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Video Game Dialogue: Suggestions and Radical New Ideas

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by EternalAmbiguity, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I'm going to quote the post that spawned this thread:

    I have a tendency to make long replies to these after which few respond :p But if you want to discuss the articles and ignore my comments, feel free.

    Regarding the first article:

    I like the suggestion about building the world before writing. More specifically, the suggestions to build the world map and then create a world history seem valuable. I haven't really considered how the world map would affect game dialogue. Creating a history is something I've thought of before, but haven't really done.

    I feel like the descriptions of the different types of dialogue aren't necessarily correct and get a bit too far into defining things with lots of overlap, but that's somewhat subjective and overall they're good examples of how different types of dialogue can serve different purposes.

    The last part is most interesting to me. Cutting the small talk--totally agree. It can be very obstructive to a player. At the same time, however, I think that for non-essential NPC conversations "small talk" or some variant thereof (discussing things not essential to the plot or main characters to the game) can create a richer world. This seems like a real potential strength of RPGs.

    Not keeping secrets: can definitely see that one. The examples aren't particularly great, but they rarely are. More difficult to make this one realistic I feel.

    Robotic repetition. Don't know how to feel about this one. I personally can suspend disbelief a bit for this, but that doesn't mean others would.

    Character quirks: On the surface it seems like a good idea, but it's easy to go too far with this and have just caricatures.

    My opinions here may be influenced by the type of stuff I'm interested in--dialogue-heavy games, typically RPGs. So I'm a bit more forgiving of a final repetitive dialogue "bark" that some might be.

    Overall seems like some pretty useful ideas.

    Second article:

    1. Symmetric Dialogue: I don't like this idea at all. It helps a little with situations where the player and the NPC are standing there staring at each other while the player chooses between choices, but I feel it's just too artificial.

    Now, a variant that would be interesting is if it did this visualization, but it was the player's perception of the character rather than what the character is actually like. So it might be completely wrong.

    I imagine this would take an incredible amount of work, however. For it to be meaningful, you need to have some way of quantifying these options, which a player can "think" about an NPC or "assign" to them. This being separate of course from their actual value. You also need to have some kind of mechanic for developing these misguided viewpoints.

    2. Trees within trees. Seems kind of cool, but I see no real value to this compared to a standard dialogue tree.

    3. Magnetic poetry: I can't see any meaningful consequence of this for a game. The overwhelming majority of permutations would be utterly meaningless and only wasteful to create responses for. There might be one or two which are useful, but at that point (and you get this with the previous point as well) dialogue as communication starts to lose its value. There needs to be a balance between making dialog engaging and making it actually useful for communication--making it so the player learns meaningful information from it, rather than just gets new feedback like a combat system.

    4. Text parsing an imprecise language. I don't understand this one at all. No idea what this really adds to the experience. I suppose, having not really played text parsing games much, I'm probably not the target for this type of experience.

    5. This is basically the same as an idea that I had a while back. I don't care for the idea of changing your response based on when you select it, but a timed system seems like a way to truly change the way players interact with a dialogue system, in a way which meaningfully changes how the conversation progresses and makes it more natural (this is only if it's done correctly).

    Anyone have any comments?
     
  2. Teila

    Teila

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    This is exactly what we did. The lore/history was done before we started. Maps, including political maps, geological maps, bio maps, etc., were all done as well. It really helped when creating terrain and dialogue but also had impact on art as well as certain mechanics.

    Of course, I started game dev as a writer so for me, this was very enjoyable. I love World Building. I also had a lot of help too from some talented writers. The one important thing to remember is to be flexible. We have had to make some changes to the lore and the history to make the game play more interesting, add more conflict, and add additional elements to the various cultures in the game.

    Great post!
     
  3. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I think the first article is a good primer for new dialogue writers as well as a good checklist for experienced writers. Nothing ground-breaking, but handy.

    Regarding the second article, I agree with you 100% on #2 - #5. I've thought on-and-off about #1 for five years or so, but I've only prototyped it in rough form (using the Dialogue System's tooltip-on-hover extra script) using smiley faces as a stand-in for NPC facial expressions / body language animation. It actually made the process of deciding on a response feel a little more "alive".
     
  4. Teila

    Teila

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    I agree. It also is a great list of ideas. The examples are pretty good too. I can see this working great with something like Love/Hate as well.
     
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  5. Teila

    Teila

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    Finally got around to reading the second one and most of those ideas to me just seem to distract from then idea of a living world. If your players are busy picking words that fly by, or magnetic poetry, you run the risk of losing immersion. It becomes a mini-game that might be fun in some simpler games where the entire point of the game is a complex word game, but as dialogue in an RPG it would become tedious for the player...I think. It would for me at least. :)
     
  6. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I think my main point of contention is the effect it has on the purpose of dialogue.

    I played Alpha Protocol a few years ago. I found it pretty enjoyable, and most importantly here the dialogue system was pretty unique. There are a few things, but most importantly for this discussion, frequently the purpose was to manipulate the NPC in the conversation.

    I recall one particular mission where there aren't even any "action" moments. The player merely engages in dialogue to convince an NPC to let the player do something.



    There are many instances of this, in lesser forms, but by and large the player is choosing dialogue options to affect an NPC (it's even mentioned in the tutorial for the game).

    Compare this to something like Mass Effect: the purpose of dialogue is primarily characterization, and persuasion to an extent (the paragon/renegade system). The player largely uses it to define their character.

    By showing NPC reactions, the focus moves from player characterization to manipulating NPC emotions. This is not a bad thing necessarily, but I'm not a fan of it being done universally.

    Apologies if this is disjointed.
     
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  7. Teila

    Teila

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    That is actually pretty cool! Thanks for the link. :)
     
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  8. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    The distinction between the purpose of the dialogue in Alpha Protocol versus Mass Effect is very astute. Perhaps then the general purpose of a game's dialogue can help inform how the dialogue system should work in that game.
     
  9. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Another wall of text incoming - I'm sorry!

    Indeed. To expound (or pontificate?) on it a bit further, the persuasion aspect of ME also has elements of characterization: the paragon renegade system previously mentioned. Ultimately both paragon and renegade serve an identical purpose in gameplay--to persuade an NPC to give you an extra weapon, or a few extra credits, even perhaps skip a fight. The whole reason there are the two paths, however, is because in choosing a path you're also characterizing the PC.

    I already addressed Alpha Protocol. There's essentially no characterization - all of your dialogue is quantified not by a personal record or "stat" like paragon/renegade points, but by an external quantifier: an NPC's perception of you, with a (-10)-(10) point range for your "reputation" with the character. Almost every character (expect, perversely, the one in the video example above, because it's your only interaction with that person) in the game with 5+ minutes of dialogue with the player has this persuasion system. I want to keep talking but I feel I'm belaboring at this point.

