The Adventure Game and Interactive Novel

The Adventure Game and Interactive Novel


  • Tag Archives accessibility
  • The importance of sounds

     

    When starting a game for the first time, the first elements that catch our attention are mostly related to the visual impact. Sight is the sense on which the human being relies the most. Our society is dominated by the so-called “image culture”.

     

    But eyes can be shut. Sight is a sense we can control with a bat of an eye. Our visual field is limited to a mere cone.

     

    Hearing is, on the other hand, omnipresent. It functions while we sleep, while eyes are resting, and it a sense that operates at 360°. It goes without saying, then, that sound, in a videogame as in real life, is of prime importance. We can be charmed by perfect graphics or an effective gameplay, but if our character makes the same noise when walking on grass and when walking on a pavement, we turn up our nose just like we would when seeing a botched polygonal model or an untidy texture.

     

    Giancarlo Petroni - Sound Designer

    These are things that Giancarlo Petroni, sound designer for Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague, knows pretty well. His duty was to provide players with a sound experience matching up the quality of the game. Sound environments in line with the rarefied, almost suspended in time, game atmospheres; realistic atmospheres, but with a shade of mystery. After all this is just the way one would imagine the Middle Ages: an era during which everything seemed to stay still, but during which everything was changing.

     

    A given sound effect or noise can be picked from a sound library or synthesized by using a software, but it often happens that a sound designer have to “go hunting” for sounds, recording them live to capture their true essence. This activity is vital in order to produce an audio that doesn’t seem like a déjà vu – or better, “déjà senti”: it often happens, in fact, that some sound effects recur in videogames and movies.

     

    [For example, while I was playing Folklore some months ago, I happened to notice that the howls you hear in the village are exactly the same ones of the wolf-dogs in Metal Gear Solid, and the noise made by some of the creature of the Netherworld are the same sound effect you can hear in Silent Hill 4: The Room when you hit a mothbat.]

     

    In Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague, audio is even more important than in an average videogame. In order to grant the maximum accessibility it’s a priority that the audio is extra polished, giving the opportunity to audiogame mode users to enjoy a high quality sensorial experience. An experience that reaches the maximum level while using a home theatre 5.1, to fully appreciate the 3D audio of the game.

     


  • Unity, editors and text parser

     

    Technology evolves quickly. It develops like it was an everlasting teenager, getting higher, bigger, and stronger day by day. And, sometimes, it evolves so quickly it forces software developers to start again from scratch the developing process.

     

    The programming of Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague, lead by Fabrizio Zagaglia, was a long process.

     

    Fabrizio "Zago" Zagaglia - Lead Programmer

     

    The developers had, out of necessity, to deal with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. In the beginning, a prototype of the game was developed using Wintermute, but it was put aside exactly because it was not compatible with the growing request for mobile devices support.

     

    Scumbag iPhone

     

    Then we switched to Unity3D that, aside from being crossplatform (PC, Mac, iOS, Android, now Linux too, and someone says it works even on displays of washing machines), granted the introduction of real time 3D, which we used for some of the game environments.

     

    Unity is an outstanding tool that is gaining a lot of users, and so the community and the information are growing, new features are being implemented… which translates in solutions for every possible bug.

     

    Aside from the aforementioned possibility to develop the game for different platforms, Unity has the merit of having good visual tools (for example the scene editor, the animation editor etc.), that make the level editing process easier, and the possibility of using a stable and versatile language such as C# with little to no limitations. But probably one of the most appreciated features resides in the possibility of creating ad hoc editors for taking care of specific matters concerning the developing of a specific video game typology, editors that are already integrated in the Unity3D environment. For Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague we developed several editors: one for characters and face expressions animations, one for the dialogues, one for the localization database, one for the game logic…

     

    Character Editor

    Logic Debugger

    Game Logic Editor

     

    Unity made it possible to create a text parser, that adds a vintage touch to the game. Mainly it’s a homage to MUDs and Sierra On-line-style adventures of the old times; but it is also an additional tool to support the accessible version of the game, given that a text parser is necessary to a potential voice recognition.

     

    Every single element of the game, from environments to items to characters, is operated in the same way, and it’s identified among the other things by an univocal element (a name) and by a series of action linked to it depending on its current status. For every featured language synonyms of the names are stored in the localization database. This way, the parser can associate the various synonyms to the elements composing the shown scene, recognizing in the typed sentence the verb and the direct object and executing the requested command.

     

    The following video shows how the text parser works.

     

     




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