Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Branching dialogs suggestion
05-15-2011, 09:29 AM
After playing some foundry missions I decided to look under the hood at how things work. While this has shown me why some things don't quite work as we would like them, it has also made me a little more critical of unimaginative ways of doing things. As an example I will look at a typical branching dialog, very often they are insensitive to previous choice and repeat the same information.

Say your science officer discovers something and you want to ask for reports from each of your senior staff. So you would have a Discovery dialog with 4 buttons - Tactical, Science, Engineering and a Continue button. The simplistic approach is to have a dialog for each Report with a Back button which returns you to the Discovery dialog. This works, but for me it upsets the flow of the story. The science officer is now repeating the discovery information after each report.

I would suggest that a better way to handle it would be to have each Report dialog have 3 buttons - 1 each for the other 2 reports and a Continue button. Now each report links to the other 2, but not back to the Discovery dialog so there is no need to repeat information. The player could by choice ask for each report multiple times but it is not forced. You could prevent that by disabling buttons in response to triggers, but in this case I don't think it is needed.

My main point is that you should try to constuct dialogs like a real conversation so that they react to what has already been said and avoid unnecessary repetition to the player. It can make dialogs more complex and time consuming to write but I feel the payoff is worth it.

By the way, my comments also apply to dialogs in Cryptic missions, some of them could be improved also.

Thank you for reading - please feel free to agree or disagree

Edit: Oops - I guess maybe this should have been posted in Discussion not Feedback
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-23-2011, 09:00 AM
For time's sake (in a mission author's view), it's a lot easier just to have that main dialog where the buttons branch off and to loop the buttons back to that if players want to explore the other options.

In a mission that has several characters, with several pages of dialog, creating customized versions of all the branches would take ages. In some really simple cases I've done that - once they pick an option they go to a different set of options that end the dialog or let them ask the other question. But to do that all the time is impractical when looping back to the start of the dialog is perfectly acceptable in some player's experiences. A lot of adventure games with dialog do this.

It would be nice if you could set dialogs flagged as "read" or have some way of tracking a player's actions and decisions - then you could create custom dialog responses that appear later on and have repercussions too. I've tried to do that in my mission - but at the moment with the current system, any actions you take are limited to the scope of the map you're currently in. Actions do not carry over to other maps.

For example, in my mission you can interact with an object before talking to a character, and their responses will be different. At the moment, there's no way of tracking which dialog buttons people have been pressing though within a multi branching dialog.

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