Author Topic: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)  (Read 2749 times)

Andail

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GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« on: 12 Nov 2012, 13:01 »
Okay. First of all, should I implement any of the features discussed here, this post would turn out a massive spoiler for my upcoming game. So if you want to avoid having what could be a key twist in the game plot entirely disclosed at this point, stop reading.

Spoiler: ShowHide

Basically, the idea is pretty simple. You all know how we've had dozens of threads and hundred of posts discussing how games treat player options - especially dialogue options - to alter the direction of the game, potentially leading to different paths/endings.

Normally when we discuss this, we agree that most games execute this poorly, and that the various choices often tend to result in the same outcome, making the whole liberty of choice concept a mere chimera.

I've got an idea for my game that could possibly be perceived as rather controversial, and since it could be a deal-breaker to some people, I want to talk about it here. At one point, well into the game, the protagonist will be asked a question concerning his background. The player will choose an option, believing that one is true, and the other false, and that he has possibly failed to notice which one is which. What the player doesn't know is that this option in fact determines his background.

On another occasion, a side character will ask what the protagonist thought of their last encounter (which took place long before the beginning of the game). The player can now choose to pick options that will suggest that they had a romantic affair (among others). More options detailing the protagonist's thoughts and reactions on this affair can be chosen subsequently. All these responses will not only describe what the player thinks happened, but they will help shape what actually happened. By now, the player should realize that this is the case, and will understand that the blankness of the main character is intentional - not only is his neutral persona reflecting the idiosyncrasies of other characters, but he's actually - in part - being written during the course of the game.

Don't confuse this with RPG-stories, where a brand new character enters a world and may have their personal background partly made up by the player. In such scenarios, the personal background is just a decoration - what happened before the start of the game is not relevant to the game plot. In my scenario, the background events mentioned bear great significance to the plot - not necessarily in how the game is played (there won't be a myriad of paths/endings) but how the story elements will be read and perceived.

The part that may be confusing is that the player has no knowledge or insight in the scenarios at hand, so the choices will be made rather blindly, prompted by gut feeling.

Example: A female character approaches the protagonist and asks him why he left her (at one point in the past). The player can then choose to have the protagonist say "Because I was afraid" or "because I didn't like you", or even "I didn't leave you, you left me, remember?". The player must make this decision without any information or context, and the chosen response, whichever it is, will be the truth.

Has this been done before (it may have been done to death already, I don't play many games and could easily have missed it), and more importantly, should it be done? Will it break some sort of fourth wall? Will it just annoy players to learn that the background story isn't set in stone when the game begins?

Thoughts?

Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #1 on: 12 Nov 2012, 13:26 »
This solution looks pretty natural to me.
Spoiler: ShowHide

I think that some adventure games did similar thing (although those usually did not bear that much importance as you intend), and for certain I remember Baldur's Gate RPG series that let you make choices when speaking with your sister Imoen about your childhood or your past thoughts or dreams, all of which were, ofcourse, left behind the gameplay.

In my opinion it makes the player immerse in game even more by making him feel like participating in a story first person, role-playing the character and developing him/her. The player becomes less spectator and more an actor.
« Last Edit: 12 Nov 2012, 13:28 by Crimson Wizard »

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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #2 on: 12 Nov 2012, 13:27 »
I like the idea. The player builds his own adventure as he chooses what and who he was/done. Sounds good.
Replay value for sure.
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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #3 on: 12 Nov 2012, 13:46 »
My two cents...

[hide]I don't remember this being done all that often in adventure games before - certainly not to the point that it makes much real actual difference to the game.  However I'm a little unsure about what the end motive of this will be - are there different abilities the player has / different endings to be reached etc depending on what options are chosen along the way?

I think if the player is made aware of the importance of their decisions BEFORE the game starts, or at least very early on, it's an idea that could work really well.  Is it going to be a game that's designed to be played through several times?[hide]

Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #4 on: 12 Nov 2012, 13:59 »
Spoiler: ShowHide
Making such a gameplay feature will probably help the immersion quite a lot if it's done subtly enough, perhaps mixing in stuff from the time a game has begone and things that happened before the game story starts.

