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JRPG: Average Number of Pieces of Dialog?

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Hi guys.

 

Bit of an odd discussion today. I just finished my Text Box Engine and it's pretty sweet! It's very simple to implement and use. And now I'm using it in my JRPG series. However I had a stop and realised something. I never asked how many pieces of unique dialog you see in an JRPG.

 

What do I mean by seeing text boxes? Well let me produce a sample scene as this is going to be hard to explain.

 

Jack : How are you today?

Bob : I'm good thanks, how are you?

Jack : Not bad, fought a giant rabbit today?

Bob : You what???

 

Now in this scenario, there are 4 pieces of dialog. It starts with Jack, switches to Bob, then Jack and then Bob again. So why am I asking this question if it is that easy to count?

 

Well in my engine, all text has it's own record. Like for example below

 

  1. "Jack", "How are you today?"
  2. "Bob", "I'm good thanks how are you?"

You see this way, if I call the text record with the ID of 2, it will pull up Bob's text. Simple eh?

So again, why am I ask for the average number of unique pieces of dialog? Well the records are in a database. So I need to know roughly how many to expect so I can program that into the engine.

 

So what do you think? Is 2500 enough? Or should I bump it up to 5000? Or perhaps go one step further and assume 10000?

 

What do you think? Bear in mind, the engine will be able to be used for any sort of JRPG

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I haven't played that many JPRGs, so I'm not qualified to really give you an estimate (which would be hard, even if you play lots of JRPGs), and it really depends alot on the size and type of game.

 

But your design of only 2.5k, 5k, or 10k of dialog strikes me as sort of artificially limiting. I think you can design an almost unlimited dialog options.

 

I'm assuming your concern is memory limitations of keeping all the lines in RAM.

Assuming you want to stick to one giant list of text (not separated by scene or etc), you can simply make your engine load the targeted line + the surrounding N lines into a buffer, where N would be something you determine experimentally (i.e. not too small that you have to load frequently, but not too large to go over some memory requirement)

 

Then keep like 2-4 buffers like this, and when you need to load a new line, first check if its in one of the buffers, and if not, replace the oldest (by access time) buffer by overriding it with the new line + surrounding N lines.

 

This would work well if your dialog is roughly grouped together by usage - so the lines from one conversation are close together in your list, and not one line being at the top of the list, and the next line the character says being at the bottom.

 

A better yet design (imho) is to simply have your lines sorted by scene, instead of one large file. That way you can load all the lines in a scene (and put a reasonable limit on that, like 5k lines per scene). Or if you have certain areas (like cities, building interiors, etc), load the conversation options for cities/buildings/caves etc.

 

Anyway, this ended up being more of a technical answer, apologies if its not what you're looking for.

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Just to reinforce the above, why do you think you need to set an upper limit on the number of strings?  You should be able to have an effectively unlimited number of strings as long as there is enough memory to hold them... and you would in that case be looking at millions, or even billions of lines rather than thousands like you were initially describing.

 

 

More directly on topic, I have no idea how many lines of dialogue the average JRPG might have, but I suspect it probably varies greatly from game-to-game.

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But since you are directing the dialogue doesn't that mean you know which lines you will need and when? Can't you rely on breaking them up in easily manageable bits based on location, character or storyline?

 

Is there a downside to setting the limit at 10000 or higher? I have little idea if that will be enough. Estimating the amount of dialogue lines for a game genre is impossible if you ask me. RPGs in general could easily be very limited if done as solo project but they could just as well be massive for big teams where submitting dialogue and scenes is made easy.

 

Some games have their dialogue line amounts published (mainly for evaluating the amount of voice acting work) as I just did google search for "lines of dialogue in x".

 

Mass Effect 2: 25 000

Skyrim: 60 000

Fallout 3: 40 000

GTA IV: 80 000

Dragon Age: 68 000

EDIT: I am aware these are not JRPGs but it seems to be hard to get info on them

Edited by ShadowFlar3

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But since you are directing the dialogue doesn't that mean you know which lines you will need and when? Can't you rely on breaking them up in easily manageable bits based on location, character or storyline?

 

Is there a downside to setting the limit at 10000 or higher? I have little idea if that will be enough. Estimating the amount of dialogue lines for a game genre is impossible if you ask me. RPGs in general could easily be very limited if done as solo project but they could just as well be massive for big teams where submitting dialogue and scenes is made easy.

 

Some games have their dialogue line amounts published (mainly for evaluating the amount of voice acting work) as I just did google search for "lines of dialogue in x".

 

Mass Effect 2: 25 000

Skyrim: 60 000

Fallout 3: 40 000

GTA IV: 80 000

Dragon Age: 68 000

EDIT: I am aware these are not JRPGs but it seems to be hard to get info on them

 

Is there a website you are getting this information from?!? This would be very useful to my cause :D

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It depends on the JRPG. It's been a while since I made Final Fantasy VI (SNES) mods, but on top of my head, the game had dialog indexes that went up to around 0xE00, which brings us around 3,584 dialog units. However I say "units" because those dialogs could include multiple pages. (As long as you could hit A without the dialog closing, it was the same dialog ID.) If you want to count each dialog reply as one unit, it probably goes upwards to somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000.

 

Keep in mind that this is a 1994 JRPG with tons of "generic" dialog lines that any of your party members could say. It didn't matter whether you had little Relm, the big muscular Sabin, or Cyan with his Old English accent, there are dialog that would be said the same way regardless of the character.

 

The next big JRPG that Squaresoft built was Chrono Trigger, and it had customized dialog lines for every character that could ever join you, and on top of that the game really didn't pack as many dialog replies in a single dialog unit like in FF6 because the devs wanted to slip sprite animations between many replies (ie: Marle shaking her head before saying "NO"), so the amount of dialog units probably went way up, to around 10,000 dialog units, and it should be much closer to the actual number of dialog replies. I don't know the exact numbers because I didn't mod Chrono Trigger nearly enough.

 

For the PlayStation JRPGs there's no easy way to tell with one glance though. The dialogs are all stored in the map files for each individual area instead of being stored in one huge region of a ROM image like the NES and SNES games. You'd have to open every single map in the game in a mod editor and sum the amount of dialogs in them.

Edited by Bearhugger

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As others have said, limiting it seems odd and unnecessary.

 

Also on that point your system is flawed; by storing the names and dialogue together you're limiting what can be done. What if I have this:

1) Jon; Hello there!

2) Bob; Why hello to you too!

What if I want Bob to say "Hello there!" instead? In a normal system, I would just get Bob and the dialogue, but in your system I would have to store every piece of dialogue twice so that both people can say each thing.

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