I am making a multiplayer FPS and I am in search of some helpful tips on the perfect FPS camera angle. Because it is a multiplayer, I am making a full body model holding the gun, I find, however, that some of the gun positions (when held naturally) seem awkward when placing the camera on the position of the characters eyes. Moving the camera has other consequences, for example, when moving the camera to a more appropriate fps position, when looking at your feet, it seems that your head is too far right, as your point of view is past your left foot..

Any expert advice?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In a commercial PS2 game I worked on, when the user toggled into first-person view, the gun model we drew was about twelve meters long (and nowhere near where the gun would actually have been located in space if it was being held in the hands of the character model), because that's what it took to make it look right on screen. When you're making a game, the goal is usually to make it look right, rather than to make it be right. \$\endgroup\$ – Trevor Powell May 19 '13 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's very interesting, how many of the games we play everyday makes use of optical illusions. I have also had to do this in a previous FPS attempt. As you say, whatever looks right. It was only with the multiplayer function that you'd realize how obscure the weapons actually are. So for the first time ever, I now had to create players and weapons in actual relation (size-wise) to each other, and magically make it work.. Which took A LOT of time (for no extras - the game still feels exactly the same) but at least multiplayer is up and running! \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 20 '13 at 5:51

The industry standard for first-person view simulation in most shooters is to have character models and animations distinct from those used for third-person view. There are several reasons for this:

  • The player has a much smaller field of view upon the world than a real person in the character's situation would, and he lacks other forms of input such as feeling sensations.

    Since the game must obey the usability principle of giving feedback for all of the player's actions, a lot of actions and objects must be displayed as if in front of the player character's eyes. E.g. when hip-firing for real, you don't see the gun at all or barely but you can feel it, whereas in an FPS you see it in plain view. When reloading a gun for real, you must look down at your pocket to retrieve the mag (or not if you can just run your hand down your vest or something) and then look down at the gun where you place the mag, whereas in an FPS, this is done in front of the player character's eyes.

  • The third-person model is not detailed enough to be displayed from up close. If it were used for first-person view, the low resolution of the texture and the poor geometry would hurt the player's eyes... Using an LOD is not the solution because you have to redo the models anyway due to the previous bullet point.

edit: I forgot to add this interesting link.

Finally, again due to the field of view being narrower in games than in real life, the game must somehow display objects that are below the character's head as higher than they really are for the player to get a better understanding of their relative position. Indeed, when you look straight in reality, there's a whole range that is outside of the standard 75-90 degrees FOV in games, where you can waive your arms with your eyes able to see them, whereas in a game you can't. In a game, what happens in front of you must be displayed.

This is done by lowering the camera a bit with respect to its realistic position about the eyes.

There is no universal rule for how much lower than the eyes the camera has to be, but I guess you can try somewhere between the shoulders and the nose (that's a rough estimate), see what's best for you and that should do it.

If you can play Counter-Strike or COD in multiplayer with a friend, try to see what happens when you make your characters face each other and toy with the cameras. I might try that myself and post a screenshot.

edit 2: in games where there's a button to level your eyesight ("center view" button), if you approach a standing NPC, apparently in most cases you'll be looking at the base of their neck. See these planetside 2 screenshots.

edit 3: also, shoulder-high is where the weapon actually is on the character model, so if the camera is there too then bullets always travel along a straight line from your "eye" to what your crosshair is on, which is pretty convenient and, in some of the most hardcore FPSes, downright essential to gameplay.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very interesting indeed, thanks for all the info.. I couldn't find too much on this topic! I think I may be my own worst critic on this topic in that case, seeing that actually most games (multiplayer) has this problem which we just actually don't see (unless you are looking for it) It actually is a bit of a flaw in FPS games.. We have been made accustomed to viewing the weapons at an unrealistic angle, and making it more realistic now, would make you the odd one out and make YOU seem unrealistic.. \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 16 '13 at 12:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will now simply move the camera to center of the character (horizontally) and to the base of the neck (vertically).. currently my camera is too far left (on the base of the neck, but too close to the shoulder) which seems a bit off at both counts (X and Y), which will require some re-animating. But should look awesome.. Thanks for the help! \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 16 '13 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome! But you know what? I forgot one of the main reasons the camera is shoulder-high in most FPSes! See last edit in the answer -___-' \$\endgroup\$ – jrsala May 19 '13 at 1:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks again! I have now successfully gotten it looking awesome for both 1st person and 3rd person. Pretty challenging! What I ended up doing: The camera at the base of the neck, the weapons are held exactly 90 degrees in relation to the character, the stock of the weapon is just after the neck ends (but on the level of the right shoulder), the camera follows the right hand, and each of the gun specifies the exact position for the weapon to be in the "Golden Ratio" to which the camera moves while changing weapons. Looks seamless! Perfect! Thanks a lot for the help.. \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 20 '13 at 5:20

It is common to render the players own character vastly different from other characters in order to avoid these issues.

With a real rifle you have got two mechanics that don't translate well to computer games:

When not aiming you'll typically raise your head higher to get a better view, some games implement multiple different tiers of aiming to simulate this, but from a gameplay point of view it seems quite unnecessary. If you want to keep it simple you'll have to cheat a little in order to provide a view that offers both aiming and view.

Humans have two eyes, even when keeping one right at the sight you can still open the other to get a more normal view on the situation, this obviously doesn't translate to a game that use a single flat image.

Standard solution

For the first person model put the gun at a somewhat lower point than the view. Leave out either the entire player model, everything but the arms, or if you can somehow manage to make it work without the player being able to look down an empty neck, just leave out the head.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! I would usually leave out the body, but this being my first multiplayer, the body is required (as other players might not appreciate shooting at floating arms) (lol) \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 16 '13 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Corne You don't fully get it, you should only leave out the body from the players own rendering, opponents' computers should draw a full model. \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa May 16 '13 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh I see.. it makes sense, in most aspects. Trouble comes in when using shadows or mirrors in the game, the player will become aware that he has no body. Also, including the feet have become hugely popular due to players wanting to be more and more immersed into the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Corne May 16 '13 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Corne You'll have to use the full model for shadows and mirror images, just switch between the different models depending on what part of the rendering is next. \$\endgroup\$ – aaaaaaaaaaaa May 16 '13 at 14:56

I for one, would suggest that you make all of the animations realistic, as if designing a 3rd-person shooter, and have the camera "mounted" between the character's eyes. tThis is because I feel that it is finally time for players to get a true first-person experience, rather that a thirty-six foot long model of a gun designed to vaguely resemble a rifle from a specific view.

Anyway, I would also be curious as to what it would look like as a real soldier, on a real battlefield holding a real gun in a real way, in a video game.

It would also add a "unique vibe" to your game, making it look unique, and not like every other FPS (with that classic "disembodied floating arms holding a gun in an obviously ineffective position" sort of feel that Project: Snowbound, Halo, Ghost Recon, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Battlefront, and all other FPS games have.

If you do not clearly understand what I'm saying, I can clarify for you. Just ask.


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