    Another interesting and unique example is Deus Ex Human Revolution (and by extension Mankind Divided), where for most of the dialog there's no quantification system at all, yet at certain points the player becomes engaged in "dialogue battles" with a "boss." In this case successfully manipulating the NPC is the goal: you're not picking choices you feel best represent your character (as you might have for the other dialogue), but instead choices that push the NPC more towards the "success state" you're arguing.

    At this point the difference between "persuasion" and "manipulation" seems finer, but in game mechanics for the mentioned games it's still pretty distinct. Both Alpha Protocol and Deus Ex have situations where you have to figure out what the NPC wants and respond in that way. You pick an option, and the NPC either approves or disapproves, and after a number of these opportunities your "failure" or "success" is shown (not referring to a dialogue box or failure screen--just the result you get during the game shows whether you were successful or not).

    Contrast this with ME, where if you can pick a persuasive option--it works. There's no trying to figure out if what you're saying fits the person. They are always persuaded (or threatened, for a renegade character), and you move on with the game.

    I'll highlight part of what I just said: "if" you can pick a persuasive option, it works. For a number of these checks the player has to have a certain number of points in that "morality" (paragon or renegade). And you get those points by picking dialogue during the game which aligns with whichever "morality." So the chance to use the persuasive choice is the result of characterization (the player has to have characterized their character a certain way) and demonstrates it as well (simply by virtue of the two different choices), to a lesser degree.

    TLDR: So systems which focus on or highlight NPC response to a player's dialogue are likely to leave players choosing options for a particular effect on NPCs--for manipulation. Meanwhile, systems which show a stat independent of the NPC, or which don't show a stat at all (and don't focus on the choice's real-time effect on a conversion NPC), are likely to leave players picking choices as they desire, without considering NPC manipulation.
     
  10. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I agree. In Mass Effect, it makes sense that persuasion always works, since the point is less to persuade the NPC and more to define your player character as someone persuasive. The game totally shows its hand at the very beginning in this regard by letting the player choose their 3x3 background, which is something I liked even though some people didn't.

    So, given all this, what ideas take dialogue into new areas? Or are we just waiting for machine learning to catch up to the dream of unrestricted free language conversation?
     
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  11. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I'm toying with the idea of a mobile choose-your-own-adventure that runs through Mass Effect-style dialogue (characterization-focused) with the Telltale-style social aspect of seeing how your choices compare to other players. I think those two go together pretty well -- social + self-characterization. Good idea? Bad idea?
     
  12. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I was just about to start a reply to your previous comment, but I'll reply here first and say it seems like a good enough idea to me. Though for me a significant part of the reason I play a game or not is the setting, so that may have an effect on the level of interest some have in your game. For instance, I've never played a TellTale game (despite playing many adventure games, or dialogue focused games) mainly because the settings for their games don't interest me.
     
  13. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    If we're restricting ourselves to characterization-focused dialogue, I think there are a few things. I think a variant on #5 can have dramatic effects. In a recent thread (https://forum.unity.com/threads/essay-a-future-i-would-want-to-live-in.503486) I made the following post talking about my idea--I'm sure you've heard me say it before.

    At a later point in that thread I explain that I'm trying to make dialogue a bit more like combat in games (and at a previous point I talk about some differences between the two in games). Combat constantly engages the player with a wide range of choices. Those choices have a semi-unpredictable outcome. The AI acts independently: according to a script, but a sufficiently complex script (depending on the game) such as to make their actions appear dynamic. At any point in time the AI can "force" the player's hand in some way, requiring them to take action or suffer a failure state (which tends to be death requiring a reload, which is a problem I think, but not the focus of this thread).

    Mapping some of these things to dialogue in a game would make it a less passive experience.

    Now I'll point out that some elements of it are not going to cross over well without changing the goal of the dialogue. This is where manipulation might come into play, with elements like the strategic nature of combat (even if it's a simple game, there's still an overall strategy) with two agents acting in counter ways probably working better there (on that note--even in games where the player has to manipulate a character over time, like Deus Ex HR, it's almost completely a passive experience, where the opponent can't affect the player at all. What if they could, and the player had to manage that?).

    Now, the obvious and immediate problem here is that this is going to require a ton of content. In combat you can give the player and the AI 5 or 6 actions and let them mix it up at will, reusing things. This doesn't work so well in dialog--we tend to enjoy hearing things multiple times less than we enjoy watching things multiple times, so there's a limitation there that requires more content to overcome.

    I'll reach back a couple paragraphs and say we have to be careful that we're not directly mapping dialogue to combat. The two are not the same, and shouldn't be treated as identical. Making a health bar for dialogue changes the purpose (more into something like manipulation). However, taking these strengths of combat in games and applying them to dialogue carefully can hopefully make it a more engaging experience.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  14. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    That would add the kind of dynamism that real life conversations have.

    On the other hand, I like to ruminate on responses before choosing one. It's also nice between high-pressure, reflex-oriented combat to have an untimed section of contemplative gameplay. It feels like story beats, or rising and falling action. Is there be a way to cater to both types of players, or is timed vs. untimed just a fundamental facet of design?

    Yeah, I gave a pretty vague description. Assuming a good setting, can dialogue alone really sustain a game? It seems to work fine for Pixelberry (High School Story, Choices), but their games are kind of like soap operas. Dialogue to me feels the most satisfying when it's like a reward for completing other gameplay challenges such as victory in combat.
     
  15. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    You make an excellent point. There are times where I feel the same way. When discussing the Genophage with Mordin on his loyalty mission, I wasn't interested in "playing," I was more interested in hearing and responding.

    Incidentally, how did you feel about the "interrupts" in ME2-3? They incorporated elements of this.

    One might be able to work around this a little bit by incorporating very broad time ranges from when the option appears and when it disappears, or having it appear several seconds before it becomes available. Or by including more information (like DA ][ and DA:I's tone symbols) to allow the player to quickly assess an option. Ultimately however, I feel it's a pretty fundamental difference in the way the dialogue is designed. Turn combat in games is not designed the same way real-time combat is. "Real time with pause" is a middle ground, but it's largely real-time with extra options.
    I'm reminded of a visual novel/adventure game called 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, which in a rerelease had two different modes: "Novel" (NVL) mode and "Adventure" (ADV) mode. NVL mode presented more information, while ADV mode was more "cinematic."

    You could probably design around a more in-depth "real-time" dialogue system, and then later build a simplified "turn-based" dialogue system that skips the more reactive side of things. You could probably play with this a bit, allowing the player to define their character in ways that make the character interrupt where the "real-time" system would have a prompt. This would allow for both designs in a single experience. but off the top of my head, I can't really think of a way to truly put them together into one system seamlessly.

    All of this talk is pushing me towards making a simple prototype just to see the concept in action.

    Got a lot to say here.

    First, "can dialogue alone really sustain a game" - do you mean dialogue or writing? I'm sure you're aware that plenty of writing outside of a direct conversation between individuals can be meaningful. So that's the first point that requires clarification.

