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1eyedking Long-winded dialogues suck

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

  1. krilcebre Learned

    krilcebre
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    After recently playing Spellforce 3 and Soul Harvest, I have to say that they did the dialog perfectly. The main dialog offers all the necessary info with bits of sprinkled lore that's actually important for you to understand the story. Otherwise, every lore heavy dialog is labeled as optional, using different color from the main one. Plus the voice acting was incredible.

    This really gave me answer of why I can never seem to finish most of the newer RPGs, where even though I thoroughly enjoyed the game from the mechanical aspect, it just becomes too bothersome to read tons of subpar quality text pretending to be quality literature. ATOM was amazing because of this too, short and to the point dialogs. I think Spellforce 3 (and DLC) and ATOM are the last RPGs I managed to finish completely, without ever coming into situation where I was thinking "Jesus, will this shit ever end". More developers need to realize that if i wanted good literature, I'd go and read a proper book. Dialog should be just that, a believable conversation, not a huge wall of text.
     
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  2. Zombra An iron rock in the river of blood and evil Patron

    Zombra
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    While a book dump is better than a dialogue dump, in-game books aren't great either.

    If background is relevant to the story the player is participating in, it should be integrated in a participatory way. If background is not relevant to that story ... it's extraneous and should be included only as subtext or referenced in passing. If you put a book in, it creates the expectation that this is stuff the player should want to know and produces a "now you have homework" feeling. There are better ways to communicate this information.
     
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  3. DalekFlay Arcane Patron

    DalekFlay
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    Have you interacted with other human beings before? They rant about shit all the time, and dump long stories on you frequently. Especially at the bar, or hanging out at a gathering. Granted it's not super realistic that some random NPC would do it, but it's not realistic they would ask you to find their precious family heirloom either. Some things are just a concession of the format. I do agree long, scholarly style examinations should be kept to an in-game book. However Roxor seems to be bitching about any ol' lore dump, and I don't agree. There can be high quality lore dump dialogs where an old priest tells you about he he came to find X deity and what that deity means to the world, or where a political revolutionary explains the origins of the system and why he opposes it. In these situations verbosity is expected and rewarding to the setting, as long as it is well written.

    It shouldn't be a controversial statement on a website that consistently votes Planescape Torment as the best RPG ever. I think you guys were just traumatized by Pillars of Eternity's long-winded and banal lore dumps which just weren't well executed or interesting on their own merits.
     
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  4. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    I've read maybe five ingame books in my entire life
    and yes, one of them was the TES one about the khajit having sex with the dunmer woman
     
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  5. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    I don't even read most in-game books but they still add value because they increase the immersion. Any world of sufficient development (bronze age and upwards) is gonna have books, so there should be some in the game.
     
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  6. Zombra An iron rock in the river of blood and evil Patron

    Zombra
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    This is a fine attitude for open world sandboxy simulation type games that let you collect spoons and put buckets on people's heads because immersion. That sounds sarcastic but actually isn't. Wandering around looking at surprisingly detailed details can be great. Going bowling with your virtual cousin, or building a fort out of worthless bags of flour can be a lot of fun in a sandbox game.

    But. Not all games are intended to simulate real life "well in the real world I can take an eight year degree for my dental certificate so I should be able to do it in every video game too". The assumption that every game should be unfocused and throw in everything it can "because realism" is a very dangerous one. Speaking for myself I hate seeing this kind of shit in games. Sandboxes have a place but they are not better than focused games.
     
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  7. YLD Novice

    YLD
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    Reading is often situational so it's much easier for a game to trigger reading fatigue than it is for a book even if you are reading a similar quantity of text, and even assuming an ideal comparison where both works are of comparable quality.

    I don't mind in-game books or even in-game lore dumps, but I'm finding them much easier to read when they are available out of the game so I can read them in bed before sleep.
     
