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Music and sound effects played a key role for the creation of emotional attachment. This session encompasses my work  related to the dog whimpering sounds, the background music and the main character's voice (Ixion's).

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Dog Sounds

In order to address players' feedback regarding the dog’s lack of self-preservation, I added whining sounds for moments when it got hurt, contributing to its overall presence in the world as a companion. Although Skyrim provided very good dog whimpering sounds, it is not possible to control completely when they are going to be played. As I had to make sure Reus was going to whimper every time it got hurt, I ended up implementing a system that made sure that happened properly. The following script runs on the dog's actor helping define its behavior.

Playing the proper sound: the above method triggers every time something hits Reus, performing a check to see if such thing is valid (weapon or hazard). The code within the green box is responsible for playing the dog hurt sound and making the necessary changes to trigger the main character's feedback and alter the dog's mood state.

Reus' whining sounds made players care about it

Background Music

An important part of setting up the proper stage to invoke specific emotions into players is the background music, given how it shapes the mood and the tone of the game. Thus, I went through the Skyrim’s background music list, selecting the ones that settled proper tones, such as dread or menace, as well as, loss and sadness. Then, I created objects that wrapped the selected music samples and set up the trigger volumes to detect player’s presence and fade the background music accordingly.

The green box is a trigger volume, responsible for changing the background music to another, more dramatic, and sadder track

Finding out that Ixion’s dad gave his life to protect his son, killing the bear that attacked them - ominous background music sets the tone of this moment.

Ixion's voice

Part of the reason behind players' confusion with the level mechanics was the lack of feedback from mechanics. A major comment from playtest sessions was that players expected some sort of feedback coming from Ixion, the boy, when he interacted with his companion dog. I addressed that issue by tweaking the dog commanding implementation to detect the companion’s states with more accuracy, which allowed more granular feedback. Every time players use one of the commands, they receive feedback in form of dialogue lines and audio in accordance to their action and to the companion’s reaction. That provided a better support for players to distinguish moments in which dog found something from moments that it did not find anything on top of adding more to their relationship.

  • Dog sniffing/searching command: as my voice was not adequate for a male child, my girlfriend helped recording a couple of lines, which I tweaked the pitch, trimmed and modulated using Audacity Software, in order to achieve satisfactory results 

Ixion's positive feedback (BEFORE) - Renan Lima
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Ixion's positive feedback (AFTER) - Renan Lima
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Audacity's sample of search command's different versions of feedback - first one is the original audio (BEFORE) and the last one is  the final result (AFTER adjustments)

Video showing both situations (with positive feedback and negative feedback)

  • Dog comeback command: also, as I do not know how to whistle, my roommate helped with that one. I recorded his whistle several times, trimme, and removed the background noise with Audacity to make the proper audio feedback for this mechanic

Whistle (BEFORE) - Renan Lima
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Whistle (AFTER) - Renan Lima
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Audacity's sample of comeback command's different versions of feedback - first one is the original audio (BEFORE) and the last one is  the final result (AFTER adjustments)

Emotional Design

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