Monday, September 14, 2009

Does Eve’s Universal Camera Ruin Immersion?

I have been thinking about the impact of Eve’s free roaming camera setup and how it may affect game immersion. It’s kind of weird but, the more I think about the ability to freely move the camera about, the more I feel it takes away from the realism.

Now the reasoning that Eve uses to explain the ability to orbit a camera around your ship or any object within range of your ship, is that millions of micro-cameras have been deployed through space. Logistically this doesn’t make sense. To get millions of cameras hundreds of kilometers around your spaceship instantaneously within milliseconds of entering a system would require immense resources and frankly wouldn’t work within Eve’s physics.

Now I’m almost never ‘the guy’ who likes to argue that “unrealistic” is a reason to change the way a game is played. I think designers should use whatever means they have to make a game fun and playable.

That being said, I think eve could be a better experience if players were limited to orbiting their cameras in a close proximity their own ships and nothing more. The “look at feature” should be changed to a “focus on” feature. This would provide players with an extreme zoom image of whatever they want to view. This could be similar to Star Trek when they use the bridge screen to zoom in on enemy ships.

Here are the reasons why I think this would make Eve a better experience.

1 – It would allow players to hide behind asteroids. Why not make asteroids or space objects a part of Eve combat. Let pirates hide behind asteroids and then ambush unsuspecting miners at the last second. It would also make large objects valuable in massive fleet battles. Flying injured ships behind large objects for temporary cover from targeting could be an interesting tactic as well.

2 – It would make Eve appear bigger. When you can immediately zoom out 100km to dwarf a Titan it takes away from Eve’s massive and impressive scale. Orbiting a giant space station takes away from the awe and mystery. If you want to see the other side of a station, you would have to fly around it.

3 – It destroys the mystery of space. Why explore when you can move your universal camera to any location at any time. Upon entering a new deadspace zone, players can just zoom out to reveal everything in the zone that they need to worry about.

4 – In Eve you fly a single ship. When fighting the enemy, sometimes you’re not even away of shots impacting you because the universal camera is elsewhere. The only thing necessary to watch is the status bar of your ship’s health. I think you should feel bound to your ship, and always aware of the specific things that are occurring with it.

With the removal of the universal camera system, players would no longer be able to zoom 100km out using the actual camera. Players would still need some way to switch into a tactical overlay mode. To fix this, the camera could immediately switch into a digital projection mode, when zooming away from your ship. It would be sort of like a virtual overlay that works similarly to zooming the camera all the way out. This would allow players to have their tactical overlay but remind them that it’s just a digital projection of space, rather than a true image of the battlefield.

Other than tactical overlay I can’t think of too many things that would be lost by getting rid of the universal camera system. Sure people would complain about it at first, as it would feel somewhat restrictive when compared to the freedom they were used to having. However, I believe they would quickly come to appreciate the new sense of immersion that it would provide them with.


  1. Actually, the story of the camera drones can be found here and does make a bit of sense.

    No matter what though, to be able to zip away, as far away, as your able to do, I agree with what you stated. I also agree with the whole asteroid belt idea. It would be a blast if we could hide in asteroid belts and pop out on the unsuspecting or hide from your pursuers.

  2. This would have been a perfect submission to the blog banter a few rounds ago, about what you would ask CCP to remove from the game in order to improve it.

    I'm with you. I'm all for any change to help immersion. Though EVE's mechanics have their faults, overall its a hell of a solid game for how complex it is. I think both CCP and a lot of the player base underestimate how much some seemingly "cosmetic" changes would drastically improve the gameplay for everyone.

    This has my vote to be thrown in with Incarna.

  3. I appreciate the comments guys.

    Selina thanks for the link to the camera drone story. I got it a little wrong but, their version is even more ridiculous. According their version drones should be able to zoom 100km in about half a second.

    Rettic I couldn't agree with you more. I think Eve is a phenomenal game but it still retains a lot of the aesthetics from the 2003 release which could use some overhaul. Camera reworks and UI reworks could really make this game feel like a brand new release.

  4. I concur, anything that increases immersion is a plus in my book. In fact, the only reason I keep my camera zoomed out is my graphics card, and the only reason I would argue for keeping things the way they are.

  5. This is certainly an interesting proposal. I've always felt it to be a little wrong that in combat I just zoom out and it becomes a view of brackets. Except for doing a look at to see what the opponent has fitted as weapons.

    I always liked the tactical overview as well, but other than doing a quick check of optimal range on guns, it just doesn't get any use.

    It's a damn shame because with the graphics overhaul EVE ships do look pretty. And it would make you feel a lot more bound to your ship. I'm all for immersion.

  6. Just one comment on hiding behind asteroids, what about the ship scanner (AKA the overview) the ships maybe able to hide behind roids so your camera cant see them but you scaner will.

    Other then that I like the idea. Hiding behind stations, roids or other ships would a be a great addition to the game

  7. Well, I can come up with a rationale for the current camera system (note, however, that I am not a player of Eve). Perhaps what you are thinking of as a "camera view" is really just an virtual image generated by the amalgam of sensors that your ship has, plus a series of in-system scanners that are all networked together. E.E, "Doc" Smith had something similar with his holotanks in the Lensman series (although I don't think he ever explained how the sensors worked). So with a few changes in the explanatory text, the current "infinite camera" can be explained.

    That being said, I actually prefer the more immersive version stated in the blog. I am a big fan of the concept of the Fog of War, where you don't have perfect information. The current system sounds like it gives too easy access to perfect information. I would like the expansion of tactics that imperfect information would allow.