Game Development Reference
The player chooses
Some dialogue systems offer the player the option to choose the subject they
are going to talk about. This may be presented as a list of questions that the
player is able to choose from or as a series of icons that represent the subject
in a more conceptual way. In the example above, and after the initial greeting,
the choices presented to the player could be 'The Shooting', 'Johnny' and
'Sally'. Whichever the player chooses, a segment of the scene is triggered
which relates to that choice.
Because the subjects are dependent on the player having talked to other
characters or gaining other knowledge, the choices should not be presented
to the player if the right conditions are not met. This, and the fact that the
player can choose which order to talk about the subjects, means that the
dialogue must be written in a way that takes this into account and additional
logic variable must be applied to ensure it hangs together well.
Some subject choices may be completely independent of others so do not
need complex logic to handle them, but if a character is pivotal to the plot
this may throw up a lot of subject choices that interweave intricately. Choices
may disappear when discussed, as is normal, but then reappear later when the
player character knows more information. The dialogue system and tools
need to be able to handle this sophistication if this is the type of dialogue
gameplay the project requires.
The non-speaking main character
Because some games offer the player the opportunity to define or customise
the player character to a high degree, they throw up a different set of require-
ments. It is difficult to write for a character that could be any of a huge
number of possible combinations. Features the player can regularly choose
from include gender, race, profession, abilities, age, background and their
good/evil disposition. Depending on how many choices are available in each
category, the number of variations could be enormous and to write and
record dialogue for each one is an impossible task - many of these games will
already have high dialogue content before adding these factors.
The only way to handle the dialogue in these situations is for the player
character's dialogue to be very minimal, neutral and be able to suit the range
of possibilities. It also means that the lines of the player character are not
recorded. In some games none of the dialogue is recorded, which at least
gives a consistency to the dialogue.