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Black Lake - Prototype Reactions

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I... WANT... MORE!! I can't bear the prototypes being that short!! (but i know it's for OBVIOUS reasons. At first, the game is a bit confusing; leaving you into the forest only with the trail of a fox you are supposed to follow and that's what you do. I know it is part of the atmosphere and it does really well. Also, "introducing" the evil creatures behind the bad things happening to the forest is nice but could a cinematic breing a little more light to how they turn other animals into those creatures?

Also the games has you wandering all over the forest with your light off. I liked it and how the environement changes to be darker but i didn't lit the lamp almost in all the demo. The pawprints were visible in the dark; merging lighting things and being obscure would be great like "amnesia" where passong a lot of time in the dark was bad for you.

About the game mechanics I loved the accordion and how it sounds and how is it played to sleep the creatures and repair dreams. No objections in any way but coming back to the light on/light off thing I would love mor... "stealth" like... hidding in bushes in order to not being seen for those wandering cretures or the creatures just being able when in the dark and remains there once you lit the lamp to "avoid them" (cause only exist in the dark) and go back again into the dark. Adding threaths when you light your lamp on (not being that magnific designed creatures) could bring an interesting balance around lightin on and off.

The dark creatures were soooo creepy first time i saw them. Magnificent. I loved them and the feeling that darkness turn them into some "long-legged" evil creatures. I can't wait to see if could be more and more creatures affected and how would they look and walk and the "senses" they have. (creatures with vision, others with scent and others with sound could be interesting for future puzzles of making noises and leaving scents in some paths to distract...)

Bad things? Some blinking textures on thorn-trees and camera issues like your vision being blocked because trees were on in front of the camera angle...

Seriously. I loved the sound and i think it is VERY important in this kind of games and even more in this game where you rely on your senses to follow the trail of the fox to save the dreams of all creatures. Love the step sounds and how they are represented and could be interesting if that step wave and "hearing" wave of a creature could touch and trigger reactions (just like the birds but not having to be so close to them)

Niiice job in only two weeks. :D Keep going! Tim, please... I know you sacrifice baby born toys filled with goat blood to gave them to the double fine god and decide which game make it and which is throwen into the cold, dark basement (watch out for Isaac) but... all of them ar really cool ideas should be becoming a full release. :D thanks

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This game was amazing. Congratulations to everyone who worked on it, because it's a masterpiece of a prototype. From the graphics, to the gameplay, controls, story, and even the in game menus, this is a really polished piece of work (it's also the most stable prototype of the three I've run so far). Just watching the light of the lamp fall on trees in the forest is mesmerizing. The tracking mechanic was surprisingly engaging as well. At first I got lost quite quickly when I tried to race around and follow the fox. I had pretty much given up on the goal of the game and decided to just enjoy the scenery and get into the role of the character ...and then I suddenly started finding clues. From the original pitch and watching the daily videos, I was worried that this game would turn into a frustrating experience of needing to click every pixel in the screen to find clues, or wandering around at random until clues pop up, but it didn't play that way at all.

Another thing that I think is worth mentioning is that I almost never play 3D games on account of the fact that I get motion sick from them very easily (I've never gotten around to finishing Psychonauts for this reason and I can't even watch videos of Portal without getting a headache). However, the controls and camera movements in this prototype were so smooth that I could easily see myself playing a full-length version of the game (and I had no trouble finishing the prototype).

I did have one nitpick to add alongside the glowing praise: I found my own footsteps somewhat annoying at times. It sounded like I was plodding through the forest when I was trying to move carefully and quietly track animals (the gait is also strange).

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Wow... I watched allot of live stream but every time they were talking about bramble fox, i thought it was just a cute fox who got stuck in some brambles. That thing is scarey! coupled with the atmosphere yikes!

If this was like a preorder demo to get people to buy, i would have totally been sold!

What are you waiting for Tim? Code name this sucker already!

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I just gave all prototypes a short play. After this first Hands on i have to say this game drew me in the most. It looks beautifull, creats an amazing atmosphere combining music, art and gameplay - and feels very original in terms of gameplay idea and mechanics (the mouse/keyboard control feels absolutly perfect already).

