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Author Topic: Dialogue Example  (Read 1208 times)
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« on: 26 August 2002, 05:55:00 »

As it was requested lately how NPC dialogues should look like and if they should already be prepared (e.g. in Atimins Parthanul village), I thought I'll give you a first example of such a dialogue scheme, so that you know how I intend to have them designed. Note that this scheme is not approved from the programming side so far (and not to be realized soon), but it can already serve in order to design dialogues, so that you can prepare dialogue branches etc. If the scheme is changed or expanded this doesn't change the spoken texts, but only what lies behind the prepared dialogues and how this is handled in the database. With other worlds: If you have your ideas already in your head, you can already design you dialogues, no prob. This is the most important:)   - I personally favor the fast integration of such a dialogue engine after we have our graphical interface allowing us to use lots of pictures from the site. I think we need dialogues fast as

1. I guess world developers will have the most fun with it
2. it adds interactivity to the game and makes the setting playable already (even in single player mode) - currently you don't have much fun walking around in deserted areas, so I wouldn't call that "playable" only "viewable"
3. In the dialogues the whole Santharian details which you can find on the site only can come to life, much more than in "dead" places descriptions: bard's can tell you poems and legends, fishermen can fill you in about the villages history, the marketday in Marcogg they look forward to and the giant kraken story and hundreds of other little details.

Well, here's a short explanation on how the current scheme works, for all those who already have some ideas... It's a bit technical and unfortunately you can only read it here at the Forum at the moment, but I hope it helps to understand the basics behind it:

The dialogue below which serves as our example is meant for a Gravedigger named Gordoth in Marcogg. He's not the funniest guy you'll ever met, but it's a good example of a typical character.

Everything is based on a keyword. At the beginning (when 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. You can try this by scrolling down, search for the keyword START and read it. In the game this will be much more comfortable of course.

You'll see that below the text you spot something like: "Q1: BlahBlah", followed by {GORDOTH} The "Q" stands for "question" and tells you which question or dialogue statement in general (doesn't necessarily need to be a question) is now available after having read the keyword and to which new keyword the dialogue branches if you pose this question or utter this dialogue statement. Everytime you pose a question, it disappears and cannot be asked anymore (unless you restart the dialogue).

So if you read the START keyword, and then click on the "Who are you?" question you should go to the next keyword and read that. In this case the question links to the GORDOTH text etc. Sometime when a character tells you about something this can result in 3 different questions, which are available now, Q1, Q2, and Q3. In fact there is a pool of questions, to which new questions are added, and whenever you click on one, it is removed. So in fact it can be that there are 5 questions at the same time in the pool as you haven't asked all questions and new keywords have opened some more possibities. - Got it? Well, just try to navigate through the keywords, then you should get a clearer picture. It's not that complicated, and in the game it all of course is handled automatically by the program:)  

There are also some special things you will encounter when reading through this example:

 Words to replace

#PY# = Player's Name (If you find that in the text, this place holder will be replaced by the Player's Name)
#BY# = Bye-statement (chosen from a Byes-pool, depends on if the character is polite or not etc. and what daytime it is at the moment)
#GR# = Greetings-statement (see above, could e.g. be replaced in our example with "Yeah?" Gordoth frowns. "What do you want so early in the morning?")

 Variables

Variables are program internal things, which are changed during your reading of the dialogue which tell the program later when they check the value of the variable, what should be done in certain cases. These variables are placed at each keyword below the questions. Mostly there are no variables, but whenever they are there, they do something pretty important.

An example would be the NOWKNOWN variable: It is set when the player has learned the name of the character he's talking to at the moment. This is important because if you quit the dialogue before you know the character's name, you'll start with the START keyword again, but if you know the character you will start with another keyword, namely GREETING, which then can be something like: "Hello #PY#," Gordoth says., while START usually is a very unspecific text: You see an old man standing at the bar. etc.

The NOWKNOWN variable BTW is also important to decide if you get a personal bye text when you say bye to a character or an unpersonal one (either calls the keywords BYE or BYEUNKNOWN).

Here's a list of all variables currently of relevance:

NOWKNOWN = Is set when the player has learned the name of the character he's talking to at the moment.

NPCEXIT = The dialogue ends, the NPC quits talking to you, even though you don't want it. This can happen if your answers or questions have offended the NPC and he/she closes the door in front of you.

LOCK = Disables the possbility to select other questions from the pool temporarily, meaning: for the current selection. This is used at typical Yes/No questions the NPC asks you and you have to answer, e.g. the person asks you "Are you happy?" and you get Q1: "Yes" and Q2: "No". There would still be other questions in the questions pool (e.g. "How does it feel to be a gravedigger?"), but LOCK forces you to select "Yes" or "No". Next round however, you can select the gravedigger-question which was suppressed by LOCK.

