Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

3D Cameras and Effects in Modern Games
Threat or Menace?
From Kohyunu

Kohyunu has had some trouble with the cameras in Fable 2 and Mass Effect that have left him feeling a bit nauseous. In Fable 2 there’s a blur effect added when you rotate the camera, and in Mass Effect there’s a jittery blur effect associated with sprinting. As far as Mass Effect, I believe the inspiration for the sprint blur came from Gears of War which has a shaky follow cam. In fact, a lot of games tried to imitate that shaky “news camera” feel after Gears came out. A lot of them didn’t quite understand why Gears did it though.

It wasn’t about making a shaky follow cam, it was about the feel of the world. The follow cam when you ran really added a lot to the feel of Gears of War. You felt like a soldier embedded in conflict because if you’ve ever seen news footage of soldiers in hostile situations, that’s pretty much what it looks like.

But what it spawned was a wave of imitation that didn’t quite live up to the original purpose. Adding a motion blur when something is supposed to be moving “fast” is nothing new. So I wasn’t only not surprised to see it in Mass Effect, I rather expected it. It honestly didn’t bother me at all.

Fable II seems to be a little different though. What’s going on is that they’re adding a blur effect to camera rotation to try and give it a “real world” feel. When you turn your head quickly in… uhh… life… There’s a blur effect caused by your eyes not having a focal point. The thing is, in real life you don’t spin your head around in an unfocused way. You usually keep your head turned toward an object. It’s also typically a quick movement even if you’re not focusing on something, probably less than 2 seconds. So while they’re trying to imitate something that occurs in real life, they failed to see how it doesn’t really occur to the degree that they’re doing it (not to mention we don’t have 3rd person perspectives of ourselves).

Anyways, despite that, I really didn’t have a problem with either game’s cameras. I’m just used to 3D gaming I guess. In fact, the only time I was ever made nauseas by a game was when I was playing the original Marathon (for the Mac and btw I’ll always consider it a thousand times better than Halo). They had a fake 3d thing going on with 2D sprites all over the place. The whole thing was a bit disconcerting and extended periods of play could really get your stomach rolling (if you know what I mean). After that though, everything was easy to take in.

I honestly think that it’s just something you get used to. Some games take things a bit too far (like Fable 2), but really that’s just a matter of their QA process needing to have a nausea check process. Perhaps get some people who don’t often play 3D games in and see if they can stand playing for more than an hour without getting sick. That sort of thing.

Honestly the number one thing I look for when designing a game camera, is that it lets you see everything you need to see, and in all other cases is totally unnoticeable. If you’re able to just intuit how the camera works and you never even need to think about it, that’s a good thing. The best cameras in video games are almost always the ones you don’t even remember anything about.

posted by CommanderHate at 11:39 am  

2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for answering my unorganized question. You really summed it up very well.

    I guess being Asian also contributes somewhat to the problem. Many of my Asian friends have trouble playing FPS games due to motion sickness. I also remember a survey where Western audience is more ‘immune’ to the problem compared to Asian players.

    I suppose I am the minority in this case.

    I personally think the camera shake for Gears of War was appropriate. (Haven’t really played it to judge whether it gave me any sickness though)

    As for Mass Effect. I always thought it was more of a bug (When going up & down the stairs) rather than a design choice. :/

    Comment by Kohyunu — December 2, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

  2. Oh THAT jitteryness in Mass Effect. Yeah, that’s because the camera is attached to the character and they did real stairs instead of fake stairs. In most games I’ve worked on, you do fake stairs where you make an invisible collision ramp instead of jagged right angle stairs. If you look close you might notice the character is not quite right on the stairs, but the camera is much smoother when going up or down them.

    Comment by CommanderHate — December 2, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

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