So Paul and I have been talking…
In particular about features we wish to incorporate from both a gameplay and an aesthetic standpoint.
Cutaways/Cut-scenes/Matinee – or “In-Game Cinematics” and Rabbit Heart
Well, to start with we both, it seems, aren’t keen on them, at least in the traditional sense of a break in the gameplay that is replaced by a passive “cinema style” experience (regardless of how informative it might be).
We do like the idea of small mini-movies (reactive cinematics) that are incorporated into the gameplay animations (using the realtime graphics card) in order to give a more cinematic feel to the characters fluid in-game movements.
We also like the idea that something similar to this traditional “info reveal” cutaway could be incorporated into the gameplay by having objects of importance triggering a token-object reading (psychometry) effect, but only while the player touches an object (see Frank Black’s flashes in Millennium). The imagery should be violent in execution to make players pull away from the source of the experience. The player should then be able to re-experience the flashback/object reading by reaching out and touching the object again.
Paul suggested that this “benefit” would need a counter implication. A “loss” as a result of the “gain” of insight into your characters background (which might feature clues of course to important features to look out for, this is discussed in the next section too). For example, the longer you touch the object and draw on this “psychometry” “power”, you would loose “health”.
You could of course sacrifice the insight and keep your health*, but this balance would be the players choice.
As far as possible we would want these cinematics to feel “In-Game”
Some Pro and Con arguments for and against Cinematics and Cut-scenes in Games.
UDK Cinematic Tools.
Some discussion of Cinematics as Trailers.
…and a bit on the heritage of Cinematics in Games
Toy versus Realist Aesthetics -
As implied in the discussion above we are hoping to revisit the idea of Ululu‘s pre-game adventure “home life” being exaggerated and twisted in the world of Rabbit Heart, again reflecting the influence of the Wizard of Oz/Calvin & Hobbes on the story at the root of the game.
We had already decided to show Ululu’s cardboard spaceship in her room being transformed into the flying saucer in which she seemingly crash-lands on the sandbank in the Tutorial Level.
But in today’s chat we discussed the idea that many of her childhood toys would be reflected into the world, and perhaps some of the elements already included could be retro fitted with relevance as we go through the process of redevelopment.
Case in point was the submarine from the Puzzle Bridge that Paul is now working on.
I’d pictured it as a McQue-esque hulk, all rusted panels and faded graphics with overspec’ed fixings and control surfaces visual approach.
Paul had begun to consider making it look more like a toy, the type kids play with in the bath.
I have to say I wasn’t so keen. But, when considering the flashback idea we’d had about learning more of Ululu’s past, this opportunity seemed worth exploring further. I guess this is collaboration.
One suggestion I made is that we could incorporate some sort of door with a glass panel in it that when looked through acted as lens into Ululu’s past.
For example the player could look through this glass panel at the submarine that in game was rusted and imbued with as much “rust-punk”, neorealist detail as possible and see instead a scene in which the plastic toy version of the toy floated on the surface of an expanse of bath water.
Diegetic Clues and Guidance
We also discussed incorporating a map of the whole level into the submarine, giving this mini-level/side adventure a real purpose. I’ve been thinking that we could perhaps obfuscate the map a little, in that the player would have to actively unroll the map that could have lost it’s pins from the bottom and so rolled up.
I’m imagining (no doubt much to Paul’s despair) that the sub’s interior have a little of the feel of the opening titles to Sahara. In that it gives some clues as to the history of the exploration of the island. Photos of the Crew, notes, artefacts etc.
Including perhaps (and this is still under discussion) Ululu’s Ray Gun, leaving the weapon itself, or a charger for it, in the submarine for the player to discover. This would of course make it crucial to enter the submarine as the bridge cannot be crossed without the gun.
Students working with us on the project…
In other news, we have presented a portion of the design of Rabbit Hearts aesthetic as part of a larger brief on GUIs and HUDs for our Games Students. So in the near future we can show you their attempts at developing designs for the HUD/GUI of both Ululu and The Robot Rabbit, Exo-suit.
Plus if you never saw them, one of our animation students (Nat) back in his second year was toying with the idea of creating idle animations for Ululu, and some of his early thoughts are here in this sketch-dump.
*I’ve been thinking that you can regain health through contact with the Robot Rabbit/Exo-suit, reaching out and touching it, as well as by simply looking at things of beauty, looking at small details, or at purposely build “beauty spots” or vistas would build up your health.
Wow, that was a whole bunch of text, I’ll probably come back and add some actual visuals rather than just linking at a later date…