In this article of the “relationship dialog overhaul” series, we will discuss possible improvements to “dialog”.
We will first focus on improving some dialog that is currently a little on the lacking side narrative-wise.
Then, we will go over how to change some of the current dialogue options into something more functional and not as wordy.
1) Improve current dialog
The first thing we want to do is look at what kind of improvement can be made for those relationships with a bit more poorly written or generic dialog.
Examples of these are Family Members and Acquaintances.
Reads like a laundry list of canned responses to the questions. And some of these canned responses appear to be incorrect or incomplete.
A quick example includes that there is no option for, “What is your relationship with this person?” that allows the player to say, “I’m his father.”
Going through the whole family dialog, more instances like this are evident.
The problem here is mostly how bland and uninteresting the dialog is.
It reads more like what you would expect out of something more generic than something intimate between two people who know each other well enough to share some humorous banter with one another.
Functionally, it can be hard to tell who these NPCs are talking to and what the actual relationship is between them.
2) Change existing dialogues into something better
The next step is to examine what we want to do about it.
If we want the dialogue to be more functional and not as wordy, we can simply change some of the existing lines into something that is fleshed out and has a little more depth and character.
3) Add new dialogue choices to the system
This is where we can really make something special out of this dialog system. But before we go in, let’s toss around some ideas on what kind of things we want to do.
More humor in dialogue acting as a gauge for how well you two know each other makes it more interesting for players to use in-game than just mindlessly choosing responses that are pre-written.
This way, when your character tells the other character something funny, they will respond with, “Ha! You’re funny!” or “That’s not funny.” It makes it more entertaining and adds just a little bit more personality into it.
For instance, when your character tells her that he thinks she is pretty, you get the same response regardless of how well you two know each other.
Your character can either be a complete stranger or part of the family and the response will still be the same.
Instead of just saying, “You’re so beautiful,” this relationship overhaul changes it so your character will say something to the effect of , “I’ve always thought you were beautiful.”
And she will respond with something along the lines of, “Oh? I guess I never knew you thought about me like that. Thanks.” or “Well, it’s good to know you think I’m beautiful. I’ve always thought you were handsome.”
All of these responses can be completely different and reflect how well the two characters know each other.
These dialog options give the players the freedom to say something funny or sweet to another character that they feel comfortable enough with and, in return, get a more interesting response than just a canned set of words.
4) Transform default responses
Now, on to the new dialog options.
These are the things that we want to be able to say when talking to another character and get a more interesting response than what we currently have. These change existing options into something more interesting and fun.
For instance, there is an option in the Acquaintances category that says “I’m thinking about you.”
If your relationship is intimate enough, you can pick a new option that says “You’re on my mind lately.” Then they will respond with something like, “Well I can really tell,” or “Is that so?
I’ve been thinking about you lately too.” This is an example of how one of these options might play out.
The other major change is in the Family Category. The option, “I love you” is given to the player under, “Romantic Love.”
But if your relationship is not intimate enough for this expression of love, one of these new options will be available under the category, “Family.”
This way it tells players that there is more depth to their relationship than just loving each other (and prevents them from doing something stupid like trying to convey romantic love to someone they’re related to).
At this point, we have discussed what we want to do with improving current dialogues and making some things more interesting.
Next week we will take a look at how to use the dialog system to help create a narrative for our relationships in-game.