This desire for more complex shades of meaning resulted in dialogue trees, trees whose delicious textual fruits would serve as the mainstay of RPG gamer diets for over a decade, through to the modern era. Attempting to imitate natural conversation flow, dialogue trees offer the same back and forth discourse one would expect from another human being. The power of strong writing to convey tone and subtlety opened doors for whole ranges of previously impossible or infeasible interaction with characters. Combined with scripting, skill checks, and text adventure elements this system offers incredible flexibility for a cheap price, the cost of a few written lines. Perhaps no finer example of such power and flexibility exists than Planescape: Torment. Here is an RPG whose deep dialogues enable the player to do more than simply talk to characters, they can interact with them through the medium of text. The dialogue became an adventure, a game, in and of itself. Nestled within it were puzzles, scripted events, even character development. Want to break someone's neck? Cut some stitches on a zombie and see what's inside? Catch a thief when he's picking your pocket? Replace your eyeball with an eye you found in a jar? Tinker with your equipment? All these were achievable thanks to dialogue trees and skilled writing.
Great read. Playing some of the user mods for BG2, I really appreciate the effort put into dialogue trees by the pros. The user mods just generally don't flow as well, have response that seem out of character, etc. Not dissing them, just saying I think most people take for granted how much effort is put in by the pros.