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Old 07-21-2009, 07:10 PM   #1
neon_git
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Of camera angles and control schemes

In the comments of a recent Mojo news post I tried to get across my thoughts on the use of camera angles in Telltales games, specifically TOMI. I tried to keep the length of my comments down but in doing so I think I may have completely failed to explain myself, which is why I've decided to make a forum post explaining my position in more depth.

Please note I'm by no means an expert in any of the topics I'm about to discuss - feel free to mock me if I'm wrong on any particular point or points.

Camera Angles

In cinema there are two categories of shots, you have the objective shot and the subjective/POV shot (technically not quite the same but I'm lumping them together anyway). An objective shot is taken from the perspective of some anonymous, incorporeal observer whereas a subjective shot is taken from someone or something's point of view. As long as the viewer is aware of what perspective a shot is in they will subconsciously assume that role. This is part of the language of visual story telling and most TV shows and movies make use of both types of shot to convey the narrative to the viewer.

In games, however, generally only one type of perspective is used (Cutscenes may make use of different types of shot but as non-interactive segments of a game the rules of interactive storytelling don't apply to them). This means that for the duration of the game the player assumes the role of either the anonymous, incorporeal observer or the character they are controlling and doesn't switch between the two.

The over-the-shoulder third person view is a bit of a grey area in this regard. This is an objective view point and as such the player is an incorporeal observer. Like the subjective shot, however, the players view into the game world is still directly tied to the characters view. My experience playing this type of third person game is that I do still assume the role of the character and I'm going to assume that is the case but YMMV - I'm unaware of any research into how players perceive themselves in a game world (I'd love to read some if there is) so this is all speculation.

Control Schemes

Much in the same way that the type of shot can subconsciously put the player in a particular role, it's my feeling that so can a control scheme. Say a player is playing, for example, an RTS and the role the player takes on in the fiction is that of a general commanding an army. The player might select a tank and order it to move to another location and attack the enemy from that position. At no point does the player control the tank directly, they merely give instructions to the tank, which is consistent with their role as overseer and helps maintain that illusion. On the other hand the controls of an FPS, to pick another example, do have a direct affect on the player's character. Again, this is consistent with, and reinforces, the fiction that the player actually is this hard-as-nails space marine (or whatever).

OK, So Where Is He Going With This?

Glad you asked, the point I'm getting to is this: The control scheme and the camera movement in TOMI are at odds with each other. Whether you use the mouse and keyboard or just the mouse, Tales has direct controls. The games controls are telling you that you are Guybrush Threepwood. The camera movement in Tales does the opposite. The camera is constantly telling you that you are an observer.

Now then, if I am right and TOMI is sending players contradictory messages on a subconscious level, what does that mean? Does it even mean anything at all? Possibly not, it might have no affect at all. On the other hand it might put player in a state of (and I'm not going to pretend I know what I'm talking about here, but other people use the phrase so I might as well) cognitive dissonance. If the combination of camera movement and control scheme does cause people to feel uncomfortable, and if they can't explain why it makes them feel uncomfortable (because the contradictory messages are subconscious), might this go some way to explaining why some players are clamouring for a return to the old point and click interface (which was indirect and complimented the objective perspective of the games) but cannot come up with any compelling reasons why they don't like the new controls?

Oh boy, I've been writing and editing this for far too long now so I'm just going to post it as is, hopefully it makes sense. I might flesh this out some more and see if I can make an editorial if anyone would be interested.


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:39 PM   #2
bcrt2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
In the comments of a recent Mojo news post I tried to get across my thoughts on the use of camera angles in Telltales games, specifically TOMI. I tried to keep the length of my comments down but in doing so I think I may have completely failed to explain myself, which is why I've decided to make a forum post explaining my position in more depth.

Please note I'm by no means an expert in any of the topics I'm about to discuss - feel free to mock me if I'm wrong on any particular point or points.

Camera Angles

In cinema there are two categories of shots, you have the objective shot and the subjective/POV shot (technically not quite the same but I'm lumping them together anyway). An objective shot is taken from the perspective of some anonymous, incorporeal observer whereas a subjective shot is taken from someone or something's point of view. As long as the viewer is aware of what perspective a shot is in they will subconsciously assume that role. This is part of the language of visual story telling and most TV shows and movies make use of both types of shot to convey the narrative to the viewer.

In games, however, generally only one type of perspective is used (Cutscenes may make use of different types of shot but as non-interactive segments of a game the rules of interactive storytelling don't apply to them). This means that for the duration of the game the player assumes the role of either the anonymous, incorporeal observer or the character they are controlling and doesn't switch between the two.

The over-the-shoulder third person view is a bit of a grey area in this regard. This is an objective view point and as such the player is an incorporeal observer. Like the subjective shot, however, the players view into the game world is still directly tied to the characters view. My experience playing this type of third person game is that I do still assume the role of the character and I'm going to assume that is the case but YMMV - I'm unaware of any research into how players perceive themselves in a game world (I'd love to read some if there is) so this is all speculation.

Control Schemes

Much in the same way that the type of shot can subconsciously put the player in a particular role, it's my feeling that so can a control scheme. Say a player is playing, for example, an RTS and the role the player takes on in the fiction is that of a general commanding an army. The player might select a tank and order it to move to another location and attack the enemy from that position. At no point does the player control the tank directly, they merely give instructions to the tank, which is consistent with their role as overseer and helps maintain that illusion. On the other hand the controls of an FPS, to pick another example, do have a direct affect on the player's character. Again, this is consistent with, and reinforces, the fiction that the player actually is this hard-as-nails space marine (or whatever).

