Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Idea for in-line kill-cam

I was playing Black-Ops at a friends house, the fact that you can play split-screen online makes it fun again - I might have to buy it just for that. Anyway, I died many times without any warning, which is a bit annoying. Of course it's fun when you insta-kill another player, which is why it's possible, but when you just fall over dead and you're not sure why (until you see the replay of how you died, if it's enabled), it can be annoying.

Then I had an idea. In some one-player games, when you kill an AI enemy in a dramatic way (e.g. a headshot with a sniper rifle), you get a slow-motion view of the kill from a more dramatic angle. As a repeatable example, in Stranglehold there is a special ability (I forget the name) where you take a single shot and, if it hits, you get to see the hit in slow motion from a better angle. So why not do that in an online game like Black Ops?

Let me clarify. In Modern Warfare and Black Ops, after you get killed you see a replay from your killer's point of view. My suggestion is; instead of waiting until after the player dies and falls to the ground, as soon as the player is officially "dead": stop, zoom the camera out a little to show the player, and in slow motion show them dying. If the get hit by a sniper bullet you will see the blood fly (and perhaps the bullet hit), if they trigger a claymore you can jump to an angle from above the player that shows the claymore, then show it explode and the player fall.

It won't work well for everything (so it can be applied selectively), but for some instant deaths (like the claymore or long-range sniper kill previously mentioned, which are not immediately comprehendable at the moment of death), it can avoid the momentary "how did I just die?" frustration while looking pretty cool. And there's room for a little cheating too. For example, if you do get killed by a sniper, the game can actually go back in time a little and follow the track of the bullet (camera exits the player's body, flies down to focus on the sniper, shows the shot, follows the bullet from behind on it's flight until it hits the player and we see them fall in slow motion) - basically the player himself is shown only in the frame he died in while the sniper can be shown only in the frame he took the shot, even if the two are actually a few frames apart, it won't look wrong because the bullet is supposed to be that fast. Whether or not that would look wrong for, say, a grenade-launcher kill I'm not sure, but it's probably worth a try right?

It won't impact the gameplay since the player is already dead and has lost control for a moment when it happens anyway, if the spawn time is shorter than the view time the player may be given the option to just skip it and get right back to the killing. Since these games save enough information to show the replay anyway, it shouldn't be technically hard to do, and of course it can be disabled by the player just like the current kill-cam. The player can view either the regular after-kill view or this in-line kill-cam view depending on the type of death.

Well, it's an idea. I wouldn't be surprised to see it done soon, the way slo-motion is being used these days - or perhaps it's already been used and I just haven't seen it?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy new year!

Well, another year has been lost forever. I guess I'm getting old, because I find it slightly depressing. Or perhaps what's depressing is how little I seem to care? I don't know.

Anyway, to mark this occasion, here's a screenshot of the latest version of my Blender plugin. I've just finished the latest function, which exports all the files for one model in one go. That's the model descriptor file (.agt), all the mesh files (.amt), all the material files (.ast), and the rig file (.art), as well as a new folder to hold them all, and it even copies any images used in the materials to the new folder.

So that makes the whole process much easier of course. It doesn't handle animations yet (which are still under development in the engine anyway), hopefully I'll be looking into that. The selection process is a little rigid (you have to select only the root mesh for a multi-part model, and also the rig for a rigged model), I plan to make it a little more forgiving later, but as it stands now it's fully functional and quite usable.

Also, is it just me, or is the number 2011 not pleasing? I don't know why, but 2010 just looks better. Perhaps it has more symmetry? Perhaps it's just what is symbolizes: over a decade since the New Millennium and almost no progress made in solving the Old Problems?