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Dialogue Reactivity and Depth Comparison of IE Games

Bester

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When I was gathering data to make a linguistic comparison of IE games (to prove that Tyranny's writing was terrible), I also gathered some other data about IE games out of curiosity. It was mostly to see how reactive those games are, when compared to each other. I don't think anyone's in for a surprise, but the data is still insightful.

Word Count
(Note that I'm only dealing with dialogue text here, I've excluded item descriptions, quests, etc.)

6fcc688a2ded13289ea2289e9819d45f.png


Unlike what some people believe, PST wasn't that long of a game in terms of writing.
Word count wise, the games are as follows: BG2 > PST > BG1 > IWD2 > IWD1

I remember when Brian Fargo proudly announced that TToN's word count reached 1.2 million words. He saw and marketed it as something grandiose and worthy of celebration. Had he looked at PST's dialogue stats, he would've noticed that something was off.

POE1 is twice as verbose as BG1.
Numanuma is twice as verbose as PST.
Tyranny is somewhere between these two, and is as long as BG2 + ToB.
You can see the trend with these new games. They're unnecessarily twice as verbose than the older RPGs.

At this point I stopped gathering nu-RPGs data and only looked at IE games.

Dialogue Branching

526c5d5d033a770c04345ef801d1b1e4.png


IWD2 actually offers more dialogue branching than any other game with a solid lead. Followed by PST > IWD1 > BG2, and BG1 falling behind everyone else.

Stat checks in dialogues

d548f483b52fe6b7ff8908b329c99fb3.png


PST has them. Other games not so much, or they offer a semblance of it.

BG1 only checks for one stat and that's Reaction. Most of the time, it determines whether or not the NPC wants to give you a quest, and whether or not he'll give good rewards. Sometimes an NPC will greet you differently depending on reaction, but then the conversation will continue as usual.

BG2 borrowed BG1's reaction checks, but it's also peculiar in its own way: its numbers indicate that there are some checks for other stats under the hood, but on closer inspection, they turn out to be irrelevant in most places. I'll give a few examples.

Intelligence in BG2: 26 checks.
Here's an example of already 3 checks in the same place.

Drow: If I were to speak of the devourers, Veldrin... you would know what of I speak, yes?
- [Int >14] You mean the illithids? Yes, I know what they are.
- [Int 9-14] You mean the mind flayers? Yes, I know what they are.
- [Int <9] Er... are you talking about an otyugh?


This is the only example of an "interesting" INT check in the entire game and it offers Fallout-esque dialogue responses. You should be so lucky if other checks provided fluff like this. Below is another example INT checking.

Smuggler: Thank you for your assistance in this... unpleasant matter. I am sure if Esamon were here himself he would offer his thanks as well.
...
23aa76ab7aa5932ce40bfdf443bd0961.png

- [Int >14] Esamon? You mean Saemon Havarian, don't you?


Brilliant deduction, detective.

In the next example, we're talking with an elf behind the locked gates in Suldanessellar. There's a lot of checks for low values of INT, WIS, CHA, etc to make sure the guy eventually opens the gate for us.
The selected reply requires INT 14. Others are easy to pass, too. In the end, if all else fails and your character is a well-rounded cripple, even having 9 charisma is sufficient for him to cave in. This INT check is meaningless in the bigger picture.
f9f3a392b6a79b4afd6a390898f5b3e8.png


Wilfred in the tent of pleasures in Trademeet boasts being an extraordinary warrior.
If you're a fighter with 15+ intelligence (for whatever crazy reason), you can deal with him like this.
99a9ccfece90cc44261fbd37453dca60.png

Or if you have 14 Wisdom, you can just call bullshit on what he says and get 1,000XP or 1,000GP. Either way, it doesn't lead anywhere else.

At least 7 separate INT checks happen in this dialogue where the sultry drow matron wants to get into your pants.
02af90f58d3263f20c4a347a591178c2.png

Can you tell which ones are intelligent responses and which aren't? I can't.
The first response requires 16+ INT and 12- CHA.
Second response is 16+ INT and 13+ CHA.
Third and fourth responses require 14+ INT with the same checks for CHA.
I don't know why there's this amount of branching here, but in the end, saving your virginity can be done by a character with any stats at all. You can just say you belong to another.

Then there's some 8 silent INT checks during the Bard stronghold quest - they affect how well you rewrite the score. Granted, this is the first real usage of INT.

Another check happens in the Underdark during a conversation with the drow patrol at the gates, which, again, can be solved by any other stat.

The second exceptional place in the entire game where intelligence matters is in a very minor side-quest. You can save Viekang with 18+ int. He's the elf that teleports away when he gets nervous. Melissan made him brave, so now he's stuck in the besieged Saradush. You may suggest to him to get scared by the Spook spell, which helps him get out of there.

The remaining two checks are mostly irrelevant.

Cyric: Now, then. Let's get trivial matters out of the way, first. Do you know who I am?
- [Int <13] You seem...familiar, somehow...

Gythiayanki: (ahem!) You there, <RACE> <MANWOMAN>! My freedom from limbo has a price: I must track down the thief of one of our most holy of holies.
- [Int >9] You don't mean the Silver Sword Blade, do you?


