Posted by the_red_mage (169 posts) -

Recently while playing some The Darkness 2 I suddenly remembered why I actually prefer games with a first person perspective. It was basically during one of the execution kills where I (a massive fan of gory, gruesome movies and video games) flinched. The reason for this is that the canned animations during the executions in Darkness 2 are pulled of really well and use the player’s perception of depth and distance to your (pitiful) target. You'll get the visual impression that the poor fool is pulled right before your face and that your facial expression is the last thing he'll ever see.

This is something you only can pull off with a first person perspective and in fact a couple of games before Darkness 2 did this really well. My favorite example here would be Condemned 2.

Condemned 2 was basically a first-person-brawler (... at least until the second shitty half of the game) and really gave you the feeling of being in all these close quarter brawls with these crazy looking people. It made you paranoid because of the limited field of view that you're used to have as a human minus your peripheral vision. This worked really well to build up tension. Every time you heard the sound of footsteps you suddenly turned around and started to look for the possible threat.

My point is that I think that more first-person games should try to use they're perspective as a tool to build up tension and immersion. It is really easy to do these things and provide the player with some sort of ... visual "friction". Melee attacks in FPS for instance tend to get this wrong. Think about the COD knife attack for a second. The maximum range of this attack is simply to big (feel like attacking something with a long sword) and there is no visual reaction to the swing or impact in the player’s field of view no shaking to indicate the motion or the resistance of your opponent. Some simple changes in the attack animation and its result would easily make the whole damn thing more believable and more immersive. And of course some of you may say that the same thing can be done in third person (Assassin’s Creed XYZ did this, Uncharted did this as well etc.) but I don't think it's the same thing from a third-person perspective.

Take Far Cry 2 for instance (no not for the melee stuff that was horrible in this one) where the main protagonist has to do some little visual action when healing himself in a critical state, like pulling out a bullet or burning out a wound with some matchsticks. I've seen people flinch at these as well. Now imagine your reaction when seeing this happen in third person. No flinching at all really.

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My point here is that the first-person perspective really allows us to project the actions on screen on to ourselves and I hope that more games will use this like The Darkness 2 does. Thanks for reading and good night/day/morning (depending on your current location).

Edit: I am sorry for some of the horrible spelling mistakes I had in here. I really shouldn't write these blog entries when I'm tired and half asleep. Mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

#1 Edited by the_red_mage (169 posts) -

Recently while playing some The Darkness 2 I suddenly remembered why I actually prefer games with a first person perspective. It was basically during one of the execution kills where I (a massive fan of gory, gruesome movies and video games) flinched. The reason for this is that the canned animations during the executions in Darkness 2 are pulled of really well and use the player’s perception of depth and distance to your (pitiful) target. You'll get the visual impression that the poor fool is pulled right before your face and that your facial expression is the last thing he'll ever see.

This is something you only can pull off with a first person perspective and in fact a couple of games before Darkness 2 did this really well. My favorite example here would be Condemned 2.

Condemned 2 was basically a first-person-brawler (... at least until the second shitty half of the game) and really gave you the feeling of being in all these close quarter brawls with these crazy looking people. It made you paranoid because of the limited field of view that you're used to have as a human minus your peripheral vision. This worked really well to build up tension. Every time you heard the sound of footsteps you suddenly turned around and started to look for the possible threat.

My point is that I think that more first-person games should try to use they're perspective as a tool to build up tension and immersion. It is really easy to do these things and provide the player with some sort of ... visual "friction". Melee attacks in FPS for instance tend to get this wrong. Think about the COD knife attack for a second. The maximum range of this attack is simply to big (feel like attacking something with a long sword) and there is no visual reaction to the swing or impact in the player’s field of view no shaking to indicate the motion or the resistance of your opponent. Some simple changes in the attack animation and its result would easily make the whole damn thing more believable and more immersive. And of course some of you may say that the same thing can be done in third person (Assassin’s Creed XYZ did this, Uncharted did this as well etc.) but I don't think it's the same thing from a third-person perspective.

Take Far Cry 2 for instance (no not for the melee stuff that was horrible in this one) where the main protagonist has to do some little visual action when healing himself in a critical state, like pulling out a bullet or burning out a wound with some matchsticks. I've seen people flinch at these as well. Now imagine your reaction when seeing this happen in third person. No flinching at all really.

Loading Video...

My point here is that the first-person perspective really allows us to project the actions on screen on to ourselves and I hope that more games will use this like The Darkness 2 does. Thanks for reading and good night/day/morning (depending on your current location).

Edit: I am sorry for some of the horrible spelling mistakes I had in here. I really shouldn't write these blog entries when I'm tired and half asleep. Mea culpa mea maxima culpa.

#2 Posted by Bunnyman (216 posts) -

I don't much care for FPS-games. With that said, your points are valid. When well executed a FPS really is in your face. For me it important that I see parts of "my" body. As in Riddick (a FPS I really liked). I still haven't finished Half-Life Episode 2. Gordon's lack of legs ruins the atmosphere. He just floats around the map.

#3 Posted by MikeGosot (3235 posts) -

Metro 2033 does this really well. FPS's can turn the game more immersive even if it's not your history, like in The Darkness II.

