Creative solutions for displaying descriptions [code/writing/art]

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catgame21234
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Creative solutions for displaying descriptions [code/writing/art]

#1 Post by catgame21234 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:11 pm

I was doing exercises at analyzing games to help better make mine, both good and bad, and one VN that my friend pointed to me was a game called 999. I've been running it and braking it down and it's really great and I highly recomend it to anyone who wants to try to iincorporate puzzles into their game to disect it or wants to write a thriller. However there's one thing that's puzzeling me, it's displaying the font.


there will be no spoilers in this thread



Image

on the DS origanal release of 999 the descriptive font is displayed on the bottom screen, the background echoing what you see on the top of the screen but more faided out. This makes it great for the characters talk on the top screen and you can read stuff on the bottom screen. The limitations on the space really forced each line to pack as much punch in there. And it does.

However on the remastering of the game for PC / PS(3?) (4?) it looks somthing like this.
Image

and one can see

Image

that it can get a bit claustrophobic, as characters talk and descriptions are made more and more text just piles onto the screen. Me being an artist I would hate having text just filling the artwork i worked hard on. But overall it does make it easier to read so I can see the appeal. And me writing my own stories, i would want to not only have it easy to read but also have the space to add descriptive text.

Yet the only different way ive seen with renpy being able to display text is by this method.
Image
game: katawa shoujo
Image
game: a mock up from doki doki literature club

And that is by putting text right on the center of the screen. (I know it's not technically narrative describers of the character's surroundings and them/other's body language but i hope get what i mean.) And this is something I don't want, I want the text to roughly be in one place, but some sort of indicator showing that it's just talking about "adjectives" of what you are seeing even when the art is present. The writing makes up for the lack of artwork.

The only other method I know of is by changing the display box at the bottom of the screen where by text is being shown.
Image
Image
Image
if clever enough one could make different borders for the text depending on what is talking. A color for each character maybe as well, and a neutral color for discriptions. But from my understanding of meddling with the program so far, the GUI seems very static, like it's not ment to change. Is my understanding flawed?


I guess what I am getting at is this, with coding is there a way to constantly rapidly change what the text box looks like? Theoretically could that work for a whole game as frequently as characters change? I'm not asking for suspifics like actual lines of code just hypothetical (if you have a game in mind that does this point me to their direction). ((and if you do want to show code examples ill be more than happy to look at them))
Art wise as one artist speaking to the other, is it for the betterment of the story for you to bite the bullet and have text take over the screen? What are your thoughts on that?
And to writers, What sort of writing style do you write in? Do you think it is worth describing, if briefly, the characters actions or do you depend more on the artwork that the artist make to tell what the character is doing? Do you write more akin to if you where writing a proper noval or do you adopt a different writing style, omiting descriptive text MUCH more often than what you would usulaly do? I understand that having a drawing of A PERSON saves like a paragraph on writing how they look, but as a whole do you cut even more out of it even when their actions don't reflect whats in the artwork due to art limitations?
Oy! Just call me Catti.
An inspiring developer but mostly artist. You can see my artwork here.
(Qualified to give proper critique for art.)

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Re: Creative solutions for displaying descriptions [code/writing/art]

#2 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:32 pm

I've actually been debating this and doing my own research / experiments with it as well. I like the idea of being able to give descriptive or narrative text that is separate from dialogue.

My first instinct was to create a separate text box in the center of the screen that would appear and disappear as needed to give narrative and expositional text, but like you, I didn't like the fact it was covering so much of the artwork. Another consideration I had that also steers me away from this is it requires a lot of eye movement on the part of the player. They are having to bounce their eyeballs up and down to two different text boxes, which isn't great and could get tiring if used often.

The easiest and still effective way to do it is to have the exposition and narration given its own formatting, but remaining inside the dialogue window. For example:
Snake:
Clover ... are you alright?
(The prince's voice sounded oddly concerned.)
It's simple and makes things pretty obvious.

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Re: Creative solutions for displaying descriptions [code/writing/art]

#3 Post by catgame21234 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:58 pm

@LateWhiteRabbit
Thanks for replying, and if I may be noisy but what progress have you made with your research? What games have you looked at and so on.

And yeah that Is one method, giving it it's own formatting. After playing 999 and seeing all the descriptive text written in 3rd person however it gave it much more that "novel" feel too it which I loved. I picked up making VNs for a living (hopefully) because the writing style would be not too different from the text based rollplays that I have done.
Sn: Clover…are you alright?

*then a bunch of discriptive text here*
and though writing everything in italic is okay I guess. There will be a point where I am just writing so much, and the viewer's eyes I feel should be located on one area.

