One of the most important tools used in the majority of Visual Novels is showing character portraits. You can see that we use this feature in Tales From Windy Meadow as well:
It is a powerful help for visual storytelling and many video game genres use it, especially RPGs and adventure games. Portraits allow you to cheat the game’s resolution (canvas) and display detailed characters with varying emotions. In some games it becomes the very center of focus - especially if the game uses a first-person protagonist, who literally talks with NPCs who stand right in front of them.
Showing a specific character pose or emotions allows you to limit narration and focus on visuals and dialogue. The information is provided fast and fluent, what in a text-heavy game is quite crucial. To be fair, we don’t have these “face emotion sets” drawn yet, but it’s on a very high position on our list of priorities.
However, as you can also notice, not only we introduce character portraits, but their sprites as well - which are set as a part of the background:
These sprites currently gather our main programming focus. The backgrounds and their animations are meant to strongly support our worldbuilding, while the characters themselves often interact with their surroundings. Providing them with idle animation or setting them in specific spots is also important - we try to eliminate narration as much as possible and focus on what characters say, not what they think.
It’s even easier to notice how much attention (and effort) we want to put in our backgrounds when you compare the sizes of our portraits with many other Visual Novels. In most cases, each portrait tends to cover between 20%-40% of the screen, and when three of them appear at the same time, the background is almost completely hidden. In Tales From Windy Meadow it’s closer to 8%-12% for each.
The whole process provides some limitations and requires a lot of planning and tinkering. Very often our plans need adapting since results turn out to look quite bad. For example, from time to time an important character spite becomes covered by a character portrait:
And, of course, lacking the important animations makes the current placeholders look pretty funny:
Thankfully, having these basic positions and movements planned out will be priceless later on when the real animations and character sprites are going to be implemented.
Also! If you missed our latest ScreenshotSaturday entry, you haven’t seen this cool juxtaposition between the older and the newer versions of the wild parts of our forest:
And we were especially happy to see the positive reception of our latest IndieDevHour post, that introduced the mayor of Windy Meadow, Lacerta:
To those of you who celebrate Easter, we wish peaceful and outstanding holidays. And no matter what your beliefs and personal background are, we want to express our gratitude - the first month of weekly devlogs is behind us we plan to continue this series. We want to wish you a fantastic week! : )