How should the dialogue choices be presented in narrative RPGs? - RPGWatch Forums
|
Your donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » How should the dialogue choices be presented in narrative RPGs?

View Poll Results - Which one do you prefer? Verbatim or Implied style of dialogue in RPGs?

Verbatim (Fallout, Planescape, etc) 15 93.75%
Implied (Mass Effect, The Witcher) 1 6.25%
Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

Default How should the dialogue choices be presented in narrative RPGs?

March 20th, 2020, 16:11
Hi all!

First, a disclaimer. This isn't an advertisement for the game I'm working on. I was inspired to ask this question by a blog article written by our lead writer, Jan Juracic. And it is a great read.

The topic of the article is the dialogue in narrative games. What Jan compares in the blog are the verbatim and implied styles.


The first is the approach favoured by Black Isle Studios, of Fallout and Planescape fame, and other old-school RPG developers, which I’m dubbing the verbatim style, in which the options spell out the entire line your character will say word for word. If one of the options was, say: ‘Drop that gun, you melon farmer!’ That’s exactly what your character would end up saying.
The other approach is one we might call the implied style. You’ve seen this one in Mass Effect and the Witcher series. In the implied style the option only suggests the basic gist of what the character will say if you select it. In this style, selecting the option ‘Drop the gun!’ might produce the result, say: ‘Drop that gun, you melon farmer!’
These are the places where the implied style really shines. Consider this jury-rigged example:

Implied Style:
  • NPC: ‘I know you’re not from around here, but you’ve heard of Harren of Dens, surely?’

Option 1: Yes, I have.
  • PC: Of course, he’s the man who killed the Vicar of Shoals in that senseless duel. Over a couple of turnips, if I recall correctly.

Option 2: No, who?
  • PC: Harren of Dens? Who’s he?
  • NPC: He duelled and killed the Vicar of Shoals over a couple of turnips. Utterly senseless.

As you can tell, using the implied style let us give the player the opportunity to express themselves (in this case by choosing how well informed their character is) while still delivering the exposition in a natural way. The player doesn’t know who Harren of Dens is, but their character might. This is a kind of false branch in the dialogue tree, as both choices lead to the same outcome (i.e. both let the player know who Harren is) but the implied style lets us hide this fact from the player.

Consider how clunky and transparent this dialogue branch would appear in the verbatim style:

Verbatim Style:
  • NPC: ‘I know you’re not from around here, but you’ve heard of Harren of Dens, surely?’

Option 1: PC: Of course, he’s the man who killed the Vicar of Shoals in that senseless duel. Over a couple of turnips, if I recall correctly.
  • PC: Of course, he’s the man who killed the Vicar of Shoals in that senseless duel. Over a couple of turnips, if I recall correctly.

Option 2: Harren of Dens? Who’s he?
  • PC: Harren of Dens? Who’s he?
  • NPC: He duelled and killed the Vicar of Shoals over a couple of turnips. Utterly senseless.


The logic at work here is obvious: The verbatim style necessitates that the player knows what the character knows.

So in general, the verbatim style makes it harder for the player character to deliver exposition naturally, which might go some distance towards explaining why in many old-school CRPGs (that employed the verbatim style) the player character is either a foreigner (Fallout 1 & 2, Arcanum, Pillars of Eternity) or an amnesiac (Planescape: Torment, Torment: Tides of Numenera). An amnesiac or a foreigner protagonist can ask random strangers to explain everyday concepts without inviting a groan from the players.

On the other hand, the strength of the implied style is precisely in its ability to dole out exposition naturally and without overwhelming the player. Consider the success of Witcher 3, a game that many first played without having played its prequels, which nevertheless succeeds in presenting a complex world chock full of characters with intricate relationships in a way that is coherent enough to follow, and all the while having the story start in medias res.


What's your take on this?
Iggy_Gamechuck is offline

Iggy_Gamechuck

Iggy_Gamechuck's Avatar
Gamechuck dev

#1

Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 41
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)

Default 

March 20th, 2020, 16:40
I absolutely HATE the "implited" version, because LOTS of the implied meanings get lost during translation.

I have found myself far too often during playing SWTOR - Bioware - clicking on a seemingly relatively harmless dialog choice - and THEN being presented with a totallly different dialog than I had expected from the "dialog headline" !

I have come to absolutely hate to be … tricked … so it feels to me … into a dialog choice I did NOT want … by … either losing things in translation or outright being not clear enough as what a certain dialog headline might actually mean.

This way I have come to love DDO's approach. Full text of which one can select what one wants to say.
--
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Alrik Fassbauer is offline

Alrik Fassbauer

Alrik Fassbauer's Avatar
TL;DR
Original Sin 1 & 2 Donor

#2

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Old Europe
Posts: 20,177
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)

Default 

March 20th, 2020, 16:44
Verbatim if there's a complete character creation phase (classic cRPGs), implied when the protagonist is predetermined (Geralt is a witcher, Shepard is a jarhead…)?

