How to Create a First Person Camera


This tutorial shows how to make an Entity which controls the Camera in first person mode. The general steps we'll follow are:

  1. Create a FlatRedBall project

  2. Create a large repeating Sprite which we'll use for the ground

  3. Create an Entity which will control the Camera (called CameraController)

  4. Set the initial position of our CameraController instance in our Screen

  5. Implement code to move and look around

Create a 3D project

If you already have a project created, you can skip this step. If not, to Create a project:

  1. Launch the FRB Editor

  2. Select File->New Project

  3. Name your project FirstPersonProject

  4. Uncheck the Open New Project Wizard option - we will be creating our own game fully from scratch

  5. Click Create Project!

Now we'll set the Camera to be in 3D mode:

  1. In the FRB Editor, click the camera icon

  2. Change the Perspective to 3D

Finally create a Screen which will contain the rest of our project. This is not necessary if you already have a GameScreen:

  1. Select the Quick Actions tab

  2. Click Add Screen/Level

  3. Uncheck the Add LayeredTileMap option unless you intend to use Tiled for your levels. To keep this tutorial short, we will skip this step.

  4. Click OK to create a new screen called GameScreen

Create a large repeating Sprite

Now we'll create a large Sprite which will serve as our ground. To create this:

  1. Drag+drop the newly-downloaded .png file onto GameScreen's Files in the FRB Editor

  2. Select the Quick Actions tab

  3. Click Add Object to Game Screen

  4. Search for Sprite

  5. Click OK

Now that the Sprite has been created, let's make it really large and repeating:

  1. Select the new SpriteInstance

  2. Click the Variables tab

  3. Set the Sprite's Texture to redball

  4. Set the Sprite's TextureAddressMode to Wrap

  5. Set the Sprite's Right Texture Pixel to 32000 - this makes the Sprite repeat 1000 times on the X axis

  6. Set the Sprite's Bottom Texture Pixel to 32000 - this makes the Sprite repeat 1000 times on the Y axis

Create CameraController Entity

Now we'll create an Entity which will control the Camera. To do this:

  1. In the FRB Editor, right-click on Entities

  2. Select Add Entity

  3. Name the new entity "CameraController" and click OK

Next let's have the CameraController control our Camera. To do this:

  1. Right-click on CameraController's Objects

  2. Select "Add Object"

  3. Verify "FlatRedBall or Custom Type" is selected.

  4. Select "Camera" and click OK

  5. Drag+drop the "CameraController" into the GameScreen's Objects folder to create an instance of CameraController

Set CameraController1's Initial position

Next we'll set up our initial position of the CameraController1. We'll be setting position in the FRB Editor, but we'll set the rotation and orientation in code since the FRB Editor does not allow us to set some of these values. To set the CameraController1's initial values:

  1. Select CameraController1 in the FRB Editor

  2. Set Z to 10. This is the height that the Camera will be positioned above the ground

  3. Open Visual Studio

  4. Open CameraController.cs which is located in the Entities folder

  5. Add the following code to CustomInitialize:

this.CameraInstance.UpVector = new Vector3(0, 0, 1);
this.CameraInstance.RelativePosition = new Vector3();
this.CameraInstance.CameraCullMode = CameraCullMode.None;
this.RotationX = Microsoft.Xna.Framework.MathHelper.PiOver2;

Note that we set the CameraCullMode to CameraCullMode.None. Although this isn't strictly necessary for this demo, you most likely want to do this if you are making a game that supports camera rotation. For more information, see the CameraCullMode page.

At this point we can run the game and we should see the Camera looking into the distance:

Implement code to move and look

Finally we'll add code for movement and looking. We'll add looking first, then add moving. To do this, add the following code to CustomActivity in the CameraController entity:

private void CustomActivity()

Now implement the LookingActivity function:

void LookingActivity()
    // This would normally be a FRB Editor variable,
    // but added here to keep the tutorial shorter:
    const float rotationMultiplier = .006f;

    int xMovement = GuiManager.Cursor.ScreenXChange;
    int yMovement = GuiManager.Cursor.ScreenYChange;

    Vector3 absoluteZAxis = new Vector3(0,0,1);

    this.RotationMatrix *=
        absoluteZAxis, xMovement * -rotationMultiplier);

    Vector3 relativeXAxis = this.RotationMatrix.Right;

    this.RotationMatrix *=
        relativeXAxis, yMovement * -rotationMultiplier);

Next, we'll implement the MovementActivity function:

void MovementActivity()
    const float movementSpeed = 36;

    // Let's get the "forward" vector - this is a vector that represents the way the
    // camera is looking:
    Vector3 projectedForward = this.RotationMatrix.Forward;

    // We're going to use this vector to walk forward and backward.  The user may
    // be looking up/down, which means the vector's Z value could be non-zero.
    // We're going to zero it out, so that the user doesn't move up into the
    // sky, or down into the ground when moving forward/backward:
    projectedForward.Z = 0;

    // If the user was viewing straight up or straight down, then zero-ing out the
    // Z value will make the entire Vector have 0 length. If we normalize when a Vector is of
    // length 0, that will throw an exception.
    // LengthSquared() and Length() will both return 0 if the length of the vector is 0,
    // but LengthSquared is faster, so we'll use that.
    if (projectedForward.LengthSquared() != 0)
        // The vector is not of length 0, so it's safe to normalize it

    // This is the "right" direction for the player.  
    Vector3 right = this.RotationMatrix.Right;

    var keyboard = InputManager.Keyboard;

    // Let's reset the velocity - we'll change it below according to key presses
    this.XVelocity = 0;
    this.YVelocity = 0;

    // W is forward
    if (keyboard.KeyDown(Keys.W))
        this.Velocity += projectedForward * movementSpeed;
    // S is backward
    else if<