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1eyedking Long-winded dialogues suck

Darth Roxor

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I've recently come to realise one thing. I really fucking hate the walls of texts that have re-emerged in the latest slew of low-budget/kickstarter RPGs that can't afford or don't want to have voice acting. Say what you want about all the popamole AAA voiced stuff, but at least everything you hear or read in those is to the point and ends fast enough to not offend you that much. Meanwhile, when it comes to the non-AAA gaemz, it seems to me like the people making them somehow all come to the conclusion that having each dialogue node span over 1k words is somehow a feature of good writing, without taking into consideration that it's the quality of said writing that counts. A dialogue that sucks does not suck less if it becomes five times longer. It only sucks five times as much.

And really, just about every single recent non-AAA ahpeegee is guilty of this in my mind, and the texts in these games almost universally suck, ESPECIALLY when it comes to inconsequential NPCs because those are the most often used for stupid "lore" dumps that bore you to death with unnecessary exposition, talking about shit you'll never see yourself and just don't care about in the slightest.

It sucked in Wasteland 2. It sucked in PoE. It sucked in D:OS. It sucked in SR:HK. It now also sucks in AoD. And it also sucked in some other terrible games that I couldn't stomach playing for too long like Lords of Xulima (now THAT one was particularly insulting when it came to writung).

For each of those games, the formula is just about the same for me: at first, I try to go through every dialogue from start to finish, but as the game goes on, I start subconsciously skipping parts of it until I finally catch myself doing that. And then I just proceed with everything else having read the first and last sentence of a tl;dr dump, pressing 1 blindly without even looking at what the dialogue option says and not missing anything of value or importance. Just about everything important is contained there in those two sentences and everything else is unnecessary, long-winded, boring filler.

Now, before some smartass faggot tries to come here thinking himself clever, no, redding is not teh hard. Redding shit of really bad quality is teh hard because it makes me wonder why the fuck those word counts are so fucking huge when they could be all cut in half without anything of value being lost. I don't care about your "Rich Lore" (tm)(c)(r) when I've read about your Rich Lore approximately a hundred times before because it's so fucking derivative, or, even better, a hundred other NPCs have already told me everything I need to know about your Rich Lore and you're just regurgitating the same shit over and over with only minor, inconsequential changes. Your game does not have to, and, indeed, should not have to compete with War and Peace when it comes to word count because you are not fucking Tolstoy. You are a nerd writing about people smacking each other with swords in a fantasyland of varying genericness, so please keep to the point and realise that you are not creating literature.

I honestly don't have any idea why this has become so popular again all of a sudden. Probably a result of some bizarre cargo cult of PS:T. When I think about it further, a game like Legend of Grimrock 2, which contains its texts to a bunch of talking stone heads, cryptic letters and scribblings on walls, manages to create a much more compelling narrative, mystery and atmosphere than all the above games put together. Because it's elegant in its brevity and leaves stuff to your imagination, letting you pick up the pieces and connect the dots yourself, instead of dumping GENERIC_TRAVELLER_FROM_ANTIQUE_LAND giving you a lecture about his home village's camelfucking habits.


TL;DR, rpg writers are fucking talentless hacks and the last few years have only served to remind me of this. I honestly wish we could go back to brevity again.
 
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STRONGLY AGREE.

I really, really hate walls of text unless the subject is massively interesting or an necessary info dump, and even then I expect maximum effort to be as concise as possible. Fuck dialogue padding, maybe those writers should spend less time writing and more time revising because another thing those CRPGs tend to share are horrible editing failures.

the same goes for forum posts imo
Why do you hate Azrael the cat?
 

Zed

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I kind of agree by the way.

I'm okay with optional lore info dumps in in-game literature and such things, but NPCs should just get to the point, really. More text does not equal better written.

By the way. Prose is garbage, as demonstrated by Pillars of Eternity. [He pauses for a second, then reaches out for another sip of whisky]. Fucking garbage, I tell you.
 

octavius

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I get the impression that too many modern game designers are people who don't have what it takes to be real writers or movie directors, so they end up in the video game industry instead.
 

racofer

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Agreed, but there are exceptions.

8iYz4Q5.jpg
 
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I get the impression that too many modern game designers are people who don't have what it takes to be real writers or movie directors, so they end up in the video game industry instead.
Actually most games have a dedicated writing team that is just as big if not bigger than design team nowadays, design team comes up with concepts and writing team pads the fuck out of it is how I imagine the process goes.
 

Beastro

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I don't mind key characters doing a lore dump at key parts in the plot, like when a twist happens and someone knows the background behind this new information, but it shouldn't be all the time and it shouldn't be from every joe you run across.
 
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Shadenuat

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I remember liking Is0bel's mission in SR:HK and why, and I remember Roxor just not liking the character. The reason why I liked the mission was because finally, instead of just whine dumps and such, Is0bel's character was brought into the game world. Now she indeed shown that she was good with decking but awkward when interacting with people, which, while some may have found to be just a bad comedy, *at least* it was finally affecting main part of the game, and you could do something about it. You were in control and had to step up and lead your companion, tell her what to do and see the consequences (although knowing SR design, they'd probably be all the same).

One dialogue, one situation where you feel in control and feel interactivity during dialogue is better that 10 lore dumps written by MCA.
 