When trying to figure out this I did my own resurch because the eyes of the viewer is huge.
In this post I linked attachments and i brokemy canvus into 2 rules of thirds. The first one (white lines) is the general composision of the whole page. The second lines (blue) are the actual portrats.
I knowtesed that any good artwork would be layed out well. I recomend you take the rule of thirds into consideration. But you see how our eyes would basicaly hop where ever those 4 corners intersect. I thought stupidly maybe writing the text there would might do you good, but that'd brake…a bit too many conventions.



Me being an artist however I was very tempted to make more work for myself by just drawing a lot of character actions out. And though I am not afraid to do that to help add, after exsposing myself to morewriten games there isn't a true need for that, least not fully. Subtal changes for sure but so long as the story is good you wouldn't need too many images anyway.
Heck look at games like thomas was alone, absolutely zero art in it that it appealing but damn it you're rooting for that square.
This idealized image of art being use as expressions as been also desolved by another game
Image
Art isn't needed but the writing needs to be displayed well, that's what makes impact, so even tho your solution is simple and might be a good way to go about it I feel that that's almost giving a backhand to the writing itself. Gimping it of it's visual appeal. The graphics should complement the writing, not the writing complementing the artwork.
Is that too much of an artsy view of it?…I wouldn't know.
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(Qualified to give proper critique for art.)

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Re: Creative solutions for displaying descriptions [code/writing/art]

#4 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:09 pm

catgame21234 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:58 pm
@LateWhiteRabbit
Thanks for replying, and if I may be noisy but what progress have you made with your research? What games have you looked at and so on.
I've mostly been looking at some games outside the VN genre, but that use a lot of VN-style elements for things like dialogue - like NIS-published RPGs.
catgame21234 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:58 pm
Sn: Clover…are you alright?

*then a bunch of discriptive text here*
and though writing everything in italic is okay I guess. There will be a point where I am just writing so much, and the viewer's eyes I feel should be located on one area.

When trying to figure out this I did my own resurch because the eyes of the viewer is huge.
In this post I linked attachments and i brokemy canvus into 2 rules of thirds. The first one (white lines) is the general composision of the whole page. The second lines (blue) are the actual portrats.
I knowtesed that any good artwork would be layed out well. I recomend you take the rule of thirds into consideration. But you see how our eyes would basicaly hop where ever those 4 corners intersect. I thought stupidly maybe writing the text there would might do you good, but that'd brake…a bit too many conventions.
I'm developing for HD resolutions to be displayed on large monitors - 1080p right now, but with preparations for porting to 4K once Renpy supports that. The player's eyes may not need to move around too much on smaller screens or mobile displays, but sitting 18 inches away from a 22-inch or larger monitor screen means that you can't really actively focus on the whole screen at once.

Plus, I decided against long blocks of text like you would get with NVL mode, or dedicating a large area for a paragraph of writing. I think the flow and pacing is better if you break it down into one and two sentence chunks that can be displayed in the dialogue window. You can control how fast the player is reading that way, and deliberately add more gravity to the delivery of some lines.

For instance:
(When I was first admitted, it felt as if I was missed...}
CLICK
(For about a week, my room in the ward was full of flowers, balloons, and cards.)
CLICK
(But, the visitors soon dwindled and all the get-well gifts began trickling down to nothing shortly after.)
CLICK
(I realized that the only reason I had gotten so many cards and flowers was because sending me sympathy had been turned into a class project.)
CLICK
(Maybe some people were genuinely concerned ...)
CLICK
(... but I doubt it.)
CLICK
(Even in the beginning, I barely had visitors.)
CLICK
(By the end of the first month, only my parents came by on a regular basis.)
You don't need to keep seeing all the text at once, and this way, you can determine the 'beats' of the delivery, just like you can with dialogue. And imagine doing something like this, with the text in the dialogue box, while doing a slow zoom in on a single image of the main character in a hospital bed. Every time the player clicks to advance the text, the image zooms slowly in just a little more. Finally, in the end, you are left staring at a closeup of the main character's face and their depressed expression. No extra art needed, and you are using the writing and art in tandem to create a powerful emotional scene for the player.
catgame21234 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:58 pm
Art isn't needed but the writing needs to be displayed well, that's what makes impact, so even tho your solution is simple and might be a good way to go about it I feel that that's almost giving a backhand to the writing itself. Gimping it of it's visual appeal. The graphics should complement the writing, not the writing complementing the artwork.
Is that too much of an artsy view of it?…I wouldn't know.
I think just displaying the writing in the dialogue box using my solution might feel like it is lacking visual appeal - but that depends on your GUI design and text display! Sure, it will feel underwhelming if you use a basic font and a basic box, but remember that you can use a different font for the narration or exposition too, separate from the one you use for dialogue. That will immediately add variety and life to the writing.

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