SANTHARIAN GAME DEVELOPMENT TOOLS

DOCS PART IV: DIALOGUE TESTING

Ok, now to the funny part of the whole thing: testing! If you open the form, you first have to select what you want to test, and set some variables so that the program respects you as a person, who is entitled of testing:)

Note that there is a tab control on the bottom right. You can click on the captions to see the other tabs. They look as follows:


THE VARIABLE TAB

Take a look at the Variables tab first: As the dialogue test form mainly has the purpose to provide a nice testing environment, you can change some variables here, which affect the dialogues at runtime.

At the Variables tab you can change your Player’s Name for example. Or the player’s gender. If you change the gender you’ll see a female picture displayed on the top left. This picture is meant to represent the player, but you won’t see a player class or race etc. at the moment there. This is still a very basic version.

Finally you can also change the time of the day. This is helpful in order to check the different greetings at various daytimes. Note that if you open the form, the program checks your system time and selects the appropriate time of the day for your convenience. The times are determined this way:

 4-10  o’clock  Morning
 10-17 o’clock  Day
 17- 22 o’clock  Evening
 22-4 o’clock  Night


THE DEBUG TAB

Well, this tab contains lots of progammers stuff. Nothing interesting for you. However, you could tick the “Show Debug Caption” and you’ll make some labels on the top of the dialogue textbox visible, displaying the developer of the dialogue, the current keyword and some numbers near Responses:

The first number (2 in this case) indicates how many questions/responses there are currently open, the second number (12) indicates how many questions have been transfered to the questions pool so far, and the last one (25) indicates how many questions the character has available in general.

The other checkbox called “Show Dialogue Transcript” displays a different textbox instead of the typical one, which contains the complete dialogue progress. The complete dialogue (character response and player questions) is logged in a seperate textbox so that it can be cut and pasted directly and read in one piece. This is very useful to grab the complete dialogue and paste it somewhere else, but not usable for developing in general. This feature was mainly implemented in preparation for proper display of dialogue excerpts on the site.
 

THE NPCS TAB

Finally, the NPCs Tab: This Tab contains everything related to the NPC. Select a location first (e.g. Marcogg, as there are example characters here), then select one of the NPCs below, as you’ll only see only those NPCs in the list, which are of the location selected above. As soon as you select an NPC, the dialogue will start. Either with the keyword START (if the character is unknown to you, see combo-box at the NPCs Tab) or with the keyword GREETING, if you meet him/her again. If there is a picture, you’ll see the picture on the top right, and below the picture you will see the character’s name (if known), occupation and race or the unknown description.

Note: The combo-boxes (Location and NPC) only contain those locations and NPCs, which already have some sort of elaboration (which means: where there exist NPCs with the keyword START).

The Dialogue

Talking to the character should be more or less self explanatory. You’ll see the text in the dialogue textbox on top and can select questions/responses below. If you move over the answers they will highlight. Click on a question/response and the text above will change. In case there are more than 3 answers you can use the up/down arrows to the right of the answer textboxes.

If the character tells you his/her name during the dialogue, his/her unknown description will be replaced with his/her name and the combo-box at the NPCs tab will change it’s value as well. Note that this information as well as you player name, gender etc. will be stored. If you close the form and re-enter, the NPCs you have talked to already, will still be known. However, if you want to test the unknown part of a dialogue you can still change this at the known/unknown combo-box.

Oh, and don’t forget the “Bye!” at the bottom of the screen, this is helpful to test the character’s bye-texts:)

The Dialogue Options

Last, but not least we have the so-called Dialogue Options on the bottom right of the screen. In fact you can switch between two different things here: The Development Tools and the Topic List. Use the button on the top right to show either the one frame or the other.

 

At the Dialogue-Options frame you have the following possibilities:

Meet NPC
Starts a dialogue with the currently selected NPC from the beginning. Which means: It will start with the keyword GREETING (if character is already known) or the keyword START (if unknown).

Restart Game
Marks all NPCs as unknown and resets all other important variables for dialogues (though player details are kept). After that the Meet NPC button is clicked automatically.

Open Key in Editor
Opens the Dialogue Editor form (in case it isn’t already open), selects the NPC in the combo-box, refreshes the treeview and jumps automatically to the currently active keyword in the dialogue. Helpful especially in order to add new questions/responses. Changes however aren’t refreshed automatically if you return to the Dialogue Test.You need to restart the dialogue to see the newly added questions/responses.

Save
Saves the content of the texbox to the current keyword. Very helpful in order to correct typos or to add more text.

To try this out, talk to an NPC, then click in the textbox and change a word or two. You will see that the Save-Button changes to Save [Editing...] as the program recognizes that you want to change something. Press the button now, and if the [Editing ...] text disappears, everything was saved successfully.

Note that if you’re editing the text and forget to press the Save button before you click on a question/response you will be prompted with a message box, asking you if the changes should be saved or not.

Close
Well, closes the whole thing:)

* * * * *

At the Topics/Questions- frame you'll find the following things of notice:

The Topic List

The Topics/Questions list is filled automatically by the program. Everytime you ask a question the program checks for two things in order to add a keyword to the topics list:

- Add keyword to permanent keyword list has to be checked
- The display field has to contain text

If these requirements are met, the display value will be added to the list (the list is stored seperately for each character). If you want to ask the NPC about this topic later again, you simply need to doubleclick on the word(s) in the list and the program will scan through all the questions of the character to find the right question you can pose. If this question could be found, it is added to the questions pool. In the example below we’ve doubleclicked on “Socks Importance” and the question was then added to the pool. Simply click on the question and pose it again.

Asking userdefined Questions

Above the topics list you can see a textbox. You can type in any text there and then press the ?-button to pose this question to the character (or you can simply hit ENTER in the textbox). The program scans through all values you have put into the display field of this character (it doesn not search the keyword!), and in case it is found, the appropriate question is dug up and displayed, even if you have never asked the character this question before. Once you see Hieronimus counting peas for example (part of a random greeting I’ve put in there), you can ask him about peas:

There’s one thing you have to take care of in this case: Providing the questions, which lead to the keyword. This has to be done by adding a fake key for such questions called [QUESTIONS]. You can write anything into the text area here, as this will never be displayed. Now add all questions to this keyword you can ask a character, which are not revealed during any kind of typical dialogue with him/her.

By the way: In case you  type in a word in the textbox, which is not recognized as a valid question, the question will still move to the question pool in the form of "Do you know anything about [word]?" and if you click on this question you will get the answer "I don't know anything about that."

Final Notes concerning Dialogues

Please note that the program remembers the state of dialogue where the player left off and displays unasked questions when the player meets the character again. This ensures that no questions are missed.
 

[Continue with Part V]

Information provided by Artimidor Federkiel View Profile