REMOVE/DELETEKEY = Removes certain specified questions from the pool so that they can't be asked anymore. This is usually combined with the LOCK variable (e.g. to remove the unused option in a yes/no question), e.g.

Keyword THEY: Contains text where the NPC asks a yes/no question, here LOCK=TRUE (see explanation above)
Keyword THEY_NO: Contains the answer of the NPC when you say no. (REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = THEY*)
Keyword THEY_YES: Contains the answer of the NPC when you say yes. (REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = THEY*)

Whatever you select as an answer, the set REMOVE variable tells the program to remove all questions in the questions pool (the No-answer is still in the pool, though you selected yes) which start with THEY (THEY* means the asteriks can stand for everything).

---

BTW: There are some more special things existing in the current scheme, but they are not of importance for this example. I can add them later in case this system is clearly understandable.


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Edited by: Artimidor Federkiel at: 8/25/02 12:58:12 pm
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #1 on: 26 August 2002, 05:56:00 »


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.

Q1: "Who are you?" {GORDOTH}

---

GREETING

Gordoth. He still is standing there, just the same way as you have left him last time. With his meager figure and his cold eyes. As if he has awaited you already...

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

Q1: "Hello, gravedigger!" {GREETGRAVEDIGGER}

---

GREETGRAVEDIGGER

"You name it: Gravedigger."

He says it, as if he's convinced of his profession.

"Have THEY sent you? I mean: Are you simply lost, or are your here, to consider using my services?"

The darkrobed looks deeply in your eyes.

Q1: "Sorry, but I'm completely wrong here!" {WHATDO_WRONG}

Q2: "No, no. I want that you work for me!" {WHATDO_SERVICES}

Q3: "No, none of those." {WHATDO_HMMM}

(LOCK = TRUE)

---

WHATDO_WRONG

"I thought like that!"

He laughs sneeringly.

"See you later then", he says calm and clear, that you fear he might really mean it in a very frightening way...

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = WHATDO*)
(NPCEXIT = TRUE)

---

WHATDO_SERVICES

"Well, you need to be a bit more stiff, if I could be of help to you..."

He seems amused by your naivity.

"But what isn't now, can be sooner or later, isn't it?"

Q1: "You always refer to 'THEY'. Who are 'THEY'?" {THEY}

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = WHATDO*)

---

WHATDO_HMMM

"Well? What is it then?"

Q1: "You always refer to 'THEY'. Who are 'THEY'?" {THEY}

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = WHATDO*)

---

GORDOTH

Long, embarassing silence.

You already think that the darkrobed figure hasn't heard your greeting, when his seemingly stone-made face turns to you again, suddenly speaking very distinct:

"Gordoth", you hear his hoarse voice, "Gordoth, the Undertaker."

Two terrifying eyes stare at you, and you feel a cold shower runnning down your spine...

Q1: "So... Well met, Gordoth!" {GORDOTH2}

(NOWKNOWN = TRUE)

---

GORDOTH2

"Yes, Gordoth. This is what 'they' are calling me."

Q1: "They? Who do you mean with 'they'?" {THEY}

---

THEY
Gordoth loosens his crossed arms and points with a long skinny finger to the door.

"There. There, outside!"

He crosses his arms again and continues with few, but not less clear words:

"However, all will come to me once. All long to enter their deep, dark tombs... Because down there they are at home and finally released from the agony here above - yes, finally free... "

Still Gordoth stands there like a powerful statue that you have the impression, the voice, which you hear, is only an illusion...

"Are you lucky with your life?" Gordoth stares at the wall, but his question is directed to you. "Say, are you really lucky here?", he repeats.

Q1: "Yes, I think so." {THEY_YES}

Q2: "No, surely not." {THEY_NO}

(LOCK = TRUE)

---

THEY_YES

"Ha, you're unexperienced then. But you still have a lot to learn what life has in stock for you...."

Q1: "You are right. We all have to leave this world someday." {ALL}

Q2: "You say, that life is nothing more than a permanent agony?" {AGONY}

Q3: "Is the undertaking business a rewarding job?" {UNDERTAKER}

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = THEY*)

---

THEY_NO

"Then you are welcomed, and feel at home here... Isn't the silence of the grave holy for us, who are born with a dislike for all things living? And a coffin the desired bed? Aren't I right, friend?"

Q1: "Yes, Gordoth." {FRIEND_YES}

Q2: "No." {FRIEND_NO}

(LOCK = TRUE)
(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = THEY*)

---

FRIEND_YES

He smiles at you. A long arm appears from under his black cloak. The undertaker pats you on the shoulder.

"We understand each other."

