Over the past year, we have been working on a reliable engine, the OGL 3.5e rules implementation, hundreds of effects and thousands of assets for different scenarios which our level designers have put together to beautiful places that could be called ‘narrative’ on their very own.
Professional authors developed a world and story that are deeper than anything we (being non-professional in that area) could have come up with on our own. And now it’s finally time to sew all of this together by using the mechanism that beats as the heart of most RPGs: dialogue trees.
We are aware that dialogue trees have their shortcomings and there’s probably not a player out there who felt that any game *always* provided all the answers he or she would have come up with. But the sheer narrational potential of this mechanism prevented us from ever raising concerns about their final application in the game.
Over the last weeks we completed our own dialogue system that includes a powerful and comfortable tree editor to provide our designers with a tool to quickly create and modify dialogues for the game:
Apart from being good-looking it provides the power of lua-script that we already use to trigger stuff like levers, traps and secret doors. That means a designer can easily reward you with any object in a dialogue, or set an NPC’s faction to hostile if you insult him. Even better, the script allows for checks of the player character so certain dialogue options are only available if you char’s intelligence or charisma matches a certain minimum value, or only if he is an elf. They are even able to create easter eggs like, let’s say an NPC that only talks to you if your party consists entirely of dwarves.
Now, we are looking forward to use this mighty new tool to complete all dialogues in Chaos Chronicles and we are eager to see how it will help us to sew the story and the world together and provide all the characters (and especially NPCs that join your party) with an appearance that is both deep and real.
Of course, our budget and development time won’t allow us to replace Fallout New Vegas’ entry in the Guinness Book of Records (with 65.000 lines of dialogue in a single player RPG). On the other hand it is quite obvious that quantity cannot make up for quality and rather than having thousands of lines to read, it is more important that your conversations do in fact have an impact on how the world evolves and on the path your character chooses. For example, it is important that you have real choices rather than just being only provided with a couple of answers that all turn out with the same result. With the story almost finished and level construction coming to an end we will keep all that in mind when giving Chaos Chronicles the ‘finishing touch’ in terms of story-telling.
But now we will stop chattering and finish this entry with a fitting quote from Planescape: Torment, our all-time paragon for great dialogue design, before we give away too much.
Because, as the ‘Book of Pestilential Thought’ tells us