Brillenpinguin

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Hello everyone!

So, here is the thing: I've been working on my project for a while now and recently came to realize a slight problem I might encounter with one of the main characters of the game. Because I'm planning to make her mute.

I still wanna make her able to communicate, so I thought of using facesets and showing her hands making signs (ASL maybe) to solve that problem, but I'm not sure about that, especially because there are only so many images you can put into your Material Bank.

Does anyone have another idea how to solve that problem?
 
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Kes

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I have no other ideas, but just wanted to pick up your idea about using sign language.

There are almost as many different sign languages as there are countries.  The UK, for example, uses one system and Ireland uses a totally different one.  So even though both countries use English, their sign languages are not mutually understandable - or at least that is what I have been told by a profoundly deaf person.  Although I assume you would have dialogue text 'translating' the signs, it will look very odd to anyone who knows a different sign language.  And for those who don't (the vast majority of players, I guess), you might as well be making it up for all it will convey to them.
 
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TheGamedawg

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One of my favorite interpretations of a mute character in an RPG is Isaac from Golden Sun.  In that game, he communicates simply by nodding or shaking his head.  Simple body language like that seems to be the key here, but that would require a lot of new animations.
 

Vox Novus

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Using facesets wisely is a good idea, a lot of emotion can be conveyed in the face without any words spoken, this holds true even in real life. A part from that you could:

-make thinking segments where the character says what they are thinking in parenthesis so that the player is aware but the characters in game aren't. Perhaps this is even part of the plot of the story, she is thinking one thing but can't express it properly and is misunderstood by other characters in the game at times.

-Make an additional character that understands her also join the group. This is especially true if you want a sign language thing going on in the game. The average person probably doesn't know sign language and it solves the issue with there being variants of it worldwide that Ksjp17 mentioned. You could have a parent or best friend who understands her sign language translate for her.

-A tales series game does something like this, I think it was Xillia (? Didn't play it personally). One of the girl's in the game doesn't generally speak and instead this magic talking stuffed animal does. It turns out the talking animal is the girl expressing bottled up emotions and thoughts. You could have the character speak through other characters at times.
 
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trouble time

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I have a character in my game who's....bot really mute, but she doesn't speak cause of magic, but what I generally do is that she moves around...A LOT. I also do some visual novel-like scenes (though ATM there's no description in these scenes). The other characters tend to understand what she's getting at even from the little movements she does, though they don't always get her intentions right away. Especially the characters that have known her for a long time
 

Uthgard

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Well, my mother is deaf and she despises sign language because it doesn't really solve any comunication issues (her opinion, not mine, it is not my intention to antagonise nor offend anybody over this). As ksjp17 pointed out, it is extremely fragmented, but, even if it wasn't, only deaf and mute persons or close family members have any interest in learning it--for a character who joins the party, it wouldn't be realistic to try to speak to the other characters through signing without them having a chance to learn the language first; it would be far more effective to use body language to convey quick messages or written text for more elaborate communication. Also, the idea of a combo character (think Chewie and Han, for instance) works very well, but not for really important characters, as the "speaking" character takes center stage and deprives the mute of his agency as a character (again, think Chewie and Han). Also, remember that mutes can be very vocal: not being able to speak does not mean they can't make sounds, and, if they are also deaf, the screams and groans can go quite beyond societal conventions (remember the first time you tried to talk to a friend while listening to loud music on your headphones? yeah, just like that).
 
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For a moment I thought you were asking for ideas on silent protagonist, but mute ones...

I dunno. Depending on the era or how serious your game is your character could attempt to comunicate via writing (with notebook papers) or something.

I'd suggest body language too but that would be difficult and require lots of sprites... But maybe you can limit it with emotion ballon pop-ups or even describing what your character is feeling in the game.
 

GrandmaDeb

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A few thoughts:


You can have facial expressions as her communication, but you will need someone to respond by saying things like, "You seem angry."


Some of us dense folks will need that for a while.


Make good use of balloons when you don't want to bother with dialog.


Pay if you have to but have plenty of behaviors. Waving hands, bowing down, a good jump...


And you will need more written communication than most RPGs around here have. Have a quest journal or a narrator, maybe. Or other party members to "interpret"


I am not a fan of the signing idea, myself. You could have an alternative - tattoos =] or a book of runes or whatever...
 
