I started this thread because as a process-motivated artist, I have spent all my time working on difficult landscapes and exquisite renders and in the process have lost my vision for what the point of the whole exercise was about…making a game!
I decided to get back to the story-boarding and put all my current modeling projects on hold as a way to refocus on my vision and excitement about the game process.
Are you stuck in the same way?
Making your own adventure game is a huge task. Movie and game studios (ie professionals) have long recognized the need to break the project into smaller steps required to reach the end goal, a finished game!
Many of us indie developers prefer one mode of development, whether it’s modeling, story creation, or fancy coding. But that can lead to spending a lot of time in your favorite creative activity and not moving forward. Games, just like movies, are a visual product, and the jump from a story/render/screenplay to a game/film is a huge one.
Story-boarding is an effective intermediate step to move from concept to final product.
-It allows you to quickly visualize and experiment with what your final experience should be.
-It prevents you from spending too much effort developing assets that don’t work well in the final product. This is probably the BIGGEST difference the goal-oriented game maker and the process-oriented artist.
-It quickly gets you into the ‘game’ experience and out of your favorite creative process. By getting to that game experience you energize what your real goals are and keep your focus on the big picture, so to speak.
Modern studios like Pixar have created even more steps that could be lumped into the story-boarding stage. Once they have sketched out the flow using traditional series of storyboard images, they then do a quicky version of the movie using animatics, or quick and dirty animation to move closer to pre-visualizing the active dynamic elements of the movie. Again, this allows them to carve out the final experience before spending literally millions of render CPU-hours.
Story-boarding for games vs movies:
-Movies are static in that the final product is a passive experience. The creator has complete control of what the audience sees. The flow from start to finish is a straight-forward linear experience, which is the easiest way to think.
-Games however are non-linear, at least to some degree, because they are interactive. The player’s choices, at the very least, effect where they are, what direction they are looking, etc. This make the process of story-boarding your game less clear. You need to not only provide the visuals but include some way to interact with them in a way similar to the game experience. Because the pace of the game is driven by the player, there needs to be a way to pre-experience the interaction as well as pre-visualize the visuals.
Story-boarding for Dagon:
-Dagon is a panoramic engine and that determines both how the game interacts and how the visuals will be displayed. Like a first-person shooter, any direction can be visualized. Unlike a first-person shooter, the display is not in real-time. A first person shooter can start with primitive models and voila, instant interactions to test out.
Panoramic games are different though. They are pre-rendered. Rendering can take hours to days per location.
Without actually writing code, it’s difficult to storyboard the interactive nature of the game. What CAN be done easily is a complete walkthrough, with simple clicks within each scene to move to the other scenes. Tie in some mood music and you now have a pretty good indicator of the ‘feel’ of your game.
Anyway, my approach to story-boarding is to go back to the first stages: story-> then some artistic sketches to play the role of artistic director for my scenes -> then a map of locations -> then quickly mock up the intended scenery using very primitive objects. The objects themselves might be ultra simple but attention to lighting and color are very useful to create the mood of the scene. (this is where I get trapped. It’s easy to keep embellishing those scenes endlessly…)
I can render them out super quick and line them up in a series of folders. After that I find a panoramic viewer to look at them. QuickTime VR is popular for virtual tours, which means I can line up all my locations and tie them together with simple clicks to create an entire walkthrough of my game. Other panoramic-capable engines (Pipmak is relatively easy to use) will also work for this but require more effort to include the interactions necessary to move from one location to another.
Dagon is still in early stages but once it is out of beta with basic functionality it is the obvious choice for previewing. The storyboard doesn’t need to be migrated from another application and work is not duplicated. It might even be possible (and very handy for a starting point) for someone to release a vanilla script with generic scripting that makes it easy to expand by cut and paste an entire walkthrough. But in the meantime…
The thread subject was a deliberate troll to invite discussion about how to storyboard a panoramic game such as Dagon. I don’t have the answers but I do have some ideas and approaches. I invite others to share their methods and tools to wrestle with this step in the development process.