Hey guys, I'm back at it again! If you'd like to start from the previous Lesson, head on over to see some tips and tricks for dealing with Typos. Today we are going to tackle something a bit more advanced, but one that I feel can help make projects, even those with flat or lackluster characters (it happens!) pop. Dialog! Below I will offer tips and tricks for not only writing, but formatting so it looks good as well. Requirements: Aside from the RPGMaker program of your choice (I will be using RMMV for my examples) you will need access to a word processor. Google Docs has an excellent free one, and I personally love using Apache OpenOffice for writing offline (and it was wonderful to format my books). For further examples I will be using OpenOffice. I will also be assuming you have some basic grasp of how the RPGMaker works to create events, etc. Dialog with so much body, Maybe it's Maybelline™ Ok, so you've just gotten to a critical junction in your game, a fight between two characters. Harold is arguing with Marsha while they are in the depths of an icky dungeons. This is the interaction you wish to have happen: Harold: You need to stop whining, it is dumb. You sound like a baby. Seriously. Marsha: We have been here for hours. Do you even know where we are? When does this end? Harold: Trust me, it's almost over. Marsha: Alright...since it is you, I trust you. For the most part...this gets the job done. Spoiler: Image Example 1 But, it looks a bit flat for an argument. It also doesn't flow like natural dialog would. It feels clunky and a bit robotic; like they are just speech boxes delivering words. So how do we spruce this up and make it not only interesting, but relevant? Spoiler: Special Tip: Plugins! Know what's annoying? The line that shows you where dialog ends in the text entry bits of RPGMaker. If you're doing nothing special, it's easy to stay within it and organize the text appropriately. However, if you're using a different window size than default, adding color, or changing the format of the text, these things are NOT included in the final text, so it can be somewhat difficult to make sure you're maximizing your text box space. For this I suggest using the Yanfly Message Core plugin, or another that utilizes a wordwrap function. It will make life SO much easier, and can also provide some really neat new functions as well! First of all, ask yourself. Why are they fighting? Is it in their character to fight? Are they best friends? Lovers? Is being in the dungeon for so long testing their bond? Next, ask yourself is this fight necessary to the story? Does it give insight into the characters and their plight? Does some kernel of truth drop that is a big reveal for the plot? Finally, ask yourself is this something a real person would say? Is it something the character would say? Read it out loud, acting out each person's part. Does it feel or flow naturally? Or is it just words words words WORDS WITH VOLUME words? Spoiler: Special Tip: Dialog for the sake of dialog There is actually nothing wrong with putting in dialog and story elements that have absolutely nothing to do with the main plot and/or story. In fact, it is an excellent way to flesh out characters and make them appear to be more than just 2D representations of Fantasy Stereotypes. Just make sure you do it in places where it makes sense...a town, a shop, a rest point, etc; anywhere the party can take a breather, or that a conversation would make sense (walking through a forest, perhaps). So, after deciding these things as we have above, we now want to work on making the dialog more dynamic. The normal means of making writing more dynamic are adjectives and adverbs. However, since this is purely dialog, they don't work as well in this situation to spruce things up. So, we'll not only elaborate the scene, but use RPGMaker's text tools to help make things look better. I will be assuming you know the text tags for RMMV for the following parts. However, if not, simply let your mouse hover over the text entry screen and a popup window will show up giving you all the base options. I will only list them if people would like me too; there are more than a few. Anyway, this is the new dialog I came up with since we better honed the scene and our intent. Marsha: Ok. ENOUGH. Harold, can we stop and talk? Harold: Um, ok? I guess we can take a rest here for a moment. What's up? Marsha: We've been here for hours, and we still haven't found the orb. Harold: We will. We have to. Marsha: Is that all you want? Harold: It doesn't matter what I want. Marsha: Then what about what I want?! I...forget it. You won't care. Harold: Care about what? How much you hate dungeons? Marsha: You're impossible! Harold...I want YOU!! Harold: You...I...look, after this is over, we'll talk. I promise. Marsha: ...alright. Let's finish this. The dialog flows more naturally, and it also gives us a bit more insight into each character's motivation. There are no hard and fast rules or guidelines to writing believable dialog; it is really up to you, the writer, to come up with what you believe to be a good scene. Practice in this case really does make perfect. Writer and rewrite until it sounds good to you, and to others you share it with. Now, while what I've written above is good, don't forget to use RPGMaker's tools to really spruce things up. You can change the color of words for emphasis (ignore my color choices lol) and also increase/decrease the font size as well. Another neat trick (can't really show it in images) is to add pauses in between words (and characters), or cause an entire line to appear at once, as if it were blurted out. Spoiler: Image Example 2 The key things to take away from this lesson are try your best to not only make it flow naturally, and to use it at the proper moments, but to utilize the engine's different tags to make it more of a dynamic read, and one that isn't so flat. It's almost impossible to tell tone and intent from text alone ;P Spoiler: Bonus Tip: Formatting for RPGMaker Still having issues writing dialog for the RPGMaker text boxes, such as words getting cut off? Not comfortable using plugins? Then get your word program to do the heavy lifting for you! If you're using Open Office (or even Google Docs) open a new file. Change the font to Courier New. Keep in mind that each text entry box, for the default, is approximately 42 characters if using a face set, and 55 characters wide if not. If you're using a wider window than default, you'll have to play around a bit to hit your special number. Anyway, since we want 42 characters, divide this number by 10 to get 4.2...this is the inches wide we want our document, and we now need to adjust our margins to reach it. 8.5 (standard document size) minus 4.2 = 4.3"...divide by two, and we get our new left and right margin amounts of 2.15"...but I still had to play around a little in OpenOffice and set my margins to 2" each to hit 42 characters wide. Next, write out your dialog first, then hit enter at the end of each line. Why? This ensures that when you put in your special formats, the end result will look exactly how you want it on each line. Another day, another lesson! I hope you enjoyed this one, and be sure to leave any comments or questions below.