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Community The New World Design Poll #3: Dialogue Checks

Infinitron

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Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The New World; Vince D. Weller

The Age of Decadence was criticized by some for its CYOA-like all-or-nothing dialogue skill checks. It turns out that this is another design element that Vault Dweller is considering changing in The New World. In the latest community poll on the Iron Tower forums, he proposes an alternative dialogue mechanic based on a numeric disposition value altered by cumulative positive and negative reactions. Here's the explanation:

When designing AoD dialogue system, our goal was simple: your character’s skills must determine conversations' outcomes (i.e. success or failure). The dialogue checks were equally simple: if your skill is high enough, you pass the check, otherwise you fail. It created 3 problems:

1. You never had to consider what the NPC would respond best to. Any tagged line would result in instant success if you have the skill, meaning that your dialogue option was not an attempt (as it should be) but guaranteed success, which made considering the options redundant.

2. Since all dialogues had multiple checks to simulate realistic conversations, it didn’t matter how many checks you passed and how well you were doing until that last check that resulted in failure (i.e. early success didn’t contribute to anything and thus didn’t matter).

3. The rigid nature of the system forced us to lower the checks to make the hybrids (i.e. jacks of all trades with lower skills) viable, which in turn made playing talkers an easy mode.

We did have a couple of interesting dialogues. When you talk to Lorenza, she asks you some questions to understand your motivations better (before she makes her decision), and your answers modify the checks later on, making them easier or harder.

In The New World we’d like to engage the player, make him/her consider the options instead of clicking on the line with the tag matching your highest skill, yet still keep the system skill-driven. It’s not an easy task as this problem doesn’t have a perfect solution, so I’m asking you to consider both systems (see below) and vote for the one where the pros outweigh the cons.

The biggest conceptual change is that the tagged lines would now represent an attempt without any guarantees of success. It’s up to the player to read people based on the available info and consider what would work best. You can have two different streetwise lines, for example, one would result in a positive reaction, the other in a negative.

That brings us to the second biggest change. Most lines would no longer lead to success or failures but result in positive and negative reactions, represented numerically. Your skill level would act as modifiers, magnifying positive reactions and reducing the effect of blunders. The final check would tally up the reactions, which will determine whether you’ve succeeded or failed.

Let’s say your Persuasion is 3. You’re offered 3 arguments. The NPC will respond very favorably (+2) to argument #1, favorably to argument #2 (+1) and very negatively to argument #3 (-2). Your skill will modify these reactions to 4, 2, and 0. Let’s say the final check’s value would be 10, so assuming the conversation has 3 nodes with tagged lines, you’ll need to score at least 2 very favorable reactions and 1 favorable (or 3 very favorable ones) to pass the check. In longer dialogues you’d be able to fail a few times and still recover.

This system will maintain the importance of skills and encourage further investment but it will shift the focus to figuring out which lines would work best. Obviously, it might increase meta-gaming but that’s your choice and thus not our concern. Every time the player is offered to make a choice with different outcomes, 8 out of 10 people would want to know the outcomes in advance and the exact way to get to the outcome they want.

Anyway, let us know what you think and if you have any concerns.
Which shall it be, the old or the new? As always, you can respond to the poll over there or in the corresponding thread in our Iron Tower subforum.
 

hivemind

Guest
No reason to keep the old system unless the new one like becomes too much work from a writing perspective.
 

hivemind

Guest
Also would persuasion be added for each node or only at the end?
 

hivemind

Guest
An interesting way to kinda reward higher conversation skill with this system would be for like some "less favourable" nodes to confer an additional benefit to the end. Like for example negotiating for extra payment after a job or w/e instead of proposing to work just trade for some info you need in another q. This way you can "pass" the conversation if you are mildly autistic, but are also able to capitalize better if you are a smooth talker. It also would make the persuasion wording checks feel more "alive" rather than purely a guessing game of modifiers.
 

