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Character Expression

portrait expression dialogue choice

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#41
Osvir

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I think this is a topic that shouldn't taken lightly since P:E will most likely focus a lot on dialogs with NPC's.
I consider decent character expressions a very important part of those dialog interactions.
At least important NPC's should have different expressions, either via different character portraits or 3D heads.
Though 3D heads only work if they are good which was NOT the case in NWN2 but in Dragon Age (especially with beauty mod) or Vampire Bloodlines.
I also wonder who came up with this nonesense that different expressions are an JRPG thing.
Fallout had fullscreen faces ages ago and most games with 3D engines have it those days.
They should at least make portraits with different expressions for important characters.


The "over the top" expressions are kind of jRPG. There are jRPG's that have a mix of Strong Big Emotions/Expressions and subtle expressions, in my Theater Class we used to call this something you do on Theater, you exaggerate your motions to create an illusion for the viewer, but Theater is live action which is way different than a movie or a game, there is no direct contact/direct feedback in a video game from the actor. We used Big Expressions and Exaggerated Movements to catch the crowd's attention and get them into the show we were moving our mouths when speaking, articulating more clearly, a casual hand motion became a big hand wave instead etc. etc.

Some jRPG's go with the theatrics (Big motions) and it works, for them.. would it work with P:E? No, but if it would be kept realistic, Edair closes his eyes thoughtfully then he could express that authentically imo.

Anyways, the whole idea with this thread, and my own suggestion, is to give a little more life to the portraits which in turn will give more life to the characters. I have no doubt about it.
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#42
Osvir

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This is also an easy/simplified way to do it (found it randomly on the net, I'm not artist, thought of this thread):
Posted Image

Edited by Osvir, 30 December 2012 - 11:16 AM.


#43
AGX-17

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This is also an easy/simplified way to do it (found it randomly on the net, I'm not artist, thought of this thread):
Posted Image


You seem to have a weird fixation on Japanese comic-derived visual representations of emotions, which it's blatantly obvious Obsidian is not going to do. And the things you're thinking of (the sweatdrops and the bulging veins and so on,) are, as far as I've seen, almost exclusively restricted to comedic scenes/scenarios outside of old video games made in an era when characters' faces consisted of a skin color and eyes in a 256 color palette. Even then, emotions are frequently expressed with physical bodily motions (see Chrono Trigger, for instance.)

#44
Falkon Swiftblade

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You mentioned in the OP the key component that's really important to me. If there's not a lot of voice acting, then my character should have a form of expressing themselves and I don't mean IN ALL CAPS!!! I don't expect Uncharted level animations necessarily, but this is a story driven game and it's a visual story being told, so I have higher level of expectations. I don't know how big the game is they're planning on making, but one of the things that made the IWD and BG games so great was the characters and the way they interacted with each other. Those random blurbs were great. I'm a fan of the quicktime animated scenes in the old IE games like when the wizards show up and bad things ensue.

#45
Nonek

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I'm a proponent of text describing expression, it's a brutally simplistic (and yet intricate) tool when put in the right hands, and one would imagine cheaper and more editable. The conversations in Torment were a joy to read because of the quirks and mannerisms of the characters presented therein, if we're limited to a quite small set of grimaces, grins and gurns then I would feel it was a little lacking in comparison.
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#46
Tigranes

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I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, but even stand-up avatars, which are probably the best way to do them, don't really often add a whole lot of actual expressibility for me. Think about it. You will never have 20, 30 different portraits for NPCs - so you will just see them cycle through Normal, Angry, Sad, Pensive - but really, do you need such wide, general expressions visualized? What does it add? The subtleties of character expression, the meaning of the words, and their emotional effect - it's going to be conveyed through the text and limited voiceovers, and not those. So I don't really see the point, but I have nothing against them being in, as long as they aren't done terribly.

