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Talking to people with your companions


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It's been customary in games that have a main character to only allow the main character to initiate and hold conversations. As a result, only he needs to get dialogue-related skills. Sometimes the game even prevents you from giving dialogue-related talents, feats, etc to companions, because they'll never use them.

 

I'm wondering if PE will be like this, or if it will be like Baldur's Gate, a rare example of a game with a main character that DID allow you to talk to people with any character in your party (although only extremely rarely did this have any unique consequences in dialogue).

 

An alternative would be to allow only the main character to initiate conversations, but to add many, many scripted companion interjections to the conversations that do utilize the companions' dialogue skills, thus preventing said skills from being worthless.

 

I suppose an SoZ-style converation system would be too much to hope for in this kind of game.

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I would like something along the lines of the Infinity Engine games dialogue system.

 

But which one?

 

PS:T didn't let you talk to people with anybody except TNO.

 

Icewind Dale conversations could differ based on who was talking - sometimes there were special dialogue options for certain classes and races.

Edited by Infinitron
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It would be nice. I don't see how anyone coud object to a IWD / SoZ impementation. The only argument against would be any additional resources necessary to implement it. I have no idea what those sorts of specific implementation details might be. Probably mostly additional dialogue to be written that changes based on who is talking. I noticed in BG2 that some conversations might change slightly based on which NPCs you had with you. I guess this is just a more extreme version of that.

Edited by metiman

JoshSawyer: Listening to feedback from the fans has helped us realize that people can be pretty polarized on what they want, even among a group of people ostensibly united by a love of the same games. For us, that means prioritizing options is important. If people don’t like a certain aspect of how skill checks are presented or how combat works, we should give them the ability to turn that off, resources permitting.

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I prefer the alternative solution you have proposed i.e. companion interjections.

 

Or, allowing them to speak for you in certain circumstances.

 

Sometimes the game even prevents you from giving dialogue-related talents, feats, etc to companions, because they'll never use them.

 

I'd imagine it was also done because of the balance issues - e.g. in a game with 5 companion characters you could (most likely) easily master each and every non-combat skill, which in turn would maky any skillchecks in the game trivial. That said, it does make perfect sense (after all, that's what the companions are for, to provide expertise in their respective fields) - but it reduces the replayability.

 

It could be solved by having a very large number of non-combat skills though.

Edited by Karranthain
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I may be wrong but I recently read in one of the newer interviews listed on PE's Kickstarter page or Chris Avellone's Obsidian Blog someone from OBS addressing this issue.

 

Again could be wrong but he suggested that conversations would be driven by the main protagonist but that NPCs could influence their outcome. Providing the mechanics work out then certain NPC races, classes or skill sets could open or close conversation tress that would otherwise not be available to the protagonist. NPCs might also interject or add something to the conversations.

 

Not an unreasonable compromise.

- Project Eternity, Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera; quality cRPGs are back !

 
 

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I hope the companions in this game have sufficiently distinct personalities (reflected in their speech) so that allowing every one of them to hold conversations requires too much resources from the writing staff.

 

I also hope the writing staff has enough resources to write complete conversation trees for all companions in addition to the protagonist, taking their distinct personalities sufficiently into account.

 

Now I'm confused. ;(

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I may be wrong but I recently read in one of the newer interviews listed on PE's Kickstarter page or Chris Avellone's Obsidian Blog someone from OBS addressing this issue.

 

Again could be wrong but he suggested that conversations would be driven by the main protagonist but that NPCs could influence their outcome. Providing the mechanics work out then certain NPC races, classes or skill sets could open or close conversation tress that would otherwise not be available to the protagonist. NPCs might also interject or add something to the conversations.

 

Not an unreasonable compromise.

 

But will they use conversational skills, or only the main character? That's the question.

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Something like the Storm of Zehir method could be good, perhaps making their interjections automatic though so you don't pick them but get different results depending on the NPCs own social skill level?

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Love to see this happen. A similar game I recently played was Dragon Age, loved how the companions butted in on the conversations with their personal thoughts and also that they talked with eachother without my interaction. It really made me grow fond of some and sick of others (in a good kind of way). I really felt for alot for some of the characters in that game and loved to see some of them make a comeback in the expansion Awakeneing. It was like seeing a good old friend.

