Timed dialogue decisions is popular mechanic in games recently. Games like Mass Effect, The Witcher, and most of Tell Tale Games’ recent releases incorporate it. Essentially, when presented with a key story moment within the game, a list of dialogue choices your character can respond with will appear, with a timer just below them notating how long you have to pick one of the options before it automatically picks one at random. Typically you have 4 to 10 seconds to respond, depending on how many and how long the responses are.
The idea is to increase your engagement with the game’s story material, and to create a sense of tension and more closely imitate what real split-second decision making can be like.
I’m proposing an additional, more dynamic layer to this mechanic.
Interaction types change over time. In real conversation, there’s are certain windows of time in which somebody might respond certain ways. Those windows of time pass quickly, altering your options as to what you can say or do. For example, somebody on your football team scores a touchdown and moves to give you a high-five; you have to react immediately to the situation. You can’t wait 25 seconds and still do the same thing you would have done immediately after the high-five was initiated.
As the timer ticks, your text decisions will dynamically shift to accommodate for your hesitance. It’s similar to trivia games that are sometimes played in bars, where as time runs out, the incorrect options are stuck-out as viable options one-by-one. In this case, there is no “right” answer, but your responses are constantly changing as your character adapts to the timing of their response to the situation.
April 9, 2015