    Second, "dialogue alone" implies there are no gameplay elements whatsoever. is that what you intend? I only took a look at this Pixelberry's games, but it looked like the High School game had a gameplay element.

    And along with that previous statement, one has to question whether calling it a "game" is the correct term. That is NOT to disparage "non-games," just a point of clarification. However, to answer the question: yes, I believe so.

    I'm sure you know about visual novels (I seem to recall someone making an extension for your Dialogue System designed for visual novels). That's essentially what you're describing. A story in written form, where the player can affect the outcome. Simple text adventures fall into the same broad category, but visual novels seem the more popular of the two, with more "game-like" elements (visuals, sound).

    Skip this paragraph if you have experience with VNs. Anyway, for better or worse visual novels in their current form originated from Japan, which results in a certain number of common features. They include things like an "anime" art style, very young characters (often in suggestive clothing), and soap opera-esque melodrama like you mentioned for Pixelberry. Even non-Japanese visual novels (most commonly English, or Original English Language Visual Novel) tend to include some these elements.

    Now, even if you DID mean dialogue solely, I'd say it's still possible to write a visual novel in such a way. It would take a bit more aplomb, because while in standard literature a character's thoughts might be shown, revealing key plot points, you'd have to either bring such things out in dialog (which might become patronizing for a more intelligent reader), or make them impossible to miss in other ways by making them very obvious, too obvious (such as to make it appear patronizing to intelligent readers). However it might still be done.

    If you still intended for there to be gameplay (however straightforward)--even better! Would also work well. You could probably elevate the level of your prose in such a case, being able to depend on the gameplay to educate the player.

    In fact, incorporating some game elements would make the experience more unique. There's a visual novel on Steam called Crystalline. I played the demo and got a very RPG vibe--the main character quickly forms a "party" of 5 or so characters, each fitting a different archetype (warrior, mage, rogue, mage-warrior), and then travels across the land, encountering side plots or arcs along the way (and more than once engaging in combat with "bandits"). This is presented in a literary fashion, with no real choice along the way. However, incorporating some of the freedoms of games--not necessarily a full RPG experience, but things like the choice of where to travel--would have made the experience a bit more unique and would empower the player a bit more (perhaps causing them to become more invested in what they're doing at any point in time).
     
  16. TonyLi

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    I feel like these QTE-style events spiced things up because they were infrequent. If every response menu had them it would be exhausting. And, like you wrote earlier, their primary purpose was to further define the player's character.

    I haven't thought through the mobile, dialogue-only game idea very far. It's just something that idly occurred to me in the context of this thread. In a lot of visual novels, as well as games like Lifeline, most of the action happens around the player as a result of the player's dialogue choices, not as a result of player gameplay such as pressing jump and fire buttons.

    So, in this hypothetical game, an NPC may say, "Mr. President, NORAD reports that the Soviets have launched their ICBMs. Do you authorize an immediate counterstrike?" The player's action would be to reply yes or no in dialogue (rather than moving an avatar to a big red button and pressing it himself), but there would certainly be in-game events as a result.

    I realize there a plenty of games like this already. I was mostly thinking about the design aspects of focusing the dialogue on player characterization.
     
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  17. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Got it. That's something I was a little unsure on.

    I tried to find an old post of mine from years ago (on the Bioware forums actually), but was unable to. Anyway, in it I said something like "The truest RPG that could be made would be a bunch of conversations with other characters, where the main character describes how he would act in a situation." My reasoning behind this was that it would allow for maximum characterization without the red herring of choice and consequence.

    However, in all honesty...I do not think that alone could sustain a game. The reason Mass Effect's characterization-based dialogue worked so well (and it did indeed work well, despite what all those RPG Codexers said) was because the characterization happened within the "scope" of a larger setting. Not so much talking about the Reaper plot, but the Mass Effect universe. The Genophage. The role of humans in the galaxy. The Quarian/Geth conflict. The existence of these situations provides a context for the PC characterization to have meaning.

    So I think the execution of such a design would rely on creating a world the player character interacts with. Your character doesn't necessarily need to be able to get rid of child labor, but if you perhaps had a walking sim/dialogue game where you happened upon a scene involving child labor, allowing your player and another character to discuss this would be meaningful. That's a poor example--you'd want something like the things I mentioned for ME, things that appear continually in the series.

    In that sense such dialogue may work better for longer games, where it's easier to put the PC in varied situations they could weigh in on.

    However, I think you could do it for a shorter game too, one that placed the player in such situations. Perhaps a modified adventure game. I'm thinking of a detective or investigative game, similar to the Sherlock Holmes games to some extent, which involves the PC and an accompanying NPC having many conversations about their cases which drift into discussions of these weightier topics.

    Apologies for extending this with my fantasies, but I can already see a scene where the player and an NPC are investigating a scene at a factory with child workers in the 1800s. The player has an option to bring up the cruelty of such a scene. The NPC in this case would be in defense of the situation, perhaps providing a less modern viewpoint which might help the player understand the mindset behind these historical practices our current society demonizes so readily (something of a problem for current media--all protagonists are typically portrayed as progressive, making these historical situations seem more and more absurd when in reality there were reasons why they happened).
     
  18. TonyLi

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    Well said. Your mention of detective stories reminded me that Subsurface Circular is in my queue to play. It looks like that game is solely dialogue.
     
  19. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I saw that a while back. I found the art and the interface rather confusing, to be honest. In the sense that I wasn't sure what kind of an experience it was.

    Along similar lines, for years whenever I saw the box art for Mirror's Edge I legitimately thought it was a 3D modelling software.
     
  20. TonyLi

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    Maybe that's a good thing -- but also an example of the risk of breaking the mould and trying something different.

    :D
     
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  21. neoshaman

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    I have a lot to say on the issues lol, but I have already sprinkle those thoughts into other threads, however I will react to this quote by saying, don't underestimate non verbal cues, writing is not just about dialogue (show don't tell), and non verbal cues are easier to combine with modularity, also they provide context to dialogue A LOT, so the same utterance can mean completely different things with the proper verbal cues. Imagine someone saying to you "I love you" by looking away sadly and making a step back vs someone running toward you and embracing you, different feelings, same bit of text.
     
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  22. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Very true. In terms of this discussion, however, that's a whole 'nother can of worms. I'd argue that non-verbal cues are even more costly than adding (voice-acted) dialogue to games, perhaps evidenced by the limited movement we see in some particularly cinematic games with lots of dialogue, such as the ME series (though this is difficult to say--there are a lot of factors to this, including the type of game).

    Furthermore, it's challenging in terms of how the player interacts with such a system. If you make it automatic, you're taking control away from them, which would only make dialogue more passive. If it's manual, you need to deal with how the player uses it (just a set of options like a traditional dialogue system?) and how the NPCs respond to it (for it to be meaningful there should probably be a systemic side to it).

