Game Development Reference
gated by the fact that the player has chosen to play the dialogue, and the loss of player
control helps to prevent the dialogue from being broken.
Scripted dialogue. Scripted dialogue is triggered automatically by a game event, or
when the player passes a set point in a level rather than being triggered by player
Just as with cutscenes and scripted events, the writer must think about where the
dialogue is placed. If it is somewhere the character can die, will the dialogue tail off
or cut off? Will the dialogue repeat when the player restarts, and what is the effect of
repetition on the player? All such factors must be discussed with the design and the
story team. When writing such scripted dialogue, it is often useful for the writer to
include his thoughts on how the dialogue should be timed, e.g., should all the lines be
played one after the other, a series of single lines broken by short pauses, or sporadic
with larger gaps of time between them? That way, the scripter who implements the
dialogue into the game can do so in a way that matches the writer's thoughts.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time uses scripted dialogue to good effect in a level
where the player is required to find his route through a series of doors. As the Prince
searches, he hears the girl he is searching for calling out to him. This disembodied
voice adds a sense of mystery and enfolds the player in the story with little cost and
to great effect while leaving the player fully in control of the game character.
AI dialogue. AI dialogue (sometimes called barks or emotes) is triggered when
something happens to the player or the non-player characters. Such dialogue can
be triggered by events from pain to the protagonist jumping or falling, and with a
little thought, such dialogue can add to the storytelling if new banks of AI dialogue
open through the game, refreshing to reflect the characters' development. This adds
a further immersive storytelling tool that does not interfere with the gameplay. AI
dialogue does not have to be, as it often is, limited to basic, rote writing.
Voice Recording: Thinking Beyond the Page
As far back as games such as Impossible Mission in 1984, platform games have con-
tained spoken dialogue. Recording voices for platformers offers its own unique chal-
lenges. Try reading the lines aloud and then read them again while jumping up and
down. Voice alters with movement. This can mean that lines written to be delivered
while on the move can break, not because of the line, but because they do not sound
real. Such considerations might appear to be the preserve of the voice director and
the audio team, but the writer needs to think about these things ahead of time. Bad
voice acting creates a break in immersion that the writer can help to prevent.
5.5 Character Creation for Platformers
The design of game characters often stems from a combination of the game genre
and the narrative genre. The prevalence of platform titles aimed at younger audi-