News Article

Warren Spector Defends Mickey's Maligned Camera System

Posted by James Newton

Everybody makes mistakes

Junction Point's Disney Epic Mickey is finally out and racking up some favourable reviews, but one bugbear appears in the majority of reviews: the camera system, which has drawn the criticism of many. Not studio head Warren Spector, though: he's proud of his team's accomplishment.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Spector claims:

It [camera management] is the hardest problem in video game development. Everybody gets it wrong. It's just a question of how close to right do you get it.

Many gamers have pointed to Super Mario Galaxy 2 as an example of a near-flawless camera system, but Spector again disagrees, claiming his game isn't even a platformer at all:

This is a game that takes platforming elements and adventure game elements and role-playing elements and merges them. So we couldn't tune the camera perfectly for platforming or for action adventure. It's a very different camera style.

Our Disney Epic Mickey review took issue with the camera enough to award the game a 7/10


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User Comments (46)



warioswoods said:

I haven't played it yet, but I can see how his arguments make sense. Mario Galaxy 2 got the camera "right" by designing 3D levels in a linear, obstacle course-like manner (and I actually feel as if something was lost in the process; as great as the game was, the first Galaxy was better overall). A more classic free-roaming 3D adventure (in the style of Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie) simply cannot work that way.



JakobG said:

It does seem like a valid point, but the camera could have been context-sensitive or something.



LztheQuack said:

I have a question, how many 3D games have "good" camera controls? This seems to be a common problem in many 3D games



A-SWE said:

Havent played it so dont know how bad camera it has, but I do agree on the fact that all platform/adventure games have camera troubles.



Kirk said:

Dear Warren,

Stop arguing and just accept the camera in your game is crap (yes I have played it).

Making stupid excuses like above just makes you seem like a jerk.





Boonehams said:

I didn't find the camera bad enough to detract from the overall game. I thought the story and exploration were engrossing enough to not be bothered. And to be honest, the camera in this game no worse than many of the well-regarded 3D platformers from the N64 era.



Mark_M said:

Making a camera system work in a 3D environment in which platforms can appear and disappear at any time is difficult.



Link79 said:

Mario 64 had a terrible camera yet somehow people loved it. What's up with that? Is it just because it's a Mario game?



JonWahlgren said:

@Link79: Mario 64 had a perfectly workable camera for 1996, which is the rub of the whole thing for Epic Mickey: it seems that the camera is nowhere near what the "standard" should be for a 3D platformer in 2010.



Link79 said:

I don't know about that. Even in 1996 I thought the camera in Mario 64 was a pain sometimes. You never could seem to get the perfect view before making a dangerous jump. I was constantly falling off edges because I couldn't see where I was going. Maybe that was just being new to the world of 3-D gaming but still it was awkward.



Viper6391 said:

That's no excuse, you could tell at E3 that the camera needed some work. If the camera needed work, then you should have fixed it before the release.



Ristar42 said:

Really, the need to adjust perspective hardly bothered me. The 3D gameplay set up in Galaxy 2 is quite different, this is more like Rayman 2 where you need to explore open(ish) 3D areas in additional to linear paths though the level.



cecesigue said:

Is really stupid to say : everybody has it wrong, so, we are just as wrong as anybody else; there is a say in spanish for this kind of aproching to a problem, and is not a good say. Spector IS a really good game developer, i dont know how he said that.



Kid_A said:

Spector's right--his game simply can't be compared to Galaxy 2. Galaxy 2's courses were designed in a linear fashion, and lent themselves well to a fixed, dynamic camera. Epic Mickey is more of an open-world action game with platforming elements. And I've said numerous times, that while the camera found here isn't great, it really wasn't that troublesome for me personally. Certainly not as bad as people are saying; to be honest I had more camera problems with Uncharted 2 and Red Dead Redemption.



TheBaconator said:

The game is out, it has gotten mixed reviews but mostly fair, and the guy still doesn't shut up. He just can't accept the fact his game is only good can he?



Corbs said:

The camera really brought the experience in Epic Mickey down for me. I still enjoyed the game, but I think it could have been executed much better. And I understand Spector defending the game, but I don't think he went about it quite the right way.



theblackdragon said:

@Corbs: yeah, trying to bring everyone else down to your level in an attempt to make yourself look better doesn't really fly very far. :/



Mite000 said:

You're a great designer Warren but the position you're taking on this is nonsense, saying that no one has yet to get the camera 100% right. If you want to play it like that then fine. Miyamoto got it 95% right with Mario Galaxy, and you got it 60% right with Epic Mickey. Feel better? Didn't think so.