    Sounds like a great idea honestly, but the step to take after working on dialogue itself (if one feels that dialogue needs fixing, which is a whole 'nother post I could write).
     
  23. neoshaman

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    What do you mean by manual and automatic? I mean more precisely?

    You picked up game like Alpha protocol so I was thinking along the case of expending traditional mechanics, ie to move toward "combat" style dynamism, think mode like turn base jrpg (ie self contain gameplay that link to the real world through resources management).

    IMHO The thing is I think cost is irrelevant! I played the game tokimeki memorial culture & sports on gba, in japanese (which I still don't understand quack) when I was studying social gameplay in games back in the old days. I was able to pick the system entirely based on the smart use of non verbal cues, and the game is basically just a dynamic visual novel, which mean static image with swap eyes and mouth for different and eventually body poses. It's a romance game where the main way of seducing a girl is to socialize in her circle, ie less about wooing her with gift but legit investing yourself in the social life and participating in events. The game was very smart about its set up, and despite being heavily text base, I still end up winning, getting the girl I had the most in common with, the art girl, lol, because I was able to parse the clues as it's one of my domain lol. Girl have friend, and if you don't get along with them, she might toss you out, so you had to understand and manage a whole group of person at the same time.

    I think the system could export very well to other games and I intend to do so in the future.

    Basically the way I envisioned the simplest system is to have a simple resource management system to interface the world with npc in simple way, ie change their mood. "Mood" being one of the context with "situation" (which is a simple modifier on mood). The thing is that npc would react differently based on mood, they have a set of "preference" (judgement of appearances) and "standard" (judgement of actions and events) that define their personality and allow to interface random world occurrences to their mood system. The entire principle being that you need to understand a npc overall personality, its current circumstance, the situation you are in, the current resources you had to influence it.

    So basically the strategy would be like:
    1- inquiry, a set of actions to get informations about the npc current circumstances (a bit like scanning a monster for weakness, but weaknesses being dynamic in time), each npc would have different way to reveal information that depend on their visible mood, for example a character is visibly sadden, you don't know why, but you can't approach him the same when he is angry, that's the know the personality part.
    2- influence, a set of actions that allow you to sway the npc in the direction you want. Based on your own circumstances, you try to use what you learn in the inquiry to find the correct set of actions that suit you most. Here you own circumstance matter, maybe you need a character in a stressful situation, but he really need to unwind from the death of his pets, he might judge you for being uncaring to force him into more stress, what do you do? Do you value bonding with teh character, do you value the task at hand because you will have more resources overall toward the main material quest, maybe you need your character on your side later so it's a cold calculation of short term vs long term benefit. You can convey a lot of these stakes with little text. and it keep the player always in control. The action will change the character perception of yourself, which change the landscape for future interaction, therefore interactions strategy with character.

    That's a dynamic puzzle, that change on a per scene basis.
     
  24. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I just wanted to reply to this again and say again, that I feel the same way sometimes.

    A couple of days ago I was thinking about Deus Ex Mankind Divided. Again, apologies if this is something you already know, but in DE: Human Revolution, there was a timer on the first mission: if the player waits too long before starting it, messes around too much in Sarif Industries, hostages die (hostages which you can interact with after the mission, if they live).

    Mankind Divided does much the same thing, with there being a sandstorm approaching during the first mission. If the player waits too long, they have to fight the final battle in the mission (which involves a lot of enemies) in a sandstorm, and I believe it guarantees a villain's escape when it was not before guaranteed (not completely sure about that one).

    And I was thinking that while that was interesting...I sure would hate for the entire game to be that way. I'm the "OCD" type of player who, if they take one path to a destination, will at the end turn back and check the other path for anything they missed. For a player like me, a timed mission isn't very fun.

    But why is that, really? Part of it is probably simply my nature. But I believe a part of it is the way the game is designed. The game is designed to be approached slowly, with deliberation. Forcing the player into a timed situation goes against the very game design itself.

    There are a number of corollary issues with this (this is a general statement, not just about Deus Ex). One is that all of the content in the game is designed to be explored (or that there are always hidden secrets to be found), rather than great deals of truly irrelevant content the player has to know how to navigate. However, that's going a little tangential.

    The main idea here, with relevance to dialogue, is that the game design needs to be crafted from the ground up for the kind of approach you're making the player take (if you're making take one at all). For speedy dialogue, we won't simply be able to take the same dialogue options you see in a Bioware game and shove them into the new framework. It has to be rebuild from the ground up.

    Part of that is wildly branching trees I think. In real-life conversations they often go in totally different directions than how one intended, in mere moments being on a completely different topic. Along similar lines, care will need to be taken with "investigate" type dialogues. I've found in many conversations where there are several others involved, one of the others will mention something, and I only have a short window of time to interject with one, maybe two questions before everyone moves forward with the discussion.

    This probably has to be approached on a case-by-case basis. Different situations involve different conversation "pacing."


    neoshaman, I'll reply when I can (prob a couple hours). Sorry for the delay!
     
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  25. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Not exactly related to the topic above, but on the subject of Bioware dialogue, Jonathan Cooper tweeted out a bunch of trivia about Mass Effect's dialogue on its 10th anniversary:

    https://twitter.com/GameAnim/status/932657574498861056

    Neat stuff about what influenced their camera angles, and how they merged hand-crafted and procedural lipsync and eye control. (Also, they used FaceFX for lipsync; if anyone's using FaceFX and the Dialogue System, remember to check out the Dialogue System's FaceFX Support.)
     
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  26. Teila

    Teila

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    I would hate it too. Honestly, I think timed events are used because that is one thing the design books tell us to do. Put the player on a time limit to create urgency! I get that in some cases, the grenade is going off, a storm is coming, etc. I do not think it is good to be used to limit a player from exploring or engaging with NPCs. I guess it depends on the game.
     
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  27. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    By automatic or manual I was referring to whether or not the player controls the action. You merely mentioned the idea of non-verbal cues, so I just wanted to clarify whether we were talking about the player using them in a systemic way or them happening automatically. The way you describe the "dating sim" type game sounds like the nonverbal cues are part of the conversations, but the player isn't actively choosing one or the other.

    That's more what I was talking about. We already have non-verbal cues in dialogue interactions, mainly in the more cinematic types of games (or visual novels with changing expressions). But allowing the player to choose them would be a step in an interesting direction.

    The system you describe for your own interest does sound interesting, but it sounds like it's more about manipulating the NPCs than characterizing the characters.



    Thinking about this...one area where "manipulative" dialogue needs to be spot on is in presenting the goal of the conversation or manipulation. Combat's easy--kill all the guys. Other types of actions are typically easy as well, partially because we have handy quest trackers telling us what to do, partially because we frequently have characters around us telling us what to do, and partially because the ways we interact with the game are fairly limited.

    For dialogue though, if you're (the general you, not you neoshaman) planning around using it as a gameplay element where the player is supposed to get certain information from the NPC, they both need to know explicitly what they can do, and they need to know what they're trying to accomplish.

