Putting the 'role' back in role-playing games since 2002.
Donate to Codex
Good Old Games
  • 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.

You talking to me?! (Dialogue and choices)

Human Shield

Augur
Joined
Sep 7, 2003
Messages
2,027
Location
VA, USA
Dialogue seems to be important in RPGs (or maybe we just think it is and a pure reaction description system could work....) but how should it work?

Key-word system; tree-branch system; mood-based response (kindly, rude)?

It takes a lot of effort to put as much options as possible, which are the most important. Which skills and stats should effect interaction.

Why can't you start dialogue in combat like space-sims with hailing systems? I want NPCs to stay sentient and not turn into robots that can either run or die during combat.

How should clothes effect reactions? Run up naked and have the guard tell you he is busy. Or selling all those fancy clothes because they serve no point.

Should you be able to talk to every peasant on the street (Morrowind) or should 'peasants' be labeled as such and just have one-liners. What about nobles that seem to blow-off everyone who wants to talk to them.

How should dumb-speak be handled?

(below is my previous post about dumb-characters)

I would put influence and being taken advantage of under wisdom (if it exists in a rule set). Wisdom is more knowing if a choice is good or not, and common sense. Intelligence is logic and knowledge, figuring out facts and data and coming to new conclusions. Charisma is talking in classy talk.

Wisdom is seeing and choosing a path.
Intelligence is identifying and clearing obstacles from the path.
Charisma effects how the path looks to others.

Maybe I could say it better but the elements are separate. There isn't a "knowledge" stat and there is a reason for that.

High Wisdom can deal with life issues.
High Intelligence can deal with logic issues.
High Charisma can deal with people issues.

A general is NOT a scientist. Experience and probably some wisdom determines his tactics. Maybe intelligence is a broad term (cognitive reasoning would be much better IMO). The general sends a scientist to figure out a piece of alien technolog, he sends his PR people to talk with the aliens (Charisma), and he sends his troops with the highest wisdom to occupy a friendly village (make the right choices in a stituation).

A scientist that sees the best course of action and can carry it out has both high wisdom and intelligence, not just intelligence.

Low Wis, High Int - Knows how it works but not what to do with it.
High Wis, High Int - Can't figure it out but knows what to do with it.
Low Wis, Low Int - Doesn't know what it does or what to do (causes accidents)
High Wis, High Int - Knows what to use it for and how to use it.

The person with high Int would design the bomb, the person with high Wisdom would say to keep it guarded and a secret, the person with high Experience would decide which city to use it on. Intelligence knows the details, Wisdom knows how to treat the idea.

Cap. Kirk would be high Wis, moderate Int.
Spock would be high Int, moderate Wis.

Now a normal person has a good amount of both, it is when players want to make abnormal characters that reactions can get tricky. But here is how I see it.

Wisdom - Better idea of outcome, see more options.
Intelligence - Solving many problems, figuring out and learning new things, remembering more facts.
Charisma - Dialogue options, level of speaking ability

Dumb speak would be low Wis, Int, and Cha. Wisdom would give the character some idea that the words would get a bad reaction (some dumb people don’t speak much), Int would give better idea of grammar, and Cha would make it charming (little kid getting their way).

A low charisma score would mean dull, inadvertently rude speak (not charming). Low wisdom would not know the right thing to ask. Low intelligence wouldn’t understand subject matter.
And on tactics, if you really want a “special needs” half-orc then they wouldn’t be gaining any experience from battle (learn nothing). Being lvl 1 with no friends would be a big limit on tactical moves.
 

Megatron

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 7, 2002
Messages
328
Location
carpet
Didn't read it all because I'm 'RUSSIAN' around ;))):);); but I think it could be nice for the player to select what he wants to say, then if he 'rolls' correctly, he says it. Someone with low charisma could mumle and stutter, someone with low intelligence would make bad jokes all the time.

Chears
 

Petey_the_Skid

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
170
Location
Stanstead, Quebec
Key-word system; tree-branch system; mood-based response (kindly, rude)?

I really hate keyword systems, unless the words are clearly labelled as such(i.e. Ultima 6 with the help turned on, Exile 3, Betrayal at Krondor). Otherwise it feels lilke I'm babbling nonsense to the characters by typing in every random word i can think that might get a response. One reason I never used the ask about feature in Fallout 1, because it was practically useless.

