Opinions on dialog responses approach

ZombieKidzRule

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Hi, everyone. I think this is in the right place since I think it is game design, but maybe this isn't mechanics. Just let me know if this isn't the right spot. I did try searching for a topic like this question, but I didn't find anything. I might not have been using the best search terms.

I know that there are a lot of people here who have played far more RPG Maker games than I have so I am interested in your opinions based on experience and preference. I am just beginning to explore everything that RPG Maker games have to offer and the engine itself.

When it comes to the dialog responses approach I can think of 3 primary choices and I am curious if there is a majority opinion of preference and perhaps consistent reasoning. Here are the 3 choices I can think of with a simple example for clarity:

  1. Player dialog choices are more simple (yes, no, maybe, etc.), but the character response displayed is more detailed.
  2. Player dialog choices are more detailed and precisely match what the character response displayed will be in game.
  3. Player dialog choices are are more detailed, but there is no character response displayed in game.
For example:

Option 1:
Child NPC asks if you will help find his lost kitten.
Player response choices are yes, no.
Character response displayed in game is something like "Of course we will help you find your lost kitty" or "We are too busy for such nonsense, find it yourself."
NPC reacts accordingly.

Option 2:
Child NPC asks the same question.
Player response choices are something like "Of course we will help you find your lost kitty" or "We are too busy for such nonsense, find it yourself."
Character response displayed in game is exactly the same.
NPC reacts accordingly.

Option 3:
Child NPC asks the same question.
Player response choices are something like "Of course we will help you find your lost kitty" or "We are too busy for such nonsense, find it yourself."
There is no actual character response displayed in game. The response choice is the only input.
NPC reacts accordingly.

I hope I explained this question clearly. This might seem trivial to some or perhaps a dumb question to others, but with a game with the opportunity for expansive dialog, something as simple as this could seriously impact someone's gaming experience.

As I have been thinking about this, I have been leaning toward a personal preference order of Option 1, then 3, then 2. I can see how different options might be perceived by different types of players.

So, I am very interested to see preferences and if I have forgotten an obvious option. Also, is there a particular reason for your preference? Perhaps streamlining the dialog? Immersion considerations? In your experience do most RPG Maker games use one option over the others?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond!
 

Trihan

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I'm a fan of approach 1, myself. The only caveat is that the shortened response makes it entirely clear what kind of thing the expanded response will say (I've seen a lot of games mess this up, where you pick what looks like the choice you'd make when shortened only for the full thing to be entirely not what you'd have wanted to say).
 

ZombieKidzRule

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I'm a fan of approach 1, myself. The only caveat is that the shortened response makes it entirely clear what kind of thing the expanded response will say (I've seen a lot of games mess this up, where you pick what looks like the choice you'd make when shortened only for the full thing to be entirely not what you'd have wanted to say).
Awesome point, thanks for that! Many times that probably wouldn't be an issue with more simple choices where a player is going to naturally gravitate to one of a few choices, but you also definitely don't want to mislead a player. Particularly in quest related dialog. I will definitely keep that point in mind!
 

TeiRaven

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I usually go for Option 3. I wouldn't have put my finger on "keeps the immersion" without you having suggested it, but that's exactly it--I think it reads smoothly, and it means you don't read the same line of dialogue twice like you would with Option 2.

It's not flawless (because sometimes the player will still want to say something that isn't an option, or they'll think the tone of an option will be one thing when it actually is something else, etc) but I think that's probably a hazard of dialogue choices in general.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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I usually go for Option 3. I wouldn't have put my finger on "keeps the immersion" without you having suggested it, but that's exactly it--I think it reads smoothly, and it means you don't read the same line of dialogue twice like you would with Option 2.

It's not flawless (because sometimes the player will still want to say something that isn't an option, or they'll think the tone of an option will be one thing when it actually is something else, etc) but I think that's probably a hazard of dialogue choices in general.
Thanks and good points! I think that the more creative you get with dialog response choices the greater potential of having people think none of these options are how I want to respond. That wouldn't be a problem with simplistic, straightforward responses, but that can also seem like the dialog participants have less "character." Balancing is probably the tricky part. Thanks again!
 

gstv87

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the question to answer should be: CAN you fit the longest intended response, all things considered, within the length of the choice window?

if the answer to the question by the NPC results to be the detailing of the whole exploits of a third party's whereabouts, of which there could be three or four different versions depending on whether you want to be sincere with the response or not.... that's a lot of text to handle.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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the question to answer should be: CAN you fit the longest intended response, all things considered, within the length of the choice window?

if the answer to the question by the NPC results to be the detailing of the whole exploits of a third party's whereabouts, of which there could be three or four different versions depending on whether you want to be sincere with the response or not.... that's a lot of text to handle.
Thanks! Interesting point. I hadn't yet thought of simple response choices like be truthful, be subtly deceptive, outright lie where the actual response could be lengthy.

