Need Anything Written?

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Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:29 pm

I don't know how 'complete' the writing is in Vegastrike, but if you guys want something written or overhauled for the game - new dialogue/news clips/whatever - I'd be willing to give that a shot.

I'm utterly clueless as to what needs doing though, so if there is something I'll need a list or a resource of some description to work from.

Cheers.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:27 pm

Well, there's many kinds of writing in a game. What specifically do you want to do?

There's back story, which JackS has expanded more than considerably about, there's scripting, standalone random missions or campaign, both kinds, there's dialogue, although that falls more into the voice active category...

...any specific preference? Right now, there's close to zero campaign stuff, so work on that would be appreciated. That means scripting, which requires some (not extensive) python knowledge. There was an outline of the missions somewhere on the forums, not sure where that went.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:40 pm

I can't write code or script - I'm a purely words and phrases guy.
From the sounds of it dialogue would be a good place to start, if there's things that need doing there. Otherwise I'll tackle whatever is most urgent.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:49 pm

There's instructions for that on the wiki.

One notorious faction that's missing voices and should have some, are pirates. Since pirates ought to come in different shapes and sizes, I'd recommend basing it on other factions, mostly human but not necessarily, and record variations of most lines.

Notice that you have a description of the lines in the xmls referenced on the wiki. You're free to paraphrase there, no need to record the exact same phrase. Confed is a good, recent example.

Make it as high quality recordings as you can, as little ambient noise as possible, but don't worry too much about it. Much of my work will be about reducing quality to make it radio-like, but I do need the best possible starting quality to give me editing headroom.

Do record some silence before each recording session you make, and have the files clearly marked to which recording session (silence sample) they belong, since I'll probably have to apply noise reduction.

Do not use lossy compression. Use either flac or WAV. Mono is ok.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:30 am

klauss wrote:There's instructions for that on the wiki.
One notorious faction that's missing voices...


I didn't want to hurt any feelings, but I have to say that integrating sub-amateur voice acting into the game was a big, immersion killing mistake. The game is now quite a lot less enjoyable with the wooden and frequently repeating voiced dialogue. :(

This feature really should be reconsidered rather than expanded.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:22 am

As I said, I am writing. Just writing. I'm not a voice a actor. I've just started digging into the communications files. Seems simple enough - I'll come back with some new things.
I could add some news articles later on.

Cheers for the direction.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:42 am

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:There's instructions for that on the wiki.
One notorious faction that's missing voices...


I didn't want to hurt any feelings, but I have to say that integrating sub-amateur voice acting into the game was a big, immersion killing mistake. The game is now quite a lot less enjoyable with the wooden and frequently repeating voiced dialogue. :(

This feature really should be reconsidered rather than expanded.


Weird... I was thinking the exact opposite. Text messages are so inconspicuous that you don't notice nor pay attention to them, audio grabs your attention. And it's a great improvement over no audio, IMO.

Surely, better acting would be great. But bad acting beats no acting. IMO.

About repetition, sure. We need to either decrease the frequency of comms (to make it less noticeable), or increase variety. Or probably both.

Edit: Speech is an important cue on how the AI reacts to you, btw. At least with confed, now they yell at you if you shoot them. Which grabs your attention, and lets you know of your impeding death. Text goes unnoticed in those situations.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:49 pm

klauss wrote:Weird... I was thinking the exact opposite. Text messages are so inconspicuous that you don't notice nor pay attention to them, audio grabs your attention.
Speech is an important cue on how the AI reacts to you, btw. At least with confed, now they yell at you if you shoot them. Which grabs your attention, and lets you know of your impeding death. Text goes unnoticed in those situations.


That the text is inconspicuous is not inherent in the nature of text, but in how it is delivered. You could make it very obvious by sufficiently changing the size and color of the text font based on the hostility level of the message, accompanied by short "incoming message" sound effects that similarly reflect hostility. And then eliminate the constant flow of random messages between NPCs that don't involve the player in any way.

Surely, better acting would be great. But bad acting beats no acting. IMO.


Text leaves it to your imagination to fill in the emotional delivery of what is said by drawing from your real life experiences or from other (decently well acted) media you've seen. It's the same things that happens when you read a novel. Bad acting doesn't allow you to imagine a good line delivery. Through unbelievable corniness, it forces you to remember that this is only a game you are playing.

