Video Game Cameras Are Complicated And Easy To Screw Up

Illustration for article titled Video Game Cameras Are Complicated And Easy To Screw Up

The latest Game Maker’s Toolkit video is all about video game cameras and how developers can use them to help make gameplay more challenging, to scare the player or to better serve a story. It also is a great reminder of how much work and thought goes into something that, if done right, most players won’t even notice.


Basically, cameras in games can serve two purposes: Gameplay or aesthetics. So a camera can focus on the action, like in a fighting game. Or you can have cameras that pull out to provide sweeping vistas like seen in Uncharted 3. The key for developers is knowing when to use a certain camera because it is very easy to make a game feel bad because the camera isn’t right for that moment.

Illustration for article titled Video Game Cameras Are Complicated And Easy To Screw Up
Screenshot: Game Maker’s ToolKit (YouTube)

Batman: Arkham Asylum does a wonderful job of having a dynamic camera which pulls up close to Batman during story moments, but also flies away from him during action moments. The camera will also tilt when he is poisoned, to represent Batman being sick and feeling loopy.

The whole video is worth watching and goes into depth about all the little details that go into different camera angles and how they work to scare players, make them feel powerful or help them connect to the character.

It is interesting to think about how a good camera in a game is often ignored by most players. I know I don’t think about how great a camera is while playing a game. But if that in-game camera starts to break or not feel good, then I notice it and start to complain. It’s like good music in a movie. You don’t notice it until it’s gone or replaced with something terrible.

What is the worst camera you can remember from a video game?

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.



Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast had problems in some areas with camera angles..especially IMO Knuckles’ first area. It seemed like, whenever I tried to go up top I’d have a terrible time with adjusting my view.

Probably the worst though, was (drumroll, please) Sonic ‘06. Sometimes, when you had the areas where Sonic was supposed to timed-jump between posts you couldn’t even see what you were landing on, and by the time I adjusted to it, I often just fell off the post!

But that whole game was busted.