Tree branch is quite interesting if done well, but is somewhat limiting for both the player and the designer. All the dialog has to be fully thought out, typed and then implemented with stat checks etc that sometimes don't quite make sense. (Case in point: In FO 1 my Int 4 Badass with the berserker rep was unable to ask to join the raiders, but my Int 5 goody goody was. Checked this out with other chararcters as well, you need a min 5 int to simply ask to join up with them). It is also very easy to set these up very poorly so they either totally miss things(ex. you have killed the king, but nobody seems to notice), loop continously(which is nice if you want to revie convos, but can get confusing, Plansecape: Toment was guilty of this) or are just boring to read. Lots of work to do well, but I think the best system if managed properly.

Mood based respones: The only time i ever saw this implemented was in Jagged Alliance 2, and I really can't discern any diffrenece in reactions from the npc's, no matter which option I choose.



It takes a lot of effort to put as much options as possible, which are the most important. Which skills and stats should effect interaction.

Ideally, all of them would;). This would be practically impossible however, so of course the "mental" and "social" stats should be primary to inteaction, along with the character's general reputation(to return to the example above, a bad reputaion would grant you the same ability to ask to join a group of raiders for an evil characater as a good one's intelligence would). Certain skills and the physical stats should come into play in specailized situations(you get Brutus the Barbarian when you want to intimidate the guards into letting you in, and Solomon the Sage to discuss the importance of ancient demon artifacts with the kingdom's archmage)

Why can't you start dialogue in combat like space-sims with hailing systems?

Dialogue in combat would be somewhat interesting, but really, what would most characters do with prisoners? Most likely kill them and take their stuff. More effective running away is what would be more ideal(Using FO as an example once more, enemies run away, but they can't actually leave maps, even in random encounters, meaning that eventaully, you will kill them, no matter how fast/far, etc they run).

Another option that can take the place of dialogue in combat is the not necessarily dying because they beat you thing. This has occured, to my knowledge, only in Darklands. Just because a group of monsters beat you're party(you xould be more easily knocked out in combat then killed), didn't mean they automatically killed you. You were often robbed, and occasionally one of the party would be taken(forest giants abducting one of the women party members, wolves eating someone, etc), or perhaps jailed if you were fighting the city guard, but you weren't automatically killed. Arcanum really annoyed me because while it allowed you to knock out enemies or be knocked out, the enemies would just continue to beat you until you were dead.

Anyways gotta go for now, though I may be back with some morre babblespeak for you later.
 

JJ86

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 5, 2002
Messages
206
Cool topic Human Shield. I'm not sure what you mean about the key-word system? Is it like the way interaction is done in text adventures? That ancient technology makes playing IF games very annoying. It would be enjoyable only if there was an AI intelligent enough to be able to understand a greater vocabulary and actual sentences. A game that could understand typed text would be the ultimate interaction instead of having to pick canned responses. But I think we are several years away from having that tech in games. Chatterbots are a push in this direction and it would be interesting to see them introduced.

I would enjoy a system that depended on more variables such as was mentioned. Of course the more variables taken into account increases the complexity of the story but it would be worth it from the gameplay aspect. The most obvious things should be accounted for. Obviously when you talk with someone in RL, sex and age are usually determining factors in attitude. Their appearance, social status, and intelligence also sometimes influence on how you talk to them. And obviously in a combat situation, how well armed they are is important. You will not lip off to someone that has a rocket launcher while armed with a knife.

There should always be NPC's that don't fit into specific roles to make it interesting. Maybe these wild cards don't need to always fit into the main story but they should be there dependent on the situation. Some areas may have more of them based on regional attitudes. Which brings an interesting point; why should classes of NPCs act the same regardless of location? Maybe peasants act meeker and more distrustful in a certain city that is ruled by a warlord. When playing Simcity, the number of citizens that are rebellious depends on various social and environmental variables.

A detailed world which is very organic in its responses to your character would IMO make for a great RPG. I like your ideas and Petey's ideas and they should definitely be implemented. A RPG needs custom dialogue to enhance its believability.
 

Spazmo

Erudite
Joined
Nov 9, 2002
Messages
5,752
Location
Monkey Island
I've always been more fond of full out dialog trees. The Morrowind/Ultima style search engine dialog systems or Blade Runner style topic systems don't feel immersive enough to me. At best, such systems just let you pick a topic and a mood--"John" and "Angry" for instance. I'd much rather have my character come out and say "Tell me everything you know about John or I'll tear you a new blowhole, you son of a bitch!"

