The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by thebruce » February 28th, 2018, 6:52 am

I'd vote for moving to a static and distinct portrait that never switches orientation. Or at least have that as an option.
That, again, puts that party context footer back in a similar functional style to the classics.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 9:21 am

Yeah. In Wizardry 8, characters faced the center of the screen, so it made sense to flip them horizontally if you moved them from the left to the right side of the screen. Here they're facing the camera so I don't see a reason not to make them static. (The backs of heads are facing the middle, it's fine to flip them, I don't care.)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Serjo » February 28th, 2018, 9:48 am

Zombra wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 9:21 am
Yeah. In Wizardry 8, characters faced the center of the screen, so it made sense to flip them horizontally if you moved them from the left to the right side of the screen. Here they're facing the camera so I don't see a reason not to make them static.
To add to that: it was impossible to change a character portrait's position in Wizardry 8. BT4 would be the first game I know of where you change the orientation of your character portraits as a normal part of gameplay. Exciting times ;)


edit: Ohhh, actually the orientation of the character portrait matters because the UI elements are also flipped! When the character is on the left side, the health bar covers their left half, when she's on the right side, it covers her right half (originally the left half, but flipped around). With the current design the designers can designate one half of the character that's more important (like the half where they're holding the weapon) that is always visible regardless of position, while the other, more boring half, is always covered by the health bar.

Of course in the video they do it exactly the opposite way (the harp is always covered and impossible to see in full), so what do I know :mrgreen:


edit2: And now I understand that decision as well! Look closely at the gifs, and you see that the characters are not centered in their little "cells", but rather pushed to the sides, so that half the cell can be used by the status bar. That means that the portraits either need to be very "slim", or extend in the direction of the status bar (and be partially obscured by it), because there's no space to the other side. That's why the harp always needs to be on the same side as the status bar :)

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 12:18 pm

Serjo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 9:48 am
Ohhh, actually the orientation of the character portrait matters because the UI elements are also flipped! When the character is on the left side, the health bar covers their left half, when she's on the right side, it covers her right half. With the current design the designers can designate one half of the character that's more important that is always visible regardless of position, while the other, more boring half, is always covered by the health bar.
Huh, I see what you mean. Speaking for myself I'd rather see a left-handed character remain left-handed at all times than make sure the UI never covers a little bit of their weapon hand. Ideally the HP bar etc. shouldn't cover the portrait at all, but it's not a big deal for there to be a little overlap imo.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2018, 2:37 pm

Zombra wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 12:18 pm
Speaking for myself I'd rather see a left-handed character remain left-handed at all times than make sure the UI never covers a little bit of their weapon hand.
That means they will either have to illustrate them twice from scratch, or have the original assets done in 3D to make both of the sides—even if the final UI is still in 2D.

All of the figures in Fallout were done in 3D; the talking heads, and the combat figures. The sprites that shipped in the game were 2D renders of the 3D art.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 2:49 pm

Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 2:37 pm
That means they will either have to illustrate them twice from scratch, or have the original assets done in 3D to make both of the sides—even if the final UI is still in 2D.
Huh? Draw one portrait that faces the camera, then don't flip it horizontally even if it moves to a different position. Pretty easy.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2018, 2:55 pm

Zombra wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 2:49 pm
Huh? Draw one portrait that faces the camera, then don't flip it horizontally even if it moves to a different position. Pretty easy.
I meant that for having a left handed character reoriented —without flipping it as a mirror image.

Their UI is designed with a vantage point. Clearly they want the characters aligned with it.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Serjo » February 28th, 2018, 2:56 pm

I think Zombra doesn't care if the back view is flipped when moving characters from side to side, as long as the front view is never flipped. I'm not sure if the designers would go for that when they've poured so much effort into the current design.

It looks like inXile have placed tremendous importance on creating perfect visual harmony in their main UI - everything is symmetrical. All the unique UI elements have been placed along the vertical centre axis, from the End Turn button to the five dots on top, the five dots at the bottom, the five ability buttons, and the consumable inventory. No mismatches, no imperfections, no minimap or combat log tucked away in a corner, perfect visual harmony between the left and the right side of the screen. You can bet that portrait alignment is also very important to them.
Last edited by Serjo on February 28th, 2018, 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2018, 2:58 pm

Symmetry can also just be a means to do only half the work. :mrgreen:

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 3:03 pm

Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 2:55 pm
Their UI is designed with a vantage point. Clearly they want the characters aligned with it.
I guess you're right. I would prefer this not be the case - it's yet another unfortunate artifact of PCs being "class 1.5" citizens of the world - but assuming they're not letting go of "kind of UI but kind of not", it makes sense. :(
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Serjo » February 28th, 2018, 3:47 pm

I think the characters also look too short compared to human-sized enemies:

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The top of the bard's head seems to be about level with the enemy's chest. The models should be sitting higher up, but then they might obscure enemies in the front row.

(which they kinda should if the aim is to create a sense of proper perspective...)
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2018, 3:51 pm

I do believe that the characters are not presented as being in the game world, and that they are shown as symbolic UI, for the purpose of knowing their position. Similar to Grimrock... though larger. I assume that the entire UI slides down at some point—them included, and they wouldn't do that if they were in-world objects.

