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View Full Version : Cinematic control using magic mouths: Do's and Don'ts



Thegide
02-25-2009, 08:27 PM
Having just spent a lot of time recently working with remote-contolled magic mouths to generate cinematic effects, I thought I'd give a few pointers for those working with them since the system is a bit bugged.

First, let me say cutscenes are a great way to make your LBP level feel like a true independent game. Whether it be for plot or for showing your players where their next objective is, cutscenes are great production value.

Cutscenes are easy to make. Stick a magic mouth at your scene location, and enable the camera option, set the angle. Since magic mouths can be triggered by switches, you can trigger them by any number of means, even if the magic mouth is in another location.

We all know that the amount of text that fits into a magic mouth is fairly short, so it's common to use multiple mouths in one location to string together longer text.

There are a few considerations when stringing together multiple mouths, and this is really what this post is concerned with.

First, mouths placed close together will trigger in a particular order.
- If not using switches to control them, they will trigger in the order in which their sensor radii are entered.
- If using switches, they will trigger in the order in which they are connected by wire. If you detach any of the wires, you will have to rewire everything or your text order can be changed.

Secondly, triggering multiple mouths at once causes all of the messages to pop up at once, in the form of a message queue. Message queues can be buggy, though, and sometimes messages in the queue will disappear before the player has a chance to read them. This post exists to help you understand why this happens and how to fix it. I'll explain further...

Messages disappear from message queues usually when the mouths are located far apart from each other. Of course, to have messages in the queue from distant mouths, we have to be triggering them by SWITCH. The criteria for whether a mouth's message is permanent or temporary is dependent on whether the mouths of the queued messages are visible on-screen.

If you have two mouths activated (one message on screen, one in the queue), the queued message will not disappear if its mouth is visible on-screen while a previous message is being displayed. The criteria holds for multiple queued messages (they will not disappear so long as their mouths are visible in all cutscenes preceding them). (Note: "visible" here is applied only in the sense of location. It does not matter if your mouths are set to visible or invisible).

Keep this in mind when placing your mouths for cutscenes that jump to different on-screen locations. Physical distance for mouths doesn't matter that much... Messages can still disappear from mouths that are placed close together, depending on the camera angles you use! Locate the mouths in a central "area" that is visible in all cutscenes, and your messages will last.

If you have to cut to an area which is very far away, and you cannot possibly keep the other mouths on screen while doing so, you should modify your storyboards/text accordingly so that the far away message cannot be queued with other text bubbles.

Hope this helps!

Miglioshin
02-25-2009, 08:59 PM
Thanked.

It is a first step help and it explained me a few thing concerning the strange behaviour of mouths in MFAch.2...

Gilgamesh
02-25-2009, 09:06 PM
I try to avoid using multiple mouths generally. But if I ever try to make a heavily story-driven level I'll be sure to keep these tips in mind. :)

RockSauron
02-25-2009, 09:20 PM
Considering that my project will be very story heavy, I hope this will help. Thanked and also recommended for the Tips Sticky.

Thegide
02-25-2009, 09:23 PM
Considering that my project will be very story heavy, I hope this will help. Thanked and also recommended for the Tips Sticky.

Glad I can be of help. A sticky nomination is quite an honor :) Thanks.

v0rtex
02-25-2009, 09:58 PM
Very cool. Thanks for the info. And for what it's worth, very nicely explained. For me at least, your explanation made perfect sense and will be very helpful. :)

One quick point of clarification:


If you have two mouths activated (one message on screen, one in the queue), the queued message will not disappear if its mouth is visible on-screen while a previous message is being displayed.

Does this hold true if the MM's are set to "invisible"? They still exist within the visible scope, and their text balloons appear within that area, so I would assume so. I personally do not care for the look of the MM's so mine are always set to invisible.

Thanks!

Thegide
02-25-2009, 10:35 PM
YES! Excellent point. I will clarify that in my first post.

No, it does not matter if the mouths are set to invisible. For cinematics, more often than not you will want to hide the mouths anyways. It's the visible scope that counts, not the human eye in this case.

Rabid-Coot
02-25-2009, 11:18 PM
Here's a vital tip, do not set it to trigger when the player has to be holding something like sponge swings, this causes sackboy to let go and typically results in death.

GruntosUK
02-27-2009, 12:14 PM
I wish I'd seen this post earlier, I spent almost half a day moving and tweaking mouths to get a section of my level right. I basically learned all you have said here, just it took a lot longer to tweak than it did to read this.