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@Infinitron,

 

Again can't recall which link discussed the issue but they suggested the main protagonist does the talking, the companions add to the conversation via means suggested.

 

For what's it worth when you look at their past games only IWD and SoZ don't follow this approach and with the former game, there was no main protagonist.

- Can't speak for SoZ as it is one of the few OBS PC games that I didn't play.

- Project Eternity, Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera; quality cRPGs are back !

 
 

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And to chime in on this post, while I gather that the Main PC will be the one to drive the narrative, what happens when the Player selects another party member and has them click on some random NPC in the world? There is full party control, even outside of combat isn't there? Of course this is something that will have to be addressed at some point.

 

In NWN2, if a companion tried to talk to an NPC, the Main Character would be warped immediately to the spot to carry on the conversation... even if the Knight Captian was halfway on the other side of the city. Even more problematic, and well documented, is that in starting conversations before a battle, the PC was jumped right up front and vulnerable.

 

The game should never take control of the party characters out of the player's hands, and that's what I don't want to see. It sure wasn't like that in the Infinity Engine games.

 

Harumph!

Edited by Dorateen
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I'm not sure, SoZ pretty much let you win any conversation if it's winnable, and exploit each and every option. It would make picking protagonist's skills a bit meaningless. I'd probably prefer NPC's standing for themselves in dialogue when it suits their character; for example, if one of them is a cleric, you get a free pass to services his church provides, or something like that.

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I'm definitely a proponent of the OP's companion interjection idea. I think that would make conversations quite interesting and would add a good degree of variance when going through the same conversations with different characters or the same characters but with different dialogue skills and at different levels.

breen_tuna.gif.f209371d450243737d37ca9251849aff.gif

 

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I'm not sure, SoZ pretty much let you win any conversation if it's winnable, and exploit each and every option.

 

This, I don't understand. I have never approached a conversation, either in tabletop or CRPGs, as "winnable". What the SoZ party chat design allowed for was individual members of the group to have specific lines of dialogue based on various attributes. It was up to the player which one to select, based on role-playing decisions and the circumstances of the encounter. If there are options available because of the player's party compostion, how is that exploiting?

 

In your example, a party member who is a cleric could be given a dialogue option that would only be available for him, which might allow free services at the church. That is rewarding the player for having a cleric in party, and having the good sense to choose that dialogue option.

 

Harumph!

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I'm not sure, SoZ pretty much let you win any conversation if it's winnable, and exploit each and every option. It would make picking protagonist's skills a bit meaningless. I'd probably prefer NPC's standing for themselves in dialogue when it suits their character; for example, if one of them is a cleric, you get a free pass to services his church provides, or something like that.

Not exactly. SoZ-style conversation would allow you to pick "the talker", but nobody said his skill would be high enough to pass the check, so it's more matter of proper balance. On the other hand, if it's only PC who is a spokesman for the party, then rest of the companions would serve mostly as battle drones, maybe with exception of thief with his lockpicking and disarming traps ;) It could be just pointless to increase their non-combat stats, if they wouldn't be actually used.

Edited by Dermi
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If there are options available because of the player's party compostion, how is that exploiting?

Imagine rolling a stupid half-ogre with INT less than 8 in Arcanum and then using Virgil to handle every talk in the game. Would that be the same game? Would a unique style of gameplay with people's reactions mixed with choices and cosequences still exist?

Edited by Shadenuat
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If there are options available because of the player's party compostion, how is that exploiting?

Imagine rolling a stupid half-ogre with INT less than 8 in Arcanum and then using Virgil to handle every talk in the game. Would that be the same game? Would a unique style of gameplay with people's reactions mixed with choices and cosequences still exist?

 

But in a party-based game, it should be a team effort. I'm not familiar with Arcanum, but if this Virgil is an intelligent well-spoken character, then he should be used to handle conversations, and that is perfectly valid. I would think the half-ogre is only there for muscle. Again, that is the player's choice. It could be funny to let the half-ogre try to talk his way out of a sticky situation.