#4 Edited by Brodehouse (10508 posts) -

I find a game remaining completely in first person to be kind of gimmicky. The closest reference would be novels written in the first person, but when I read those I don't get a mental image of the world through the narrator's eyes, my mental image is still third person but with no omniscience.

And that's to not even mention how it makes anything attempting to be cinematic to have to be blocked and framed completely differently, which can easily turn out awkward (think the majority of the 'cutscenes' in Skyrim).

Basically, I feel limiting yourself to the cinematic equivalent of the POV shot for the entire narrative is the same as limiting yourself to the two-shot.

#5 Posted by believer258 (12798 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

I find a game remaining completely in first person to be kind of gimmicky. The closest reference would be novels written in the first person, but when I read those I don't get a mental image of the world through the narrator's eyes, my mental image is still third person but with no omniscience.

And that's to not even mention how it makes anything attempting to be cinematic to have to be blocked and framed completely differently, which can easily turn out awkward (think the majority of the 'cutscenes' in Skyrim).

Basically, I feel limiting yourself to the cinematic equivalent of the POV shot for the entire narrative is the same as limiting yourself to the two-shot.

I thought it was clever the first time I played Half-Life, but these days it's getting really annoying.

That said, I like what the OP says. I do like Call of Duty's arcadey, frantic action, which is why the knife in that game is so quick. If it did something like The Darkness 2, someone else would kill you halfway through wishboning your opponent. However, placing more visceral, brutal things in your face would be an interesting thing to do with the genre as long as it isn't overdone.

@Bunnyman said:

I don't much care for FPS-games. With that said, your points are valid. When well executed a FPS really is in your face. For me it important that I see parts of "my" body. As in Riddick (a FPS I really liked). I still haven't finished Half-Life Episode 2. Gordon's lack of legs ruins the atmosphere. He just floats around the map.

This doesn't bother me much, but I do notice it often. Especially when going back to Halo 1 after all of the other ones even showed Master Chief's knees bending while jumping in the air.

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#6 Edited by the_red_mage (169 posts) -

@Bunnyman: This is a big tun off for me as well. I don't like the idea of the main protagonist being some floaty camera thingy with an attached arm.

@believer258 said:

I thought it was clever the first time I played Half-Life, but these days it's getting really annoying.

That said, I like what the OP says. I do like Call of Duty's arcadey, frantic action, which is why the knife in that game is so quick. If it did something like The Darkness 2, someone else would kill you halfway through wishboning your opponent. However, placing more visceral, brutal things in your face would be an interesting thing to do with the genre as long as it isn't overdone.

I aggree with you especially on the second part about "not overdoing these kind of things". Sadly all of my examples above did overuse the thing I was talking about. The executions in Darkness 2 for instance get kinda dull after an hour or so and at this point it doesn't matter if they introduce new ones (animationwise) because there are only so much ways to rip the 3D models apart.

It seems to me like it's really easy to overuse the exact same thing that can make the first-person perspective so interesting.

#7 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5904 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

I find a game remaining completely in first person to be kind of gimmicky. The closest reference would be novels written in the first person, but when I read those I don't get a mental image of the world through the narrator's eyes, my mental image is still third person but with no omniscience.

And that's to not even mention how it makes anything attempting to be cinematic to have to be blocked and framed completely differently, which can easily turn out awkward (think the majority of the 'cutscenes' in Skyrim).

Basically, I feel limiting yourself to the cinematic equivalent of the POV shot for the entire narrative is the same as limiting yourself to the two-shot.

I'm a writer, and I hate the first person for just about anything but very personal pieces. Games though are different. They aren't movies, they are games. It should be cool to investigate and observe the cool thing happening, not to just have it laid out in front of you. That's when first person games really succeed, when they give you events to interact with and thigns of a scale that you couldn't frame even with a third person view.

If you just wanna watch something, that's what movies are for. Games are for experiences. But at the same time, for that to really work, imo, you need to have a sort of Mirror's Edge level of immersion in the game. Animation, seeing your whole body, casting a shadow. Something a lot of games fail to do sadly. But at the same time, I just think first person games tend to feel better. Third person games always always ALWAYS try to make the aiming feel a certain way. Try to make it floaty or something to help "assist" you or something. Or make it more cinematic. I dunno what it is but I hate the way it feels. It's part of what I like about the Witcher games. They seem like they'd end up being totally that kind of game, but they just aim like a PC game should. Without ANY filtering. You aren't getting auto-aim or acceleration or anything like that.

I think Battlefield 3 is a perfect example of how to do third person. Or nearly perfect. The sense of body is great. I hate mantling over things in CoD. Because you just sorta bump over things. But in Battlefield all that stuff totally works because you see your body physically navigating the obstacle. Another great thing that more first person games need to do is offer more options like going prone, diving to the floor like Black Ops and GRAW, even leaning. Syndicate, when I played a bit of the 360 demo, seems to do an awesome job of working with cover, adjusting the gun to let you shoot around/over cover without having a formal cover system.

Personally, I prefer the immersion potential and the precision of a first person experience.