Distinct Interactive Cues

By: Matt Lopez (Level Designer), Tyler Houston (Level Designer), Ataberk Uran (Level Designer)

Game References

Includes anything from audio feedback to visual feedback.

  • Professor’s spiel
    • “Now is not the time and place for this…” along those lines in every game
  • “bump” noise
  • Yellow paint on edges
    • Similar to Far Cry 3, it shows what is climbable
  • Green lit containers and doors vs Red Lit containers and doors
    • What is openable and what is locked
    • Further reinforced with an opposite physical state (Closes and open respectively)
  • Items that are to be picked up have a colored line rising from it
    • Colored lines help distinguish if it is ammo, money, eridium, rare loot or a quest item
  • There is a UI element tied to the above two examples that prompt the player to press a button to pick up the item.
  • Wires on ledges
    • Shows players what is climbable.
  • Red piping to guide player where to go
    • An extreme on the spectrum of subtle to apparent
  • White, digital sparkle around doors and NPCs
    • Plays on the narrative element of being within the animus or a computer simulation/reconstruction.
  • Weapons on the ground do not receive a highlight but a UI notification to pick it up and swap a current weapon
  • White flashes on items, weapons that can be interacted with.
    • Reinforced sometimes by green and red lights especially on door buttons
    • Further reinforced with a UI prompt
  • Players are given a UI prompt and a small circle appears on the HUD as the player approaches an item of interest or weapon
    • Other than that, there really is no UI or HUD outlining
  • Reinforced if the player is stuck with direction with voice work from the player’s character or allied characters.

Summary and Findings

            Overall, the games that I played seem to have a combination of multiple elements to tell the player which items or objects in a scene or area are interactable and all are good tells in a way It is up to us to decide which type fits in best for our game. The most common tell utilized within the games I played was giving items an unnatural sort of highlight to them. It ranged anywhere from a glow, an outline that glowed, or shimmering over the object of interest. This cam be further divided into two subcategories: proximity and persistent. Proximity means that the player has to be within a certain distance in relation item to initiate the tell for the players to see. Persistent in this context means that the tell is always visible even if the player is not there such as the Borderlands item drops or the Assassin’s Creed digital shimmer will stay around even if the player is not in the immediate area. These tells are also reinforced by multiple other details such as green/red lights, physical states, audio, UI prompts, etc. The most common extra details were UI prompts and audio directions. UI prompts usually include a small picture of the item that can be picked up or the action that can be performed alongside the button that needs to be pressed to initiate the interaction. Green/red lights are particularly effective as well as they provide a universal sign of stop and go like traffic lights. They also help the player not run into redundant actions of trying to interact with a locked item or area. Physical states also distinguish environmental items between one another. For example, an open loot container vs a closed loot container invites and repels players respectively.

            Audio cues can vary but they are all present to help players, but some do it better than others. For example, in Pokémon, players hear a bump noise when they are unable to proceed in an area, although it is not interaction per se, it could be implemented to signal non-interactable objects within the game as well. An example of a well-done audio cue in conjunction with a visual cue is in Assassin’s Creed II in which the digital sparkle is accompanied by a sort of a synthesized, twinkle noise. This is helpful as it allows a player to know they are by an interactable cue even if it is off-screen or out of the player’s view. An example of an ineffective audio cue was in Modern Warfare (2019) in which the player had to carry a chair to get somewhere, but the directions and observations a character was making was a bit unclear. From personal experience (Matt Lopez), I was carrying the chair for a solid 5-7 minutes trying to figure out the placement of where the chair should be as the character was giving exposition and hints that were unhelpful. The character would say things such as “This room is open”, “The Storm drain is open” until the end if the 7 minutes in which they said “That opening in the hallway looks like the way in”. It turns out the air vent was the way in, not the storm drain and that was confusing. Although I do not see voicework ques being apart of the project, if we were to do it, then the wording would have to be clear.

            In regards to The Shadow Pervades, the ques that would be the best for the visual style and genre would be the highlighting and the physical states. Perhaps we could have an audio cue or UI cue as well to reinforce it. Highlighting of an interactable could be done in the regular vision mode or they can only be highlighted when they are in Smell or Sound mode. To take that idea further, we could only initialize specific ques with corresponding senses such as audio ques being enhanced when the player is in the eventual sound mode of the game. Also, it would be a good idea to highlight or designate the items that the player can pick up such as quest items. In relation to physical states, a specific example within the game would be the usage of push and pull mechanics. An open, lidless trash can does not have a highlight nor is it interactable while a closed one does and it makes sense as it would make sense to climb on a closed can and not an opened one. It should be acknowledged that all these ques within our game would need to be made and play-tested and this is currently a backlogged task aiming for winter quarter.

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