I want to know whats going on in this world, i want to continue plaing in this world.

A+ guys!

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Just played through it after stopping the first time before the "mend dream" section. I had a hard time following the tracks the first time, I often got lost and didn't know where to go. But after I started to use the "camp at last clue" feature and started using the senses more I got really into it.

It's amazing what you guys have achieved in two weeks. I mean the graphics are crazy good, and the voice acting and music where a really nice touch. The best thing was of course the end, really catched my interest in seeing more of this game. But I had a hard time figuring out what to "mend" and it took me quite a while. But I don't think thats a flaw of the game.

The controls and clipping was really great too. I didn't notice a single graphic glitch.

And f**k... those creatures are creepy! The only thing that would make it a bit more challenging is, that they would hunt you if you come to near to them even with the lamp off. I think this would make them a bit more fearfull and challenging.

Really nice work, guys!

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Great Moments In Bramble Foxery:

*plays lullaby to put bramble fox to sleep*

Ha! I'm smarter! I should kick you in the face while you sleep.

*walks up to bramble fox*

*bramble fox suddenly jumps back up and starts chasing me*

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN!!!!!!!!

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The art and graphics are great in the prototype, outstanding even, the demon foxes scream "I should not exist". The gameplay wasn't great, I wouldn't buy or even play a full game based on this gameplay, it would have to be extensively expanded, and the senses represented graphically are begging to be expanded upon. I didn't have to use the lantern, if anything it seemed like a complete liability, I'd like sight to play a bigger role. The lullaby makes sneaking and avoiding the abominations pointless. I hope the camera was just for expedience in developing such an amazing game graphically in two weeks.

I don't understand why Russian(?) is better than English, I watch several Danish, Swedish, and French shows with subtitles, I don't have a problem with foreign languages, but I lose a lot of context, emotion, and subtleties through it. Also, I would hope that the story would be written by a Russian(?) or someone versed in that culture, and not written in English and translated to Russian.

I don't think prototypes should have cutscenes and monologues, I think they have to earn their right to be in a game, and that can't happen in the short amount of time that we get. I can't really engage or judge a story in such a limited way. It doesn't really make much sense to have these in a prototype, you could easily just create a video as a pitch for the game.

Definitely use the lessons and concepts explored graphically and artistically, I'll be disappointed if I don't see that forest in a game in the future.

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Might be my aging laptop, but the movement controls when I played it seemed to have the girl always walking/running towards the cursor (mouse/keyboard)... is that right, or a technical issue on my end?

If that's the intended effect, it seems like it introduced a little anxiety in wanting to explore the world.. the inability to stand still stressed me out... or maybe I'd just need to adjust.

Otherwise, perfect :)

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Might be my aging laptop, but the movement controls when I played it seemed to have the girl always walking/running towards the cursor (mouse/keyboard)... is that right, or a technical issue on my end?

If that's the intended effect, it seems like it introduced a little anxiety in wanting to explore the world.. the inability to stand still stressed me out... or maybe I'd just need to adjust.

Otherwise, perfect :)

Same thing on my end.

But ya, I just got done with it. I still have to play hack n slash and white birch but I wasn't very excited for this game but after playing it I REALLY want to see what happens next. I think there are some really cool concepts and ideas here and I like the use of the intsterment while moving. I hope this game get's made and I wish the best of luck.

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Awesome prototype! Really dug the hunter/tracker theme and the Eastern European vibe to it. You guys really got a great amount done in two weeks! Switching between vision and your other senses was really well done (reminded me of Zelda: Twilight Princess when

you're a wolf and tracking the fish scent!

). I know it's only a prototype and with more time you could've done a lot more, but here some thoughts I came up with while playing it:

It'd be nice if there was a color difference between the fox trail and the monsters (the bramble foxes), as well as your own scent. Perhaps the monsters could be a sickly green color while keeping the foxes orange.

