HOW LONG CAN YOU TOLERATE DIALOGUE TO BE?

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Actually, this is a topic I made quite some time ago, but I thought it would be relevant to bring it to life here.


Right now, I'm doing some heavy work on my game, and it hit me as I'm writing that there are some pretty text intensive parts of the plot. You know, where you have to read through quite a bit of text boxes before you can proceed through the game. This lead me to a question I've been having for a while; how long can you tolerate sequences of an (amateur) game where it's all plot progression before you can play again? How many instances of said sequences can you stomach at a time in a few hours of play? Are you willing to get into the plot at the cost of reading a few boxes of text, or are you prompted to shut the game off? How much is too much?

Realize that I'm not referring to infamously long sequences like Xenosaga's that were 15 minutes to 45 minutes long, but just a part of the game where you do have to read and take in the story. What is your stance regarding that?
I stick to the Rule Of 3 (it has many applications).

I try to limit any barrage of text to 3 textboxes or less. Once the third one is done, I interrupt it with something visual, even if it is nothing more than a charset pacing back and forth for a few steps, or a simple 'Yes/No' choice box.

When writing for games, you have to keep in mind that it is an interactive media, and you shouldn't stick with one type of feedback (ie- text) for too long.
Depends on how much I like the game/ story. If I have to go through blocks of text right at the start its a major turn off. I'm happy to go through a hell of a lot normally though. It doesn't bother me much. I like games that are heavy on the story.

Sometimes if I'm doing a long cutscene I forget that most people just wanna get on with it.
I agree with Kentona, combining the dialogue with either visuals or having the player make a choice can usually make dialogue tolerate for long amounts of time. The problem with most amateur games that I've been playing is that when the creator tries to emphasize on the story, they usually just show a blank screen with text scrolling. There needs to be some sort of visual or interactive aspect accompanying the text. Usually I just add animations to the characters, but depending on the type of game you're going for, you might make things more visual or more interactive.
author=kentona link=topic=1033.msg14520#msg14520 date=1210009225
I stick to the Rule Of 3 (it has many applications).

I try to limit any barrage of text to 3 textboxes or less. Once the third one is done, I interrupt it with something visual, even if it is nothing more than a charset pacing back and forth for a few steps, or a simple 'Yes/No' choice box.

When writing for games, you have to keep in mind that it is an interactive media, and you shouldn't stick with one type of feedback (ie- text) for too long.

Wow that is a brilliant post.

A lot of people will say it is a question of whether the dialog is good or not but I don't know if that's entirely valid. Without things such as voice-acting and motion-captured acting to keep our audience interested, we should really er on the side of conservatism. There is a good chance you can make your text more succinct or even cut out a great deal of it.

A great example is USG: A New Beginning, where there is far too much text that says much too little. Many people skipped through cutscenes or complained that they read them but got bored. While it is certainly novel and awesome that USG is a top-down shooter with cutscenes and a story, a lot of people wished that they were shorter. USG probably could have benefitted from greatly truncated dialog (maybe I will talk to Hima about this as he is releasing a substantial upgrade to the game along with its OST).
Alright. Well, for an example, can you guys judge an excerpt of text between these two guys? One is the main character's alias Leo, and the other is another soon to be party member Bruce. The dialogue takes place relatively near the beginning of the game, and the main character has to escape from an (not evil, just a country) Empire he's wanted in. The strange grammar in the sentences are breaks in the dialogue in the maker.

Tell me, is this too long? Take into account that the dialogue will be split up into text boxes.

For a better visual of the characters:


Bruce


Leo

Bartender
Look what the cat dragged in at 4 in the morning. Finally got 'em, eh chief?

Imperial Officer
Yeah...can we use the room in the back?

Bartender
Yeah, come on around back.

Leo
You turncoat!\.\. I knew I shouldn't have trusted you!

Imperial Officer
Alright kid, now we can finally talk.

Leo
I have nothing to talk about with you, asshole.

Imperial Officer
Calm down kid, \.I'm on your side.

Leo
...What?\.

Imperial Officer
My name is Bruce Harcort.\.\. I've orders under the Imperial Army to escort you safely from the Empire.

Leo
...Come again?\.\. You're telling me that you're part of the same Imperial Army that's been ruthlessly
hunting me down for a few days?

Bruce
Let be me more specific. I'm under orders from the Emperor himself to escort you out of the Empire.

Leo
That makes even less sense.\.\. You're making me nervous.

Bruce
I know you're one of the remaining Freelancers.\.\.The same Freelancers who mounted an assault on
a secret Prelude ruin under the Imperial Capital, with the intent of stealing one of the
Empire's top secret relics.\.\.Correct?

Leo
...

Bruce
But something went wrong,\.\.and the Imperial Defense Force, led by Archmagister Cyril Proteus found and
killed most of the Freelancers.

Leo
...You mean, they really are...\.\.They're dead?

