New NPC Conversation Window - Feedback

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lord_Darkmoon, Jan 14, 2017.

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  1. Alley Oop

    Alley Oop Bug Hunter Bug Moderator

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    yes, thank you! made me think of this.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Baratan

    Baratan Avatar

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    There are two games which I've been deeply immersed in my decades of video game playing.

    Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights.
    -The writing. This is the first thing I notice in both of them. The writing keeps me interested.
    -Their dialog interfaces are totally different from each other. This is the second thing I notice.
    -Neverwinter Nights opts for a more modern, console looking dialog interface. With the NPC paragraph up top and numbered available responses below.
    -Morrowind went for a more aesthetic looking dialog interface. With the player and npc back and forth recorded in a large chat window with keywords off to the right listed vertically.
    -Neverwinter Nights system was designed to convey an interactive narrative. You chose pre written phrases based on your characters attributes, alignment and skills.
    -Morrowinds system was designed to convey freedom and simply had you imagine your characters phrasing while selecting a single word or phrase to say to the NPC.
    -SotAs system includes a text box and selectable keywords. This allows you to create your own Neverwinter Nights style dialog response or simply select the keyword and imagine your characters exact phrasing.
    -Morrowind also had the standard, frequently used keywords that everyone has an answer to listed at the top of the list. Name, Job, Barter. This helped get introductions out of the way without Neverwinter Nights style which depended on NPCs telling you their life story as a greeting.
     
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  3. mercster

    mercster Avatar

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    Yes, I like that SOTA allows for both styles. I saw someone suggest that those who use whole sentences get a benefit somehow...maybe that benefit should be in the way of more dialogue, more backstory, some hidden conversation that can only be uncovered by typing out sentences. But it shouldn't be game-breaking (do not withhold gaming content from those who just want to click on keywords).
     
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  4. yarnevk

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    Those writing their own dialogue rather than using keyword shortcuts are already getting a benefit of increased immersion. Same as if they use the bag interface rather than the spreadsheet interface for their inventory. That is sufficient benefit, features of the game should not be hidden behind UI modes.
     
  5. mercster

    mercster Avatar

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    I agree with you; that's why I said no gameplay should be withheld for people who use only the keywords. Just brainstorming.
     
  6. Vladamir Begemot

    Vladamir Begemot Avatar

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    One doesn't design the new UI system based on old, placeholder camera positioning.

    One tweaks the camera positioning to make it look nice, and then places the UI.


    Suggestions: Try a camera placement half a unit to one unit lower on the Y Axis. Rotate the camera so it is perpendicular to the plane created in a 2 person conversation.

    I don't expect a bunch of fancy code, although there was a great article on how to do it, I believe it was on Gamasutra. I can't find it, if anyone does please link.

    Here is a series of shots of what you can currently expect from camera angles when talking to NPC's. As we can see, none of them would pass film school. Ideally you want to have your characters faces, at least one, fall into one of the rule of thirds "sweet spots."

    As you can see, the only way to ever have a dialog UI in the current setup is with it to cover most of the characters and "make up for it with transparency," or put it in a really weird location. I think both would get a rather low grade in game design school.


    NPC dead center. Lower the camera. For fancy, rotate it and try to get BOTH their heads in the top sweet spots.
    [​IMG]

    Draw a line through the center, horizontally. You will never see a shot like this in a professional film. Lower the camera.
    [​IMG]

    Edge case. (In an alley in Ardoris with a guard, if you really must know how this happened.) But it does tell me we shouldn't be too emotionally attached to the current camera code.
    [​IMG]

    Looks almost good, unless you are a photographer, videographer, or someone with an eye for a good picture. Having the heads at the center of the screen, sorry, it cannot be.
    [​IMG]

    3 person conversations could be much nicer with the camera rotated so 3rd NPC isn't blocked by player. Make the camera perpendicular to the plane created by the Player and the target NPC.
    [​IMG]

    In short, this is actually low hanging fruit. Tweak your angles, make it nice.
     
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  7. Lum the Mad

    Lum the Mad Developer Emeritus

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    We actually attempt to do this already. It's... a bit more difficult than you think.

    - Distance between NPC and PC is unpredictable. The NPC attempts to pathfind (walk) to an appropriate position. It doesn't always work. This is by far the main cause of unpredictable angles.
    - PC is too close to a wall (as seen in your edge case pic) and there's no way to frame the two at all
    - NPC isn't the same size as a PC (Oracle, the occasional animal)

    Really what people are missing is that this is not Hollywood, we cannot point at tape on the ground and tell an NPC "STAND RIGHT THERE FOR THIS LINE IN THE SCRIPT". If the NPC isn't able to get in position in a few seconds, there's default fallbacks in place (such as just focusing on the NPC and ignoring the PC position) but by no means is it reliable enough to base assuming both parties will be in the same place and building UI elements based on that.
     
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  8. Vladamir Begemot

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  9. Vladamir Begemot

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    And also, you have pretty standard shots, all with the PC's head right in the middle of the screen. That means you've placed your camera in a way to hit that pretty regularly. It also means it's only about 17% too low. A very minor tweak.

    And yes, I can see you've almost got it. The last 20% of polish is the hard part! We're all rooting for you!
     
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  10. Sir Cabirus

    Sir Cabirus Avatar

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    The original resolution of this game is 640x480. And we had cathode ray tubes at that time. Of course it looks clunky in HD and on a TFT monitor. The screenshot is just an example to get an idea what I mean.