Shadenuat

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That's x3-x4 times more writing since every dialogue check is now closer to Arcanum's Caladon diplomatic mission (although I believe there were other examples, where depending on node picked NPC reaction would increase or lower; highest "green" ment other dialogue nodes opening; lowest well you know they just attack you at some point and curse you)

It's how it supposed to be of course (actual dialogue play instead of passing 1 check), but game may not come on friday with this.
 

Syl

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Anyway, let us know what you think and if you have any concerns.
I would use something different: Skill checks that are a combination of 3 (or more) different skills.

For example, you have a mission to retrieve documents from a safe. Instead of a simple Lockpick skill check, you use a combination of Lockpick, Steal and Sneak.
So the code is simply (Lockpick + Steal + Sneak) >= difficulty. Let's take 15 for difficulty as an example. Any combination greater or equal 15 is a success of the mission.

The explanations could be as follows :
Lockpick=10, Sneak=5: You sneak past the guards and lockpick the safe.
Steal=10, Sneak=5: You steal the key(s) and sneak past the guards.
Sneak=10, Lockpick=5: Your high Sneak skill gives you more time to lockpick the safe.
Lockpick=5, Steal=5, Sneak=5 (Jack of all trades): Let's say the safe has 2 keys. You steal one and lockpick the other.
etc...

Another example, for a talking mission, instead of a simple Persuasion skill check, you could use Persuasion + Etiquette + Impersonate or Persuasion + Streetwise + Lore.

It gives a lot a flexibility and you deal with highly specialized character and Jack of all trades at the same time.
 

deuxhero

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Two (very related) ideas I've seen in some PNP modules could solve this. The first is that persuading an NPC isn't based on one check but winning a certain number of checks: For example you might present several arguments, each based on different skills, and you have to "win" enough of them (3/5) to convince the NPC. The second, a variant of the first, has the PCs make several arguments (again based on various skills) that will give a bonus to their final check if they did them right. For example you might use Knowledge: History to convince someone your proposal has worked several times in the past or disable device to convince him the mechanics are possible. They are very similiar with some minor difference between the two. The first allows different degrees of success ("The elder reluctantly agrees to support your plan. He gives you authorization to act, but will not risk his men reinforcing you" vs. "The Elder is convinced your plan is their best option. He authorizes your strike and assigns several of his best warriors to you as backup) while the second reinforces the diplomacy skill (may or may not be desired) and allows other modifiers not based on skill check in dialog (finding evidence of your proposal).

In PNP the intent is to involve the whole party in conversations, but it works just as well for solving the problem of "pick highest social skill, win".
 

Momock

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With the new system aren't you just going to quickload until you get the right sequence of arguments? Is more save-scumming/quickloading what the game needs?

Unless the choice of arguments leads to different outcomes (besides the binary fail/win discussion) I don't see the point.
 

Forest Dweller

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Anyway, let us know what you think and if you have any concerns.
I would use something different: Skill checks that are a combination of 3 (or more) different skills.

For example, you have a mission to retrieve documents from a safe. Instead of a simple Lockpick skill check, you use a combination of Lockpick, Steal and Sneak.
So the code is simply (Lockpick + Steal + Sneak) >= difficulty. Let's take 15 for difficulty as an example. Any combination greater or equal 15 is a success of the mission.

The explanations could be as follows :
Lockpick=10, Sneak=5: You sneak past the guards and lockpick the safe.
Steal=10, Sneak=5: You steal the key(s) and sneak past the guards.
Sneak=10, Lockpick=5: Your high Sneak skill gives you more time to lockpick the safe.
Lockpick=5, Steal=5, Sneak=5 (Jack of all trades): Let's say the safe has 2 keys. You steal one and lockpick the other.
etc...

Another example, for a talking mission, instead of a simple Persuasion skill check, you could use Persuasion + Etiquette + Impersonate or Persuasion + Streetwise + Lore.

It gives a lot a flexibility and you deal with highly specialized character and Jack of all trades at the same time.
AOD had this.
 

