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Characters Facial Expressions


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#1 HappyCoder   Members   -  Reputation: 2663

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 07:09 PM

So I am brainstorming ideas for a game I am working on. My game is going to be a 2D side scroller. I want to story to be a core part of the game. To better tell the story, I want my characters to be able to show more expression to better show a characters personality and to compliment the text to, hopefully, give it more emotion.

My idea is to have an animated portait that pops up with the text dialog. This way it can be clear when the characters are angry, sad, scared, happy, ect... The faces will be built with seperate movable parts. For example, to raise an eyebrow the game will simply move the eyebrow image up that is seperate from the rest of the face.

My questions for any of you are.

Are there any good examples of games that do something similar to this?
Have you working on a project that uses said system?
Would you reccomend that I do this? Would you make any changes?

Anyway, that is all. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

Edited by HappyCoder, 09 June 2013 - 07:11 PM.


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#2 Ludus   Members   -  Reputation: 970

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 12:34 AM

The problem with "separate movable" facial features is that human expressions are filled with a bunch of nuances. If you try creating expressions in this mechanical way, then you'll end up with mechanical expressions that would look quite off. A quizzical expression is more than a single raised eye-brow. It can include a contortion of the lips, a squinting of the eyes, a tilt of the head. Perhaps the best use of "movable" parts would be to make the eyes blink so the portrait does not appear completely static - but that's probably it. It would be much better to have an artist draw each expression individually. This will also allow the artist to inject personality into the expressions for different characters (everyone doesn't use the same canned expressions - there are differences in the way people express the same emotion).



#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4916

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:06 PM

Yeah the separate movable facial features thing would cause you problems, but Azure Dreams is one example game where a character portrait is shown by a dialogue box, and the game had a set of portraits for each character to show different emotions, as well as sometimes gaining or losing a prop or changing clothing.


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#4 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3699

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:24 PM

I think it's an overkill (if you have just one or few characters), just make a whole separate images/animations for each facial expression.

 

Generally, I would avoid such things (unless there is a very specific situation like thousands procedurally generated characters), because it's something that require both programmer and artist working closely together (just leaving it to an artist is much simplier from my experience).

 

 

And what you mean by animated? You mean animated like, well, animated? I have seen many games with portraits made of parts but these were all static (like half of older jRPGs) but with a fully animated one, I can't recall even one. In short, if you decide you just want static, this topic would go much more smoothly :D


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#5 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1541

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 11:30 PM

Why not just properly animate the character's face? Breaking up the face isn't a bad idea if you're using vector art animation (flash), but you still need to do some classical animating to make it look good (like most Saturday morning cartoons). By taking the time to hand animate the emotional aspects of your game, you'll deliver a bigger emotional impact by paying attention to the timing and poses that best fit the narrative and the average reading speed of your players. Good luck!



#6 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1541

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 11:33 PM

but with a fully animated one, I can't recall even one

 

Wing Commander, Star Fox, Star Craft, etc



#7 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3699

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:47 AM

but with a fully animated one, I can't recall even one

 

Wing Commander, Star Fox, Star Craft, etc

These are not made of parts but rendered as a full animation of the whole face.


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#8 wodinoneeye   Members   -  Reputation: 818

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:58 AM

2D side scroller

 

 

So your face could be quite cartoony and use exaggerated gestures  not just face but upper torso/head movements and postures)

 

Cartoony has its advantages as the human brain will pickup any distortion in anything attempting to be realistc (and scream 'that is wrong looking' - defective -- Shun Shun !!!)

 

 

2D sub facial objects placed in a pose (upon the head) or cyclic pattern while the mouth goes on talking...

 

Again simplistic and cartoony may be enough to match the rest of the games level of detail.


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#9 Deallo   Members   -  Reputation: 171

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:02 PM

Nope. Making facial expressions to a complexity of every part in the face moveable in a 2D game sounds like an idea that will waste too much time in development and won't even be that much good.

 

Since you're having portraits come up next to dialog (a good move) then it's good to have facial expressions but to keep them un-animated (like a still picture). Different characters might express facial emotion through different ways. It's good to have a basic face portrait and expressions portraits such as anger, happiness, anxoiusness and sadness. Each character could facially express their emotion in a different way, one character might grit his teeth in anger, while another may just furrow their brow or narrow their eyes.

 

I also think it'd be a good idea to have a "bloodied" portrait for whenever a character is injured in game but has something to say.

 

The facial expressions could be used when characters are angry for the sentence that they speak in text boxes.

 

Ex. *Character A normal portrait* - "So we're leaving for the castle tonight?"

 

      *Character B normal portrait* - "I'm afraid not. We're not leaving until [Character C] recovers from his injuries."

 

      *Character A normal portrait* - "Look. We've had enough distractions, enough detours, enough time wasted."

      *Character A angry portrait* -   "Enough bullshit, enough everything. We have the oppurtunity to finish this now."

     

Character A moves towards the door but is blocked by Character B.

 

      *Character A angry portrait * -  "Get out of my way."

     

      *Character B anxious portrait* - "..."

      *Character B angry portrait* - "You'll have to kill me first."

     

And then bam, A fight. Or whatever you have in mind.

 

Of course, if you're thinking of getting voice-actors then forgot animated portraits. There is just so much emotion and expression in voice, coupled with subtitles if that's what you want, that there's no need for something complex like animated portraits or portraits of any kind. The Cat Lady is an amazing game that makes excellent use of voice to convey emotion as well ass body.

 

Don't forget that there's also emotion in the way a character is presented. Do they puff their chest out confidently in one scene? Is there that spring in their step that signifies a full day? Do they look straight ahead, or do they look down at their feet and have their back hunched like a depressed bastard? Do they step lightly from toe to heel? Do they just stomp around? Do they rub their chin when thinking? Do they bite their nails? Do they always look behind themselves? (Paranoia) Don't forgot about what emotion conveyed tbrough body.






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