Scroll Back: The Theory and Practice of Cameras in Side-Scrollers
May 9, 2015 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Game developer Itay Keren talks 2D scrolling in this very visual and nostalgia-filled post and talk.
posted by Foci for Analysis (8 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating stuff. Never really thought too much about camera scrolling in a game except when it was wrong and drove me crazy. I'm glad that there are resources like this out there, helping other games-makers learn from those that came before.
posted by YAMWAK at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2015

I hadn't thought much about this either, though it's surprising that it isn't a more common topic, considering how important it is for gameplay.
posted by KGMoney at 1:49 PM on May 9, 2015

Oh man, I was totally gonna post this as well but hadn't finished reading it. The first two thirds is great, I can vouch for that; it's a really good roundup of camera techniques that as a long time gamer I am surprised to find myself so surprised at the details of. Which is a testament to a really well-designed game camera: you may be aware it's there in a general sense because your dude stays on screen, but you don't even notice how cleverly it's doing its job to make that happen.
posted by cortex at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2015

I present to you, a video in which someone films a side scroller with a drone camera.
(brownie points to anyone who works out how this was made, before they get to the end of the video).
posted by emilyw at 2:07 PM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was looking at doing a side-scroller with a kid I'm teaching, so these questions were running around in the back of my mind. Nice to have them all so thoroughly answered. Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2015

Very good information here. Nicely done. So much that I intuitively suspected, now formalized.

Will cause Chrome on iOS to crash though. :-/
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:46 PM on May 9, 2015

A few minor issues with this (there is this tendency to assume everything Nintendo has made must have come from Shigeru Miyamoto, when they have lots of smart guys working for them), but overall I think the useful information is really useful.

I've found myself thinking about these issues sometimes. In my hyper-fast huge maze Pac-Man clone (the most over-thought thing ever to sell a total of twelve copies, on sale at now), the camera updates each frame by traveling only part of the distance to the player, which gives it a kind of saily property, where if the player takes tight corners once after another the camera will just coast through diagonally. (I find that appealing aesthetically, but I couldn't say why.) The issue of keeping all the relevant information visible to the player is a hard one and I do a lot of other things too, like slowly pulling back to reveal more of the maze at once as speeds increase, which is a trick that was unavailable overall to 16-bit developers who didn't work on arcade hardware. (Technically it would have been possible on SNES, but the pixellation of Mode 7 would have made it a bit ugly.)
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on May 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

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