Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Mid-mission messages can generally be categorized as follows:
Mission-critical messages. As the name implies, these are messages the player
must receive. They convey vital information about mission progress and can
include warnings about damage to a ship the player is trying to protect, or
about the imminent escape of a vessel the player is trying to destroy. They
may also be used to alert the player to a change in mission objectives.
Instructional messages. Usually restricted to training and tutorial missions,
these messages guide the player through the use of their craft, or the employ-
ment of some tactic.
Story messages. These messages are used to deliver additional story infor-
mation, i.e., further background on characters or the situation. Avoid the
temptation to trigger too long a sequence of these. If you absolutely must,
then remember the 60 seconds max rule for cutscenes, i.e., don't expect the
player to sit through more than a full minute of conversation over the radio
andbehappyaboutit.Ifyouhavetodothisforstoryreasons,thenbesureto
work with the mission designers to ensure a respite in the action. Whenever I
had to accommodate such a situation, I tried to ensure that the player was at
least flying toward something interesting.
Background chatter and “barks.” These messages constitute “filler” mate-
rial and include such lines as “I'm hit!”, “Good kill!”, “They're everywhere!”,
and “Stay on target!” While they aren't critical, they certainly provide color
and a sense that there are other people all around the player. You'll want to
write as many variations as you can think of, and I recommend recording as
many different takes of each line as possible. This is to minimize the risk of
too much repetition since these lines are likely to be triggered frequently. A
nice feature we included from TIE Fighter onward was a “verbose” flag for each
line. That was used by a feature in the options screen that allowed players to
control how many radio messages they would hear.
System status messages. This is another category of essential information
but one not necessarily to be recorded in voice. These are messages used to
confirm changes to various systems and include things like “shields at 50%,”
“hyperdrive damaged,” and “target acquired.”
Win/loss messages. As you would assume, these are messages that are trig-
gered when the mission is won or lost. A win message should be congratulatory
and stroke the player's ego. Ideally, it should provide a concise recap of what
the mission objective was. For example, “Well done, Alpha 2, you stopped the
Rebel attack and eliminated over half of their forces!” A loss message should
explain why the player lost, and this can be achieved by simply describing
the loss condition. For example, “We have failed the Emperor! The Rebels
destroyed our base and escaped with most of their forces!”
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