Why Character Portraits Are Missing From Rune Factory Oceans

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With the initial reveal of Rune Factory Oceans and opening salvo of screenshots out of the way, the game’s producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, kicked off a developer blog with a post on a couple of development and design tidbits.


The first is to do with loading times. If you played Rune Factory Frontier, you may recall that it would put up a loading screen whenever you walked from one area to the next and the game needed to load all the new geometry and textures in for the new area.


Oceans still requires this, but load times are something that Marvelous and developer, Neverland, are trying to cut down on. Hashimoto says that constant research and development was performed with the lofty goal of attaining load times similar to those of Muramasa: The Demon Blade — or that is to say, no load times between areas at all.


While Oceans isn’t quite there, load times have been cut down drastically so that the transition from area to area only takes about two seconds, which is a pretty major improvement over Frontier.



The second point Hashimoto talks about is conversations and events. In Rune Factory Frontier, like a lot of role-playing games, you had character portraits (like the example image above) to help express emotion during conversations. The camera angle was also such that your character model was viewed from a bit of a distance.


rf_oceans_event_01 rf_oceans_event_02

In Oceans, character models are front and centre during conversations, in place of portraits. We aren’t entirely sure yet if they’re just posed in different ways to be a 3D substitute for portraits or whether they actually animate.


Hashimoto says this was done because he believes 3D models can be used to better convey body language, such as determined or embarrassed poses. He wants the characters to feel “alive” and feels that 3D helps make the events feel more dramatic.


This decision on his part, he says, caused a lot of trouble for the team working on the events. It should also be pointed out that posing 3D models in different ways is far easier than creating a new portrait for each pose, so we dare say this factored into the decision as well.


Hashimoto closes his post out by saying that he’d like to show people more soon in a follow-up, and asks that fans wait a little longer.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.