Character Drama, and Stream

Hey Folks! Busy day today, so not a lot of work to show. However, a lot of thinking/planning about character drama, so I dug-up some character art ideas for today's screenshot.

Probably the most exciting thing today, however, was the IndieMegaBooth stream. Pnubis hosted an hour stream of him playing NEO Scavenger while we chatted over Discord, and it was a good time! I don't always have free time to do streams, but I pretty much always enjoy them. And is sort of a new take on the experience, which nixes the chatlog and replaces it with speech bubbles along the bottom. And being live on Discord certainly beats trying to type answers to everything :)

Unfortunately, I kinda dropped the ball on today's event.

For one thing, I didn't advertise it as well as I should've. I mentioned it in the news here last week, and a few times on twitter leading up to it. But I should've gone the extra mile and posted alerts on Reddit, Discord, and Steam.

Also, I screwed up the VOD. I had everything all ready to go, ran several successful tests, and there's this beautiful 9GB 720p file on my hard drive. Except my voice is missing. I had set it up to record the stream audio, thinking I'd get both the host and my voice, plus game. Unfortunately, I had to mute the stream window to avoid feedback, and it only picked up Discord. Which would be fine, except Discord doesn't play mic audio (for obvious reasons), so at several points in the video, the host is just looking at the screen and nodding to silence :(

Sorry about that! I know Rovlad, in particular, was hoping to catch the VOD since the show was at a bad time.

I can still upload it if folks want to see it. Just a forewarning that it'll be weird watching :)

Right, on to characters. There's a good chance I'll be announcing the space prototype officially soon. Including the game's title, setting up a product page here, and (perhaps most importantly), a "Coming Soon" page on Steam. The coming soon page is quickly becoming the new measure of success on Steam, since it gathers wishlists up until launch, and on launch day, all of those folks get a heads-up. And if enough of those folks pull the trigger, the sudden surge of sales propels the game into the Steam homepage, and that starts the virtuous cycle of more sales->more feature placement->more sales.

So that's the plan.

But before I announce anything, I'm thinking I'd ideally want the character interaction stuff to look more interesting. It's still fairly "under the hood," and wonky. So I've been thinking of ways to make it clearer and more engaging. And current ideas include portraits (like the above) with dynamic facial expressions for happy, sad, etc. Plus, maybe some buff/debuff icons for certain things like poison, freezing, etc. Between facial expressions, buff icons, maybe some decorations like bruises/dirt, and color tinting/desaturation, maybe I can communicate AI state really quickly and clearly.

Heck, maybe I could even put mini versions of that portrait over each walking character? That might be redundant.

In any case, I have some thinking to do!


Marc13Bautista's picture

I'll be looking forward to the steam page!

Shame I missed the stream though. :P

Free Elusive Skill = Athletic x4 in ATN Enclave encounter

Rovlad's picture

Eh, don't worry too much about the stream thingy. Unless you gave out some exclusive info on there, the devlog suits me just fine. It was more of a spur of the moment request (also the timing for the show was kind of weird). Thanks for the shout out though! :D

As for the portraits, it'd probably be best if they were a part of UI, so you could click on them to select characters, hover over for particular stats, etc. (basically, how Rimworld handles them). Having those over characters themselves seems like overdoing it, you could instead place some "urgent" icons there, like someone dying from starvation or whatever.

And just in case you won't be able to get animations to look right, maybe you could make the characters themselves more stylized. I know you want the game to look nice, but I think that Rimworld (yet again) achieves that just fine by combining completely cartoon characters and more-or-less-realistic shadows and backgrounds. Just something to take into account.

dcfedor's picture

I decided to upload the stream anyway, and leave it as unlisted. That way, folks who want it (namely those here in the devlog) can see it via URL, but those that are browsing the BBG Youtube videos won't stumble across it and think "What?"

I definitely think I'll do another stream like that if I get the chance, though.

As for the portrait UI, yeah, I was thinking of at least having them arrayed along the bottom of the screen, 90s CRPG style. And probably hotkeys 1-4 (6? 8?) or whatever to access them.

You're probably right that having said portraits over each avatar is overkill. I was just thinking of ways to reduce eye-darting back and forth between game scene and portraits.

I think Rimworld handles that aspect well, since the characters are easy to tell apart equally in-game vs in the portraits. Their silhouettes and clothes/color are unique identifiers. I'll have to see if nametags alone does the trick, or if I'll need more.

And maybe I can do the Sims thing and have a general good/bad indicator over each along with a nametag, and the portrait/char sheet is where the details are. That way, avatars don't get too cluttered.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games