Is pointless dialogue good for story games?

Spooks

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I'm developing a game that has a ton of story and I just love filling rooms with objects that all compliment each other and giving them their own individual silent hill-esque pointless dialogue. For example interacting with a flower would give you something like "It's a red flower, the petals are pretty."

But I don't know if doing this is more harm than help in some cases because sometimes interacting with objects gives you something. Is it more harm to add pointless interactions, or does it help things feel a little bit more immersive over all?
 

LittenDev

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I always enjoy that sort of stuff, one tip i do have is to use this for story and other stuff too, for example in a relatively dark game, adding a small joke in that text can help brighten things up for the player
 

SoulBlade32

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I'm developing a game that has a ton of story and I just love filling rooms with objects that all compliment each other and giving them their own individual silent hill-esque pointless dialogue. For example interacting with a flower would give you something like "It's a red flower, the petals are pretty."

But I don't know if doing this is more harm than help in some cases because sometimes interacting with objects gives you something. Is it more harm to add pointless interactions, or does it help things feel a little bit more immersive over all?
I don't think that it hurts at all. This seems to me to be similar to reading signs and stuff like that. I think it adds to the experience and it's something that is completely optional. I would say don't make everything have that dialogue, otherwise it kind of loses it's novelty. If you plan on using it throughout the entire game make sure that it's not just copy pasted dialogue. If you can view 50 different flowers, change the dialogue more than just the color. I think that continuously reading the same dialogue over and over will turn off players from actually attempting to interact with random objects as they know, or think they know, the dialogue before they read it.
 

Vis_Mage

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I'm a big fan of being able to interact with just about everything for a bit of dialogue, and do this in my projects. Think of it less like random dialogue, and more like an opportunity to sprinkle little tidbits of lore about your world or characterization of your party.

I do sometimes have items findable this way, but it's usually smaller rewards, leaving bigger rewards for chests and the like. If you're worried the player might miss the goodies hidden among the dialogue, you could always have a minor visual cue (such as a faint sparkle) to clue the player in.

Whichever you choose to do though, make sure you keep it consistent. If you decide to make everything interactable, and also want to hide goodies, make sure the player can find a hidden goodie or two within the first couple minutes of gameplay. Don't teach the player that the extra dialogue is just for flavor, only to start hiding helpful items halfway through the game.
 

PixeLockeT

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In general it helps it feel immersive, but not if it's just "This is a bed." "This is a flower." Instead I rather like to hear it colored by the character's thoughts or feelings. For example, "I'll wash these bedsheets.....someday." - That tells me a lot about them, plus makes them relatable, thus making it not pointless at all especially if it directly correlates to how they react to something later on, like putting off an important mission until that hypothetical someday. XD
 

SoftCloud

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It's not really pointless. Interacting with objects like that can show the protagonist/player controlled character's point of view. I have an instance of my protagonist remarking on the various alcohol within his house. "Dad does love his drinks." That stuff can really be telling. I actually toyed with the idea of doing that and changing what it said when the party formation changes. It can add lots of dimension.
 

Spooks

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It's not really pointless. Interacting with objects like that can show the protagonist/player controlled character's point of view. I have an instance of my protagonist remarking on the various alcohol within his house. "Dad does love his drinks." That stuff can really be telling. I actually toyed with the idea of doing that and changing what it said when the party formation changes. It can add lots of dimension.
I guess calling it pointless wouldn't be right. My point is just that most cases of whatever you'd call this form of dialogue has no benefit to the story outside of revealing the main characters thought on something insignificant.
 

PixeLockeT

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I guess calling it pointless wouldn't be right. My point is just that most cases of whatever you'd call this form of dialogue has no benefit to the story outside of revealing the main characters thought on something insignificant.

But providing Gods-eye knowledge of the ins and outs of a character's perception of their world isn't "not beneficial". As I said in my reply, it depends on the skill of whoever is writing the game. There are ways to make the player not feel like they waste their time when writing these lil blips of internal dialogues.
 

Spooks

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But providing Gods-eye knowledge of the ins and outs of a character's perception of their world isn't "not beneficial". As I said in my reply, it depends on the skill of whoever is writing the game. There are ways to make the player not feel like they waste their time when writing these lil blips of internal dialogues.
I actually agree with all the points you made. It's my bad I struggle with putting my ideas into words sometimes. My point was just that a lot of people don't add true insight (and similarly to what you said) just state something simple like "it's a bed" rather than "It's a bed. You can still remember the comfy feeling of sinking into it not that long ago, and remembering that fact only makes you want to return to it that much more."
 

NeptuneTron

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In my mind, there's three main reasons to include something like that: Tone, Lore, or Character.

Tone helps to establish the atmosphere of the game. For example, if your game is set in some kind of nihilistic post-WWI setting, a vase of flowers might be a reminder of the futility and worthlessness of life, while in a cheery game about the childhood misadventures of a young Sherlock Holmes, the same vase of flowers might be used to show the vibrancy and innocence of youth.

Lore is great for worldbuilding, with flavour text used to expand on the history of the world. The candlestick isn't just a candlestick, it's something inherited from your grandmother after your grandfather had the set made to celebrate the opening of his store. You bought that painting on holiday at the seaside with your sister, the book on your nightstand is about how Jedediah Smith built this town in 1863 during the railroad boom, and the clock tower in the town square is still using the original mechanism designed by Henry Van Koek in 1923. These all tell the player more about the world they're experiencing, making the world feel more alive than it actually is, and giving them a reason to explore your maps more thoroughly.