The bramble foxes are neat design and this is just a personal preference, but I think it would be more interesting if the monsters were instead shade like shadow beasts with the same spidery form. Just seems more mysterious and supernatural to me. Perhaps using your lamp will ward them off in only the direction you're holding it, but they can still strike you from behind so you really have to toggle between both your senses to stay alert.

The accordion really sounded interesting and unique, so it sort of breaks my heart to suggest this, but it just seemed like the wrong instrument for the flavor of the game. I would've chosen something more simple and natural (to fit with the woodsman's theme) like a wooden flute. Though in the developer's defense loads of games have flutes in it already and I haven't seen the whole of the game, so maybe the accordion fits in better in the later parts of the story.

Echo other poster's suggestions of putting some type of Baba Yaga creature into it; even if it's never named within the game - that is assuming you guys get the greenlight for this which I hope you do!

All in all beautiful work, Team Black Lake!

BlackLake_zpscccf3705.jpg

Ironic that the only White Birch seen is in this game!

:smirk:

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Loved the atmosphere. Amazing visuals. The dense forest, ambient sound fx, wisps of clouds all together really created the 'feel' of a forest. I like to call it the Cast Away effect, in that eventually once you settle in you begin to feel as if you're there and expriencing it rather than just watching it happen. You can tell that the team focused a lot on creating that magical, ellusive atmosphere.

As for the gameplay, I lost the trail once or twice (once when the fox went swimming at the river), but a little backtracking got me back on track. I liked the whole visual/feel of the tracking system, and hunting for clues felt nicely interesting.

The prototype dream phase was interesting. The visual effect was great, and the ghost sharks were really cool. I think the 'game' as a full project could work if there was enough variance in the dream phase in terms of gameplay, e.g. different approaches to each dream. With a great story that tied together all the atomsphere and the various dreams, I think I wouldn't be able to put it down.

Very impressive for a prototype. So, I hope my major kudos comes across. And I'd love to see what could happen if it gets backed for a full project.

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Might be my aging laptop, but the movement controls when I played it seemed to have the girl always walking/running towards the cursor (mouse/keyboard)... is that right, or a technical issue on my end?

If that's the intended effect, it seems like it introduced a little anxiety in wanting to explore the world.. the inability to stand still stressed me out... or maybe I'd just need to adjust.

Otherwise, perfect :)

Same thing on my end.

But ya, I just got done with it. I still have to play hack n slash and white birch but I wasn't very excited for this game but after playing it I REALLY want to see what happens next. I think there are some really cool concepts and ideas here and I like the use of the intsterment while moving. I hope this game get's made and I wish the best of luck.

That's the way the controls are supposed to be.

To stand still / look around, just hold down the left mouse button.

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Might be my aging laptop, but the movement controls when I played it seemed to have the girl always walking/running towards the cursor (mouse/keyboard)... is that right, or a technical issue on my end?

If that's the intended effect, it seems like it introduced a little anxiety in wanting to explore the world.. the inability to stand still stressed me out... or maybe I'd just need to adjust.

Otherwise, perfect :)

Same thing on my end.

But ya, I just got done with it. I still have to play hack n slash and white birch but I wasn't very excited for this game but after playing it I REALLY want to see what happens next. I think there are some really cool concepts and ideas here and I like the use of the intsterment while moving. I hope this game get's made and I wish the best of luck.

That's the way the controls are supposed to be.

To stand still / look around, just hold down the left mouse button.

Alternatively, just center the cursor/"glowing firefly-ish thing" on the character and she stands still. If there was no way to stop the character, it would indeeed have been stressful, but once you get used to the technique, it's a doddle.

I think the control system is quite liberating in that any extra actions such as playing the accordion becomes super easy to do with the other hand now liberated from the typical WASD-control system.

Edit: Also, it's neat that it makes it logical and easy to make the character move quicker by holding the cursor far away and make her tread slower/carefully by holding it closer. That really enables the player to not only move strategically, but also "play along" with the general feeling of trepidation!

