On Dialogue Menus

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT
 

On Dialogue Menus

Tired of the generic and bland dialogue menus offered in games? Yahtzee has a solution.

Read Full Article

Well, it's interesting, at least, your idea.

But whether we really want to make talking a task is another issue, since, well, your idea sounds like a chore what with all the amount of deviation that could happen (what, like 4x4x?+1, or are we giving diagonal spaces too making it 8x8x?+1[?being the amount of times your choice makes a difference in the conversation and the 1 being not doing anything?])and the amount of effort it'll take since frankly, I didn't buy a game to play its innovative talking system, but then again there's that "LEAVE" option, isn't there?

Damn, I was just getting interested at the end.

In all seriousness, the dual stick idea sounds like it has merit. I'm reminded somewhat of the conversation scheme from Mass Effect - while you still had hard-scripted responses, the conversations seemed to flow more naturally because you chose a general attitude rather than the response itself. It felt more like a real conversation and less like the Gandalf-Saurman back-and-forth that I thought of when the puppets got involved.

That's a very involved system of conversation.

Good, but I expect it would get tedious as you got further into the game. And the only way I can see players being willing to speak with NPCs beyond required plot interactions would be to have a number of information grinds. By which I mean that the information the player requires would be randomly assigned to a local NPC and the player would have to talk to the locals until they happened upon the correct NPC and wheedled the information out of them.

Quite simply I think the main issue with attempting a more realistic conversation system is that many players don't want to spend the time conversing with the populace. Especially when they could be using that time to go kill whatever the shadowy force plagueing the land is.

That said, I'd love to see more realistic conversation in games.

This is a good idea. he's right about scripting a conversation with this much complexity and then multiplying it by however many NPC are in the game might be a challenge, but its a good idea nonetheless. This would have made a game like Fallout 3 better, since you have this whole skill devoted to speech and all it does is determine how much of a chance a pre-scripted conversation bit has of working. With this kind of system speech might have been more like an actual skill.

mmm...

I really think this would work, i really enjoyed the conversations in Leisure Suit Larry, they where imaginative and a challenge in its own, and well, since the game is about you hooking up with chicks its fairly understandable that just "choose an option" would not work

in the end what i would love to see is a game where context matters, just what you say, the emotion you put into the theme of discussion would be a great idea to make someone like or dislike you, and that way it would be more easy to be a douche for all those people that only choose to be a douche for the sake of being a douche... but after you have being a douche with everyone where would you get information??

well... perhaps some people like douches and they will give you the info you need :P

And the shoulder buttons control your fingers.

I doubt any developer would have the patience to do that system well, but we certainly have the technological capabilities to do such a thing.

I'm glad to read this. The conversation minigame is something I'd like to see more of - either inspired by LSL Magna Cum Laude (minus the sperm as you mention), or to pick an in my opinion better example, Fahrenheit ("Indigo Prophecy" in the censored version). You have to juggle the right stick to get a specific dialogue option, and time to choose is limited. The "best" topics (i.e. the ones that are the most intelligent) are hardest to do. Other options are easier, and if time runs out, the easiest one is automatically chosen.
Thus you can easily coast through a conversation, or choose to make it go a specific way by "using your mind".

Another good example of conversation done right is in Culpa Innata. There is no minigame, but the number of topics to be picked is limited by time of day, a set (but hidden) predefined conversation length, and any topic chosen hides and opens other topics.

All of these are much better than the Talking Heads mechanic just about all other games use.

"internet decency protocols"? That's a good one.

P.S.
Cool idea though, you could even throw in an achievement for a super-long awkward silence.

It was lookin' good.

Then Yahtzee gave us his idea.

I cannot see this ever working in a game. Ever. It has a high potential for rage.

Dialog trees are fine if you ask me, they just need a bit of refinement, and bit of fleshing out.

It sounds like it could be groundbreaking, but an obvious step from what we have now. Honestly, if developers wanted to, I am sure someone with enough time on their hands could set this up, but I can't see anyone willing enough to pour the undoubtedly massive resources to making it work. I'd expect most GAME designers to focus more on improving the GAME parts of the GAME. Making realistic conversations is just so bloody hard, it just makes the most logical sense for a company to head out with a halfway-decent plot line and workable combat, and just slap together a dialogue tree most players will just randomly skip through so they can move on the slitting heads and shooting beams of death at chimps.

I remember playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (the awesome point and click adventure not the diabolical action version) for the first time back in 1993 and even as a kid I was overjoyed at the fact you could select what to say to people. Things haven't moved on at all since those days, in fact in most cases they've gone backwards.

