Archive for category art
Secret of Evermore came out close to the end of the SNES era and was the first and only game to be developed by Squaresoft USA. It tried to piggy-back on the relative success of Secret of Mana, retaining that game’s ring-menu system and part of its title, but it was not well received by the fans. The main reason for this is that it wasn’t Secret of Mana 2.
Anime was really taking off at the time, but SoE had its own aesthetic style. Its setting also had nothing to do with Mana, and the two games played quite a bit differently. Adding insult to injury, various magazines previewed Seiken Densetsu 3, the real sequel to SoM, and hinted at the game not coming out in the West because of SoE.
Despite all the fan outrage, though, Evermore was a quality game and I personally prefer it to Mana.
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Oftentimes when a videogame has a skewed, overhead point of view, we call it isometric. That’s rarely the accurate term, though, and it’s not just pointless semantics.
Projection basically means taking a three dimensional object and displaying it on a 2D plane (i.e., a screen). There are various ways of accomplishing this, and each technique has a deep impact on a game’s look and mechanics. The advent of 3D games and free-floating cameras somewhat lessened this role, but being aware of the pros and cons of each projection type is still applicable to both 2D and 3D titles.
So what exactly are these projection types? Well, let’s take a look:
A while ago while I was on vacation I spent a lazy Saturday morning channel-surfing. One of the things that came on was Disney’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, and something about it immediately stuck with me: the iconic movement of its characters. Pooh clumsily waddled, Piglet frantically scurried, Roo playfully hopped, Eeyore paced at a glacial speed, Tigger carelessly bounced on his tail and Rabbit had a cocksure stride.
Without explicitly stating anything about the characters, these traits imbued them with an instant and very powerful sense of personality. It’s something videogames have been known to do as well, but not that frequently.
Of course any character trait can be memorable and evocative as body language is a pretty universal thing. Generic personality quirks, though, tend to be tricky. It’s very easy for quirks to become caricatures, especially if they represent some sort of a cliche, e.g., the gruff loner who always crosses his arms. They also cover a large field with plenty of subtleties that are not always feasible to implement. Then there’s the issue of plugging them in: do they happen automatically, or are they random, or only initiated by the player?
There’s validity to all these approaches, but movement is unique because it’s pretty much a guarantee. Your characters will move, so why not use that? It worked wonders for Sly Cooper and his fast and soft gait, and for Altair with his weighty, coiled-spring like movements. And hey, sometimes even cliches are preferable to no personality at all…
A new post on Gamasutra has popped up that deals with body language a bit more in-depth, so I figured I’d add a link to it.