A poor camera cannot and should not be defended by the logic of saying that this is the best you can do when combining a platformer with an adventure game. You made a good game that has a poor camera. Admit it, learn from it and move on.



SuperMarioFan96 said:

Honestly, I don't think it's been that bad from what I've played. Oh sure, it definetely needs some work, but I don't think it detracts much from the overall experience.



_Joejoe_ said:

A while back I 'liked' Epic Mickey on facebook and I constantly check for updates. Twice Warren Spector has appeared on the Epic Mickey page to answer questions, the second time he got to address the camera:
"Camera. Okay. Let's talk about that... Camera in games is a Really Hard Problem. Maybe the hardest there is. Each kind of game requires a unique camera approach. To oversimplify, a platform game wants a camera that's relatively high overhea...d (to show off jumps and such) while an action/adventure wants a camera positioned lower to show off more of the tactical situation. DEM is a game that combines BOTH of those game styles in one package. Plus, players get to decide how the game "feels" as they play, based on how they use paint and thinner. We came up with what we thought was the best solution given those facts. If we'd done a "straight" platformer - which we DIDN'T - or a straight action game, we could probably have tuned it better, but for the game we were making, I thinkt the team did really well. I'd like to see someone else make a game where you don't even know whether there's going to be a wall behind the character and/or whether there was going to be a platform in front of the character and do better, camera-wise!"

Just wanted to point out the paint and thinner thing, After all, there are quite a few walls and floors that aren't always, well, in existance.
But the fact is that there is not much that can be done about it now. I enjoyed the game, the camera, though a tad difficult, didn't really hassle me that much and I got used to it pretty fast!



TwilightV said:

@John Wahlgren: I like SM64, but perfectly workable? Tick Tock Clock and Rainbow Ride would like a word with you. >:3



NintyMan said:

It does always seem like a lot of 3D platformer and adventure games have these camera troubles. The camera in Mario Galaxy 2 was great, but it has those fixed worlds where it's not wide-open enough for Mario to run everywhere besides a couple of the galaxies.



3Daniel said:

long sotry short, they didn't put the time and resources into developing a better camera. and thus are rightly criticised for it.

ps. i LOVED the original Sonic Adventure and that game has one of the worst camera systems. ever, a bad camera doesn't make a bad game.



Tate24 said:

Yes the camera's terrible but your game is a treat for eyes and the soul!!



Ravage said:

It sounds like the team should have worked on differentiating the two "playstyles" instead of incorporating. Just like Zelda, when you engage an enemy, your camera changes. So they could incorporate a more cinematic and fixed camera style for what they needed at the time, and then have a nice over-head kind of camera style when not engaged with the enemy. It sounds like they needed to separate their supposed camera styles instead of trying to mangle them together.



Kid_A said:

I thought his facebook post was interesting. I mean the camera is definitely not great, but I think it's more of a Wii-remote/Nunchuck problem than it is a problem with the game itself. They were just out of options. Still, I'll fully admit this one could have used a few more weeks of polish.

It also seems like a lot of people didn't realize that there was a lock on option for combat (hold down the c button) which really helps out.



ArmoredGoomba said:

That's like a kid getting a D on a test but saying "yeah but other kids got Ds too!" It doesn't excuse the performance



LztheQuack said:

I have problems with camera controls all the time, so this shouldn't hurt my experience too much. In all honesty, I do respect his dedication to the game and hope he does go through with that Duck Tales game he's wanting to start



BulbasaurusRex said:

@34 That's not a good analogy, because a bad teacher can cause everyone to get D's (and then the teacher might weight the grades so that they become C's, anyway).