I started reading your article and I was surprised at you criticising Dragon Age because while it follows the established way of doing things, it does it far better than any game of recent memory. But after finishing your article I must agree with you, there needs to be some revolutionary new way of handling conversations.

I like to think that as gaming matures, so too will the focus shift from creating nice explosions to developing in-depth NPC personalities and complex social strategies. I actually enjoy having conversations with interesting NPCs in games like Dragon Age far more than I enjoy slaughtering yet another band of badguys and when a game actually manages to make me give a damn about the local villagers... well that's an accomplishment.

This is going to come across as extremely nerdy but... here goes...

Dialogue is one place where games really need to learn from the Pen and Paper world. Take my favorite Pen and Paper RPG of the moment, Burning Wheel. Burning Wheel presents a very interesting way to handle tense conversations, arguments and persuasion attempts called a "Duel of Wits" where you essentially verbally spar with your opponent, making feints, attacks and defenses with your words and pieces of your arguments, losing standing for things like repetition and granting bonuses for things like presenting evidence, making promises and even threatening your opponents. It has opened up a brand new method of handling social dynamics in Pen and Paper Roleplaying and a similar more electronically focused method could do just as well in the electronic world.

Bad idea, like most men I cannot multitask. I cannot focus on an annoying little minigame and he story at the same time.

the monotony of the dialogue menus in games like dragon age are exactly why i can't play games like this anymore. over half hte damn game involves talking to NPC's to gather various bits of information, in dull, drawn out ways, and if you don't pay close enough attention you often times miss the point. i'm not so sure that a mini game involved would make it any better, though... maybe the first few times, sure, but no, ultimately it would just drive me insane.

It looks like you are looking for a more complex version of the Alpha Protocol conversation system. It is similar to the Mass Effect one, in which you select attitude more than lines, but it also has an scheduled time for you to answer to NPC's lines, with one of the possible conversation options is "nothing" (by selecting nothing), which makes it more fluid and "natural"

sounds like an...idea, real life conversations arent really interesting until you've had a few beers, something you seem to forget, getting all the info without having to chit chat for 5 min is a good thing, small talk isn't fun (have you noticed how its only used around people you don't like and your family), the "leave" button would most likely either be used all the time thus missing important informations or story or not at all thus boring the player, and speaking of immersion, doing other things (beside the basic drinking and eating) while talking would seem out of worldly, jumping up and down while having a discussion about the importance of your next mission seems stupid, i liked dragon ages way, or i just enjoyed the story to much to notice.

*Snicker Snicker*
Yahtzee admitted he plays Leisure suit Larry
*Snicker Snicker*
____________________________________

Any who, that system is pretty damn flawed.

1) The amount of dialogue that would be required for every person would be tremendous. Imagine that system in Oblivion, or Fallout or WoW, the amount of players to talk to is alot, now imagine a unique conversation for each person. Yikes.

2)With the time it'd take to make that system, then all of the talking, alot of time would have been detracted from...say the actual GAMEPLAY design, or the story telling (don't you dare quote me and say "But the talking is part of the plot Hurr Durr, no I mean as in the PLOT) not worth the time it'd take to put into it.

3)I don't know about you, but I fear the possibility of failing every conversation because I have to walk around examine his DVD collection, follow the conversation, and try to DIRECT it to where I want it to go, for example maybe in Heavy Rain (Just an example..) I'm trying to get him to tell me who is the murderer, and he/she starts talking about the weather. That'd be fairly annoying.

All in all, interesting idea, but far too flawed, Nice try Yahtzee, just refine it some more ;)

Huh, I think I just slaughtered the Coma in my post...

Sure, why not.

But dialogue menus have their place as well, mainly in adventure games.

CRPGs should really cut back on them and focus on more natural and organic roleplaying.

I remember reading that Yahtzee has always wanted to do the whole "real time interactions" with NPCs for a while now. I really really like the diea, would be brilliant to play. I think int he future we will most likely see this feature =]

I can see Yahtzee's point here.

Sure, the player would be less capable of directing the conversation by nature of having it play out and simply hinting a direction he would like it go, but it would at least seem more realistic.

Comparatively, our Dragon Age style conversation trees are more like prodding a database which has an agenda of trying to be entertaining so it'll hold the really good information behind the right combinations (assuming such really good information exists.)

Plus, when push comes to shove, aren't we just trying to get the NPCs to unload any and all useful information they have? Might as well just have them start talking and "uh huh" our way through until they're done dumping. It might even be a whole lot quicker than having to read the responses and select them.