Bruce
A few of them, like you,\.are unaccounted for, but yes, most of them are confirmed dead.\.\. Of course
there is one who crossed over to the Empire...

Leo
Scorpio...\.\.Dammit!\.\.\. \Get to the point!\.\.Why are you helping me!?

Bruce
I can only get to the basics.\.\. I don't know if you're from here or not, but I'm sure you've heard of
all of the political turmoil in the Empire, between the Council of Lords and the Imperial Faction.\.\. Ever
since Emperor Due Solis took the throne, the Imperial Faction has adopted a more moderate stance towards
the Alliance.

Leo
...But the Council of Lords, who took control of the military since then, still pushes for war against the
Alliance.\.\. I'm aware.

Bruce
Right.\.\. But the tables have turned, and the Imperial-Alliance War is over.\.\. Power is going back into the
Imperial Faction, but with the fiasco with the Freelancers, the Council of Lords wants to use that as
momentum to continue the war effort with the Alliance.\.\. The Emperor can't have that, so His
Majesty assigned me to escort the last remaining Freelancer out of the Empire before the Imperial Army
catches you, puts you on public trial, and the War starts all over again.

Leo
...But why would the Imperial Faction want to whisk me away just like that?\.\. They must know that
it was Gradia of the Alliance that hired us.\.\. Even if they don't want war, why let that slide?

Bruce
I can't answer your questions all at once, kid.\.\. For one, did you forget the Imperial
Army still thinks I've captured you and that you're en route to the Capital? I have to get you out of
this city, quickly.

Leo
To go where?\.\. The road to the borders are closed, and I'm sure you just can't put me in a ship
with a care package and best wishes.

Bruce
No, I can't, but I know a way to get us out of the Empire.\.\. The question is, are you
going to make this hard or easy for me?\.\. I know we both have the same short term goals of
getting you the hell outta here, but if for whatever reason you want to be stubborn, I'm
not above knocking you out and carrying you over my shoulder.

Leo
...\.\.What choice do I have?\.\. I'm a fugitive here, and I have to report back to Gradia anyway.\.\.
I'll follow your lead, Bruce.

Bruce
Good.\.\. Now, let's get
the hell outta here.



Ocean
Resident foodmonster
10503
I've never liked pauses in dialogue. I guess some other people do because it might simulate pauses in real dialogue or whatever, but I have a very fast reading rate (I never like reading an article along with someone because I'll want to turn the page and they're still halfway or less done with that page). If I'm hearing them speak, it's different, but not just seeing text on the screen. I like to use \> \< that command in RM to show the text instantly.

Kentona's method is interesting and I should look into that. What I tend to do is have cutscenes be skipped, so if for some reason you're replaying the game or died and have to go back to that point, you can just skip the dialogue altogether. Or even if you just don't care for it at all and want to play. I try to shorten the dialogue as much as I can, and tutorials I like to show pictures and lead them through it rather than explain everything in text.
Well, keep in mind that above all I'm trying to tell a story. Doing interesting things to spice up the dialogue is great, but I could never subscribe myself to outright replacing it.
This is a nice topic. I'm actually worried, in my game, that I have too short cutscenes and dialouges; I usually try and stick to "whatever this character is trying to say, he will say it in one or two boxes" then it's either reply or bye.

Also, I never use pauses or anything of that kind in the message; often when I play RMgames myself, I sit and shift through all the dialouge, and I don't like it.
My games tend to have short and concise dialogue. Being able to tell a lot of information in few words is an invaluable skill in writing pretty much anything. Unfortunately I didn't really value conciseness much until I got to college, but in the past three years my writing has improved tremendously because of it.

Well, keep in mind that above all I'm trying to tell a story.

Then write a book. If you're making a game, above all you should be trying to make a game.
Im with the guy that says he didnt like pauses. Pauses really piss me off during RPG's. ESPECIALLY when you cant skip it.. it makes me want to click X/ just skip past everything. I dont like slow paced stories especially if its things that dont matter.

Son\.\. go get some milk from the store.

Wtf? You made me wait 4 seconds for a friggin errand? ..The hell man!
Kentona makes a valid point that is worth considering.

As for storytelling in games, it's important to keep things entertaining. There are numerous ways to do this, but making a twenty-minute intro with loads of dialogue is generally not one of them.

On pauses, I use them and am not ashamed of them. So you aren't alone, Feldschlacht!

author=Despain link=topic=1033.msg14558#msg14558 date=1210012438
Then write a book. If you're making a game, above all you should be trying to make a game.

This is true, but keep in mind that many well-received games are also very story intensive. Quintessence is a good example. I think the most important thing is to understand the limitations and advantages of video games as a storytelling medium. Hell, many adventure games have excellent stories.

As I've mentioned before, I plan to make some storytelling articles on topics like this after I'm done with college.
I do use pauses myself, however, they're the fancy kind: \!

