Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's all in the Details: Emotes

“A good agent is highly skilled at reading the unspoken language all around himself. A nervous twitch, a strained cough or a silent signal could betray volumes of information on their owners without them ever knowing.”

Although typing out the actions of your character while you role-play can allow you an opportunity for plenty of detail, pre-set emotes can be extremely helpful and a lot of fun.

As I've seen thus far, most mmorpgs contain a set of emotes you can access to cause your character to display an action, often accompanied by some supporting text, with a simple typed command. They can range anywhere from silly dances to sighs or gestures. In general these can be fun. It almost makes your character seem a little more interesting, a little more real, when you can enact body language and actions familiar to ourselves. And this is exactly what makes them such a powerful tool for roleplayers.

Though it seems to be a general consensus to support a suspension of disbelief to make pretend when people type out the actions of their character, it is much easier to visualize and comprehend when it is acted out right there in front of you. As social creatures, we have evolved and learned to pick up on a great amount of detail in social cues.

For instance, I could tell you that Agent Hawkens here just sighed at me. I could further that with a bit more detail by explaining that he sighed with contempt as he watched me type this same segment again and again. But if you could see him sigh you could extrapolate that information on your own. In the slump of his shoulders, the scowl on his face, the roll of his eyes or even in the slight jerk of his head you could read his contemptuous sigh without a single word being said.

Now that we've established that emotes can be powerful tools for roleplayers, I'd like to talk more about specific pre-set emotes I'd like to see in WildStar. I feel that if the development team is going to go through all the trouble of creating these emotes then I would like to see those that many people might make consistent use of.

I've noticed that we typically see a set of command emotes such as “out of mana”, “attack my target” and other party-based comminicative emotes, but I have yet to find a situation in which I used them out of more then idle curiosity. With many chat services available such as Ventrilo or Mumble, we have much faster and more accurate ways to interact with each other. Perhaps instead of these basics that no one seems to use much, Carbine could invest that time into much more useful actions.

How about instead, we get a lean emote? Something that makes it look as though your character is leaning up against a wall. I don't know how many times I've heard people ask for this, especially in Star Wars: The Old Republic when we could see character models leaning in cutscenes. Perhaps it may look silly if they cannot tie it to a 'wall' in game, to see people randomly leaning in thin air. However many roleplayers already walk themselves over to walls to stand idly beside them as they manually type out the action. It would be fantastic if we could walk to the wall and actually lean against it!

One of the concepts I really loved about The Secret World were stance emotes. When used, these kept themselves in place of your idle animation until you moved your character and could really set a good first impression for other people. For instance, my Dragon operative was very serious and proper so I enjoyed the emote /handsbehindback which allowed his to fold his arms behind his back and observe his surroundings with an air of professionalism. Other people enjoyed crossing their arms in front of them, creating a less approachable or “tough” look to their character. I would LOVE to see these in WildStar!

“Then you could easier instill the proper amount of fear and respect in the dull masses that plod along when they behold someone of such great importance such as myself”

As arrogant as the statement is, it's true. It is one thing for an agent to be standing idly in the middle of a social center of some sort and another thing entirely if he could fold his arms behind his back and glower angrily at everyone around him.

On that note it might also be interesting to see a sort of mood system in our emotes that could display facial expressions, such as the mood options in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sadly I felt they just didn't work out well, often looking too overdone and making silly or creepy expressions on our characters. And with so many other areas we were limited in, in terms of physical emotes I rarely took the time to scroll in enough to view them. I couldn't say if they would really be worth the time and effort to put them in, but perhaps with WildStar's more exaggerated art style they could fit much more naturally and really lend an interesting level of depth for roleplayers.

Sitting! No matter how awesome or tough you are your character would probably like to sit and take a break from adventuring for awhile, enjoy a meal or attend an important meeting. Sitting is probably one of the most commonly used emotes out there. I would love to see the development team create for us a variety of interesting sits. Perhaps there is a sit you use with a hotkey akin to “x” causing your avatar to sit in World of Warcraft. Maybe there is a generic sit all could use or sits that are racial specific. (Draken and Aurin would probably have to be mindful of their tails) It would also be nice if environmental objects that could be sat on, let you interact with them and actually sit on them. That means every chair, couch, bench or etc. would let you sit down on them. It annoyed me to no end in Star Wars: The Old Republic when my agent would go to recline on his starship's couch and end up clipping through the model completely, sitting on the floor with the couch obscuring most of his body. And please let there be no sit like Star War's. Almost everyone I know all agreed that rather then appear casual, the sit in Star Wars: The Old Republic ended up looking more like an alluring “come hither” pose. If they want to add an emote for that, sure why not, but don't make that our generic sit!

Acrobatics. Cartwheels, handstands, backflips or perhaps a tuck and roll could be really interesting. They can be good ways to show off the fitness or energy of our characters.

Conversational emotes could also lend a lot of immersiveness to the world of WildStar. They don't have to match what I type entirely, but I'd really like to see my character's mouth move and his head and body shift as I type into the “say” chatbox. Or perhaps he could gesture much more strongly if I were to type something into the “yell” chatbox. To me that would make him feel a bit more lifelike.

Nodding. We might nod to agree with something, or we may nod as an acknowledgement of someone's opinion. We can even nod as a respectful greeting towards another. It would be interesting to see this split up into many emotes such as /yes /nod and /upnod, but just a simple /nod with no specific supporting text would be plenty fine. For instance, in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the nod emote would display on the screen (alongside the physical motion) “(Character name) nods” or “(Character name) nods at (target name)” Later on, however, when they added voice acting to their emotes they tacked on a “Yes” printed and voiced every time you nodded. I really loved this concept, but at least in this case it became sort of frustrating. Now if my character want to use that action in any other way I would have to type it out and not use the emote.

Dancing! It would be really nice to see a variety of dances available to all characters. Instead of the silly racial and gender based dances found in World of Warcraft, how about a couple of loops of popular dances styles? Perhaps something elegant, such as ballroom dancing. Or something fun, such as pop dancing or break dancing. Something enticing, such as club dancing or tango, or even something crazy and energetic such as rave dancing! Often times roleplayers would like their characters to dance together, but when our dances rarely match or look rather foolish, we tend to resort to typing it all out rather then utilizing the pre-made work.

So these are some examples of emotes I'd like to see. What about you? What emotes do you think would be important to have in the game, or that you wish we wouldn't see? Remember, the team working on WildStar has proven to us that they are watching and listening to us! So discuss, make your voice heard and tell them what their fans are looking for!

No comments:

Post a Comment