Thanks for that perspective!
 

AlphaOmega

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I think it depends on your art too. Like if you have bust art for the NPCs but the art you have for the player is the default or generator made (thus putting it in the little box by the text response) then option 3 is my go to or preference. To see different art/different ways to display art just breaks the player right out of the game.... well that is my two sense anyway.. for what its worth.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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I think it depends on your art too. Like if you have bust art for the NPCs but the art you have for the player is the default or generator made (thus putting it in the little box by the text response) then option 3 is my go to or preference. To see different art/different ways to display art just breaks the player right out of the game.... well that is my two sense anyway.. for what its worth.
Another great point! I hadn't considered the aspect of bust art variety as a factor. Thanks!
 

LordOfPotatos

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it depends on how the player character works.

option 1 works better when you control a character with his own personality and you're only choosing to accept or decline, then the character decides his own line. like in most JRPGs.

while option 3 works best for an insert character like the persona protags, where you choose specifically what to say.

option 2 is redundant, displaying the same text twice is just sloppy.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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it depends on how the player character works.

option 1 works better when you control a character with his own personality and you're only choosing to accept or decline, then the character decides his own line. like in most JRPGs.

while option 3 works best for an insert character like the persona protags, where you choose specifically what to say.

option 2 is redundant, displaying the same text twice is just sloppy.
Another very interesting perspective that I hadn't fully considered! Following this concept might lead to consistently using 2 different options, as they seem appropriate, throughout the game.

And so far it doesn't look like anyone actually prefers option 2, which is how I first started doing dialog and it just struck me as seeming strange. Which is why is tried to research the question and then decided to pose it here. :smile:

Thanks!
 

Anthony Xue

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There is actually an option 4 here, or maybe option 3+: The player response choices are detailed and don't get repeated, but instead of being actual complete sentences, the choices only cover intentions. The Divinity: Original Sin games do this.

In your example:

Child NPC asks if you will help find his lost kitten.
Response choices:
(1) [Volunteer to help find the kitten.]
(2) [Decline.]

The exact words are likely not relevant and left to the player's imagination. This also integrates more complex choices easier:

(1) [Tell the noble about your accomplishments to persuade him.]
(2) [Threaten to expose the noble's secret affair.]

Finally, in case your game includes some kind of a reaction meter:

(1) [Volunteer to help find the kitten]
(2) [Decline politely]
(3) [Decline rudely]

Now in most cases, the intentions would be obvious if the words were spelled out in the response choices. However, as soon as figures of speech from simulated different cultures come into play (eg the elves consider different things rude than the dwarves), this may not be the case, for instance. This makes it very clear where things are heading.

Also thumbs up for even considering different response choices! This is an aspect I'm missing in soo many RPGM games - I know JRPGs usually work that way, but I think there's so much of the "role-playing" aspect lost if it's ignored. Good luck with your game!
 

ZombieKidzRule

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There is actually an option 4 here, or maybe option 3+: The player response choices are detailed and don't get repeated, but instead of being actual complete sentences, the choices only cover intentions. The Divinity: Original Sin games do this.

In your example:

Child NPC asks if you will help find his lost kitten.
Response choices:
(1) [Volunteer to help find the kitten.]
(2) [Decline.]

The exact words are likely not relevant and left to the player's imagination. This also integrates more complex choices easier:

(1) [Tell the noble about your accomplishments to persuade him.]
(2) [Threaten to expose the noble's secret affair.]

Finally, in case your game includes some kind of a reaction meter:

(1) [Volunteer to help find the kitten]
(2) [Decline politely]
(3) [Decline rudely]

Now in most cases, the intentions would be obvious if the words were spelled out in the response choices. However, as soon as figures of speech from simulated different cultures come into play (eg the elves consider different things rude than the dwarves), this may not be the case, for instance. This makes it very clear where things are heading.

Also thumbs up for even considering different response choices! This is an aspect I'm missing in soo many RPGM games - I know JRPGs usually work that way, but I think there's so much of the "role-playing" aspect lost if it's ignored. Good luck with your game!
First, awesome response and thanks for expanding my list and perspective!

Second, oh my, thank you for the links in your signature area. I am still very new to RPG Maker and the idea of developing my own game...the kind of game that I like...the best of vintage CRPGs while acknowledging that there have been improvements.

