Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

1eyedking Long-winded dialogues suck

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Darth Roxor, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. gestalt11gender: ⚧ Learned

    gestalt11
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2015
    Parrots:
    430
    Click here and disable ads!
    Anything poorly written will feel too long.

    That being said video games are their own medium and should attempt to tell their story through that medium. On the other hand there is nothing wrong with an interactive novel.

    Generally though if you munge together an interactive novel with a turn based tactical game you break up the momentum of both and are left with neither feeling good, even when they are both good separately.

    Pacing: its important.
     
    ^ Top  
  2. Liluragender: ⚧ Arcane

    Lilura
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    Parrots:
    2,400
    Long-winded has a negative connotation in this context, though: it means "continuing at tedious length"; it's never a good thing.

    As an aside, Planescape Torment's asterisk use for emphasis is *really* annoying.
     
    • Shit Shit x 1
    • Doggy Doggy x 1
    ^ Top  
  3. SCOgender: ⚧ Arcane In My Safe Space

    SCO
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Parrots:
    16,177
    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    [​IMG]
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 9
    ^ Top  
  4. Lhynngender: ⚧ Arcane

    Lhynn
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2013
    Parrots:
    7,255
    So this is a rant about shit writing being forced down the players throat?
    Yeah i agree, its a fairly obvious complain tho.

    Neoscavenger did it well.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  5. Excidium IIgender: ⚧ Self-Ejected

    Self-Ejected
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2015
    Parrots:
    1,866,260
    Location:
    Third World
    if it's obvious why does it keep happening.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  6. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Parrots:
    6,267
    Serpent in the Staglands Torment: Tides of Numenera
    No, they don't. People take a very current fad about what 'good writing' is supposed to be, one which is as much a product of fears about shorter attention spans, information overload and commercial imperatives for capturing audience attention, and then pretend it is some kind of universal metaphysical rule of Good Writing enshrined on stone tablets by a vengeful God. There are many different kinds of writing for many different kinds of purposes, and even a specific genre like 'journalism' has, now and in the past, hosted very different kinds and lengths of 'good writing'.

    There's also a lot of retroactive thinking when people say "that great literature that is really long-winded? probably would have been way better in half the length." Sometimes that really is true (e.g. cases we know where the writer really needed a competent editor), but if Pynchon wrote in 100 page "short and to the point" concise "by the book" writing, one wonders whether he'd ever have become renowned.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 17
    ^ Top  
  7. MasterSmithFandangogender: ⚧ Arcane

    MasterSmithFandango
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    Parrots:
    7,230
    Counterpoint - Strunk and White has been around for over 50 years (and actually longer in the Strunk version).

    Edit: And like I said - if you're going to break the rules, you better do it well. Pynchon does it well (although worth noting that the Crying of Lot 49 is like... 120 pages, so that's not all he does).
     
    ^ Top  
  8. Aothangender: ⚧ Magister

    Aothan
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Parrots:
    1,740
    which is why I was impressed with Inquisitor's dialogue, even though it was (I would have thought) unusually lengthy compared to other rpg-ish examples
     
    ^ Top  
  9. Telengardgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Telengard
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2011
    Parrots:
    1,588
    Location:
    The end of every place
    Brevity isn't a mark of good writing. Neither is long-windedness. The mark of good writing is not having info-dumps at all.

    This is the old As-you-already-know problem. If your character already knows it, then what's the point of someone telling it to you? A bad writer dumps all relevant info on you without care. A good writer implies most of the info, having characters only tell what info they would actually know limited by what they would actually tell to someone. And a superior writer interweaves any lore section with some interesting goings-on, rather than just straight lore.

    *

    Special Note: There was a time when if a character opened his sock drawer, readers would want to have a detailed inventory of every sock. That was considered interesting. Those kinds of things are fads. As is the past few decades' trend of brevity and utter lack of description - a fad now currently on the wane. Both will come again, in time, as the times and fads change.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 11
    ^ Top  
  10. Neanderthalgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Neanderthal
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2015
    Parrots:
    2,067
    Location:
    Granbretan
    Name. Job. Bye.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 11
    ^ Top  
  11. Onholyserviceboundgender: ⚧ Magister

    Onholyservicebound
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2013
    Parrots:
    1,561
    Generally agree, though Wasteland 2's writing didn't really bother me, seemed fine for the most part.