As for stupid dialog, I pretty much agree, though the wisdom stat is pretty much reserved for D&D. Wisdom only really exists for clerics. One thing I'd like to see in dialog is the ability to play dumb. Suppose you're actually a regular Cyrano de Bergerac with incredible social skills and fantastic intelligence and charisma scores. It'd be interesting to have the option to fake being dumb to put people at their ease, make them lower their guard. The Alien Emperor might be more willing to carelessly divulge the details of his plan to the hero if he thinks our seemingly drooling nincumpoop of a protagonist won't even be able to understand a word of it anyhow.
 

Transcendent One

Liturgist
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Messages
781
Location
Fortress of Regrets
Dialog with keywords = not really dialog. Dialog should have the precise dialog options. Dumb characters should make bad jokes, speak poor grammar, be rude, etc. Really dumb characters should not be able to talk (or maybe talk like "ugh" or "oohhh"). Smart characters should have longer, more complex answers, witty remarks, etc. Really smart characters should talk so that even the player might not understand some of the words. Fancy clothes should improve NPC reactions, give you bonuses to persuasion and stuff, but not add any new dialog options. Oh wow, I'm wearing this fancy hat and it somehow makes a new dialog option appear.
 

mr. lamat

Liturgist
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Messages
463
Location
hongcouver
maybe it's an asshat? now that would get people's attention... 'why sir, is that a giant's ass on your head? rather dandy that is.'
 

Oyarsa

Novice
Joined
Feb 11, 2004
Messages
94
Location
Refugee status
Fancy clothes should improve NPC reactions, give you bonuses to persuasion and stuff, but not add any new dialog options. Oh wow, I'm wearing this fancy hat and it somehow makes a new dialog option appear.

Not even "Well met, sir. And may I add that chapeau is quite striking."?

That would be interesting. Having to do a bit of homework before talking to an important NPC to find out what approach to take to be most successful. Sure, you could just go straight to the tower of Reginald the Dandy Summoner and ask him to give up the Spiffy Scepter of Style, but it would be much easier or more likely if you hang around town for awhile, learn he thinks hats are all the rage, get yourself a suitable conversation piece for your spokesPC, and set off to discuss what's al the rage at this year's Easter Parade. All of this makes Reg much more acquiescent to your request.
 

Greenskin13

Erudite
Joined
Dec 5, 2002
Messages
1,109
Location
Chicago
Spazmo said:
I've always been more fond of full out dialog trees. The Morrowind/Ultima style search engine dialog systems or Blade Runner style topic systems don't feel immersive enough to me. At best, such systems just let you pick a topic and a mood--"John" and "Angry" for instance. I'd much rather have my character come out and say "Tell me everything you know about John or I'll tear you a new blowhole, you son of a bitch!"

Have you ever played Adam Cadre's Varicella? It's a puzzle based interactive fiction game with a similar dialouge system. You set your general tone, cordial, serville, or hostile, and then you would ask NPCs about a certain keyword. While I think it worked fine in the game, I agree with you in that I'm not sure how well this would work in an RPG. For me, I prefer good old dialogue trees. However, it's got to be well written. I really don't want to play an RPG where the author's bias affects what choices my character can make. Fallout I think did a pretty bang up job in making sure your character had choices and followed through with them.

If anyone's interested in Varicella, here's the link to Cadre's website: http://www.adamcadre.ac/if.html
 

Transcendent One

Liturgist
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Messages
781
Location
Fortress of Regrets
No, you misunderstood me, I mean the NPC you are talking to might make a comment on whatever hat you're wearing, I meant it should not give extra dialog options for you to say. Like here's an example. You talk to the NPC. and you get a bunch of dialog choices, one of which is asking for a special item. Just through wearing the hat, you shouldn't get a new, more persuasive sounding dialog option. However, wearing that hat could make the NPC's answer to that first choice different. Of course now that I'm thinking about it, you could add in an option of something like "how do you like my new hat" or something. It just shouldn't give you new dialog options that would somehow end up sounding more persuasive than the ones you had before, because I don't believe hats can do that. Of course I suppose you can have hats that say... have some enchantment on them that makes you more intelligent, in which case adding in a more intelligent sounding dialog option would be appropriate.
 

JJ86

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 5, 2002
Messages
206
Dunno about having dialogue options based on hats, maybe that is going too far? But if you have crappy clothes that make you look poor then rich people wouldn't talk to you. Armor might frighten people.

I downloaded the Cadre IF piece and will give it a quickie tonight. Usually IF is too restrictive for me.
 