    To bring another example into the fold, L.A. Noire. A game where all player controlled dialogue could be considered manipulative in purpose. That game occasionally suffered in both areas: frequently what Cole said didn't line up with what one might think (the Doubt option comes to mind) from the Truth/Doubt/Lie interface, and on occasion you're thrust into a "questioning" sequence with no real preparation beforehand to tell you what you want to know from the person.

    Of course that's a weird example. The dialogue in that game isn't used for characterization at all, but neither is it as proactive as true "manipulative" dialogue would be. But it's worth examining.
     
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  28. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Webcam and facial expression recognition?
     
  29. Teila

    Teila

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    SWG allowed you to choose a mood/emotion. Your character would walk differently when in that mood. So a depressed character would walk slowly with head hung down. A happy character would have a jaunty walk. An excited player would be somewhat jumpy. If I remember correctly, it also affected the idle stances.

    Very useful in role play. :) You could look at a character and guess what mood the player is attributing to his/her character.
     
  30. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    I'd totally forgotten that. SWG was ahead of its time in so many ways. I don't think NPCs recognized your mood settings, but that would be the logical next step. Even if it were just a bit of flavor text tacked onto the regular dialogue tree, it would still feel like the NPCs were more situationally aware.
     
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  31. Teila

    Teila

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    Definitely and that does not seem to be too hard to do since the mood was a setting the players could toggle on their character. Might also be nice to have NPCs with their own random moods or even moods triggered by their personality and there interaction with others.
     
  32. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. That takes things a whole new direction, with something I'll label without much thought as "player as character," where aspects of the player are intended to become aspects of the character. I'll avoid going down that rabbit hole for now, though.

    Much like manipulative dialogue, it definitely has a place, it has potential. I personally however would shy away from it. Not only to you have the "problem" of trying to interpret their facial expressions a certain way (you could do a calibration or something, sure, but it would still be challenging with shifting expressions), you have the main issue of the player's emotions (or lack thereof) interfering with the role-playing of the character. I may respond with disbelief and mirth to Harkan's "secrets are like herpes" every time (or eventually, respond less and less as I get used to the line), but that doesn't mean each unique character I'm role-playing should.


    I'm thinking about your and Teila's posts about SWG and my mind is just ighting up like Christmas. Was initially thinking of a real-time system where the player has to input these cues and dialogue options at the right moment. Now I'm thinking about a tactics/puzzle-like system, where you define beforehand how you want the character to act (almost like Frozen Synapse to an extent, or the memory scenes in Remember Me) and then watch it play out in real time (not controlling anything). This would be "manipulation" type dialogue, where the player is trying to achieve something, but it would be a totally different approach.

    Couple relavent videos:



    (^^^ sorry, couldn't find a better one)

     
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  33. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    I understand what you mean. My system might be out of scope anyway, it seem you just want to make dialogue simply more entertaining and interactive. But I'll try to explain my rational anyway, I would like to see what you think about the thought process!


    What I was trying to show is the typical situation where you bond with people, by caring about there issue and listen.

    Imagine you have a friend, he is visibly bothered, you know him from a long time, you will try to help him or leave it alone and help him having other worry out of the way. You can because you have that bond, that connection of knowing him.

    I think the way I presented the "idea" is that I insisted on the part of what a game design should care, structure, because it's what makes an idea implementable. I was certainly a mistake, because I also emphasize part that show potential of what we can do with the same structure (ie the possibility of manipulation).

    It's like introducing poetry and only discussing grammar (oups!), grammar is how you create the poetry but it's not what poetry is about, and twisting the rule give you plenty expressive opportunity. Good writing need proper grammar but good writing isn't about proper grammar (grammar here being about the structure in general).

    So it's really about characterization too, but what is characterization? I would say show! don't tell apply to characterization, ie how a character behave reveal who he is, you don't tell a character is greedy, you show him being greedy.

    IN game we generally do! don't tell, but I would go has far as telling be! don't (just) do. So the design of character behavior is really the way we write exposition in game, so we need structures that support behavior in mechanics (ie way for the character to express its nature), that's what I tried to do.

    Characterization is really an exposition problem, that's why it tend to be relegated to cinematic, because that's how we have a rich vocabulary of doing exposition (show! don't tell). Game have a two way exposition problem:
    - It must express the world and characters, without pausing the interaction too much, or you risk of losing the player.
    - It's impossible to completely expose one character, the player, because he is a wildcard he does what he want and does not follow the script. And way to keep him in script is basically to remove ability for interaction, ie remove what makes a game a game.

    Game typically dodge the character characterization part by assigning him a role (be), and that role constrain conceptually what you can "do" (expression of "being"), for example you are a soldier (be), therefore you kill things, "do". That generally limit game plot to material stakes (dependent on doing) rather characterization (dependent on being).

    And when game allow you to express yourself it's generally about choosing a "role" rather than "being" (mage or cleric, choose your flavor of healing, rogue or warrior choose your way of killing, evil or good choose your way of kicking the baddy and your power set). The thing is that doing have a stable meaning, the same action will yield the same result.

    Characters are different, they change over time and over circumstances, the same action can yield different meaning over time and over situations. The only way to get a character is basically to either observe them and interact with them, to see how they reacts to circumstance and how that evolve, that is characterization.

    But by allowing the player to interact with these characters, and opening the players to judgement of these characters, also allow the player to characterize himself, basically the game has situation that are a personality quizz, who are you? what kind of character are you playing? and have the game and character react to the player's actions and behavior and have every character got an opinion of him,, to have consequence for "being".

    That's why I designed a system of inquiry and influences. It allows to the designer of the game world to have interaction based characterization, that flow in both way, from character to player and player to character, by allowing to put them in situation where they reveal their persona (who they are) by doing. I'll admit I presented the system a bit too mechanically. And it might be out of scope of what you are trying to achieve anyway.

    But the system has only potential in how you will use it or break it to make it expressive. I can describe you the mechanics and shooter and it will be dry and unexpressive, like describing the rules of grammar. But shooter did find, sometimes in some level, a way to make the basic action a bit more expressive:
    - No russian, in call of duty, expose the horror of terrorism by proposing to shoot on civilian (so edgy).
    - Spec Ops, put you in hi stress situation where shooting become controversial and make you reflect on the actions.
    - MGS3, make the act of pulling the trigger on the boss a deeply emotional moment (so edgy again).
    I wouldn't say they are the best tactful writing, but for a moment they elevate a simple actions to something more meaningful by twisting the tacit rules of the game. That's when the structure stop to let writing start.

    My intention for that system was to empower the designer of the world to come up with interesting situation, without having to rely on trite mechanics, to get characterization within interaction, ie to have character express themselves in the game outside of cinematic and audiovisual only.