OK, So Where Is He Going With This?

Glad you asked, the point I'm getting to is this: The control scheme and the camera movement in TOMI are at odds with each other. Whether you use the mouse and keyboard or just the mouse, Tales has direct controls. The games controls are telling you that you are Guybrush Threepwood. The camera movement in Tales does the opposite. The camera is constantly telling you that you are an observer.

Now then, if I am right and TOMI is sending players contradictory messages on a subconscious level, what does that mean? Does it even mean anything at all? Possibly not, it might have no affect at all. On the other hand it might put player in a state of (and I'm not going to pretend I know what I'm talking about here, but other people use the phrase so I might as well) cognitive dissonance. If the combination of camera movement and control scheme does cause people to feel uncomfortable, and if they can't explain why it makes them feel uncomfortable (because the contradictory messages are subconscious), might this go some way to explaining why some players are clamouring for a return to the old point and click interface (which was indirect and complimented the objective perspective of the games) but cannot come up with any compelling reasons why they don't like the new controls?

Oh boy, I've been writing and editing this for far too long now so I'm just going to post it as is, hopefully it makes sense. I might flesh this out some more and see if I can make an editorial if anyone would be interested.
The compelling reason is that its an idiosynchrocy that our culture has created. Once you have something thats good enough changing it causes a lot of issues for people even if it might be a better control scheme in the long run. I remember when the EA Sports NHL series moved to right stick shooting there were a ton of people who thought it was stupid and stuck to button shooting (they offered both options), but over time people have now accepted that the right stick shooting is far more intuitive and fun to play with.

I think the real solution here for Telltale is just to offer all 3 options, allow people to hold the mouse and drag to move, point and click to move or use the keyboard. It makes everyone happy and it shouldn't be a big technical issue since they already have developed the engine to do either control scheme.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:44 AM   #3
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You've raised some really good points there. I think it would be interesting to try a third person view. Obviously it would be met with disgust by a lot of people, but I think it would fit with the way the game is played (and with the new control scheme).

Did you, by the way, think about things like the dialogue in this game? The way conversations go in Monkey Island must mean that the game is played subjectively, right? I don't know, I'd like to hear what you think about it.

Then again, we do "command" Guybrush, and he often acknowledges this ("I'm not picking that up", "Hmm, no" etc.). He is also a very distinctive character and so we don't tend to look at him as being ourselves.

Lol, this is a very interesting subject
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:54 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bcrt2000 View Post
I remember when the EA Sports NHL series moved to right stick shooting there were a ton of people who thought it was stupid and stuck to button shooting (they offered both options), but over time people have now accepted that the right stick shooting is far more intuitive and fun to play with.
You are, sadly, quite right and I could well be giving gamers too much credit.

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Originally Posted by bcrt2000 View Post
I think the real solution here for Telltale is just to offer all 3 options, allow people to hold the mouse and drag to move, point and click to move or use the keyboard. It makes everyone happy and it shouldn't be a big technical issue since they already have developed the engine to do either control scheme.
This wont happen. Telltale themselves have explained that they're going to be using dramatic camera angles in all future games that will not allow for a traditional P&C interface. Even though I have some reservations about whether or not this is a good thing, the fact that Telltale are taking advantage of their business model to try new things definitely is a good thing. If nobody tries these things we'll never know if they work.

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Did you, by the way, think about things like the dialogue in this game? The way conversations go in Monkey Island must mean that the game is played subjectively, right? I don't know, I'd like to hear what you think about it.
You raise a good point, and one that I had not considered. I'm not sure if this would be a direct or indirect form of control. The player doesn't get to say whatever they want but instructs Guybrush to say something from a list of things that Guybrush is thinking about saying (Also worth noting is that on several occasions in Tales Guybrush wont say exactly what you pick anyway).

I'll have to think about it some more, but by initial response is that this is something that could compliment either type of control scheme. I don't think it's clear cut one way or the other.


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:58 AM   #5
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I did think when playing ToMI that I would have liked a button to zoom in through Guybrush's eyes, and pan around from his viewpoint. You can do this in Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, as well as World of Warcraft.

If ToMI is fully 3D, I guess there's no technical reasons to not allow this -- but I might be wrong.
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:43 AM   #6
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I think one of the main reasons an objective camera works much better in point 'n click adventure games is actually pixel hunting, or atleast hunting for hotspots. With a static camera, or a semi static camera like in Tales, you'll be less likely to miss any hotspots. Aspecially in classic point 'n click adventures, all the hotspots are generally in plain sight. While if the camera is player oriented, you might miss a lot of hotspots that you might not see from where you stand.

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Old 07-22-2009, 07:04 AM   #7
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I still disagree with this. Don't get me wrong, I get exactly what you're saying, I just don't buy it.

Obviously I'd be able to tell clearly enough if I could sense this disconnect on a conscious level - and it doesn't, as you've pointed out. It's much harder to tell if it could be happening on a subconscious level but I highly doubt that it is.

But let's be generous and say that maybe, on some mental level there is some tension between the cinematic style camera angles and the direct control...

...Even then I don't see it as a problem, because direct control does -so- much to increase the connection to the character that anything that the camera angles might be doing in the other direction is like trying to swim against a tsunami.

I think the reason why a lot of people don't like the controls but can't properly explain why is much more likely to be the good ol' human resistance to change that we all have to some extent or other.

