I love top down games, it gives the player a better sens of his surroundings than a first person game.
In real life we have subtle sound and light changes to give us an idea of what is going on around us, first person games are not entirely there yet. Take the battlefield games for example, in real life you would have without question known that someone ran up to the side of you and started shooting, in the game however the sound is lacking and someone surprises you. Top down games make up for the lack of real world sensory experience by just showing the player everything around him. Some of the top down games create a first person feel by giving the player a view cone and only showing NPCs in that cone, thereby creating a tenser playing experience. Another way to show the player only what is in front of him is to put the player at the bottom of the screen and not in the middle.
Spacial perception plays a big role in any game you move around in. Maps are top down, when you navigate yourself around a city you picture a person standing somewhere as seen from the top. You can easily imagine the camera zooming out in a top down game and showing you the rest of the ‘map’. I however find it harder to do this when the camera rotates with the player, some of the spacial perception is lost.
Which brings me to control schemes for top down games, specifically where the camera follows a single player controlled entity. The player rotates and when he hits forward he moves moves in the direction he is pointing in. If the camera does not rotate with the player then at some point we end up in a situation where there is a disconnect between what the player is pressing and what happens on screen. The disconnect happens when the player is pointing down or south. To go towards the left of the screen the player now needs to press the right arrow key, which feels wrong.
There is a control scheme that has been used that does not have this disconnect, and that is to just move the player in the direction relative to the screen. So pressing right will move the player right on the screen, pressing down will always move the player down, etc. There are however games where this might feel very artificial, specifically a space game, where a space ship controlled this way makes it feel like a toy, the player should be involved in turning the ship.
Which is why I’d like to keep the game the way it currently works, the mouse controls rotation, the camera turns with the player and the player is in the middle of the screen.