Camera Controls

In first-person shooters and MMORPGs, the ability to control the speed, angle and distance of the character in relation to the field of view is important. In these games, the gamer’s ability to move the camera often defines their movement direction, making camera movement one of most important aspects in the game. Camera controls need to allow comfortable movement for both users that are only able to make larger, less precise movements, and also users that can only make small, precise movements.

Many disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy, limit the ability to manage range of motion, making it very difficult to move the mouse back and forth small distances. This makes precision a massive challenge. You can give these gamers the ability to translate large mouse moves into slower camera motion, preventing wild nauseating swings of the camera and allowing total control of the character.

At the other end of the spectrum, some gamers with Muscular Dystrophy have range of motion issues that let them move the mouse only 1/16th of an inch in any direction. For these gamers, precision is easy, but macro movement is impossible. Even with this limited range of motion, you still can give these gamers the ability to move their character like everyone else by letting them set the camera further out from the character, and manipulate with extremely sensitive camera movement--one full 360 degree camera rotation should be able to be accomplished by moving the mouse 1/8th of an inch or less.

Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift are good examples of games that allow players at both ends of the spectrum to tailor camera movement to their needs. The sensitivity of both games has sliders with a cap that allows for full camera rotation at 1/100th of an inch, or conversely, an area larger than a mouse pad depending on the user’s need.

Guild Wars 2 is an example of the game that only allows larger, imprecise movements(very low sensitivity), but not does not support extremely small movements. The sensitivity by default is set low and can only be increased slightly. The cap is set near a full 1 inch turning radius.

Providing the option to find a comfortable way to use the camera and allow the gamer to move their character can mean the difference between buying a game after a playing a demo, or walking away from an unplayable experience.

Examples

A gamer with muscular dystrophy uses a mouse that allows 3500 DPI. He logs into a brand-new title fresh off the shelf. The game uses it’s own mouse driver emulation code slowing the mouse cursor movement speed and thus making the movements needed to control the direction of the character much bigger. There are no camera or mouse sensitivity settings in the game, which forces the gamer to return the game or consider the purchase a waste of money as the game is unplayable to him.

If the game either used Window’s mouse sensitivity or allowed the cap on emulated mouse drivers to be set extremely high, the gamer would be able to adapt the sensitivity to an acceptable level.