I guess the best would be mix of both styles.
Example: the pc is a foreigner/amnesiac who asks a lot of questions (verbatim style for setting exposition), but when he talks about things related to the origin or background choices made during the creation, the implied style is used.



PS: Juracic is a funny name. Roaaar!
--
The delightful and ever novel pleasure of a useless occupation.
Winterfart is offline

Winterfart

Winterfart's Avatar
Passenger

#3

Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: France
Posts: 1,026
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)

Default 

March 20th, 2020, 17:03
In Mass Effect and the Witcher 3, the two examples you choose for implied dialogue, I was on occasion surprised by what my character said based on the dialogue choice, but I think Mass Effect was worse. I prefer the verbatim style. That said I've played both, and one style or the other would not put me off from playing a game.
I think the biggest problem is when dialogue is a puzzle where you can win or lose some benefit for choosing a dialogue option. In your example above there is no win or loss, simply information, so either method works. In a situation where a player stands to benefit or to be penalized for a dialogue choice, I think its much less frustrating being penalized when the dialogue is verbatim. Then at least the player has chosen exactly what was said and doesn't feel misled into making a poor choice.
forgottenlor is offline

forgottenlor

forgottenlor's Avatar
Font of Useless Knowledge
RPGWatch Team

#4

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Vienna, Austria
Posts: 2,477
Mentioned: 49 Post(s)
+1:

Default 

March 20th, 2020, 17:10
How did you guys found dialogue style in Torment: Tides of Numenera and Disco Elysium?

Originally Posted by Winterfart View Post
PS: Juracic is a funny name. Roaaar!
Haha, it's actually his surname, but I'll tell him that :-D
Iggy_Gamechuck is offline

Iggy_Gamechuck

Iggy_Gamechuck's Avatar
Gamechuck dev

#5

Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 41
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)

Default 

March 20th, 2020, 19:04
Implied is just a virtual train-wreck, verbatim easily wins this one for me.
Carnifex is offline

Carnifex

SasqWatch

#6

Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Holly Hill, FL.
Posts: 13,317
Mentioned: 50 Post(s)

Default 

March 21st, 2020, 13:27
I reme,ber the implied dialog choice headlines being far too vague. And because of that, it plays rather like a lottery (lost in translation makes a huge impact, too).

And because it is far too vague, it often feels to me like "being tricked into something", and as if the developers were role-playing the character (and give the player only make-believe choices), not the players themselves.

To cut it short : The "implied way" really doesn't create in me the feeling that I am really having control over my character / playing a role.
--
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Alrik Fassbauer is offline

Alrik Fassbauer

Alrik Fassbauer's Avatar
TL;DR
Original Sin 1 & 2 Donor

#7

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Old Europe
Posts: 20,177
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)

Default 

March 21st, 2020, 16:46
Old timer here who grew up on old style games and verbatim as well as playing new games.

I don't mind either. At times I like implied more because I enjoy the sense of suspense and surprise after picking an option to see what is actually said, as well as the reaction to it.

On the other hand it makes the character less your own because if that character is you - then you wouldn't be surprised at what you wanted to say. Hence implied puts distance between you and the character.

Implied works good for pre-defined protagonists versus characters you make yourself and identify as yourself. You shouldn't have to guess at what you would say.

Also it can be annoying when the implied turns out very different than expected - and more than once I have had to reload my game because of it. You can't do that in an MMO which makes it even more harsh in that setting.

All that being said I still enjoy implied as a method. I find I prefer the way they did it in FO4. It is implied but you get to pick the tone - so at least you don't say something hostile when you wanted to be friendly.

Top option is neutral, for information gathering and questions. Right side is for hostile, mean, angry. Bottom is the good, friendly, nice option. Left is the sarcastic and funny option.

That way you have a better handle on what you are selecting.

I don't see any reason implied and verbatim can't be combined - using verbatim in any situation that is vital to the character and story or where it would be hard to indicate what will be said by implied.
--
Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
wolfgrimdark is offline

wolfgrimdark

wolfgrimdark's Avatar
SasqWatch
Original Sin Donor

#8

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: NH
Posts: 3,105
Mentioned: 59 Post(s)

Default 

March 21st, 2020, 17:00
I vote verbatim for male dialog and implied for females…because reasons
--
c-computer, r-role, p-playing, g-game, nut-extreme fan
=crpgnut or just
'nut @crpgnut
aka survivalnut
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Survival Game Nut
RPGWatch Donor
Original Sin Donor

#9

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 8,600
Mentioned: 61 Post(s)

Default 

March 23rd, 2020, 17:06
If implied dialog choices had so much clearer headlines, then I'd probably like them more.
--
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Alrik Fassbauer is offline

Alrik Fassbauer

Alrik Fassbauer's Avatar
TL;DR
Original Sin 1 & 2 Donor

#10

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Old Europe
Posts: 20,177
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » How should the dialogue choices be presented in narrative RPGs?
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 14:12.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by DragonByte Security (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2021 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright by RPGWatch