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JE Sawyer comments on dialogues and stuff

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Vault Dweller, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    Tags: J.E. Sawyer

    There is a <a href=http://forums.obsidianent.com/index.php?showtopic=24525&hl=>discussion</a> at <a href=http://forums.obsidianent.com>Obsidian</a> that explores dialogues and dealing with NPCs. Lotsa opinions, flames, the usual. Here is what <b>JE Sawyer</b> had to say on that matter:
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    <blockquote>As a similar example, in The Black Hound we could make one hundred characters on a map all look unique. Different hair, different clothing, different skin, body types -- everything. We could do this with some monsters, too. We could have populated the Goblin Fortress in IWD2 with a hundred goblins that were all slightly different from each other. The problem became focus. Walking around White Ford and seeing dozens of unique people gave people the impression that everyone was important -- or, more to the point, that no one was important. In comparison, walk around Shady Sands in Fallout. There's no doubt who's important in that town and who is not. The majority of characters have click-floats, some have full dialogues, and others have talking heads and full dialogues. Those choices aren't mistakes, and they don't really detract from the narrative. Quite to the contrary, they help establish the narrative and keep the player focused on the plot of the story.
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    Dynamic dialogue systems should be developed further, but only on an awesome scale. I'm talking about persistent worlds filled with thousands of NPC AIs that respond to a dynamic range of motivation values that take into account systems of oppressive surveillance/social legislation of behavior, etc. For small scale, crafted narrative games, I just don't see the point.</blockquote>There is more stuff there. Check it out and discuss.
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  2. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    Yeah, heaven forbid we actually become immersed in the game world and lose focus on the plot. That would be tragic. :roll:
     
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  3. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    I guess discovering who's important, especially who's important to your character, on your own by actually talking to people is too much work. I was playing Gothic II the last few days, and was somewhat annoyed by all those generic no-name characters. It's like a huge "Hi, I'm just a "citizen", I'm not important enough to have a name, I have nothing to say and no quest to give. Please ignore me while I create the immershun here" banner.
     
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  4. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    You know, they have this wonderful invention they use in RPGs. It's called a journal.

    But I guess looking up the name of some npc we need to talk with would ruin the immersion so we have to have generics.

    Yup, everytime I look up the name of someone in my address book, I think to myself "Damn. I've lost focus on my life now. Fuck, why can't we have generic people in real life?"
     
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  5. Spazmo Erudite

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    There's really no reason to give names to every damn NPC in the game. If the character is just an insignificant townsperson, why not call them Insignificant Townsperson? I don't want to waste time asking twenty strangers if they're the guy I'm looking for. I'd rather have the relevant NPC stand out. Useless guys get floats, important ones get dialog--it works.
     
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  6. EEVIAC Erudite

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    Agree with Spazmo. I've never had problems immersing myself in Fallout, despite the floats. As in real life, most people aren't worth talking to, and when you do, they have very little worthwhile to say.

    For me, dialogues are a fake can be just as good kind of thing. Dialogues are less an interactive device and more of a feedback device, that's what the skill checks are for. Most responses should be character driven rather than player driven. They need to be contextually correct (whether that be environmental or story wise) and respond to different character archetypes, that's about it.

    The whole idea of more complex character interactions through dialogue is distraction. Games are getting shorter, with smaller maps and less to do on them, so I really don't think we need two million lines of dialogue just because players want to ask NPC's out on dates and talk about their dumbfuck lives. There are better things to do with development time that actually create gameplay. I'd rather a game with climbing and grapples than thoughtfull responses to mundane dialogue.
     
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  7. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    Who cares about bunches of dialogue? I personally think everyone SHOULD have a name though, at least. And they don't have to display them right away. Only if you talk to them. They can easily justify the important characters having names by the fact that an NPC you spoke to earlier could have told you what the person looks like, or what they were wearing, or something along those lines.

    It's easy to give everyone names without having tons of dialogue per NPC. Even I agree that would be nuts. But at least naming everone would make things even more immersive without distracting from gameplay. Simple.
     
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  8. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    I'm not saying that you should be able to have a meaningful conversation with everyone. I'm saying that arriving into a town and having everything conviniently mapped for you - you should talk to these few guys, but don't waste your time with these fellas - is not the best way to handle that.

    For instance, you could talk to people and discover on your own who's who, that would actually be more immersive then scanning NPCs with a mouse looking for people with names, people who you might have not talked to, but hey, he's got a name, I betcha he has a quest for me. DF and MW had names, and I can't say that finding the right person was complicated because of that.
     
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  9. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

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    "But at least naming everone would make things even more immersive"

    No, it wouldn't. Explain to me how someone named Joe Blow but has one, or two lines of dialogue is gonna be more imerisve than someone known as "Townsperson" with 1, or 2 lines? It's the same stupid stuff. I guess, to REALLY be immersive if a palce is described as a city; it should have thousands of people all with names just to be "immersive" or what i like to call "faux pas immersion".

    Quite frankly, Gothic 2 (as does NWN, FO, BG, PST, etc.,e tc.) pretty much handle this right on.


    "I'm saying that arriving into a town and having everything conviniently mapped for you"

    Who in bejeebers suggested that? None of the games I mentioned above do this yet they all have "no names". Not one.

    R00fles!
     
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  10. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    Just do it like FO.
     
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  11. Country_Gravy Arcane Patron

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    Good call.

    I don't think everyone needs a name and everybody doesn't need 10000 lines of dialog. That would just turn into Morrowind all over again.

    On a slightly unrelated note, while checking this thread at Obsidian I saw that Volourn had over 4000 posts there! WTF? That means between just these two boards you have about 7000 posts. Holy Shit! Don't tell me you post on other boards, too!

