of The Druids:
An Interview with Tobias Schachte
About two months ago, we downloaded a demo of Mystery of the Druids and discovered that there were no subtitles in the cut scenes. So we asked House of Tales a few questions. Tobias Schachte, games designer and Managing Director of House of Tales gave us these answers:
Have House of Tales considered deaf peoples communications needs when they are developing their games?
Of course. During the development we took into consideration people who might not be able to enjoy the voices in the game. In this case, you can activate subtitles in the game, which are displayed simultaneously to the spoken text. Furthermore, we achieved almost perfect lip synchronisation through phonetic speech analysis, which conveys a feeling for the characters even without the text display.
Why aren't there any subtitles in the cut scenes?
cut scenes contain the dramatic build-up of the game.
I would also like to ask who does the subtitles for you and what determines the style and font that is used?
The dialogue lines are written only once, and then automatically used for all production processes. The subtitles are generated directly from the source files that are also used for the recording scripts.
For the subtitle font selection, readability was most decisive. We tried some fonts that looked somewhat more interesting - but some of them were very hard to read. So we used a clear font with a black frame, which is legible on every kind of background. The inner colour of the font changes from character to character, so its always obvious who is currently speaking.
synchronisation is probably very important to some people but to us at
Deaf Gamers, it is not a necessity. Especially when we consider that the
very location of the subtitles means that deaf people will not have their
line of vision upon people's faces but at the top of the screen! This
could easily have been rectified by better positioning. Subtitles can
become involved in what is happening on screen simply by placing them
alongside the character who is speaking, thereby enabling the deaf person
to keep their eyes on the action rather than at the top of the screen.
scenes and subtitling do not seem to go hand in hand with game designers,
do they? LucasArts on the other hand, have learnt by experience, normally
renowned for their subtitling expertise, they did not include subtitled
cut scenes in Grim Fandango. This was a mistake. Gamers demanded that
LucasArts correct this problem immediately, which they did. As for dramatic
effect being spoilt because of subtitles appearing in a cut scene, our
enjoyment of a game is spoilt when you can't follow what is going on.
Why couldn't House of Tales have given people the choice to use subtitles
in cut scenes or not?
To be fair though, there are subtitles in the majority of the game, which are optional. We don't know yet if these are on by default (as with the LucasArts games) but they are colour coded, which should help identify the characters that are speaking. Not if they have their heads turned away from you though! Overall, we must remember that this company has thought about deaf people's communication needs to a certain point and that is great, and as more and more deaf people make their demands, the games industry will have to listen.
thanks go to Tobias for answering our questions.