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Games Entertainment

Examining a Game Character's Physical Presence 29

Posted by Soulskill
from the ohhhh-iiiiiiii-ain't-got-no-boooooody dept.
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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Examining a Game Character's Physical Presence

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  • by B5_geek (638928) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:58PM (#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.

    • 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?

    • Counter argument:

      http://www.quakeunity.com/file=2753 [quakeunity.com]

    • 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... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

  • Haptics? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @01:15PM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

      by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @03:04PM (#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: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 an

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by daenris (892027)

        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: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

    • 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!

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @03:04PM (#24903635) Homepage
    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.
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @05:07PM (#24904923) Homepage
    Does all this realism make the game more fun?
    • 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?

  • 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

    • by mobby_6kl (668092)

      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.

  • 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]

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