This is a blog post that really requires a diagram, but I want to get it out now while I'm thinking about it so I'll revise it later with some images and what not.
I've been considering hominid motions in games and in particular controlling human shaped charcters from the third person perspective. I've been focusing in particular on the immersion breaking moments that occur whenever a character isn't capable of interacting with the environment in a manner consistent with how people and other hominids interact with their surroundings. This has lead me to the conclusion that we really need a standard template for types of movement that places appropriate emphasis on a reasonable progression of interaction with the environment.
The main issue involves jumping and turning. Humans seldom do standing jumps or turn around 180 degrees, and yet these are both things that video game characters do all the time. Moreover, the standing jump and the running jump are actually two very different motions, and yet in games they both usually key off of the same type of player/controller dynamic.
In terms of turning, the converse motion that is negelected is looking over the shoulder. When we are positioned physically in our bodies, we generally look over our shoulder to gain perspective on what's behind us rather than actually turning around. Granted, we live viewing the world from a first person perspective, but I believe that many third person games could still benefit greatly from a look over the shoulder camera angle.
The converse side of this issue for the standing/running jump problem is clambering and climbing. These are things humans and other hominids naturally do when confronted with many of the situations that games require us to solve using only running and jumping, and yet clambering and climbing are movements that very few third person games enable, and often only in limited manners.
There is a whole dynamic range of human and hominid motion that includes rolling, diving, crawling, and more. Yet, when controlling characters from a third person perspective we are often given options for hopping and leaping, but not for clambering or looking over the shoulder. This results in manipulating avatars into performing unnatural acts, and for that matter forcing players to do unecessarily complex manipulations of the camera in MMOs and other games with a similar camera interface.
It's easy enough to say that limiting the types of player movement aids level design, and in many instances this is a reasonable statement and the world is designed with an adequate fiction limiting the character movement. However, all too often it's simply an excuse for lazy level or world design and the player is left encountering arbitrary obstacles that hinder player movement for no apparent reason.
As noted in the intro, this post will be revised with a diagram I'm working on (currently a rough paper sketch). I'll also be adding a lengthier explanation of why I think there should be common technology and dare I say standards (/gasp) for handling these sorts of issues in game development.