378 Evolved Dialogue System

I’ve talked about dialogue in the past, multiple times. It can play so many critical and different roles across various game genres, but since I’ve been playing a fair amount of Fallout 4 recently, I’ve been thinking about it in relation to open world games specifically.

In Fallout 4, dynamic dialogue certainly gets an upgrade from its predecessor (Fallout 3…) and in some ways the open world genre as a whole. NPC’s (non-player characters) react to the way you’re dressed, the actions that you’ve taken in the past (that they are aware of!), the groups you associate yourself with, and various aspects and traits of your personality. To me, it seems like a monumental task for the developers and writers, creating a game that adapts to so many different variables.

One criticism that I have of the system is repeating dialogue. Obviously this is mostly a product of the sheer scale of creating a system that can encompass so much content. However, if you think about the way we interact with the world on a daily basis, very little of it includes “repeated” dialogue. Sometimes, maybe at a coffee shop or retail store, we might hear someone use a similar phrase repeated. But otherwise, it’s rare.

The solution might be simple, though. The game instead tracks when an NPC says a line of casual dialogue, and notes when the player was in earshot of it. Then, Instead of repeating dialogue later, the system counts that line of dialogue as “listened,” and withholds additional dialogue until later in the game. Essentially, it’s spreading out the dialogue over time. Obviously, it can’t ever be known for certain whether the player actually heard the dialogue (they may have their sound too low, or off completely, or may not have been paying attention), but I even have a solution for that.

An example: certainly the same character that’s lived in my main settlement the entire game shouldn’t be still saying the same phrase about how nervous they are to move in here, after months and months of in-game time has passed. That dialogue should be disabled in the character after some amount of time has passed, and different lines used. It seems like it would be a lot of extra work for the developers and writers, but I think that it’d be worth it. I’d certainly much rather always here unique lines from NPCs at the cost of hearing less dialogue in general, than to have more dialogue with repeated lines.

[ Today I Was Playing: Fallout 4 ]

January 13, 2016