Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Camera System: Initial Write Up

This is the initial write-up for the camera systems to be used  by SatLoA. What will separate this system from current Sonic games (I believe) is the introduction of three separate camera systems that will flow from one to the other to improve playability. Because of the difference in the camera and how heavily it will impact gameplay (in addition to camera complaints being a common issue in Sonic games) I decided to put this up first. More on how this will be implemented will be detailed in a later post when I discuss the difference controls schemes available to the player as they will be heavily tied to the camera. Although most of you can probably guess how these will apply to the controls.

Due to the nature of the game (Three Dimensional movement/speed and platforming) the camera should be a fairly tightly fixed third person, which should attempt to hold the camera at a distance so that the players character never takes more than 10% of the screen at most. Ideally, he should take about 6-7% of the total screen space. Note that there will be three playable in-game camera modes: one for slow-speed, one for high speed, and one for combat sequences. The other will be cinematic, which will be hard coded and therefore, is for the cinematic department.

The camera should have a little bit of movement in it, but not too much as we do not want the player to be in the situation of running or moving towards the camera for too long. If the player travels more than 7 body lengths in game directly towards the camera, the camera should begin to loop around to behind the player character. Additionally, movement should be temporary-camera relative so that a player is not fouled mid-movement by the camera movement. Only once the player has released movement or changed directions should the camera relative movement catch up. Changes of direction should be met with more gradual camera angle shifts.

Camera height should be set slightly further above (about a 15 degree angle) the player character in slow-speed situations to allow the player to more clearly see their surroundings. Not too far above and back, the player should still be able to get a side view of their character, but enough that they can more clearly see where they are jumping too.

During high-speed movement the camera should be very tightly locked behind the player character at a lower height (say, 7 to ten degree’s relative) then the Slow-Speed camera. This will allow the player to clearly see upcoming obstacles and react to them. The fixed camera should be reminiscent of the racing genre so that the player feels firmly in control of their movements. Additionally, at no time (save switching to another camera mode) should the player be taken away from their behind the back view. If the player character runs a loop or a mobius strip, the camera should stay locked behind them through the entire action, ergo the scenery should rotate around them, not the player around the scenery. The same goes for springs and other gimmicks, not matter how the player changes direction, the camera should remain fixed. The exception is that when the player is about to run up/down an elevation change. The camera should rotate slightly in advance to the shift so that the player can see ahead (note that the player characters head should animate in time with the shift in order to hold the world illusion).

Due to the tightly bound nature of the High-speed camera, the player controls will be fixed relative to the camera, but will in effect always be player character relative.

The Combat camera should be a swiftly moving camera that will be slightly closer in then the standard camera (player should fill 8%-9% of the screen) and focus on several objectives:
  1. Hold the player character in view at all times
  2. Hold any nearby enemies within viewing angle if at all possible
  3. Rotate in a circular motion relative to movement angles (see The Matrix, Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry) during combat to allow optimal view of the players actions and movement
  4. Be able to instantly snap between Combat and Slow/High-Speeds as the player requires.

Underwater Camera notes:
During the substantial underwater portions of the game, the camera will behave as it would above ground (high and slow speed) with one exception. When swimming, the camera will remain in High-speed mode to ensure that the player has an accurate idea of their perspective in relation to the game world.

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