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Legend of Zelda

Illusion of Non-Linearity in Final Fantasy and other RPGs

The Final Fantasy series gets a bad wrap about its problem feeling too linear over the past couple of games. Japanese RPGs (J-RPGs) in general get this label attached to them. A big problem is that these games shifted how the player explores the world from a “make your own path“-style of traversing their worlds to a “connect the dots“-style – going from town A to town B and so on until you get to the end of the game.

[Expansive overworld] Final Fantasy 7 - The one where someone dies
[Expansive overworld] Final Fantasy 7 – The one where someone dies
Final Fantasy XIII - The one where your soul dies when associated with ancestors
[Linear overworld – exaggerated has no overworld] Final Fantasy XIII – The one where your soul dies when associated with ancestors
But, I guess what I want to discuss is that Final Fantasy games and JRPGs as a whole have never really been open-ended and non-linear but older JRPGs just did a better job at hiding their linearity from the player. It all depends on the scale of which you explore each area before moving to the next.

Continue reading “Illusion of Non-Linearity in Final Fantasy and other RPGs”

Let’s Talk about: Shovel Knight

I know I talked about it before, but Shovel Knight is probably one of the few games this year that I was hard-pressed to put down. Aside from being a fun Castlevania-Megaman style Platformer, attached is a great soundtrack, a style that references games of the past but is still able to carve out its own image and gameplay that is never “too easy” or “too hard” but consistently finds the middle ground to keep the player lingering in the “I know I can complete this” mentality.

You've come a long way NES-Dracula. Fighting me in a graveyard instead of near your shining throne.
You’ve come a long way NES-Dracula. Fighting me in a graveyard instead of near your shining throne.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk about: Shovel Knight”

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”

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