Character helps your player get invested in who they're playing as, and how they see the world. An old man sees a portrait on the wall, and wonders if his legacy will be regarded with the same sense of wonder and admiration he now feels for the portraits subject. On the other hand, his grandchild thinks the portrait is pretty strange, wondering why somebody thought they should take the time to paint a portrait of somebody with such funny clothes, and how embarrassed they'd be to have to wear pants that tight. A soldier sees an ink bottle and thinks of all the letters he wrote to his wife while he was in the trenches, while it reminds an inventor that he needs to send a letter to his sponsor about the progress he's made on his latest invention. By telling us how the characters see the world they occupy, the player appreciates who they are on a deeper level.

If adding extra dialogues serve one of those purposes, it's probably beneficial to include them. If these additions don't serve those purposes, it's probably worthwhile to consider if they're worth the time and effort to add, when you could be working on other aspects of your game, or if they even take away from the overall experience of the game.

I also think that to a certain extent, you have to moderate how much you use flavour text, especially considering the context of your game, and how you expect your players to experience it. If it's going to feel like a chore that prevents players from getting to the "good part" of your game, it's probably worth using a little more sparingly, but if it's a reward or storytelling device that is going to make players appreciate your game more, then you can pretty much shove as much in as is reasonable to fit with the time and effort you're able or willing to put in.
 

Milennin

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I don't have a lot more to add to what's already been said, but I always have interactable objects in my games, and it's one of the things I always got a lot of positive comments about.
I do think people like being able to examine the environment by more than just looking at it, it's just that, as developer, it takes a lot of time to set up if you want the player to be able to check on a bunch of different stuff. Because you can't just pick and choose which items are getting a text (unless you can make players differentiate between what's scenery and what's interactable). If you're going to make the environment interactable, you're going to need to do that for pretty much every item, or you'll have some people check on a few random items at the start of the game, run into the ones that don't say anything and then never check on the environment again for the rest of the game.
 

Spooks

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I don't have a lot more to add to what's already been said, but I always have interactable objects in my games, and it's one of the things I always got a lot of positive comments about.
I do think people like being able to examine the environment by more than just looking at it, it's just that, as developer, it takes a lot of time to set up if you want the player to be able to check on a bunch of different stuff. Because you can't just pick and choose which items are getting a text (unless you can make players differentiate between what's scenery and what's interactable). If you're going to make the environment interactable, you're going to need to do that for pretty much every item, or you'll have some people check on a few random items at the start of the game, run into the ones that don't say anything and then never check on the environment again for the rest of the game.
My game is heavy on all different kinds of visuals so I figured out early that you can add a lot of visuals and teach players out to differentiate story from filler.

Basically every item or even things as basic as a table have something interesting to be said about them. That way people can always know that interacting with a complimentary sprite gives you basic dialogue, but items that are singled out or off on their own always have something more than dialogue.

Sure it's time consuming and it takes genuine effort to make every single bottlecap interactable and worth the click but that's also part of my fun.
 

Finnuval

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In general it helps it feel immersive, but not if it's just "This is a bed." "This is a flower." Instead I rather like to hear it colored by the character's thoughts or feelings. For example, "I'll wash these bedsheets.....someday." - That tells me a lot about them, plus makes them relatable, thus making it not pointless at all especially if it directly correlates to how they react to something later on, like putting off an important mission until that hypothetical someday. XD
This mostly.
 

NeptuneTron

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I don't have a lot more to add to what's already been said, but I always have interactable objects in my games, and it's one of the things I always got a lot of positive comments about.
I do think people like being able to examine the environment by more than just looking at it, it's just that, as developer, it takes a lot of time to set up if you want the player to be able to check on a bunch of different stuff. Because you can't just pick and choose which items are getting a text (unless you can make players differentiate between what's scenery and what's interactable). If you're going to make the environment interactable, you're going to need to do that for pretty much every item, or you'll have some people check on a few random items at the start of the game, run into the ones that don't say anything and then never check on the environment again for the rest of the game.
To simplify things for the player, I usually make this sort of thing activate on touch instead of on action, which means that players just need to walk into things to find the extra flavour text, which does help to reduce this problem. However, it's still a pretty major concern with this sort of feature that you have to give a forget way to work around.
 

Shaz

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I don't think this is a mechanic, so

Moving to General Discussion

 

TheoAllen

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I'm more into mechanics than a small world-building detail, so I personally do not care.

However, I don't think it is inherently bad for adding more detail other than adding more work to your to-do list. In fact, some of my players actually checked each of the map item objects in my game to see if it tells something just to find out that there is none because I focused on gameplay rather than world-building.
 

Myst88

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I second what SoftCloud suggested and change the description based on which character is leading.
For example in my game you could examine a shelf full of herbs and or potions. Some characters won't know what they are for but the healer of the group, who helps out in the town's clinic, will recognise them and the text will show that.

It just adds a bit of world building and a reveals a little bit more about your characters and their personalities.
 

Azurose

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I consider it a boon, but non-essential.

By which I mean, I sometimes can get overly detailed to the point where I get too focused on fleshing out tiny details. Things such as giving even the most small-time NPCs backstories and personalities or making sure that when a player interacts with a random book it is readable.

From a player perspective, these things are entirely optional most of the time, and nothing but a benefit imo. People that don't care for it can simply choose not to engage with it, after all. My issue stems from the time and focus it can take from developing your game. I know I've sometimes focused on polishing the tiniest detail that I didn't make any actual significant progress for a very long time.

You don't want to fall into the trap of making 5% of a game insanely detailed, and never being able to get to the last 95% development wise, or having one part have lots of interactions in the environment, and having that slowly degrade as you go along because you couldn't keep up the level of detail.
 

rue669

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I think that stuff is okay. I mean, as a player I wouldn’t be going to all the items to read the dialogue points but that’s just me.

I think it can work well if it’s a short game. I also think it can work well if the dialogue/text shows the character’s personality. Unfortunately the example you showed it very generic that anyone would say. But I’m assuming that’s just an example.
 

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