Camera Model

The camera model in most vehicle simulations doesn't try to be intelligent; it just offers a variety of fixed perspectives from different angles. Although the game can­not be played from all of these angles, the unplayable angles can be used for taking dramatic screenshots or for viewing instant replays of the action.


Both driving and flight simulators implement certain standard views:

■ Pilot's/driver's view. This is the normal view that most simulators offer by default. The player sees what the pilot would see from the cockpit or what the driver would see from the driver's seat. The vehicle's instruments take up the lower half of the screen, and the upper half shows the view out of the windshield, often partially obscured by parts of the hood or the nose of the plane. Most sims offer separate look-left, look-right, and look-backward views, as well as a mode in which the player can swivel the view smoothly in all directions to see what's overhead and down to see instruments located below the pilot's normal line of sight.

■ Cockpit-removed view. This unrealistic but dramatic viewpoint uses the full screen to show the pilot or driver's view out of the front of the vehicle, unobscured by the cockpit controls. Semitransparent overlays in the corners of the screen allow the player to see instrument readings without much interference with the view. Even these overlays can be removed, providing an unobscured view of the world outside with no visible indication that the player is in a vehicle at all.

■ Chase view. This is an exterior view of the player's vehicle, as if from another one following closely behind and mimicking its movements. In flight simulators, the plane always seems to be level when in chase view and the world turns around it. For example, if the player banks her plane, the horizon tilts while the player's plane appears to be level in the middle of the screen. In driving simulators, the point of view when in chase mode/view is usually somewhat elevated so the play­er's car does not obscure the view of the road in front.

■ Rear, side, and front views. These are exterior views of the player's vehicle from all four sides. If the player's plane banks, the view does not bank; the ground remains below.

■ Free-roaming camera. Generally used only in an instant-replay mode, this enables the camera to be moved anywhere in the world and tilted or rotated to look in any direction. This view is useful for players trying to analyze exactly what hap­pened in a particular encounter.


The following views are found only in flight simulators—and military ones, at that:

■ Ground target view. This is a view of the target on the ground that is currently selected for attack. The camera is positioned at a nearby ground location, facing the target, and does not move. This view lets the player watch incoming missiles or bombs arrive to see whether they accurately hit the target.

■ Bomb or missile view. This is the point of view from a recently released bomb or missile, as if it had a camera in its nose (as many modern weapons do). This allows a particularly dramatic perspective as the weapon approaches its target. This view disappears after the weapon detonates, and the perspective returns to the default view.


The following views occur only in driving simulators. Obviously, the cars are not drivable from these perspectives, but they are great for instant replays.

■ Track-side view. Many real racetracks locate cameras at fixed points around the track, and a good many games emulate this. The game's point of view can be either locked to a specific location or made to track the player's car as it moves past. It's also common to have a routine that automatically makes the display switch from one track-side camera to another to follow the leaders as they go around. This gives a good simulation of watching televised coverage of a race (see Figure 17.7).

■ Grandstand view. This is the traditional spectator's view of the finish line.


Blimp view. This is a high aerial view looking straight down onto the racetrack or course, letting you see all the cars at once.

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