Real Time Cameras

1st Edition

A Guide for Game Designers and Developers

Authors: Mark Haigh-Hutchinson
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123116345
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 2nd April 2009
Page Count: 544


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The control of cameras is as important in games as it is in cinema. How the camera tracks and moves determines our point of view and influences our attitude towards the content. A poorly designed camera system in a game can disrupt a users experience, while a well-designed one can make a good game into a great one. The challenge in games is that the camera must respond to unscripted events, and this is where much of the difficulty of designing real-time camera systems arises. The increasing use of motion in virtual environments, marked by the inclusion of physics modeling and complex collision detection systems, means that camera systems must be even more effective to keep up. Real-Time Cameras is written by an experienced game developer who has written camera control systems for award-winning games such as Metroid Prime. Mark Haigh-Hutchinson discusses the key algorithms for camera control and then shows how to implement them in code. This book is written for game developers and designers, although it is also pertinent to other professionals in the interactive media field. Real-Time Cameras presents a practical approach to camera systems, introducing their theory, design, and implementation.

Key Features

  • Explains camera systems for modern games--a critical and often misunderstood aspect of game development
    Includes analysis of camera and control systems from existing games along with practical implementation advice for new systems
    Discusses key camera control algorithms, illustrated with pseudo code, and includes a companion website with source code examples and movies demonstrating techniques


Game programmers and designers, and media professionals working with interactive computer graphics.

Table of Contents

Part One: Core Concepts Chapter 1: Game Overview This chapter explains the basics of a typical video game update loop, and how the camera system functions within the context of the entire game.

Chapter 2: Camera Fundamentals This chapter describes the basic definition of real-time cameras and how they compare to their real world counterparts. There is a brief explanation of how the camera properties are used to generate the desired view of the game world in addition to an overview of game camera design guidelines.

Chapter 3: Cinematography Though this book is primarily concerned with real-time cameras, knowledge of cinematic theory and conventions may prove very useful. This is especially true since camera systems in games often have to deal with cinematic concerns whether in regular game play or within cut-scenes (i.e. non-interactive movie-like sequences). This chapter briefly discusses some of the main cinematographic conventions and how they may be applied within real-time applications.

Part Two: Design Principles

Chapter 4: Camera Design The design of a camera system must take into account the desired feature set and preferred presentation style balanced with the requirements of viewer interaction. This chapter describes the factors that must be considered in determining the feature set for a camera system. The production process for designing a camera system is often quite involved, and typically requires collaboration between the disciplines of design, engineering and art. A suggested approach for the camera design process is given, including a set of questions that may used to guide its development. Emphasis is given to the inclusion of camera design as pat of the initial game play design, regardless of game genre.

Chapter 5: Camera Solutions Certa


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Morgan Kaufmann
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About the Author

Mark Haigh-Hutchinson

Mark Haigh-Hutchinson is a senior software engineer at Retro Studios Inc., based in Austin, Texas. He has designed and programmed video games professionally since 1984 and as a hobby since 1979. He has contributed to over 40 published games in roles as varied as programmer, designer, and project leader. Some of the more notable titles he has worked on include several Star Wars games: Rogue Squadron, Episode 1: Racer, Shadows of the Empire, and Rebel Assault, as well as other games such as Zombies Ate My Neighbors and The Secret of Monkey Island 2. Most recently Mark was responsible for the camera systems and player control in the award winning Metroid Prime and its sequel Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

Affiliations and Expertise

Senior software engineer at Retro studios in Austin, TX, USA. He has designed and programmed video games professionally since 1984, and has contributed to 37 published games as a programmer, designer, or project leader. Some of the games he has worked on include: The Secret of Monkey Island 2 (IBM PC, 1992), Star Wars: Rebel Assault (IBM PC, SEGA, 3DO, 1994), Star Wars: Episode One Racer (Nintendo 64, IBM PC, 1999), and was camera designer for Metroid Prime (Nintendo Gamecube, 2002) and Metroid Prime 2 (Nintendo Gamecube, 2004), winners of multiple industry awards.