Megatron

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 7, 2002
Messages
328
Location
carpet
I prefer a similair system in Fallout, the tree system?

As discussed in another thread, clothing should be as important to dialouge as armour is important to combat. There should be slight changes though, like clothing affecting responses to people of different social status. It would also be a nice touch if you could get away with stuff easier if you were dressed well, while you could get accused of things if you're ugly and dressed badly. Another nice feature could be cleanliness of clothes, as well as females having to change clothes often even if they're clean.

I think an 'Ask About' feature for any items would be nice. That way you could identify common items that are regional or ornamental (such as drugs or complicated/hidden weapons). For certain items of clothing asking about (or telling) somebody about them could be good to boost there intrest for that discussion, but afterward they get less intrested.

I think it would also be good if people who didn't like you acted 'kindly' to you but were more dismissive. It could also be a nice touch if people of the opposite sex greatly increased the reaction if you had a lot of money, or in the case of a female lack of clothing (less intelligent males) or lack of intelligence ('evil' males) improved reaction.
 

Transcendent One

Liturgist
Joined
Nov 21, 2003
Messages
781
Location
Fortress of Regrets
Dunno about having dialogue options based on hats, maybe that is going too far?

Sure, it won't be easy for a dev to keep track of such minor details, but if there's no demand there'll be no supply.
 

LCJr.

Erudite
Joined
Jan 16, 2003
Messages
2,469
I believe in ye olden days a "keyword system" was referred to as a parser. I'm pretty sure the one FO1 was never implemented fully.

Social status should be more than throwing on a fancy set of clothes. It should include etiquette, mannerisms, etc. as well. Say your low-life character is trying to impersonate a nobleman at a formal dinner. It won't matter how well your dressed if you don't have the knowledge to address the nobles by their proper titles or you lay into your filet mignon with a salad fork.
 

Megatron

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 7, 2002
Messages
328
Location
carpet
I think that's generally a dialouge option though?
 

Petey_the_Skid

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
170
Location
Stanstead, Quebec
How should clothes effect reactions? Run up naked and have the guard tell you he is busy. Or selling all those fancy clothes because they serve no point.

Clothes can(and should, IMHO) have a great effect on dialogue. Running around naked, if the game lets you, should result in people ignoring the character at best, and having him be harrassed and or arrested at worst. Check out the party boy "scenes" in the Jackass movie and tv shows to see what bouncing around naked does to folks. They run away in droves;).

Fancy clothes should get better reactions from some people, but not all of them. Wearing you're silk suit, tophat and gold pocket watch in the wrong part of town will probably heighten bad reactions." My aren't you looking fancy guv'nor! Why don't you share some of yer polly with yer less fortunate friends?", big sharktoothed smile as Bully McGruff and his band of scally wags encircle Fred the Fop in the Wrong Side of the Tracks.

However, wearing you're thug gear, Bully might well be disposed to answer you're questions, or even have you join his gang. Different outfits for diffrent situations is something that's really yet to be explored in computer RPG's, and could be interesting if done well.

Should you be able to talk to every peasant on the street (Morrowind) or should 'peasants' be labeled as such and just have one-liners. What about nobles that seem to blow-off everyone who wants to talk to them.

This is a matter of taste. Personally I prefer a good range of characters with important Dialogue and the rest of the populace having just oneliners. Perhaps there are a few rumor monger peasants(as there were in Aracunum) who can drop you hints for sidequests or interesting locations. Nobles, as important characters, should have appropriate dialogue, however, they may blow you off if you are not properly dressed:)

How should dumb-speak be handled?

Eh*shrugs*I never liked dumbspeak, except for the occasional laugh, and don't believe it has a place in rpgs. How many seriously mentally disabled people do you see walking around without someone to care for them? If they do not have a caretaker, they tend to restrict themselves to routines that do not allow for adventuring. Check out the movie I Am Sam for a good example, where the act of simply going to a different restaurant than usual causes the main character( a "moron" in the technical sense of the word) to freak out.

A character with such reduced faculties as to be unable to speak his basic tongue would almost never become an adventurer, simply because he is as disabled, in his own way, as a paraplegic. To put it another way, adventuring puts such demands on characters that they need to be able to grasp certain basic concepts, and thus would require a minimum level of intelligence, as well as physical ability, and effective communications skills.

Dumbspeak inflicted by a curse, however, could be interesting, with quests developing on how to rid the character of it, and trying to convince folks that you aren't just some babbling idiot. It could also be used if a character is in a foreign land and does not know the language.
 