Invictus

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I pretty much think that the system used for New Vegas could work too; you see the required skill check you need but passing a check doesn’t necessarily means you will get a positive result for example you could have an intimidate option to a dialogue and if you pass you may make the NPC give you what you want but they might not give you more quests given your attitude... or perhaps you made such an impressive figure that they might give you a higher risk mision for their bext task
I liked the approach of the Master from Fallout where you could talk your way but also use items in conversations instead of just your skills
 

V_K

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That's x3-x4 times more writing
Not necessarily, depending on VD's perfectionism, there are some corners that could be cut with this system:
1) It doesn't need as much branching. Instead of "pass check A -> proceed to check B, otherwise proceed to check C" it could be just a linear succession of checks A-B-C.
2) It doesn't need as many different checks to accommodate for different builds, because the effect of low skill can be somewhat circumvented with smart choices.
3) In principle, only two reactions to each argument need to be written - positive and negative, the degree of success could be communicated through UI.

With the new system aren't you just going to quickload until you get the right sequence of arguments? Is more save-scumming/quickloading what the game needs?
By this logic combats should also be replaced with binary checks.
 

Momock

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I liked the approach of the Master from Fallout where you could talk your way but also use items in conversations instead of just your skills
This is a good idea, using items or information you gathered (in the form of items?) to expand the dialog choices with a character. Like Alpha Proctologue did but by your own initiative instead of the new line automaticaly poping-up.
 

Tigranes

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With the new system aren't you just going to quickload until you get the right sequence of arguments? Is more save-scumming/quickloading what the game needs?

Unless the choice of arguments leads to different outcomes (besides the binary fail/win discussion) I don't see the point.

Fuck the dumbfucks who choose to waste their lives sitting there reloading, it's their problem
 

Durandal

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My team has the sexiest and deadliest waifus you can recruit.
With the new system aren't you just going to quickload
Quickloaders gon' quickload regardless.
Just allow players to only quicksave 500 times for each run with no way to increase the amount
Faced with an uncertain game length, they'll naturally start becoming a lot more conservative with their saving behavior and not savescum for every little fucking thing
 

Momock

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Quickloaders gon' quickload regardless.
Or not. You can get rid of quicksaves for example. And override the unique save per character every time you make a decision, like in eh... Alpha Protocol again (it will look like I like the game when it's not really the case). You also can get rid of the binary "fail and game over/win and continue" states (not in all case, a game over could be fine in certain situations) and carry some consequences during the rest of the run in case of a fail instead of reloading.

Durandal said:
Faced with an uncertain game length
https://howlongtobeat.com/
 

Momock

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Not this retarded "how to stop people from enjoying the game in the way they want" argument again... :negative:
It was more like "how to stop people from not enjoying the game because they're too perfectionnists and/or autistic for their own good", but ok.
 

Tigranes

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Who the fuck cares? It's their loss if they can't figure out how to stop being so retarded. Let people make good games without worrying about every different way in which dumbfucks do dumb shit and ruin their own enjoyment.
 

Momock

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Well I care because I'm retarded and don't know how to not be it. :D I'm just rambling anyway, it's not like someone at Iron Tower is going to read this and decide to change everything.
 

Fenix

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I'm for new system and experimentation, because if it's Vince - it's not mindless experimentation for the sake of something jsut new, as it usually happen.

Who the fuck cares? It's their loss if they can't figure out how to stop being so retarded. Let people make good games without worrying about every different way in which dumbfucks do dumb shit and ruin their own enjoyment.

Yoy are right and wrong.
I can fight with my OCD I just prefer not to, it distract from pleasure.
Like it was in Underrail - merchants inventory was randomised so you could save before it refreshed and get different items - later it was pre-determined.
Same with Oddity that saved me from urge to kill every single rathound in the game and to pick every single lock even if I have the key.
 
Last edited:

Crescent Hawk

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I agree with this change. AOD was fine but felt unnecessarily rigid.
 

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