Thursday, May 21, 2009


I bought Sacred 2 for my 360 when it was released, and traded it back in only a few days later. I didn't even want to make use of my money before getting rid of it. So I agree with GameTrailers' review, as usual. But I'm surprised kinetics was never mentioned.

I call it kinetics, but there might be a better term. What I'm referring to is the feel of action: the way animations and sound effects combine to bring actions to life.

Timing is key to kinetics. Imagine a baseball game. When a player swings his bat, is the animation slow or fast? Either could be fun, but the speed affects the feel. Now consider the sound. Is the crack of the bat against ball perfectly synched with the animation? Or does the sound come a split-second before or after the animation?

Now imagine there is no sound when bat meets ball. That would suck, wouldn't it? No game would forget to include that sound. But what about surrounding sounds? Does the crowd cheer when the batter gets a hit? Does the crowd's noise change at all depending on whether it's a home run, a grounder, or a bunt? What about the player's footsteps as he's running to 1st base? Does they get any sound?

Does every player throw or drop his bat the same way? Does every player swing the same way? Do they all run with the same gait?

The point is that even simple actions can have surprising potential for accompanying sounds and animations. And, generally, the more visual and aural details included, the more compelling an action feels.

So back to Sacred 2. Play that game, Play Diablo 2, and tell me which has better kinetics. Compared to combat in Diablo 2, combat in Sacred 2 feels like flag football. There are more sounds, including reactive lines of dialogue (not commentary... screams, yelps, and such), and animations are quick enough to keep combat tense and frantic. Titan Quest also fails by slowing animations and creating a slight disconnect between player attacks and enemy deaths and defense. That one's a good game, but the timing is slightly off and dying enemies often float in the air a moment.

All games are limited by time and expense. But pinpoint the actions your players will employ most often and devote as many sound effects and animations to those actions as possible. Other parts of your games can be sketched simulations, but core actions should be represented as fully as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I just call it synchronization. :) From my desk chair, it's a simple process to just pay attention while synching the sound to the animations. Yet, there must be something to it because not many MMOs pull it off well at all, LOTRO being a prime example of out-of-synch animations and sounds leading to the overall "oomph" being lessened.

    I picked up Sacred 2 as an Impulse Purchase (eeek!) and... I dunno... I mainly got it because the group I game with was going ga-ga over it so I knew I'd have people to co-op with. I'm still working on figuring out how to actually use the skills rather than mashing the A button repeatedly. It isn't going well; I have a disturbing feeling I may actually have to break down and peruse the manual. Maybe between that and trying to deal with the camera angles, I just haven't noticed animation and sound being out of synch but hey, thanks for putting yet another game flaw in my head that will probably stare me in the face next week when I'm back home! heh

    Also picked up Too Human on the same day cheap from Gamestop and I'm having a helluva lot of fun with it so far! Way more fun than the demo, I'm kinda hoping I can talk a friend of mine into getting it so I'll have a co-op buddy.


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