Anonymous

Guest
Dumb-speak is fun. You should be shot.

I think MISTAR CAEN does it so you cant min/max super well in Fallout and ToEE and Arcanum, it was actually kinda cool, your journal entries reflected your intelligence and stuff.
 

Megatron

Liturgist
Joined
Dec 7, 2002
Messages
328
Location
carpet
Dumb speak rocks. I don't see it that unbelievable. I've known people who are probably as stupid but just don't talk, usually stare at people because there tuff. But I usually play a friendly but stupid warrior. I can hack my way through areas easily (In Arcanum combat was usually over in 1 round), get a few quests but save some for my next play through and it's fun.

I find how a scrawny geek could survive for longer in a world full of rats and zombies and shit more unbelievable.


I'd like it if there were a few stats for dialouge though. Combat usually has 3 (Strength, agility, endurance) and dialouge hopefully would have at least 2 (intelligence and charisma). I'd like it if the standard intelligence for everyone to be lower than it is. It would also be good if there were dialouge options for a stupid, ugly gentlemen who would sip brandy in the gentleman's club or something similair.

There should be a lot more poor areas in games and a lot less rich areas. I'd rather you be able to tell important npcs from everyone else too if they just get filler dialouge. Could be nice if you could pay any poor person to carry your stuff or carry stuff for rich people?
 

Limorkil

Liturgist
Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Messages
304
I don't believe I've seen a really good dialogue system and I suspect that is because no developer has ever thought it important enough to invest time in. The best system I've seen in a game is the multiple choice Baldur's Gate/NWN/Kotor style, but that system has been very poorly implemented - usually most of your options have the exact same outcome.

I am fairly sure the multiple choice system could be massively improved by make it more intelligent, and that intelligence could be handled with some very simple behind-the-scenes numbers. Here are some examples:

1. The choices you are offered to choose from vary depending on how wise/intelligent you are. This was implemented in NWN to some extent, but badly.

2. As part of character creation you get to assign personality traits to your character. (We used to do this in PnP rpgs so that the DM could tell whether the player was acting in-character.) I have never seen this in a crpg, probably because dialogue is of low importance. This would give you numbers associated with things like tactful vs blunt, cultured vs uncultured, reckless vs cautious, trusting vs suspicious etc. These numbers, together with other numbers relating to stats and appearance, affect which dialogue choices the character gets.

3. NPCs have similar traits to PCs, which determine how the NPC acts. For example: a "suspicious" PC might get a not-trusting dialogue option, and the NPC, who is "short tempered" loses his cool at that point.

4. The appearance of your character should be measured based on both physical appearance and clothing. The categories would be things like poor vs rich, stand-out vs blend-in, peaceful vs threatening etc. These numbers would then affect how NPCs react to what you say.

5. Reputation should have a huge affect on dialogue. If the character saved the city from a dragon then people should recognize that and act accordingly. For example: people would be less likely to pick fights unless they are really tough.

6. NPCs responses should be somewhat random, modified by the various factors mentioned above. There should be few guarantees that if you choose X then Y will happen.

All the above does not have to result in huge dialogue trees. We tend to think of these trees in terms of dialogue responses when really they can be kept small by building them based on actual NPC actions, not responses. An action like "Hand over the ring" might have 6 different pieces of dialogue related to it, such as an angry response, a scared response, an enamored response. At the same time, the NPC should have alternate actions, such as "Keep the ring" and "Attack". The actions form the tree, not the mood responses. When a player chooses a particular dialogue option, the behavioral numbers behind the scenes are used to choose the NPCs action and then within the action the dialogue that goes with the action. The selection of action and dialogue is essentially based on the mood of the NPC and the tone/appearance/reputation of the PC.
 

Petey_the_Skid

Liturgist
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Messages
170
Location
Stanstead, Quebec
I never said there was anything wrong with stupid characters, the tough but not super intelligent fighter as you mentioned above is perhaps the most common staple of fantasy literature. However, dumbspeak(as represented in games like Fallout) consists of the character actually not being able to communicate effectively at all, not just being stupid, but mentally retarded. This just doesn't work for me, unless said someone was accompanied by someone who could communicate for him(think Lenny from Of Mice and Men), and even in such cases it's likely to end up tragically for the disabled person. Hell, even the big fella in Stephen King's The Green Mile and Minsc from BG 2 could speak in full sentences, which is the minimum an adventurer would realisticaly need to get by. Grunting won't get you anywhere in a world of speech.
 

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.
Top Bottom