Torment and other games are good examples of how text, narrative description, and other verbal indicators can work more than well enough. As for inserting emoticons and other expressions in there - you want it to fit. Just as you want a way characters speak in text, or the kind of accent and voice VAs have, to fit the setting and mood of the game, you don't want cartoon teardrops and things like that. I enjoy my share of manga and JRPGs but it's frankly an ill-considered proposal here.
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#47
Osvir

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I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, but even stand-up avatars, which are probably the best way to do them, don't really often add a whole lot of actual expressibility for me. Think about it. You will never have 20, 30 different portraits for NPCs - so you will just see them cycle through Normal, Angry, Sad, Pensive - but really, do you need such wide, general expressions visualized? What does it add? The subtleties of character expression, the meaning of the words, and their emotional effect - it's going to be conveyed through the text and limited voiceovers, and not those. So I don't really see the point, but I have nothing against them being in, as long as they aren't done terribly.


Because visual representation is just as powerful as "text" representation. Just as powerful as sound representation. Not saying that it has to be in but it is a tool for sure. Not only do you read how Forton feels, hear him hum a short .wav file, but also sees how he feels when he smiles. In another picture, later on in the game, he instead shows concern of the task ahead, in voice+sound+portrait.

If it is out of the scope in resources I can understand, just saying that narration can include texture as well.

#48
Few

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Do you need such wide, general expressions visualized? What does it add? The subtleties of character expression, the meaning of the words, and their emotional effect - it's going to be conveyed through the text and limited voiceovers, and not those.


I would say it does not come close to adding anything, more so taking something away. If a character has a complex response to an event or acts in a singular manner, this would then cause their portrait to change. The portrait changes, due to time constraints and so on, will be either generic happy, sad, angry &c. Surely this then results in taking the individualism out of such encounters and clearly bracketing them, rather than letting the player use their imagination.

Also I find things such as this a little tacky, so I hope they wont be included; However it won't be the end of the world if they are. :D

#49
Cryticus

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I actually kind like that idea, not to the point that it needs to be done because otherwise I won't play the game, but as some sort visual after thought it would be nice .
Obviously, no anime tropes, like poping veins, just generic main portrait, plus happy , angry, and sad, that said I am not really sure how would it work, with portrait that is more realistic.

#50
Tigranes

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I'm not opposed to the idea in principle, but even stand-up avatars, which are probably the best way to do them, don't really often add a whole lot of actual expressibility for me. Think about it. You will never have 20, 30 different portraits for NPCs - so you will just see them cycle through Normal, Angry, Sad, Pensive - but really, do you need such wide, general expressions visualized? What does it add? The subtleties of character expression, the meaning of the words, and their emotional effect - it's going to be conveyed through the text and limited voiceovers, and not those. So I don't really see the point, but I have nothing against them being in, as long as they aren't done terribly.


Because visual representation is just as powerful as "text" representation. Just as powerful as sound representation. Not saying that it has to be in but it is a tool for sure. Not only do you read how Forton feels, hear him hum a short .wav file, but also sees how he feels when he smiles. In another picture, later on in the game, he instead shows concern of the task ahead, in voice+sound+portrait.

If it is out of the scope in resources I can understand, just saying that narration can include texture as well.


You're giving me a very general answer about why visual representation in the universe matters. Of course. Nobody can disagree with that. The question is whether the kinds of visual representation that are practically possible / the ones you describe will add the kind of representation that is significant, fits the mood, enhances expressibility, etc. And as I suggested above, teardrops and 3-4 happy/sad portrait states aren't going to do much - or, in cases, take away from the expressibility due to their limitations. It's exactly like the argument on voice acting - great, varied voice acting can do a lot to add expressibility, and for many, it is worth limiting the ways you can imagine the text being spoken to hear it done so well. But when you have mediocre or crap voice acting, it actually detracts from the expressibility of the text.

#51
Osvir

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For starters, I wouldn't want a jRPGish thing, that is conceptual to explain my point. I think we are pretty much on the same page Tigranes. The examples I've provided is just examples, concepts, different types of methods a la "These are several different ways to do it" but somewhere down this thread people assume I want it in an "anime" styled way?

I'd prefer if it was more realistic, westernized, there are several concepts that I've shown where I present a more realistic approach, where there are subtle changes. When Forton smiles he smiles and doesn't go all super smile with stars in his eyes or whatnot, he just smiles as he would.

