1. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England

    The FPS 'fixed head' problem [gaming article]

    Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by OurJud, Nov 7, 2015.

    There's an old adage: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    But this clearly doesn't apply when it comes to the gaming world, and as the technology and power of gaming machines improves, old classics are constantly being re-invented and improved upon.

    It amazes me, therefore, that FPS and games with a first-person perspective have still not fully addressed what I like to call the 'fixed head' problem. PC game developers have been aware of this for quite some time now, and most FPS on this platform offer some form of independent head movement - by way of head-tracking devises (as a non-PC gamer, I don't fully understand this area, but suffice to say I know it exists). However, the console gamer is still forced to play with characters who, essentially, can't turn their heads, and I think it's about time the issue was looked at.

    Let me explain further.

    When you study the controller layout for the vast majority of FPS, you're told that the left stick controls movement, while 'look' is assigned to the right stick. But this isn't strictly the case, as the right stick doesn't just turn the head, but the whole body.

    And this is where the problems start. Not only does this method of 'movement' accentuate the fact that your peripheral vision is non existent (the 'blinkered' effect) it also causes major problems during battles and / or when evading the enemy, as you can only 'see' in the direction you are moving.

    To compensate for this restriction, gamers have developed a technique in which they turn to 'look' sideways, while maintaining their original path by strafing or 'crabbing'. In real life, this would be the same as walking down the street, along a row of shops, then turning your whole body through 90 degrees to look at the shops, while walking sideways to continue on the same path. In other words, not ideal.

    One of the problems for the console market, is that in the past we were stuck with a controller which for reasons of practicality can only feature so many buttons. But this is no longer the case. A cheap and basic keyboard can now be plugged into consoles, potentially giving us the same array of options and control over gameplay as PC users.

    But it doesn't stop there, and it is with the widely unused motion censors in today's controllers that my idea for a possible solution to the FPS fixed head problem lies.

    Bare in mind this is only an idea, and extensive testing and experimentation would be required before it was even considered viable, but here it is.

    Imagine the controller is your head, and let's say the shoulder buttons are your eyes (in a purely positional sense). The controls would be identical to the standard layout we all know, but now, any movement of the controller itself would be reflected in the game, giving the player total freedom to 'look' around their environment without having to deviate from the path they're on.

    Of course, potential problems with this are immediately apparent. For instance players would have to ensure the controller was held flat and directly ahead, in order to see where they're going, but this could be very easily fixed by having a button which 'unlocks' the head movement. Press the button, and the motion censor is active, allowing free head movement. Press the button again, and the viewpoint returns to default, disabling the motion censor at the same time.

    And of course, the individual could simply disable this option from the off, if they find it didn't work for them.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Chinspinner
    Offline

    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,918
    Likes Received:
    1,018
    Location:
    London, now Auckland
    I am not sure if the motion sensor is needed. It could just be set up with the right joystick for movement and the left joystick to independently look/aim... like many games already have for vehicular combat. I have never understood the fixed head thing either and find myself crabbing constantly.

    But I am also going to add a personal bug-bear to your list- sticky cover. I just hate it.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  3. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Yes, possibly. I'm just envisioning it being a little more fluid if head movement was controlled with the controller itself.

    The PC brigade pretty much have the issue licked. Take a look at this from DayZ, using a head tracking device. It perfectly demonstrates why I long for independent head movement capabilities to come to console first-person games.

    Survival MMOs like the one you see here are winging their way to the console market, and it would be a crying shame not to have this functionality. Okay, so this guy is using a head-tracking device, but I see no reason why this couldn't be achieved in the way I describe in my OP.

     
  4. Iced Coffe
    Offline

    Iced Coffe Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    3
    Maybe pressing something on the D-Pad to enable head-movement on the right stick and pressing it again to disable it would work.
    You could quickly change and wouldn't need any extra buttons/sensors.

    Of course you'd have to rearrange/remove some things that are already there (depending on the game) but it'd be worth it.
     
    OurJud likes this.
  5. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is full of options, some of which are for something they call 'free look' (just another term for independent head movement).

    Unfortunately these are only applicable to vehicle use as opposed to on-foot, but they work very nicely. One option for when controlling the vehicles, is the one I suggested in my very first post, where the controller's motion sensor capabilities are used. The vehicle is controlled as normal, while 'free look' is achieved by moving the controller from side to side, up and down. With the sensitivity set correctly, this is far more intuitive that you might imagine.

    Further options in this area - along with having the free-look constantly on - included one which required you to press a button to decouple the head, which could either be held, or pressed.
     
  6. Iced Coffe
    Offline

    Iced Coffe Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    3
    I haven't had the chance to play any next-gen/now current-gen consoles yet, so I forgot that they already had motion sensors.

    Considering that, the motion sensor thing is a great idea.
    It's just using the controllers to their maximun potential.
    Maybe they're going to do that with future FPS.
     
  7. OurJud
    Offline

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    942
    Location:
    England
    Last gen consoles (certainly the PS3) had motion sensors built into the controllers, although I don't think it was as developed as it is with current gen consoles.

    It's still a very underused and overlooked feature, though, and I really do hope developers start experimenting more, and hopefully bring independent head movement to games with a first-person perspective.

    Maybe one day consoles gamers will have something like this.



    Although having said that, I fully expect Sony will have released their VR headset by then, so this is probably all academic.
     

Share This Page