Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Developers may record the dialogue of the non-player characters because
they tend to be non-definable, but this can lead to an issue where convers-
ations appear unbalanced with only one of the two characters speaking.
The development studio, Bioware, handled this very well in their Star Wars
RPG title, Knights of the Old Republic .Whenever it was the player character's
turn to speak, the player was presented with a list of questions to ask or lines
to say.The action of choosing one of the lines from the list worked as if the
player character had already spoken the line and the other character would
speak their response immediately. Like many other aspects of gameplay, when
handled well the player quickly accepts this kind of stylisation as part of the
game world, but care has to be taken that the right balance is maintained and
nothing destroys the player's suspension of disbelief.
The down-side to this approach is that it is so much harder to create
dynamic dialogue scenes when the game pauses for the player's response each
time and we never hear full to-and-fro exchanges.To minimise the need for
the player to keep making choices, the speech lines of the other characters
can be made longer, often written in a way that foresees any follow-up
questions. However, without care they can come across as a series of short
monologues that the player triggers rather than true dialogue exchanges.
Finding a good balance can be a lot of hard work and a feeling for how this
kind of game is played and the way the scenes unfold is vital.
Misleading or guiding
Style, quality and quantity of dialogue vary enormously from game to game
depending on each one's requirements. The writer, though, must be very
careful that the dialogue does not mislead the player unintentionally, which
could mean that he or she becomes frustrated trying to achieve something
that is not actually possible.
I was developing the prototype for a game and at one point there was a
large log with which the player could interact. It was impossible for the
character to pick up the log, so I wrote a voiceover line which I believed
would convey this: 'I'm not strong enough to pick this up.'
Unfortunately, when we did some focus testing, a significant portion of
the players took this to mean that they had to find a character strong enough
to pick it up or to find a potion or other item that would give the character
the strength to do so. For these players, this line of reasoning appeared to be
confirmed when the main character met a stronger character a little later in
the game.
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