Game Development Reference
back out, or all we will see is a close-up of the other side of the wall we have our
back to. It is clear that something must be done.
We might consider fighting the issues presented by Figure 9.2 and Figure 9.3 with
tightly constrained level designs and careful attention to camera placement. A tall
room with waist-high furniture gives the camera more space than the player has,
keeping it out of trouble. A camera that is close to the player can penetrate walls
without punching through the back side or seeing around corners. A narrow field
of view keeps the camera from peeking into places other than where the player
happens to be. All those limitations go out the window when a designer says,
''That's too constraining, and third-person is too good to give up. Make the
camera smart enough to keep itself out of trouble.'' Even if the designer allows a
constrained level, the camera could conflict with mobile objects such as a taller
character walking up behind the player. The view from inside a character is just as
jarring as the view from inside a wall, and the camera needs to be smart enough to
avoid it. This is camera AI on the player's behalf. The designer is really saying,
''Keep the player's eyes out of trouble.'' It can be done, but great care must be
taken to do it well.
Early camera AI of this type had some teething problems. The camera would
make sudden and hard-to-anticipate changes in viewpoint to keep it out of
trouble with the surrounding walls. Players fought against the camera AI as much
as they fought off their enemies. The changing viewpoint changed the player's
aim point, making combat while moving an exercise in frustration. All of this
evoked an emotional response in the player, but disgust probably was not what
the game designer had in mind.
Other games incorporated camera AI from the outset. The system described in
[Carlise04] used steering behaviors and scripting to control the camera. They
envisioned adding rules to the system for more ''film-like'' transitions. Effective
camera AI adds to the player's enjoyment. Beyond effective camera AI, there is
room for the camera AI to provide emotional impact.
The lesson for camera AI is that it is a powerful tool that needs to be used
carefully. Taking control of the player's eyes should be done sparingly and
carefully. Otherwise, it is easy to frustrate the player. (Of course, preventing the
player from coming to harm while the AI is controlling the camera would be
considerate.) But with the proper care and an integrated approach, having full
control over the player's eyes is too powerful a tool to ignore, especially when the
game is trying to create an emotional response in the player.