    Imagine you design a character that start close to you, and no matter what interactions you have, grew silently and slowly distant from you and others, because there is a set of circumstance and characteristic that is personal.The player by interacting with that character, cannot "win him" back, we can only understand what push the character that way, because characters have their own motives. And that's why it's a system that must happen over a period, to gave enough time for bond to develop and "judgement" to be made. Even though I describe the system in terms of what a designer or the player can, does not mean they should at all cost. That was my intention.

    Breaking the rules of the system meaningfully.That's when you stop using mechanics and start writing.

    I see what you mean lol

    But I have some reference of some experiment on that too if you are interested, I was exploring a concept called "attitude gameplay" back in 2006, and there was some game that were loosely close to that:
    - sweaty palm by Ian Bogost http://bogost.com/games/sweaty_palms/
    - the act https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Act_(video_game)
    - emily short also wrote about having them in a text parser adventure game (where you type the tone). https://emshort.blog/how-to-play/writing-if/my-articles/conversation/ This is the best reference because it's from experience and interaction with an audience, it also very practical and less theoretical.

    They have the advantage of being simple for use in a traditional set up without reinventing the wheel or having new tech. Though now with machine learning, even a crude representation (as in only the primary emotion) can be fed in game by evaluating a camera feed.
    I also made a paper prototype to expend on the idea of the act with less simplistic emotional cues. I should code it somedays.
     
  34. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I read through this (as well as your links--Emily Short's was super helpful) and then read through your previous posts. I'm not completely sure I get it, but I think I get it a bit more. You're treating emotion as a mechanic, rather than just a visual effect like I was thinking initially. And that character's emotional state influences the ways the player can interact with the character.

    I haven't thought about it in that manner strictly, but I have considered NPC emotion as a type of mechanic that influences a game in some ways. In a previous thread of mine:

    This is a very different idea in that the mood changes aren't affecting dialogue but something else, but I suppose it does incorporate mood as a mechanic.

    And I don't describe it there, but I have also thought about more traditional variants, where the NPC could get "moody" and this would change their dialogue with the player (reason being that the "NPC" I'd be modelling has been known to be a moody person :p). I'd considered having it be either random or scripted, but had not considered having it as an actual player-manipulate-able mechanic.

    Part of that seems to come down to how systemic one wants to make the dialogue. I suppose I have different types of ideas for this, but the current one I've been thinking of is a fairly scripted setup, where the player can select one of a few responses and the NPC pretty much responds in a single scripted manner (this may have changed based on NPC mood, but not on any player-derived systemic factors).

    Seems like it would be difficult to incorporate the more systemic method in the real-time system, because a big part of it is the different statements the player can make appearing and disappearing with time. I'm sure it could be done, but it seems like that approach requires a great deal of writer control over the topics available, the amount of time they're available for, etc.


    All of this aside, I do think I'm going to try to make that system I described earlier in the thread during December when I have some free time. Might show it on here so we can toss it around and see if there are any places we could improve it.
     
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  35. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    Glad you like it! She is a critically underrated seasoned game design genius :D people need to know more about her very practical corpus of articles! She is insightful, and very practical as she has done it ALL, while most other articles on dialogue tend to be about "wouldn't be cool", myself comprise lol.

    I'll silently drop more shorter articles (a masterclass on modeling interactive conversation's flow) for anyone interested here, good read :p
    https://emshort.blog/2009/07/30/modeling-conversation-flow-npc-repeating-information/
    Modeling conversation flow: NPC repeating information

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/02/modeling-conversation-flow-open-ended-questions/
    Modeling conversation flow: NPC questions

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/05/modeling-conversation-flow-actions-in-conversational-context/
    Modeling conversation flow: actions in conversational context

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/06/modeling-conversation-flow-silence/
    Modeling conversation flow: silence

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/10/modeling-conversation-flow-beginnings-and-endings-using-scenes/
    Modeling conversation flow: beginnings and endings using scenes

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/12/mod...tiple-people-conversing-some-closing-caveats/
    Modeling conversation flow: multiple people conversing; some closing caveats

    https://emshort.blog/2009/07/22/modeling-conversation-flow-types-of-npc-initiative/
    Modeling conversation flow: types of NPC Initiative

    https://emshort.blog/2009/07/24/modeling-conversation-flow-subject-changes/
    Modeling conversation flow: subject changes

    https://emshort.blog/2009/07/26/modeling-conversation-flow-transitions-in-player-speech/
    Modeling conversation flow: transitions in player speech

    https://emshort.blog/2009/07/27/modeling-conversation-flow-interrupting-the-player/
    Modeling conversation flow: interrupting the player

    https://emshort.blog/2009/08/23/idea-to-implementation/
    Idea to Implementation


    EXTRA INTERESTING STUFF
    https://emshort.blog/2013/02/26/versu-conversation-implementation/
    Versu: Conversation Implementation

    https://emshort.blog/2010/06/07/so-do-we-need-this-parser-thing-anyway/
    So, Do We Need This Parser Thing Anyway?

    https://emshort.blog/how-to-play/if...l-5-2014-ifmud-discussion-on-time-simulation/
    Transcript of April 5, 2014 ifMUD Discussion on Time Simulation

    https://emshort.blog/2017/05/18/mailbag-writing-for-versu/
    Mailbag: Writing for Versu

    https://emshort.blog/2017/06/13/twine-gardening
    Twine Gardening



    Category of article
    https://emshort.blog/category/books/
    https://emshort.blog/category/craft/



    She has recently started looking in AI and PGC stuff :eek:
    Can't wait to see what she come with this!


    Sample:
    https://emshort.blog/2017/11/23/dagstuhl-workshop-on-narrative-and-social-graphs/
    Dagstuhl Workshop on Narrative and Social Graphs

    https://emshort.blog/2016/10/27/casual-procgen-text-tools/
    Casual Procgen Text Tools

    etc...

    edit: more extra continually updated as I'm geeking on her blog
    https://emshort.blog/2016/05/25/not-all-choice-interfaces-are-alike/
    Not All Choice Interfaces Are Alike

    https://emshort.blog/2016/04/12/bey...ased-and-salience-based-narrative-structures/
    Beyond Branching: Quality-Based, Salience-Based, and Waypoint Narrative Structures
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  36. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I was initially going to say something like: she focuses a lot on the writing (often dialogue) design but doesn't talk at all about how the player interacts with it. But then I saw your second to last link.

    In her list of implementations she doesn't really go into detail about them, and occasionally she completely fails to address one of her criteria, like "embodiment" for the "choice selection from a short list" implementations.

    I think this is the primary difference between us. She's a lot more interested in designing the dialogue/plot/whatever of a game. I'm more interested (at least with this system) in working on how the player interacts with the dialogue system. I personally feel that this is the biggest problem with game dialogue.

    Let's look at video game combat again. It's always been fairly popular historically. Thing is though, combat as a meaningful way to change the story is not all that big. I'm sure it's been done before this, but the oldest example I can think of widely hailed for something like this is bioshock with the little sisters.

