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nub

RPG how to deal with 'dialog' with a thinking character

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nub    117
I'm writing the story of an old-school type of RPG. That is: top-down 2D with sprites.

The player character is the kind of guy who doesn't talk too much and thinks more. The question I have is how to deal with this, and still let the player have a clue of what to do, or if I should simply just have the player walk around and talk to npcs randomly until he talks to the right person and then the story progresses.

This is just a problem in the beginning of the game, as he has not yet met the guys and girls who will follow on his journey.

For example, in the beginning of the game he finds an item which has a serial number on it. The way I have it written now is kinda like this:

Scene 1
The PC finds a metallic box.
PC: Hmm... there's a serial number on it: SN-203F-X9. I should visit Joseph, he should know more about it.

Scene 2
PC arrives at a village. Player takes control.


I dunno, but it feels kinda silly having the PC talking to himself. And I guess even if I wrote it as thoughts it still would feel a bit silly.

The question here is, should I go for clarity, and therby have the hero talking/thinking to himself. Or is it okay to leave the player confused until he finds the NPC, and have the dialog there reveal that he found a serial number and that he knew who to talk to?

The latter example would look like this:
Scene 1
PC finds a metallic box.

Scene 2
PC arrives at a village. The player takes control.

Scene 3
PC: I found a metallic box with serial number SN-203F-X9, and I figured you should know something about it.
NPC: Let me see... Hmmm.... hmm...

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haegarr    7372

Thing is that the player (as a human in front of the game) has a totally different knowledge than the player character (in game). This "schizophrenia" is typical for games. At least 5 ways to deal with that came to mind:

 

1.) Let the player start within its vacuum.

 

2.) Let a voice from the off narrate the background story (or use some other way of introduction) from which the player has a clue how to start.

 

3.) Communicate the knowledge of the player character to the player by "thought bubbles" as you have described above.

 

4.) Give the player an early companion that shares its knowledge with the player, this time by "speech bubbles".

 

5.) Introduce a general information system by allowing to ask any NPC about everything, so that the player is guided towards the goal.

 

 

Well, possibility #1 is like a game start with amnesia, and as such overused and hence not liked any more. I would not do so. IMHO all other possibilities are fine in themselves. 

 

Possibility #4 ("companion") seems to not really fit into your story, as far as I understood, so drop that for now. It is, however, a possibility as soon as the party has been build.

 

Possibility #5 ("guidance by NPCs") needs work, because the NPCs should not appear all-knowing. It requires a questioning system, of course, which you may or may not need anyway. I personally would like to ask NPCs, but chances are to become frittered in too many choices, especially at the beginning.

 

Possibility #3 ("own thoughts") can be understood as an integrated help system. IMHO no problem if it is introduced without explicit request. Later on, perhaps it can be kept a bit more in the background, e.g. by activating only if the player seems to stuck. This is especially of interest if the player character can also migrate without a party.

 

Possibility #2 ("background story") makes some extra work. If done, it should not be too long because people want to start playing ... hopefully ;)

 

 

My personal preference is: A bit of background story as introduction, thought bubbling as help system, and more or less free but guided talking to NPCs and party members.

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Thaumaturge    3831

An active internal monologue isn't as outlandish as you may think, even outside of noir detective stories. Take a look at this TV Tropes page for some examples, both from video games and other media; to include one here, consider Garrett from the Thief games (the originals, at least--not having played the new one, I don't know whether it's prevalent there, too).

Edited by Thaumaturge

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Tom Sloper    16062

The player character is the kind of guy who doesn't talk too much and thinks more. The question I have is how to deal with this, and still let the player have a clue of what to do, or if I should simply just have the player walk around and talk to npcs randomly until he talks to the right person and then the story progresses.


The question is unclear. What is it you're trying to figure out? It's not at all unusual to have a character express his thoughts to the player, in voice or in text. Are you trying to decide between voice and text? Are you trying to figure out a clear delineation between thought and dialog?

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KingOfTheNoobs    519

Spelling dialogue correctly would probably be a good place to start...

But all smartassedness aside, having the player talk to himself would probably not be the best approach. I would just make it so that when you talk to NPC in the general mission area, they give you a hint. For example, if you are trying to find Joseph then the NPC would probably be like this. "Oh, you're looking for Joseph? Last I saw him he was at the market." You know. Just sort of stuff along those lines. Or if you could have mission objectives clearly defined and objective locations marked on the map. If I am misunderstanding the question and you're trying to make it so that the player could know to go to Joseph in the first place, then that last recommendation could work or you could do what Pokemon does and have the dialogue box pop up with a statement like "You found a metallic box. There's a serial number scratched into it... Maybe someone knows more about it" then you interact with any NPC in town and they tell you to take it to Joseph. I honestly think you are just over-thinking it. Keep it simple, even if simple doesn't technically make the most sense. Whatever works best for you.

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KingOfTheNoobs    519

 


Spelling dialogue correctly would probably be a good place to start...

'Dialog' is the US and computing alternate spelling. Color...Colour...Favorite...Favourite...

 

Hate to break it to you, but I live in the US and here in the US we spell dialog dialogue.

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Dragonsoulj    3212

Spelling dialogue correctly would probably be a good place to start...

'Dialog' is the US and computing alternate spelling. Color...Colour...Favorite...Favourite...
Hate to break it to you, but I live in the US and here in the US we spell dialog dialogue.

As do I. Depends on your exposure to the word. I did say it was an alternate spelling, meaning both are correct.

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nub    117

Spelling dialogue correctly would probably be a good place to start...
But all smartassedness aside, having the player talk to himself would probably not be the best approach. I would just make it so that when you talk to NPC in the general mission area, they give you a hint. For example, if you are trying to find Joseph then the NPC would probably be like this. "Oh, you're looking for Joseph? Last I saw him he was at the market." You know. Just sort of stuff along those lines. Or if you could have mission objectives clearly defined and objective locations marked on the map. If I am misunderstanding the question and you're trying to make it so that the player could know to go to Joseph in the first place, then that last recommendation could work or you could do what Pokemon does and have the dialogue box pop up with a statement like "You found a metallic box. There's a serial number scratched into it... Maybe someone knows more about it" then you interact with any NPC in town and they tell you to take it to Joseph. I honestly think you are just over-thinking it. Keep it simple, even if simple doesn't technically make the most sense. Whatever works best for you.

That's actually not a bad idea. I think I'll go with something like that. Thanks!

And thanks to everyone else!

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KingOfTheNoobs    519

 

Spelling dialogue correctly would probably be a good place to start...
But all smartassedness aside, having the player talk to himself would probably not be the best approach. I would just make it so that when you talk to NPC in the general mission area, they give you a hint. For example, if you are trying to find Joseph then the NPC would probably be like this. "Oh, you're looking for Joseph? Last I saw him he was at the market." You know. Just sort of stuff along those lines. Or if you could have mission objectives clearly defined and objective locations marked on the map. If I am misunderstanding the question and you're trying to make it so that the player could know to go to Joseph in the first place, then that last recommendation could work or you could do what Pokemon does and have the dialogue box pop up with a statement like "You found a metallic box. There's a serial number scratched into it... Maybe someone knows more about it" then you interact with any NPC in town and they tell you to take it to Joseph. I honestly think you are just over-thinking it. Keep it simple, even if simple doesn't technically make the most sense. Whatever works best for you.

That's actually not a bad idea. I think I'll go with something like that. Thanks!

And thanks to everyone else!

 

You're welcome. Anytime you need anything, just post it in the forums. We'll all be here to help.

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