Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Those little things

Sometimes life gets in the way of modding. Between work, social, musical and exercise commitments, not mention the daily routine of making sure I'm eating well and not living in a pig-sty, things have to fall off my to-do list.  Blogging tends to be the first cap off the rank there, hence why I've been a bit quiet of late. This is not to say that I haven't been thinking about game design or doing modding.

So when life gets in the way and I can't sit down for a long stint at the computer to mod for The Shattered War, I need small tasks that I can complete in short bursts.  So this is where it comes down to leaving "the little things" in a list to come back to when I have 15-30 minutes to spare rather than an hour or more.

First item on this list is processing VO lines that have been sent from voice actors. The first step here is to make sure the volume is consistent with all other lines in the mod. Sometimes this means decreasing the volume of the recording, other times increasing it, and other times I may need to do both to increase or decrease the overall volume range of the line. Once this is done, there's frequently a soft pop or tongue click that's not very audible by default, but would be in the final delivery. Then there's clipping or inserting silence at the beginning or end of each line to make sure that each line isn't just running into the next one.

Even fast talkers have to pause between sentences

The next item is codex entries, and this is an important one for me. I know some people will never check the codex once to check out the backstory of people, places or items, but for me this is a vital part of the modding process. Sure, I'm playing within the existing world of Thedas, but I'm exploring territory not really covered elsewhere, so I have a little freedom to provide background on the locations the player will visit. Every place has its own unique tales and pieces of folklore, and locations in The Shattered War are no different. The same applies to characters the players will meet, and the unique items they could acquire.

Add a couple of dozen codex entries for locations alone...

More recently, I've been looking at the various bits of text you read during load screens. Whether it's an area transition or loading a save, players deserve to see bits of information relevant to their current adventure rather than just generic bits of information recycled from the core campaign.  I want to make sure that players aren't disappointed when they are waiting on those loading screens and have something new and interesting to read.

Some of these are "little things" that many players (and modders) are often less fussed about, but I'm keen to make sure that these small touches of polish are present to make The Shattered War a more complete gaming experience. Are there any other things in this vein that players appreciate? If so, let me know those little things which really appeal to your sense of enjoyment and engagement.

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