|2005/09/17 21:01:53 PDT by Siemova [0/24]|
How should the camera operate? It probably should not be possible for the player to view areas that the characters haven't seen yet, or to see moving objects in areas the characters can't see. However, a camera fixed on a character would be limiting, and "fog of war" is perhaps overused.
Yes, fixing the camera on characters would be limiting, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? The whole question here is how and how much to limit the player's view of things. I'd imagine a Neverwinter Nights-like camera, combined with character switching, could fit our purposes very well.
I remember our talking a long time ago about various ways to select party members. It's been made clear that click or click-and-drag will work, but I also recall liking the idea of using number keys to select each person quickly without having to see them. That way you'll never need to scroll the view away from characters, and in fact it would be quicker and easier not to even if you could. Picture this:
Little portraits for each party member, along with minimal vital stats, overlay one corner of the screen. Let's say you have Syne selected. His portrait indicates this via outline, glow, or what have you. The camera is focused on him; you might be able to rotate and/or zoom in and out (both of which are, of course, open to discussion), but you can only see as far as Syne can. If his view of something is obstructed, you can't see it either.
Now, let's say you want to control Cade instead. He's standing a few feet away from Syne. The way I imagine it, you have plenty of options: either click on him, drag across him, click on his portrait, press the corresponding number key (say, '2'), or press 'tab' to cycle from Syne ('1') to Cade. Whichever you do, the camera shifts focus to him, he becomes the active character, and his portrait indicates this.
"But," you might think, "what if I want to issue orders to both of them together?" Well, dragging a box across the two is easy enough, if they're near each other. But what if Cade isn't in Syne's field of vision? Simple. If Syne is already selected, shift-clicking Cade (or his portrait) will group them, and so might shift-2 or shift-tab. Should you then tell them to move somewhere, they will do so in concert. If you tell them to manipulate some object, they will both move toward it and whoever gets there first will accomplish that. Or maybe certain actions, like pushing aside some obstacle, can only be accomplished by characters working together. Regardless, to go back to controlling one character is as easy as clicking on him or pressing his number.
Shift-clicking or -tabbing, however, quick and effective though it is, could be improved upon if you have a bigger party. Simply press 'tilde' to select everyone at once. The 'shift-' methods would then work to drop individual characters from this group, if need be, without disbanding it altogether.
One major question, at least, still arises: on whom would the camera focus when multiple characters are selected? I'd say focus would remain on whomever you had selected originally. (Perhaps focus could even mark this character as a "party leader" of sorts? Syne's leadership skills might kick into play this way. But let me not stray from the topic at hand - that can be explored later. ^_^) If you want to change focus while grouped, 'tab' should cycle through the party without disbanding the grouping (even if you tab to a character not in the group). To quickly disband a group, the normal single-character selection methods should work, but if the full party is selected you could instead press 'tilde' again to disband, returning control to the character with current focus.
This may sound a mite complicated, but if so it's probably just my explanation. :-P I think it would be very easy to pick up and use in-game. Some of these methods are redundant, but that's okay; it means you can employ whichever is quickest and easiest for any given situation. Basically, it allows for a lot of flexibility without sacrificing either time or intuitiveness. And that, in my book, is a good thing. :)