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Dialogue-Delivery

Dialogue Delivery p5: How, not what.

Obligatory Past Post Countdown:

Player Paced Dialogue Delivery [link]

Character Paced Non-verbal Dialogue Delivery [link]

Character Paced Verbose Dialogue Delivery [link]

Character Paced Short-Form Dialogue Delivery [link]

 

Stepping away from the focus on “what” is said, it’s still important to talk about the setting of the delivery. For all of the previous articles, we’ve only talked about dialogue and plot points delivered through extremely disruptive cutscenes. I don’t mean disruptive in the sense that it causes the player to drop the controller out of frustration, but disruptive in that it shifts your agency from playing to watching for a short while. The player stops “playing” the game and starts “watching” the game for a short or extended amount of time. This doesn’t necessarily cause a distraction for the player, but it does give an idea to the pacing of the game for the player. If the cutscenes feel long and troublesome, it can quickly demotivate the player from wanting to continue playing the game. So today, let’s focus on the two major pacing types used in gaming.

Continue reading “Dialogue Delivery p5: How, not what.”

Dialogue Delivery part 4: Short but Provocative

The story thus far:

Player-Paced Dialogue Delivery

Character-Paced Delivery w/ No Dialogue

Character-Paced Delivery w/ Verbose Dialogue

 

Verbosity in games, much like any medium, is hard to get right. The dynamics of a game and the habits of a gamer are those that contribute a response towards quick reward systems. Run right and jump = Progression. Turn on console -> Start Game -> Join Game -> Start Killing things, all in a matter of a minute or two. But becoming programmed to this sort of habit goes against what verbosity tries to deliver. We’ve talked about how being verbose can be used correctly before, about not letting the mechanism for delivering the dialogue interfere with the agency of the player as they go about through the game. The delivery should only interfere when absolutely necessary but not for too long otherwise it pulls the player out from the immediate sense gratification that a game presents, but it means that shortened dialogue delivery needs to be discussed.

Continue reading “Dialogue Delivery part 4: Short but Provocative”

Dialogue Delivery part 3: The Wind Blows Long

When a character speaks, the player listens. When a character speaks too much, the player tunes out. Continuing with our look at Dialogue Delivery systems, we still need to look at when character-paced acting is mixed with dialogue as a means of delivering story, character development and plot points. The previous two can be found here and here which discuss Player-paced storytelling and character-paced dialogue-less storytelling, respectively.

There are various means for pushing dialogue onto the player. Text-based, dialogue-based, interpretive gestures and symbols. I don’t want to focus too heavily on what they are actually delivering, but instead focus on how each will be received.

Information delivery is important to think about when designing a game because you’re asking a lot of the player as they try and soak in the information presented. You’re dropping the player into a conversation among other people and expecting them to take the conversation as seriously as the other participants. If there is too much information, it becomes a chore to participate in the conversation.

Continue reading “Dialogue Delivery part 3: The Wind Blows Long”

Dialogue Delivery: What Story Do You Think It Is? pt2

We talked about the way dialogue and story elements were delivered in older generation-style games in the previous post which talks about player-paced plot-delivery and how clunky this mechanism is, especially when compared to the evolution of plot-delivery and character-paced delivery that we’ll discuss in this post.

There are two means of delivering the dialogue gaming, using either the In-Game Engine (IGE) or using pre-rendered Full-Motion Video (FMVs).

 

The IGE delivery uses the in-game gestures that the characters are normally seen using. They are made up of primitive gestures that when tied in sequence make up the acted emotions of the scene. These primitives are generally simple gestures like move over to point A, waving your hand to say “Hi”, putting your hand to your chin to show “I’m Thinking,” looking down to show “That’s Depressing/Disappointing.” For those who’ve played any MMORPG, these are simple emotes, showing a generalization of what emotion you’re trying to portray, but are blocky and look irregular because the motions aren’t fluid and are 1-dimensional.

FMVs, on the other hand, are scenes crafted by hand or by motion-capture suits in order to have the choreography and the dynamics of the scene seem realistic, being lived out on screen, rather than actions being dictated to them “Now look angry. Now look frustrated. Now look like you’ve been inspired with an idea.” In PS1/N64 ear games, FMVs were choreographed by the 3d artists, meticulously moving the arms and legs to proper locations, keyframing the locations that characters needed to be at in order to make the scene seem believable and compelling. Nowadays there is a mixture of this 3d-Artist ballet intermingled with real actors providing motion-captured animations so that the timing, the delivery and the drama feel organic because of its timing, the subtle strenuousness of basic movement when walking across a room while monologuing.

But these are the only the delivery systems for plot and dialogue, but the actual content being delivered can vary and impact how the player engages and experiences in the games themselves.

Continue reading “Dialogue Delivery: What Story Do You Think It Is? pt2”

Dialogue Delivery: Where Actions and Emotions Stray

When the character’s emotions don’t match their actions, it looks extremely odd. Like someone is just reading lines from a script, trying to grasp at but not completely understanding how they’re supposed to act, voice, or react when something dramatic happens. They stand there making some idle gesture while some sounds come out of their mouth, or the player is freely moving the characters around while dialogue is being played in the background and the player is supposed to understand the emotion being portrayed based on a partially synced audio/video? This is the problem when companies develop a competency for portraying emotion through just dialogue or just video. With many developers not able to completely develop an understanding of getting their game’s acting and dialogue to be wholly believable, I wanted to at least delve into the different mechanisms developers can use in order to connect emotion, story, and motivation to the player.

Continue reading “Dialogue Delivery: Where Actions and Emotions Stray”

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