Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Stumpmaestro

Dialogue woes

This topic is 1348 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Oh dear me! I have hit perhaps the greatest snag in the writing process for a JRPG- one that explicitly targets the essence of the character. The how of the what. The dialogue, the words, the voice of the character- these are all elusive entities for me. I have no problems drafting character arcs, moods, etc.- but I don't know how to convey them- this being the part where 'writing' is an issue, as opposed to conceptualizing a plot and how the characters all integrate into the dramatic organism that it is.

 

I think I should post an example of something I've done tentatively. For the record, I feel like it's overly Hollywood and stock. If anybody has advice, agrees, or disagrees, I'd appreciate the feedback smile.png

 

For the following dialogue, a small legend:

Y: This is you, the player. 

R: Another individual with whom you have limited radio contact. No MGS video function here!

 

These chats take place as you progress through the level in question. So while you're moving about and as you hit certain checkpoints etc. 

 

Introductory Chats:

Screen illuminates. You take control of some sort of stealthy operative, he holds a pistol with a laser scope in his hand. He wears a mask with two dark portholes set over the eyes, and in turn wears a body tight suit with padding to prevent damage.

 

he environment is a futuristic facility with sleek, modern lighting. The building consists in several atria, connected by passageways. A variety of messages warning 'contamination' and 'handle with care' are printed alongside several peculiar structures throughout the base. In addition, there are warning signs indicating the potential for electrical shock.

 

Radio Dialogue:

The first chat

Radio intercom: “Have you reached the penetralium?

Your operative: “Not yet. I’ve reached somewhat of an impasse. The security overlay seems to imply that there are a few electronic lock-outs I need to bypass in order to hit jackpot.

R: “Heh. If this was at all like the cloning facility, then there will probably be two terminals… Though you never know. Perhaps they decided against standardization.”

You: “I’d be surprised if they did though. Why on earth would there be a need for the one or two ‘modifications’? That’s just irrelevant to their entire ethos as it is. They're far too lazy to be original.”

R: “Just exercise a modicum of caution. Death is not an option.”

You: “Roger”.

 

Second chat

You: “One terminal down, and I think that you were wrong with your prediction. When I checked the power displacement after deactivating it, the reading says approximately 50% power remains invested in the lock. ”

R: “But are you really going to blame me for asking you to be careful?”

You: “That’s not what I meant… But this means you’ll have even less time to get in here. Don’t fuck this up. It’s not like you have a choice in the matter of ‘death’ either.”

R: “Yes. I’m going to get moving ASAP.”

You: “Preferably before the energic phenomena begins to multiply. I really don't have time to wait for you, and by then it will be too late.

R: “I’m well aware of the fact. I’ll see you on the other side. Paçe

 

Third Chat

R: “I’m moving. Heavier fire than expected. I suppose they’re catching on to our plot.”

You: “You’re a pretty big target though… But think of it this way. If they really cared- If they wanted to stop it- they would’ve done something about this whole debacle earlier.”

R: *noises of weaponry* “At any rate. I’ll be safe soon- as soon as I enter the rooms designated “HANDLE WITH CARE!” Right? Don’t hesitate to activate the mainframe.”

You: “You got it.

Locates the Penetralium

Penetralium Environment: A large collection of screens and various keyboard interfaces are there. A glass window behind the screens shows a flickering glow of light. A complicated web of tubes that frequently terminate in circular formations surround the light. The light possesses a distinctly reddish-violet hue.

 

Fourth Chat

You: “I’m in.”

R: “Good… They nicked me since last time, so don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of blood when I make it back. Are you inputting the codes?”

You: “Not yet- I’ll start once we terminate contact here.”

R: “Good… Don’t worry about me, I’ll be there soon. Just finish it.”

You:  “Yes. And I very much intend on savoring the moment.”

R: “Heh. You and me both.”

Ends Radio transmission

You: “Time for the ‘wipe’ then.”

 

Cutscene as you input the codes:

Internal thought process: “It’s hard to believe that we’ve come this far.

Is it because we’re strong? Or is it just that they’re weak? But meek ants in numbers-

*Static Crackle*

-easily devour larger foes.

But to deal with these ants you only need a match...

*Finishes inputting code*

And a big helping of kerosene.

* A sole automated female announcer rings off the words “Barrier on Energic phenomenon has been terminated. Please brace for any unexpected side effec-” Her voice abruptly halts. All lights in the facility darken and all additional mechanical noises die instantaneously.

Y: You have ruined our once good name.

*You hear the door behind you open*

R: We made it in time for the main event it seems.

*Abrupt crackle of static*

You: Time to die.

The screen breaks. A few discordant noises play until the main theme of the game is finally settled upon. 

 

____

 

I feel like this is rife with corniness and over-stuffed Hollywood-isms. I don't know. I just feel like it's 'trying too hard' to set a move and is thus transparent. If anybody has a advice, I won't hesitate to accept it. I dunno, I just feel insecure over it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

One thing I noticed is that your dialogue is full of unnecessary fluff. THIS IS NOT A BOOK. Using fanciful and loaded language will only make the dialogue feel more drawn out and forced. Short and to the point should be your approach. Get the point across as effectively as you can in as few words as you can. Also I had some issues with the way the characters themselves spoke. The two characters felt like one character having a long conversation with himself. Now I can only assume the person communicating over the radio (R) is some kind of tech/science genius and would be expected to speak in a more "sophisticated" manner and would often use technical terms that the common man doesn't know. On the other hand the player seems more like a military operative type of person in a highly dangerous situation. One wouldn't expect them to be throwing around the same kind of language that the tech person would, especially since they are in a hostile area and wouldn't want to be overheard, thusly he would be speaking in short bursts using simple and concise language. To make sure that the player and R are on the same page (cause odds are players will get lost in the sea of mumbo jumbo) you might want to have R say it in their normal sciency way then have player say something indicating he doesn't understand such as "Huh?" "Care to elaborate?" or "And that means what exactly?" leading to R saying it again in laymans terms for both the in game character and the real life player to understand. 