Edited by Dorateen
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I like the Op suggestions to the "PC always gets all the dialog skills because he does all the talking" conundrum, especially if they can add unique convo options based on who is talking. SoZ was wonderful in that way, not only letting the characters you created pitch in based on their race/class/alignment/gender/skills, but the NPCs who could join your group also had entirly unqiue dialog options of thier own at certain points.

 

I'm not sure, SoZ pretty much let you win any conversation if it's winnable, and exploit each and every option.

 

This, I don't understand. I have never approached a conversation, either in tabletop or CRPGs, as "winnable". What the SoZ party chat design allowed for was individual members of the group to have specific lines of dialogue based on various attributes. It was up to the player which one to select, based on role-playing decisions and the circumstances of the encounter. If there are options available because of the player's party compostion, how is that exploiting?

 

In your example, a party member who is a cleric could be given a dialogue option that would only be available for him, which might allow free services at the church. That is rewarding the player for having a cleric in party, and having the good sense to choose that dialogue option.

 

Harumph!

 

Not to mention that (and I understand this isn't going to be based on D&D or the like) if you have a conversation in a TT game with the party, it goes almost exactly like it does in SoZ, with everyone pitching in when they "think" thier abilities are what they need for the job.

 

...and like Dermi said, being able to bring all the persuasive options available to a conversation does not always equate a satisfactory outcome. A smart GM (or designer) should always be ready to throw curveballs like multiple skills checks to ensure success, a "correct" dialog path that isn't always marked with [skill] tags or the like, and yes, simply forcing the conversation to be just 1 or 2 characters in the party as oppose to the whole group.

 

If there are options available because of the player's party compostion, how is that exploiting?

Imagine rolling a stupid half-ogre with INT less than 8 in Arcanum and then using Virgil to handle every talk in the game. Would that be the same game? Would a unique style of gameplay with people's reactions mixed with choices and cosequences still exist?

 

I would think it would be another facet of the many choices you could make to progress in Arcanum, especially since I would think that Virgil would have his own unique dialog options, as will as his own chances of success or failure. The one coversation in the begining where you can let him talk is a near-perfect example: even if you pick as close to the same choices as Virgil seems to, you can't get the same result if it is you who does the talking.

Edited by Foefaller
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But in a party-based game, it should be a team effort.

I am not against that design decision in games where you make party yourself. But when I think about something like Planescape, which changes dramatically depending on which stats you work on, I can't but feel that party-talk would hurt the narrative and replay value.

 

I'm not familiar with Arcanum

That's too bad, but you probably are familiar with Fallout 1 and 2 at least? There were companions, but the way you build up your main character changed game a lot.

 

It's allright for companions to be better thieves, trackers, healers. But when it comes to being talkers, I think it's a bit walking on thin ice. We know that PE is a protagonist-centered game, it was he who "noticed event", you can't make the party. PC-centered games have their own value and feel when it comes about making choices in creating character and acting with him in the game. With system line in SoZ, your choices when making PC would be irrelevant to the gameplay.

Edited by Shadenuat
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I am keeping my fingers crossed for the Storm of Zehir approach. I wasn't a fan of Storm of Zehir at all, but the dialogue system was just revolutionary-yet-obvious. All games should've been like Storm of Zehir, allowing you to speak through your RPC:s, with unique conversation options based on their skills and characters.

 

Maybe for once we'll have a reason for diplomancer RPCs. A Shadow Thief should have bonus dialogue options when talking to Shadow Thieves, a Red Wizard of Thay should have it when talking to other Red Wizards of Thay.

 

Add some butt-in banter, and I think we have a sweet spot.

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With system line in SoZ, your choices when making PC would be irrelevant to the gameplay.

 

The PC is just one more member of the adventuring group. How would character creation choices be any more irrelevant than other party members?

 

If I made the PC a paladin, there are certian times I would want him to take over the conversation, using his unique set of character skills. Other times, I would want the wizard with his lore skill giving his input. Or the street-wise thief in a city enviornment.

 

Yes, this is being talked about as a protagonist-centric story. But it is still being pitched as a party-based IE style game. Don't discount custom parties too soon, especially at this stage of development. Either officially or backdoor, hamfisted in by some crazy old-school fan.

Edited by Dorateen
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