Returning from Games Developer Conference 2013, Wolfire’s CEO and lead programmer, David Rosen learned a lot about animation. He’s been breaking down some of the big studio’s lessons over the past week and today’s look-in is to do with the differences between first person and third person and animation – and believe me, they’re huge.
First person for example, is all about “giving the player feedback”, he explains: showing what weapon they have equipped, whether it’s powerful and if it’s ready to fire. It also has to convey the environment at large, where other characters and enemies are and all of this needs to be conveyed to the player without everything stepping over each other. Gun placement needs to be considered and what arc it can bounce around in when players are moving.
First person can also be used to indicate the condition of the protagonist and not just through HUD health bars. There’s forced movements and perspectives, with Rosen highlighting the way Bioshock hand animations convey pain and transformation when Plasmids are encountered.
Of course there are some cheats that developers use that would look silly in real life. One highlighted example is reloading: no one reloads in front of their face, but we see it in every game. If it all happened below the camera, how would the gamer know anything had happened? There’s also strange head, arm and leg movements in games like Mirror’s Edge which need to be considered. This means they often become detached from the player’s body, but it’s fine because the gamer can’t see it.
And this is why you can’t just switch smoothly between first and third person perspective’s without considering it seriously.[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcz-3paQ26k’]
KitGuru Says: As interesting as the above video is, it really makes me want to pull out my copy of Mirror’s Edge again. Damn that was a cool game, even if it did have a fair few flaws.