RPG Codex - Dialogue Interview
RPG Codex has a new interview on the subject of dialogue in games, with answers from Brian Mitsoda, J.E. Sawyer, Scott Bennie and David Gaider. Here's an early question and the responses:
2. What is the role of dialogues in RPGs, in your opinion? What do they add (or suppose to add) to the overall gameplay experience?
Brian Mitsoda: This is a tricky question because it depends on the game. In some RPGs, it’s to prompt you to hit the “A” button really quickly so you can get back to power-leveling. In some it’s to figure out what path the designer wants you to go down to get the best reward, probably by being sycophantic to Whistlin’ Bilboo the Street Sweeper. In the few that take reactivity into account and allow the player interaction to change up the dynamics in the relationships between the characters and even affect the character’s fate and the story, these dialogues serve to enhance the roleplaying aspect and just possibly make the player a bit more interested in the plot because they can get involved. Adequate to good dialogue (and story) motivates a few players to continue playing and finish the game and hopefully makes the characters and world more real, completing the necessary illusion for a zesty bit of escapism.
J.E. Sawyer: Character dialogue helps define characters, mood, and setting. Like many aspects of design, it gives a sense of style, time, and place to what's happening. In its most blunt application, it conveys rudimentary information, but I think that's using very little of its potential.
Player-selected dialogue helps the player express and define the personality of his or her character. Again, it's often used to reveal basic information, but I think that sells it short, especially for RPGs. If that's really what it's being used for, it doesn't need to be a
Scott Bennie: Well, you have to give the players directions somehow. I think dialogue is as important a defining element as any in an RPG. It's also a key to mood. A game has three tools to produce mood: dialogue, sound, and art. Of those three, dialogue is the easiest to adjust in the design process.