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Wavelength

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It's a common enough character device that TVTropes has several different tropes related to different types of mute characters.  If you want them to be able to communicate, you can use other characters to kind of "speak" for them (e.g. Longshot from Avatar).  If you want them to be able to communicate very clearly, you can have them literally write down what they want to say (e.g. Colette from Tales of Symphonia after she loses her voice).
 

Brillenpinguin

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Wow! I never thought I'd get this much input! Thank you so much for all your replies!

Especially @Uthgard's @GrandmaDeb's input helped me alot.
I talked with my partner about the ideas and we have settled on a solution.
 

I'm glad this topic was talked about with an open mind and from so many perspectives.
Thank you for the help :)
 

Celianna

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It's a common enough character device that TVTropes has several different tropes related to different types of mute characters.  If you want them to be able to communicate, you can use other characters to kind of "speak" for them (e.g. Longshot from Avatar).  If you want them to be able to communicate very clearly, you can have them literally write down what they want to say (e.g. Colette from Tales of Symphonia after she loses her voice).
I like this, create another character that's close to your mute character, and have them speak for the mute character.


For example, the mute character is a bit irritated. The friend would say "Hey, X is telling you to piss off because you're annoying him. So move along now."
 

trouble time

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I like this, create another character that's close to your mute character, and have them speak for the mute character.

For example, the mute character is a bit irritated. The friend would say "Hey, X is telling you to piss off because you're annoying him. So move along now."
I actually take an alternative to this since that the other character only reacts to what the character is "saying" for a similar example "Woah, calm down, he's not worth it." to show that the mute character is pissed off.
 

Brillenpinguin

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@trouble time @Celianna:
I've thought about that as a possible solution too, actually, maybe in form of an animal companion - but that doesn't make sense in context of my world building and I don't wan the character to rely on another character to be able to communicate or express her emotions, so I dropped it.
however I really like the main idea :) Reminds me of Dogma's Silent Bob. I'll keep it in mind for other projects!
 

LaFlibuste

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I also plan on having a non-speaking character in my game but my plan was more to have him communicate through e-mote of sorts. Maybe/probably with facesets too, if I can put the decent enough art together. Some thing like this:

Mute characters suddenly sees/hears/whatever something he wants to go see or investigate:

(Insert surprised faceset) : [Pulls on XXXX's sleeve and insistently points towards the docks.]

Anyway, I'd avoid having a cheap thought-reading effect to communicate intentions with the player. I feel it'd kill the mood. Much like with writing and storytelling, I feel that if you have to specify things verbally, like writing "That event I just described was intense and scary", then it probably wasn't really that intense and scary and your writing is poor.
 
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noctiluca

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The character could communicate with universal body language. Starting with stuff as simple as nodding/shaking head (the nodding/looking down can also be used for more sad or introspective moments) and then adding more sprite poses as they are needed in the story.

Other option is facesets and going "......" but I think sprite poses would make a more endearing character.
 

Oddball

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Does mute exclude thought bubbles?

Im using emote bubbles and i put a reason behind why my charecter is mute. Also, theres not that many npcs in my game to interact with so theres that
 

LaFlibuste

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I think sprite poses would make a more endearing character.
I totally agree with this. There are considerations to be had, however. Animating all those sprite poses can represent quite the workload. Also, if the mute character is the only one using sprite poses, it might unbalance the focus, place too much attention on him/her. If s/he is the central focal point of the sotry, fine, but if it's a secondary hero... So then every other character would need to have sprite poses too (a few ones, at least, even if the mute character has the most). And ideally this wouldn't just be for the main characters, NPCs might get to use sprite poses once in a while, too. The most important NPCs, at least. Doing sprite poses for a single character represents quite the workload already, imagine doing it for a dozen or two? I'm not saying it's undoable, I'm just saying all that work is something to be considered and, in the grand scheme of things, where we have limited time, limited skills and limited motivation, having a complete/more developed feature-wise game might be preferable over having a bunch of more endearing sprites using all kinds of poses. In the end, it's all design choices, but feel free to go for it if you feel like it :) It's not something I would do for my one-man project with my current skill-set, however. But that's just me.

Thought bubbles might be a good middle ground. Maybe they're cliché now, I don't know, I've kinda been off that kind of market for a while and never have been into anime or whatever, but I remember them fondly from the first Tales games.
 
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