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  8. Darth Canoli Arcane

    Darth Canoli
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    Exactly, i usually just click read on every book i can grab, go through all the pages in two seconds and close them, just in case it auto-updates your journal or the game acknowledges you read it.
    For many reasons (police, font size, computer screen, poor quality) loredumps are just that, dumps and mostly a nuisance.

    On the other hand, if a game has meaningful in-game books, well written, readable with information you'll need for the main quest or even side-quests, i don't mind, as long as it's not hundreds of pages, i'm not here to read a book.

    But mostly, it's the former, loredumps are by definition useless in 90% of the cRPG i played, adventure games used to use them meaningfully but i don't play adventure games that much anymore, mostly because my favorites were adventure-RPG and the genre is almost dead (aside from QfI and Heroine quest, nothing that i know of is worth playing)
     
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  9. Carrion Arcane Patron

    Carrion
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    With lore dumps and in-game books, "show, don't tell" generally applies. Littering your game world with 100% objective "codex entries" or whatever is incredibly lazy and a sign of failure in your world building. Things become much more interesting when those books feel like a natural part of the game world. You can have books that require reading between the lines or which otherwise convey information indirectly, books that display some sort of bias, books that contain incorrect information, books that contradict each other, books that visibly leave out crucial details, fictional books that contain no relevant information in themselves but give you a picture of the values and the culture of some part of the world... A simple piece of lore vomit can suddenly become interesting if you add a bit of uncertainty to it. Morrowind is a really tired example at this point, but hey, it got this right.

    If there's a particular piece of lore that the player has to know, forcefeeding it to him through a lore dump should be the last option. There are always alternatives. Make the game world reflect that piece of lore in some way so that you'll get to know it as you spend more time in the game. Introduce a character who's somehow connected to that piece of lore and who'll teach you the basics piece by piece without you even realizing it. Introduce a quest where you delve into these ancient mysteries it — it could mean just going to the library and acquiring a bunch of books, but it can still work if it's presented well.

    Regarding long writing in general, it's kind of amusing how views have changed since Oblivion came out. Back then the issue was too little writing (full voice acting being the main culprit), but with these Kickstarter games it's the opposite. I think a really good editor, who understands games as a medium, could really do wonders here.
     
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  10. Shadowfang Arcane

    Shadowfang
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong BattleTech
    Show, don't tell.
     
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  11. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    It is also, sadly, one of the only examples of this style.
     
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  12. Zombra An iron rock in the river of blood and evil Patron

    Zombra
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    And if you can't do that, ask yourself why that one piece of lore really has to be key to solving or understanding a problem. (It doesn't.)
     
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  13. Harthwain Cipher

    Harthwain
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    Disco Elysium did it pretty well. This Kurvitz guy said a few times in the interviews how they paid attention to help people read through text. Here is some of it:

    Other stuff we can see ourselves. I am not the only person who have noticed how the text is presented:

    Then you have your own stats, who are basically companions. This helps break down what would otherwise had been a large block of text into a conversation. Not only it's much easier to read, it's also much more engaging, considering how stats operate. Sometimes you'd even have a group dispute, since more than a single stat can participate. It all contributes to making reading interesting. So, yeah, if you know how to do it, you can make reading fun, rather than a boring slog it usually is.
     
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  14. CryptRat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Developer

    CryptRat
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    Bullshit. Many games where the world is described via texts (Darklands, Dragon Wars, Neo Scavenger, RoA series) have both more atmospheric and more interactive exploration than most games with a fully visible world.
     
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  15. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Yeah but this refers to the narrative style. Don't just tell the player "There is a war between Xplonia and Yrania", show it.

    Unless it has no effect on the gameplay and the areas you explore, in which case you can either tell it in a short sentence, or not say anything about it at all. But don't have NPCs rant about it for paragraph upon paragraph when it doesn't matter.
     
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  16. CryptRat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Developer

    CryptRat
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    Call me skeptical, I wish you were right but most of the time people use the formula when they just don't want long texts in their game, not to say it's better to face a situation rather than having someone telling you it happens somewhere.
     
