Camera work

The intent was to work on tactical mode enhancements, selection enhancements, a new overhead camera issuing orders, grouping, etc. After I dabbled for a bit with improving selecting (eg: hold down shift to add/remove to/from selected ships), I headed towards putting in an overhead cam.

The idea was that it would work like a standard real time strategy camera, sort of an angel’s eye view of the battle, but I quickly realized that this was somewhat silly idea, why put this “only look down” limit? So I scrapped that idea and took out the few good ideas that came along with the overhead cam, which is a better movement mechanic, basically the player would always want to go forward, but what does forward mean? Forward where the camera is facing? Or forward in terms of the overhead cam, where moving forward is sort of like looking down, but still moving “ahead”. The forward where the camera is facing already has a very intuitive mechanism – zoom. So I put in the “ahead” mechanic and voila much improved map traversal in tactical mode. Also I got rid of the rigid follow system, where you’d have to press F to follow an object then press F to un-follow, instead if the player is following an object, but moves the camera away from the focused object the camera will stop following automatically. Zooming in/out and orbiting the focused object is still ok and would. This automatic un-follow means that there’s less things keeping the player from traversing the map.

The follow mechanic also got a huge improvement, instead of an instant transition, which can be somewhat disorienting, following an object will now have a transition period where the camera flies towards that object than attaches itself to it to follow it. This preserves the distance and rotation of the camera, so it is a fairly nice system. Another less major improvement is that the tactical camera now ignores all roll, meaning that the camera is always “upright” which should be less disorienting on the player.

With these added improvements to tactical I wanted to use the same code on ship mode, so I used it to create a “death camera” – so now when the ship that the player is in is dying, the camera zooms out and sees the ship fly out of control and eventually explode. This meant that there is a time period where the player may not be in a ship – which is a first in the history of this project – this may one day lead to the player controlling something other than a ship, maybe a avatar in a space suit? Who knows.

Almost forgot to mention, the death camera and transitional cameras are optional. So if the player doesn’t want to wait for their ship to explode before moving onto another one, the player can still switch ships, or if the player doesn’t want to wait for the camera to travel from one ship to another the player can just jump into the cockpit/chase/etc cameras.