In any 3D game you have a camera. Simple, isn’t it? What isn’t quite simple is how to make a good camera. I’ve played a few finished games where the camera is choppy or becomes an obstacle in itself to the person playing the game. This is not how it is supposed to be. I’ve spent quite a while on the camera system in Marble Maze and I’m proud of the results.
The default camera swivels around the marble in an isometric view. It detects whether the view of the marble is blocked by the level and raises the camera until it is no longer blocked. The end result is that you just have to move the camera left or right and the height of the camera takes care of itself.
There is a top-down style camera which stays above the marble at 90 degrees all the time. This view can make you quite dizzy if you are susceptible to that sort of thing!
An interesting camera view I’ve also put in is the first person view. The player is actually inside the marble. I was surprised at the new dimension this gives to the game. You can construct a true “maze” in the level and force the player to go through it from the ground level, put right into the thick of the action. Enemies would really be able to sneak up on you in this view.
There are a couple camera ideas I’ve recently been playing around with for addition to the game engine. One is a fixed isometric view (no swivel) with the camera a little further away, so it would be closer to the look of the classic Marble Madness. Of course you would need to design the level with this in mind, otherwise the marble view may be blocked too much… not acceptable.
The second view was brought to my attention by a friend testing the game engine pre-alpha. He felt a third-person style camera hovering above and behind the marble would be cool. This is an interesting view for the camera as it is not quite as involved as the first person view, but you are still in the thick of the action — unlike the fully isometric view.
I didn’t start out thinking much about different camera types (default “swivel isometric” was the only one planned for). But the more I go on and play the game myself, the more convinced I am that different camera types actually have the power to direct gameplay in different directions. And a nice variety of gameplay styles is always a good thing for a game.