You know, while the game does feature a lot of introductory cutscenes and I've always liked being verbose in the way dialogue is written, I've come to realize that graphics hold a fantastic power over words at least when it comes to games. Possibly generally, but definitely in games. For instance the scene above is an introductory minor cutscene of 20 seconds or so, of Chapter Six. If we attempt to break it down, we'll see that it hands out the important info to the player right away. It keeps the background of the Neon City on the back, letting us know we're still in some part of the universe/world, and then in a somewhat grandiose way introduces us to a new one. A theme park. I wanted to portray how the theme park is abandoned and barren/empty, but the shot does that for me. The flying debris, the closed gates, the desaturated colors that engulf the animation, all convey the feeling we were aiming for - Abandon. Initially a lot of dialogue was part of the game, but let's be honest, everyone skips dialogs one way or another. So I've had a lot of time spending over dialogues written thinking to myself "What happens if I completely erase this sentence?"
And sentence came to be paragraph. And sometimes the entire scene has been kept silent letting the graphical work of Andrea Ferrara, our artist, speak for itself. The most common Chinese saying, does apply still valid. A picture is worth a thousand words.
So, this idea came to alter the project in many ways. Instead of a writer, I had to be a facilitator (in a sense). I have/had to make sure that whichever way we're picking to present a part of this world, I had to be able not to only transpose it in words to explain it to the artist, but also to be able to facilitate through coding, the implementation of such idea. In the theme park shot, it had to be vertical scrolling, which is fairly simple honest. But that wasn't always the case.
This scene here, is the introductory to Chapter Five. I've always had a love for rain to be honest, and nothing says more cyberpunk than rain and neon lights. As you can see the compositions are still similar in many ways, except the vertical scrolling. The city exists in the background and in the foreground we have an RGB effect on the background and over it 3 layers of rain, each closer to the camera. Chapter Five is about a manhunt that takes place in a crowded part of the city full of people. And this shot, along with 2 more, helps us realize where we are, and all the parameters regarding our place. There is of course dialog over it, but as minimalistic as possible, and mostly focusing on doing parallelisms between the crowd and the person we're here for.
Returning to the facilitator angle once again, you can see a glitch effect being applied to two images that alternate within a certain time limit. This is the stage select for Chapter 10. I've figured instead of spending time creating more cutscenes where the protagonist is being blackmailed, I would use the UIs to tell that part of the story. Here very simply, we see two time feeds from a camera showing the "damsel in distress", Emily being covered in blood. As the protagonist also gradually loses his mental state, it's hard to say if this is real or not. We, as players, are meant to be shocked and weirded out through the violent imagery of our loved one being presented to us. As the chapters unlock, this imagery begins from "subtle mirages" to "violence-filled threats".
And so through different means, like a background holoprojector on the apartment ( a place where you return to when a chapter ends)
and a TV offering a variety of programs, including advertisements like this one:
I've come to realize that there's no necessity to force things on the player with dialogue and super long cutscenes. As long as there's content available portraying subtle, yet strong, projections to the player, one can create what can be called a Living world, and this has been a main focus of our game. There's nothing forcing you to watch the Television or stand and see the holograms, but they exist to show depth for those who seek it.
Meanwhile we have 3 stages left to finish the entire game, which is nice, can't wait to see it finished myself, it's been over a year now.