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  17. Zombra An iron rock in the river of blood and evil Patron

    Zombra
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    You're talking about a different thing though. The games you describe "show" everything through a text interface, which is fine. It's still stuff happening to the protagonists rather than having world history described to them by an NPC.
     
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  18. Nostaljaded Savant

    Nostaljaded
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    Showcase of decent concise writing (yes, it's not common anywhere) in jap eroges.
    If either one is meh, it's solely on my translation not doing justification to its original text.

    Their opening scene with names and places being replaced with placeholders to reduce familiarity bias (if any) with the original material, so as to read them as objectively as possible.
    Also, not citing their titles as in-game translation not publicly available.

    JRPG (open)
    ―― It was around midnight when the surprise invasion started.

    [Female Adviser (Adviser)]: [Princess], it's useless. There's Roden soldiers even in the castle...

    [Princess]: Hmmm... so it seems, judging from those distant vulgar footsteps. So annoying!

    Maybe it was Adviser's hasty manner of arrival that causes me to slightly pout my lips.

    Before anyone notices, Sahson Castle is already under siege by the neighboring Roden country.

    [Adviser]: ... This is strange. With no unusual activity from the Scandes mountain range, the reports came straight from the castle vicinity.

    [Princess]: What is our army status?

    [Adviser]: The remaining Royal Guards are in battle, same goes for part of the city garrison. As for organizing a counteroffensive...

    In such a precarious emergency, I thought I could have come up with something... but it was all in vain.

    [Princess]: As for the other armies... that would be impossible right?

    [Adviser]: ... Yes. They will not arrive in time.

    Papa and Mama... are out traveling, accompanied by some of the Royal Guards. Is it good fortune or bad luck?

    [Female Spy (Spy)]: Princess! I have returned.

    [Princess]: Good job, Spy. How is it?

    [Spy]: The castle is full of Roden soldiers. Wave after wave... they are well in excess of 10,000.

    [Adviser]: Could they possibly be mere illusions?

    [Spy]: I don't know about magic intricacies, but I don't think they are illusions.

    [Princess]: How's the battle status? And the outside situation?

    [Spy]: I don't see much fighting... There's Roden soldiers outside but they seemed to be coming from the castle.

    [Adviser]: Roden army appearing within the castle... is it really so?

    [Spy]: Yes, probably... According to survivors' accounts, there's a distinctly different person among them.

    [Princess]: Distinctly different?

    [Spy]: Yes. Definitely non-human... I think could be a Vampire Lord.

    [Adviser]: Vampire Lord... I see...

    [Princess]: Vampire King, Apostles... They aren't myths but real beings...

    [Adviser]: Certainly. If this attack is an ordinary one, I would not believe such a myth.

    [Princess]: A Vampire Lord colluding with those potato eaters...

    A sudden thought flashes across.

    [Princess]: Spy, take this.

    [Spy]: This is... a shield, right?

    [Princess]: Yes. Sahson Holy Shield. Part of the Sahson Holy Weapon Set.

    [Spy]: Holy Weapon... this is a national treasure right?

    [Princess]: Do you still remember what I have told you previously?

    [Spy]: Previously... ahh, is it..!

    [Princess]: This is neither a myth. Deliver it to that person.

    [Spy]: Eh, that person... ehhhhhh! Th-that per... really..?

    [Princess]: ...What is it, Spy? You have something to say?

    [Spy]: No, nothing... But Princess..!

    [Adviser]: I will be with Princess. ...Hurry, time is of the essence.

    [Spy]: Y-yesssss!

    Being lightly glared by Adviser, Spy scurried her way out.

    [Princess]: Well... that girl may just be able to somehow escape.

    [Adviser]: Princess...

    [Princess]: Adviser, serve tea. I may not be able to drink for a while. Till then, I have the Royal Guards' protection.

    [Adviser]: ...Yes, certainly.

    For some time, sounds of the distant crude footsteps and the refined tea preparation intertwined.

    Even with the belief that there's no God, I clasped my hands instinctively. Only a single figure appeared in my mind.