    Don't really remember PoE's writing, but what immediately comes to mind when talking about wall of text writing is the Fallout Restoration Project's writing, contrasted with the original game, it's so pointlessly long winded and verbose, and is always immediately noticable. This is a staple of mods in general, but that always serves as one of the funnier examples for me.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  
  12. Make America Great Again Darth Roxorgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

    Darth Roxor
    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Parrots:
    1,867,497
    Location:
    Djibouti
    A fair point, but at least the idiocy of those games can sometimes be good for a laugh. Where would we be without 'steel be with you' and 'that's pretty extreme, commander'?

    But on the other hand, to take two games close to the above ones' technical conventions that I think hit the sweet spot between stupidity and cleverness, brevity and verbosity, it would be Kotor2 (for Dragon Age) and Alpha Protocol (for Mass Effect). Truly, MCA is our lord and saviour as always.

    As for the Codex - I say, it's some great stuff. Keeps the irrelevant horribly written shit I'm talking about in the OP safely stashed away somewhere I don't have to look, and it's even specifically marked as being absolutely irrelevant so I don't have to read it in the vain hope that it might contain a quest or something.

    And, surprise surprise, those games that "practically count as movies" also almost universally suck. By analogy, I would only assume games that "practically count as literature" would suck dongs as well. This ties to the 'failed movie directors and writers' brought up earlier - the vidya wroitors are so insecure about writing for a nerd medium like this, I bet most of them are on some sort of a personal crusade to prove everyone wrong and show how great of an interactive movie that will dwarf ALL MOVIES EVER! they can make. How about staying in the confines of your own fucking medium instead of desperately trying to make a water hose out of an elephant?

    Because there are often other qualities to those games than just text? Not to mention nowadays if I wanted "not to play games with lots of text", I'd probably be stuck playing Bejeweled 24/7.

    Yes.

    Oh, and this, you see, is another part of the fucking problem. With all those failed writers doing their failed movies, there is NO writing style to speak of, and there is no coherence either. The texts are just loads of junk without any imposed convention, stylisation or style, which simply meander about from place to place without trying to keep any single kind of idea. The only idea is 'wut m i gonna rite aboot today?' instead of 'how am I going to tie all the texts together to fit a cohesive whole?'. Most of this terrible video game writing is about the equivalent of starting a car, closing your eyes and hitting the pedal to the medal to see what happens.

    here's an idea: don't do shit that sucks

    it's really that simple

    It took long enough for the foreseen smartass to finally appear. Methinks you skipped a lot from the OP due to your lacking attention span yourself.

    And if you have to ask, yes - if the game can't make me interested in its Rich Lore (tm)(c)(r) and forces me to skip through any dialogue, it is, in fact, the game's fault.

    i.e. next to never
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 7
    • Prestigious Prestigious x 1
    ^ Top  
  13. Make America Great Again Blackgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Black
    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Parrots:
    1,865,489
    This should be moved to either Larian or Bioware subforum :)
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  14. Make America Great Again Commissar Dracogender: ⚧ KKKodex WCDS Commissar Patron

    Commissar Draco
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Parrots:
    13,908
    Location:
    Best Russia
    Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Agree with most posts of Komrade Roxorovich made but somehow WL2 and AoD dialogues were not that grating in most parts.... In some places (Like entire Mannerites faction) it was even hilariously good and in case of Vince game the dialogues come somehow as too Grim Dark for Grim Darkness case but its get it job done. PoE and DDOS were both Atrocious though.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  15. Make America Great Again Alienmangender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Alienman
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Parrots:
    5,828
    Location:
    Mars
    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2
    The main problem I have with long text dumps, especially if they are boring is that it feels like I'm missing out on a lot of stuff if I don't study the text, which in turn turns the game into a study session.

    With that I mean when characters references something that I should know about, and I have to wing my dialogue answer since I missed or forgot the lore dump thingy he or she is referencing, it usually takes me out of the immersion.
     
    ^ Top  
  16. Shadenuatgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Shadenuat
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2011
    Parrots:
    5,271
    Location:
    Russia
    Morrowind plays a few interesting tricks. The first trick is that it is generally to the point with what it wants player to do. "Go level up, then come back", etc.
    The two others are:
    - Player is in complete control when he wants his lore dumps because of the keyword system. You can only ask NPCs about topics relevant to you, or explore and try find something you didn't know. It's always your choice.
    - The "what the fuck is" trick. Morrowind is such a surreal and hostile world that player who doesn't read can easly end up stuck or dead aka "what the fuck is foyada".