    Here's the important thing, though: it doesn't matter. It's okay if the story doesn't react to the combat, because the combat stands on its own. Combat as gameplay predates combat as a story tool.

    And that's where dialogue needs to get. Dialogue needs to be able to work as gameplay, in that the very action itself (the actual physical action the player is taking--typing, or selecting options in a list, along with its context) is enjoyable to a player. It needs context of course, context is everything, and I suspect it will always need more content than combat ever will, but it needs to be more than a stop-gap between the actual gameplay or game story and the player.

    I'm not saying my solution is the key to answering all of these questions. And I'm not saying all dialogue needs to be that way (in much the same sense that there are many, many different styles of combat out there with many different levels of interaction, tactical or strategic expectations, etc.). But it's a way to move things forward.
     
  37. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    This makes sense, since she comes from an interactive fiction background. The interface has never been the main focus of text games. (BTW, if you haven't read her papers on Versu, they're gold.)

    I was about to play devil's advocate and argue that instant messaging with a real human being is different from "instant messaging" a bot that runs a branching conversation tree. And it is, to some degree. But it still lacks the other dynamics, such as body language and the pressure to provide realtime responses, of face-to-face interaction.
     
  38. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Thanks, I'll take a look when I get the chance.

    Pardon me if I'm getting a little too meta and grammar nazi-ish here, but I'm having a little difficulty understanding your second paragraph. First off, the "I was about to" implies a "but" coming somewhere. It's possible your third sentence is that "but," but in that case...

    Your first sentence states that these two things are different, your second sentence echoes that, but your third sentence introduces the aforementioned "but" which implies a point in the opposite direction--implies that those two things are the same in some way. And yet, the things you bring up are examples of how it is different.

    It's possible you were continuing part of the discussion from your previous paragraph, but I'm having difficulty understanding it. For now I'll just take it as "instant messaging with a real human being is different than IM-ing a bot...it still lacks the other dynamics such as body language and the pressure to provide realtime responses."

    Please let me know if that's the wrong interpretation. And further, your use of the term "instant messaging" implies to me that you're referring back to your previous statement about text games, not just any game.

    As for the actual content of your comment (given these assumptions I've made, please tell me if they're wrong), yeah it's a different kind of experience. I've only played one or two text adventures ever. To be honest they never interested me all that much. It's strange--I've always enjoyed the written form, having consumed hundreds and hundreds of books in my youth. And even now, I enjoy visual novels quite a bit. But the idea of interaction by typing, with a purely textual interface, just never worked for me.
     
  39. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Sorry, I was typing in a rush before heading out the door. :) The gist (condensed because I'm still in a rush unfortunately) really isn't much. At first, I was tempted to argue that pure text-based conversation between a human and a computer is different from pure text-based conversation between two humans. But they're not different, in the sense that both lack body language and other factors that you only get in face-to-face conversation -- or at least in a simulation of those factors, such as the body language and facial expressions of characters in games with cinematic dialogue like Mass Effect.
     
  40. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Got it. I see what you mean. Yeah, it's probably easier to simulate that kind of experience in a realistic manner than what the more cinematic experiences try to do. Procedural conversations in a text-based game are pretty advanced compared to where we are with most visual games, where pretty much all dialogue is scripted (though I've thought a teensy bit about how we might fix that, in response to things like the procedural quest generator in Quest Machine).
     
  41. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    On Emily:
    I don't think it's her fault, it's an artifact of my selection, the original link is exactly about using dialogue and the interface. She had more thought about interaction and dialogue or many other subject that aren't the point (see her homer in silicon series). And she is constantly asking about what's the value of dialog in a perticular game set up, aka how we interact about it etc ... she don't have a single "idea" of what's best, she is explore them all.

    Which bring the next point:
    It's kinda hard to know what you want lol, youstart talking about story and combat, then characterization. I didn't understand what you were going for lol

    HOwever I can put my dry game designer hat and look at your new proposition of the concept of "contextless spammable" gameplay.

    The first thing is to look at the typical function of combat as a gameplay:

    - as gate and obstacle, they prevent you from progressing until you overcome them, generally a test for previously learned skills.
    - as a resource dispenser with a challenge gate, when combat have loot (be it treasures or simple health drop), they provide a way to gather needed items.
    - as pacing, they simply slow you down and give you something to do in between progression point, and they can be more or less skipable.
    - as progression system, combat is the main way you progress in the game, for example leveling up.

    There is way to find more functions, but those are the usual one, they are the things that gave combat gameplay context by making it purposeful for the player, even when story or world building are minimal, although theming is generally present to ground things.

    Combat also have a very clear internal progression:
    - you know you are progressing toward winning by depleting health and enemy number
    - you know you are progressing toward failure by how much you health is depleting
    - you know how tense the situation is by the ratio of winning vs losing (for example full health and enemy severely wounded, is clearly not the same as being severely wounded and the enemy at full health)
    - you know how much you are from fleeing by how distant you are from the enemy reach

    Combat as gameplay also have an external (to a combat sequence) global resource call player's health, which weight how the player approach each sequences, so the same combat set up won't be approach teh same way when he is at full health and when he is at low health, in the former the player might seek out tough enemy and the latter the player might look out for weak enemy as dispenser, this create inherent dynamism even in between combat (resources management like health), and it introduce variability into a repeated similar setup (player's has differing resources therefore behavior has to adapt).

    Combat also have predictable variability through combinatorial parameters, enemy are generally define by a same set of attributes who control their behavior, like the typical rpg stats and ability, some are apparent some are obfuscated and need to be discovered.

    The question for dialogue become then, how do we build similar quality in dialog, what are the mode of dialogue anyway?

    For example, in the case of current dialogue tree has:
    - inherent progression (there is an entry point and an exit point, you generally know when you have exhausted every topic)
    - while dialogue can be use as gating, it is generally devoid of gameplay tension (no winning vs losing)
    - it's generally use to dispense informations which is not a resource (at least not in the health sense), which mean at best the challenge is to solve a riddle, which is puzzle, and puzzle generally tend to be solved indefinitely once the solution is found, so it's not repeatable, it doesn't produce variability. It has used in providing context and augment other gameplay type with the quest system, which mean indirect engagement with dialogue as gameplay function, basically doing quest is part of the dialogue as gameplay (inserted between the beginning and the end of the exchange, think mass effect companion's quest)
    - they are used as pacing element, they gave you things to do when in rest time. Can be busy works (talk to everyone) at worst.

    As we have seen it lacks dynamism, and that's generally true for any dialogue system proposed, they tend to address surface elements.

    But RPG has tried to address the issue since forever, they used systems like charisma, affinity, faction and choice as way to make dialogue more dynamic with element that allow variability (basically gameplay of diplomacy):
    - charisma is a progression system that change where you start in the encounter
    - affinity is a resources that change each encounter and its progression
    - faction add global variability depending on who you align with
    - choice allow to affect how you navigate all encounter along the global progression and add variability of playthrough, it becomes about who to talk and when while managing resources.

