A panoramic camera in an FPS is definitely strange. One of the comments we hear most frequently when people look at the game is that it will give people motion sickness. And looking at all the distortion in the game it seems like that would be true.
But playing it is different than watching it. Most playtesters say they pick it up in a few minutes and that while its different its doable. Now to be fair, I’ve played this game enough that I don’t even notice the camera any more.
Microsoft even suggests taking medication for motion sickness so you can play their games! There are other suggestions like take breaks, play with lights on, adjust your distance from screen, make sure your video card gets high fps, etc. But all of these solutions are on the players side of things. What could be adjusted in the game to help people who struggle with motion sickness?
Increase your FOV. This suggestion appears in the comments of every article I could find on motion sickness. But its not always included in the articles themselves. Why is this? Many console games don’t allow you to change their fovs even if they are really narrow.
Why narrow FOVs? One of the major benefits of a narrow field of view is a performance increase. You are actually rendering much less of the scene every frame. This is especially important in console games where performance is capped. PC games are often patched to allow for wider FOVs but console games don’t always get that treatment.
FOVs for FPS default to range somewhere between 55 and 80. Half life 2 had a default FOV of 75. Destiny is at 72 degrees. Modern Warfare clocks in at 65. Crysis 2 had a default of 55.
But increasing FOV to 90 seems to help most cases of motion sickness. So why not go higher? If 90 is good wouldn’t 120 be better? This is where camera projection comes into play. Almost all games use a flat projection method which means at 180 degrees you have infinite stretching (seen in Shaun LeBron’s video below at 9:38)
So with a default video game camera you can’t go beyond 180 degrees. But is that a problem?
Wikipedia has this to say about FOV “Different animals have different visual fields, depending, among others, on the placement of the eyes.Humans have an almost 180-degree forward-facing horizontal diameter of their visual field, while some birds have a complete or nearly complete 360-degree visual field. The vertical range of the visual field in humans is typically around 135 degrees.”
So while the human eye has distortion similar to a 50mm camera (on a full frame 35 mm sensor) our field of view is actually closer to 180 on the horizontal and 135 on the vertical. Changing cameras though isn’t a problem for viewers in film. We have learned to accept rapid edits from a 18mm fishey to a 250mm closeup in film. But what is best for video games? I enjoy a wider fov in games because it feels more immersive but I also like zooming in to snipe in an FPS. I think like in film camera FOVs should be flexible to accommodate the need of the game. Wide FOVs are great for navigating but we have noticed aiming is more difficult. More things to think about.