Camera control principles

Started by Bisqwit, December 30, 2011, 04:13:18 PM

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December 30, 2011, 04:13:18 PM Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest
Often when I hang around on the TLO servers and/or participate in RPs, I see a phenomenon which I have dubbed the broken neck syndrome. It means characters always looking down in a sharp angle, usually somewhat to either side.
When it does not look nasty, it just looks stupid.

I treat RPs as an art very similar to the profession of acting. I also see similarities to the task of cameramen. I am not a professional at either art, but both areas fascinate me greatly.
I believe that in an immersive RP, what you do or say is equally approached in importance also by how you look.

You should make your character believable: Using emotes and gestures that really augment what you are trying to convey and portray, but also have them look at whatever they should be focusing at. That is, basically, whenever another player happens to look at your character, what he sees is a perfectly credible portrayal of a character doing their job according to the RP's plot. Even if nobody is around, there might be someone spectating, or maybe an admin can replay the session from the logs (I don't know whether it's possible). And it makes you happy knowing your performance is impeccable. ;)

Now, it is also true, that you need to see your surroundings. When you are sitting at the console, pressing buttons, or you are scanning a greeble on the engineering walls, you are going to miss a part of game experience if all you do is look at the buttons and glance at the screens once in a while. You need to get a view of what the others are doing. That is why you use the third-person mode.
However, when you go into the third-person mode, often what happens is that you move the view around with your mouse, and you completely forgo whatever the character is supposed be looking at, thereby invoking the broken neck phenomenon.
I took the extra effort of figuring out a minimal key mapping that gives me control the camera in an adequate manner without disturbing the character's pose.

The keys are as follows. Included are Ensign Expendable's key mappings, but you are of course free to choose whatever you prefer. From the input configuration screen:

This is maybe the most useful of them all. Use the zoom_backward key to bring some distance between your character and your camera. You can move the camera to the farthest wall behind your character, and observe the room from there. Now little movements in the mouse cursor will cause great differences in the perceived view, while the character's head will only turn a small amount. You may also set a zoom_forward key, but it is not necessary when you have set up the revert key; you can save more keys for emotes and macros.

These two keys move the camera across a horizontal plane. By holding either key down just a second or two, you get a perfectly good view of your own character from the front side. Useful if you have used the EYES_SHUT emote and forgot whether the eyes are still shut or open. With these two keys, you can observe all of your surroundings regardless of where your character is looking at.

These two keys are not really necessary, but they nicely supplement the previous two. These two move the camera up, and down. Moving the camera up makes it look down towards your character, and moving it down makes it look up towards your character.
You can also set the pan up & down keys if you think the camera is situated too high.

This is the most important of the keys. Whenever you are done covertly observing your environment, hit the revert angles key to restore the camera to its default mode, prior to returning to first-person mode. This ensures that you will never get orientation confusion. It also serves as a panic button if you do camera customizations and you aren't sure how to undo them. This button undoes every camera tweak at once.

Oh, and of course, the thirdperson key, which you all knew about, but I am including it here in case someone is new and has missed it:
This key lets you view yourself in third-person, i.e. outside from your character instead of from the viewpoint of the character's eyes. Press the key again to return to first-person mode. Those other keys do nothing unless you are in third-person mode.

These instructions are also helpful if you are tilting the gaze in order to make chat text visible against the otherwise white ceilings. Just go to thirdperson mode and move the camera around; this way your external RP appearance does not suffer.

Also, note that if something interesting happens on the set, nothing says your character cannot pay attention to the events by looking at them. In those cases, you might go back to the firstperson mode to make sure your character is actually looking at the scene. Have the character's gaze follow the actions if the actors are moving. Focus on their hands, if they are gesturing. Pay a quick glance to the peers' reactions. Be realistic! If the scene happens behind the character's back, end the emote and turn around to look in order to not strain the character's neck. You may also sit on a chair sideways (but do so only if the character is explicitly paying attention to something).

Here is a video I made which illustrates these functions.

Trevor of Borg

January 01, 2012, 12:27:44 PM #1 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest
to point out, a big part of people use laptops, a lot of these things you can bind but we have the main ones, but theres no room on most laptop keyboards to add other binds, if we had a standard keyboard, sure, theres always some who has the FN key for certain functions and its hard to access them fast enough.


January 02, 2012, 03:43:10 AM #2 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest
I have a laptop keyboard in fact. I could not bind the Insert key, for instance, because it would need to be accessed with fn+Delete. There is also an issue with using keys such as ^ or ´ which are "dead keys" on the Finnish keyboard layout. The manner in which RPG-X accesses them makes them not work at all.
In a "dead keys" layout when you press ^ and a in a sequence, you get â, or ´ and e gives you é. Similarly ´ and a gives you á. To produce a ^ character, you have to hit ^ and then space.
Most games can use these keys simply as keys (ignoring their typographic properties), but RPG-X seems to go through a character translation layer, which makes these keys particular unusable.

US-centricism also makes it rather difficult to play some other games on a Finnish/Swedish keyboard layout. On the Finnish keyboard, you get / from shift+7, but  comes from rightalt+◇ where ◇ represents the key to the right from 0. Many games expect  to be a single key with no modifiers, which makes it unusable. Some games expect [] to be simple keys. On a Finnish keyboard they are produced with rightalt + 8 and 9. Even TLO uses this "=/=" paradigm which is relatively easy to type on an USA keyboard layout, but complicated on a Finnish one. Each of those four keys comes has to produced with a modifier, and you have to change the modifier for the  character (shift for others, altgr for ), for a total of 7 keypresses.

Martin Thompson

January 02, 2012, 08:59:29 AM #3 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest
The problems you describe CAN be fixed by setting your windows keyboard layout to "US". Ofcourse, some of the symbols on your keyboard wont actually be what you type (since a different symbol will be "behind" the key).

Personally, I never have these problems since Dutch keyboards are just the same as international keyboards, but the keyboard layout settings can be a dirty fix for some problems :)


January 05, 2012, 05:26:20 AM #4 Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest
Now i can see Peirce's Funny Faces ......