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One of the most intriguing parts of Alpha Protocol to me was how it introduced an element of challenge into dialog. You weren't just picking the dialog option you thought sounded the most cool, reflected the character you wanted to be, or just choosing every single option until you've gotten all the lore out of an NPC (ie Mass Effect). You actually had to get a feel for what that NPC was like, and what they would like to hear, and thus were rewarded for adopting the persona they liked the most.

 

I would really like to see PE take this concept further. As an aspiring game designer myself, one challenge I've been thinking about is, ideally, making dialog and out-of-combat situations as strategic and compelling as combat itself. How to make that possible is the real challenge, but I'd like to see someone take a stab at it.

 

Of course, the big trick is balancing two competing aspects: role playing versus challenge.

 

Alpha Protocol was cool and all, and changing personas fit thematically into the spy theme, but it means that the mechanics punish a player who is trying to "roleplay" their character in a certain way. What if you want to be sarcastic to the hardass character, who ordinarily is only swayed by someone who acts professional? I suppose you could make the argument that a die-hard roleplayer wouldn't care and is willing to just see what happens, but I think a balance needs to be struck. Enough wiggle room for players to be able to be the kind of character they want to be, but with some element of challenge or strategy to make players approach and experience dialog with the intensity of a good combat scene.

 

Can it be done? Hard to say, but I'd like to see it tried.

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Yeah, kind of countering yourself there. You want conversations to be a challenge... but... people shouldn't pick the 'wrong' option and get the 'bad' result?

 

Kinda confused...

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Formerly known as BattleWookiee/BattleCookiee

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I liked the way fallout1 (i think) handled it when you had the perk that colored the text.

Perhaps have a skill > "diplomacy" or "sense motive" to give the player hints, which style of dialogue, or line the npcs likes.

The player can then choose to use lines/styles the npc likes and/or lines that more suit "his" character.

I also liked how Mass Effect sometimes came up with witty/cool lines (or deliverend them in such a way) that made me, as a player, feel good about choosing this option.

 

As for good/bad results, and monetary rewards:

I never liked having vastly different rewards for sticking to character. If you're a good guy, and the reward is 100 gold, the the bad guy should be able to steal the 100 gold, or intimidate/blackmail the npc for the same amount.

 

XP-wise:

XP should only be give per "adventure", or "challenge", not for single actions or monsters, or dialogues.

That way everyone can choose which way to tackle a problem, and still receive the same outgame-bonus.

 

I also think that conversation should be mostly dependent on the Character, not the player.

Charisma, Social Skills, past dealings, current situation, money, Reputation in the Area, should all influence dialogue options presented to the player.

It should'nt be just "here you have 3 lines of dialogue, so the chance to pick the "right" one is 33%."

If I play throught the game as the honest paladin with always the same skills, the the dialogue options should remain the same > I can play the "I'm trustworty and good"-card.

But a cunning thief should have other possibilities.

 

br,

Steel

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That only works/matters if you're some clever, manipulative character looking to uh... manipulate the NPC you're talking to in some way. And if I'm not mistaken, the Cipher class that Chris Avellone is extremely excited about seems to be able to effectively read minds or emotions to some degree, which should fit your niche pretty well.

 

What if you're playing some hard-headed righteous paladin of godly justice character? He doesn't care about the "tells" and psychological quirks (as if there was psychology in the renaissance anyway,) of who he's talking to, he's interested in whether or not they believe in his God/dess and to what degree they should be punished if they're heathens.

Edited by AGX-17
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I think that perhaps it's time we start thinking about dialogue differently. Dialogue in RPG games should perhaps have a different role than combat and other puzzles. Its role should to be to gather information allowing you future options in game, as well as to make puzzles easier or more difficult (only by giving you hints, not actually solving the puzzle for you). Dialog itself shouldn't be a puzzle with a "correct" or "right" answer. It should be more "do you want to find out about information A or information B?" Then after the conversation is over, that should be it. You still have to do a combat or a puzzle, but perhaps the details of that combat change. The difficulty of the combat might change slightly, but otherwise the dialogue itself isn't a "win" or "lose." It's only an information gathering and reputation building mechanic. Your actions should otherwise determine whether you "win" or "lose."

 

As an example, you are speaking to a king who treats his kingdom poorly. The king asks for your help in defending his castle from the rebels. You speak with the king to figure out what the facts are in making your decision. Then once you have decided, there are two scenarios. If you accept to help, then you have to fight off the rebels. If you decline, you have to fight the castle guards. Perhaps by saving the castle, the king tells you of a certain treasure that you can find. However if you save the rebels, they tell you about another item that you might be interested in.

 

What about the non-deadly approach? Well if your character is a dialogue expert, perhaps he can act as mediator between the two. Yay, you saved the kingdom from a bloody conflict. Now however, an army of goblins attack the castle, and it is your job to defend the castle from them. You still have combat, and the actions are still there, but it's towards different groups. Dialogue shouldn't determine the outcome. Your actions should.

 

The dialogue in and of itself isn't really a "challenge." The information you can gain from these dialogues doesn't become the actual "decision" made but rather aids in helping you decide. You also can't always get all the information from one person. They might tire of speaking with you, might be busy with something else, might have to go somewhere else, might get angry at you, whatever. The point is, you get one opportunity to speak with them, and certain flags are triggered by your dialogue options. You can't get all the flags triggered, but you get the ones triggered that you wish to roleplay.

 

Maybe the next time you replay the game, you pick a different dialogue option that fits your character.

Edited by Hormalakh
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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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Of course, the big trick is balancing two competing aspects: role playing versus challenge.

 

In a battle between roleplay and challenge, I'll take the roleplay.