Sceptic

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Say what you want about all the popamole AAA voiced stuff, but at least everything you hear or read in those is to the point and ends fast enough to not offend you that much.
You've clearly not played Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Or dvelved into the abomination that is the Codex (ha ha) in either game.
 

Beastro

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One dialogue, one situation where you feel in control and feel interactivity during dialogue is better that 10 lore dumps written by MCA.

I recall him saying in the Arcanum LP that a hallmark of good game wiring is to keep only a sentence or two on the screen at a time. The dumpings he saw in the game annoyed him.
 

Cazzeris

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I didn't noticed this in TAoD. Most conversations in the game tend to be quite short except perhaps some typical zealots, lords or tale-tellers' piles of text. Definitely not a problem with commoners repeating information or just saying stuff with zero impact in the actual game, like in PoE or WL2. At least in TAoD you...
finally get to see many of the mythological places and creatures that are mentioned when the lore-explaining comes into play.
This probably has much to do with Vince's disinclination towards filler content, which can be appreciated in both combat encounters and dialogues in my opinion.
 

glasnost

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Bad writing grates on me more when it's being read aloud. It assaults on two sensory fronts, and further reduces the space in which the player interprets game output as he sees fit: "We'll tell you how that line should read (and how you should feel about it) via our usual blend of over-emoting, fake accents, and general schlock." See also: plaintive game soundtracks.

It might be best if all NPCs remain silent. In the end they're only so many inventories to remove from, or XP to collect.
 

Sceptic

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Divinity: Original Sin
Codex is specifically for info dump so it isn't as bad in that case.
Infodumps don't have to be unreadable and mind-numbingly boring by definition, only bad infodumps (read: most) are, so that comparison still stands.

Bad writing grates on me more when it's being read aloud. It assaults on two sensory fronts
Really good delivery can save bad writing though, look at what David Warner did with Irenicus. There's plenty such examples in movies and TV too.
 

Carrion

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I dislike both pointless walls of texts (like PoE's over-elaborate descriptions that added nothing to it) and the modern AAA fully voice-acted dialogue where people cram all their information into two or three lines, no matter what they're talking about or how complicated the issue is. The former certainly comes off as a poor PS:T imitation, down to the trying-too-hard choice of words that make a description of a wooden chair read like it was Lovecraft conjuring images of some eldritch horrors (except that it isn't any good), the latter is just soulless laziness. You need to have some sense of pacing and common sense in your writing, using the style that is most appropriate for the situation. I wasn't even once bored in PS:T since the dialogues were mostly about some really interesting and/or weird stuff that you wanted to know more about and which justified long-winded descriptions and conversations, but reading about the life story of Peasant #1425262 or a lore dump about The Ancient Hero That Was Relevant A Century Ago At Best is rarely all that exciting.
 

Shadenuat

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I recall him saying in the Arcanum LP that a hallmark of good game wiring is to keep only a sentence or two on the screen at a time. The dumpings he saw in the game annoyed him.
Arcanum's writing is very to the point except, again, very few important plot-related dialogues (like Gilbert Bate's story, or opening with Virgil).
 
Unwanted

a Goat

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I honestly don't have any idea why this has become so popular again all of a sudden. Probably a result of some bizarre cargo cult of PS:T.
You've answered your own question.

The problems lies in writing dialogues wrong. Like they write the dialogue and don't read it later on. Pretty much cargo cult of PS:T.

Where you ask a person "what is Paladin" then you'll get a full, elaborate answer. When you ask them "what do you think about glorious Soviet National Socialist Nigerian Bourgeois Anarchy" you're getting elaborate answer as well. When you ask a person about what happened recently in the besieged town, they're going to answer in few, relatively short sentences.

Basically it's like video game writers never talk with other people, they're this clueless about writing natural sounding dialogues.
 
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Bad writing grates on me more when it's being read aloud. It assaults on two sensory fronts, and further reduces the space in which the player interprets game output as he sees fit: "We'll tell you how that line should read (and how you should feel about it) via our usual blend of over-emoting, fake accents, and general schlock." See also: plaintive game soundtracks.
Wasteland 2 DC has that in loads.
 

Beastro

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Arcanum's writing is very to the point except, again, very few important plot-related dialogues (like Gilbert Bate's story, or opening with Virgil).

The latter which is pretty much all he played of the game.
 

Neanderthal

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In two minds, in Ravel's Maze in Torment at moment and with the atmosphere, the build up and the revelations the conversation with the Hag though long is fucking enthralling. The opposite of that I suppose is Thief or something, where a few letters, an environment, the clues in it and overheard conversations set a scene far better than the usual blatant exposition. I suppose its just a consequence of quality, good'll enthrall you, shit'll bore.

Betrayal at Krondors massive amount of prose never bothered me, probably because it was so well integrated with gameplay as well as being well written, think Neal Halford did a far better job than Feist.
 

glasnost

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Really good delivery can save bad writing though, look at what David Warner did with Irenicus.
See, for me he didn't; it just made the character even more ridiculous (the disconnect between his memorable voice and the mediocre script was too wide). I was going to use BG2 as an example of a game I have played many times, but in certain ways completely despise: the writing, voice-acting, etc.

I agree that there are many examples of what you describe in film/TV, but I regard those mediums as rather different; or at least, I approach them differently. There's no interactivity, nor do they interrupt any other proceedings--the performances are what you come for. In a game I'd rather there be no story rather than a bad one--and talented actors won't make a significant difference for me.
 

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