    [Princess]: Darling..... please...

    Closing my eyes, a powerful smile appears on my mind, burning an imprint in my heart.

    With that alone... Little by little, my former heart-pounding anxiety and apprehension subsides.

    VN (open)
    ...[Main Character Name (MC)]...

    I woke up to the voice calling my name. Before I knew it, I seem to have fallen asleep to the rhythmic lullaby noise of the moving train.

    [Girlfriend (GF)]: Kuukuu... Suusuu...

    [MC]: (I wonder if I had a dream...)

    From the looks of it, it seems that GF didn't call my name. She's leaning against me, making lovely sleeping sounds.

    The swelling of her breasts, faintly transmits from her upper arm. There's no way she could be this close to me except when she's unconscious.

    It's already been about six months since I started dating her. And yet we had not even kissed.

    That said, it doesn't mean I'm spending our days in agony. The fact that I can still feel my heart beating over the swelling of her chest, strangely doesn't bother me...

    [New CG - GF wakes up.]

    [GF]: Ah... I'm sorry.

    [MC]: It's fine as is... no need to apologize.

    [GF]: It's unusual for MC to say something like that.

    [MC]: Which part?

    [GF]: Eh?

    [MC]: 'It's fine as is'... or 'No need to apologize'... which one?

    [GF]: Both. You rarely use them but now they are said in succession.

    She nodded her head as if she was satisfied.

    [GF]: Hey...

    [MC]: ...Yes?

    [GF]: ...I wonder if we should go back.

    [MC]: Eh?

    Of course I understood what she was trying to say. But even GF wouldn't expect me to nod my head meekly.

    [GF]: I was cordially invited, it also doubles up as the trip that I had promised, and furthermore it's my uncle's birthday...

    [MC]: Are you sure about this?

    [GF]: Yes...

    [MC]: ...

    Even if it's a request from my dear GF, I cannot compromise on this. Even a person with an uncommonly low self-esteem would never be able to put up with that guy's attitude.

    [GF]: He's not a bad person, but...

    [Her Snarky Male Cousin]'s face, with a sarcastic grin, comes to my mind.

    [GF]: ...no?

    [MC]: ...

    [GF]: You don't like the idea of running away... do you?

    I just keep looking straight ahead without looking at GF's face. I'm afraid I'm going to nod my head meekly if we make eye contact.

    [GF]: I feel bad for my uncle, who has been taking care of me.

    [MC]: ...

    [GF]: If MC really doesn't want to, I'll go to the mansion on my own and just send my regards.

    [MC]: Uh...

    I thought it wasn't a joke.

    [GF]: It's not just because my tuition fees are sponsored...

    Normally, GF is quiet and submissive, but when she decides to do something, she doesn't give in. And the trouble is, I love her for that part as well.

    [GF]: I'm sure you'll get along well this time.

    [MC]: ...it's not possible.

    [GF]: MC, I think you're much more mature than he is.

    [MC]: ...

    While pretending to be expressionless, GF's words stung my heart.

    Yes, I didn't act like an adult at that time, no matter how one looks at it. If anything, I can say that I had revealed my emotions then like a child.

    Maybe she's just trying not to hurt my self-esteem. I wonder what I would have done if I had been in her position at that time.....

    I would also prioritize my position, certainly soothed myself. I'm getting more and more ashamed that I acted without even thinking about GF's position.

    [GF]: Ah... perhaps...

    I nod my head.

    [GF]: ...thank you.

    [MC]: ...

    Her smile is as bright and gentle as a sunflower. Just being able to see that expression made the decision to go back worthwhile.

    [GF]: If we go back now, we'll arrive at the station around evening.

    I nodded my head again at her words. This time, I must transform into a real adult so as not to cause trouble for GF.

    Just by their opening scene, one will know the game synopsis without extraneous info; other games may be shown as an opening cutscene OR throughout/after end of tutorial.

    If a game fails even at such a basic expectation, brace yourself for unnecessary long &/or bad writing for the rest of the game.
     
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