FPS Aesthetics

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FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:16 pm

I assume that even though this game might be heavily inspired by TS, people will generally like to make some stylistic and aesthetic improvements to the 'first-person' aspects of the game. TS was actually pretty ahead of it's time in this regard with its heavy emphasis on the 'feel' of the weapons/heavy recoils/etc. So i'm curious about how people might want to change/improve on these things now that games have generally gotten better and new ideas are out there in force.

I'm asking partly because I have some ideas on how to make the first-person weapon animations/feedback really neat and before I stick my neck out (or volunteer my services) i'd like to see whether my contributions would be welcomed. If not... i'll probably just lurk and leave it alone.

The biggest suggestion I want to offer is that the animator should have semi-static control over the first-person camera (through a bone/null, or some other method that can be previewed/tested within the animation application of choice). Semi-static control meaning that in-game camera control is definitely player driven as you would expect (and never taken away), but actions like reloading/ledge-climbing/ironsights-aiming and others might move the camera around in more dynamic and life-like ways. Games like Mirrors Edge, Killzone 2/3, and Crysis 2 do this very well at times and give the player a higher level of immersion and weight. The actual camera movements for the most part would be layered as a motion delta on top of player-control camera movements so that this doesn't interfere with gameplay. All this would be in addition to traditional camera aesthetics like recoil/shaking/leaning and other effects which would probably work better if driven by code process rather than baked animations.

Setting something like this up simply requires an added step in the camera implementation. The primary camera control layer is driven by player input and gameplay driven effects (like recoil), while the second layer wouldn't affect the player's cursor movement but might move the camera around as an aesthetic effect (like looking downward slightly during a reload sequence, while not changing your aim). First layer == gameplay only, Second layer == aesthetics only (and always optional from a design/implementation standpoint).

In the end this would help in breathing life into the game while splitting the aesthetics up into two key groups that remain controlled during production. The animators could go wild and make the weapon animations really sweet, while never actually risking changes to the core gameplay. If they ever go overboard the camera animation blending could be reduced, or turned-off until it's tweaked satisfactorily.

Stylistically, I'd love to see some really dynamic camera work in the game. It would be nice to have ample headbob, slight tilts when strafing, extreme tilts while reloading+strafing, extreme tilts while dodging, intense recoils on appropriate weapons, heavy view rocking when getting hit, stunt movement related camera work, etc. Some of this stuff can become a lot of work if not approached the right way early on, which is the only reason I bring it up now. (If I know Vino, he'll jump the gun on prototyping shit out before bothering to ask for much input).

note: a system like this would likely work better if the cursor 'crosshairs' are Not always tied to the center of the screen. This can be a pain to work with, technically... so it should be mentioned now. Although I imagine that we could restrict such camera dynamics to moments when the player wouldn't be able to fire anyways (like during reloading). But if we wish to apply layered camera animations on top of shooting animations we may have to consider a working mobile crosshair (which I'm not suggesting we do).

***CURRENT LIST OF GAMES FOR AESTHETIC REFERENCE: The Specialist, Killzone2/3, Crysis 2, Far Cry 2, Mirror's Edge (feel free to suggest more).
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby TOGSolid » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:19 pm

Setting something like this up simply requires an added step in the camera implementation. The primary camera control layer is driven by player input and gameplay driven effects (like recoil), while the second layer wouldn't affect the player's cursor movement but might move the camera around as an aesthetic effect (like looking downward slightly during a reload sequence, while not changing your aim). First layer == gameplay only, Second layer == aesthetics only (and always optional from a design/implementation standpoint).

I have the weirdest boner right now.
Stylistically, I'd love to see some really dynamic camera work in the game. It would be nice to have ample headbob, slight tilts when strafing, extreme tilts while reloading+strafing, extreme tilts while dodging, intense recoils on appropriate weapons, heavy view rocking when getting hit, stunt movement related camera work, etc. Some of this stuff can become a lot of work if not approached the right way early on, which is the only reason I bring it up now. (If I know Vino, he'll jump the gun on prototyping shit out before bothering to ask for much input).

Brb, lotion and tissue required.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Vino » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:24 pm

I was wondering when you would start piping in.

If there's one thing you're goot at Bryan, it's talking about minutia when the big picture isn't nailed down yet. What you're saying definitely sounds cool and desirable, TS actually had some of that with the kung fu attacks. It sounds like something we'd start to experiment with in the polish phase. Do you want to code it?

bryitis wrote:(If I know Vino, he'll jump the gun on prototyping shit out before bothering to ask for much input).