I just took a quick look at the ancient-architects.com and I immediately book marked it so I can go back and spend some quality time there. I am still stumbling blindly across resources and pages that probably many others are familiar with, but they are new to me.

So a big thanks for that! I started referring to the games I started with as "ancient-school," "original-school," or "vintage-school" since "old-school" has now been taken over by younger generations of gamers.

Eye of the Beholder (series) and Wizardry (series) for life! With all their soul crushing goodness!
 

Nolonar

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This is just my personal opinion, but:

1. Player dialog choices are more simple (yes, no, maybe, etc.), but the character response displayed is more detailed.

The main advantage is that this allows the player to give detailed answers that otherwise wouldn't fit in the choice window.

The main disadvantage is that the detailed answer may be different from what the player expects. For example: "Yes" may turn out to be: "Of course we'll help you find your lost kitty!", but it could also lead to: "Sure, how much are you willing to pay for our help?"

Take this example from Fallout 4:

fallout-4-dialogue.jpg


Would you have guessed that "Not interested" leads to: "Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying"? Personally, when I first chose that option, I was expecting some form of polite: "Sorry, I'm not interested". Another example from the same game (no screenshots, sadly) is when you get to choose "Not right now", which leads to your character saying: "Maybe I don't want to talk to you", which is completely different from what the option would suggest.

There's a reason why Fallout 4's dialogue option system is not very popular.

The "Sarcastic" option is even worse. Sometimes it sounds like the character is trying to lighten up the mood, but sometimes it sounds like they're trying really hard to be an *******.

The vague nature of the choices makes it hard for the player to actually roleplay. This causes a disconnect between the player and who they think they're playing as.

I'm not saying that this option is bad per se, but it's incredibly hard to pull off properly. In fact, Fallout 4 failed so miserably that Fallout 76 reverted to the old system used in Fallout 3 and New Vegas.


2. Player dialog choices are more detailed and precisely match what the character response displayed will be in game.

This is redundant. I really don't like it when games do that. If the answer is going to be exactly what the player chose, why display it again? You're just wasting the player's time by displaying something they've already read. Don't do it.


3. Player dialog choices are are more detailed, but there is no character response displayed in game.

This is basically the opposite of option 1, with advantage and disadvantages turned around.

The main disadvantage with this option, is that the player may lose interest over time. Unlike in option 1, where the player can decide quickly, they now need to read the entire answer for all possible answers. This can lead to players defaulting to choosing answer #1, instead of actually thinking it through. Here's an example from Fallout 1:

fallout.jpg

When you have this many options, which are all this long, you eventually get tired of talking to NPCs... The fact that some of these options aren't that different from one another ("What's it to you?" is very similar to "My reasons are mine to keep.") doesn't help either.

This problem can be solved by giving the player only short answers and reducing the number of options to 3 or 4. For example, Persona 5:

ab898b7a65bbfaef-600x338.png


The choices are rarely any longer than this, and usually limited to 2 - 4 options.

At face value, this looks very similar to Fallout 4, given the limited length and number of options, but it's actually better. Since these options are literally what the player character will say, there is no risk of misinterpretation. If the player regrets their choice, it's because of how others react to them, rather than because of what the player character really says.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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This is just my personal opinion, but:



The main advantage is that this allows the player to give detailed answers that otherwise wouldn't fit in the choice window.

The main disadvantage is that the detailed answer may be different from what the player expects. For example: "Yes" may turn out to be: "Of course we'll help you find your lost kitty!", but it could also lead to: "Sure, how much are you willing to pay for our help?"

Take this example from Fallout 4:

fallout-4-dialogue.jpg


Would you have guessed that "Not interested" leads to: "Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying"? Personally, when I first chose that option, I was expecting some form of polite: "Sorry, I'm not interested". Another example from the same game (no screenshots, sadly) is when you get to choose "Not right now", which leads to your character saying: "Maybe I don't want to talk to you", which is completely different from what the option would suggest.

There's a reason why Fallout 4's dialogue option system is not very popular.

The "Sarcastic" option is even worse. Sometimes it sounds like the character is trying to lighten up the mood, but sometimes it sounds like they're trying really hard to be an *******.

The vague nature of the choices makes it hard for the player to actually roleplay. This causes a disconnect between the player and who they think they're playing as.

I'm not saying that this option is bad per se, but it's incredibly hard to pull off properly. In fact, Fallout 4 failed so miserably that Fallout 76 reverted to the old system used in Fallout 3 and New Vegas.




This is redundant. I really don't like it when games do that. If the answer is going to be exactly what the player chose, why display it again? You're just wasting the player's time by displaying something they've already read. Don't do it.




