Monday, October 10, 2011

Dialogue, animation and camera work

Recently I've being playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution between my modding sessions, and found reason for all the effort I've been putting into dialogue integration within The Shattered War. Rather than attempting to explain what I mean, it's far easier to show it with a video:

Now, I'm using Deus Ex Human Revolution as an example here simply because that one conversation demonstrated both good and bad ways to use animation and camera angles. I could have quite easily used another game to demonstrate these flaws - the Dragon Age franchise is certainly guilty of over-animation on more than a few occasions, as is virtually any game featuring "close up dialogue".

A lot of non-verbal communication cues are given through body language and facial expression, two aspects that are difficult to convey on a virtual actor. This is a big reason why video games resort to more "animated" characters with more hand, head and body movement than a normal person or an actor on-screen. The problem is that when these go too far (as demonstrated in the video), it ends up hindering the dialogue rather than helping it. Just as overacting on the television or movie screen harms the quality of their media, so too does virtual overacting.

The take home message here is to make sure that when designing dialogue (or cutscenes), someone has to watch the work to make sure it looks believable. It's a time consuming process, especially as the amount of dialogue increases, but if the virtual actors are going to be convincing, it is necessary. If a player is paying attention to the movement of the character rather than the lines they are delivering, it's too much.

1 comment:

  1. You say people don't pace like that, that's not quite true. People who are severely anxious can pace like that. I've done it when having anxiety attacks.