Hello, I'm Anne! I make art, write stories, and apparently develop games now! Occasionally I sing and compose songs.



Excellence in Narrative - Pacing

Prefacing this with, "I'm someone who gets very easily bored with reading. Even if I'm a writer. Even if I'm writing for my own game. Even if my actual day job, in fact, involves reading huge walls of text."

I don't fully agree with your Method One. Having the players mash the button to go to the next line of dialogue seems pretty excessive, and it's definitely something I didn't like to go through back when I had to replay scenes to get screenshots for my review of your game. I wouldn't recommend "line breaks" for ALL the dialogue; I would want it used sparingly and as an effect, not a mandatory part of every dialogue.

However, I do like having pauses between sentences. Sometimes I utilize the short pause between phrases or words or even letters/characters. These pauses suggest the manner in which the character is speaking and thus gives me a better flow of how to perceive the words I'm reading on the screen. (Yeah, I kinda disagree with the first commenter. While people can have different headcanons for how a character speaks on a written medium, the writers are allowed to suggest how their own characters speak their words and sentences. Also consider that there are people like me who see a wall of text on one go and instantly lose interest, and sometimes presenting messages in small chunks can make it easier for us to absorb information.)

Also, very obviously, Method One is not applicable to all games. Text-based adventures, for example, requires the dev to present everything as a wall of text. But I do think Method One is one way to at least introduce a bit more flavor to RPG Maker engine dialogues.

I do agree with your Method Two, meanwhile. The OSI can add nice breaks between walls of text. Like what the commenter above says, even the basicest of actions you can do with your chosen engine - animations, bubbles, and movement routes - can add a little more flavor to the dialogue.

I agree with both sentiments that OSI is underutilized and excessive. For me, it is underutilized in that many games will let dialogues go on and on without even having a single change in the screen beyond the dialogue boxes, and it is excessive in that devs will sometimes have OSI occur while they're trying to give important information in dialogue boxes, making it difficult to focus on just one aspect of the scene.

The only thing I would want to add is my own advice and personal guide on (dialogue box-related) pacing, which is related to some of the sentiments that the first two commenters implied:
  • cut your dialogue and/or narration,
  • learn how to express ideas in less words, and
  • assign a rough number of dialogue boxes that would feel acceptable before the boredom or reading fatigue sets in.

After all, pacing isn't just "how do I make sure the player is reading the important information I placed in the game"; it's also "how do I make sure the player can follow what I'm trying to say in my game".
Pages: 1