This is basically the opposite of option 1, with advantage and disadvantages turned around.

The main disadvantage with this option, is that the player may lose interest over time. Unlike in option 1, where the player can decide quickly, they now need to read the entire answer for all possible answers. This can lead to players defaulting to choosing answer #1, instead of actually thinking it through. Here's an example from Fallout 1:

View attachment 213356

When you have this many options, which are all this long, you eventually get tired of talking to NPCs... The fact that some of these options aren't that different from one another ("What's it to you?" is very similar to "My reasons are mine to keep.") doesn't help either.

This problem can be solved by giving the player only short answers and reducing the number of options to 3 or 4. For example, Persona 5:

ab898b7a65bbfaef-600x338.png


The choices are rarely any longer than this, and usually limited to 2 - 4 options.

At face value, this looks very similar to Fallout 4, given the limited length and number of options, but it's actually better. Since these options are literally what the player character will say, there is no risk of misinterpretation. If the player regrets their choice, it's because of how others react to them, rather than because of what the player character really says.
Thanks for this detailed response and for providing those examples for context! That visualization helps! And I appreciate the point about keeping the answer options short, limited, and distinctly different.
 

Milennin

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1 is for quest or routine dialogues, where you get to choose whether or not you will do something, while 2 is for story dialogues, where situations revolve around more than yes/no scenarios.
3 works fine for both types, but may be tricky with more complex choices that require more wording than you'd fit in the choice box.

For my established characters with personalities, I prefer to go with 2, because it's the most fun to write. For the minimalist approach, I like 3.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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1 is for quest or routine dialogues, where you get to choose whether or not you will do something, while 2 is for story dialogues, where situations revolve around more than yes/no scenarios.
3 works fine for both types, but may be tricky with more complex choices that require more wording than you'd fit in the choice box.

For my established characters with personalities, I prefer to go with 2, because it's the most fun to write. For the minimalist approach, I like 3.
Thanks for this additional perspective! I definitely agree that detailed dialog responses are fun to write and I think they add "character" and personality to party members.

If I read your response correctly, you don't mind that option 2 repeats the same detailed response in both the response choice presented to the player and what is then displayed in game as the player "official" response. That is the first indication of a preference to option 2 so I just wanted to make sure I understood.

I really appreciate all of these perspectives from people more experienced with these types of games.
 

Milennin

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If I read your response correctly, you don't mind that option 2 repeats the same detailed response in both the response choice presented to the player and what is then displayed in game as the player "official" response. That is the first indication of a preference to option 2 so I just wanted to make sure I understood.

If they're the exact same, it seems unnecessary (unless the accompanying faceset/bust graphic plays a big role in the response). I thought it being more in the lines of exact intent, not letter for letter rewriting what was already in the choice box. For my own games, going with 2, I write shortened versions in the choice boxes of the actual responses. For example, an NPC's asks for my character's name and one choice gives "I'm Roth" and then the actual response being "I'm Roth. Roth the ThunderGod. Remember it well!" Or another choice being "Give me yours first" with the actual response being "You'll get to hear my name after you give me yours first!"
They're not yes/no responses, but I also don't think it looks good when your choice boxes are full length sentences. Just try to match the actual responses with what's in the choice boxes, so players don't feel cheated.
 

ZombieKidzRule

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If they're the exact same, it seems unnecessary (unless the accompanying faceset/bust graphic plays a big role in the response). I thought it being more in the lines of exact intent, not letter for letter rewriting what was already in the choice box. For my own games, going with 2, I write shortened versions in the choice boxes of the actual responses. For example, an NPC's asks for my character's name and one choice gives "I'm Roth" and then the actual response being "I'm Roth. Roth the ThunderGod. Remember it well!" Or another choice being "Give me yours first" with the actual response being "You'll get to hear my name after you give me yours first!"
They're not yes/no responses, but I also don't think it looks good when your choice boxes are full length sentences. Just try to match the actual responses with what's in the choice boxes, so players don't feel cheated.
Ah, that clarification is very helpful! And thanks for raising the concept that the face set/bust might play some part when displaying the response in game. Another good thing to consider. Thanks!
 

ATT_Turan

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My preference is for option 3, unless all of the character's dialogue can't fit into the option box. In that case, I'd put as much as fits, trailing off in ellipses, then continue it in a text window.

It's a minor annoyance to me to see the same thing twice, so I see it as kind of pointless if you select a descriptive option just to see the same thing in a text window. It's a major annoyance, as others have pointed out, for a descriptive option that doesn't completely match what ends up being said - Star Wars: The Old Republic has a fair bit of that scattered throughout the game.
 

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