Opinion: Second or Third Person Dialogue

Second or Third Person Dialogue

  • Second

    Votes: 5 71.4%
  • Third

    Votes: 2 28.6%

  • Total voters
    7

oriongates

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So, I'm curious about something...is it unusual to have a fairly traditional ensemble JRPG with first person second person dialogue related to the actions of the protagonist?

For example, "you reach into the hole and are bitten by a rat."

vs.

"[Blank] reaches into the hole and is bitten by a rat."

I'm curious, because my inclination is to write first-person second! person, but for some reason it felt weird and, upon reflection, I honestly couldn't recall whether or not such games typically have first or third person descriptions.

Note that I'm specifically referring to scene description, not the terms used by other characters when speaking to the protagonist.
 
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Ossra

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Well, I suppose that kind of depends on the game. Some games might be narrated by the character, speaking as if whatever is happening had happened to them in the past ("I reached into the hole, but little did I know that a rat was going to bite me.").

I prefer third-person for descriptions or explanations, and so on. But it really just comes down to personal preference and/or how the game is being narrated.
 

PixeLockeT

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Your example is more like second person, instead of first..........if the character is a "blank slate" protag, that might work.
 

cloud8111

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Well, I suppose that kind of depends on the game. Some games might be narrated by the character, speaking as if whatever is happening had happened to them in the past ("I reached into the hole, but little did I know that a rat was going to bite me.").

I prefer third-person for descriptions or explanations, and so on. But it really just comes down to personal preference and/or how the game is being narrated.
Agreed :uhappy:
 

oriongates

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Agh, my stupid, stupid brain. I meant second person dialogue, not first person ("you" not "I").
 

CraneSoft

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This is pretty normal in games with a nameable, silent protagonist which is supposed to represent the player themselves instead of an actual video game character. Eg. Undertale and Persona games both used second-person dialogue and narrative for this exact reason. (You gained 1 EXP!)
 

Wavelength

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@oriongates I've fixed the first -> second person mistake in your poll options, poll title, and thread title. (If you liked having the mistake there, feel free to change it back.)
 

oriongates

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Thanks, I appreciate it.
 

TheoAllen

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I feel like it's weird to have a second person narration when I don't make my own character or control how it behaves (choosing dialogue, choosing an action, etc). But I don't mind the second-person narration for gameplay.

For example "You found a potion" (gameplay) is different than "you knocked the door and wait for the answer" (narrative) while how the character is acting is not controlled by me, it's linear, and it behaves the way the dev want to behave. The game said "you" but the character is not actually "me". It may be better to just use the first person or third person altogether. I remembered I stopped to play a certain game because of this reason. it feels weird.
 

Punamaagi

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I think that second person narration can work in adventure-type games and/or in cases where the protagonist is a blank slate of kinds. The first games which come to my mind is the old McVenture series (with Shadowgate being the source of my nightmares my favourite), but there are RPG examples, too, like the previously-mentioned Undertale.

Still, if a game used second-person narration rather than third-person, I admit that I'd expect some kind of twist in the plot or the protagonist's backstory. It could work in other cases, too, but at least then the narration would have to be consistent - which would mean to me that the protagonist has to be silent. Choosing from dialogue options might work, but fully-fleshed dialogue would feel like someone was putting words into my mouth, given that the protagonist is supposed to be me.

In a typical RPG, I'd probably avoid narration as much as possible. The example scene in the initial post could be turned into a character monologue (e.g. "Hmm, I wonder what's in that hole... Ow, a rat bit me!").
 

Tai_MT

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It largely depends on your writing style and preferences.

Much of the cutscenes in my game simply have dialogue in them. My players are meant to "use their imagination" in most instances.

Your scene with the rat would play out thusly in my game:

Character A: "There's a hole here" [Animation to indicate they are checking the hole out]
[Damage sound effect]
Character A: "Ow! HOLY CRAP!" [Animation of character turning away from the hole and maybe backing up a square]
Character B: "Are you okay? What happened?"
Character A: "Something bit me! It freakin' hurts!"
Character B: "Let me take a look." [Animation of character b walking over to character 1 with maybe another sound effect.]
 

Milennin

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One of the few times I refer to the player like that is like when getting an item, which I use "you found/obtained/acquired/received [item]" for. I like to refer to the player doing the action, not the character. For actual events, if possible, I prefer to make the on-screen actions speak for itself, rather than using text to describe the action. It's not always feasible with tiny sprites without putting in a bunch of animation work, so if I do use messages, I refer to the player making the action, and not the character.
 
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