Let's kill the dialog tree (Gaming)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Thursday, March 23, 2023, 08:31 (488 days ago)

So Disco Elysium has over a million words. That's more than the entire series of Harry Potter. All crammed into one game. It's impossibly rich, detailed, and flexible. And yet, you still talk with dialogue trees.


I'm frankly shocked dialogue trees are still around. The problems for me are two fold. For most games, they just aren't that interesting in terms of decision making. You click on every option until characters repeat themselves, and then you move on. That's a little boring no? It's the illusion of meaningful interaction.

But even when it matters, like if you are selecting from possible responses, it feels like you are picking an outcome rather than creating one yourself. Other times, the character can make connections in the choices before you do spoiling moments of insight. It all feels so… limiting.

Why not do what adventure games have done for years, but simply with the dialogue system?


The basic system of adventure games has always been sentence construction when you get down to it. You have items, objects in the world, and verbs. You build a sentence and if it's meaningful, the game lets you progress. Pick 'give', select the newspaper, then click on the old man. "Give newspaper to old man". Now he'll go read it and you can sneak on stage to confront Sophia. The game didn't present you with a list of 5 things to do, you choosing one till it worked. So why not extend this to dialogue?

Why not synthesize responses and queries using a similar system? Have a series of verbs - "Ask about" "Tell about""Greet" "Where is" etc, and pair it with a system that keeps track of concepts, items, and characters. If you're looking for treasure, wouldn't it feel better to formulate the sentence "Ask about buried treasure", versus just picking it from a list? Conversations would be much more creative no? You'd need to think, and make the connections yourself. Probe a bit and think about what you want to say.

Such a system would be a good first step, since it's still limited to the objects, items, characters, and concepts the game would track and hold for you. There's still a finite number of interactions, which can be accounted for. This would also prevent the ability to ask useless out there questions if you had a real text prompt.

What games have you all played that have interesting dialogue systems? Anything out there cool and unique?


Let's kill the dialog tree

by Vortech @, A Fourth Wheel, Thursday, April 06, 2023, 12:00 (474 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Use sling with pebbles at giant.

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