By Alexander Baird
The goal of Dawn’s camera was to both enable the player to look where they want and to help guide the player as they move around. The camera was created over time and undertook many iterations, especially as the core gameplay changed. From working on Dawn's camera, we learned a lot, including how it affects the player's overall ability to view and interact with the world, as well as how deeply intertwined with general game mechanics it can be.
- Do not underestimate how much work will need to go into a third person dynamic camera. To help get it as polished as possible, testing needs to be done early and frequently to try and find the cases that break it. Due to how much the core gameplay changed from start to finish, there were a fair number of camera cases that disappeared on their own.
- Set your expectations early. We did not know exactly what we wanted from the camera at the start. We originally had a possession mechanic. The first version of how we wanted the camera to work with this would later be used with the fixed camera mode. The second version, though, would get cut entirely, as it basically had the camera still follow Ash (our player character), but lock the rotation to looking directly at the newly possessed pawn. For something that affects the overall player experience so strongly, such as the camera, make sure to have the design meeting for it as early as physically possible. I want to say the initial design meeting for Dawn’s camera was a fourth of the way through the project, if not half way through the project, which may not have been early enough.
- Maintain your files. Even if you find out that you do not want experimental aspects of the camera, hang onto the original code somewhere, as part of it might be recyclable.