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Alternatively, just center the cursor/"glowing firefly-ish thing" on the character and she stands still. If there was no way to stop the character, it would indeeed have been stressful, but once you get used to the technique, it's a doddle.

I think the control system is quite liberating in that any extra actions such as playing the accordion becomes super easy to do with the other hand now liberated from the typical WASD-control system.

Edit: Also, it's neat that it makes it logical and easy to make the character move quicker by holding the cursor far away and make her tread slower/carefully by holding it closer. That really enables the player to not only move strategically, but also "play along" with the general feeling of trepidation!

Yeah, that would probably be easier on a faster computer... or that xbox controller I need to buy. I'd probably be able to adjust, it does free the hands. I guess if they do make it a full game it'd be nice to offer a "left click to walk/run" option in the controller settings, instead of the default "left click to stand still." (that's probably more my speed :)

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The mouse control method is great, I don't remember coming across it before. I first used a gamepad, but I'd probably choose mouse and keyboard if I had to pick.

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I expected the most from Black Lake and it was delivered!

I sensed that Levi had the most solidified vision in his head, especially considering the art that went into the pitch. I love the atmosphere and the story.

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Alternatively, just center the cursor/"glowing firefly-ish thing" on the character and she stands still. If there was no way to stop the character, it would indeeed have been stressful, but once you get used to the technique, it's a doddle.

I think the control system is quite liberating in that any extra actions such as playing the accordion becomes super easy to do with the other hand now liberated from the typical WASD-control system.

Edit: Also, it's neat that it makes it logical and easy to make the character move quicker by holding the cursor far away and make her tread slower/carefully by holding it closer. That really enables the player to not only move strategically, but also "play along" with the general feeling of trepidation!

Yeah, that would probably be easier on a faster computer... or that xbox controller I need to buy. I'd probably be able to adjust, it does free the hands. I guess if they do make it a full game it'd be nice to offer a "left click to walk/run" option in the controller settings, instead of the default "left click to stand still." (that's probably more my speed :)

I agree. Makes more sense to me, personally, to initiate walking rather than initiate standing still.

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The mouse control method is great, I don't remember coming across it before. I first used a gamepad, but I'd probably choose mouse and keyboard if I had to pick.

I'm happy the mouse controls turned out the way they did. For a game about moving through and sensing the world around you I felt like WASD tank controls would have been the first major fail. Mainly because Senses are analogue. My favorite movement control is on the controller but thats just because it centers back to stand still on release. I do like the Accordion on the Keys better though.

Thanks for all the feed back Everyone!

It's so kick ass that people are actually playing this game!

Levi

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Ok, immediate response is I really don't like the mouse controls. Having her chase the glowy mouse cursor is just funky. I'm gonna wait until i can get home and use a controller. Also, I want to rotate the camera.

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Thanks for all the feed back Everyone!

It's so kick ass that people are actually playing this game!

Levi

Your game is kick ass! Really.

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I don't know if anyone mentioned it earlier on this thread, but if you hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse around, you can look around while standing still.

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The mouse control method is great, I don't remember coming across it before. I first used a gamepad, but I'd probably choose mouse and keyboard if I had to pick.

I'm happy the mouse controls turned out the way they did. For a game about moving through and sensing the world around you I felt like WASD tank controls would have been the first major fail. Mainly because Senses are analogue. My favorite movement control is on the controller but thats just because it centers back to stand still on release. I do like the Accordion on the Keys better though.

Thanks for all the feed back Everyone!

It's so kick ass that people are actually playing this game!

Levi

You could use Diablo style click to move and centre the cursor on release of the mouse button to get a similar result to the release on a controller. Using WASD with A and D to rotate worked in the original Tomb Raider, I think because the run and walk were so different, you could turn more rapidly while walking, and you couldn't turn fast while running like in real life. The other option is C&C style movement, but that takes away the direct control and immersion you have.

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Have to say I was really surprised by this and totally got sucked in by the atmosphere. The gameplay is a lot more enjoyable than what it was described as on the video, probably because of the sense of danger you get from the bramble foxes running around.