    I know you are living in Kanada with Nanook of the North and all, but seriously, dude, get out more.
     
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  12. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

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    Please, you over exaggerate how long itt akes to post. Short posts take 1 second, "long posts" take 5 minutes max. It's not a lot of time so stop whining about.

    Why do people worry so much about other people's post counts.

    STOP TROLLING ME FOR FUCK SAKES!























    :twisted:
     
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  13. Country_Gravy Arcane Patron

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    Seriously, dude. I'm worried about you. Seriously.
     
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  14. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    Immersion is what you make of it, Vol. I would like to see my idea implemented. You wouldn't. Big whoop. Doesn't make what I want stupid or unrealistic. Just means I have a different opinion of immersion than you do. Daggerfall had loads of NPCs each with different names. Didn't ruin anything. But, that's just me.

    I agree. ;)
     
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  15. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

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    "I would like to see my idea implemented."

    I never said I'd hate it being implemented. Heck, there's some good that can be done with it. I'm just saying that every npc with a name doesn't automatically mean more immersion nor having names llike 'Townsperson' make it so the map is completely laid out either as evidenced by the majority of RPGs alreayd out there.
     
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  16. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    The immersion in this instance that I speak of is realism.

    You wander into a new city. Everyone is a stranger. No one has a name. Until the moment you speak with them. Then they have a name. You don't have to speak with them though, as in my idea, the important people would be named due to previous info you got describing them to you or whatnot. But if you chose to talk with them, you would find they indeed have a name.

    I don't go into a store and greet the clerk with "Hello, Clerk 122983343. How are you today?", afterall. :P

    Reminds me of the old Prisoner tv show. "I am NOT a number! I am a man!"
     
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  17. EEVIAC Erudite

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    Easy maybe, but it seems cheap to me. If Don Dumbfuck is no more important, having no more impact on the game world or story than Bruce Dumbfuck, what's the point in making the distinction between them? Having that information is useless and writing it into the game is a waste of time. Why not go further and brand every weapon and armour with its maker's mark for all the good it will do.

    "I am a sword, not a to-hit bonus with damage type modifier!"

    I just don't see how it makes NPC's more realistic or interactions more immersive. I might interact with dozens of people in a day and not know their names. Even if they do tell me I'll most likely forget. The girl that runs groceries through the check out is just as generic as any RPG NPC. If I want to offer extermination services, I speak to the manager. So if there's zero benefit in personalization, why bother doing the extra work? Its like the dialogue lines in BG 2 that lead to the same dialogue responses - more detail, more choice - fuck all effect.

    I'm not totally opposed to having NPC names, it just seems to me a big distraction (the concept and the discussion.) Its an illusion of detail and immersion, rather than providing actual gameplay elements.
     
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  18. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    And that there be my point. ;)

    I'm not saying it's necessary, nor am I saying it's gameplay enhancing. What I am saying however is it adds to the illusion of immersion.

    Name generators are a dime a dozen and it's quite easy to generate hundreds of names without getting super technical and without having dupes. A simple subroutine could handle this and could probably be done in less than a day by one person alone.

    Hell, I had a name generator back on my old 486 for when I was gamemastering PnP rpgs that could whip out dozens of names in no time for my npcs. And, yes, I did name ALL my npcs. There was no "Hello, I'm another generic merchant. How may I help you?"

    All in all, it's a labor of love that doesn't take too much effort and does add to the immersion illusion. Will it ever happen? Probably not anytime soon. But it would be nice to see it. :)
     
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  19. EEVIAC Erudite

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    There are other ways of making generic NPC's less generic, while increasing interactivity/reactivity. Rather than having set text floats, have a table of them that are influenced by character reputation and quests.
     
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  20. dojoteef Liturgist

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    You could always have the npcs have randomly generated quests associated with them, like most rogue-like games. It would probably make balancing the game a lot more difficult and wouldn't really add that much to the depth of the game, but it might would add to the breadth. I'm not saying it's a necessarily a wise decision, but since Otaku mentioned randomly generating character names, why not take it one step further.
     
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  21. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    Random quests are another thing altogether and would have to be handled quite delicately really. The majority of random quests out there tend to be extremely repetitive in nature and, while nice at first, get old after awhile.

    Even the random quests in Daggerfall tend to get annoying after a bit. Especially ones that involve getting some obscure item from a dungeon. You could literally wander around in a dungeon for days on end trying to find some stupid item for a measly 200 gold.

    Granted, you come out of that dungeon with a good deal of stuff to sell and alot more experience, but that's something you can do on your own time without having to bother trying to find a specific item.

    I just think random name generators would be cool enough. Random quests, if done, should be limited to a handful of npcs, and not all of them. That would get pretty asinine, pretty quickly. :P
     
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  22. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Huh? All games mentioned above do that.
     
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  23. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

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    No.
     
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  24. Otaku_Hanzo Erudite

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    But it should be noted that, while the towns were completely mapped out, nothing was noted on them until you either, a.) asked npcs for the locations of places, or b.) discovered them on your own and actually enter the building. At least in DF that's how it works. Can't remember MW too well. After all, I only played it for like three days. Daggerfall, however..... well, let's just say I've played it ALOT. :lol:
     
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  25. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

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    Good point, how could I not see that before? :roll:

    I wasn't talking about actual maps but about NPCs (I specified that in my original post above). When you arrive into a new place, you see right away who has a name and who doesn't. If a person doesn't have a name he/she is totally useless. At least, in Arcanum generic NPCs could provide directions, some training, and be somewhat useful overall.

    Anyway, I agree with your position, Otaku. At very least you should discover the names on your own by talking to people and see if they have anything to say. Those who do, would have their generic tag replaced by names indicating that these people could be useful to you. Otherwise, names act as "moron indicators" telling you whom you should talk to.
     
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