Which way to display the Player character?

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qirien
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Which way to display the Player character?

#1 Post by qirien » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:14 pm

Hey, VN aficionados! I have an interface question for all of you...

I'm working on a VN ("Personal Space") where you play as a wife and the game is about you and your husband trying to survive on a space colony. The game is really about the relationship between the two of them and how it progresses (or degenerates, depending on your choices). Because of this, I kind of want to show the two of them on screen together sometimes. But in most VNs I've played, the player character is not usually shown at all (except in CGs), or sometimes their expression is just shown at the bottom left or something. I know in JRPGs it's more common to show everyone who is present on the screen, and then also have their portraits for expressions.

So my question is, which style do you prefer? What do you see as the strengths/weaknesses of each? Thanks for any advice...
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Re: Which way to display the Player character?

#2 Post by nancie » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:23 am

For me, the easiest way to decide whether or not to show the main character is by the character development. Does he/she have a predefined personality or does it develop with choices made in the story, is the reader supposed to be the main character or read about someone else?
Some people like to exclude the main character from the screen for the sake of immersion. I like this tactic if I am supposed to be the main character or if my choices develop his/her personality. On the same note I really like to see the main character if he/she is a predefined person telling me a story.
There are other questions to consider - like do you have the resources for the artwork needed? If you are the artist then it is a non-issue. Or does your writing style need a main character sprite to express reactions and emotions? It sounds like you are doing a story with only two characters so it may be beneficial to show them both regardless.
I don't really think there is a "right way" to do this but these are the questions I'd ask myself.

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Re: Which way to display the Player character?

#3 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:26 am

qirien wrote:...I kind of want to show the two of them on screen together sometimes. But in most VNs I've played, the player character is not usually shown at all (except in CGs), or sometimes their expression is just shown at the bottom left or something...
Is the writing first person POV? Then what the player sees is *usually* the main character's point of view. However, you can change this. One example: let's say your main character is telling her story years later, and using photographs showing her and her husband as illustrations.

A second person or third person perspective is one way to justify zooming out and showing both people. I don't know whether you'd benefit by using a diegetic interface (not unlike Digital: A Love Story).

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Re: Which way to display the Player character?

#4 Post by SundownKid » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:23 am

Based on your plot description I think it would be better to show them both on screen, since it doesn't have a large amount of characters. In games where many characters tend to be onscreen, it makes more sense to show the player as a face so you have more space to see the others.

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Re: Which way to display the Player character?

#5 Post by qirien » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:22 pm

The story is written mostly in first-person present tense (with a little of the intro in first-person past tense).

You do decide the character's name, attitude, profession, and lots of actions throughout the story, so it's not really a predefined character . . . but I don't really think of it as "this player is YOU", but more as "you decide how this character you're creating will react". Sort of like in some western RPGs like Dragon Age...

Our artist has already drawn a lot of emotions for our PC, so I also want to make sure we use them! I will definitely at least have them with the say box when she is speaking...

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I may just have to try a few scenes both ways and see which looks better. :-)
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Re: Which way to display the Player character?

#6 Post by pineapplepocky » Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:01 pm

I kind of misinterpreted the title of this, but here's my two cents:

Since we read english from left to right, our eye often looks at the most important character at the left, and the one you look at more on the right. So it would be wise to almost always keep your character towards the left. Not 100% accurate, but it should help you a little.
Another thing that will help if you have multiple players but you want one to be more important, is to stick them in the front of the screen. Make them pop out more. You could even zoom in on the character as well.

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