Also, Maraz_Mataris talking tool is really good to use for such things. Play his level, it explains it all and gives you the tool as a prize.

dcf
02-27-2009, 02:21 PM
I've put a lot of work into magic mouths as well and discovered many of the same things.

First off, to make queues, I highly recommend Maraz_Matari's talking tools. It's probably the best way to get up to 8 messages (the maximum queue) going at once.

Recently, I've desired a little bit more control in my cut scenes. To do this I've started using magnetic key carts, similar to the ones described by Media Molecule in their survival challenge tutorial.

Basically, I have a car that moves along at a fairly slow pace and periodically passes magnetic key switches. These switches turn on a magic mouth AND activate any "animation" I want to occur while the mouth is activated. The cart then passes the mouth, which automatically closes the text bubble reaches the new one.

Maraz_Maratari's tool has a lot of advantages over this method though. First off, Maraz's talking tool lets the player control how long each dialog box is up for. Also, if using the cut scene camera, it absolutely locks the player in one spot until they've read every message. Using the cart, the player can close a dialogue box early and then move before the next one opens. They might also accidentally skip text. Finally, Maraz's tool takes a lot less creator effort to deploy, which is an important thing.

The advantages to the cart are the ability to sync "animation" with each speech bubble, go beyond 8 mouths and have cutscenes that don't require the camera to see all subsequent mouths. I'd recommend sticking with Maraz's tool if you don't absolutely need one of these things.

Marklin80
02-27-2009, 03:02 PM
Thanks!
It was a little to late though ;), my last level contained a lot of magic mouths and all suffered from this problem you are describing, but now i at least know how to fix it if i encounter it again.

I'm also wondering what advantages mataris mouth device has towards just wiring the mouths in the specific order? From my experience the magic mouth you wired your sensor switch etc to first will trigger first etc, so what is the use for the talking tool?... :confused:

dcf
02-27-2009, 03:33 PM
Thanks!
It was a little to late though ;), my last level contained a lot of magic mouths and all suffered from this problem you are describing, but now i at least know how to fix it if i encounter it again.

I'm also wondering what advantages mataris mouth device has towards just wiring the mouths in the specific order? From my experience the magic mouth you wired your sensor switch etc to first will trigger first etc, so what is the use for the talking tool?... :confused:

It's just an intuitive tool that doesn't take much effort to use and will help you keep track of the order.

RickTheRipper
02-27-2009, 10:15 PM
@dcf: another type of setup you could use for "cutscenes with actions" is a wheel. i'm bringing it up because having a moving cart sounds like it could take up more thermo than a circle (or any other way people have made this tool)

dcf
02-27-2009, 10:48 PM
@dcf: another type of setup you could use for "cutscenes with actions" is a wheel. i'm bringing it up because having a moving cart sounds like it could take up more thermo than a circle (or any other way people have made this tool)

Actually the carts take virtually no thermo.

You make two wheels and a plank of material. Bolt the front wheel and use a motorbolt on the back wheel and place the magnetic key on it. It's one of the most efficient and versatile tools out there. Check out the survival challenge tutorial if you haven't seen it already to see just how powerful these can be. For cutscenes just have an irreversible switch emit the cart.

Thegide
02-27-2009, 11:16 PM
The moving cart is bar none the best way to program multiphase boss fights. I can't say that I've thought about it for mouth control.

My basic setup I used in Shadow Moses: Site B was a P-switch. Unlike the Mm p-switches, I just glue a slab of dissolve to a slab of dark matter. Key on the dissolve, inverted switch on the DM. Wire up your mouths in proper order and trigger the whole thing with a prox sensor connected to the dissolve (or other appropriate switch).

Suprisingly having 10-15 of these control boxes ends up taking up a notch or so of thermo, despite the dark matter.

RickTheRipper
02-28-2009, 01:53 AM
Actually the carts take virtually no thermo.

You make two wheels and a plank of material. Bolt the front wheel and use a motorbolt on the back wheel and place the magnetic key on it. It's one of the most efficient and versatile tools out there. Check out the survival challenge tutorial if you haven't seen it already to see just how powerful these can be. For cutscenes just have an irreversible switch emit the cart.

i'll have to go check that out. is it just a tutorial or do they give it out (prize) as well?

dcf
02-28-2009, 03:30 AM
i'll have to go check that out. is it just a tutorial or do they give it out (prize) as well?

Just a tutorial. I don't have time to look for it right now, but it should be pretty easy to find at little big workshop. Or just google "media molecule survival challenge tutorial" and it will probably show up.

KablooieKablam
05-27-2010, 06:55 AM
THANK YOU. Now I can do my complicated cutscene where it's a telephone call xD