The game raises a philosophical question: if anyone with INT 9 can pass a check, is it even a check?

In the following example, we're jumping over to BG1 for an example of a STR check. For this line to appear, you need to have 10 STR or more. Not a lot of people will notice it, since almost everyone passes.
2e00d873eb6ce891666d5dfced437d72.png

Tough talk for a guy with 10 STR...

Notice also that BG2 has one check for Dexterity in all of the game. Intrigued yet? Here it is:
c2f87117f4e0a576747c3b3c80d2ae3c.png

This is a stronghold quest "Find Proof of Mae'Var's Treachery", which you can solve by 17+ dexterity, PST-style.
After that, never again will BG2 designers check for dexterity in the entire game.

And as for the 200+ charisma checks in BG2, they're mostly for quest rewards, which only influences how much gold you get. Most people don't know they're even there after many playthroughs.

Checks for party members in dialogues

6800b042670291aaa9357c11321f118f.png

Unsurprisingly, BG2 is where NPCs came alive. This is where they started initiating conversations on their own, getting a form of agency.

Checks for player class in dialogues

3fbecdd761c3b300591151151361afca.png


IWD2's efforts in that regard are significant, compared to other games.
I've excluded checks like "not paladin" (there's 500+ of it in IWD2) and only checks for class equality made it in.

Checks for player's god

ee7180588c5169c513ab7504b1180979.png


Note that IWD1:EE offers 41 checks for Tempus.
E.g.:
a98072368a5076dd814054b76f6c39b0.png


Checks for player's race

227ec5251a7017233a397e419be1de77.png


Note that one check ≠ one event. In practice, 73 checks in BG2 = 6 factual events where the race is checked.

Belmin Gergas is a codexer human in Athkatla who believes all elves are evil perversions of humanity.
1d5ab5286cdc41571cf43775995d2ec2.png

Phrases 1, 2 and 3 check that none of your party members are elves (3 phrases * 6 checks = 18 checks).

If your name is Drizzt and you're an elf, the real Drizzt has something to say about it
b62fdb188157d291082b9c0396aa541e.png


You can calm down Yakman if you have 15+ Charisma or you're an elf, because he's an elf too (or you can heal him, or have Keldorn/Aerie/Viconia talk to him, etc... a bunch of solutions)

When you emerge from the Underdark, the elves react to you being an elf, but only in passing. (a dozen checks for elf or not elf)

A duergar in the Copper Coronet talks to you friendlier if you're a dwarf.

Halflings, dwarves and gnomes get a different escort at the Copper Coronet than the tall races. (a bunch of checks here for race and not race -- all halfling and gnome checks happen in this place)

Checks for player's alignment

e0f51c0cbad9d045d06389b7e946adc4.png


BG1 ever the monorail game.
IWD2 invests more into checking for evil alignment than any other game.


Checks for player's gender

26da03925fe5bbbf9dce9d2410f61467.png


All checks (except for party members)

6f9059ff83415d60f13293a21c79f0cd.png
 
Last edited:

KateMicucci

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You can see the trend with these new games. They're unnecessarily twice as verbose than the older RPGs.
It would hurt your argument if you had done the analysis on the number of branching dialogs and skill checks in the nuRPGs.

Tyranny has tons of them. Unfortunately they were never never balanced, so outside of the very first area it's trivial to pass every skill check in the game. It might have been better if the checks had been based on stats rather than skills. For example, there's a random encounter where you join a knife-throwing contest. Rather than check One-handed which governs throwing weapons, the game checks Athletics, which governs every dialog choice than involves physically moving.

Ed: dumb of me, that example is another skill, not a stat. The knife throwing contest could have used your accuracy STAT. Similarly, all kf the dialogs where you're punching people and breaking fingers could have used your Might instead of Athletics.
 
Last edited:

Shadenuat

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BG1 should check CHA, during some rewards. Should be more than 2-3?

Whats funny, people always argued there is 0 checks for anything in BG games. Reality is surprisingly different, even if they aren't that relevant (but neither are cosmetic checks in POE in many cases).

So unless you show people checks, which is something that good amount of rpgs players hate and would argue against any day, they would then shit on your gaem because you did not show them checks.
 

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So unless you show people checks, which is something that good amount of rpgs players hate and would argue against any day, they would then shit on your gaem because you did not show them checks.

I'd like to see a mod that adds PoE-style tags to IE game dialogue. Bester In your investigations, have you developed any tools that could make doing this easier?
 

Bester

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BG1 should check CHA, during some rewards.
Nope.

However, this reminded me. IE games also have a stat called REACTION, which I forgot to gather data about. Reaction = 10 + charisma modifier + reputation modifier.

Charisma modifiers:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
-10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -2 -1 0 0 0 1 2 3 4 4 5 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Reputation modifiers:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
-20 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 4

Values to check against are defined as follows:

20 FRIENDLY_UPPER
15 FRIENDLY_LOWER
14 NEUTRAL_UPPER
8 NEUTRAL_LOWER
7 HOSTILE_UPPER
2 HOSTILE_LOWER

You would assume from this that some people are really happy to see you. However, "FRIENDLY_UPPER" isn't checked against a single time in BG1, and only twice in all of BG2.

