Game Development Reference
The topic Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames , edited by Chris Bate-
man, goes into detail about how dialogue systems work. I highly recommend it as a
resource if you plan to implement such a system into your sandbox game.
This is similar to dialogue but on a more macro level. Certain games allow their mis-
sions to be open-ended, meaning they allow players to solve them in several different
ways. This could also mean different consequences for different actions in a mission.
Case in point: You're a cop sent to a classic hostage rescue scene. You can kill the
criminal or sneak in and talk him out of it. Killing him effectively removes him from
the rest of the game, while sparing him allows him to lend you a hand later on. This
is a consequence, and it can even lead to a branching storyline. Consequences have
to be kept in check, and the script has to take all the cases into account so that no
one forgets to record the necessary dialogue or forgets to code the different cases. Ne-
glecting this may cause plot holes in your game or confusion within the development
Things to Watch Out For
Improper Flow (Illogical, Not Dramatic, Too Dramatic)
Sometimes, when there's a multitude of quests and side quests, writers and designers
lose sight of the actual flow of the story versus the gameplay. Some events may
require a certain item, skill, or any other object that will allow access to further parts
of the game, but due to improper sequencing, that item is not available when needed.
Other problems could be having too many cinematic sequences versus gameplay, or
the other way around. Properly charting out your game and keeping everything
tangibly clear can remedy this.
Too Many Consequences
Each consequence you place into the game is something you need to keep track of, as
anything unaccounted for could be a game-stopping bug later. If you're going to have
consequences in your game, keep them at two to three, and try as much as possible
to not make the story depend on them too much, thus making sure your story can
Story Bogging Down Gameplay
Examples of this could be too much dialogue to go through, or cinematic sequences
that are too long, or just too many interruptions on the way to some gameplay. If
you're going to have narrative, try as much as possible to have it happen during
gameplay, and in no way should it cloud any part of the action. Bioshock and Call of
Duty 4 are good examples of this.