RPGs offer sometimes the option of having a relationship with an NPC where you create the actual sequence of events that lead to it, this gives player a real emotional connection through actions (you build a relationship by playing the entire game), but you are suggesting to create a background story based on dialogue options and on top of that create that emotional connection that a player gets by playing - that's a lot of character study and background just to begin creating a game character.

While those NPCs can become likeable over the time, lets say they shoot a crossbow with lots of damage or something, you have to make them actually likeable, but not only likeable, they have to have more than 1 personality and that personality has to change the story to some degree (otherwise there's not that much point).
Also you're going to have to include a lot of "things are different now" options - when a player chooses an option (lets say they decide they were romantically involved with a character some time before - at that point either you have to "know" enough about the player to actually make it seem like they really could have been in a romantic relationship (they have to like the character in that way) or they have to have the option to notice how the character has changed since that time in the background story that they've known them.

In any case that's a large ball of strings you're trying to unravel.

You're basically going the way Walking dead game is going (or said they were going but kind of really restricted it), so you might want to check that game out.
« Last Edit: 12 Nov 2012, 14:07 by Anian »
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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #5 on: 12 Nov 2012, 20:20 »
Spoiler: ShowHide

I played an indie game recently, Home, that potentially plays a little with the ideas you presented.

I'm probably going to spoil it by explaining it, so maybe play it first, then look at the next spoiler...


Spoiler: ShowHide

Okay? Still interested?

Essentially you play through the game, and throughout, you have a series of seemingly innocuous Y/N dialogue choices (did you pick up the letter?), and active choices (exploring a particular place etc,).  These choices effectively inform the protagonist how he interprets the situation, even (potentially) deluding himself about the actions that may or may not have happened.  The end product is that the game can be played through several times with the same situations faced, but the conclusions that you take away (with the aid of the protagonist monologue) have been directly informed by your actions... it's quite a neat way to mould the protagonist to the player.

Maybe this is slightly different to what you were thinking of, but I think it's interesting all the same...
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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #6 on: 17 Nov 2012, 19:43 »
I remember in Planescape you can say stuff about your past and choose whether or not you're lying about it.
And I remember in Sith Lords you can say what colour your lightsaber used to be (ambitious stuff, I know)

I'd like to see it done more, choosing details about your character before you even know what the game's like can lead to frustration.

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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #7 on: 18 Nov 2012, 04:00 »
I remember in Planescape you can say stuff about your past and choose whether or not you're lying about it.
And I remember in Sith Lords you can say what colour your lightsaber used to be (ambitious stuff, I know)

I'd like to see it done more, choosing details about your character before you even know what the game's like can lead to frustration.
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Re: GTD - on Dialogue options (potential spoilers)
« Reply #8 on: 03 Feb 2013, 22:17 »
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 I think if implemented well this is a brilliant idea. Much like the multiple endings thread, we are basically talking about non-linearity in adventure games. The problem is, much like multiple endings (see the 2 threads on multiple endings in here), no one ever really seems to implement this well in games, and it normally boils down to knowing "this will happen if I do this". It's a lot of work to get it feeling natural.

And on the topic of work, we are talking about several character histories / personalities (whats the technical term for this???) having to be written for each choice that has an effect in the game. Is this only going to be a choice interaction with one character? If so we are talking about multiple character sheets (this will have to do) for 2 characters, for each "choice effect" in the game. If it's happening between more than 2 characters (Let's say Tim, Jane and Paula) then you have to factor in that choices Tim makes with Jane might also have an effect on Paula's relationship with Tim, Tim's relationship with Jane and Paula and Jane's relationship to Tim but not necessarily Jane's relationship with Paula.

Imagine how much back story has to be catered for in this instance. It's a brilliant way of developing immersion in the game, but I think the reason a lot of developers avoid it is because of the amount of work that has to go into it. I mean we are starting to head into RPG development territory here. If someone is brave (read:insane) enough to go ahead and put all that work into it, then I can see it coming off well.

So to sum up, yes, I think if its executed well it's an excellent method to develop immersion and emotion in games. However how many people do you know will spend that much time on the drawing board?
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