Intelligent Thoughts

To begin designs for user interface, I’ve started up the style I want for graphical elements with these speech bubble text boxes. These simple square boxes are designed to float above the character speaking or thinking, and display mainly images depending on what it is that they need to communicate. The idea is to keep dialogue to a minimum- due to the communication problems associated with foreign languages. I was mainly inspired to use speech bubbles in this way by the anime short Cat Soup, which uses a lot of visual techniques to represent dialogue.

This isn’t the first time a similar technique has been used in a game. The hand-drawn Indie game Machinarium doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, and uses images and animations in speech and though bubbles to provide the player with gameplay hints and set the story.

I was initially thinking of using a very simple square design, but at the last minute came up with the swirly square design based on the “auspicious cloud” design. The design sort of evolved as I worked out what worked best in a small space with the swirl in the corner.

In Game Maker, I can use one image as a parent object for all “dialogue”, and simply change the content of the box using a sequence of sprites which appear to be inside the box. I tested this on the pacing cat I created yesterday, making sure the box followed the cat. This was simply done with one piece of code with makes the x value of the box the same as the x value of the cat:


I then incorporated a timing system to time the image in and out based on a set time, so that the cat periodically thinks about fish- as long as he pacing and not following the player.

I’ve also created another example of a very small dialogue sequence for the newly placed character-the Shinto Priest. This polite character stands outside the Ryokan and bows as the player passes by. When the player gets within a certain distance, the speech bubble appears displaying the objective and the amount of blossoms needed for progression, although I’m not sure how effective this is as a method of instructing the player in the initial level.

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