Conversational Combat - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

 

Friday, April 09, 2010

I'm currently playing MASS EFFECT 2. Although there's a neat dialogue engine that lets you choose how the conversation goes, I'm feeling something's missing.

For one thing, there's an issue of optimization. Certain dialogue options net you "paragon" or "renegade" points. You need those points to unlock missions. So whatever your inclinations, you're wise to go with the paragon or renegade options 100% of the time.

But my main problem is that the dialog is all exposition. I ask a question, I get an answer, or the NPC will say "I can't tell you." If I'm looking for info, all I have to do is keep clicking options until I've covered all of them.

Real investigative dialog is elliptical. I ask about this, I find something out about that. It's also emotional. You might have to piss someone off in order to get them to talk about something. Or butter them up.

I'd be interested in a conversational game engine that made dialog into a puzzle. Just as you have to figure out a boss's weakness to, say, fire, you have to figure out your conversation opponent's weakness. Get him talking about dogs and he'll warm up to you. Call him a traitor and he'll lose his cool and say something he didn't intend to.

How do you know when you've cracked it? When you complete a combat mission, it's obvious. There are no enemies left, or you picked up the doodad or rescued the guy or whatever. But there's no reason you couldn't do that with conversation. Once you get the info you're looking for, your "been a pleasure talking with you" option opens up. There's no reason a game can't flag an important bit of dialog so the gamer remembers it -- the game flags everything else you pick up, doesn't it?

Have any of you ever run across a game with this sort of conversational combat?

Labels: ,

6 Comments:

I haven't come across anything like that yet...

Have you played Heavy Rain yet? I haven't played it myself (no PS3), but the kind of elliptical dialogue you speak of seems like it would be more at home in a game like that.

I think the conversation as puzzle mechanic could be really interesting and something that the indie game folks could probably do something neat with. Good idea.

By Blogger The Kemp, at 2:05 PM  

There's a bit of a puzzle to buttering up merchants in Oblivion.

I think the major problem with Mass Effect 2 is that they want you to swallow so much exposition at the beginning, rather than keeping things focused at the beginning and letting you get chatty in the "2nd Act" of the game.

I'm afraid to skip exposition dialog at the beginning because I need loyalty and renegade points and etc. But as I go through all the options the writer in me is screaming "GET ON WITH IT."

By Blogger Scot Boyd, at 6:43 PM  

I know you're really asking about video games, but in the pen-and-paper role-playing games that use the Gumshoe system by Robin D. Laws, investigation works exactly that way: some characters can't be intimidated, but they're subject to flattery or flirting, while others need to hear cop-talk, or they'll open up if you go through the right beauracratic channels... the trick is to figure out what's driving that character and pick the right approach.

By Blogger Steve, at 9:50 AM  

Have you tried the original Secret of Monkey Island (1 and 2) ?
The conversations are pretty much puzzle all the time, you have to find the right embranchement and say the right thing at the right moment in order to convince someone to do something or to give you something.

It's much less dull than in Mass Effect, where as you say, you pretty much know paragon or renegade options always lead to success, you're just choosing if you want "nice guy" or "bad ass" points. Which is kind of lame and unimmersive actually. I would much prefer new paragon or renegade options to appear in no particular option with no particular placement, so that you actually have to think about what you're gonna say to determine the potential outcome.

To me this is an example of game design holding itself back because of a desire from the game designers to classify thing too much and let the player see and understand too clearly the classifications of their action. Someone coming from the movies would probably want to hide this from the player.

By Blogger Nino Mojo, at 9:54 AM  

A big fan of gaming, I can say I was hoping for more from Mass Effect 2's speech system (especially when it's suppose to be one of the series' biggest bulletpoints). Ideally, I'd love to have confrontations be more of a verbal tennis match, but this would mean a much more organic AI and I think we're far from that. Instead, we'll be stuck with 'Angelic Response A', 'Don't Care Response B' and 'I'm Such a Badass Response C'.
Nino Mojo is right though - Monkey Island was loads of fun when it came to dialogue.

By Blogger Matthew, at 4:23 PM  

Heavy Rain is the game you want to play. Only available on the PS3. Once you go a certain way with the dialog there is no doing over or turning back. Each time you play you have the opportunity to change the game and the ending. Very advanced dialog system. More of a choose your own adventure style of game. Dialog is determined by reaction time, so you don't get a lot of time to decide how you want to interact with a character.
As this type of game advances, it will be for gamers who like the story driven games like Mass Effect.

By Blogger Eric Cattani, at 10:34 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.