Here's an idea for a conversation model: instead of having the buttons correspond to attitude and I want to leave, have the buttons correspond to openings and I want to leave. When you're talking with the NPC, if you're paying attention the NPC will mention something and you can choose to prod them that thing they just mentioned in real time. It's like:

NPC: "Oh, life here at Cotsberry was all well and good, except that time a dragon ate my wife, and the other week-"
PC: "About that dragon..."
NPC: "Oh, right the dragon was a terrible firebreathing monster, ate not only my wife but half the town guard before retreating to its lair, it reminds me of a story-"
PC:" About the dragon's lair..."

And so on. Of course, you realize what we're talking about here is conversation quick time events, but hey, you did want it to seem natural.

LOL, that's funny dududf. Currently ALOT of gameplay is already being reduced just to make the people look pretty. Why not reduce the 3 years it takes just to show a wrinkle on a players face and maybe put it in creating a better dialogue, story, or even longer game play. Heaven forbid gamers from having a game that lasts longer than 10 hours....

Realism in in-game dialog would fuck up ANY game beyond repair. It would mean having to stay glued to the screen trying to remember really hard whether Grey Wardens are supposed to pray for Andraste or Thor in the five seconds it takes for the NPC to ask you who you worship. Thor? Quick Load. Odin? Quick load. It would mean you'd have to remember all those 9 novels worth of content off the top of your head and know it so well you'd be able to come up with answers in real time, or your F9 (quick load, for you non DA players) key would need to be exchanged after every couple hours of gameplay.
What does piss me off is that they can't get their heads out of their asses on the Generic Character Means You Identify With Protagonist principle. We know you guys can get decent actors to perform the dialog, why the fuck can't I get a british guy saying the dialog option I just chose? I would be ten times more likely to choose the often available "How about I kill you instead?" option.

I heard this mentioned by you before a while back. Although it sounds possible and would certainly make conversations more interesting, however you would probably end up having the same conversations with different people, or on another play through just have the exact conversation, but in a different order. Interesting, but definitely not all there yet.

O another thing I noticed is you said about having none static conversations, how is that possible if both analogue sticks are used up, by topic and attitude? I suppose the buttons could be used for say Press A to rummage through underwear draw, Press B to fart, press X for sarcasm etc.

There are certainly flaws in his plan for example he uses the sticks to keep buttons free but in most RPG's there isnt a whole lot to do without movement other than bash or change from a beret to a sombrero.Ever wonder why they started using stone for statues?.....

I think it is fair to say Yahtzee has always got unique ideas but to quote Yahtzee

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Note I said unique; not necessarily good.

His ideas are like naturists they are certainly "unique" but not in the pleasant way.

Great minds think alike. I had the very same idea as you Ben some time ago and am still preparing a system to put it to use. It's though a very difficult undertaking since dynamic dialogues sounds easier than it actually is. But nothing is impossible. I am too longing for a game where conversation is more than just pressing buttons. Something which might help and that I had in mind is to sort of "pause" the conversation. For example if you suddenly have a flash of what you want to ask you could pause the conversation to find the right topic to talk about and then continue. This would only be enabled if you need to quickly pull the topic around and otherwise you can use the real-time responses. When I get once a prototype done please be my guest for discussing it and especially improving it. Unless you are first of course :D

Odjin:
Great minds think alike. I had the very same idea as you Ben some time ago and am still preparing a system to put it to use. It's though a very difficult undertaking since dynamic dialogues sounds easier than it actually is. But nothing is impossible. I am too longing for a game where conversation is more than just pressing buttons. Something which might help and that I had in mind is to sort of "pause" the conversation. For example if you suddenly have a flash of what you want to ask you could pause the conversation to find the right topic to talk about and then continue. This would only be enabled if you need to quickly pull the topic around and otherwise you can use the real-time responses. When I get once a prototype done please be my guest for discussing it and especially improving it. Unless you are first of course :D

You sound incredibly lonely

So what's tommorow's review ?

That's...a pretty good idea.

Although if I may: Needs more sperm.

But seriously. You can tell that Bioware is still making additions to the Mass Effect dialogue system. Perhaps there will be something approaching that by the time we get to Mass Effect 3?

I would love to know how NPCs will react to a character whose attitude switches between bored and enthusiastic every second, perhaps drawing out unique, yet scripted, character events.

