SANTHARIAN GAME DEVELOPMENT TOOLS

DOCS PART III: DEVELOPMENT FORMS

THE DIALOGUE EDITOR

Here you are, at the Dialogue Editor! If you have added your NPC already in the NPC form, you can now start building dialogues.

Upon opening you won’t see anything spectacular. The form will look like this and is expecting a selection:

On the top left you see two combo-boxes, allowing you to first select a location, then a character in the second combo-box, which contains only the characters of the selected location. Select the one to whom you’d like to do add dialogue texts, then press the Refresh-button on the right side of the combo-box. Once this is done, the character selection will be deactivated and in case there already exist dialogue texts for the NPC, the treeview below the NPC name will be filled with the appopriate keywords. You can try to select one of the existing examples first (NPCs Gordoth and Jasper in Marcogg), to see how it looks.

Once you’ve pressed the Refresh -button by the way, the button will remain in pressed state, indicating that the display below belongs to the selection. If you unpress the Refresh-button, the treeview will be cleared again and you can select another character. Note that you can only add, edit and delete dialogue keywords as soon as you have confirmed your selection by pressing the Refresh-button.

The filled treeview of Hieronimus Kopfdrubus for example looks like this:

But in order to get to know how the form works, you first need to know how the dialogue concept works. Here’s a short summary:
 

THE KEYWORD CONCEPT

Everything in a dialogue is based on a keyword. At the beginning (if you encounter a person for the very first time) and you speak to someone, the keyword START is triggered and this dialogue part is displayed. E.g. (keyword bold, text italic)

START
You haven't even entered properly as a sudden uncertain fear overwhelms you: There is a tall man wearing a pitchblack cloak, which touches the ground - but it's not only this weird clothing which irritates yourself... The man is standing in front of you like an item which was placed there. Without the slightest movement, without saying a single word. He checks you after having turned his dark eyes in your direction, then simply stares at you so that you think you might freeze, then he looks away, examining the wall, as if you had no importance for him at all. You turn around, trying to discover something special at the wall: But the wall is as gray and dull as all other walls you have seen so far.

Now in order to continue with the dialogue, there need to be possibilities to react. It should be possible to select a question/response so that the dialogue can go on. Sometimes there is only one possibility how to react, so the keyword would also result in a single question/response. More often several new questions/responses are possible, e.g. if the NPC mentions the words MINE, TOMB and KING in his/her text, the player should have the opportunity to ask the NPC about these 3 things, so this would mean that 3 questions/responses would be added to his pool of questions he/she can pose.

Example of possible responses:

1. “Where is this mine you speak of?” --> MINE
2. “You mention the tomb. Can you tell me who is buried there?” --> TOMB
3. “The King? What has he to do with this affair?” --> KING

As you can see each question leads to a new keyword. If the player selects the question about the mine, the next text which will be displayed is the text of the MINE keyword, and the mine question will be removed from the question pool. The MINE keyword then once more can lead to several more question, which again are added to the question pool, and the player has more options to ask. And so on.


STANDARD KEYWORDS

There are a few special keywords, which need to be there so that dialogues can work properly. They are listed below:

START
Well, you guessed that probably. This keyword contains the text, which is displayed whenever you meet a character for the first time, which means: Whenever the character doesn’t know your name and you don’t know the character’s name.

GREETING
This keyword contains the text, which is displayed whenever you meet a character you already know.

BYEUNKNOWN
This keyword contains the text, which is displayed whenever you choose to leave a character and you haven’t gotten as far as to know his/her name.

BYE
This keyword contains the text, which is displayed whenever you say “Bye!” to a character and the character already knows you.

[QUESTIONS]
This keyword is used as a reference for questions the player can call directly by typing in a specifici question word in the Dialogue Editor (for more details see there).

If you have the first 4 keywords, you can already talk to an NPC, at least greet him/her and say goodbye again. So these words should be among the first ones you do whenever creating a dialogue. They can be selected in the keyword combo-box, so that you don't need to type them in anytime you do a new character.
 

STANDARD PLACEHOLDERS

Texts you enter can have placeholders, which will be substituted when you play the dialogue with certain variables. These placeholders are listed below:

#PY#
Player's Name (if a text contains this placeholder, it will be replaced by the Player's Name before it is displayed, e.g, “Hello, #PY#!” will change to “Hello, Artimidor!”)

#GR#
Greetings-statement (depending on the time of the day and the greeting allocated to the NPC, an appropriate greeting will be displayed, e.g.

"#GR#", he says shortly und indifferently and stares into the nothingness, as if he's talking to himself.

will change to

"Yes? What is it so early in the morning?", he says shortly und indifferently and stares into the nothingness, as if he's talking to himself.

#BY#
Bye-statement (depending on the time of the day and the bye allocated to the NPC, an appropriate bye-text will be displayed)

#TI# or #ti#
Time of day (uppercase or lowercase, e.g. “Night” or “night; “Morning” or “morning” etc.)

#BO# or #bo#
Boy/girl (uppercase or lowercase, depending on the gender of player, e.g. “Don’t worry, my #bo#!” would result in “Don’t worry, my girl!” in case the player is female)

#MA# or #ma#
Man/woman (uppercase or lowercase, depending on the gender of player, e.g. “#MA#, I don’t care what you think!” would result . “Man, I don’t care what you think!” in case the player is male)
 

ADDING KEYWORDS

Using the editor in general works similar to the Main Data Maintenance scheme. You only need to select the NPC first, refresh the treeview and the edit controls will be activated. The rest is more or less the same.