This means that, yes, there is a pause, but it means that the player can move at their own pace. That's really the main thing with pauses and such in dialogue: let the player move at their own pace. It's why I don't like the pause things or the auto-close, unless it's absolutely necessary.

As for how long... Usually depends on the scene. I shy away from (at least now) really long blocks of text on a scrolling background or something like that. And I've tried to give my sprites all sorts of different poses so that the action the screen remains interesting. It's also good to have people moving around, with the "Allow Other Events to Continue" box checked. I also like to use emotes a lot. Not the text ones, but the little emote bubble ones. Some people look down on this, but I liked the style that games like SO1/2 and the Tales series have with using them. It's especially useful with sprites because then the player knows exactly what their emotion is like, not just what they can infer from text. It's a bit of a literal interpretation of the classic writing rule "show, don't tell."
I think pauses are okay, just don't abuse them and use them far too much. I also, I don't really follow any rules with dialogue, I just go with whatever seems right.
Then write a book. If you're making a game, above all you should be trying to make a game.

Fair retort, but consider that we're making RPGs here. Making a game should be the most important step, but storytelling should be right up there with it. There is certainly such a thing as too much dialogue, but if you have a habit of skipping dialogue or hurrily reading it without taking it in, perhaps that person shouldn't be playing RPGs.


And no one has given their thoughts on my excerpt up there?
Ocean
Resident foodmonster
10503
author=Feldschlacht IV link=topic=1033.msg14580#msg14580 date=1210019275
Then write a book. If you're making a game, above all you should be trying to make a game.

Fair retort, but consider that we're making RPGs here. Making a game should be the most important step, but storytelling should be right up there with it. There is certainly such a thing as too much dialogue, but if you have a habit of skipping dialogue or hurrily reading it without taking it in, perhaps that person shouldn't be playing RPGs.


And no one has given their thoughts on my excerpt up there?
Storytelling does not have to be right up there with it. A lot of early RPGs aren't even story focused, so saying someone has to play RPGs for the story is silly. I don't play Oblivion for the storytelling. I don't play FF5 for the story. I don't play Chrono Trigger for the story. I don't play Secret of Mana for the story. It's not to say that RPGs shouldn't have a good story or whatever (I wouldn't like these games to have no story whatsoever). But you're saying that all RPG players are playing RPGs for the same reasons. If I don't care for the dialogue in your game but do like how the game itself plays, why should you force me to care for your dialogue/story? I'm not talking about you in particular, I mean in General.
I don't mind how long it is but it has to keep me entertained. Seeing lot's and lot's of dialogue that has nothing to do with the story at all is going to turn me away but i would have to agree with kentona. Having some visual effects etc is a good way of keeping the player entertained and not bored out of there mind.
author=Ocean link=topic=1033.msg14589#msg14589 date=1210020468
author=Feldschlacht IV link=topic=1033.msg14580#msg14580 date=1210019275
Then write a book. If you're making a game, above all you should be trying to make a game.

Fair retort, but consider that we're making RPGs here. Making a game should be the most important step, but storytelling should be right up there with it. There is certainly such a thing as too much dialogue, but if you have a habit of skipping dialogue or hurrily reading it without taking it in, perhaps that person shouldn't be playing RPGs.


And no one has given their thoughts on my excerpt up there?
Storytelling does not have to be right up there with it. A lot of early RPGs aren't even story focused, so saying someone has to play RPGs for the story is silly. I don't play Oblivion for the storytelling. I don't play FF5 for the story. I don't play Chrono Trigger for the story. I don't play Secret of Mana for the story. It's not to say that RPGs shouldn't have a good story or whatever (I wouldn't like these games to have no story whatsoever). But you're saying that all RPG players are playing RPGs for the same reasons. If I don't care for the dialogue in your game but do like how the game itself plays, why should you force me to care for your dialogue/story? I'm not talking about you in particular, I mean in General.

This is just my personal taste, but story is probably the most important aspect of an RPG for me; and if it doesn't have a good story - it would need to have some kind of spectacular gameplay to make up for this shortcomming. I never liked a lot of the really old school games like FF1 because of this. 4 Generic, silent hereos out to save the world from a villain who want's to destroy the world for no apparent reason.

If the dialog is interesting enough, I usually don't find myself skipping through it; but I guess some people's taste differ and it would be good not to throw too many blocks of text around unless there's a very good reason.

author=Nightblade link=topic=1033.msg14604#msg14604 date=1210021417
I never liked a lot of the really old school games like FF1 because of this. 4 Generic, silent hereos out to save the world from a villain who want's to destroy the world for no apparent reason.

Hm. I can't actually remember if the original version actually had the kind of awesome ending that the Dawn of Souls version had. Because, if it truly did, then FF1 had a really good plot; the problem was that it was really bad executed.
You need a balance between story and gameplay. For me personally, I want a game where I actually get to control the the characters for a decent amount of time. If I wanted something that was 90% story, I'd go find a visual novel.
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