There’s some kind of joke about a picture and a thousand words here, but I can’t seem to find it.
Anyway, hello again! I’ve been starting to work on the dialogue mechanics for Fix, and I’ve got a nice little screenshot to show what it looks like so far. The chat bubble graphic is still a placeholder for now, but even so, the presence of dialogue at all is welcome.
The dialogue doesn’t interrupt gameplay, so you’re free to move around normally while the characters discuss their stupid problems. Gears of War immediately comes to mind–during the parts of the game when your dude is talking on his radio, you’re not allowed to aim, shoot, or run. You can only walk slowly and wait for the dialogue to end. It’s kind of infuriating to have your input arbitrarily hindered like this, so I made sure to keep the player control totally normal while dialogue is going on. Also, some people very plainly won’t give a shit about the dialogue, so these guys don’t even have to worry about it. They can just spam through it while they’re going about their business.
I’ll admit that a screenshot of a chat bubble may not seem particularly exciting, but the dialogue is an extremely important part of this project…so I’m excited, at least. Maybe that’s enough for you to be excited, too.
I’d like every level in the game to involve someone saying something, or at least thinking something, so these little talky snippets need to be succinct or else they might get in the player’s way while they’re trying to play the game. I love writing short dialogues like this–it’s a neat challenge to make people sound natural even though they’re being really terse.
Aside from the obvious story-advancement and tutorial text, though, the dialogue also serves another very important gameplay purpose.
My current goal is something like 40 or 50 levels, so I can’t have the player just solving puzzles for that entire time or else they’ll get worn out and grumpy. The solution to this problem is pacing! Every once in a while, a level with no difficult puzzles can give the player’s delicate brain a bit of a breather. These non-puzzles can easily become boring, though, so these levels involve more dialogue than normal to give the player something non-strenuous to keep occupied with. I can also use these extended dialogue segments to really bring out the little details about the characters, and it’s difficult to even explain how important this is to me.
And since you bothered to read all the way down here, here’s a little bit of info about the four non-player characters in the game.
Jack: The protagonist from Company of Myself. He is friendly and well meaning, but he is also addicted to an unspecified drug which has made him unstable and hard to be around. He used to be a magician, but his habit made him lose his job and credibility.
Penelope: Kathryn’s roommate. She is a good person, but is heavily insecure and needs constant validation from her peers or she gets temperamental and anxious. As a result, she is dating Thomas.
Thomas/TheSphinx: “TheSphinx” is a pretentious and irritating video game addict. He has carefully perfected the art of complimenting women, and because of this alone, he has managed to make himself irresistible to Penelope.
Henry: Kathryn’s psychologist. He provides guidance and advice about Kathryn’s smoking addiction, also giving insight about her various friends.
Have a nice Monday!