But even so, looking at your argument, I think that it's problematic comparing the use of camera in games to films simply -because- the interactivity informs the use of camera in the game in many different subtle ways. It's difficult to phrase this right but what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that it can be assumed that the viewer-camera-character relationship in a game works is mentally the same as in a film.

For example, I go left and the camera angle switches to a close up behind Guybrush, let's say. It's true that I didn't enact that camera change - it was a design decision that was implemented in the game. But it was still -caused- by me. The camera angle changed because I walked to an area that uses a new camera angle. In a film, on the other hand I don't decide when a character walks left, and so the changing camera angle has nothing to do with my input whatsoever. I think this is an important, perception-changing distinction to make.
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Obviously I'd be able to tell clearly enough if I could sense this disconnect on a conscious level - and it doesn't, as you've pointed out. It's much harder to tell if it could be happening on a subconscious level but I highly doubt that it is.
To a certain extent I'm playing devil's advocate here, I'm by no means convinced that this is happening either.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Even then I don't see it as a problem, because direct control does -so- much to increase the connection to the character that anything that the camera angles might be doing in the other direction is like trying to swim against a tsunami.
I think you underestimate how much different camera angles can affect a player. I get really bad simulation sickness from first person games, which is thought to be caused by the brain processing contradictory messages from the eyes and the inner ear. A more relevant example is that different people need to invert the axes of their controls. The same person may invert the controls in a third person view but not in a first person view; the cause for this is that the view informs the player on where they are in the game (a more detailed explanation can be found here).

None of this supports my argument directly but it is evidence that camera angles have a very real psychological affect on the player. I do not think that the potential capacity of the effect I am suggesting can be dismissed so flippantly.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
But even so, looking at your argument, I think that it's problematic comparing the use of camera in games to films simply -because- the interactivity informs the use of camera in the game in many different subtle ways. It's difficult to phrase this right but what I'm trying to say is that I don't think that it can be assumed that the viewer-camera-character relationship in a game works is mentally the same as in a film.

For example, I go left and the camera angle switches to a close up behind Guybrush, let's say. It's true that I didn't enact that camera change - it was a design decision that was implemented in the game. But it was still -caused- by me. The camera angle changed because I walked to an area that uses a new camera angle. In a film, on the other hand I don't decide when a character walks left, and so the changing camera angle has nothing to do with my input whatsoever. I think this is an important, perception-changing distinction to make.
You are absolutely right in that we should not assume that the semantics of a camera angle in film has the same meaning in a videogame (which, by the by, is an assumption that Telltale is making). I do, however, think that it is a good place to start from and is a firm foundation upon which we can build.

I'm not saying that you are wrong, but I am unconvinced by your example. The camera change may have been caused by the players actions but in a way that is hidden from the player. The player has no reason to expect the change is going to take place before it happens and I would suggest that the player is unlikely to make a subconscious connection between the two. If there was a consistent pattern behind the camera movements that allowed the player to make predictions about what the camera was going to do next then the brain would almost certainly build a mental model of that system. Without a consistent pattern, though, the player cannot build a mental model, without which the player cannot understand the system and, I suggest, cannot feel that they are in control of it.


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:46 AM   #9
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I think you underestimate how much different camera angles can affect a player. I get really bad simulation sickness from first person games, which is thought to be caused by the brain processing contradictory messages from the eyes and the inner ear. A more relevant example is that different people need to invert the axes of their controls. The same person may invert the controls in a third person view but not in a first person view; the cause for this is that the view informs the player on where they are in the game (a more detailed explanation can be found here).

None of this supports my argument directly but it is evidence that camera angles have a very real psychological affect on the player. I do not think that the potential capacity of the effect I am suggesting can be dismissed so flippantly.
Well, motion sickness is more of a physiological phenomenon than psychological; it doesn't really belong in the same category. As for the rest, I'm not sure it demonstrates anything except that people have different preferences re: how they control their games depending on the POV of the camera (and even then not solely that - for example lots of people will invert the axis depending on whether they are playing an FPS or a flight sim).

That might go some way to explaining why some people don't like the controls, because they can't get them just how they like, but I'm not sure it lends credence to the idea that the psychological effect of camera angles on player-character connection is anywhere close to that of which control scheme is used. I think it very likely that the latter is much more influential.

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I'm not saying that you are wrong, but I am unconvinced by your example. The camera change may have been caused by the players actions but in a way that is hidden from the player. The player has no reason to expect the change is going to take place before it happens and I would suggest that the player is unlikely to make a subconscious connection between the two.

If there was a consistent pattern behind the camera movements that allowed the player to make predictions about what the camera was going to do next then the brain would almost certainly build a mental model of that system. Without a consistent pattern, though, the player cannot build a mental model, without which the player cannot understand the system and, I suggest, cannot feel that they are in control of it.
I don't think that's really the case. For example, most of the camera angle changes in the game occur when Guybrush is moving from one part of the scene to another - they occur in logical spots e.g. once when you are on the pier, then again as you cross the bridge, then again outside of DeSinge's Lab. It's not as if the camera angles are completely unpredictable and unexpected, and it's not like they are random either (when you return to an area you get the same camera angle again). And, of course the camera angles only change when you are moving about the scene. So you can predict quite readily that, if you move far enough in a certain direction, the camera angle will change - and can probably make an educated guess about when, too.

