576 Character Control In A Semi-Fixed Camera System

Recently I talked about Fixed Cameras In 3D Games, but realized as I was writing it that I actually wanted to talk about the character control aspect, not the camera itself.

A bizarre aspect of video games, particularly 3D ones, is that they exist on a 2D plane. We’ve developed a system to simulate a 3D environment, but it’s still being displayed on a 2D plane (the TV). So, an analog stick can only really dictate 4 major directions of control. Sometimes it’s up/down/left/right, but often it’s toward/away/left/right, or back/forward/side/side.

This is a unique phenomenon that can sometimes be pretty awkward for the player. The best example that I can come up with is from the God of War series. Imagine this scene: your character is walking along a wooden floor, and comes across an area where most of the floor is missing, apart from one beam of wood that spans the gap across to where the floor continues. As you approach the plank to cross it, the camera swings slowly and cinematically from behind you, to over to your right side, to highlight the drama of the moment and to potentially show off a particular landscape. As the camera swings though, something weird happens; the controls you normally use to move your character shift along with. So, before you approach the plank, pressing up on the analog stick moves the character forward (or away from the camera). But, as you get to the plank and are walking across it, suddenly right on the analog stick moves your character forward, and up doesn’t really do anything.


Of course we don’t really think about this much because it’s obvious to our perception that we need to press right to go right because the character is moving rightward on the screen. It’s not particularly intuitive either way, but certainly pressing up in this case would feel even stranger than pressing right, which is probably why this method of control change has been adopted.

This is all to say nothing, really. It’s just something I’ve been fascinated by and wanted to point out.

[ Today I Was Playing: nothing… ]

July 29, 2016