Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
To avoid the infinite story branching problem, Fallout 3 's dialogue
trees loop back on themselves often. For example, every time you greet
Moira, you get the same list of dialogue options, each leading to a different
topic: purchasing gear, purchasing furniture for the player's home, local
gossip, repairing objects, any quests in progress, and so on. After each
topic resolves, the dialogue returns to the root topic list. So the dialogue
tree itself is arranged in a hub-and-spokes content ordering structure.
The approach to the Super-Duper Mart created a sense of anticipation
of the challenge ahead. This part of the story wasn't in any script, but it
was implied by the geometry of the world.
My encounter with the raiders and leather-clad hunters outside the
Super-Duper Mart was an interesting convergence of narrative tools. The
raiders were scripted to be there and will always appear in the same places.
The hunters, however, were not part of any script. Hunters appear ran-
domly in the Wasteland throughout the entire game. In this case, they
happened to show up just as I arrived at the Super-Duper Mart. The hunt-
ers and raiders, being mutually hostile, began fighting as soon as they saw
one another, and this emergent fight was still going on as I arrived.
My introduction to this battle was hearing the hunter's bravado
(“What's wrong? Can't stand the sight of your own blood?”), and seeing it
get cut short by the raider's assault rifle. The madly brave hunter scream-
ing his last threat as he dies is a poignant emotional exchange. What's
interesting about this is that it is not modeled in the game mechanics.
It is an interpretation constructed apophenically in a player's mind from
randomized dialogue barks and straightforward combat interactions.
After the first hunter died, I was pinned down by assault rifle fire
from a second raider. This short fight formed a miniature emergent story
with its own emotional arc. Being pinned made me tense. After an unseen
hunter saved my life, I was filled with relief and gratitude toward my
savior. It almost seemed like she was saving me as an act of kindness,
or killing to exact revenge for her murdered companion. Naturally, these
interpretations are all pure apophenia, but they feel real and affect the
player nonetheless.
The fighting inside the supermarket forms another mini-story. My
stealthy entrance into the space is exposition. It gave me time to under-
stand their situation before diving in. When raiders started coming out
of the woodwork, the tension ratcheted up. It peaked as the rifle-wielding
raider approached. This tension was finally resolved with the epiphany of
remembering the assault rifle taken from the raider in the parking lot and
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