Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Update: Stages

Put simply, stages make Dragon Age conversations awesome. Instant camera work, hand gestures, body movement, not to mention facial emotions mean they are the backbone of any conversation. When you add in the ability to easily implement cutscenes for a single line using them, they are nothing short of brilliant.

Under stages, in the _Generic folder, you'll find the wonderful "1p_200_all" stage, which has everything you need for a standard interaction with a single NPC. Simply add this stage into your area, move and rotate it until it is in the correct position, and then open up the conversation and set it to use that stage.

The next step is to then generate all camera work, poses and gestures from the root node, using the respective commands from right-clicking on the root node. Then you can set the preview tab to use the correct area and stage so that you can preview lines of your conversation without going into the game, which will now be complete with all the aforementioned goodies.

You can also customise the animations shown in individual lines. Making it easy to add in an animation to your NPC for a give or receive arm/hand movement that will occur so often as a result of quests.

Should that animation be insufficient, then it's a simple matter of converting the line to a cutscene using Ctrl-Alt-C (or using the edit menu), to instantly create a cutscene resource that again will have all the previously generated actions.

If I sound like I'm raving a little, that's because I am. Having created a cutscene from scratch, I realise how much effort I could have saved by simply using a stage and creating the cutscene using it.

As a result of discovering stages, I've made a significant amount of progress in the development of "Alley of Murders", and the conversations are looking much better!

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