    The problem with this is that it still mostly about in between encounter engagement rather than dialogue as satisfying gameplay on its own, so it need to be condensed. It also rely on indirect progression (quests again) to make dialogue engaging.

    The system I proposed above has a partial solution to that, but still mostly rely on overall progression (repeated encounter) and in between actions to get the engagement. Basically the system of background occurrences to a character, happen relative to the character's profile thus has element of predictable variation (change a character condition and personality and the occurrence change or have different effects), and because those occurrences happen generally "off camera" outside of player's knowledge, they introduce challenge through probability, the player don't solve it once, it has to first inquiry, which is a challenge by itself, then decide, which is another challenge that rely on global resources management (the affinity of all characters).

    I don't know if that helps narrowing down at least dry parameters to turn into an expressive system. The main question is what is the main purpose of engaging in dialogue, in combat it is to beat (in a gameplay sense) the enemy most of the time.

    Undertale added a twist where engaging with the enemy could also happen through dialogue as flavor (basically not losing the mini game vs going through a funny script as winning, which is tension but also choice in the story), but it was very tied to the context which is meta to game tradition anyway (npc were attacking you, which is not normal dialogue engagement, you can either bond (dialogue script) or fight (deplete a bar), that's no different, both are going from a start to an end).

    Personally I would try to find the different mode (aka function) of dialogue and design a gameplay loop around each of them, I think dialogue fill multiple functions, ie we need multiple mode of engagement. For example meeting people who are suspicious of you, or hostile, or friendly, etc ...

    I would rate merchant as a dialogue mode in typical game, it's about achieving a commercial transaction, different from flirting mode or information gathering mode. I say that because nintendo released a game that was an entertaining system that was basically dialogue, call rusty real deal, in which you could and had to argue the price with a character. Which is a game we may look at for inspiration.


    It has minigame, but most player say the haggling system is really the best thing about the game, despite being an experiment in gamifying microtransaction.

    In conclusion multiple dialogue gameplay depending on situation is maybe the way to go instead of a single silver bullet system.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
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  42. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I'm certainly not arguing for a silver bullet or a one size fits all solution (I say that at the end of my previous comment). I'm trying to apply this to the one situation where we make dialogue a more interactive, more "game-y" system for the player.

    When I refer to story, I'm mainly talking about the context for the dialogue or combat. When I refer to characterization, I'm talking about the purpose of the dialogue--the purpose is to express yourself, rather than something like AP where the goal is to affect an NPC. I'm personally trying to focus on characterization as the purpose of my dialogue system, but undoubtedly most of these concepts can be applied to a system based on what I've termed manipulation.

    And when I referred to combat, I was mainly using that as a comparison. I realize now a bit more (from your analysis) that I need to be careful in comparing this to combat, because A) I'm probably thinking mostly of specific types of combat, which skews what I emulate in the dialogue system, and B) there are a few things in combat that don't necessarily translate over fully to the "characterization" purpose that I've selected, such as the inherent goal-based nature of combat.

    I can probably still apply the things one engages in in combat to a dialogue context, but I'll have to think about the whole goal-based nature. Probably requires a separate plot thread the player can follow and treats the dialogue as a "sidecar" to that.
     
  43. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    What do you mean by "expressing yourself"? what's the intended experience?
    - In JRPG they have "express yourself" choice (see zelda skyward sword or xenoblade) that elicit a local reaction from npc but ultimately as no major consequence, maybe some unlocking reference of funny scene as long acknowledgement, something like that?
    - or more in the minecraft sense where you need a shelter as a function, but the actual shape and sophistication is up to you, as long the function is performed, aka customization?
     
  44. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Something like this I think, though expressly a part of dialogue and more extensive. Further up the thread I describe Mass Effect as a game that uses this system primarily. None of the player's dialogue in the game is used to manipulate NPCs--pretty much any outcome the game challenges the player to achieve (in conversation) is guaranteed to happen--the main difference lies in how you do it, e.g. whether you threaten that merchant or smooth-talk him. On occasion they have the paragon/renegade system allow the player to achieve something they can't in "straight" dialogue, which is a bit like allowing for that manipulative gameplay, but the player has almost no direct control over how those moments work, and you only accrue those P / R points by expressing yourself a certain way in the game (and the third game (probably wisely) boils it all down to a reputation system that has similar results without forcing you to express yourself in (what the designers of the P/R system think of as) the exact same way for each conversation), so while the outcome may be the MC influencing another character where different MCs would be unable to, the player has almost no real...can't think of the word, no real connection with that or control over that.

    What I would love is for this to have some permanence, in the sense that you can engage with NPCs based on the areas you've "characterized yourself into." You show support for anarchism, a rigid anti-anarchy character will argue with you about it, while a pro-anarchy character will speak to you in support of it. You could probably go further and have it impact the world, but I'm less concerned about that kind of thing at the moment.
     
  45. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Also, just want to say how much I love all of this discussion with all of you who've responded. Was thinking yesterday about how important this place, Game Design, is. The rest of the forum is about using Unity. This is about designing games--about evaluating them and making them better. There's so little of this kind of discussion around. There are blog posts by a few people like Ms. Short, sure, but so little of this back and forth. It's great.
     
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  46. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    I just realized something.

    Been working on a conversation (which has been nice, because it's forcing me to develop some of my world-building a bit further than just a vague idea) built around the ideas I've talked about here, using the Dialogue System. Was planning on distributing the unity package, but I realize that would of course include the Dialogue System, a paid asset.

    I suspect the only real remaining option in this case would be to just distribute a final program, as skittish as people are about ZIP files.
     
  47. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    Feel free to include a link to the free evaluation version or even include it in your unity package. If you include the evaluation version in your unity package, please include the whole thing so people will know how to get the full version if they want to get rid of the watermark.

    Could you post a WebGL version?
     
  48. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Aha, the evaluation version. I hoped you had something like that. I'll figure out how to transfer over to that.

    Well, I don't have an itch.io account (and I'm resisting making one), and from what I've seen Google Drive (attached to my "dev" email) doesn't support WebGL anymore. I'll double-check that, as well as if other services like OneDrive support it.

    Want to point out too, not anywhere near done. Still working on building all of the dialogue, and then I'll need to dig through all of my old posts (and your replies) in the Dialogue System thread to figure out how to do this. Just wanted to post about that concern, to which I figured you had a solution.
     
  49. TonyLi

    TonyLi

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    If you can't find an old reply, just post again on the Dialogue System thread or PM me; I'll be happy to answer again.

    The evaluation version and full version are cross-compatible. You can import one on top of the other, or transfer your project files from one to the other, and everything will work fine.
     
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  50. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Good to know about the evaluation version.

    Hope you don't mind if I do that, rather than trying to piece together how to make it work. Seeing as how I never actually got there before, new information may be required anyway.