Starhawk Analysis

Cutscenes:

Starhawk features an amazing reference for the style of animated cut scenes that I have been discussing with Jade.

As standard the general vibe that we have been discussing is a cut scene that features a washed out colour palette to contend with the vivid palette for the in-game graphics. Starhawk feature this but also adds in limited colour to accentuate the Rift Energy that is key to the gameplay. The contrast of the blue Rift energy against the overall sepia tones adds a focus point but also identifies the enemy without the gameplay beginning. This is down to the enemy force being highlighted when in the distance by the radiating blue of the Rift energy that they use and abuse.

The transition between the cut scene and the gameplay is smooth as it often fades from the animation to a replicated in-game graphic, this can be seen at the beginning of the cut scene below:

Another thing that myself and Jade wanted to implement is a small amount of animation within the cut scenes so that they feel static like motion comics. Starhawk does have some movement in terms of the characters but it also uses the idea of layers to exaggerate the depth and movement.

Key things to implement:

  • contrast the colour palette to separate the bad guys from the good guys
  • decide how much movement we want to have? and how jerky it will be?
  • utilise layers to add depth to flat images
  • how smooth is the transition between animation and gameplay?

Gameplay:

The gameplay of Starhawk is ambitious in parts as it merges third person shooter mechanics with tactical gameplay. As you control Emmett Graves (protagonist/Player character) you are able to call down support buildings that range from Rift energy extractors to Hawk launch pads to Beam cannons. The gameplay is in the first instance quite unique as you are given control over the entirety of the battle, but like most shooters Starhawk focusses on the idea that Emmett is powerful enough to take down hordes by himself. Thats not to say that you cannot gain backup, you can infact call down Outposts, which will replenish allies to aid in the fight. Generally though, you don’t need this help and the allies are only really useful to redirect enemy fire away from Emmett.

Whilst you have control over the battle you can choose your method of assault, which is sometimes limited depending on which mission you are on, but as you progress the player has more control over their choice of combat. This is important because the gameplay within Starhawk is really easy and fluid. For instance a heavy part of the concept is foccused on the Hawks;

Hawk’s begins as a ground based mech which turns into this airbourne fighter:

A player can easily build a launch pad, jump into a hawk and begin flight combat in around a minute or two of gameplay. The fluid movement between the Hawk being airbourne and a ground mech is so fluid that it makes it not seem like a chore at all. This could be argued both positively and negatively in terms of immersion of the player, but as a player, you can’t help admiring the smooth transitions within this game. In a more contextual view, this fluidity maintains the pace of the game, as it is a heavily action focussed shooter.

Character:

Emmett Graves is a rather unorthodox protagonist. He’s an outcast to both factions within this game, he doesnt belong to the Outcasts because he hasn’t fully embraced the Rift transformation and he isn’t part of the Miners because he has Rift energy flowing through his veins. Although the story of Starhawk isn’t that great and doesnt really develop Emmett as a character, the initial concept is very similar to my protagonist Quade.

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