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I'm currently working on the animations that present the story.

Right now my animations are scripted. They allow me to dictate the pace of the scene. My dialogue bubbles expire on a simple "time per char" system or scripted time where needed.

I was wondering that maybe i should let the user control the flow with a click for each major frame. This gives him the time he needs to read and process the dialogue.

But that breaks the flow. For example: when i want to create agitation, dialogues are really fast, barely readable etc.. Important stuff on the other hand is slow.

So my question is, what would your approach and why? Generally speaking. What do users prefer in these cases?

Platform is phones, scenes are presented in the same env as game engine, with characters only walking and talking.

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I believe the correct answer to be 100% both.

Based on how you've implemented it, you're going to want to do one or more of a few things:

First, I think it's a big deal that you present your game artistically and in a meaningful way.
I would never argue with that requirement. If the best way to do that, at various points of the story is through text, then do it exactly that way.

At the same time, never prevent a user from speeding through your presentation, either.
If somebody is so excited by your gameplay that they'd rather burn through the cutscenes and read a synopsis or read it on a second playthrough, because they just want to go back to being awesome, then you should let them do that, as well.

Depending on the game, I'm totally both. I'll still watch every cutscene in Anachronox or every talking head in Fallout 1...
...but how annoying is it when you just want to auto-skip the 5-minute cutscenes in Max Payne 3, to get back to mowing down half of Brazil?

So the solution might be to do something like this:

  1. Set different paces (rather than speeds) for your text-display.
  2. Have user-selected "speeds", which operate like a multiplier (slow_rate = slow_pace * speed)
  3. When starting a cutscene, allow for users to hold the text box to speed up delivery...
    Or allow them to tap the box to dump that full card worth of text into the box...
    Allow them to tap again to skip to the next box...
    Consider allowing a swap between auto and manual (and sped-auto, by holding)...
    Give them an option to outright skip over the cutscene, and teleport them to the next section

Really, there are a lot of things that you can do, here.

Perhaps your cutscenes might appear "out of sync" if you line up animations with key moments in the text...

That's okay, if you teleport forward in the scene, as well as on the cards, or play everything at double-speed if people are trying to fast-forward the text... ...or selectively choose which animations appear in fast-forward or not...
...or just ignore it altogether (as long as player-state is perfect when the game starts again).

Players who are actively trying to speed-read, or are actively trying to skip the cutscenes and get back to gameplay aren't going to be upset that you didn't find a way to convey ALL of the animation and voiceovers, et cetera, in the 500ms that they were willing to wait, before playing again.

The point is more that you should try to appease both, if possible, and do so without stepping on your art, unless they're asking to skip it.

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I agree with what you said, but I'm not sure that i have to please all 3. If you want to skip, you have the skip button, thats a must. If you want to watch, then wouldn't you like whatever I show? The custom pace speed is a great idea and i'll adopt it, but I'm not sure that creating so many customizations(and mostly solving those sync issues) is worth it. I'm also scared that if i put a "next frame" option, people will use it instinctively, even if they would normally watch the thing as presented. –  ggpuz Jan 3 '13 at 22:55
    
@ggpuz They might. However, the point is that if you don't do that, there are people who will just flat-out not play your game again. My friends sort of run the gamut from people who will spend 6 hours reading the game's codex and diaries, if they're there, to friends who will seriously stop playing if there's a 2-minute cutscene after every level. Even if it was the same game, and that was the only determining factor (Dragon Age 1 appealed to both people, for instance). Personally, I'm happy to watch, but I hate knowing that I'm forced to. And just skip the animation syncing... –  Norguard Jan 3 '13 at 23:00
    
...if people want to speed read, then just teleport them to the point in the action where they line up with the text (if it matters), or if they're walking along infinite scrolling backgrounds, then it's simpler... ...if people want to skip the whole shebang, let them. Or don't, I mean, it's your game. But as a hobbyist game-maker, a musical-comedian with an EP, etc, an amateur actor, a technical-writer and a data-analyst who writes for my CEO, I know all about the frustration of TL:DR. BUT there's really no escaping it. If people want less, let them have it. –  Norguard Jan 3 '13 at 23:03
    
@ggpuz I will also add that you probably shouldn't put a button in for "next-textbox". Not an arrow or something which is distinctly a button. Make it a tap on the text box/text-area, after the text has already filled the box, or something similar. Make it intuitive for someone who just wants to speed-read through, and catch the context, but get back to the killing, etc. Put the skip-everything button out of accidental reach. I'm thinking that the text is being delivered in an SNES RPG or Japanese Dating Sim fashion, here, but the control interface is touch-based. If I'm wrong, let me know. –  Norguard Jan 4 '13 at 18:08
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I know that I personally always prefer to have complete control over the flow of dialogue, except in real-time situations. I get annoyed when a game prevents me from reading at my own pace. One major plus for me is when games have a setting that changes the default speed at which text is displayed on the screen.

One possible approach to your specific situation would be to implement manga iconography (or something similar) to convey emotion, while allowing the user to control the flow of dialogue himself. Admittedly, whether or not this is feasible depends on the style of your game.

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I can picture your suggestion, and it's a nice one, but my graphics are poor emotions-wise and it would not work. I'll keep the idea in mind thanks. –  ggpuz Jan 3 '13 at 22:55
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