Archive for December 31st, 2010


Cinematically Yours

December 31, 2010

When I first caught wind of today’s the Star Wars: The Old Republic update, I immediately thought, “Oh, another dev blog.” Don’t get me wrong, because I do enjoy these dev blogs quite a bit…but I usually find these types of updates moderate in terms of content and more subdued, so I never expect to get too pumped up.

This dev blog by Paul Marino on Cinematic Design is a little different though, because admittedly I  have a personal interest. First of all, the main draw of this game is the story, and you can’t tell a good story without getting your audience emotionally involved. There’s also the matter of choice in SWTOR, and obviously the cinematic decisions for, say, a light-sided action versus a dark-sided one would be completely different. Hence, I’m very curious for any insight from the team behind the magic.

Second of all, somehow reading this article brought to mind several of the independent comic projects I’ve had to tackle in the past, and I remember all too well the many challenges in the “storyboarding” process. So many questions like how to set up a series of sequential images to tell a story, how to layout a frame, or what to do to get the most dramatic angle to capture the look and feel of a scene. It’s all about mood. Should the “camera” pan up? Down? Wide shot? Close up? What about body language?

Cinematic design for a game obviously encompasses so much more. Now you also have considerations like a dynamic environment, character movement, music, voice work, etc. etc. etc. There are a lot more tools at your disposal, but so much more that demands your attention and so many more teams to coordinate with. I am amazed Mr. Marino is able to say everything in about ten paragraphs in this dev blog; I’ll bet he probably could have written a entire book given the scope of his work, especially for a game like SWTOR. I mean, in his own words, almost every discipline in the studio works with the Cinematic Design department in some capacity. The guy has a really cool job; if he had written a book, I think I would have read it all gladly.

And finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the dev blog also came with a couple short clips to illustrate the significance of Cinematic Design.

The only adverse thing I noticed was the limited facial expressions, especially in the first clip where for a few seconds there I totally got that Knights of the Old Republic feel from the Alderaanian’s sort of deadpan eyes. I wonder if there will be further tweaks to that, though in the end I don’t think it takes too much from the scene. I also noticed that player characters look really, really good (that Sith Pureblood in the first clip at 0:30, anyone?) The second clip was also surprisingly humorous. I didn’t even realize I laughed out loud while watching it until my husband called to me from the kitchen and asked what was so funny.

Don’t know what else to say except that both these scenes appear really well done. And it’s interesting how I got so pumped after this update, since I’m usually pretty good at keeping my excitement in check. The thing is, as eager as I am for this game to come out, I can also be very patient. I’ve sat through relatively more amazing updates like class trailers and major reveals earlier this year without batting an eye, but this dev blog comes along and for the first time in many months I’m really, really, really dying to play this game. Thanks, Bioware, great update to wrap up 2010.