So I would say there certainly is a reasonably consistent pattern - one that has flexibility built into it but is predictable enough to make subconscious connections.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:57 AM   #10
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I admit your theories are extremely interesting, but I'm afraid that the real reason behind the interface change is purely practical.
A direct control interface lends itself to easier future porting for the joypad-controlled consoles.
I'm not saying that Telltale isn't raising to the occasion to experiment with camera angles, but IMHO they've simply been "forced" to change the control not to loose time (=money) on multiple interface programming.
They still have to slightly modify the interface to accomodate different devices, but if the core control system remains the same portings must be a little bit easier.
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:18 AM   #11
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I admit your theories are extremely interesting, but I'm afraid that the real reason behind the interface change is purely practical.
A direct control interface lends itself to easier future porting for the joypad-controlled consoles.
I'm not saying that Telltale isn't raising to the occasion to experiment with camera angles, but IMHO they've simply been "forced" to change the control not to loose time (=money) on multiple interface programming.
They still have to slightly modify the interface to accomodate different devices, but if the core control system remains the same portings must be a little bit easier.
It's difficult to know where to begin with this...

First of all, this is not a post about the reasons behind changing the control scheme. This makes it difficult to infer what your point is. The post is about whether there is a potential conflict between the way the controls are handle and the way the camera angles are handled.

But even if this was a post about the reasons behind the change, I'm afraid the assumption you make about the practicalities of porting being a major influence on the controls are wildly innacurate for a number of reasons:

1) Telltale have stated that they have been aiming for this sort of control scheme from the very beginning, and that they're finally getting there. You may not believe this, but I choose to.

2) This game is coming out primarily on PC and Wiiware. Since the Wii is perfectly capable of point and click movement, it's difficult to see why this would influence their control decision in any way.

3) Even if it did have an influence, they already had the WASD and the point and click controls implemented in the engine, so there would be little work involved in using one for one system and another for the other, all things being equal...

...but all things are NOT equal, the big change is the cinematic camera angles, and THAT is the major reason why direct control was chosen over point and click movement.

I could go on but, as I said, this isn't a post about that. Back on topic!
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:31 PM   #12
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I think if TTG truly wants to immerse the player in a gaming world where you "are the character" then it should be entirely first person driven like an FPS. Especially if a direct control scheme is used. I wouldn't be opposed to this and I wouldn't be expecting guns to pop up in my view either. There might be a reason why adventures died and FPS's started to soar through the roof. Story-driven games used to be monopolized by adventures, but after games like Half-Life came along story-driven games became monopolized by FPS's and the like.

Immersion into a game's story used to be cinematic in adventure games. Where you're watching/playing an interactive story/movie. Roberta Williams described this as the player acting as the director, actor, and the audience all at the same time. In that form it's very cinematic and not very immersible into the character of the game, but merely commanding the character. The immersion is rather reserved for the story. In light of this article, I'm starting to think that Tell Tale might have the wrong idea about what their going for in adventure games. Adventure games are all about the cinematic experience where you "direct" the action and the outcome of the story without knowing what's going to happen next. TTG now seems to be contradicting itself by going for both a cinematic experience and a player immersible experience where you "are" the main character. I'm starting to think this doesn't mix well. And I think I agree about the direct control scheme clashing with the cinematic camera angles. It's simultaneously trying to put you in the audience/director seat and also the immersible player seat.

The way I see things, there can only be two ways to go. If you want a cinematic experience, it's gotta be spectator/director oriented in every way...camera angles, a guiding control scheme, etc. If you want an immersible player experience with a direct control scheme then you have to make the player believe he is the character...there's no better way to do this than to put it in first person perspective and have control over everything the character does.




...or not.


"Booyah! Look out, LeChuck! Here comes Guybrush Threepwood's glowing sword of hot monkey vengeance!"
-Guybrush Threepwood, Tales of Monkey Island
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:46 PM   #13
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Well, motion sickness is more of a physiological phenomenon than psychological; it doesn't really belong in the same category.
Motion sickness may manifest itself in a physiological way but, unless my understanding of the word is wrong, the cause is still a psychological one. It's that the brain is trying to reconcile contradictory messages rather than a purely biological reaction. Or that's the current thinking anyway.

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As for the rest, I'm not sure it demonstrates anything except that people have different preferences re: how they control their games depending on the POV of the camera (and even then not solely that - for example lots of people will invert the axis depending on whether they are playing an FPS or a flight sim).
Sure, but why do some people have different preferences? It's because the abstract model they've subconsciously built works in a way that requires that particular control scheme. That only underscores my point that the internal models people develop change depending on the context of the rest of the game. In an FPS you are the character, in a flight sim you aren't the plane you're the pilot of the plane. The way you perceive yourself in the game world is different.

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That might go some way to explaining why some people don't like the controls, because they can't get them just how they like, but I'm not sure it lends credence to the idea that the psychological effect of camera angles on player-character connection is anywhere close to that of which control scheme is used. I think it very likely that the latter is much more influential.
Why do you think the control scheme is significantly more influential than camera angles? I'm not sure I understand your reasoning.

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most of the camera angle changes in the game occur when Guybrush is moving from one part of the scene to another - they occur in logical spots e.g. once when you are on the pier, then again as you cross the bridge, then again outside of DeSinge's Lab. It's not as if the camera angles are completely unpredictable and unexpected, and it's not like they are random either (when you return to an area you get the same camera angle again). And, of course the camera angles only change when you are moving about the scene. So you can predict quite readily that, if you move far enough in a certain direction, the camera angle will change - and can probably make an educated guess about when, too.

