July 12, 2007

Characters are important - but necessarily expensive?

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Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel said...


i forgot another "question":
-what ways of presenting characters on the playfield exist (2d sprites on 2d playfield, what about 2d sprites in 3d playfields, any good examples of unanimated 2d sprites in 3d, that still feel good beside looking total static)

Krystian Majewski said...

A common mistake among KISD students who choose topics for their vordiplom is to choose a too broad question. They tend to choose topics like "Women in Comics" instead of "Women in SuperMan Comics" or even "Lois Lane in Superman Issue #13".

I totally agree that the questions you mentioned are important but I believe the questions suffer from the same problem. I think it is too broad to be able to give a definitive answer.

Here is some food for thought though. Portrait vs. showing more of the body is called face-ism. There is already a lot of theory out there about it so you might want to dig into it. Generally, showing the face focuses on intimate feelings and intelligence. Showing the body shifts attention on.. well the body . Sexual and physical attributes. Also, it shows the cloths so you get a better idea of the social status. In Hotel Dusk you see part of the body and it shows a lot of gestures and body talk which is important for that game.

Reading text often slows the game down. Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) has a dialogue system based on speech and multiple choice control with a time limit. It creates a very involving and lively dialoge.

I think text should be only used if you really need the flexibility like if you generate the text procedurally.

However, I do hate multiple choice dialogues. They are mostly fake anyway and generally, they are a symptom that the game designer run out of ideas. Games are about choices but those choices are made in high frequency and aren't visible as choices. A multiple choice dialog gives you just one choice preceded and followed by a long non-interactive part. Also, you are totally aware that you are making a choice. On top of it, you realize what limited possibilites you have. More often then not, you want to say something which isn't on the menu. This is a bad excuse for interactive dialog. Hotel Dusk is a wee bit better there. Phoenix Wright does it extremely well. But I will write some more about it in the GDR.

Characters can be also presented without any speech or text. Sims does that very well.

On the other hand, I believe you can present characters without a visual representation. I think HAL from Odyssey 2001 is a good example.

I think the way to cheap and convincing characters is to challenge everything you already know about characters and interaction with them.

Yu-Chung Chen said...

Audio is definite a big part. I'm now about 5 hours into FFXII, so far I've seen only a handful characters properly and I must say that I don't like how they modeled the males (especially Vaan and Vayne). But: the voice-over is nothing short of top notch, compensating a lot. Right now Balthier is actually managing to become something like a Han Solo-type character. Han Solo is cult so I'm being careful here, but Balthier does start to be the most likable so far.

Good example for 2D sprites on 3D fields: The Nippon Ichi SRPGs like Disgaea (or was it Disgeae?) etc and Ragnarok Online. But they are slightly animated, hmmm.

Krystian Majewski said...

BTW, it is just speculation but I believe that the Aquanox characters were so unpopular because of a completly different detail:

Aquanox dosen't show the place where you meet a character and where the talk takes place. The characters are kind of "hovering" in the air, not only visually but also mentally. Both Schleichfahrt and Aquanox2 are different. I was reminded of that when Yu-Chung showed me this gamasutra feature.