Strategic Play
PwF: Power to Game Art!

While I'm Away...

In just a few hours, I have to catch a plane - I'm off to Slovakia this week to meet with 3D People and thrash out some details on Reluctant Hero. I've decided not to take the laptop, so no blogging this week.

While I'm away, though...

  • Danc of Lost Garden has put up a great article on the competitive advantages of the iterative design of playground worlds, which you can read here.  I'm honoured to be listed as a reference for this - it makes me feel less isolated in my ramblings to know that they might feed into another bloggers mind and contribute in some small way to something like this.
  • I'm really enjoying reading people's comments on the Wii control mechanism and market prospects. There's musings at Tea Leaves, and more detailed analysis at Man Byte's Blog (here and here), while King Lud IC is considering the value of the Wii as an indie platform, and also how the Wii's agility might give it an edge.
  • And on the subject of Reluctant Hero, I could use some comment from any readers about the narrative side of things, discussed in excessive detail here. I am specifically interested in the question of how many players would be open to the game having no character-to-character conversations, but only narrator dialogue. That is, instead of:

       "Do you know where I can find the chalice?"

    the narrator would say:

       "She asked him where the chalice could be found".

    In the former case, recorded voice dialogue isn't an option, whereas with a narrator we could potentially record the whole thing - maybe using Tom Baker again, although I'd like to consider a female narrator too. Please share your thoughts!

And that's all I have time for today, alas. Until next week!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Obviously character dialog is nice but even (presumably) expensive games such as Oblivion have cheaped out - they have about 4 people doing most of the voices and it really shows!

I'm not sure about narrator dialog. It's hard to hear how it would be for real but reading your example it feels a little disconnected.

How about character narration? "I asked him where the chalice can be found and he said...." This also neatly supports your goal of both a male and female option.

Frankly I'd like to play a character voiced by Tom Baker! :-)

I'm considering going this route for the narrative elements of Cuttlecandy, since the characters are all cephalapods that can communicate non-verbally by changing colors.

The question is, what sort of narrator should I cast? I could see RH working with a fable type British guy with a sort of lilting voice, but maybe Cuttlecandy's pastiche deserves a woman with a flinty voice, no wait, I'm thinking of that Seinfeld episode with the "no square to spare" issue. I'm a bit stumped on the implementation, but I do believe its a good idea.

I LOVE the idea of only the narrator talking. Somehow there's a kind of melancholic feeling to it, for me. Probably because I was reading too much Marguerite Duras in art school and my friends and I started talking about ourselves in the third person. ;)
But anyway, yes: do it!
(also somehow connects to our idea to use only music in 144 and no sound effects)

The narrator was one of the very few things that worked well in the modern Bard's Tale, so I think it could work with Reluctant Hero. I guess the two things to consider are:

1) How to keep the flow of narration constant. It's a little jarring when you go off and kill monsters (or whatever) for an hour or so with no voice, and then you get back to town and there's so much bloody speech you find yourself just click-skipping it.

2) Making the voice-over inherently interesting enough that you'd want to listen to it even if it wasn't helping you get around the game. There's nothing worse than narration that's just like descriptive text, only slower.

I guess like any stylistic choice it could work or bomb, depending on how well you sell it.

Thanks for the comments everyone! It seems that there is a broad support for trying this approach.

If there's anyone who feels strongly against it I would like to know!

The next step is for me to hold a meeting to scope out the feasibility of the approach, and confirm that we can make it work.

It should be fine though - the game uses a negotiation engine for most interactions between people, so dialogue is not essential in the core play (only in the dynamic story progression). My only concern is distancing the player from the game as a result of the narrative tone, but I may be worrying unduly.

Thanks again!

I would like to weigh in with support for a narrator-style conversation system. I think that properly implemented you can create a unified sense of continuity. It seems to blend better with the idea of telling the story of a life, beginning to end.

I like the idea of the character himself narrating the story. It could be made to seem as if he is recounting past events to some relative, or some such. You would be able to put in a lot of extra flavour that is otherwise missed in dialog (eg - As I approached the bandit leader, I was overcome with the smell of alcohol and death. It was like walking into my Uncle Herman's slaughterhouse after the annual solstice party...). Sounds, smells, and a general sense of emotion can be easily conveyed through descriptive text (and voice), things that pure dialog often miss.

Duncan makes a point I was coming back to make. I was thinking of some of the Dr. Who Audio's that the BBC recorded with linking narration. This used the device of the Doctor recounting something from his past. Of course it worked better in some cases than others based upon the quality of the writing but the principle, I think, worked quite well.

Thanks for the continuing input everyone!

Assuming the narrator approach proceeds, is it worth giving up on a more expensive voice actor (such as Tom Baker) in order to hire two cheaper voice actors - one for male and one for female characters, thus allowing for the first person narrator? I confess, I'd really like to record another script with Tom Baker, but of course that shouldn't be a factor. ;)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)