So I would say there certainly is a reasonably consistent pattern - one that has flexibility built into it but is predictable enough to make subconscious connections.
I completely disagree that the player can make subconscious connections to the camera movement in Tales. The player is undoubtedly consciously aware that the camera changes are going repeat in a given location, but that is not the same as having a model for predicting the camera's behaviour. The important difference is that if I move Guybrush around a new location I cannot predict what the camera is going to do. I know it's going to do something, but there's no way of knowing what that something will be - there's no system behind it that I can make a model of. The player is simply learning a series of bespoke movements, it's like the difference between being able to rote off your times tables an knowing how to multiply.

Thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail btw, you're stretching me to think through my ideas in much more detail than I had initially.

@diduz - For the most part I agree with SG on this, but I would be shocked if simplifying the porting process wasn't another factor in the decision.

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Originally Posted by MusiclyInspired View Post
The way I see things ... If you want a cinematic experience, it's gotta be spectator/director oriented in every way...camera angles, a guiding control scheme, etc.
Yay! A convert!

Now hopefully SG wont prove us both wrong with his next post :S


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
Motion sickness may manifest itself in a physiological way but, unless my understanding of the word is wrong, the cause is still a psychological one. It's that the brain is trying to reconcile contradictory messages rather than a purely biological reaction. Or that's the current thinking anyway.
Your understanding is right but it's a rather grey area as to whether it can be called psychological or physiological phenomenon. After all, there are lots of things which the brain is in charge of, so 'psychological' phenomena usually refers to that which relates to the conscious and subconscious mind, not the unconscious lower functions which are involved in the motion sickness example. That's my understanding, anyway - in any case, it's a different sort of, er, brainal use going on.


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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
Sure, but why do some people have different preferences? It's because the abstract model they've subconsciously built works in a way that requires that particular control scheme. That only underscores my point that the internal models people develop change depending on the context of the rest of the game. In an FPS you are the character, in a flight sim you aren't the plane you're the pilot of the plane. The way you perceive yourself in the game world is different.
I'm not sure it underscores your point. Nobody would argue that people HAVE different preferences and that those preferences are there for a variety of reasons both conscious and subconscious, but if that tells as anything it's that it's impossible to reliably say how someone's perception is affected by camera angles one way or another.


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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
Why do you think the control scheme is significantly more influential than camera angles? I'm not sure I understand your reasoning.
There's really no way of reliably telling for sure, but one reason I might think so is that a change in control is much more obvious than a change of camera, it affects not simply on a subconscious but also on a conscious level as I have to constantly pay attention to what I am doing with my character. This is just my intuition speaking.


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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
I completely disagree that the player can make subconscious connections to the camera movement in Tales. The player is undoubtedly consciously aware that the camera changes are going repeat in a given location, but that is not the same as having a model for predicting the camera's behaviour. The important difference is that if I move Guybrush around a new location I cannot predict what the camera is going to do. I know it's going to do something, but there's no way of knowing what that something will be - there's no system behind it that I can make a model of. The player is simply learning a series of bespoke movements, it's like the difference between being able to rote off your times tables an knowing how to multiply.
I never argued that you can predict exactly what the camera will do, but in your last post you were seeming to imply that you just have simply no control or way of telling what the camera will do at all, and that's not true. I would argue that even SOME level of predictability in the camera (and there certainly is some) is more than enough for the player to build a connection. I don't see why it has to be completely and -precisely- predictable in order to work in that way... that just doesn't follow at all.

For example, when I cross a road I have no way of knowing exactly what will happen, but I'm still aware of the sorts of things to look for.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
It's difficult to know where to begin with this...
Ok, now you make me look like a dumb flamer!
Sorry, I didn't mean to go off-topic. I don't agree with your points, but I won't answer back because I don't want to do the same mistake all over again.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:17 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Your understanding is right but it's a rather grey area as to whether it can be called psychological or physiological phenomenon. After all, there are lots of things which the brain is in charge of, so 'psychological' phenomena usually refers to that which relates to the conscious and subconscious mind, not the unconscious lower functions which are involved in the motion sickness example. That's my understanding, anyway - in any case, it's a different sort of, er, brainal use going on.
I'm not buying that yet. I don't want to go on about this too much because it's a pretty tangential point, but this seems like an unreasonable assertion to me. I have no great expertise in this area but it seems to me that this exactly the level of processing that I'm talking about. The brain has done a couple of sweeps on the sensory input, derived some meaning from the senses individually and is at the stage of coalescing that input into a unified model of the outside world.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
I'm not sure it underscores your point. Nobody would argue that people HAVE different preferences and that those preferences are there for a variety of reasons both conscious and subconscious
I would argue that yes there are a multitude of factors involved but none of them are conscious - it's all about what feels right. When I said this underscores my point I meant the overall point that mental models are influenced by multiple factors rather than anything specific to this example. I think I confused the matter by not stating what I meant in a clearer fashion.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
if that tells as anything it's that it's impossible to reliably say how someone's perception is affected by camera angles one way or another.
I only brought this up as an example of how camera angles help shape the mental models people develop. The fact that, in this instance, it affects different people in different ways is neither here nor there, the point was that it has an effect.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
There's really no way of reliably telling for sure, but one reason I might think so is that a change in control is much more obvious than a change of camera, it affects not simply on a subconscious but also on a conscious level as I have to constantly pay attention to what I am doing with my character. This is just my intuition speaking.
Well there's not much I can say to that except that I disagree. You can't build a connection without feedback on what your actions are doing - and the camera angles are an inherent part of that feedback.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
I never argued that you can predict exactly what the camera will do, but in your last post you were seeming to imply that you just have simply no control or way of telling what the camera will do at all, and that's not true. I would argue that even SOME level of predictability in the camera (and there certainly is some) is more than enough for the player to build a connection. I don't see why it has to be completely and -precisely- predictable in order to work in that way... that just doesn't follow at all.
Strongly disagree with all of this. The key point here is that the camera is not predictable enough for a person to simulate what it will do ahead of time. The only rule that is true everywhere is that Guybrush will be visible, everything else is different from place to place. Say you're driving a car and you know that the accelerator always makes the car go faster but the brake and the clutch keep swapping places and the steering inverts itself from time to time - would you say you could build a mental model of how the car works?

