Games are a visual medium. So how it looks is important. But also how you look at it.
For a game using a first-person-perspective, the behaviour is mostly determined. For a RTS game the camera behaviour is less pre-defined. For Military Operations it is even worse since in MilOps zooming is an integrate part of game-play because of the unit hierarchy and the fact that the game is situated on an actual spherical terrain (planet).

Behaviours in MilOps

At the moment we have 3 different situations for the camera.

Free roam camera

Here you move in spherical-space, aligned to the curvature of the planet. You either follow the terrain with a constant clearance, at a constant altitude or always in the direction the camera points.
What behaviour the camera will adopt depends on the situation (close to the terrain or high up) and the settings the user selected (Orbit or Airplane).


Follow a troop camera

The camera is attached to an object in the scene. When the object moves, the camera moves. The user can control how close the camera follows by zooming in/out using the mouse scroll-wheel.


Move to a unit camera

A transition behaviour. When you alt+click on a unit-icon, either in the 3D environment or in the 2D UI, the camera transitions to a new position that matches the size and location of the unit.


In stead of handling each situation separately, we try to design a camera that suits all requirements and smoothly transitions between behaviours.
For example, when you at+click on an icon, the current orientation is maintained, but the camera altitude and position is changed so that the whole unit is visible and centred on screen. This way the user can tweak his favourite view angle at any time without changing any settings.

The current camera options feel smooth and convenient to us, but we acknowledge that camera controls are very personal, so you may not agree. Therefore we expect that for the final game, camera behaviour will probably have had additional changes and tweaks. Your feedback from the MilOps-Benchmark application will be welcome and help us improving camera behaviour until it supports enough customisation to make it suit your taste.

Comments and reactions to this blog entry can be made on our forum.