Try it by first creating your NPC in the Main Data Maintenance, then open the Dialogue Editor form, select your NPC and press the Refresh button (or use F9 or simply hit ENTER in the combo-box, this will also refresh the treeview). With the AddNew button (F5) you can add new keywords. Note that once you add keywords, they will not be displayed in the grid (like in other forms), but in the treeview. The grid in fact displays the questions/responses a keyword triggers. But let’s do one after the other.

Try to add the essential keywords as described above in order to be able to talk with a character already (START, GREETING, BYE and BYEUNKNOWN). The most often used keywords are already contained in the keyword combo-box, so you may just select them from there. You don’t need to fill in something at the Variables frame yet. Just add your four keywords and you’ll see the treeview being filled bit by bit.

As you can see you can also select a picture at every single keyword. By default you’ll see the typical NPC picture (in case you’ve added it to the NPC in the Main Data Maintenance). But you can also add another one – this could be the pic of a different person (in case two people talk to each other and you mainly watch them) or even of an item (if the NPC shows you something for example). If you delete a newly assigned picture by the way, the default NPC picture will be restored (in case there is one of course).
 

ADDING QUESTIONS/RESPONSES

However, you don’t have any questions/responses yet associated with a keyword. If you want to add questions/responses, e.g. to the START keyword, you need to do this in an own Questions/Responses form by using the buttons on the top right of the questions/responses grid (note: first you need to quit editmode to get them activated). If you press the button “Quest./Resp. Details” you open the form in viewing mode only, if you press one of the edit buttons, you open the form in the appropriate editmode.

The form will look like this:

In the caption of the form you’ll see to which keyword the questions/responses you add now will be attached.

Now simply add new questions/responses. For example, if you have not mentioned the name of the NPC in the START text, you can now add the question “What’s your name?”. In the second field you should add the Target Keyword, e.g. NAME in this case. If the player clicks on the “What’s your name?” question, the next text displayed will be the one found at the NAME keyword. So close this form now, and off you go, adding some text to the NAME keyword.

Of course you don’t necessarily have to add questions/responses to a keyword. If you don’t, this dialogue branch is finished.
 

CHANGING VARIABLES

The only thing which still remains a mystery to you probably are the Variables at the Dialogue Editor form:

The first 3 checkboxes are easily explained, while the right part contains more complex pssibilities:

Add keyword to permanent keyword list

If you tick this checkbox, the keyword will be added to a list of words you can ask the character again directly, once you meet him/her later. E.g. if you talk with Gordoth about the GODS, you don’t have to go through the whole dialogue again until you get the GODS keyword in the dialogue, but you can simply select GODS from a list nearby, and the dialogue part you already have seen when you first met him will be displayed again. So make sure to mark only important keywords here, which are worth of being asked again, no simple unimportant keywords, which only serve to link more important dialogue parts.

The “Add keyword to permanent keyword list”-checkbox will only work by the way if you enter a word in the “Display” checkbox, just right of the key. This display word is used to fill the list of possible topics you can ask the character again in the Dialogue Test form, once you’ve talked to a character about this specific word. This is an example how key and display can look like:

And this is how it will look like in the dialogue test form: Doubleclicking on a keyword in the topic list will bring up the question to the question pool.


NPC Exit

If this checkbox is ticked, the NPC quits the dialogue immediately and you won’t be able to ask another question, unless you try to talk to him/her again. Very useful if you have selected an offending answer.

Now Known

If this checkbox is ticked, you’ve learned the NPCs name, and the NPC knows yours, which will also allow the NPC in later dialogue parts to mention your name in the words he utters. Also next time you meet the character, the dialogue won’t start anymore with the keyword START, but with the keyword GREETING.

Keys to delete

This textbox indicates, which keywords should be deleted, once a question/response is selected if this keyword is displayed.

If the checkbox below (“Lock other questions temporarily”) isn’t ticked you usually use this function for the following: You offer the player some questions/responses, which he/she can choose from, but in fact they all lead to the same keyword. Like in this example:

Note that you can remove more keys, not only one (like NAMEADD), if you use the asteriks (*) at the end of the Keys to delete field. For example if you’d put NAME* in the field, all open questions starting with NAME will be removed from the questions pool.

Lock other questions temporarily

This checkbox should only be ticked if it is combined with the “Keys to delete”. If you lock other questions temporarily, all questions, which have accumulated and haven’t been asked yet (also the possibility to say “Bye!”), will not be displayed in the next dialogue round. Instead you will see only the questions allocated with the current keyword. However, the questions will be again available next round.

This is mainly used in order to realize questions the NPC poses to the player. The player then has to decide: “Yes”, “No”, “I don’t know”, whatever. But he/she cannot escape by saying “Bye!”. Take a look at this example:

At the end of the dialogue text, Gordoth poses a question to the player. “Lock other questions temporarily” is ticked, and as you can see the text THEY* was placed in the Keys-to-delete textbox. This is a very typical example. The answers to the questions are THEY_NO (in case the player says “no”) and THEY_YES (in case the player says “yes”). Once one of these possibilities is selected, it doesn’t make sense anymore to have the other possibility still available to be “asked”. That’s why all keys starting with THEY are simply removed.

Using random texts

If you want you can integrate a bit of randomness into the dialogues. Though the current random feature doesn’t allow different answers to randomly displayed texts, some random elements can be quite funny.

All random elements are put between brackets [ and ]. The program takes one of the texts it find between the brackets randomly and displays it.

As you can see it is also possible to add the random brackets into the textbox of the greetings and byes form, which in fact is the most effective. This was everytime you meet a character again he/she may have a different greeting for you.

[Continue with Part IV]

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