Q1: "You are right. We all have to leave this world someday." {ALL}

Q2: "You say, that life is nothing more than a permanent agony?" {AGONY}

Q3: "Is the undertaking business a rewarding job?" {UNDERTAKER}

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = FRIEND*)

---

FRIEND_NO

"You halfhearted one! What kind of misery is it, that doesn't want to descend into the grave? - But you shall learn this wisdom before your end. Be assured!"

Q1: "You are right. We all have to leave this world someday." {ALL}


Q2: "You say, that life is nothing more than a permanent agony?" {AGONY}

Q3: "Is the undertaking business a rewarding job?" {UNDERTAKER}

(REMOVE = TRUE, DeleteKey = FRIEND*)

---


ALL

"Nobody escapes the Gods and the deserved grave! The earth receives everyone in the same way, be it the Count or a lousy beggar - the worms are delighted with both..."

Gordoth stands in superior pose.

"But note this: No worm will ever gnaw on MY bones! As I am not one of those mortals like the ones outside, and like you. I was created by the Gods themselves to finish what they have begun. - Don't you see it? Hundreds of years have passed this body as if they had no interest... Ay: That is a sign! And so I will - if it has to be that way - fulfill my duty till the end of the days, or at least until the day the prophets have predicted. Then the Gods will even bereft me from my mortal remains. Then, when the destiny of Santharia has come to pass..."

Q1: "What kind of Santharian destiny is this of which you speak of?" {DESTINY}

---

DESTINY

"Only the Gods know what will happen to us, noone can predict exactly what will be then."

Q1: "In which kind of Gods do you believe in, if I may ask..." {GODS}

---

GODS

An amused grin breaks through the earnest face of the undertaker.

"Ha! The Gods! What the people do, to find some! But noone has ever searched at the right place! I know that, as I probably have to do much more with the Gods than anyone else... In the tombs you should seek them out! And dead you should be, then you sure will find them... Down there they are waiting for us, a long, long eternity..."

Gordoth gets serene again, nearly angry:

"But what do the people bother about that? They prefer digging for some stones and worship them! At least that's better than finding nothing, for what it would be worth to be bored a whole life long..."

---

AGONY

"Life has no value. It goes steeply upward and steeply downward and there's no place, where the time stands still, where you could rest. Yes, you'd need to be able to rest - from life itself to learn about its value, not from the things it contains, but from life itself you'd need to rest! You'd need to be dead with your soul at peace to look back on your past, to finally know what it is good for. But death takes everything, even this look back... - Only the Gods know, what they do, never do we. However, we need to go on - who knows if we even have the right to do it?"

Q1: "And which role does our death play in the labyrinths of life, Gordoth? Has it any meaning?" {DEATH}

---

DEATH

"Death is everything we can hope for. Your death is also your release. Everything else is just brabbling of the priests and has no importance at all."

---

UNDERTAKER

"Definitely not a job for the weak. But I'm already used to it. I understand the dead much better than the living, believe me!"

Q1: "How is it possible to understand the dead, Gordoth?" {DEAD}

---

DEAD

"Just go outside, out of the town, where they all lie together and are humming their silent death's song. They are all happy out there, I'm very sure about this... And - they talk to us, as they gently nestle their thoughts in our minds, telling us about the transitory: 'everything is transitory, so transitory...', they whisper without speaking. And how dreadful it may seem to you, once you're there and listen to their quiet voices, it seems so comforting... - Every time I dig a grave in the evening at the cemetery, driving one spade after the other into the earth und hear this melody of silence, it seems like a relevation... Yes, it's not wicked to listen, it's wonderful, so wonderful..."

He makes a wise face, as people probably do who are convinced to bear a deep wisdom within themselves.

"You may ask Kai, our poet, about his Death's Song - I like it very much. He knows, about what he's talking. Just as I do."

Q1: "Is this poet your friend?" {KAI}

Q2: "Death's poem?" {DEATHSONG}

---

DEATHSONG

"I read it very often. It is as if the spirit of the dead lives on in these verses - and if Kai himself recites it, it is even sader and even more truthful. He sure knows his profession, that's for sure. Suffering and death stand close together..."

Q1: "Tell me: What is it, Kai suffers from?" {SUFFERING}

---

SUFFERING

"Talk to him, and he may tell you."

---

KAI

We have many things in common: Perhaps it is our melancholy, which connects as - we're indeed like brothers. And Kai writes the most beautiful lyrics, as he writes with the blood, in which he soaks his quill. - But he doesn't believe in the truth of his poems. That's his mistake. He still has hope for his life, but there is none. His poems know much, much more than he does..."

---

BYE

"#BY#", mumbles Gordoth, which probably means something similar to a good-bye.

---

BYEUNKNOWN

The black robed figure turns away from you.


The Santharian Dream Webmaster - Let Fantasy Dreams come true!
World Development Admin - The Forum where Worlds are born...

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"Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator, and this must be the heart." -- Maria (Metropolis)
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