As I was reading I thought you were going to go down the line of that recent Silent Hill quiz at the beginning of the game, where you fill out all the relevant stats and questions. Then throughout the Game the character automatically has the conversions in accordance with your results, removing the noticeable options of pressing 'up' to be benevolent or 'down' for committing genocide. At least with the quiz it potentially creates a seamless experience throughout.

The main problem with this approach is asking specific questions, like "Where is the bathroom?" You could deal with that by creating a hybrid system, though.
It also runs the hazard of forcing words into your character's mouth that you don't think they'd say (something you can prevent to at least a degree in a dialogue tree by seeing responses before you select them.)
I would say, though, that the biggest problem with dialogue trees is not the system itself, but rather the quality of the dialogue. It's something you'd run into with your system as well. You'd still need somebody writing and voicing each individual line. I doubt that the payoff would be worth it, unless you had a lot more lines of dialogue to choose from than dialogue trees typically have which would increase development costs significantly.

PedroSteckecilo:

Dialogue is one place where games really need to learn from the Pen and Paper world. Take my favorite Pen and Paper RPG of the moment, Burning Wheel. Burning Wheel presents a very interesting way to handle tense conversations, arguments and persuasion attempts called a "Duel of Wits" where you essentially verbally spar with your opponent, making feints, attacks and defenses with your words and pieces of your arguments, losing standing for things like repetition and granting bonuses for things like presenting evidence, making promises and even threatening your opponents. It has opened up a brand new method of handling social dynamics in Pen and Paper Roleplaying and a similar more electronically focused method could do just as well in the electronic world.

Heh. It's not quite the response I expected in this thread. It is an interesting idea, but I personally dislike the whole system for P&P and even moreso for digital gaming. It lets you use relevant statistics in social encounters (which has been a huge problem in pretty much any implementation of social skills) but forces the dialogue to fit the rolls and approaches. It makes realistic conversation more difficult by making it more complex, IMO.
But, it is a new approach, and second only to dialogue trees IMO. It certainly beats the hell out of Bethesda's attempts.

obliterate:
So what's tommorow's review ?

Modern Warfare 2. Really? No.

Okay, joking aside, I would like to hear what he has to say about Assassin's Creed 2.

Back on topic: A more fluid dialogue system like Yahtzee is describing might be too hard to implement at once, so maybe it's a better idea to do it in small steps. Nowadays, most dialogue gives the impression of a police interrogation. Usually you just don't walk up to people and start asking them questions out of the blue. This could be improved by giving you conversation opportunities or starters. When someone is in conversation with another NPC, you can usually barge right in as a PC and they'll act like they didn't have anything better to do than talk to you anyway. In reality it would be a better idea to wait for a particular subject to come up, or for the other person to leave. Something you could invest skill points in is approaching, where you get more skilled at attracting someone's attention, conversation starters, stuff like that.

Mass Effect 2 has got a few new dialogue options, I'm curious as to how they work that in. You can see the interrupting mechanic in this video: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/exclusive-scientist-mass-effect/58986

ark123:
Realism in in-game dialog would fuck up ANY game beyond repair. It would mean having to stay glued to the screen trying to remember really hard whether Grey Wardens are supposed to pray for Andraste or Thor in the five seconds it takes for the NPC to ask you who you worship. Thor? Quick Load. Odin? Quick load. It would mean you'd have to remember all those 9 novels worth of content off the top of your head and know it so well you'd be able to come up with answers in real time, or your F9 (quick load, for you non DA players) key would need to be exchanged after every couple hours of gameplay.
What does piss me off is that they can't get their heads out of their asses on the Generic Character Means You Identify With Protagonist principle. We know you guys can get decent actors to perform the dialog, why the fuck can't I get a british guy saying the dialog option I just chose? I would be ten times more likely to choose the often available "How about I kill you instead?" option.

It's really not that hard to retain information about the plot. Are you really going to tell me that you can't remember that the Chantry worships the Maker, Dwarves worship the Ancestors and the Paragons and the Dalish worship the "Gods"? If someone asks you who you worship, it's going to either be The Maker, noone, or a racial choice, and none of them would penalise you.

I know that you were just using an example, but I can't think of any dialogue option I had to think about for more than five seconds. Enforcing it would add to immersion, especially if there was another line of dialogue from you saying nothing at all, even if it's just them getting more and more pissed off that you aren't saying anything.

Also, noone would be voiced by "a British guy". Everyone in Feralden has an American accent, which I'm surprisingly happy at - I'd ratherwe get American accents than awful British ones.

This actually sounds quite good.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here