So, continuing work on dialogue system.
I did a bit of research and it became clear to me that a huge box full of text and 6 or 7 clickable choices is probably information overload. That was cool in the Nineties, but more modern games have done a lot to refine the way we deliver dialogue in games (Mass Effect series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution are two examples.)
The main thing where we made progress is this:
Seperate choices from plain talk.
This means there is a difference between interactive and non-interactive dialogue pages.
There is also a variation of types of choices (multiple choice, yes/no choice, choice affects player alignment etc.)
And finally, recent games have a tendency to minimize the amount of choices vs talk. Deus Ex: Human Revolution does this to the point where many dialogues will only include a single choice for the player to make. Everything else is practically just a cutscene.
So there is a spectrum where a game can fall between “lots of player choice” (old RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate mark this end of the scale) and “lots of non-interactive (more cinematic) dialogue” (as in recent games.)
The upside of the cinematic approach is that conversations have more of a natural flow and that dialogue is a smaller part of the game compared to e.g. shooting people in the face. For some games, this is right.
The upside of more choices is the opposite; dialogue becomes a major interactive system, and narrative becomes potentially more player driven (as long as the options make sense.)
SJ will probably fall somewhere in the middle. Have fewer options but make each one count.
My current test case dialogue clearly has some redundant choices in it; in the above image, if you look closely, the “I’ll do it” option is redundant. In other words, if the player wasn’t interested, they would not even click on the “why would I do that” option!
The doodad in the middle has several functions that I’ll not dive into. Suffice to say it is an indicator.
I’m not done with dialogue yet by far. Creating a dialogue system is a science, and it ideally interlocks with several other game systems. So I might yet end up with something totally different.