To demonstrate what I'm talking about I will re-write your entire first chat according to it.

R: Have you reached the penetralium?

P: No. Security locked me out. I need a way to bypass it...

R: If their setup is anything like the cloning facility then there may be access terminals close by. Unless of course this facility opted against standardization.

P: I wouldn't put any money on that if I were you.

R: Let's hope you're right. Continue searching for a way around security and please... *pauses for a moment*... try to exercise a modicum of caution. I don't have to tell you how important this mission is.

P: Will do, over.

 

I left in some fluff because it felt like part of the characters, but I just couldn't bring myself to say "Death is not an option." Not only is it very much an option, but it is just too cliche. Even for me. I personally would consider bringing in another writer onto your project to help out with dialogue and to polish off any other rough spots there may be. Post an ad in the classifieds as soon as you feel it is necessary.

Edited by KingOfTheNoobs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm seconding KingOfTheNoobs mostly. Especially the sentence “I’d be surprised if they did though. Why on earth would there be a need for the one or two ‘modifications’? That’s just irrelevant to their entire ethos as it is. They're far too lazy to be original.” seems me much to stilted, especially in a stress situation. However, I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not the norm ;)

 

BTW: Please never use the phrase "Over and Out". In voice radio "over" means that the talker has finished talking and expects a reply, so handing over to the other person, while "out" means that the talker has finished talking and does not expect a reply, so ending the talk. Using both "over and out" together is just wrong. Once introduced by TV (IIRC), I have no clue why such a solecism still endures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the dialogue was too sparse to begin with, so I forced a bit more. I'll trim.

But again- this was experimental. I think I'll post an offer for dialogue assistance when the time comes. My over-formalism tends to impede any natural thought process that makes dialogue digestible. It's all way too impersonal and cold.

 

Of course, I could say that this scene kind of necessitates this impersonal quality, but that would be a stupid rejoinder precisely because the problem is more deeply rooted in my process of writing itself. Thanks for the feedback.

Edited by Stumpmaestro

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm seconding KingOfTheNoobs mostly. Especially the sentence “I’d be surprised if they did though. Why on earth would there be a need for the one or two ‘modifications’? That’s just irrelevant to their entire ethos as it is. They're far too lazy to be original.” seems me much to stilted, especially in a stress situation. However, I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not the norm ;)

 

BTW: Please never use the phrase "Over and Out". In voice radio "over" means that the talker has finished talking and expects a reply, so handing over to the other person, while "out" means that the talker has finished talking and does not expect a reply, so ending the talk. Using both "over and out" together is just wrong. Once introduced by TV (IIRC), I have no clue why such a solecism still endures.

Haha, thanks for the clarification. I went back and fixed it so that you can look at the re-written dialogue without cringing! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I noticed is that your dialogue is full of unnecessary fluff. THIS IS NOT A BOOK. Using fanciful and loaded language will only make the dialogue feel more drawn out and forced. Short and to the point should be your approach. Get the point across as effectively as you can in as few words as you can. Also I had some issues with the way the characters themselves spoke. The two characters felt like one character having a long conversation with himself. Now I can only assume the person communicating over the radio (R) is some kind of tech/science genius and would be expected to speak in a more "sophisticated" manner and would often use technical terms that the common man doesn't know. On the other hand the player seems more like a military operative type of person in a highly dangerous situation. One wouldn't expect them to be throwing around the same kind of language that the tech person would, especially since they are in a hostile area and wouldn't want to be overheard, thusly he would be speaking in short bursts using simple and concise language. To make sure that the player and R are on the same page (cause odds are players will get lost in the sea of mumbo jumbo) you might want to have R say it in their normal sciency way then have player say something indicating he doesn't understand such as "Huh?" "Care to elaborate?" or "And that means what exactly?" leading to R saying it again in laymans terms for both the in game character and the real life player to understand. 

To demonstrate what I'm talking about I will re-write your entire first chat according to it.

R: Have you reached the penetralium?

P: No. Security locked me out. I need a way to bypass it...

R: If their setup is anything like the cloning facility then there may be access terminals close by. Unless of course this facility opted against standardization.

P: I wouldn't put any money on that if I were you.

R: Let's hope you're right. Continue searching for a way around security and please... *pauses for a moment*... try to exercise a modicum of caution. I don't have to tell you how important this mission is.

P: Will do, over.

 

I left in some fluff because it felt like part of the characters, but I just couldn't bring myself to say "Death is not an option." Not only is it very much an option, but it is just too cliche. Even for me. I personally would consider bringing in another writer onto your project to help out with dialogue and to polish off any other rough spots there may be. Post an ad in the classifieds as soon as you feel it is necessary.

I see where Kingofnoobs is getting at. I think that dialogue would work if it wasn't in a stress situation. Using that fanciful language is pretty unique but you have to be careful about which words you use when conveying what you want to. Other than that the other dialogue you've shown me works out but it all depends on the situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!