The teardrop, the "+" sign indicating a vein, sweating, dooming (lines going down on the face, etc. etc.) the jRPG way of expressing things is "exaggerated". Theatrical in a sense where the game presents you with exaggerated and over-the-top "information" a la "This character feels like this right now". Anime voice-over in question, japanese is much better than english, because the japanese is way more "expressional" than what the english dub achieves.

I'd say the "jRPG" way is parallel with the "Mime" way. My teacher in theater class told me that to be a good mime you have to create the illusion that the box exists, by pretending to push the empty air where it is supposed to sit you give the audience the imagination themselves to make up for it. In that way expressions could work well in only text, just saying that you'd get an actual representation of the "smile" visually.

GW2, Folklore and other games gives of a more realistic impression. Also, check my examples (which aren't "This is how I would like it to be done!!!" but more "These are different methods". Here is another one:
Posted Image

@AGX-17: ^that's a joke too haha (rofl) there is another one out there too. "Do you know what rhymes with 'election' Romney-sama?" xD

The jist of my wishlist for dialogue would be something like this:
* Visual representation (portraits)
* Text representation (descriptive)
* Sound representation (partial in dialogue, partial in adventuring)

@Nonek: So with this in mind, perhaps there could be the enjoyable moments from PS:T and expressions for a character? Instead of reading "*the Nameless One said with a grin*" you'd also see it, and you'd base the dialogue on it whether it is in the text or if it is shown on his face. I am not saying that there should be lesser text (well, granted, it would probably be slightly less text). The point is that both of them (text & visual) would appeal to the representation.

Path A; Text (Grin): Takes you to the same place as path B
Path B; Visual (Grin): Takes you to the same place as path A

EDIT: Also, by scaling down the size of the Portrait also gives an effect. If the portrait could just simply "grow larger" when Sagani screams something would also indicate that Sagani is trying to make herself heard. Edair's portrait (in my OP) I made smaller for a reason, it makes his appearance in the dialogue more "secretive", as if he is whispering.

Edited by Osvir, 31 December 2012 - 10:48 AM.


#52
Tigranes

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somewhere down this thread people assume I want it in an "anime" styled way?


Probably because you've gone great length to cite and create examples that are overflowing with kawaii? By foregrounding those you're inviting everyone to discuss the issue with starry-eyed Romneys in front and center. I don't know why you would do that if that's not your intention.

But sure, let's talk about less stylised examples, such as Guild Wars 2. I played a little bit of that and saw the dialogues with close up models - what did they add? There's really not much added expressibility. You see someone put their hands on their waste and puff their chests out, or frown. This is what I've been saying all along. It's very simple, so it conveys no additional information. It doesn't convey those simple emotional frames any more effectively than well written text does. And it doesn't add any subtle texturing of emotion. So, what is it doing? You have to do better than just 'pictures tell a thousand words' or 'visual representation does things text does not' - we can talk about generic universalisms all day long, but at the end of the day I need to be convinced that these specific visuals add something unique or significant.

Basically, no, I don't see what is gained if the hand-drawn portrait of the Nameless One has a 'grinning version', 'angry version' and 'surprised version'. The text has its own way of speaking, and it spoke superbly in Torment; let it speak, and don't interrupt it with pictures that don't do a whole lot.
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#53
Osvir

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Probably because you've gone great length to cite and create examples that are overflowing with kawaii?


Those are simply just "This is method A, B, C, D" and I thought people would understand that but oh well... Romneys are just jokes :)

Like I said in the other post: We are pretty much on the same page up until the portrait aspect (I think that a portrait with visual expression could add a lot, whilst you don't).


#54
clippedwolf

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In theater, the actors and director's fret over an emotion "reading" well to the crowd. Books can give the audience direct access to thoughts and motives. In film the script and the cast's acting are what gives the audience the motivation and emotions of the characters. Video games are a newer story telling medium, where do they fall in.
Is PE, when it comes to dialogue and story, more interactive book or a theater stage? The OP seems to be a fan of the Sin Megami Tensei: Persona series (JRPG's with actual role-play, branching paths, multiple endings), and while I think the kawaii angle is a bit overplayed in this thread, I agree that using a similar approach to telling the story in PE could benefit the story telling if a theater approach was being taken.
I don't think that a few pics do the system justice. Play Persona 4 on the PS Vita or PS2 (if you can find it), or find game play on Youtube and mute the video.