Nah I'm going to be much more laid back on this project. Haven't even downloaded any tools yet. Don't think I'll get started at least until another programmer is found, and even then it'd be only a nights and weekends kind of deal.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:34 pm

I'm not sure I want to code any of this. My mental coding budget is being used elsewhere these days... and I doubt I want to get that involved. I *might* be willing to offer my assistance in the v-model animation department... but that depends on how this project is set up and whether I would actually enjoy putting the time into it. As you know, I work in XSI or Messiah for animation... and I've never tested either of those in UDK. I don't have time to learn many new tools and I'm not even offering to contribute for the full-body animations, so don't read too much into this.

I'm simply suggesting the best approach to get the best results given the probable scope of the project.

If things are really moving along and my services could be of use, then I might be willing to put work into it... but like you it will be 'weekend' work at most.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:45 pm

Vino wrote: It sounds like something we'd start to experiment with in the polish phase. Do you want to code it?


Actually, setting up a empty placeholder for this camera implementation would be really easy to do, and then do nothing with until later. So it really doesn't have to wait for the polish phase. All you need is someone to give you an exported "v-model" animation scene containing a placeholder gun model, and a placeholder <camera> null. Then you could use that as a framework v-model to code with, and when you are ready to start importing content into the game you do so through the placeholder framework, and adjust as needed. But considering how difficult it would be to go back and add something like this later... maybe its worth thinking about now.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Antagonist » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:46 pm

Hey this was a good idea dudes.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Dan » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:50 pm

I think y'all should take a look at Far Cry 2 if you get the chance. Flawed game, but the first person animations were really detailed and super immersive, especially for sliding and picking up weapons.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:53 pm

Yes, Far Cry 2 was a great reference I failed to mention. Going forward my suggestion applies to all of the above.

(p.s. don't stop suggesting other games as references though... we may use them later. I only mean to suggest that with my proposed implementation method, the sky is pretty much the limit with what we can do with the camera. simply by virtue that the gameplay and aesthetics wont be tied too close to each other.)
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Semertzides » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:30 am

On another note, i'd really like it if there were an option to include body awareness. Mods like HL2 SMOD tactical and Move it! had such a feature and i loved it.


Giving players whom wish to use it the option to decide the size of the deadzone would also be a good idea if it were to be added. A small detail that could add alot of immersion to those whom careless about precision.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:52 am

I'd love to have a much more immersive damage feedback system in general. The whole bloody border technique is getting so old and tired. I don't mind if we have something like that. But i'd like to see more emphasis on other supplimental effects like rocking the camera different ways depending on how you get hit. The direction of camera displacement could vary by direction you are hit from, while the magnitude would vary by how hard you get hit. Having bullets affect player movement probably wont be a desirable effect so rocking the camera might provide the same feedback without the other negative effects.

In general this is my idea:
Taking hits from the front rocks the camera backward.
Taking hits from the back rocks the camera forward.
Left rocks right.
Right rocks left.
Above pushes the camera slightly downward.
Below pushes the camera slightly upward.

Then blend in between these affects using a 3way blend with various weights depending on the true direction you take fire from.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Vino » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:52 am

I actually tried something like that with old TS. It worked kinda well but for the most part it was too subtle to use as a directional indicator.

What the hell is body awareness?
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Wish » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:50 pm

Being able to look down and see your own feet, I think. It's a nice feature.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby ThinRedPaste » Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:11 pm

i thought thats what he meant at first, but the videos he posted seem to be showing off the gun and aim moving somewhat independently of the camera. That's a really cool feature, I always like the way it looks in games that have it, but its super hard to use and I dont think its a good fit for the sort of game we're going for, especially if we dont use actual iron sights.

edit: maybe if the crosshair was still drawn and the box for the gun to move in was really tiny it could work, but at that point it doesnt seem worth the effort
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby Semertzides » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:31 pm

Well it's a rather simple feature that alot of people might enjoy, and it actually isin't that hard to play with. Give Smod Tactical a chance some time, a real blast.
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Re: FPS Aesthetics

Postby bryt » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:51 pm

having the gun track behind the camera like that shouldn't be hard to do visually... but i wonder if its suggested that the gun should lag in lining up shots? if so, i'd vote no in favor of usability. we can make it look good, but i think that the crosshairs should always show an accurate reference for where you bullets will land.
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