In BG1, sometimes a guy will give you a quest or not, depending on reaction ("is it higher than NEUTRAL_LOWER? Ok then, take your quest"). Other times, it'll just be for fluff branching, e.g. a thief will think you're a goody two shoes or will take you for one of his kind, but then the conversation proceeds as usual. I don't know if there's a single instance where reaction allows you to solve a quest differently, though. I'd have to look. I doubt it, but maybe there's one exception somewhere.
 

Roguey

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Surprised BG2 has that much dialogue, considering it doesn't feel like a verbose game. Is a lot of it redundant?
 

CootKeeper

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Solid and interesting work. Isn't there a few charisma checks in BG1, for rewards mostly?
 

Dodo1610

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Wow, that is fascinating, I didn't even know that IWDs even had dialogue checks I thought that those games were merely dungeon crawlers.
 

Jigby

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So unless you show people checks, which is something that good amount of rpgs players hate and would argue against any day, they would then shit on your gaem because you did not show them checks.

I'd like to see a mod that adds PoE-style tags to IE game dialogue. Bester In your investigations, have you developed any tools that could make doing this easier?
PST:EE has this -> https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/82129


 

Bester

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Hold on. I just realized IWD1 and IWD2 have more scripts to determine class than other IE games. Other IE games only check it by Class(), while IWDs also check it by ClassEx() and Kit().

My wife yelled on me that I posted bullshit, because according to her IWD2 has 10 times more class checks than I implied...
 

Bester

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I'm parsing IWD1:EE. Did EE add Blackguard, or was it always there?

35f150c8ee9fd37afbddfd526074ebcf.png

Though it's important to note, that the six hundred Paladin checks in IWD2 are mostly to check that you're NOT a Paladin. Because all evil phrases can't be said by them.

Also, added this:

b0b19bc30ec7b7f1797376cd6ccf93d1.png
 
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Bester

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Added by EE (also shaman), can't you use IWD1 proper?
I couldn't procure it last time. But this time the one seed in existence appeared and I'm downloading it.

Also gonna filter out all those "not paladin" checks.
 
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Notice also that BG2 has one check for Dexterity in all of the game. Intrigued yet? Here it is:
c2f87117f4e0a576747c3b3c80d2ae3c.png

This is a stronghold quest "Find Proof of Mae'Var's Treachery", which you can solve by 17+ dexterity, PST-style.
After that, never again will BG2 designers check for dexterity in the entire game.

And as for the 200+ charisma checks in BG2, they're mostly for quest rewards, which only influences how much gold you get. Most people don't know they're even there after many playthroughs.

Imagine being that one designer who put the single dex check in the whole game :)
 

The_Mask

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You would assume from this that some people are really happy to see you. However, "FRIENDLY_UPPER" isn't checked against a single time in BG1, and only twice in all of BG2.
I could've sworn that if you take the cleric-specific quest and you take care of the Beholder Cult, and you're evil with low(er) CHA, you get crappier rewards for it.

In fact, for some reason, I stored this information in my head a long time ago, that rewards do get better with CHA, but reputation does help.

Sword of Roses + Nymph Cloak + Friends Spell (if available) + Helm of Glory (helm that you get for helping the paladins get the fallen paladins with that fake cup, or whatever) = CHA to get paid for most quests fairly well, despite being an evil party.

Although the whole fun in an evil party is playing nice to 17 REP and then slaughtering every single living soul on every map, before heading to deal with Irenicus.
 

Bester

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IWD1 is very different from IWD1:EE. Much less class checks and no god checks.

I had 41 checks for Tempus in IWD1:EE, but they're simply not there in Vanilla.

a98072368a5076dd814054b76f6c39b0.png
 

Kliwer

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Checks for player's race

227ec5251a7017233a397e419be1de77.png

Could you please write more about race checks in BG2?

It always seemed to me that they are almost absent. I remember one "elf" checks at the entrance to the city of elves. The dwarf probably had one test when speaking to the duergar. In a few places, the race of the hero is simply inserted out of context ("you are so beautiful <race>"). Something else? Where are the 37 checks for elf and 12 for dwarf?
 

Shadenuat

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BG2 has more companions that PST and they all have a lot of dialogue between themselves (whole mini subplots ala who is Jennifer Hale's proper square) and with NPCs too (who's going to outsmart beholder). Jaheira has more quests than any PST companion and a romance in addition (actually, companions in PST don't even have personal quests, just personal dialogue).
 

Cross

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Checks for party members in dialogues

6800b042670291aaa9357c11321f118f.png

Unsurprisingly, BG2 is where NPCs came alive. This is where they started initiating conversations on their own, getting a form of agency.
This can't be accurate unless it's only about banter between party members, which is what BG2 excels at. PST has fewer bantering between party members, but it has more instances of party members interjecting in conversations with NPCs. Morte has dozens of different lines for interacting with zombies/skeletons in the Mortuary alone.
 

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