April 20th, 2008 / Category: School Projects / Permalink
For this prototype I expanded upon my previous work of interactive fiction “The Conversation”. In this piece, I decided to play with multiple perspectives by allowing the user to select which perspective they want to view/interact with the conversation from at any time. The player can choose to experience the entire conversation as an active participant by choosing either the detective or the criminal. The player can even respond to their own choices by swapping between the detective and criminal after each line of dialogue. The player also has a third option, the interrogation proctor. By choosing this character, the player can watch the detective and the criminal discuss the case with each character running an AI that decides what objects to talk about and how to respond to each line of dialogue.
Key moments in the dialogue can occur that reveal specific insight about the case from one of the two active characters, these key moments are indicated by the ear bleeding on the criminal and a sparkly on the detective’s badge. If the player embodies a character while one of these cues are being displayed, then the player will get an extra option that leads to a unique dialogue branch. This gives an active element to the conversation that encourages the player to swap to specific characters when these key moments are available. This is especially important for any player playing as the proctor, as they will be encouraged to actively make choices during the dialogue by swapping characters.
I also changed the Conversation’s interface to allow for dialog choices to lie in the environment instead of the non-diegetic emotion buttons or memory bubbles. In The Interrogation, the items on the table change topics and the thought bubbles now house the HUD to allow for emotional responses and further exposition of key items/moments. The player also can just click on the characters to switch perspective rather than having to message the swaps with icons or other HUD.
I also, completely re-wrote the underlying XML dialog parsing system from “The Conversation” to allow for more flexible dialog navigation. The only negative to this project was that rethinking the HUD and underlying code took more time than I expected which forced the dialog in this work to end up much shorter than “The Conversation”.