    But really, Morrowind is an example of how to tell about the world with dialogue being just one of the tools. From it's looks to weapons, geography, books, travel system and so on, it's an example of a complex way of telling about the setting, and developers should look at it as an example. Other games that seem to do well with showing and not just telling by placing player into interesting scenarios are Gothic 1 and Arx Fatalis imo. Well PST too actually - everything in it, starting with box cover to interface are weird even before you start reading the dialogue, and it has some mechanics to back it's story up (immortality, resurrection companions at will).
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
    • Brofist Brofist x 17
    ^ Top  
  17. Prime Juntagender: ⚧ Arcane

    Prime Junta
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    Parrots:
    4,610
    I like to read.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 10
    ^ Top  
  18. MicoSelvagender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

    MicoSelva
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Parrots:
    6,834
    Location:
    White March
    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Neither long nor short dialogues are inherently good/bad. However, 90% of game writing is crap, and that is very visible when there is a lot of it.

    Having a lot of writing that is actually good makes for something great, though, but is extremely rare. That is why Torment is such a unique snowflake within CRPG world, still with no competition after ~15 years.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    • Prestigious Prestigious x 1
    ^ Top  
  19. eremitagender: ⚧ Savant

    eremita
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2013
    Parrots:
    797
    Yep, my words exactly Roxor. I realized this a long time ago and that's why I always evaluated MotB higher than PS:T, saying that as a video-game, it has better writing. I think we can distinguish good writing (the skill itself) and deep/clever writing (thoughtful). When it comes to CRPGs, you wanna keep in mind that you're not writing a book. Imo, walls of text fucking up the pacing, destroying balance between gameplay and reading, are sign of a bad writing. Writing can be deep/clever/extremely interesting, but if it's a long-winded, book-like material, which you would rather read in your bed, you fucked up and your game suffers from it. On the other hand, good writing can save a lot of damage and it will probably carry majority of players even through the shitiest content.

    MotB - great writing and it's clever; PS:T - bad writing (especially from the perspective of pacing, that game should have never been an RPG), but clever; Shadowrun Returns - really really good writing, it's dynamic as fuck and should be used as an example for text based CRPGs, but rather medicore in content area; Mass Effect and Dragon Age - good writing (I think this is what Bioware does best), but mostly mediocre when it comes to content quality, sometimes funny but sometimes even hilariously bad and cringe-worthy; Alpha Protocol - same as MotB, great and clever (deliberately cheesy at times); Inquisitor - Holy shit I shouldn't have touched that fucking game. It's a prime example of writing that's not suitable for a video game...
     
    ^ Top  
  20. Qgender: ⚧ Augur Patron

    Q
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Parrots:
    124
    Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2
    There are movies-game and books-game for RPGs (and some others). I llike both when it's good. So when it's walls of text - I want to read it. If it's bad writing - it's bad writing fault, not longevity. If you want to skip text in a book-game - maybe it's not the game you want to play.
     
    ^ Top  
  21. Shaewarozgender: ⚧ Prophet

    Shaewaroz
    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Parrots:
    967
    Location:
    In a hobo shack due to betting on neanderthal
    Info dump in itself is not bad IMO. In Morrowind you are hit with walls of text all the time, but you don't have to read but a fraction of it. You just have to learn to differentiate the important pieces of information from the masses of text. The main question to me is whether the game makes it easy for a player to find the necessary bits from information without having to go through all the unnecessary text as well. Also, the quality, consistency and relevancy of the writing has to be top notch to justify vast amounts of text - in a game like PoE text dumping is not justifiable because most of it is banal scheiße with null informational value.
     
    ^ Top  
  22. InD_ImaginEgender: ⚧ Savant

    InD_ImaginE
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Parrots:
    713
    Well based on OP, I think it is just a difference in taste? I for example abhor game like LoG, and other that promotes brevity simply because I enjoy exposition in video games.

    Now, I agree that unnecessary repetition (same subject, different people, same answer with different phrasing) is bad and the overall length of the writing could be shorter but changing it three sentence per NPC a.k.a too concise isn't the solution either.

