Free Pixel

discovering games as expressive media

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    FreePixel looks at video games as part of the moving image culture. Games are not movies. But games use moving image tradition in their presentation. That is why FreePixel offers a critical look at games and their expressive qualities that grow from the use of the moving image.


    [June 2nd, 2012]

    Cameras and platformers

    Posted by Michael

    It is not really machinima but the use of cinematic means in video games has been a rather close cousin to machinima at large and one of my marvelous MS students, Nick Porier, has just finished his final project on the use of dynamic camera systems in 3D platformer games.The main idea was that camera perspectives to 3D environments are an integral part of the gameplay experience. Cameras can make a simple level difficult and a hard level legible. But different players might have their own visual preferences. So how to decide on the best possible viewpoint to a certain in-game situation?

    To investigate this, he had to build a 3D platformer to start with and then experiment with various camera views.


    The system is dividing each level into segments – or sequences – where a certain camera is chosen. Depending on how players have performed over time in this section, the game tracks overall performance in a database. This database is populated by multiple play throughs. During each play through the players have the opportunity to select a camera and their performance under the selected camera is always tracked. This way, the system learns over time which of the provided camera angles suited the player best for a certain in-game situation. Once it has learned this condition, it can automatically adjust to the most appropriate view.

    There is a bit more information on the project’s web site and here is a short write up of the project.

    And now Nick is off to work for a game company on the West Coast – well deserved.



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