A Different Reality: Vision

In MMO land, if your visual attention wanders, you can fail to notice that you are on fire. Almost all information arrives through vision, and the little bit arriving through hearing is usually duplicated visually.

MMO environments break with the old tradition of “off-screen,” in which objects clearly visible to the character are invisible to the player. For years, we came upon castles and dragons that hid by being straight in front of us but just beyond our myopic vision. Meanwhile, our characters had the impressive ability to see anything on-screen, even if it was down three levels, behind a wall, and under a giant turtle.

In an MMO, when looking at yourself, you mostly see a cloak and the back of a helmet. Checking whether you spilled something on your shirt requires rotating an incorporeal camera. In real life, people would find other uses for incorporeal cameras.

Video game characters’ optic nerves are linked to that camera, rather than their eyes, although some games habitually park the camera in-skull except for dramatic moments. This can cause great problems around walls and corners, as the camera might poke into a wall or torso, or else flee the solid objects in search of some strange angle. It is from this that we learn (1) everything is hollow, including your torso, and (2) the camera is trying to kill you. Why you linked your optic nerve to such a hostile entity, I will never know, although maybe it was not hostile until you enslaved it.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “A Different Reality: Vision”

  1. When looking at yourself (in WoW), you probably shouldn’t see a cloak. It’s better to see the enemy/spell effect/patch of fire that the cloak would have partially obscured. Some people claim that if you ever display your cloak you’re bad, and while that might be a bit of a stretch, they certainly have a point.

  2. More on the cloak thing: In UO a cloak did nothing but look cool (no stats), but because it flowed out when you ran, it made you a bigger target for people to click on. No one serious about PvP ever wore a cloak. Carebears loved cloaks.

    About the camera: In DF you are in first person for everything but when you have a melee weapon drawn, then it goes to a close-in 3rd person view. If you are sneaking around, you have your weapon out.

  3. I wish MMOs did more with sound. It’s a great tool for improving your situational awareness, and about the limit of how it’s used today is “a stealthed rogue just got close enough for you to see him. This also means she’s in backstab range.”

    Back when I was playing a lot of Quake 2 I could tell where other players were in the level by the noises the different powerups made when they picked them up. Now I have to install addons into WoW that analyze my debuffs and make the screen flash if I’m burning, because fire doesn’t crackle and my character doesn’t scream when he’s standing in it.

  4. I really love that last paragraph. That’s a hilarious description of a common malady.

  5. Well on the note of different camera perspectives in MMOs… I think every MMO should be first person. It adds immersion and much more to the game. I would love to elaborate on this, but I have to leave.

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