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Dialogue mechanics

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Just want to bring this to attention just so it doesn't get lost in the sea of backer beta threads.


It was mentioned by Josh earlier and I fully endorse the no auto win button in dialogue. Context matters.



I wanted to give a couple notes on some of the choices we've made for the dialogue system here, so it's easier for everybody to distinguish between what's intended and what's not.


One choice we made is that a skill check is not necessarily a "win button" for a given encounter. This is a departure from many recent RPGs, and more in keeping with traditional pen and paper, where, sure, you can do a diplomacy check on an ogre, but he might just read that as you being soft and take it as a reason to rip your legs off. Skill checks in PoE open new paths to take in dialogue, some of them beneficial, some of them inconsequential, and some of them ineffectual. On balance they tend to help more than harm, I'd say. But we didn't want players to turn their brains off and just click the option that had a skill check associated with it, knowing it would lead to the best outcome. We want that element of the unexpected that makes the experience more engaging. To that end, we've also tried to include a number of dialogues where the "optimal" outcome is primarily related to the player paying attention to the character he or she is talking to, and choosing to treat that NPC in a way that the NPC is able to relate to on some level.


Another thing you'll see, and you'll see it all over the place in the beta, are personality reputation options. These are things like "aggressive," "benevolent," "cruel," etc. These generally do not lead to a drastically different course in a given dialogue, but over time the game keeps track of what kind of character you're roleplaying as, and there will be reactivity to it - a shady character might prefer to employ someone he knows has a reputation for deceit, for instance. Or a particularly honest player might be able to later use that reputation for honesty as a means of convincing people of his argument. (Personally I think it's cooler when we don't display that a given choice is cruel/benevolent/etc., and there is an option to hide them for a more organic experience.)


So for purposes of the beta, it's true, these personality reputation options will seem to do little to nothing. Over the course of the game, we are hoping it helps contribute to a feeling that the specific way you've chosen to roleplay your character in dialogue - not just the big decisions you've made - makes a difference to the way the world relates to you.


** minor beta spoilers**


The posters in this thread are correct that in the beta, skill checks can get you new information about the missing noble girl - the bartender, for example, can be persuaded to cough up a useful lead. (And actually two of the ways to convince him require a certain level of personality reputation, either benevolent or honest, which means they're probably not attainable in the beta.) The potion seller gives you the same lead without need of a skill check, but a skill check does enhance your understanding of what's really going on. In either case there should hopefully be a journal addendum once the currier Trygil's name comes up.


** end spoilers **


Really appreciate the feedback, btw. And if you find that you're experiencing bugs that are causing journal entries not to show up or whatever, please make sure to report them and I'll make sure they get taken care of. Thanks!

Edited by Leferd
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"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

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Another post.



 I'm worried this sort of takes away from the idea of character skill being important, more important than player skill even.



Totally valid concern. A few things to know about this:


- Paying close attention is important sometimes, but for a lot of our "optimal"-feeling options, a skill check will also be involved. So good for you figuring out that some character is susceptible to flattery, but if your Resolve is too low, you won't be able to flatter in a way that doesn't seem hollow.


- It's often not the kind of logic that would require a high perception - just common sense in many cases. If you take the Perception option to tell the currier that no woman would ever lay with someone who smells as bad as he does, yeah he probably won't be as forthcoming with you. So maybe you want to think twice about choosing it in the first place even though it says [Perception] in front of it. Looking for some level of thought, not necessarily brilliant levels of deduction. Anything that requires a brilliant deduction will generally be gated behind an appropriate skill check.


- I would urge any player to really roleplay his or her character. It's not something I can enforce on my end so much as encourage, but I would want players to choose options based on how they think and what they would say. There are a number of other systems choices we've made here (personality rep and background come to mind, as well as our companion interactions) to try to help the player to develop a character over the course of the story rather than to just play some empty, static avatar. Hopefully it gives a little more meaning to the overall experience.


- I have to be careful with my use of "optimal" in reference to quest outcomes. What I generally mean is an outcome that avoids conflict, not necessarily the outcome with the most favorable end result. The idea being, if you're going to skip a fight, we want it to feel like it's a reward for both player and character ingenuity. Otherwise you've just missed out on gameplay. (Which I'll grant you some people prefer.)


All that said, if you find that some interaction really forces you to metagame to get the option you want, and requires you to act out-of-character, that's a serious narrative issue, so go ahead and report that as a bug.

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"Things are funny...are comedic, because they mix the real with the absurd." - Buzz Aldrin.

"P-O-T-A-T-O-E" - Dan Quayle

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One of the few things I think Bioware did right in Dragon Age 2 was the personality system for Hawke:. Someone with a mainly diplomatic personality (achieved through being diplomatic in most dialogues) for example would be able to persuade certain NPC's into giving up peacefully, where an aggressive Hawke would lack this option completely and would have to attack and kill them to solve the quest. Also, for example a sarcastic, humorous Hawke would be able to distract a guard from the door they are guarding by making them believe that there is a fire nearby; while a diplomatic or aggressive Hawke could not pull something like that off.


So I really like what Obsidian is doing with the dialogue / personality / reputation system here, as well. It gives me immersion +2. :)



Oh, and thanks of course to Leferd, for posting Eric's informative response here. ;)

Edited by Lythe Vodaine


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