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 3:52 pm

Ew, the height thing indeed does not look right if they're supposed to be "really there". Now I can't unsee that. Reason #65 that "1.5 class citizens" isn't working for me.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » February 28th, 2018, 5:48 pm

They are in a bit of a pickle. If they make the PCs better animated, or larger than they are, then they will be seen by many as —in world—, and if they don't, then they will be seen by many as simplistic, and poorly animated. Catch-22

It might help if each PC had some kind of frame; to make it obviously decorative... though I highly doubt that they would want that.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by thebruce » February 28th, 2018, 7:52 pm

Zombra wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 3:03 pm
Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 2:55 pm
Their UI is designed with a vantage point. Clearly they want the characters aligned with it.
I guess you're right. I would prefer this not be the case - it's yet another unfortunate artifact of PCs being "class 1.5" citizens of the world - but assuming they're not letting go of "kind of UI but kind of not", it makes sense. :(
Yeah, it's the .5 bit that bugs me.
Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 3:51 pm
I do believe that the characters are not presented as being in the game world, and that they are shown as symbolic UI, for the purpose of knowing their position. Similar to Grimrock... though larger. I assume that the entire UI slides down at some point—them included, and they wouldn't do that if they were in-world objects.
That's the point - they're part of the UI, but they are indeed also represented as relative to the game world - that's why they turn to face the enemy, why their angle changes when their party position changes. That's what the ".5" is all about. The portraits don't "know" if they're part of the UI or part of the game world so fall in this awkward limbo, neither all here nor there.
Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 5:48 pm
They are in a bit of a pickle. If they make the PCs better animated, or larger than they are, then they will be seen by many as —in world—, and if they don't, then they will be seen by many as simplistic, and poorly animated. Catch-22

It might help if each PC had some kind of frame; to make it obviously decorative... though I highly doubt that they would want that.
I wouldn't mind that (well, maybe not those frames), if the portraits weren't facing the enemies. Leave them facing the player, animate them in place. The frame helps keep them distinguished from the game world, but the party positions are still indicative of functionality in combat. Just as 1-3 has position numbers to indicate functionality.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » February 28th, 2018, 9:15 pm

Gizmo wrote:
February 28th, 2018, 5:48 pm
It might help if each PC had some kind of frame; to make it obviously decorative... though I highly doubt that they would want that.
:lol: I applaud the creativity here, but this is throwing good effort after bad. If they're not going to trash "1.5 class", let's just leave it as is and try not to make it worse :lol:
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Gizmo » March 1st, 2018, 12:27 am

What exactly does "1.5 class" mean, in this context?
(It only appears on this page of the thread, and I haven't a clue what it references.)

*Or does it have to do with variations on a class?

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » March 1st, 2018, 1:51 am

Gizmo wrote:
March 1st, 2018, 12:27 am
What exactly does "1.5 class" mean, in this context?
It refers to demeisen's earlier post in the thread about how BT4 can't decide whether PCs are depicted as "first class citizens" of the visual environment, or "second class" UI elements.

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Legends of Eisenwald shows PCs as "first class citizens" of the environment. They are right there where we can see them on the play field, moving around, doing stuff, hitting each other in full view.

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In Stranger of Sword City, PCs are lovingly drawn but are not part of the environment; they are "second class", strictly UI citizens. Enemies attack the camera, not the drawings of the PCs. There is no attempt to cultivate the illusion that the PCs are standing shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the enemies and there is no confusion about this in the player's mind.

BT4 can't decide which of these it wants to do, and in trying to do both it gives up the advantages of both.
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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Serjo » March 4th, 2018, 4:35 am

I've been looking around for statements about inXile's design intentions with the character models, but they've never gone into much detail on the topic. This is the best I've found:

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And in this video they explained that the portraits were bouncing during party chatter to make the companions seem more alive:

https://youtu.be/Zt4CkMqQtMA?t=39

They want to make the characters expressive, more emotive, and more alive without using expensive 3D art, hence the bouncing and twirling. I wonder why they didn't go the Might and Magic route - is it too expensive for portraits at that resolution?

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Re: The Bard's Tale IV Update 41: Hard Drinking, Rabble Rousing Bards

Post by Zombra » March 4th, 2018, 12:11 pm

Yeah. I mean, I get the idea: it's like picking up an inanimate object and wiggling it around while talking with a funny voice. "Hi, Jimmy! I'm Mr. Pencil Sharpener!" The problem is that if you're trying to make it look like a living person, it's out of place to draw them on a playing card and wave the card around. I would far prefer more minimal, humanistic movements that make me think of the characters as people. The blinking eyes and moving mouths are wonderful. Maybe the artists could do little frames of a character turning their head slightly or a lock of hair rustling. That would be a thousand times more expressive imo. What we have here turns them into puppets: the animators are sticking their hands up the butts of the PCs and waving their whole bodies around. Since no one moves like that, it's the opposite of emotive; if anything, it's dehumanizing.
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