    The use of the compass font was also just an example. Here is another example - please note, just an -> example <-.

    [​IMG]

    The window has another font, a background and a decorative border.
     
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  11. Barugon

    Barugon Avatar

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    The original resolution of that game was 320 x 200.
     
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  12. Sir Cabirus

    Sir Cabirus Avatar

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    Good catch!
     
  13. GrayFog

    GrayFog Avatar

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    I know i wouldn't want to do this :p

    Totally agree with you.

    There will be always some situations where the program code will not catch the perfect position for the camera coords, convo coords, camera zoom factor, char X and Y and this and that and blah and blubb...

    Tons of work... it will never get perfect...
     
  14. Vladamir Begemot

    Vladamir Begemot Avatar

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    The code is working fine, it's the artistic placement of the camera that is off. Standby for more photoshop work.
     
  15. Vladamir Begemot

    Vladamir Begemot Avatar

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    @Lum the Mad You're 90% or 95% done already. So close!

    Assuming you have the camera values exposed for your artists you could have acceptable shots within a few hours. If it is all in code at the moment, that explains why it's been left as "good enough," just expose your camera positioning variables in the editor so your artist can zoom in and tweak camera positions.

    This makes whatever UI you use have some space that doesn't cover faces (and why this is important to the UI mockup discussion.)

    You can still use transparency if you like, but it's no longer absolutely needed. Most important, your dialog now (usually) has good shots, the kind you would be proud to put in a movie!



    This is what you can expect to happen almost every time, excluding weird edge cases like talking in an alley. It never hits the rule of thirds, instead always hitting the "Don't do this" rule of putting your focus point dead center in the middle of the screen.

    [​IMG]

    Very small zoom + transition, no code needed I believe, just a little time tweaking.

    [​IMG]

    Even without the perfect positioning of my earlier pictures (go for it if you can!) you now have a space for whatever UI that isn't embarrassingly covering their whole bodies and almost face.

    [​IMG]

    I have 100% certainty that you can move the camera like that without destroying your code, and I am excited to see it in game!

    We are all rooting for you, all you guys, even if we are like the most annoying critics ever. Go for it!
     
  16. Vladamir Begemot

    Vladamir Begemot Avatar

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    I just ran around Ardoris making sure that my assumptions are correct.

    Vendors - camera doesn't move, so great, no change needed, and it already checks for that in code.

    Oracle - camera stays behind player, no change needed, already checks in code.

    Everyone else - the camera is almost always like the above first picture, with two exceptions: I managed to get it so the characters were even closer together, I got to go in closer by using a wall, still not getting to the rule of thirds though.

    The above tweak would benefit both situations as well as normal shots.
     
  17. GrayFog

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    Sorry, but you really have no idea how complicated and complex it would be to make it work 100% correctly for all situtations.

    You will always have some unpredictable behaviour if you implement such an camera system for the convos.

    Definetly much easier for Singleplayer games, but in an MMO where multiple people can talk to the same NPC at the same time is just one example of many other issues.
    As you know, if you talk to an NPC it is usualy facing or even walking to you.
    Now let another player talk to that same NPC while you are in an convo with that given NPC. The NPC will either turn arround, facing away from you or even walk away from you.
    Sure, now you could just make it so that while somebody is talking to the NPC, nobody else can. But that would totally suck for an MMO.

    Like i said, was just 1 random "problem" example.

    And about the "artistic placement of the camera".
    Trust me, it's not just an artistic thing, you have to dynamical code such an system...

    Sure, you can code such an system, and it may even work most of the time correctly.
    But it definetly won't be 100% accurate, ever...


    What happens if i am jumping on a desk and talk to an NPC behind the desk?
    How do you position the camera then?
    Just another random example with deep issues...

    Or if i sit on a chair and an NPC is in range for me to double click.
    Let the NPC run to me, or force my avatar to stand up to correctly position the camera?
    Another example...

    Sure, you can take care of most issues probably.
    But again, you will never be able to predict all situations.
     
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  18. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    You are right and this is why SotA has a very difficult path ahead of it. Because it wants to be both, a single player game and a MMO.
    So we can have a cool conversation UI that would be great for a single player game but bad for a MMO.
    Or we can have a conversation system that will be cool for an MMO but bad for a single player game.
    So which part of the game will win it this time?
     
  19. majoria70

    majoria70 Avatar

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    No I don't think that has to be the case. One thing is some players don't want to be taken into a separate scene with the world disappearing and only in the chat with the NPC module. I don't mind this because I am talking to the NPC from my choice. If I don't want to talk to them I say goodbye and the world comes back. I want to concentrate on the conversation I'm having with the NPC. If the world did not have to be viewable then the problem would be solved but as usual we cannot agree on this, but what's new.
     
  20. yarnevk

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    And any talk of camera positioning ignores the fact that your avatar is not available to be in the shot in first person mode, so camera positions that include all talkers is not even possible. This is my preferred mode of conversation in Skyrim, just let me control my body and head position during the conversation, if I want to to walk and talk let me (in SP modes) Do not lock me into place into a programmers attempt at being a cinematic director, I do not need out of body experiences, it is why I do not use third person view to begin with.

    Transparent conversation window should not be part of the scene composition because it is not part of the scene. Insisting on an opaque window is what is creating the problem. Allow moving the camera during the conversation as well as the window and those looking for a career in hollywood can train their skills all they want in SOTA. Skyrim even has console commands for those that want complete director control (useful for trailers)
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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