Got a little lost but that's part of the fun.

I totally agree with the comment on pacing a full game like Okami where there's a big task to do in each area along with some little side tasks.

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I have no choice but to join the others in saying that Black Lake was a truly pleasant surprise for me and was a magnificent experience to play through.

I'll admit I did not vote for it based on the pitch, since I saw a whole lot of art but did not get a very good idea about the gameplay. But man, did it come together. Watching the pitch again, I now clearly understand what you've been referring to.

The best thing about Black Lake, which sets it apart from all the other prototypes with the possible exception of Autonomous, is its atmosphere. Nearly everything fits, so well in fact that it's crazy, especially considering you guys had only two weeks to make it.

The Black Lake forest theme may only be less than a minute long, but it is the most awesome piece of music in the entire AF soundtrack. It does an incredible job with setting the mood. But there's more to the atmosphere than that: the trees, the branches, the stones, the enemies, the protagonist, everything has an incredible level of polish to it. Perhaps Black Lake is the game which looks the least "prototype-ish" of the five, and by least, I mean "not at all". It's like a demo level to an actual game you could buy at the DF store.

I loved the controls too. Been playing it with a mouse and a keyboard, and found this "sparkle-chasing control scheme" very intuitive, and quite usable for sneaking around at just the pace I wanted. Flipping the more widely employed method on its head ("click-to-stop-and-look-around" instead of "click-to-move") also conveyed a sense of always being in motion, which I found fitting - after all, the protagonist is in the middle of a dark forest with dangers around, so staying too long in one spot would be unwise.

If I could offer one piece of criticism, it's the lamp. To be honest, after a while I only used it for flavor, to "confirm" the tracks I've found, since there seemed to be little else I could use it for. Also, while the lighting of the "dark version" of the forest was awesome, when the lamp was on, the lighting became a bit strange, it felt as if the sun came up all of a sudden. But since I kept the lamp off most of the time, this luckily didn't affect my playing experience much, if at all.

All in all, a huge thank you to Levi and the team for turning my initial skepticism around, and giving me the chance to experience Black Lake. Should the possibility arise, I'll be definitely coming back for more. :)

EDIT: After seeing some screenshots, maybe the lamp lighting strangeness is actually a bug specific to my graphics card. Hmm...

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I was really excited about this project from the outset as it seemed to be a spiritual successor to Psychonauts in some ways. (The fact that the protagonist's model is based off of Razputin helps the link in my mind.) The earliest peeks at it didn't make it seem all that interesting, but upon playing the prototype my fears were completely blown away.

Specific comments:

+ Amazing atmosphere and tension and aesthetics right away and until the end. Games with a slower pace like this can risk falling into the boring/uneventful category, but I felt the huge focus on environmental details and maintaining a feeling of tension throughout did wonders to keep the prototype engaging despite the fact that there's very little of traditional game goals and such. Not that it necessarily needs it, but it seems like the atmosphere is among this prototype's biggest strengths, which is great because it's also the thing that probably is where most of the potential for engagement and immersion comes from.

+ The look around feature was great. Also, in general, everything with the controls was very good, though I wish there was an option to run a bit faster, with the consequence being much stronger sound emanations to hinder stealth when it's necessary.

+ Really liked the birch tree easter egg. In a game as tense as this, a little levity like that (that didn't really break the fourth wall) is appreciated and also all the more effective due to its juxtaposition.

- The "main path" was fairly easy to follow without being too literal most of the time, which isn't a problem in an of itself, but I found myself getting completely lost when the fox "takes a bath". I searched for quite some time, and it wasn't at all clear to me what the fox's actual path was. I had to look it up to proceed, and once I did I realized that I felt the trail hint immediately before the "bath" is insufficient and maybe even downright misleading. Things like this could probably be sorted out with more time and playtesting though.

- It's difficult to put my finger on it, but the dream repairing didn't seem quite right to me. I liked pretty much everything about the accordion once I saw how it was implemented, but the actual mending didn't really feel engaging enough. As per my initial thoughts, I thought this was going to have a decent amount of stuff similar to Psychonauts, but what I actually saw with the fox's dream sequence was a bit bland in comparison to the rest of the goods bits about the prototype. It's certainly something that could be worked on more if there was enough time.

