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How to realistically handle exposition entirely as a phone texting conversation?

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Hey Folks,

I'm working on a story for a game that simulates a phone texting app, so all the storytelling is done via a conversation in the form of text messages. Occasional the player is offered a binary choices in their responses that leads the story down different paths.

One thing I'm struggling with is exposition and explaining what's going on. It feels on-the-nose / unrealistic to have others just spitting out everything without some kind of a prompt from the player (basically turning into a monologue). In normal texting, I usually get a friend mention something happening and then responding with "oh how did X go?" to learn more, or even just a simple "yea?" (keep going)

However, it would be annoying (and a pointless "choice") to have the player need to constantly respond after every few lines to keep the conversation going.

Any good tips on keeping the flow realistic without necessitating constant responses? Basically making big chunks of the texting conversation a monologue without being unrealistic?

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Posted (edited)
Text conversations in games usually have spots places that wait for the player to read the text and then push a button to continue, even when there's no response they need to make.

In other spots, the conversation pauses and waits for you to choose from a list of things to say/ask.


So the obvious way it could work would be to use a single-option prompt periodically when you want to give the player time to read messages, otherwise just continue with several messages in a row with automatically continuing delays between them. You don't need to have the player "say" something after every single message; just when you have filled up the screen and need to give them time to read. Edited by Nypyren

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I would try to work into the interface some kind of "mark as read" button or flag icon or something the player can press and use that as your signal the player has finished reading. If multiple messages come in all at once, wait for all the flags to be cleared before proceeding. Maybe display another small icon if the player is expected to input something at that point.

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Can't do that unfortunately, it's all via the texting convo. I'm just the writer so need to work
with the spec.


The exposition doesn't have to be presented all at once before the game action. It can be offered
piecemeal throughout the game, as the need for a backstory element arises.

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Thanks for the feedback! The messages show up semi-real time (Wih a little "Dan is now typing..." message inbetween) and the user can scroll, so I'm not too concerned about them missing content. I'm just worried if I have the character keep spitting out information it will either start sounding unrealistic for a text conversation, or they will come off as over-sharers. 

 

Tom - yea that's what I am trying to do currently, break it apart as much as possible to keep a flow going. But there are some points where it's harder, particularly at the beginning when the character needs to explain where he is, what he's doing, what input he needs from player etc. It just doesn't seem to fit how typical texting conversations go when they just launch into several lines of explanation without waiting for some sort of acknowledgement from the other person. 

 

It's kind of how in real life you always say "aha" and nod when someone goes on a long monologue. If you just looked at them with blank expression without any reaction it'd feel very uncanny. 

 

(unless you're my mom who just doesn't care lol)

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