Another way of looking at it is where the player lays the blame. If there is no voice, the player can blame it on the ship's interface; there might be no voice because a foreign language is being used by the other pilot or voice might not be used for technical reasons like bandwidth or signal degradation. Those are in-universe explanations. When the problem is that there is voice with all the emotion of a cardboard box, this flaw can't be blamed on anything in-universe. Thus your suspension of disbelief is destroyed.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Mon Jun 03, 2013 1:18 pm

So far I'm going down the communications folder. I've edited a bunch of grammatical stuff, rewritten or changed a few lines so they worked better or carried more weight. I also totally rewrote the Aeran merchant-marine dialogue because it was exactly the same as the general Aeran dialogue and I figured it would be nice to have a distinction.
I left the stuff that's already been voice acted alone for the most part.

I'll keep going down the list, and upload something at the end of the week.

As for the voice acting conflicts: maybe you should have an option for voices to be turned off or volume controls? That way everyone gets their cake.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:30 am

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:Weird... I was thinking the exact opposite. Text messages are so inconspicuous that you don't notice nor pay attention to them, audio grabs your attention.
Speech is an important cue on how the AI reacts to you, btw. At least with confed, now they yell at you if you shoot them. Which grabs your attention, and lets you know of your impeding death. Text goes unnoticed in those situations.


That the text is inconspicuous is not inherent in the nature of text, but in how it is delivered. You could make it very obvious by sufficiently changing the size and color of the text font based on the hostility level of the message, accompanied by short "incoming message" sound effects that similarly reflect hostility. And then eliminate the constant flow of random messages between NPCs that don't involve the player in any way.


While I don't agree it's a full replacement (will expand on that below), I can see how better presentation would certainly help. In fact, something as simple as a "plip" when receiving a message would work.

However, given the volume of background chatter in VS, that would mean only messages directed specifically at you would have to trigger the "plip", otherwise it would be a lot of spam.

No, I don't think background chatter ought to be removed. But I do think it should be differentiated from directed chatter. But that change is a not so trivial engine change, if (I stress if, cuz I'm not sure) the engine doesn't store message targets already (which I do not think is the case).

I know we've been opening way too many tickets and closed none yet, but I do think a ticket for this would help. I'm about (a few days?) to close the split CSV ticket, so progress is being made, albeit slowly.

Deus Siddis wrote:
Surely, better acting would be great. But bad acting beats no acting. IMO.


Text leaves it to your imagination to fill in the emotional delivery of what is said by drawing from your real life experiences or from other (decently well acted) media you've seen. It's the same things that happens when you read a novel. Bad acting doesn't allow you to imagine a good line delivery. Through unbelievable corniness, it forces you to remember that this is only a game you are playing.


That works for a purely textual adventure, as novels are. But once you make sound part of the experience, you can't have half-baked sound environments. They must be complete. I've been working recently on improving VS's soundscape, so I'm pretty convinced improving the soundscape is necessary, and this includes speech.

People are very well trained to spot sonic inconsistencies. That's why 3D audio is so challenging. It's not like graphics, where rough approximations work, sound is all about the details. Acting is not one of the most important details. Ambience is 95% of the soundscape, and whatever is amiss with acting people will forgive if everything else is alright, and perhaps they'll volunteer better acting.

But, most importantly, speech interaction is engaging in a way textual interaction isn't. You must make an effort to read text messages, whereas speech arrives to you effortlessly. I do believe it's important.

But I do believe you when you say VS's rendering of speech is lacking. There are too many similar messages, too little variation, and too much abuse of speech. Background chatter is monotonous, appears in the foreground, where its monotoneity is way too noticeable, and transmits little ambiance.

Contributions to further speech have to be directed. They cannot follow the guidelines of all the other voice acting in VS. But they are an improvement. I'm sure of it.

Primordial wrote:So far I'm going down the communications folder. I've edited a bunch of grammatical stuff, rewritten or changed a few lines so they worked better or carried more weight. I also totally rewrote the Aeran merchant-marine dialogue because it was exactly the same as the general Aeran dialogue and I figured it would be nice to have a distinction.
I left the stuff that's already been voice acted alone for the most part.


Which brings me to your contributions. If acting is not something you can do, surely you cannot modify what already has speech associated to it: it would not be feasible. But if you can flesh out a believable dialogue state machine (ie: those XMLs), it's a small step in the right direction.

But really, it's a small step. If writing is your forte, you should be writing mission scripts. And I mean script in the theatrical sense, since you said you can't program.

