Monday, June 24, 2013

Some Quick Words of Mouth - Immersion in First Person

I'm going to write a review for Deus Ex: Human Revolution soon, but for now, I'd like to take a second to air some issues I've got with first person cameras in games.

-Makes me motion sick during fast action. Not a problem at all for something slower like Deus Ex, major problem in something with crazy acrobatics like Bioshock: Infinite. The violence in Infinite made me sick in one way, the skyhook flying made me sick in a totally different way.

-I feel less immersion, not more. When my guy can fit through areas not physically big enough for him, move while crouching at the same speed as while standing, and acts essentially as a cylinder with a gun attached to it, I don't feel immersion. In Metal Gear, when you knock a guard out and drag them away to hide them, there's a physical sense of having to carry them, how that slows you down, and the way in which you can move when you've got an arm full of dude. In Deus Ex, carrying a stunned guard means having a ragdoll that flails violently stuck vaguely to my Cylinder Man. When I lift a box in Zelda, it feels like my character's carrying a box. When I lift one in Deus Ex or New Vegas, it just sort of hovers in the air a few feet from my guy's face. The character has no more physical sense than a camera does in a movie, which isn't to say it has none, but I feel more like I'm moving a camera and not a character.

-I've got less spatial awareness in game than I do in real life. This drives me nuts. Even on widescreen TVs, there's so little peripheral vision that I get hit by stuff/approached by people that would be easily visible to a human eye that are 100% hidden here.

I think first person views work for both optional precision aiming and fast, arcade style shooters. I can't imagine Call of Duty feeling right in third person (multiplayer; I've never played one in single player) due to how frantic it gets. The character doesn't matter in this case, so this view works totally fine. True arcade shooters like Time Crisis don't work in third person either. With Deus Ex, I felt that the first person view was a mistake that greatly removed the game's physical feel, especially since it had to switch between first and third person during sneaking against walls and Dude Punching scenes.

Also, I don't ever feel "I'm the guy in the game!" when I play a video game and that concept is fairl
y alien to me. Even in something immensely personal and extremely well written like the Walking Dead game I never once say "That's me on screen" (thank god it's not.) I don't know if it's a consequence of the fact that I make games myself, but I generally don't identify with the character on screen whether it's first person or third; I approach is more as a film or book character even if I'm the one making the choices.

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