Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shattered War: Character and Dialogue Creation

I haven't given a Shattered War update in a while, so I thought I'd detail some of what I've been doing.  Part of my work has involved dialogue and cutscenes in some of the early parts of the game. Good camera work is essential, but not coming from a directing/art/cinematic background, it can sometimes take me a while to work out exactly how a shot should be taken for it to be most effective.

Time has also been spent on the characters within the campaign, both good and bad, working on their backstory, motivations and so forth. This information is the kind that may not ever make it into the game (or the kind that the player might not discover even if it does), but it's essential as a writer to know exactly what makes your characters tick. To a degree, this information also helps inform the process of creating their appearance. I'm not accomplished when it comes to creating good head-morphs, but I feel I have been improving.  I feel it's important that the NPCs within Shattered War have their own unique appearance - I don't want people to have an NPC being a doppleganger for a beloved character from the original game!

A meeting of importance

I am curious as to how much attention place on the various characters in the game. Is someone going to notice if I reuse "generic Denerim guard 13" as a minor character? Of course, characters of any significance I'm going to redo myself, but I must confess I'm tempted to use some of BioWare's head morphs for the ambient population that you never talk to properly.

I've also been devoting time to one of the party members by writing her dialogue interactions with the player, and I've increased her dialogue by around 1,000 words today. This is on top of the dialogue I've done for some other prominent characters within the story, whom you'll met on more than a few occasions. Of course, you can expect to have a choice of how you treat them... and how they subsequently react to use as a result of that

A pair of mages. Will you help or hinder them?

When creating character dialogue, particularly party companions, it's very important to try and squeeze the most out of every line. The number of lines that I'll be asking of whichever voice actors I get to provide the voice for the main companions will be quite high. As a result, I want to make sure that I'm making the best use of every single line, trying to impart as much information about the character as I can.

This also needs to be balanced against the need to give players choice, deciding whether they wish to treat the companion nicely or not, or whether they wish to pursue a romance with the character. Many players have professed their love for character romances (and the individual virtual characters of their affection), so I'm going to try and cater for something that seems to be very popular. Character romances are difficult to do well, and I've seen too many mods where a romance occurs and is consummated after a few brief exchanges.  You shouldn't expect that from The Shattered War - it's going to take time to get to know the characters, and you're going to have to prove your loyalty and dedication to them in order to become friends.

My current problem is that getting that degree of development is difficult in a tight timeframe. People complained about the lack of romances in Awakening, but given it was quite short, it would have been very difficult to do.  Yet The Shattered War will probably be shorter than Awakening, and I'm going to try and put them in.

I'm also trying to work out what players want to hear about in these development updates. Are people keen to see screenshots, hear about issues I've been facing, or see more "character interviews" like I did with Keldrin? I'm willing to try to cater to people's tastes... at least occasionally. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Screenshots and issues, be interesting to see how you overcome, workaround or fix 'em