm begining to think to think that if the camera control is flawed it is becaused of the level design, I guess the don't have the same people on camera control than in level design...

But, not all games with good camera control are that way because of good programming, sometimes the take the "cowards way" out....

Take games like Sonic DX and Mario Sunshine, they don't have camera problems but they don't have extremely complex interiors like POP: SOT...
The camera can't get stuck in a wall or behind it if there aren't any walls around, right?

A fixed camera is not the ideal thing in a plataform or action game either, sometimes you need to take a look of the surroundings and see what's ahead and sometimes you need a closer look, in the same screen...

If we combine a bad camera control with a mediocre control system, then we get a very frustrating game...
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