First-Person Perspective

In the first-person perspective, used only in avatar-based gameplay modes, the camera takes the position of the avatar's own eyes, and is fixed with respect to the avatar. Therefore, the player doesn't usually see the avatar's body, though the game may display handheld weapons, if any, and occasionally the avatar's hands. The first - person perspective also works well to display the point of view of the driver of a vehicle; it shows the terrain ahead as well as the vehicle's instrument panel but not the driver herself. It conveys an impression of speed and helps immerse the player in the game world. First-person perspective also removes any need for the player to adjust the camera and, therefore, any need for you to design UI for camera adjust­ment. To look around, the player simply moves the avatar.


Note the following benefits of the first-person perspective compared with the third - person perspective:

■ Your game doesn't display the avatar routinely, so the artists don't have to develop a large number of animations, or possibly any image at all, of the avatar. This can cut development costs significantly because you need animations only for those rare situations in which the player can see the avatar: cut-scenes, or if the avatar steps in front of a mirror.

■ You won't need to design AI to control the camera. The camera looks exactly where the player tells it to look.

■ The players find it easier to aim ranged weapons at approaching enemies in the first-person perspective for two reasons. First, the avatar's body does not block the player's view; second, the player's viewpoint corresponds exactly with the avatar's,

and therefore, the player does not have to correct for differences between his own perspective and the avatar's.

■ The players may find interacting with the environment easier. Many games require the player to maneuver the avatar precisely before allowing him to climb stairs, pick up objects, go through doorways, and so forth. The first-person perspec­tive makes it easy for the player to position the avatar accurately with respect to objects.


Some of the disadvantages of the first-person perspective (as compared with third - person) include these:

■ Because the player cannot see the avatar, the player doesn't have the pleasure of watching her or customizing her clothing or gear, both of which form a large part of the entertainment in many games. Players enjoy discovering a new animation as the avatar performs an action for the first time.

■ Being unable to see the avatar's body language and facial expressions (puzzle­ment, fear, caution, aggression, and so on) reduces the player's sense of her as a distinct character with a personality and a current mood. The avatar's personality must be expressed in other ways, through scripted interactions with other charac­ters, hints to the player, or talking to herself.

■ The first-person perspective denies the designer the opportunity to use cinematic camera angles for dramatic effect. Camera angles create visual interest for the player, and some games rely on them heavily: Resident Evil, for example, and Grim Fandango.

■ The first-person perspective makes certain types of gymnastic moves more diffi­cult. A player trying to jump across a chasm by running up to its edge and pressing the jump button at the last instant finds it much easier to judge the timing if the avatar is visible on screen. In the first person, the edge of the chasm disappears off the bottom of the screen during the approach, making it difficult to know exactly when the player should press the button.

■ Rapid movements, especially turning or rhythmic rising and falling motions, can create motion sickness in viewers. A few games tried to simulate the motion of walking by swaying the camera as the avatar moves; this also tends to induce motion sickness.

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