Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
future year 9 hundred billion.''
4:
''Gotta go.''
>>
￿
''Is that all you have? What kind of lame deli is this?''
you
sneer.
''Hmph!'' says Fred. ''If you don't like it, you can stuff
the meatballs up your shirt for all I care.''
1: ''I'm actually a time traveler from the amazing
future year 9 hundred billion.''
2:
''Gotta go.''
>>
￿
''I'm actually a time traveler from the amazing future year
9 hundred billion.''
''You're a lunatic, and a rude one at that!'' says Fred.
''Okay, that does it, outta my shop!''
With that, Fred tosses you out on your ear and slams the door.
When you look up again, the sign in the window says ''Closed.''
If it's actually important to enlist Fred's help to reach the best outcome of the game,
the player has made a serious blunder here. Or possibly not—there might be another
way to approach Fred later on. It might even open up a subplot that wasn't available
without insulting him and having him close the shop on you.
One controversial aspect of menu-based dialogue is that many players have a
tendency to want to see everything on the menu. They feel a little disturbed, as if
they're missing out on something important, if dialogue choices they didn't select
the first time through are closed off and never offered again. It doesn't matter that
you, the author, know that they weren't actually very important—the players don't
know that and are likely to get antsy if they do not get to satisfy their completionist
streak.
This is one of the reasons that there is a philosophical disagreement about whether
ASK/TELL is better than menu-based conversation. Because ASK/TELL in effect
hides from the players the full extent of possible conversation, they do not know what
they're missing and thus don't feel that same sense of itchiness about not getting to
select every last possible dialogue option every time. It is also true that players who
thoroughly exhaust dialogue menus admit that even as they do this, they feel them-
selves lose immersion in the game momentarily, as it becomes a mechanical exercise
of going through menus instead of sustaining the illusion of a simulated conversation
between characters. On the other hand, it is arguable that this is inherently a fault of
dialogue menus, which are otherwise a perfectly good way of handling conversation
in games.
One way to go about writing interactive dialogue like this is to pick one through-
line of the conversation and write all of the back and forth, then start at the top and
look at each step of it on a second pass to see what else the characters might say,
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