dialogue w video files

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dialogue w video files

Postby Marie123 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:42 pm

Hi everyone,
I'm the member of a pretty large team of musicians, voice actors and graphics artists. We're looking for a platform in which to code our game (at least an early version of it), and would like to know if AdventureMaker would be a suitable one to go with.

One very important element of the game is dialogue scenes, which involve lip synched video files of 3d rendered characters speaking, combined with various idle videos that combine seamlessly. Many of the actual videos are already done, and I'm mainly wondering about the ability of AdventureMaker to perform the task of showing videos over a dialogue style interface, and have them load and play seamlessly in this manner.

Any help from members experienced with this engine would be very appreciated. It's important that we know if this is possible, since else we cannot go ahead with this dialogue/video heavy project using this engine.
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Postby ShadowHunter » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:24 pm

Hi,

Welcome to the forum.

Can be done, but you would need some code... Check out my SubMaster plugin for an example of text over video. You need however pay attention for the targeted platforms (XP vs Win7)

I guess all depends on the size of your project to see if all remains manageable.

Feel free to post some more detail like depths of your dialog tree...

Good luck,

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Postby Marie123 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:34 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. We have some coders, but haven't looked much at this engine so far. Your plugin seems like it would be very useful.

The project is very large in scope, with a lot of dialogue and very long dialogue trees. The dialogue trees are not very deep per se (in the sense that they dont really go into too many sub-sub categories etc - maybe 3 levels at most), just very long.

The dialogue has been recorded by professional voice actors and combined with video files. The game source files are very large (several GB). We're wondering if this platform can support that kind of size and ambition level. We've done some demos in Wintermute which have been pretty successful, but there are some aspects of that engine (and AGS which we tried previously) which made us take a second look at AM.
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Postby reneuend » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:02 am

This project sounds very intriguing. Can you tell us more about it?
I actually thought about writing an application to build dialogues for AM, but haven't had time to start on it yet.
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Postby CBSection31 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:06 am

Hi Marie123,

As someone who has published commercial games with Adventure Maker, I may be able to answer some of the questions you have regarding its capabilities.

Firstly, regarding the engine's ability as far as dialog scenes: will the lip-syncing be pre-rendered or real-time? If the latter, you may have a hard time with Adventure Maker. If you are looking for real-time lip syncing or real-time 3D models, then Adventure Maker will not work for you. In my own games, I have dialog trees with pre-rendered video sequences of speaking characters, and it works well.

You mention that the project is large. This will not be a problem for Adventure Maker. It's capable of handling projects of pretty much any size.

Next, you mention having tried Wintermute and AGS. These games specialize in third-person adventures, whereas Adventure Maker is designed for first-person games. I figured I'd mention that, just to be safe. Is your game to be first or third person?

One issue that you should take into consideration is Adventure Maker's lack of Theora video support. If you are using pre-rendered videos, you must find an alternative to this, assuming that you plan on selling your game. This is one reason why I am moving away from Adventure Maker, myself.

Lastly, one thing to take into consideration is the relative lack of updates with the Adventure Maker engine. If you run into any bugs on users' systems, then you may not get bug fixes quickly enough for publishing. This was another issue that I ran into with my latest game. The engine DOES work quite well, but some features are not incorporated into Windows 7 yet.

All in all, Adventure Maker will probably work for you, so long as you take the above caveats into account. If any of the above things are deal-breakers, then you may want to consider sticking with Wintermute.

Depending on your situation, you may also want to consider using Clickteam's Multimedia Fusion instead. It is not an adventure-specific engine (and will require some extra work, as a result) but instead a full-fledged software/game development suite that requires no programming whatsoever. It is what I am using for my own projects these days (even for adventures), and it has the added benefit of supporting multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, Linux, Web (Flash), Android, and iOS. It is capable of anything that Adventure Maker is, though it's not as easy to use.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
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Postby Marie123 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:54 pm

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your welcome to the forum and your helpful suggestions. I'll post some more details about the gamer later for everyone who's interested. I'm a bit rushed for time right now, but I'll try to do that later today or tomorrow. It's a very exciting project, and we are getting some people at EA and G4 to take a look at it after we finally get around to finishing and releasing it (we have some informal connections there). Though it's obviously still in its early stages and a lot remains to be done (such as picking an engine!)

To comment on CBSection31's post: none of the rendering or lip synching is in real time. Rather, it's 3d models rendered in videos, in a way that ties as seamlessly as possible with the backgrounds (which are also going to be pre-rendered but with a lot of animation going on in order to make the scenes dynamic).

The game is completely in first person. When we tried Wintermute and AGS we completely removed the player character from the scenes. We've also done short tests in UDK, but decided that a full 3d environment is beyond our abilities and time constraints at the moment (let alone the fact that we ended up having to code a save system from scratch, inventory system from scratch etc).

The main dealbreaker that you mentioned so far could be the lack of theora support. Wintermute has theora support of course, but we experienced some bugs when trying to achieve seamless video playback, and that, along with some other issues, made us look elsewhere.

We're open to using another video format. The main issue is the amount of dialogue videos we will need to have. Conversations can often go on for 10 minutes or more, and we'll need a platform that's compatible with a good compression scheme, or the size of the game will be gigantic. We're ok with a few GB, but obviously can't make it ridiculously huge or distribution will suffer badly.
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Postby CBSection31 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:32 am

Okay, it sounds like you're using a similar dialog system to mine.

There are definitely options available to you for video compression with Adventure Maker, but they won't be free. Popular AVI video codecs like Divx would work, but they do have licensing fees. Depending on the budget of your project, this may or may not be an issue.

Currently, there is no quality AVI codec that is free for commercial use and still in development. There are a few abandonware codecs that may work, but their compatibility with modern operating systems and legal status may be sketchy.

With Adventure Maker, you can play Flash files. This would, theoretically, enable you to use Flash-encoded video files (.flv format) with your game, which is free to distribute. This will, however, enable the user to right-click onscreen and access the Flash menu. There is no legal way to bypass this. Also, some people believe that Flash is on its way out. I am not among them, but it should be mentioned anyway.

Lastly, Adventure Maker has a giant flaw on Windows 7: videos are not seamless. When a video is played within a frame, a black box pops up for a split second where the video is going to play before it starts. It looks quite jarring, and Adventure Maker hasn't been updated to fix this bug. Since you mentioned Wintermute's videos as not being seamless, I figured I should mention this.

If Theora video is a must for you, then Multimedia Fusion 2, which I mentioned above, would work well. It does support Theora, though it currently requires the codec to be installed on the user's system. It's not a huge issue though, since you can include an installer with your game.

A potential downside for Fusion, however, is that you would have to create your own save system, inventory system, etc. None of these are particularly hard, even for non-programmers--I can attest to that from firsthand experience.

Overall, given your description, I do believe that Multimedia Fusion 2 would be your best option. It works with Theora video, it is actively updated, and it is capable of doing everything you describe. In addition, it is easy to use, features active development and a helpful community, and is capable of producing games on practically every platform imaginable.

Multimedia Fusion 2 Link: http://www.clickteam.com/website/usa/multimedia-fusion-2.html
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