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
For example, when I cross a road I have no way of knowing exactly what will happen, but I'm still aware of the sorts of things to look for.
You're aware of things to look out for that help you simulate what is going to happen. When crossing the road you observe all the vehicles on the road together with their speed and direction. You use this information, in conjunction with you're experiences of how vehicles have behaved in the past, to make predictions about when it is going to be safe to cross. You have a firm mental model of the situation.

With the camera in Tales there's no information to help me predict anything. If I move left is the camera going to move left with me or swing round behind me or pivot on the spot or do something else entirely? I have no way of finding out before I do it, which is completely different from crossing the road.

EDIT:
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Originally Posted by diduz View Post
Ok, now you make me look like a dumb flamer!
Nah, you weren't far off topic


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:25 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
I'm not buying that yet. I don't want to go on about this too much because it's a pretty tangential point, but this seems like an unreasonable assertion to me. I have no great expertise in this area but it seems to me that this exactly the level of processing that I'm talking about. The brain has done a couple of sweeps on the sensory input, derived some meaning from the senses individually and is at the stage of coalescing that input into a unified model of the outside world.
Okay, let me explain it better because I was in a hurry last time. The generally accepted explanation for motion sickness is that the sensory conflict is resolved by the brain as being due to the person hallucinating, and so attempts to induce vomiting to 'fix' this. Of course this is neither happening on a conscious or subconscious level (otherwise you'd have to know on some level that this was happening in order to get motion sickness, which is obviously not true). So it's not a learned trait, it is simply a commonly inherited reflex - a physiological response. On the other hand, you are arguing that associations built up on a subconscious level over time may cause a disconnect - this is a completely different matter.

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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
Well there's not much I can say to that except that I disagree. You can't build a connection without feedback on what your actions are doing - and the camera angles are an inherent part of that feedback.
Well, let me put it another way: what would the average person be more likely to notice.. if Chapter 2 came out with point and click movement, or if Chapter 2 came out with camera angles such as in CMI? (in reality they'd probably have to do something like the latter if they did the former anyway, but you get my point). That doesn't prove what is happening on a subconscious level, of course, but it does strongly support the idea that controls are the more immediately noticeable factor.

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Originally Posted by neon_git View Post
Strongly disagree with all of this. The key point here is that the camera is not predictable enough for a person to simulate what it will do ahead of time. The only rule that is true everywhere is that Guybrush will be visible, everything else is different from place to place. Say you're driving a car and you know that the accelerator always makes the car go faster but the brake and the clutch keep swapping places and the steering inverts itself from time to time - would you say you could build a mental model of how the car works?
Bad example, because my ability to drive the car is directly affected by these things, whearas not many people are arguing that the unpredictability of the precise angle of the camera impedes the ability to actually play the game. So of COURSE in the car example there would be problems - but that's a practical issue. (As a side note to this, if you survived long enough to notice at what sort of times the car's controls keep switching about, and what sort of arrangements of steering/break/clutch are most commonly switched to, you woud get better at predicting what and when the next change would be because you'd start to pick up the pattern.)

The mind is extremely good at making connections and seeing patterns, much more than you give it credit for. In fact, it's part of what makes us human. In fact, it's SO good at making connections that it will make them when none are actually there: That's why if you look at your pattern wallpaper you might start seeing shapes in it. That's why people believe in 'lucky streaks,' and such.

In fact, it's how we get better at things. If I'm learning tennis, say, I could work on it by having a machine fire balls at me and me hitting them over and over. That would get me so far, but I'd learn much faster with another player on the other side doing lots of different, unpredictable shots. But it doesn't work in a simplistic way: Say there were 3 types of shots, A, B and C and I'd only seen A and B so far, but I was getting pretty good at them. Even though I haven't seen C yet and have no way of telling what it will be, by practicing A and B I am still getting prepared in all sorts of subtle ways for shot C when it comes because I am learning all sorts of associated skills to do with it.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, it's true that when I turn a particular corner I'm not absolutely certain if the camera will swing round behind my head, switch view to the front or go to a bird's eye view. But I'm not completely in the dark - through playing the game I have seen that, say, going round a corner generally results in a camera change, i'll probably have an idea of what sort of angles are most commonly used (because it's not as if each camera switch is uses a completely new, unpredictable and random POV, they tend to make a lot of sense), and whereabouts I will be on the screen when the switch takes place, so when it happens it's not unexpected. Furthermore, when I return there, the same thing will happen again. To the brain, this is a BUCKETLOAD of information, especially considering that the least amount of info it needs to start making connections is, well, none at all.

