Games like Dragon Age (or anything by Bioware really, or Bethesda Softworks) are known for their unique branching and dynamic dialogue-based interactions.
The simplicity and quickness of these is a blessing, though the limitations can be a curse. One thing that stood out to me after some time with the system is the transitions between topics of conversation, as well as the implied “transitions” between choosing vastly different responses.
I think that, although people are often unpredictable in life, giving a character free reign over how to respond to a situation can be counter-intuitive. If the game wants to seem believable, then it should start out more accessible in this way, and become more focused as a player crafts a personality. Essentially, the system learns the type of person you’re attempting to be, and tries to offer dialogue options that are least within the realm of what that character might say.
The Infamous series did something similar, though not with conversation. As you level up your “Good” powers, access to the deeper and more advanced “Bad” powers got slowly cut off. It made sense, though. As you prove to the game’s world that you are a “good” person, “bad” things become less and less likely from you.
There will always be players who want to totally choose random dialogue options any time during the game, and that can’t be helped. But I think in general, people want to be consistent with the character they are creating. A system that is specifically designed to encourage that could be really powerful.
As a second consideration, creating content to fit between conversations may go a long way to creating more engaging interaction. Obviously this is a huge budgetary concern, especially for games as large as these, in terms of voice acting, scripting, and design. But, for example, if you’re talking with an NPC about a group of bandits that has formed to the north of the kingdom, and then next you want to ask them about what they have for sale at their shop, there should be a conversation transition there. Maybe something like “Well, I’ll figure that out soon enough. In the meantime, what have you got for sale?” The lines could be partially generic, so as to be used in various situations, and many different ones could be recorded and used randomly in place of one another. I think this could bring a “flow” to these dialogue interactions that can otherwise sometimes be choppy and disjointed.
[ Today I Was Playing: Dragon Age II and Alphabear ]
July 17, 2015