FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

. The Presentation Layer

Like strategy games, CRPGs have complicated core mechanics, and the player needs access to a large amount of information. In addition to the game world, the player needs to see critical information about the health (and possibly mana status) of each member of the party. Spellcasting characters require a menu of the spells that they currently have available.

Interaction Model

The interaction model for most single-player CRPGs is party-based, with the player controlling the activities of a small group of people who generally stay close together. In a few cases, most notably the Diablo games, the player controls a single avatar. In multiplayer online games, the interaction model is always avatar-based, though the player may have a familiar—a pet or companion who is also under the player's control.

Camera Model

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The interaction model you choose to implement determines what camera model works for you. With an avatar-based model, either first - or third-person perspective is possible in 3D games, and many games offer both. The first-person perspective is useful for talking with other characters and moving fast through terrain; the third - person is more useful when the player wants to see her avatar fighting, casting spells, and so on. Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a good example of a game that pro­vides both (see Figure 15.8).

If you are using a party-based model, you will probably want an aerial perspective so the player can see all the members of the party at once and position them as he wishes in combat. The aerial perspective also lets the player see more of the sur­rounding terrain, which helps characters explore and allows one character to scout a little way ahead for danger while still leaving the others visible on the screen. The isometric perspective was once the de facto standard for party-based play, but with the advent of 3D games, context-sensitive and free-roaming camera models are now commonplace.

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