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Examining a Game Character's Physical Presence

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the ohhhh-iiiiiiii-ain't-got-no-boooooody dept.

Games 29

GameSetWatch is running a feature about the evolution of game characters' physical presence. In many games, you can look down and not see your feet, or pass right through other players or NPCs. Other games rely on a believable model that can animate and collide with its surroundings. Tom Cross examines some of those scenarios, and also games that raise the bar for having a physical presence, such as the new Alone in the Dark. "Edward Carnby's body is a distinct factor in everything that the player does. Your inventory is carried inside Carnby's leather jacket. To use, drop, or combine items, you must open it wide and look down at your own chest. The healing mechanic, too, reinforces the oft-forgotten fact that you have a body. To heal yourself, you must look at the parts of your body (arms, leg, chest) that are wounded, and then spray them with first-aid liquid. Likewise, when you equip an item, Edward reaches for it, palming it and then switching back to the stock third or first person view."

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first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24902045)

post, baby!

Suspending disbelief. (2, Informative)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#24902161)

A 2D screen cannot portray the necessary 3D clues that we as humans need to identify with an object as 'real'.
task: place an object on the table between a few obstacles. Now try to do the same thing using a computer monitor and remote controlled arm. Magnitudes more difficult.

You're asking too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24902315)

Yeah, plus you can't feel and smell. Everyone knows you interact with the game through the controller, and so the sensations are simulated as best as possible through the screen and with vibrations, and through the gestures you must perform with the controller, and also through the buttons and their corresponding actions.

Re:Suspending disbelief. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24902343)

humans don't see in 3d, they see in 2d but have two different viewpoints which gives them a sense of perception of depth. This was recently achieved in video games with parallax mapping, see stalker:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKHbtxmybmc

Re:Suspending disbelief. (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#24903683)

What? Parallax mapping doesn't give you the two different viewpoints humans need to see in "3d". It's completely unrelated.

You want a stereoscopic display with some polarized glasses. THAT gets you "3d".

Re:Suspending disbelief. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24903957)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax_mapping

As I've said before, this isn't about 3d, it's about seeing "depth". When you record a video with your camera and then play it on your monitor (assuming the image is of good quality) you see the world as a human would, the only difference is that the feeling of depth is not encoded in the video.

Parallax mapping gives you this sense of depth that is missing from viewing videos on a monitor screen.

Re:Suspending disbelief. (2, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#24904751)

Parallax mapping is simply a texture shading technique that gives a texture the impression of depth, just as bump mapping and normal mapping do, only more advanced. It has nothing to do with giving the final image any kind of depths and is a completly unrelated topic.

And does it enhance game-play? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24902459)

It's not just about 3D. As you implied, we use more than our sense of sight to grab and hold something. But computers can only provide visual information.

Why can't I reach into my jacked to get the pistol that I can FEEL against my chest?

And if we're going to be using "first aid spray" as a healing potion, does anyone really care if it's equipped to a status bar on your screen or if you have to flip to a different screen view to choose it?

Re:Suspending disbelief. (1)

Random Walk (252043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24917027)

It's often claimed that 3D vision depends on having two eyes, and measuring the parallax (difference in viewing angle).

Close one of your eyes. Does the world look different? Is it suddenly 2D instead of 3D? No, it isn't. The brain also uses other clues, mostly size of well-known object, to construct the 3D world you see. A 2D screen (the retina of a single eye), together with the brain's image processing, is able to yield a 3D vision.

Decent article... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24902233)

But leaves out the explanation, as suggested in the article comments. See Partial Identification [wikipedia.org] .

Haptics? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24902327)

To use, drop, or combine items, you must open it wide and look down at your own chest.

In RL you can feel where your kit is, and know by touch how to pull it out. Ditto for assessing wounds. The compromise of not needing to look in games is actually more realistic than looking at a virtual body.

Same problem with driving/flying games. You don't have the tactile feedback of the Gs of turns and climbs and descents, so the game has to compromise "realism" in another way to make the overall faked-realism effect work best.

Re:Haptics? (4, Informative)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 5 years ago | (#24903637)

Same problem with driving/flying games. You don't have the tactile feedback of the Gs of turns and climbs and descents,

Actually, there are benefits to not "feeling" the plane bank, pitch and yawl. As a pilot muself, I know that seeing is, by far, the most important sense when flying. Your other senses can easily be fooled. I certinly became a much beter pilot when I finally learned to rely only on my eyes. Playing Descent helped me a lot. When visiting friends, I used to fly MS Flight Sim. If I had a decent PC, I'd fly Flight Gear (http://flightgear.org/).