I didn’t like the animation of the fox talking though. I wish the foxes mouth stayed closed and left it a little more ambiguous as to whether the fox was speaking directly to her.

- I agree with that. In a lot of ways, I think leaving the fox's mouth closed and implying some kind of telepathy would be more interesting and perhaps even thematically consistent. Since the protagonist just dealt with a manifestation of the fox's dreams, why would physical talking be necessary? Remaining within the realm of the psychological and mental for that part seems more interesting in my opinion.

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An update to my previous initial impressions, now that I've played through the game:

--Movement speed isn't a problem, just took more experimenting than my previous two minutes :)

--Loved the atmosphere, graphics and the sound. Even for a prototype the foliage was extraordinary.

--The hat was awesome(but there needs to be more shopka!)

--The accordion holds a lot of promise, it would be interesting to use to create the dream state instead of it already having been willed into existence.

--I'd love to see that as you heal creatures it unlocks certain powers, like adding smell and sound.

--I think along with others I had a problem with the game in that the lantern wasn't needed, and ended up making you a hazard for bramble foxes.

--Dream sequences are a little confusing, as it appears just the background parts of the dreams were damaged(and I thought looked quite normal within the dream), so having the damage standing out a little more, and having some of the foreground damaged as well could help.

--No Baba Yaga :(

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At first I would like to say that it is an awesome job to put these prototypes out in two weeks and all the results are amazing.That said I have to say that even though I liked it as a small game I'm not sure if this works for a big one. So far its only following hints and tracks and solving some dream problems then. I mean its cool, but I didn't feel the desire of playing something similar with other animals for hours. The nicest thing in it was the freedom and exploration part. Just walking in the woods and finding things was awesome even though there wasn't much to find because of the prototype stage.

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- I agree with that. In a lot of ways, I think leaving the fox's mouth closed and implying some kind of telepathy would be more interesting and perhaps even thematically consistent. Since the protagonist just dealt with a manifestation of the fox's dreams, why would physical talking be necessary? Remaining within the realm of the psychological and mental for that part seems more interesting in my opinion.

I hadn't really thought about that when I played it, but now that I read it and think about it, having the mouth stay closed actually does sound pretty cool. =]

(Also means less work! Just saying!)

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I hadn't really thought about that when I played it, but now that I read it and think about it, having the mouth stay closed actually does sound pretty cool. =]

(Also means less work! Just saying!)

Yeah, the fact that you might be able to get a better result whilst simultaneously reducing the work load on lip synching sounds like a win-win to me. The only difficulty would be how to properly convey the fact that it's telepathy and not a failure in lip synching! IIRC, Psychonauts had some sort of solution for this with Milla and Sasha, right? Either way, the simplest solution to the conveyance problem would be to have different speech bubbles for thoughts and regular physical speech. The common format in comics would probably work fine.

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I hadn't really thought about that when I played it, but now that I read it and think about it, having the mouth stay closed actually does sound pretty cool. =]

(Also means less work! Just saying!)

Yeah, the fact that you might be able to get a better result whilst simultaneously reducing the work load on lip synching sounds like a win-win to me. The only difficulty would be how to properly convey the fact that it's telepathy and not a failure in lip synching! IIRC, Psychonauts had some sort of solution for this with Milla and Sasha, right? Either way, the simplest solution to the conveyance problem would be to have different speech bubbles for thoughts and regular physical speech. The common format in comics would probably work fine.

I think it would be fine either way. Okami didn't do mouth animations most of the time, although they did do a lot of head-bobbling with the human characters. And pretty much ZERO old school games had mouth animations, and that didn't really create confusion.

Plus, I like the idea of the fox being more of a Homeward Bound kind of fox as opposed to a Babe kind of fox. Homeward Bound had animals talking all over the place, and it wasn't even telepathy. Worked just fine! =D

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