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Norman Barrows

Caveman v3.0: NPC triggered dialog questions...

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Caveman v3.0 - a stone age FPSRPG.


I'm adding NPC initiated dialog interactions to the game.  Similar to Skyrim when a courier comes up to you. The NPC will have about a dozen dialog options and may trigger any or all in a row (usually 50% chance of any given option),   The player will have a menu of response options for each thing the NPC says to them.  They are basically of the form of:    "do you want to trade/chat/gamble/etc?"     "yes/no/leave me alone!"    Where "yes" does the action, "no" goes to the next NPC initiated dialog option (if any) and "leave me alone" ends all dialog with the NPC.




1. should NPC's insult the player - perhaps based on relations? Its a dialog option when a player speaks to a NPC - and turnabout is fair play.


2. what about use of famous quotes?      (and humor in these cases)

for insult: "Your mother was a homster, and your father smelt of elter-burries!  Now goo away - or I shall toont yoo a secon-da time-a!"  - Monty Python, Holy Grail.  

possible IP / copyright issues?   What if its cited?   Don't think I'd do that, but....

"turkey don't want no hep, turkey don't get no hep!"  - from  the movie Airplane was another one as a response to the player declining to have a healer NPC staunch their woulds when they were bleeding out to death.



3. humor:

possible player response to "heard any good jokes lately?":

"Ok, ok - so a caveman, a sabertooth, and a mammoth walk into a bar..."   i know - not that funny! <g>. what can I say, i've been at it for at least 9 hours already today, trying to finish up NPC triggered dialogs. Need a Monster!  (the energy drink)


4. I almost had an issue with dialog option order, and continuing after certain responses:

NPC healer walks up to player who is bleeding out: "Want me to staunch your wounds?"

player: "Yes! Please!"

NPC (after failing success check): "Sorry - I couldn't stop the bleeding!"

NPC continues to next dialog option...

NPC "So - want to hear the latest news?"

as the player bleeds to death...


Just so happens there's no "NPC staunch PC wounds" game mechanic in the game - so that particular case won't arise - Its not going to be a dialog option for NPCs.  Sorry folks - you'll have to staunch you own wounds!  NPCs won't do it for you. <g>.   But in the future, how should I handle these things?    I mean - "Sorry you're bleeding to death and I can't stop it...    so - how about them Dodgers, eh?" <g>. seems a bit silly to me. Rather Monty Python-ish was the first thing that came to my mind.


Dodgers: American baseball team.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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1) no. 


2) no.


3) no.


4) I don't know.


I just say this assuming that the dialogue will be bland and badly written. Because most dialogue is badly written in even AAA games who hire professional-ish writers. Your sense of humor may not appeal to players, Insults will be generic if they're based on a variable, and quotes - seems unlikley to click. Most will probably not realize it's a quote, and the people that do will think "why is a modern quote just wedged into a prehistoric game?". Then of course, copyright issues. I don't know the answer. Id just avoid the possibility. Since none of the ideas would lead to a better conversion or more interactive conversion, I wouldn't do any of them.

I just programmed a dialogue system for my own game, and I'm basing everything around the philosophy that "i'm a shitty writer" so dialogue will be mostly utilitarian, informative, etc. It frees me up from the obligation of being a programmer/artist + writer. Every minute i spend writing crappy dialogue is a minute i could be spending making good art.

Edited by SirWeeble

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Every minute i spend writing crappy dialogue is a minute i could be spending making good art.




for me its more like "time I could be spending making my art less crappy". <g>.


But seriously - no insults?


If a hostile escapes combat and the player encounters them again, relations will be very negative.   Insults - perhaps leading to combat - seem appropriate, or at least a possibility.   Why no insults?  it is immersive after all - even though it may not make for a "better" conversation - especially if the conversion goes so far south that it comes to blows.

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While I have no idea what you've got made or are capable of making, I figure the insults would end up comming off as canned or generic unless you made a fairly intricate  relationship system. Even then, It probably wouldn't be really great.


You'd probably also end up with situations where you don't remember attacking an NPC - say you load up the game a month down the road and some character insults you for apparently no reason, but a 'angry' variable wouldn't clue you in to why they're actually mad.


Insults would have to be really generic too. You can't insult the player's personality. Maybe you can insult their appearance, but unless your insult system is somewhat complex, it would have to be really general. You'd end up having things like "you're stupid" "i hate you" and other stuff that sounds like it comes out of a 5 year old. If the character is tasked with a very specific objective in the game, you can have them insult that "you're a terrible leader of this tribe" or whatever, but again - they can't say why without a complex event/response system.


I just figure, unless  you spend a hell of alot of time and energy creating a intricate event, relationship, insult, and compliment system none of it would really add to the game.

My opinion on dialogue in general is fairly negative though. There's been alot of attempts to make it more interactive in games and it always just ends up being annoying.

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What I am planning is similar to The SIMs. You have an "insult" dialog option. Maybe a quote, maybe just a description.  All it does is reduce relations between the PC and NPC.  If relations drop to -100, they become hostile.   Its already a dialog option when you talk to an NPC.   So it would make sense that an NPC should be able to insult you as well.  And you tie the chance to do it to how negative the relations are. so a caveman with -99 relations (IE a former hostile you encounter again later) might have a 50% chance to insult you, lowering relations by 5 to -104, which makes them hostile again, and they attack you, thus provoking a fight.


Truly stinging, biting, scathing insults would require use of the truth as a weapon.  So all you could really insult was the human player's capabilities in some form or another.


NPC to PC: "My band can kick your band's ass anytime".   Implied insult: because the dumb ass human player controlling your band don't know jack - they are worthless and weak, just like your band. Sh*t don't fall far from the toilet, garbage in garbage out, and mediocrity begets mediocrity. So it is with your worthless joke of a band and the human controlling you sorry ass losers.           Hows that for scathing?   <g>.       And then you might get into how if this wasn't a game they would have gone extinct long ago and their genes would no longer be polluting, diluting, infecting, and weakening the species' gene pool here in the real world to the detriment of all humanity.


As you can see, the truth can be a very dangerous weapon.  One that is best kept sheathed.


So no impugning their genetic viability,    "Your mother was an Orangutan!"   will have to be about the limit.  or maybe "Your mother was an Australeopithicene!"  - it is the stone age after all...

Edited by Norman Barrows

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