April 21st, 2008 / Category: School Projects / Permalink
This week long prototype was made for my Interactive Narrative class to explore conversation systems in interactive media. From the early PC adventure games to modern RPGs, I have always found dialog systems to be an interesting, yet mostly missing component in video games, especially considering the importance of dialog in films and books. If video games truly want to compete with other media on an emotional level, dialog must definitely be considered and improved. With this project I decided to rethink navigation and interface in dialog systems. This prototype attempts to remove choosing actual lines of dialog in exchange for choosing positive and negative emotions and the ability to change topics using the “memory bubbles” on the table. Also, I allowed the NPC the ability to change topics, which I feel really adds to the believability of the character in this work of interactive fiction.
I decided to use memory bubbles to guide the conversation because it fits in with the fiction of the scene. The scene depicted is one of a conversation between two old friends who shared some experiences, but also experienced similar settings independent of each other. For instance, the characters can chat about going to camp together as kids as well as their very different college experiences. It was important to me to immerse the player in the backstory of these characters and encourage them to explore to learn as much about each character as possible. To aid in this goal, I ended up adding a total of 338 lines of dialogue, despite the project’s short duration.
During the conversation, the player can choose positive and negative emotional responses for the male character to give. These responses have an effect on the conversation and can actually close off options that would have been available should the player have responded differently. The female character starts at a random range emotionally, so each play through can create very different paths through the dialogue trees. To view the full extent of dialogue paths and conversation endings, check out the dialogue tree button above.