1. Perspectives, a closer look

      written by Ray Benefield
      Seems quite a few readers enjoyed seeing a reader's thoughts alongside my own. Just wanna let all of you know that if you feel you have a good topic that you want to bring up for discussion with other readers, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, XForgery, here, etc. I'd be happy to take a look and as long as it's not too far fetched and I slightly agree then I'm cool with posting it up. Today's topic... perspectives.

      Quick Recap


      Since I haven't really talked about anything for like a week, if you don't remember my last true post (Defining Visuals) feel free to take the time to go back and read it. Perspectives, Focus Points, and Point of View is very important.



      Take a close look at the screenshot above. This is a great example of all three topics. A perspective is what the player sees at a particular moment in time, so in essence the above screenshot is a perspective. A focus point is any particular thing that perspectives are built around, in this picture the spartan on the mongoose is the primary focus point... the goal point is a temporary focus point. Point of view references how the focus point is viewed. This is a special case in Halo where you are in the 3rd person point of view rather than 1st person. There's your quick overview, with a screenshot from a video of the new upcoming Halo: Reach beta. As I said I will use the Reach beta as the main focus for the coming weeks, since I too will be pre-occupied with it ;).

      Frame of Time


      From what I've noticed, game designers and level designers everywhere are analyzing their content from a perspective that is much too broad. I've always felt that in order to create an enjoyable experience you have to bring your analysis down to the smallest possible unit. In the case of a video game, that smallest unit is a screenshot. "But Ray, isn't a screenshot only a single instance in time? Why would I base my analysis off of something that is just going to go away in less than a second anyways?" Because it is the small things that build the big things. A game is built of millions of frames throughout the course of one play. These frames make the game as they are one of the few pieces of sensory output from the game (the others being audio and physical).

      If you are going to build a successful game/map you've got to understand how to manipulate the smallest unit that makes it up. You've got to understand what it kind of message it sends to the receiver. A picture is made of a thousand words, correct? And a game is made of a million pictures. Try to grasp how many messages video games are sending you as a player with all those words. Now if we could grasp that some how automatically we would never have to write essays, eh? lol...

      Topics to come


      So there are a few ways to analyze a perspective. The obvious route is to analyze it as a moment in time in the game. What decisions can be made at that split second of time? How will the perspective change as the player puts forth input into the game? What are the temporary in game focus points that the perspective will revolve around? How much will those perspectives change over time?

      The other route, that isn't as obvious, is to analyze the perspective as a piece of photography or magnificent piece of art. Where is the eye focused on when the perspective is first displayed? What areas of focus are going to draw the eye's attention? What kind of color contrast exists in the scene? How does that accent or hide certain parts of the photograph? How effective is lighting in this scene?

      Now when you tie together the two routes you start to get questions like: How can I adjust the light in game to create a focus on this weapon? Can I alter the orientation of said weapon to adjust the color contrast and allow it to be accented in the scene? Where will the eye gravitate towards and how will that effect the player's movement and thus future perspectives?

      Your assignment


      So I've offered you a lot to ponder about. Let's make you an active reader. Respond to this post with your thoughts on the following perspective. Keep in mind the questions presented above, and feel free to formulate your own. I will take the time to talk about all of your responses a few posts from now, so make them good and thoughtful. The following is yet another screenshot from the Halo: Reach beta. (Click the picture to see the larger size)

      23 comments:

      Anonymous said...

      So the focus points of an FPS are the possible pathways?

      Bartoge said...

      Well, there seems to be two main focus points. I think the weapon would be a focus point since I think its a needle rifle and it would probably do better damage than an AR. Then there are the objectives (silver triangles) which are focus points. So they would probably make you go left since they are in the left direction and in all objective games, you probably want to get to the objective quickly, or at least be headed in the general direction of the objective since that is where the center of the action is.

      As for lighting, there is a spotlight on the weapon, even if its barely noticeable. I also think its interesting how there are two building and both of them are lighted. However, the outside alley thing is darker. This looks like that swordbase map which probably means that alley is the center thats very vertical which means you are not as safe as you would be in a building. So, to me the lights in the building congratulate you when you enter once, since you just got out of the darkness and back into a safer zone (that whole go into the light thing.)

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Anonymous: Possible pathways can be focus points for an FPS. However, that isn't all they are and that isn't all they can result in either. Weapons, powerups, well light areas, color contrast, etc can all act as secondary focus points as well. Focus points not only create new paths but also draw attention for the eyes, for example when being shot by a sniper the origin of the sniper bullet will become a focus point and all movement will be based around that focus point to avoid death. Hopefully that makes sense. I will be covering focus points in more detail in the future. Thank you for the comment, it is much appreciated.

      As for you Bart, very nice analysis... feel free to add more later if you think of more. The only problem I do have is the assumption of what you can't see in the scene based off of the assumption of the map. Forget anything that you may know and judge it as if you knew NOTHING at all. It's tough, but it's the best way to learn. That's why I'm using the beta maps as examples.

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