I'm not trying to say the brain will build up a 100% accurate model of how the cameras work. But it will certainly build up a rough model of what links player movement to changing camera angles; it has more than enough information it needs to do that.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:19 PM   #18
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Hee.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Okay, let me explain it better because I was in a hurry last time. The generally accepted explanation for motion sickness is that the sensory conflict is resolved by the brain as being due to the person hallucinating, and so attempts to induce vomiting to 'fix' this. Of course this is neither happening on a conscious or subconscious level (otherwise you'd have to know on some level that this was happening in order to get motion sickness, which is obviously not true). So it's not a learned trait, it is simply a commonly inherited reflex - a physiological response. On the other hand, you are arguing that associations built up on a subconscious level over time may cause a disconnect - this is a completely different matter.
I'm still not buying it, everything you explained I already understand.

Motion sickness is a hard wired response no question, but it most certainly is not a reflex. A reflex is a response to immediate danger and needs to be as close to instantaneous as possible. If a reflex is stimulated by input from the eyes or ears (such as if something is flying towards you or you're falling over) it does so on a preliminary sweep long before the brain is trying to stitch together a more detailed interpretation of the input (where motion sickness is stimulated). There simply isn't the time to wait while you process the information in more complex ways.

I may have been abusing the term subconscious, but beyond that you haven't given me any reason to think that the area of the brain that causes motion sickness is different form the part of the brain that would be affected by the the effect I am suggesting. As I said in my previous post, in both cases the problem arises when the brain is taking sensory input and building a model of the world around that input. It does not seem unreasonable to suggest that this could take place in the same part of the brain.

If you can provide me with some evidence otherwise, please be my guest.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Well, let me put it another way: what would the average person be more likely to notice.. if Chapter 2 came out with point and click movement, or if Chapter 2 came out with camera angles such as in CMI? (in reality they'd probably have to do something like the latter if they did the former anyway, but you get my point). That doesn't prove what is happening on a subconscious level, of course, but it does strongly support the idea that controls are the more immediately noticeable factor.
Well sure, if you change the question to "what is more immediately noticeable?" then you're absolutely right.

I don't think either of us is qualified to give a definite answer, and that's fine for our purposes right now because I'm not proposing this as a definite answer. I'm not saying you're wrong, all I need is the possibility that you are.

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Originally Posted by SurplusGamer View Post
Bad example, because my ability to drive the car is directly affected by these things, whearas not many people are arguing that the unpredictability of the precise angle of the camera impedes the ability to actually play the game. So of COURSE in the car example there would be problems - but that's a practical issue. (As a side note to this, if you survived long enough to notice at what sort of times the car's controls keep switching about, and what sort of arrangements of steering/break/clutch are most commonly switched to, you woud get better at predicting what and when the next change would be because you'd start to pick up the pattern.)
Comparing your inability to drive the car to your ability to play the game is a false analogy. The point of the example was that you can't understand a system with inconsistent variables, not what the practical implications of not understanding the system are.

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The mind is extremely good at making connections and seeing patterns, much more than you give it credit for. In fact, it's part of what makes us human. In fact, it's SO good at making connections that it will make them when none are actually there: That's why if you look at your pattern wallpaper you might start seeing shapes in it. That's why people believe in 'lucky streaks,' and such.

In fact, it's how we get better at things. If I'm learning tennis, say, I could work on it by having a machine fire balls at me and me hitting them over and over. That would get me so far, but I'd learn much faster with another player on the other side doing lots of different, unpredictable shots. But it doesn't work in a simplistic way: Say there were 3 types of shots, A, B and C and I'd only seen A and B so far, but I was getting pretty good at them. Even though I haven't seen C yet and have no way of telling what it will be, by practicing A and B I am still getting prepared in all sorts of subtle ways for shot C when it comes because I am learning all sorts of associated skills to do with it.
Teaching me to suck eggs there mate

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What does that have to do with anything? Well, it's true that when I turn a particular corner I'm not absolutely certain if the camera will swing round behind my head, switch view to the front or go to a bird's eye view. But I'm not completely in the dark - through playing the game I have seen that, say, going round a corner generally results in a camera change, i'll probably have an idea of what sort of angles are most commonly used (because it's not as if each camera switch is uses a completely new, unpredictable and random POV, they tend to make a lot of sense), and whereabouts I will be on the screen when the switch takes place, so when it happens it's not unexpected. Furthermore, when I return there, the same thing will happen again. To the brain, this is a BUCKETLOAD of information, especially considering that the least amount of info it needs to start making connections is, well, none at all.
You are mistaken that the amount of information required to see a pattern where there is none is zero (you need the information that you are seeing the pattern in for one thing) and you misunderstand why people see false patterns.

Sometimes a person will see a false pattern because, by chance, there is no available evidence to the contrary and the person does not recognise it as a coincidence. When evidence turns up that goes against the pattern people will most often dismiss the pattern. If people saw patterns literally everywhere and never dismissed any of them then this would render the ability to spot patterns useless pretty quickly.

The other type person who sees a false pattern is one who chooses to ignore evidence to the contrary. Confirmation bias has a number of causes (greed, pride, peace of mind ...) but the thing they all have in common is that there is some benefit to ignoring the evidence. There needs to be some underlying reason for the person to continue believing something when the evidence shows it is not true.

In the case of the camera in Tales there is contradictory information being sent to the player all the time and there is no reason to ignore it. The player can only ever build an incomplete model and, since the majority of the movement falls outside of the scope of this model, the model will never be complete enough to be of any use. Yes you can learn what the camera movements are in each individual place but there is a difference between knowing something and understanding it.