Does anybody know what happened to that campaign flowchart someone had made at one point? (I think it was travists?). Primordial will need it as a high level guideline.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:12 am

I just edited some of the duplicate speech, so the merchant marines would be a little more distinguishable. The main Aera lines are unchanged apart from a grammar change here and there. I'll continue going over the dialogue - now that I've started, I may as well finish. Then I'll have a go at mission writing.

I found Travist's flowchart. It's big. Cool. I'll use it as a reference when I get to the missions.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:41 pm

Primordial wrote:I found Travist's flowchart. It's big. Cool. I'll use it as a reference when I get to the missions.


Cool :)

I feared it might have been lost when the forums went bonkers.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:23 pm

klauss wrote:No, I don't think background chatter ought to be removed. But I do think it should be differentiated from directed chatter. But that change is a not so trivial engine change, if (I stress if, cuz I'm not sure) the engine doesn't store message targets already (which I do not think is the case).

I know we've been opening way too many tickets and closed none yet, but I do think a ticket for this would help. I'm about (a few days?) to close the split CSV ticket, so progress is being made, albeit slowly.


So if the engine distinguishes between messages directed at the player and ambient messages, how is that difference expressed by the UI? How do you make the ambient messages less distracting, kill their audio?
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:04 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:No, I don't think background chatter ought to be removed. But I do think it should be differentiated from directed chatter. But that change is a not so trivial engine change, if (I stress if, cuz I'm not sure) the engine doesn't store message targets already (which I do not think is the case).

I know we've been opening way too many tickets and closed none yet, but I do think a ticket for this would help. I'm about (a few days?) to close the split CSV ticket, so progress is being made, albeit slowly.


So if the engine distinguishes between messages directed at the player and ambient messages, how is that difference expressed by the UI? How do you make the ambient messages less distracting, kill their audio?


Volume and equalization, you'd be surprised the power of good audio mixing. But in this context, I was talking of simply not playing the "incoming message" notification (plip), and probably grouping them under a different message console, one less conspicuous than the one for messages directed at the player.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:00 am

I've expanded the dialogue quite a bit, almost finished the ISO.

Going to start scripts for some stand-alone missions, but I've got a couple of questions:

In the same way that the dialogue can have alternatives, can the missions have alternatives?
How does the game handle possible universe-spawn missions outside of the station screen? Is that even a thing right now? Documentation seems really sketchy.

As I understand it the components are:

1: Mission brief/overview
2: Mission area "greeting"
3: Mission complete?

Edit:

Attached here are a couple of files for a cargo retrieval mission. One text file for synopsis and dialogue, the other is a flowchart.
I added some branches for random potential mid-mission encounter ideas that mix things up a bit, play on the dynamic universe idea, and make things a little less predictable. The flowchart should make it clear. I have a few other things in the works, too.
Hope this is useful.
Attachments
Cargoretrieval.png
Carg_ret_text.txt
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:57 pm

Yeah, branches are well within what's possible.

I don't understand that flow. How would you read it?
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:04 pm

klauss wrote:Yeah, branches are well within what's possible.

I don't understand that flow. How would you read it?


They seem to be laid out like (one way) streets for cars...

Look more carefully at the intersections of the flow lines. Where there is a small curve the flow can "make a turn" into another line, otherwise it can only go straight through the intersection.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby Primordial » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:53 am

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:Yeah, branches are well within what's possible.

I don't understand that flow. How would you read it?


They seem to be laid out like (one way) streets for cars...

Look more carefully at the intersections of the flow lines. Where there is a small curve the flow can "make a turn" into another line, otherwise it can only go straight through the intersection.


Precisely.

Though, looking at the Spec topic, I might need to rethink my approach to this type of thing if the way you want to handle mission generation in the future changes - ie: events create missions, rather than vice versa, otherwise it all becomes a little abstract.

Failure states: the game doesn't really have these right now - but I figured if you die during the mission, or take too long, or abort, then you fail and take a faction rating hit. Cargo exiting the system could go failure state or could branch out into a longer mission arc, depending on if you want to handle that sort of thing.
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Re: Need Anything Written?

Postby klauss » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:12 pm

VS has failure states, the simplest being when you take too long to deliver cargo, or another when you fail to tractor an escape pod before it runs out of O2.

It's just very inconspicuous, you don't get a clear, hard to ignore notification.
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