Re:Haptics? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24904333)

Sure, the first rule of IFR is your body can be fooled. But being a "better pilot" is not germane here, game realism is. Whether you think feeling the plane helps or hinders just isn't relevant, what's relevant is it is a huge portion of the actual experience.

To drag back to the actual topic, the cool thing is the body can be fooled: you can make remarkably convincing motion platforms by feeding in small clever motions & angles that /with/ the visuals are interpreted as the imitated large motions and angles.

Re:Haptics? (2, Funny)

daenris (892027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24906739)

I certinly became a much beter pilot when I finally learned to rely only on my eyes. Playing Descent helped me a lot.

Seeing as how I've played Descent... remind me never to fly with you :)

Re:Haptics? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24907399)

I understand how when flying you need to turn off senses other than sight. However, when driving, feeling can be very important feedback. In one driving simulator I used for training, people kept rolling the vehicles (virtually) because you couldn't get good "feedback" from the steering wheel and brake pedal, and couldn't feel when you were going around corners.

Re:Haptics? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#24907219)

In RL you can feel where your kit is, and know by touch how to pull it out.

Could you *please* feel your kit and pull it out in PRIVATE? Geez, man!

Pussy Nazi Sez (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24903357)

No pussy for YOU!

I prefer not to see the body (2, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#24903635)

To be honest I rather have full view of what's underneath me for an action based fps.

Besides, work on getting the NPCs to move their mouth properly when talking. That will enhance thing more than being able to see my guy's shoes.

Obligatory question (2, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24904923)

Does all this realism make the game more fun?

Re:Obligatory question (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 5 years ago | (#24905111)

Fun? Fun?!?!?

If you want fun, get an Atari. Otherwise join us in the great game of navel gazing[*].

HAL.

[*] Well, if you have to look inside your jacket, what else will you see?

Atlas Shrugged...and tore his shirt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24906693)

"[*] Well, if you have to look inside your jacket, what else will you see?"

Why your manly man muscles of course.

Attack of the Floating Viewpoint! (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909563)

The FPS convention that you're just a floating viewpoint with a gun attached has always bothered me; this is one of the reasons I lost interest in the genre after the novelty of Doom's first-person view wore off. Every time I'd look down and see nothing but a vague shadow, I'd completely lose suspension of disbelief.

Even in a game like Portal, where you can look at yourself whenever you like, the player model still only exists when you see it from outside. Look down and you're just a shadow.

It always makes me feel like I'm Rimmer.

Re:Attack of the Floating Viewpoint! (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#24912313)

There are plenty of games where you can look down to see your own body. Of the most recent games, Crysis is one. You can see your legs [imageshack.us] or shoulders [imageshack.us] if you down or to the sides. If seeing parts of your character's body is such a big deal, look around and you'll be able to find many more games. IIRC even DOOM3 works like that, although I don't have it installer right now to check.

Re:Attack of the Floating Viewpoint! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24913185)

Try Halo 2 then. Look down and see your feet. Or, hit someone with a rocket launcher and then hoist it back up on your shoulder.

"A pathetic creature of meat and bone..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24914359)

A detailed examination of the player's physical presence in System Shock, probably the earliest 3D FPS/RPG combination to hit our screens:

(Warning: contains game spoilers and possibly other content that's bound to be offensive to someone or other.)
http://www.it-he.org/sshock.htm#hacker

"Pathetic creature of meat and bone..." (1)

traffichazard (972675) | more than 5 years ago | (#24914409)

A detailed and humorous examination of the player's physical presence in System Shock - probably the earliest 3D FPS/RPG combination to hit our screens: (Warning: contains game spoilers and possibly other content that's bound to be offensive to someone or other.) http://www.it-he.org/sshock.htm#hacker [it-he.org]

Edward Carnby is good or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24923787)

The summary mentions Alone in the Dark, but is it good to have this complex of interaction for something as basic as inventory use?

Does anyone remember "Trespasser" and what a disaster that UI was? (Mind you, looking down at cleavage to see the "health tattoo" was enjoyable in its own way, but......)

Riddick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24947123)

Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay did very well in realistically conveying the concept of your playable character actually having a body. If you crouched, and then turned, you could only turn so far before you'd see your viewpoint shift up and down a little as Riddick had to turn his body and adjust his footing to continue looking in that direction. A small detail, but effective in immersing the player in the game.

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