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Author Topic: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games  (Read 1425 times)

Mr Flibble

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How do you plan out your dialogues?

In the game I'm making I'm writing some fairly convoluted dialogue puzzles with lots of options and sub-trees of options which loop back on themselves and can jump into what you might have thought was an entirely separate tree of options. I'm doing it like this so I can model fairly complicated conversations and have a stab at having them flow more naturally than standard adventure game dialogue.

I'm finding it hard to plan out though. I've bought some extremely large pieces of paper and I was thinking I could make a huge web or graph with lots of lines flowing between all the options. But that's already going to be hard to maintain and just thinking about it makes me ill.

Anyone have experience with this? How did you solve it in your own game?
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Shane 'ProgZmax' Stevens

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #1 on: 02 May 2011, 19:17 »
I just organize it in the editor via separate dialogs, really.  I suppose you could use one of those flowchart programs to plot all the dialogue out and use that as a reference.

Vince Twelve

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #2 on: 02 May 2011, 19:17 »
God, I'm so with you on this.  I wish I had a good answer.  I draw diagrams on scratch paper.  Lots of arrows.  Then I implement it and decide it sucks and start from scratch.

The best answer may be that simpler is better.

tzachs

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #3 on: 02 May 2011, 21:18 »
I suppose you could use one of those flowchart programs to plot all the dialogue out and use that as a reference.
Yes, I thought the same thing.
I haven't tried it myself, but from what I've heard you can try and use FreeMind or Labyrinth.
« Last Edit: 02 May 2011, 21:20 by tzachs »

David Ostman

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #4 on: 03 May 2011, 00:15 »
I use FreePlane (fork from FreeMind, I find it to be better, more thought through), and that's the best way I've found so far to keep dialog trees in a good overview.

I've tried pen and paper, I don't see the point myself with all the good mind mapping progs :)

Mr Flibble

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #5 on: 03 May 2011, 00:35 »
I didn't think of flowchat programs. I'll have to give that a shot. I'd shyed away from using digital plans previously because I'd only been thinking about a digital version of my paper-based approach, made in Photoshop or Word. Which would be even more inconvenient.
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David Ostman

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #6 on: 03 May 2011, 11:06 »
Mind mapping programs are great for these things, but I do tend to plot story progression down on paper first just because it "feels nicer" and more hands on. For dialog it just takes too long that way since I write out a sentence, look at it, read it out loud, realise it sounds stupid when spoken, and revise. Repeat this a few times and I've killed a small forest.. :P

I would have done it in AGS directly, but because the dialog editor is really only useful if you're not planning on making any changes, a mind mapping program was the best solution. FreePlane/Mind are good in that you never need to use the mouse, so you never need to take your hands off the keyboard and this keeps you (or at least me) very productive once I start writing :)

Radiant

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #7 on: 03 May 2011, 18:48 »
I simply use pen and paper when it gets complicated, and do it directly in the AGS editor when it doesn't. I've also found that dialog "mazes" are much more complex to a player than they seemed to me as the designer.

AJA

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #8 on: 03 May 2011, 20:11 »
Yeah, planning dialogs is quite a bitch. That's why, a couple of years ago, I created Dialog Designer. Lately I've begun to feel restricted by the dialog tree, so later this year I might release a new Dialog Designer in which you can organize the dialogs into a network of dialog options and pieces of script.

For example, it would allow you to turn...

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. [option 1:] ego: How are you?
  2. dude: Fine, thanks.
  3. ego: I was wondering if you were the right guy to talk to about puppies.
  4. dude: Yup.
  5. return
  6.  
  7. [option 2:] ego: How's it hanging?
  8. dude: Low and free.
  9. ego: I was wondering if you were the right guy to talk to about puppies.
  10. dude: Yup.
  11. return

...into --->

Code: Adventure Game Studio
  1. [option 1:] ego: How are you?
  2. dude: Fine, thanks.
  3. goto seg1
  4.  
  5. [option 2:] ego: How's it hanging?
  6. dude: Low and free.
  7. goto seg1
  8.  
  9. [seg1:] ego: I was wondering if you were the right guy to talk to about puppies.
  10. dude: Yup.
  11. show options

And so on... The flow of the dialog would of course be defined visually instead of commands like goto such and such. But so far I only have a flowchart type diagram drawing program finished. Don't hold your breath. :)

Mr Flibble

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Re: Designing particularly complicated dialogues in games
« Reply #9 on: 05 May 2011, 15:44 »
I haven't even thought about implementing in AGS yet, but you raise a good point. I'll probably end up making a new back-end dialogue system just to help along the kind of dialogues I want to write, that are more like graphs than trees.
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