I've been hella busy this semester, and finally you get to see one of the reasons why! Above is a composite of just a few of the facial expressions for a character named Diana (played by Cornell's RPTA, Carolyn). These, and many other character pictures will be used in the game that I'm working on for Advanced Game Design called StageIV.
Stage IV is a story about a father who is diagnosed with cervical cancer, and how the family deals with the knowledge of his approaching death. The players chooses which character to play as and then interacts through dialogue graphs with other characters while the story unfolds.
I say graphs because trees become exponential in the amount of content needed, and a content heavy game isn't really feasible in one semester between Ben and I. Although your choices within the dialogue don't directly affect the story's outcome, your words are highly influential in how the other character feels towards you and in general. Thus the other characters (NPCs since it's a single player game) can react in a multitude of ways depending on their mood.
Doesn't sound like the most exciting game you've ever played? It's not supposed to. We're thinking of calling it 'Interactive Fiction' instead, so that the intention is clear. Ben and I are more interested in creating an artistic experience for the player than an action packed game.
Ok so what on earth am I doing for the game? All the photographs you see were taken by my Sony Cybershot. I then went into photoshop and cropped out every single background so that it's only the character. Then after some resizing, I also cranked up the contrast and turned down the saturation. Original is on the right:
The reason I crop the photos should be obvious; I want to place these characters in several different locations in the game, not just one. Resizing should be self explanatory too. I need the transitions between facial expressions to be as smooth as possible, so it feels like you're looking at a person, not a bunch of pictures of a person. Then of course they had to be scaled down to fit onscreen.
But why the contrast and desat? The desaturation is partly a design choice: Ben and I wanted the game to have a certain feel. But additionally, some of the base pictures have different amounts of lighting. Desaturating the picture helps hide that inconsistency (which means less work for SB). And why the contrast? The effects of the contrast are hard to see, but I found that it just helps the desaturated image from becoming too blah.
I'm also doing music for the game. Future post in the future :)