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Author Topic: On the topic of intentional and accessible body language  (Read 383 times)
Rayblon
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« on: February 04, 2017, 06:23:50 AM »

Without checking the rest of the forum, I decided to make a post about this. Take it as a suggestion if you will, but it's just as much of a rant.

Too often in games, there's... what I'll call arbitrary motion, to prevent entities from seeming rigid or static and as an easy shortcut for animations, presumably. A nonhuman character (or mob) will be moving all over the place, and in alot of cases the extra movement doesn't follow any real logic. A common and among the most notable occurrence is arbitrary tail movement, the most egregious being the "flailing reptile tail". To clarify, a reptile typically uses their tail to reduce motion in the hips and keep their spine straight. But instead, you often see 20, 30, 50 pounds of flesh just swinging around behind them without any regard for the actual purpose of the limb... when the accurate depiction would be much more passive, dragged behind them or slightly elevated when mobility is a concern, the exception being when one is winding up for a tail whip.

But the odd thing is, despite taking on such an active approach to things that in reality wouldn't be moving much, there's rarely if ever any attention paid to finer expressions, like the change of expression when a mountain lion is lunging for the kill, the ears folding back slightly, teeth baring, and the slight scowl that comes with it. And since we talked about it, the limp tail with the tip curving slightly upward swishing the slightest bit on occasion. Or if fighting out of aggression, the occasional burst of movement in the tail, or thumping the ground when they're on the ground.

Rigging is a concern, and it's alot of animations to apply to get 'realistic' looking motion, that much I'll concede. But it always bugged me. I've had an enduring interest in nonhuman animal psychology (aka animal behavior), and body language is understandably a key component of most animal's communication(And can be good tells -- a deer suddenly moving its ear near you is probably suspicious that something is there, for instance). Even AAA titles don't do it often, and it's a shame, especially when you've got games where you can tame other animals and such... where being able to pick up on their mood, disposition toward you, etc would be an incredibly useful and interesting feature, but somehow, it seems that nobody ever cares to implement it.

The "unpredictability" of nonhuman animals is rooted in the fact that this body language is often lost on humans, and a game that includes, and rewards interpretation of it is... well, frankly, revolutionary. Revolutionary, and educational. For the uninitiated, this kind of thing could actually change how players see the world in real life... But no, better to excise perception tests and make nonhuman animals go from 0 to 100 when you get near them, then make them slow enough that the player can just shoot them with a bow, chase, and keep up with even deer through several minutes of running.

It's a bit frustrating, to say the least. Too much for this game to handle, probably, but I don't really have anywhere else to throw these kinds of gripes around.
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