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<  Design concepts  ~  Possible technique for interactive storytelling

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:25 am Reply with quote
Joined: 11 Jun 2007 Posts: 66
I know you guys are into doing interactive storytelling without language, and I had an idea for one possible technique to help accomplish that. I was watching a clip from the Miyazaki movie My Neighbor Totoro on the latest Lost Garden blog post, and as Miyazaki movies tend to do, it gave me some interesting ideas. I wrote about it in a comment, which has unfortunately gone unacknowledged:
While watching, I had some interesting thoughts - did you notice the nonverbal communication going on there when Totoro invites the kids to ride on his belly? Besides for the obvious body language and eye gestures, Totoro's small helpers communicate his intentions for him through imitation. Seeing the two spirits jump on Totoro's belly (and they seem to know what they're doing) along with Totoro's inviting body language suggest the intended course of action.

Now wouldn't it be interesting, if you were trying to make an interactive story or game without speech, to have a character whose AI actually governs several: one important character as well as a few little companions. This would allow the important character to use the supporting characters to suggest a hypothetical reality - they would act out something for the players to imitate, or convey a simple message or story. Hmmm, this is really fascinating, I'll have to think more about it. I wonder what you think of it?

It's like letting a computer character use puppets, who are also computer characters, to communicate with the player.

I haven't heard what Danc of Lost Garden thinks of it, but it's really more relevant to the work that you (Tale of Tales) are doing. What do you think of it?

Myself, I really like the idea, though I'm not sure exactly how it would work technically.
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Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:16 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
Sounds really interesting, but it might be hard to work in the "puppets" in a story-based manner; a hermit is unlikely to have lots of people hanging around, for instance.
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Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:18 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Nice idea.

Reminds of something we were considering for The Path for a moment. Since there were many actions that the player could have his or her avatar do, it would be difficult to communicate what each button does without language. So we imagined a system where rolling over the button would show you a ghost-like representation of what the avatar would do if you actually clicked.

But your idea is much more elegant: just invite the player to imitate the "minion" NPCs. Of course, as Wildbluesun pointed out, this wouldn't suit every story, but where it does, I think it would be a nice communication device.
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Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:16 am Reply with quote
Joined: 11 Jun 2007 Posts: 66
Glad you like the idea. Very Happy

I agree it wouldn't be applicable to every story situation, but I'd like to take a small but promising concept like that and build a game around it. It may not be the best way to approach game design in general, but it can provide an intensity of vision that is often missing in games.

I'm not sure if I can come up with a good example of what I mean, but I think Jenova Chen's flOw is one. And of course outside of games, pretty much all of Miyazaki's films have that quality very intensely, which is really why I like them so much.
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Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:34 am Reply with quote
Joined: 11 Jun 2007 Posts: 66
The movie Flushed Away has quite a few of these "minion" characters: the slugs and the frogs. I'm thinking now that a lot of children's animated movies have these sorts of characters, partly for so-called "comic relief" but also because they help set up mood and expectations. That makes sense, especially for young kids who are less familiar with the conventions of film.

So maybe it wouldn't be too artificial to add these to any sort of story you want. Disney does it. Razz
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