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I am making a space game (like the game Freelancer). You control a space ship in third person.

What are some gameplay considerations that I should weigh when selecting a field-of-view (FOV) for such a game?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The best is the one you decide you want to use. There's no correct answer to this Holger. It should be fairly trivial to try out a few and see which one you like the most. I voted to close this question as not constructive. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Jun 25 '13 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even better, let the user decide which FOV they would prefer to use. \$\endgroup\$ – jmegaffin Jun 25 '13 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ High FOVs make me nauseous. I play Quake 3 at 90, and am often called a noob for it. But noobs don't do manuvers like this: youtube.com/watch?v=i6rqumD-9Hk \$\endgroup\$ – Almo Jun 25 '13 at 14:30
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Space games have some additional aesthetic considerations surrounding FoV.

With a wide FoV, objects we expect to be round (like planets!) can appear elongated and elliptical toward the edges of the screen. Compare the 90- and 45-degree vertical FoV below:

Comparing 90-degree and 45-degree FoVs for distortion of planetoids

A tighter FoV can also help enhance the sense of massive scale & distances in space, by diminishing parallax as the player moves around, so things like planets seem almost fixed in the starfield.

So if you want that classic sci-fi movie shot of a ship against a perfectly circular arc of a planet along the edge of the screen, amost unmoving as the vessel sails along... a narrow field of view can help accomplish that.

As the other answers note, you'll need to balance these aesthetics against gameplay usability concerns. If a narrow field of view takes away too much situational awareness, making your shooting gameplay difficult, or flattens depth too much for precise flying around local obstacles, then you'll probably need to widen it back out. If a playable FoV is making your planets look wonky, then you might need some visual trickery to compensate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even more correct had been a quadruple amount of individual spheres in the left hand picture :-). But already this illustrates well the nature of planar projection. Edit: (or the current ones more grouped into center of screen) \$\endgroup\$ – Stormwind Jan 28 '17 at 22:56
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I am making a space game (like the game Freelancer). You control a space ship in third person.

What are some gameplay considerations that I should weigh when selecting a field-of-view (FOV) for such a game?

If its a single player game just let the player set the FOV themselves. Its possible to use it as a way to ballance ships (EX big ships has smaler FOVs while small have larger) but probably not worth the hassle and wont deter people who are sensitive to low FOVs.

Now if its multiplayer then thats a different issue. Being able to adjust the FOV makes it so that better hardware can become very advantagous. A large FOV with a huge monitor (2560 x 1440) in a game where spotting the other player first is an advantage can become very unballanced just because of the hardware.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that it should be possible to change the FOV, but the question still is what the default value should be. I want people to like the game right away. I assume that most people don't tink "I can make this game better by changing the FOV in the settings". They will probably rather just move on to the next game available. \$\endgroup\$ – Holger L Jun 26 '13 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think 90 horizontal seems to be the best compromise if you only want one setting. Most of the people (like me) that hate low FOV seem to be okay with that, and most people that don't hate low FOV won't notice. That said in third person with the camera trailing slightly behind the ship (IE the camera jerks around less) low FOV is less of an issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Lewis Wakeford Jun 26 '13 at 8:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HolgerL "What are some gameplay considerations that I should weigh when selecting a field-of-view (FOV) for such a game?" I didn't realize the question was about how to select the FOV. You might want to edit to make that more clear. \$\endgroup\$ – ClassicThunder Jun 26 '13 at 16:05
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There is definitely not a "best". It's more about several aspects of design, including:

1) Gameplay- Does your game benefit from a view similar to a RTS game or Isometric RPG? The world is easy to manipulate in this view. Does your game become more immersive in FPS view? Should the view be of the player inside a spaceship, viewing through a screen or window infront of them? It all depends.

2) If you are speaking of strictly FOV in a FPS view, then try a game like Battlefield or Planetside2 which lets you change the FOV. Look at the maximum before you get sick, and the minimum before you lose usability. Find a middle ground which you prefer.

3) Alternatively, allow the player to decide their FOV. Have a default value, but ultimately leave the decision to the player.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It is a space game in third person (the player looks at the spaceship from behind) \$\endgroup\$ – Holger L Jun 26 '13 at 7:54
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If it's a single player only game, there's no problem allowing the user to adjust the field of view as they see fit. In some cases, you may want to calculate the field of view based on the user's setup. Check out how the wide screen gaming forum does it.

You should know that scaling the field of view based on screen size can result in a very tiny view. That is why most modern games use either 45o or 90o by default, and only scale if the screen size is big enough to be a television. That is because the focal length from you to the screen is usually larger if you're using a television. They scale it smaller, and it looks more like how you would see it in real life.

Also, check out the Wikipedia article on "Field of view in video games".

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with this answer, or atleast, the implications of this answer. There is no reason why you should have a problem allowing change to FOV in a multiplayer game. In fact, I see many that do. If it gives you an "unfair advantage"; it doesn't really - the other players have the same option to change their FOV. \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Jan 28 '17 at 23:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ It does give certain players an advantage. Some players have trouble playing with a "fake" looking perspective on high FOVs. So, the players who don't mind have the advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Oliver Yasuna Jan 28 '17 at 23:40

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