Why didn't anyone say before now that Super Mario Galaxy 2 fixed the camera issues from the first game? NL's review doesn't mention it, and I assumed the camera in the sequel would be just as bad as in the first game after it seemed I was one of very few people who hated the camera in the first game. I've only kept Galaxy 1, because my brother likes it. He's beaten it anyway, so I'll see if I can convince him to let me eventually sell it to help pay for Galaxy 2.



daznsaz said:

ive played it through its a quality disney game like old mickey games. The cameras not perfect but its not bad enough to stop you playing some people just latch onto bad points overall its a top game



Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

Still getting it and I don't care about camera issues. I've dealt with getting a display case instead of the actual game I was buying and having to go back to the store and get the game. T_T



CaPPa said:

@Bulbasaurus Rex
SMG2's camera is a little better than the first, although I had no issues with that one anyway.

Epic Mickey's camera is worse, but it isn't the same type of game and they simply couldn't have made the same kind of dynamic system as it doesn't follow paths in the same way that SMG did.



Advancedcaveman said:

Mario Galaxy has extremely linear levels and a fixed camera. There are only a few places where you are running around an open field where you have any camera control. The game frequently goes into a side scrolling mode for that matter. My understanding is that Epic Mickey has you running through more of those open fields where you frequently have multiple routes and separate areas to go to rather than going through a linear course. If the game’s levels are going to have a lot of these hub like sections then it needs a floating camera. There really isn’t a familiar way to control a floating camera if you go with a Wii remote and nunchuck scheme because you don’t have a second analogue stick.

Mario Galaxy and Epic Mickey have fundamentally different methods of level design so it’s not really a fair comparison. Mario Galaxy didn’t “get the camera right,” the truth game is so linear that it doesn’t need camera control roughly 90% of the time, so the camera is a non issue. There isn’t really a camera system in Mario Galaxy at all, just a series of pre framed shots and rare occasions where you’re in a more open location and thus you have a pseudo floating camera. The majority of modern video games also aren't "getting the camera right" either; Most games nowadays are hyper linear. You're not going through designed levels; you're basically on a mine kart witnessing canned cinematics and pre planed gameplay activities where you're input is virtually meaningless. Therefore they can use pre scripted cameras.

They could have gone with the classic controller for Epic Mickey, but part of the point of the game is that it’s inherently satisfying to aim the Wii remote pointer around the screen and spray paint that way. It’s a more fun system than having to hold down a button and go into a stationary aiming mode like Mario Sunshine. You can either have a fixed camera game with linear levels and no camera control or a more open game with direct camera control, and compromises have to be made when you’re working with a controller that lacks certain input layers. I don’t know why they didn’t bother to put in a lock-on system or make better concessions about controlling the camera but that’s basically the deal. There’s going to be issues like this as long as these 2 piece motion controllers lack that second analogue layer, or they don’t provide any way to lock the pointer in the center of the screen and “turn it off” like when you lift a mouse up.

I wish Warren Specter would simply explain himself clearly like that instead of spewing out a stream of nonsensical vagaries like: “Oh we have a hard time with the camera because our game is a fusion of role playing adventure elements in which you make moral choice role playing choices in this decision making role playing adventure story hybrid game of adventure role playing adventure and the camera is different in role playing adventure hybrid adventure role playing.” Or,



BulbasaurusRex said:

There's a simple solution. Just make sure the camera automatically stays behind the character's back as much as possible in those open world sections, and then just toss in some minor method of manual camera control in the rare cases that the camera screws up in this task. The camera's failure to do this in combination with the curved nature of the planets is why I don't like S M Galaxy 1, and it sounds like Epic Mickey suffers from a similar problem (just without the planets).



mastersworddude said:

I haven't played it yet, but most games that have a bad camera I can deal with. I agree with vvaluigi, Sonic Adventure has a really bad camera, but I get past it and its my favorite Sonic game.



Wamtu said:

Aw, the camera's always bad in these kind of games. Still, Warren does sound a little...silly. Hey, don't worry about it! Could have been worse. Could have screwed up with something a little more critical!
Anyway, I'm kind of interested in this game. Sounds a little like a couple other old games I like.



Gamesake said:

How could anyone possibly mess up the camera in Mario Galaxy? You run in circles on tiny planetoids. Epic Mickey is much trickier because Mickey is usually boxed in by walls. They don't really compare. I do think Mickey could have learned a thing or two from Mario, though.



Klaarover said:

"a game that takes platforming elements and adventure game elements and role-playing elements and merges them. So we couldn't tune the camera perfectly for platforming or for action adventure."

So, my guess is the Castle of Illusion comparisons go out the window.

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