Facesets vs Busts

Calluses

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I agree with what a lot of people here have said. A big difference I find with closeups are that they normally look a lot better when they're windowed in some form. Face graphics are easy to fit into dialogue windows by default - but since busts are much larger, they're usually better off with a full background image (not always though, sometimes there are really neat frames for full busts).

Using one or the other or both would probably depend on how compatible they are with game play. Regardless of bust-style and size, as long as the sets are emotive, the dialogue should come out nicely.
 

Frostorm

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@Guardinthena It's exactly this dark fantasy style that I love! I don't suppose you do commissions? lol
 
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If you want to emphasize the physical emplacement and movements of characters in a scene, face sets are better.

If you want to emphasize dialogue and emotional expression, busts are better.

(with a number of exceptions of course)
 

Aesica

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Busts look a lot better, however I tend not use them because they're more artistically demanding. This causes a few problems, at least in my opinion:
  • Important characters become obvious. Talking to Tavernkeeper Joe, Smith the Smithy, or Madam Yaga the Fortuneteller etc yields a basic portrait or none at all. Meanwhile, talking to Exotic Traveler presents me with a full bust? Gee, I wonder who's fighting me and/or joining my party next!
  • The art better be good and/or a style I like. As I said already, they're more artistically demanding, and personally I find myself more easily forgiving mediocre art in character portraits vs busts, because the former is less in my face. (Disclaimer: Your art is good, so that should be fine)
  • Busts take up more screen space. If you're trying to choreograph a cutscene, you'll have to take into consideration the fact that your character busts might be partially or fully obscuring it.
Just my thoughts anyway, even though I"m late to the party I imagine.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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Important characters become obvious. Talking to Tavernkeeper Joe, Smith the Smithy, or Madam Yaga the Fortuneteller etc yields a basic portrait or none at all. Meanwhile, talking to Exotic Traveler presents me with a full bust? Gee, I wonder who's fighting me and/or joining my party next!
Is this a bad thing though?
 

Guardinthena

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Is this a bad thing though?
I think it depends on how it is implemented. I have played games where the only character facesets were the recruitable actors and the villains and that was great because it created a visual reliable cue.

But I can see where it might be odd when, say, the creator had the intention of creating larger character portraits and never got around to doing it for the rest of the game, so there would be a discrepancy in, say, is this character recruit-able, a villain, or someone pivotal to the game play. I can see where it is a problem then because of inconsistency.
 

woootbm

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I think, historically, the reasoning for this choice in a given game has to do with storage. An NES cartridge is mere kilobytes of storage, and a SNES one is like 1 MB or less, if I remember correctly. So the idea of having a bunch of large sprites inserted for dialogue was just not reasonable. Modern games are essentially just evoking this style for either "retro" appearance or just a sense of tradition.

When it comes to RPG Maker, it can be a budgetary thing. Only the "heroes" of my first game had custom art done. So I didn't do busts because it would be weird that the NPC's wouldn't get busts themselves. I've seen RPG Maker games brazenly just have busts talking to faces, or busts talking to nothing. I assume this is for the same reason; the NPC in question did not get custom art done for it. I don't think that looks so good, heh.

My plan in my next game is actually to mix and match. For parts where there's a lot going on during dialogue (like if it pops up in the middle of combat) I'll use faces. When it's a full-on conversation cutscene, it'll be busts to show that nice art off. So to me the reasoning is purely down to screen real estate management. And busts take up a lot of screen space.
 

Frostorm

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@Guardinthena What resolution are you running btw? It looks like 1920x1080, which gives you lots of real estate for large busts like yours.
 

FirestormNeos

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Both. Bust for body language and facial expression, faceset for tone of voice and internal mood.
 

Aesica

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Is this a bad thing though?
I guess it depends overall what you (the developer) want out of your game. In games I've played where this is the case, I usually find it somewhat immersion-breaking when [random townsperson] has no portrait at all, but [mysterious stranger] by the fountain pops up a full bust when I talk to them. It's like the developer thinks they need to say "HAY THIS GUY IS IMPORTANT" rather than just letting me figure it out on my own by forming my own conclusion.

In my game, everybody gets a portrait (thanks facemaker!) and I do mean everybody.

I think, historically, the reasoning for this choice in a given game has to do with storage. An NES cartridge is mere kilobytes of storage, and a SNES one is like 1 MB or less, if I remember correctly.
SNES game sizes varied greatly. Games like Star Ocean were around 6 megabytes (huge at the time) but overall, yeah. Size was a major contributor, but also, not giving everybody a portrait cuts down on development time and asset requirements.

That said, one could also argue that game size still matters for any RM developer attempting to deploy a web game today. Back in my Flash days, making the game as small as possible was important because 1. many portals had upload size restrictions and 2. if your game was too big, the preload sequence took too long and sometimes that could cost you impatient players. (When your game is free, people are a lot less committed to playing it)
 

Guardinthena

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@Frostorm, sorry I wasn't able to reply back sooner. So, I do have a lot more screen real estate than normal. I'm using a plugin that automatically opens my game in full screen, (no black bars on the side or windowed mode) so I have quite a lot of map space to work with. By resolution are you talking about my tv screen resolution or the game itself? My tv is 4k, so its 3840x2160. For the game, as I said, I have a plugin that adjusts it to full screen while running Yanflys core engine plugin which is set to 1280x720......not sure if I even need that to be honest.

I've never done commercial work before but I've been wanting to give it a shot. Drop me a PM and we'll talk.

@Aesica -I do agree that not having facesets for everyone breaks the immersion. Imagine playing a top AAA game and the faces were missing off of the 3D npcs? I am doing the same where all the npcs have facesets too. Extra work but so worth it.
 

Milennin

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I think facesets work just fine, and they're easier to use. Not just easier to make art for for different characters, but you also don't have to worry about body poses, since it's just the head. You can easily make multiple facesets portraying a wide variety of emotions for a character, but doing the same for busts is either going to look awkward or require a ton of extra work.
Busts require the artwork to be good, otherwise it's just going to be an eyesore. Busts also limit the amount of action during on-map cutscenes. I just don't really see the upside to busts in an RPG, except if you got high quality artwork and are willing to work around the cutscene limitations they bring with them, and the extra work that requires implementing them.
 

Raths Rants

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For the example given I would choose the bust. It's more of a personal preference.

To be honest, I am really on the fence.
 

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