 

I think that perhaps it's time we start thinking about dialogue differently. Dialogue in RPG games should perhaps have a different role than combat and other puzzles. Its role should to be to gather information allowing you future options in game, as well as to make puzzles easier or more difficult (only by giving you hints, not actually solving the puzzle for you). Dialog itself shouldn't be a puzzle with a "correct" or "right" answer. It should be more "do you want to find out about information A or information B?" Then after the conversation is over, that should be it. You still have to do a combat or a puzzle, but perhaps the details of that combat change. The difficulty of the combat might change slightly, but otherwise the dialogue itself isn't a "win" or "lose." It's only an information gathering and reputation building mechanic. Your actions should otherwise determine whether you "win" or "lose."

 

As an example, you are speaking to a king who treats his kingdom poorly. The king asks for your help in defending his castle from the rebels. You speak with the king to figure out what the facts are in making your decision. Then once you have decided, there are two scenarios. If you accept to help, then you have to fight off the rebels. If you decline, you have to fight the castle guards. Perhaps by saving the castle, the king tells you of a certain treasure that you can find. However if you save the rebels, they tell you about another item that you might be interested in.

 

What about the non-deadly approach? Well if your character is a dialogue expert, perhaps he can act as mediator between the two. Yay, you saved the kingdom from a bloody conflict. Now however, an army of goblins attack the castle, and it is your job to defend the castle from them. You still have combat, and the actions are still there, but it's towards different groups. Dialogue shouldn't determine the outcome. Your actions should.

 

The dialogue in and of itself isn't really a "challenge." The information you can gain from these dialogues doesn't become the actual "decision" made but rather aids in helping you decide. You also can't always get all the information from one person. They might tire of speaking with you, might be busy with something else, might have to go somewhere else, might get angry at you, whatever. The point is, you get one opportunity to speak with them, and certain flags are triggered by your dialogue options. You can't get all the flags triggered, but you get the ones triggered that you wish to roleplay.

 

Maybe the next time you replay the game, you pick a different dialogue option that fits your character.

 

I pretty much agree with this, with the addendum that conversations have additional fluff text that allows you to flavor your speech to your character style, and while perhaps gaining the same result as another option (ie, defending the castle from the rebels), your reputation might be effected by a greater or lesser degree based not only on what you said, but also how you said it.

 

Ex:

"I'd be honored to assist in the defense of Dirtywood, Lord Ron."

-or-

"What are ya gonna pay me fer that? 2k, a'right, I'll do it, but you better pay up."

 

Ultimately, the result is the same. You defend the castle. However, on one side the king thinks highly of you, and on the other he views you about as favorably as the corner grocer views the mob extortionist.

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"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift

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Yeah, I agree. Make dialogue a information-gathering, reputation building, haggling experience. You can determine your rewards from your talks. There can be surprises here and there, but as a general rule, yeah. I agree.

My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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Actually, I don't like some of the so-called roleplay dialogue techniques, when there's a load of dialogue choices and every bloody one of them leads to the same result.

 

Say, an NPC comes up to you and tries to talk you into defending his village and you are presented with the following answer variants:

1) "I will gladly do it, my good man"

2) "Do you have the money to pay me for it?"

3) "Go bugger yerself!"

 

And no matter which one of them you choose, you end up defending the village. If you bluntly refused, quelle surprise, those insightful bandits don't wait till tomorrow and attack right when you are leaving. To make matters worse you always get the same reward at the end. The only thing that changes is whether you are pronounced the goddamn hero, the greedy mercenary or a bad-mouthed bastard. That sort of thing is just lazy and adds no depth to RP at all.

 

If you are playing a greedy merc you should actually be presented with opportunities to make more money than a goddamn hero. While a goddamn hero should have an opportunity to sacrifice his interests and put himself in danger because of others, when every sensible person would have walked away. If you play a bastard, you should be able to find those bandits and talk them into cooperating with you to rob the village. Or make them do all the dirty work, kill them when you start to share plunder and take off. That's what roleplay is all about.

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Actually, I don't like some of the so-called roleplay dialogue techniques, when there's a load of dialogue choices and every bloody one of them leads to the same result.

 

Say, an NPC comes up to you and tries to talk you into defending his village and you are presented with the following answer variants:

1) "I will gladly do it, my good man"

2) "Do you have the money to pay me for it?"

3) "Go bugger yerself!"

 

And no matter which one of them you choose, you end up defending the village. If you bluntly refused, quelle surprise, those insightful bandits don't wait till tomorrow and attack right when you are leaving. To make matters worse you always get the same reward at the end. The only thing that changes is whether you are pronounced the goddamn hero, the greedy mercenary or a bad-mouthed bastard. That sort of thing is just lazy and adds no depth to RP at all.

 

If you are playing a greedy merc you should actually be presented with opportunities to make more money than a goddamn hero. While a goddamn hero should have an opportunity to sacrifice his interests and put himself in danger because of others, when every sensible person would have walked away. If you play a bastard, you should be able to find those bandits and talk them into cooperating with you to rob the village. Or make them do all the dirty work, kill them when you start to share plunder and take off. That's what roleplay is all about.

 

Yeah I agree. I was just trying to say that the dialogue isn't the challenge. I didn't mean to make it sound like all three options would be the same, but rather that picking any dialogue option shouldn't be the "insta-win" scenario where your only challenge was the dialogue.

My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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Indeed the dialoge should open a pathway for your character to follow and perhaps form freinds and rivalries along the way - there should be multiple options that then lead to multiple results - (much like PS:T) - and instead of the "win" button in the dialoge it becomes a matter of choosing a direction where your choices have consequences and eventually determine the path the party takes through the game.

 

Obviously not every dialoge will result in world changing results but some of them should and the others should open paths in the short term and sometimes close others.

Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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