一气呵成 &按关键帧方法（Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose）
Adding Weight to Your Game Design Part 3: Staging
by Michael Jungbluth
Applied to Animation
Staging lets the player know what in the world has the most weight. This means you must know what you want to tell the player, and have everything else frame that focal point. Clarity is the key and being aware of the entire scene is essential. In animation, this means everything on the screen and the performance needs to be designed to keep the focus on what is important.
The environment, the pose of the character, the way they motion with their hands, where they look with their eyes… it all comes together to focus the player’s attention on where and what is important. Even without words or sound the player needs to instantly understand and connect to what they are seeing, and clear staging is the key.
Staging is also how you can psychologically impact or deceive the player when the character or scene’s deeper intent is not what they are being lead to believe. How you tilt a camera or place objects in an environment can quickly make the player feel a sense of emotional weight in a very subtle way.
Applied to Game Design
In game design, think again of the whole scene. Think of where the characters are standing. Think about the lighting. Think about the placement of power-ups. Think about the clutter, and the definition of shapes surrounding the environment. How does a long corridor with lots of debris feel compared to a wide open room? When in a forest, think of the difference of having gnarly, spiney trees vs towering redwoods or young, sprouting saplings.
Figure out your intent and theme, and everything else should lead to what is most important at that moment, to the level, and to the narrative being delivered. Then after you have established those major points, make sure everything else in the scene supports that focus, and does not compete with it.
Because when they compete, that is when you get players confused on where to go, what their objectives are, what a mechanic is used for and what to do next. And once you or your game are no longer clear of what you want with the player, they will lose their investment on where they fit in the world. And once investment is lost, getting the player back is harder than establishing it in the first place.
This isn’t to say you can only have one thing going on at a time. Just stage the most important gameplay elements for the player as the core. Make sure both you and the player are focused on what tool or mechanic best fits the situation, and have all the other elements and mechanics support and frame the focus. This will make that element feel stronger and carry more weight in the world, which will organically connect the player, the game and the designer.
Depth and space are big parts of staging. The quickest way for a character on a 2d screen to look like it is immersed in the world is to layer the poses and performance depth. Animators do this through overlapping body parts, being aware of the negative space throughout and around the body, and making sure their silhouettes read. They think of the foreground, middle ground and background, and pose the character in a way that the depth makes the focus feel all the more supported.
This same attention to depth needs to be defined in your core gameplay. You don’t want to have all your mechanics be at the same depth in the same scene. Layer them, so that some are in the background, receding into the back of the players mind and others are at the forefront.
This is especially key when introducing new features or upgrades to a mechanic. This could also be used for the mechanics that are second nature and always in the background. They can be instantly identified without too many details if you have something in the foreground that requires more attention, such as a high level mechanic that requires more concentration from the player.
The quickest way to see if your staging or pose works on animation is to reduce it to a silhouette. And this is something game design can benefit from a lot. What you are essentially doing is getting rid of the white noise. It helps you get past all of the details. It says, can you read and understand what is going on with just the most minimal of information and is the core strong enough to stand on its own. Is the character or emotion instantly recognizable based solely on the shapes.
This can be done with game design in many ways. Build the game with rough geometry to make sure playing through the area is fun even without the art. Without any lighting, see if you can frame your level in a way that leads player in the direction you want them to go. Keep characters in T-pose to see if you can build the scenario you want without adding elaborate animations.
Can you make a chase feel tense based only on the speed & timing of the enemy, without all the sprints, jumps and tackles? Can you make your environment come alive with the proper placement of T-posed characters pathing through the world? Because if the silhouette of the game is strong, then everything the player does in it will have weight.
If players are getting lost, either on what to do next or just losing interest in general, checking your staging will go a long way to figuring out why that is. Either your performance is being lost or your core gameplay isn’t being framed properly by the rest of the experience. But if you always keep in mind your staging, and always ask what is the focus of the moment, both you and the player will be able to move forward. And when you have everything staged properly, the weight of everything you create will be easily defined by everything else around it.
Adding Weight to Your Game Design Part 4: Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose
Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose
Applied to Animation
This principle is all about process. It is two different methods used for finding and creating the character and purpose in a performance.
In animation terms, straight ahead means just starting at the beginning, and fleshing it out as you go along. You don’t have much of a road map & you are allowing it to come out organically. It means staying in character throughout and keeping the purpose at the front of your mind at all times. It is the ultimate juggling act. Because if you aren’t careful, your timing can quickly fall apart, your actions become inconsistent, and your character loses its truth… its digital weight.
Pose to pose means you are figuring out the major beats of the performance or action up front, and roughing out all the parts at once. This means the poses you focus on are very strong and you can quickly see how the whole thing plays out. Once you get those nailed down, you can then focus on making sure everything in-between links up smoothly. You make sure each pose & each expression you create and time out hit the marks you want. Where you have to be careful is keeping it from becoming so planned that it becomes mechanical and loses the energy of the performance. And once something becomes mechanical, its weight will be questioned.
As you can see, neither are the magic bullet but both offer great solutions when creating something with true weight.
Applied to Game Design
In game design, the two methods translate almost perfectly. What it really comes down to is known vs. unknown, and much like animation, the best results come from using both methods, as the case demands.
Planning on paper is pose to pose. You try to identify the major systems and solutions on the page so that you can get the core in quickly, fleshing out what comes in-between after it is firmly established. This works great when you have a larger team coming online, as it is easier to show everyone the big picture when you have it mapped out. You can keep that map out for everyone to see, and everyone knows where their piece fits. Having those core beats, moments and mechanics instantly keeps the vision alive for everyone involved. But when something can’t be worked out on paper, it can be best just diving in and organically working it out along the way. This is using straight ahead, so that you can play test the unknowns to find out which work. This requires a lot of communication, overall understanding of the creations purpose and trust amongst all the disciplines as no one person can create everything on their own. This is the ultimate jam session, and everyone involved needs to understand the other band members. This is where the most ownership comes from, and where some truly energetic and organic creations can come from. But also where the most chance for failure can happen. It’s essentially performing without a net. You never feel more alive, but if you make a big mistake, you will feel it.
Knowing when to use which method and the strengths and weaknesses of both is the true fundamental. And in both cases, it takes a great leader to identify which method works best and that the vision remains consistent throughout. If you only use pose to pose in your development, the team can feel like a cog in the machine. But if you only have a straight ahead development, you can quickly find that the parts don’t match, and you have mixed visions. But beyond managing teams, this can go for designing a level, upgrading player’s moves, or building more complex puzzles through out the game. Any time you have to create something, you will be somewhere between these two options.
And it really is a mixture of both that yields the best results. When you encounter the unknown it is best to think from pose to pose, so that you can figure out how to make it work. This gives you a chance to learn and experiment on the key aspects, until you feel completely sure of their strength. Then go to town and do some straight ahead game design to link those posed out actions or features. This is the point where you know your tools, you know your intent, and you just let it flow and allow your subconscious to come out and play. When scrum is working as is intended, it embodies this idea perfectly of merging the two methods.
Innovation can be found in both though. For large innovations, it is usually something that tries to be harnessed first by thinking and talking about to grasp the initial kinks. You try to pose it out as best you can to answer your questions. And it is through straight ahead that you can find meaningful iterative innovation. It is those small surprises that appear when you just let yourself go that just feel really good. But it is through using both that you will focus on maintaining the weight of your creations.（Source：gamasutra Part3，Part4）