#55
Duke

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This taken from Ultima 7: The Black Gate...


A sad sweet smile comes to the wizard's face, "She was quite a comely lass at one time, with a mind forever searching." His expression darkens, "But then Mondain forced all of the good sense from her.

She became a power unto herself, in time. I do not think she quite rivaled her former mentor, Mondain, but she was a force to be reckoned with, nevertheless.
And that thou didst, with the Quicksword, Enilno. That act will most likely have tales sung about it for the next eon." Under his breath he adds, "Even if Iolo's the only one who sings it."

With a look of indignation Iolo says, "Pardon me, sir. But I'll have thee know that ballads of the Avatar still grace all of the finest drinking establishments of Britannia."

"And what a dubious distinction that is." The corners of the mage's mouth come up in a delicate smile.

An angry retort dies on Iolo's lips as the elderly mage lifts his hands in a gesture of peace.
"Please, forgive the offense I have given. Thou shouldst know that I have seen, almost first hand, the Avatar's bravery in the face of adversity.
I have nothing but the highest regard for the Destroyer of the Age of Darkness and Harbinger of the Age of Enlightenment."

Now imagine that same dialogue but with all the descriptive text removed and instead we get *Happy Face* *Sad Face* *Angry Face*.... All the beautiful nuance of that conversation is gone.

All the dialogue in Ultima 7 (and 6 and 5) is written in this way and it reveals so much more about each character than simplistic changes in their portrait or awkward 3D facial animations. Because let's face it, until we get to the level of something like L.A. Noire's ultra-realistic facial animation (where you're basically watching a real-life actor performing), 3D models cannot convey emotion beyond anything more than a simplistic level.
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#56
Ganrich

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Gonna agree with Duke. The writing of character expression into dialogue is one of the reasons I love Planescape: Torment as much as I did as well. It really does give you insight into a character much more. I hope they do dialogue this way in PE.

#57
rjshae

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While it's not quite the same as seeing facial expressions, the developers could probably do quite a bit using body language, obvious gestures, character facing, and positioning. You can communicate quite a bit with head shakes, folded arms, shrugs, yawns, and just plain facing the person you're talking to (or turning away). I saw little if any of that in the IE games, other than simple twitch gestures. Having the characters move like real participants in the discussion could add a lot to the atmosphere.

#58
Osvir

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In theater, the actors and director's fret over an emotion "reading" well to the crowd. Books can give the audience direct access to thoughts and motives. In film the script and the cast's acting are what gives the audience the motivation and emotions of the characters. Video games are a newer story telling medium, where do they fall in.
Is PE, when it comes to dialogue and story, more interactive book or a theater stage? The OP seems to be a fan of the Sin Megami Tensei: Persona series (JRPG's with actual role-play, branching paths, multiple endings), and while I think the kawaii angle is a bit overplayed in this thread, I agree that using a similar approach to telling the story in PE could benefit the story telling if a theater approach was being taken.
I don't think that a few pics do the system justice. Play Persona 4 on the PS Vita or PS2 (if you can find it), or find game play on Youtube and mute the video.


Out of the 4 examples/methods in my original post is that I provided only 1 jRPG example.

See what I'm saying about the jRPG thing?

Also, I think people don't read all the post so *shrug* :)

#59
Osvir

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I guess in some ways it is "Smileys" that I'm advocating for (and I bare no shame in it). But more stylishly artistic to the character appearance.

And in some ways it is easier to express gratitude in two symbols :)

Than in a long passage of words. An even greater effect is when the words and the two symbols are combined.

:) - Full plate and packing steel.

:( - Full plate and packing steel.

versus

*with happiness* - Full plate and packing steel.

*with sadness* - Full plate and packing steel.

The end effect is the same.

#60
Duke

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:) - Full plate and packing steel.

:( - Full plate and packing steel.

versus

*with happiness* - Full plate and packing steel.

*with sadness* - Full plate and packing steel.

The end effect is the same.


Yes the end effect is the same - it's awkward and stinks of bad/lazy writing. I refer you again to the passage from Ultima 7 I posted earlier - a much more elegant solution.





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