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gdunbar

Making characters "stand out" in a 3D world

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gdunbar    2198
Hey all, This probably verges on an art direction question, but I think it's a Game Design question too, and I'm not an artist. In a 3D graphic world, how do you ensure that the characters stand out from the background? My particular interest is in a 3rd-person RPG game (kind of like the Infinity Engine games (which weren't actually 3D but you know what I mean)) but really, the question applies in other genres too. Some ideas: 1) Make the characters generally lighter (or darker) than the backgrounds. 2) Sharpen the character art, blur the background art. 3) Use brighter colors for the characters (red, yellow, white) and more neutral colors for the backgrounds (brown, grey, green). 4) Provide some direct feedback like a circle around all the characters feet. Does anyone have experience (positive or negative) with any of these techniques? Any other techniques that I haven't thought of? Thanks, Geoff

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BCullis    1955
Your player's focus is already on their game-world avatar, as that's the little doodad that they:
a) keep alive
b) move to the things they want to check out
c) put different clothes/armor on
and so on...

I doubt that you'd really have a problem "losing" the character in the backdrop, as there's usually some method to "zoom to player" if you can pan the screen at all. The backdrop is usually static, whereas your character will move against the backdrop and easily stand out that way.

However, something like a location icon at their feet (like the Infinity Engine's green circles) would provide non-intrusive UI that could also portray character health or some other feature that would minimize the number of spots you'd have to watch as the engaged player.

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Daaark    3553
Just light them differently.

Use the same trick photographers use to make people stand out from the background. 3 point lighting. The rim light will add a nice 'outline' around them.

http://www.andrew-whitehurst.net/3point.html

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OrangyTang    1298
If the backgrounds are mostly static then giving the characters some good idle animations would probably help. Your eye would be drawn to the movement so they wouldn't get lost in the background quite as easily.

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Zanshibumi    334
When the main character moves, keep his always in the center of the screen and move the rest. Then, really slightly, apply a motion blur to everything but the character.

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Kest    547
Animate them. Make them do things. If they just stand still and don't do anything, then they are the background. Why does the player need to notice that this person is not part of the background? In real life, people often do become the background.

Human people are also usually much more smooth than background objects. Smooth round objects (like a shoulder or leg, even while wrapped in clothing) shine in a different way compared to trees or houses. And skin in a different way than wood, concrete, dirt, leaves, or grass. So the way light reflects off of them should be different.

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