Action Sequences

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Auro-Cyanide
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Action Sequences

#1 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:59 am

I have been thinking of ways to approach action sequences in a visual novel.

The only examples I can really think of are when the sprites are on screen and a shake is used, usually along with sound and dialogue. All together this usually conveys what is going on. However, what I wish to do is a little more complicated. The shake thingy is fine for games where you are focused on the emotions of the characters and the story, but when you actually want to focus on the actual action, there is a problem.

The only way I can think of to get around it is to simply draw it out as CGs. I am capable of it, but it would be a slow process. Would it be worth it? I am also curious if people would be okay with this translation of action. Obviously it would have more in common with comic panels and so some closure on the part of the reader will be needed.

The other option of course is to not show the action and simply use the sprites. But that means you would have to translate the action into words and I feel that this may be a bit dry and a waste of potential considering it is a visual novel.

Thoughts?

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Re: Action Sequences

#2 Post by Elenakiara » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:25 am

Well, in the game Frozen Essence, I believe the VN maker was pretty much spot on. For small action scenes, she used simple VN techniques (a slapping sound and a character disappearing or "fainting"). But for more crucial fighting scenes, she drew CGs. It was actually quite nice and better than simply making the sprites move a little or describing it. I'm a bit biased, because I really loved the whole game, but I do think that that technique is better looking, while making the artist work much harder on all of those scenes. :)
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Re: Action Sequences

#3 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:36 am

I am a bit concerned about the workload, but since it is a very short vn, I feel I can do it. Plus, I do like the idea of it pushing it more in the visual direction. I just have to tell myself it is like drawing a comic, the workload is similar.

I am familiar with Frozen Essence and I did like the use of CGs at crucial moments for action. However, I am thinking of going further wit it. Most of the action was in the dialogue for Frozen Essence, while the CG remained as a static (but dynamically posed) image. What I am considering is having a series of CGs to show the movement and action. I am a little concerned about how it will look though as people flip from one image to another. I also wonder about the incorporation of text within the scenes.

I have a feeling that this might need a demo to actually see if it works or not. Maybe once I get to that point I can create a storyboard and place it in Ren'py to see if people understand it and feel comfortable with it?

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Re: Action Sequences

#4 Post by papillon » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:36 am

Have you played through Princess Waltz? That's got a lot of 'action' in it, mostly done through a handful of useful CGs and special effects, not just jittering but also slashes and bursts of light and so on.

If you don't want to play it (since it's a commercial hentai game) I think you can find videos on youtube of battle scenes that might give some idea.

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Re: Action Sequences

#5 Post by SusanTheCat » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:10 pm

In Frozen Essence, I liked how the author used the same CG in different ways. I liked the panning and focusing on different parts. It gave movement to the action scenes without having to draw a bunch of different CG's

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Re: Action Sequences

#6 Post by salis » Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:24 pm

Expressing action and motion in a static setting is always challenging, and it’s something I’ve been mulling over as well, so I’m glad you brought it up Auro-Cyanide.

Relying on description rather than CGs to express action sequences can work if the actions are minor, but leaving the player to imagine an entire fight scene, for example, definitely needs more than words. However, the amount of CGs needed to express large action sequences accurately would definitely get overwhelming for a single artist, and constantly switching from one CG to the next would probably be tiring on the reader as well. So it depends on what kind of action you want to portray. In most situations, though, I think a small amount of CGs with effects works best.

But whichever approach you take, I hope you release a demo. I'd totally play it!
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Re: Action Sequences

#7 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:45 am

Yes, it is a fighting scene that I wish to portray. The actually actions are important in defining one of the characters so I want to put some effort into it. To describe it purely with words... I don't think it would convey the right information. I have been looking at ATL a little but frankly I would prefer drawing a bunch of CGs because I can DO that. <can't program to save her life> But the transition between so many scenes is also a worry. It will definitely need some thinking and planning.

There are probably a couple ways to do it, but finding the best feel is what is important. Something like Knite is impressive because of the smooth and small transitions that give it some animation quality. Then there is a more graphic novel approach and use panels and bubbles. And of course actions and motions can make static images dynamic. So many factors come into play and have an effect on how the story is told.