    What I still don't get though is people complaining about completely optional piece of writing being in a game (WL2, SRHK, PoE). I mean, there are actually choice to trigger those conversation right? You could just, you know, not ask "Hey can you tell me about Nowheresvilee?" How is it any different than intentionally not checking lore objects lke that #99 broken statue with piece of lore on it?
     
    ^ Top  
  23. V_Kgender: ⚧ Arcane

    V_K
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2013
    Parrots:
    2,927
    Location:
    at a Nowhere near you
    I believe the actual root of the problem are dialog trees: they shift the control of dialog flow to the writers, who often make it difficult to cut exposition short. Older keyword-based system allowed the player to control what he wants to read much more precisely. What's worse, dialog trees and binary skillchecks became a substitution for actual gameplay mechanics, which led RPGs even further into the territory of (barely) interactive novels/movies.

    That said, bitching that Xulima has long-winded writing when it has like a dozen walls of (really bad, I agree) text in a 100-hour game is ridiculous.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 5
    ^ Top  
  24. I'm With Her SausageInYourFacegender: ⚧ for prison Arcane Patron

    SausageInYourFace
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2013
    Parrots:
    2,118
    Location:
    In your face
    Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    The OP mentions 'good writing' but its mostly a longwinded rant about exposition, about how texts in games are too long (I assume shorter writing is good writing?) and irrelevant:

    Show Spoiler



    Hence, most of the responses in this thread refer simply to text lenght, huge walls of text, and relevance.

    It is interesting how people bring up value, importance and relevance because it is not clear to me why every text should always be important and relevant. Important and relevant to what, yourself, your quest? Having (long) conversations with NPCs about the world can be part of the immersive experience that draws you into world, flavor texts are a very important tool for that and thats a value in itself. They don't have to revolve soley around the player per definition. If you ask a NPC about his personal background and his family history, you shouldn't expect a lead up to a quest or some kind of information that necessarily relates to you in some way.

    More often than not these kind of conversations that some people probably view as 'pointless flavor' are entirely optional anyway. I think what adds to the feeling of exhaustion is an OCD playstyle in which in which players who are not all that interested in flavor texts to begin with force themselves to talk to every possible NPC and explore every possible conversation out of fear they may miss out on something.

    Recently, I went through the Citadel in W2 and talked to a bunch of NPCs there about Base Cochise. Of course they all said the same shit in slightly different words, what else would they say, really? So I eventually stopped asking every single NPC about it cause the talking point would not offer me anything of relevance. It still makes sense its there and I can talk with these characters about it, right? I presume a lot of players would click on the item every single time and get bored as a result. I also have not encountered any walls of text in this game to far, its more the quantity of all the different possible items you can ask about, which can just as easily be avoided.

    But really, if you ask an NPC in any game about his past (for example), its basically asking him to drop some flavor text for you, so thats what you get. I don't see anything bad with that, flavor is the value in itself, not some kind of XP reward. People seem to force themselves to click through that stuff even though they are not interested in the lore or the NPC because they think he will mark something on their map or whatever, then they are pissed they had to read all that and get nothing.

    Just the other day, I saw a post where someone complained that he explored a long conversation tree completely but didn't get any reward at the end, rendering that conversation 'irrelevant' for him. Shit like that just blows my mind.

    Yes, longwinded text dumps can be exhausting sometimes but it is less a matter of the quantity or lenght of texts but a matter of pacing. Keep in mind that the player usually has some agency over how much he wants to expose himself to the writing, not only by chosing the conversation topics themselves but also where and when to get into a conversation with an NPC in the first place (eg. deciding not to click on backer NPCs in PoE, hrhr). I presume because of said OCD playstyle a lot of players will force themselves to talk to every single NPC in a town right away, every time. Then they will get tired of 'all that reading' instead of just walking away, doing something else first, coming back later, reading some more when they feel like it? (omg, now I HAVE to talk to those HK vendors again. Well, if you're not interested.. then don't?)

    Yesterday, I read an article in which it said that the Obsidian guys, not having made a game like PoE for many years, needed to re-learn how to write them. Maybe the players will have to re-learn how to read them.

    Different kind of game, different kind of storytelling. Apples aren't oranges.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 3
    ^ Top  
  25. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Parrots:
    20,975
    Here's the part where they all roll their eyes and just start ignoring everything you have to say.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)