You mean the way the sea stays steady as a rock and the buildings keep washing up and down? Yes I thought that was odd.
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Old 07-24-2009, 03:58 PM   #20
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The control scheme and the camera movement in TOMI are at odds with each other. Whether you use the mouse and keyboard or just the mouse, Tales has direct controls. The games controls are telling you that you are Guybrush Threepwood. The camera movement in Tales does the opposite. The camera is constantly telling you that you are an observer.
I was thinking that a character-relative control could do the trick here. When playing Grim and Monkey 4 in camera-relative mode I kept finding myself in the same "disorienting" situation you've been talking about in your posts. With a character-relative control the camera is still telling you that you're just an observer, but in this case the angle-shifting and camera movements are subdued to a more pervasive enactment of the character, which is not affected by the continuous change of perspective.
I've always thought that's a way to (partially) fix the clash you're highlighting.
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:35 PM   #21
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I think I really need to get on playing ToMI for reference to really see what's going on in this thread, because I think I'm missing on some interesting heavy debate on good game design and player comfortability.

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Old 07-24-2009, 09:55 PM   #22
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I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to all of this, so I'll leave it at these few things.

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You are mistaken that the amount of information required to see a pattern where there is none is zero (you need the information that you are seeing the pattern in for one thing) and you misunderstand why people see false patterns.
Well, obviously you need the information you are seeing, that's perfectly obvious. You know that, and you know I know that... you're deliberately taking what I said out of context. It's obvious that I mean the actual amount of pattern required to be present in order for the brain to recognise a pattern is zero.

However, I am NOT misunderstanding why people see false patterns, which I'll get to.

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Sometimes a person will see a false pattern because, by chance, there is no available evidence to the contrary and the person does not recognise it as a coincidence. When evidence turns up that goes against the pattern people will most often dismiss the pattern. If people saw patterns literally everywhere and never dismissed any of them then this would render the ability to spot patterns useless pretty quickly.

The other type person who sees a false pattern is one who chooses to ignore evidence to the contrary. Confirmation bias has a number of causes (greed, pride, peace of mind ...) but the thing they all have in common is that there is some benefit to ignoring the evidence. There needs to be some underlying reason for the person to continue believing something when the evidence shows it is not true.
You've just described two reasons someone might see a false pattern, sure. But people see false patterns for ALL KINDS of reasons. In fact, those reasons can range from simply a bored mind making associations where there are none, an overactive imagination, or simply a series of coincidental events giving the impression of a pattern or any number of other causes. It's hardly as simple as you state it.

In any case, the point I was trying to make is that the brain is naturally excellent and making associations, spotting patterns, linking concepts together - the fact that it can do so even when no actual link exists is neither here nor there, it's just an amusing side effect of the mind's natural tendency to do this. Neither does it matter whether or not the people have the ability to recognise and dismiss false patterns - this is a useful ability, sure, but it has nothing to do with the point I was making which is that the mind will naturally tend to look for patterns.



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In the case of the camera in Tales there is contradictory information being sent to the player all the time and there is no reason to ignore it. The player can only ever build an incomplete model and, since the majority of the movement falls outside of the scope of this model, the model will never be complete enough to be of any use. Yes you can learn what the camera movements are in each individual place but there is a difference between knowing something and understanding it.
You say there is contradictory information being sent to the player, I still insist there is not. Your assumption that this is the case rests on what I believe to be a faulty assumption, which is what we have been discussing for the last few posts. Using this assumption to argue your point, then, is circular and getting us nowhere because it's one of the very points I'm contesting.

Also, you carry on this insistence that the incomplete model is of no use, which is somewhat mystifying. As humans we live on incomplete models. If our brains needed somewhat complete models of any one particular thing before being of any use, we'd never get anything done.

For example, I'm very good with computers, most of the time. If someone gives me an unfamiliar OS to try out, I can generally find my way around, even if I've never seen it before. That's because with all my time using different OSes, I've built up a feel for how they work. Or a model, if you will. This model is rather vague and incomplete because I haven't tried all that many OSes, and they can vary quite a lot and I know there aren't very many hard and fast 'rules'. It's still VERY useful though, because when presented with something unfamiliar, I will generally intuit the correct answer fairly quickly, and when I'm wrong it will not take me long to see the correct path.

But since I've already been typing longer than I wanted, I propose a small, non-scientific experiment. Soon we will play chapter 2 of Tales. In each scene, I think that I will both

a) be able to predict quite accurately where I will have to walk Guybrush before the camera angle changes.

and
b) I will have a fairly high success rate in predicting the sort of camera angle that it will change to.

If anything, if I'm right it'll show that the camera is much more predictable than you have been suggesting.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:20 AM   #23
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The camera angle will change to show things required to complete the game.
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:29 AM   #24
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I think this whole issue is an issue only when we are talking about game design always strifing for maximum immersion.
If the end goal is total simulation of realistic visual feedback stimuli then - Yes the camera angles and controls matter and could be better.
But why shouldn't games be allowed to challenge the way we perceive something and then subsequently challenge us to react quickly to changed surroundings?
Take the original ALONE IN THE DARK from 1992 for example. It was one of the first games that gave us dramatic camera angles beyond the player's control.
And it was part of the game design! The player knew that most probably the camera would change to a dramatic high angle when he reached the end of a corridor and he would need some crucial seconds to readjust. Time lost that could be essential when fighting off a sudden monster attack through a window. So in a sense the disorientation felt by the camera control system was perfectly suited to a game where the player had to investigate an unknown creepy mansion.
Of course back then in 1992 they couldn't go for a moving 3D world and a fixed third person/over shoulder camera but nonetheless they used a "technological limitation" to their advantage and to help their game design.
It's a different case with TOMI, where there is no drama or heightened tension created with time-based or surprise events.

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