I will probably stick up some kind of story board but there won't be a demo since the game is too short to warrant it. The full version will be released. I am purposely keeping it short so I can try to be a little bit ambitious with the art without doing it for years ^^"

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Re: Action Sequences

#8 Post by salis » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:35 pm

Ah, yes, then I’d definitely focus on CGs in that case. I'm not much of a programmer, and so I rely on visuals more because of it, so go with whatever feels most comfortable for you. For fight scenes, I usually still include some description, otherwise it feels a bit jarring to jump to a stream of visuals if the game has been heavily dependent on description up to that point. But like you said, there are numerous ways of presenting it, and what is important is to go with what feels right, so go with whatever feels best to you.

And that’s a good move! Keeping you game short will definitely allow you to complete enough CGs for your fight scene without costing an immense amount of time and energy. Plus, it also means you'll be finished sooner, and I’m looking forward to the release!
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Re: Action Sequences

#9 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:58 am

Speaking of a graphic novel approach, Deji mentioned doing something like that for her project and mentioned Quartett! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNLwOlxiROA. I had never heard of it before and I am quite interested in it. It makes a fair bit of sense to me and after seeing quite a few flash comics it seems that it is a style that fits quite comfortably with vns (and me :P). So my question is, how difficult would that be to program? I am not too worried about having all those moving words and such, more just the basics of it, layers of background>panels(and characters)>characters>speech bubbles (and words)>words. Also, what do you think this would do in terms of size? Like I said, I'm not much of a programmer (at all >_>) so I would like some more experienced opinions.

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Re: Action Sequences

#10 Post by DaFool » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:51 am

Auro-Cyanide wrote:Speaking of a graphic novel approach, Deji mentioned doing something like that for her project and mentioned Quartett! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNLwOlxiROA. I had never heard of it before and I am quite interested in it. It makes a fair bit of sense to me and after seeing quite a few flash comics it seems that it is a style that fits quite comfortably with vns (and me :P). So my question is, how difficult would that be to program? I am not too worried about having all those moving words and such, more just the basics of it, layers of background>panels(and characters)>characters>speech bubbles (and words)>words. Also, what do you think this would do in terms of size? Like I said, I'm not much of a programmer (at all >_>) so I would like some more experienced opinions.
Floating Frame Director will be a feature implemented in a future revision of Ren'Py (most probably not 6.12).

I'm more concerned about the artist burning out even after only drawing a 5 minute sequence, much less a multiple-hour game.

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Re: Action Sequences

#11 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:57 am

DaFool wrote:
Floating Frame Director will be a feature implemented in a future revision of Ren'Py (most probably not 6.12).

I'm more concerned about the artist burning out even after only drawing a 5 minute sequence, much less a multiple-hour game.
Hmmm, interesting.

I am not to concerned about that. I have done comic pages before and I understand how much work I am going to have to do whichever way I go. But the concept of floating frame director fits well with me. I am more comfortable thinking like that and I am happier with the potential for visual story telling. I probably wouldn't go over board and still use many of the basics of vn such as keeping a limited amount of backgrounds and showing characters prominently waist up. But being able to expand on the action and expressions of the characters, to be able to really show instead of just tell, I find it really interesting.

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Re: Action Sequences

#12 Post by winternight119 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:35 am

Auro! :)

I haven't been on these forums in too long. I would agree that finding a way to show action with static images is kind of difficult. I haven't played through Chaos;Head but I heard it uses a lot of videos (in combination with static images) - in fact I will see more about that. But other scenes I've seen (and I often use F/SN as an example) use maybe one or two CGs per battle while showing "slashes" flash across the screen.

But a combination of both might work: idk how well RenPy handles videos since I haven't used it for videos [yet] but since there is no floating frame director maybe manipulating all images as video (say in AfterEffects) may be an alternative and would also be able to achieve the floating frame thing if used /exclusively/ for action scenes (which would have to be matched for style). But in any case floating frame seems like a lot of work to represent all the action sequences. :O Of course the written text for fights could be placed in narrative boxes.
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