Can We Make Talking as Much Fun as Shooting? | Game Maker’s Toolkit

There’s a tantalising promise, made by certain
role-playing games, that says you can talk your way out of fights. Make sure you spend your skill points on charisma
and intelligence, rather than strength and dexterity, and you’ll become a silver tongued
diplomat who is more powerful with words than swords. That worked a lot better in written form. I’m so sorry. Uh. This idea started with classic, Dungeons and
Dragons-inspired western RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment but it has stuck
around in modern games of that lineage, like Obsidian’s Fallout New Vegas, and Bioware’s
Mass Effect. In these games, if you pick certain skills,
factional alignments, or morality leanings, you’ll be able to weasel your way out of
combat altogether. So, in the original Mass Effect, if you’ve
collected enough charm or intimidate points you can talk the big bad guy, Saren, into
shooting himself in the head – and end up skipping the first part of the game’s final
boss battle. But I think the operative word, there, is
skip. Like, take this quest in Fallout New Vegas,
where the Powder Ganger boss Eddie asks you to deal with some bloke called Chavez. You’ve basically got two options. Option 1 is to murder Chavez and his goons. Option 2 is to to pick the speech option “Quit
while you’re ahead… and alive”, and skip the fight altogether. You just need to have a speech stat of at
least 30 to be able to use that second option. Now, New Vegas is by no means a great shooter. But option one does involve some
gameplay. You’re making choices about weapons and
ammo, prioritising targets, moving and aiming, and there’s a spectrum of outcomes that
runs from total success to complete failure. Option two, on the other-hand, offers no gameplay
whatsoever. You simply pick the dialogue option with a
skill check in its description, and you win. CHAVEZ: All right.
Pickings were getting slim around here anyway. Now certainly, from a role-playing perspective,
killing Chavez is kinda boring and predictable – while being a smooth-talking charlatan that
can intimidate a gang leader, is much more interesting. But from a pure gameplay perspective, the
combat option is involved and demanding, while the speech option isn’t so exciting. You certainly had to pick the right skills
to get to that point. And there might be consequences to your diplomacy
down the line. But right now – in the moment – you literally
just press one button. So how can we fix this? Well the first step, I think, is to make it
more complex and challenging to talk around a character. So in Obsidian’s previous game, Alpha Protocol,
you could pick from a variety of approaches during conversations, and different characters
respond to different tacts. So this no-nonsense Saudi guard will happily
let you through the gates without a fight if you’re aggressive, or direct – MIKE: I’m not looking to advertise my presence.
Only to do business. GUARD: Business, eh? MIKE: Check with Nasari if you don’t believe
me. He’s waiting for me, and my downpayment. GUARD: I’ll call ahead.
Go on through. But if you try and joke around, the situation
will fall apart and you’ll have to resort to combat GUARD: What is your business here, Canadian? MIKE: Christmas trees!
Come on, you know what I’m here for… GUARD: I call Nasari.
Check on you. What we’re doing here is trying to figure
out which dialogue option would convince the character to do what you want. The game doesn’t tell you what will work
– you have to decide for yourself by reading their mood, their reaction to your previous
dialogue choices, and other social cues. Other games do this too. Undertale is famous for letting you talk enemies
out of combat, and, here, you’ll need to figure out the best way to approach each situation. A volcano who mistakenly thinks its lava can
heal people, probably just wants a nice cuddle, for example. And the not-safe-for-work visual novel, Lady
Killer in a Bind, lets you pick options that are flirty, ruthless, mean, and so on, and
characters will react in different ways depending on their unique personality. But always remember that you’re lying about
your identity, so you’ve also got to avoid dialogue options that might make those characters
suspicious. All of these games test your emotional and
social skills, just like how puzzle games test your logic skills, and platformers test
your dexterity skills. And so this provides an actual alternative
to the more typical combat gameplay, rather than just an option to skip it. It’s not always easy to gauge which approach
will work, though. And that’s where Deus Ex: Human Revolution
comes in. Here, convincing a criminal to unhand a hostage,
or talking your boss into handing over sensitive documents, requires picking from multiple
dialogue options as you slowly bring the person onto your side. And one of the augmentations in the game,
the Social Enhancer, gives you a read-out on the character, which tells you about their
personality and helps you figure out what sort of approach would work well. A character who feels guilty about something
that happened in the past, for example, might react with anger if you bring it up. WAYNE: Oh that’s right, time to blame Wayne
again! Where do you get off bringing the past into
this? It’s been two years since that kid died
– when are you gonna let me off the hook? Yeah, I took his life, he was a threat, and
you knew it, so don’t come here acting all high and mighty! That’s super cool. But if you ask me, it’s a bit of a shame
that the game just hands you this information. Wouldn’t it be more fun if we could learn
this stuff ourselves? That brings to mind a scene in Life is Strange’s
second episode, where Kate Marsh is threatening to jump off a roof – and you’ve got to try
and talk her down. Many of the dialogue choices here are strictly
emotional, and hard to discern. Will Kate respond better to “things will
get better” or “you matter, not just to me”? I couldn’t tell you. But then Kate says this: KATE: Nobody cares about me. Nobody. And you can pick someone who will miss her:
her mother, her sisters, her father, or her brothers. And in this moment, you need to recall information
you saw earlier in the game. If you snooped around Kate’s room at the
start of the episode you’ll have seen a reprimanding email from Kate’s mum, but
a soft and reassuring postcard from her dad. And a family photo shows Kate has two sisters,
and no brothers. So if you bring up her father or sisters,
that might be enough to talk Kate off the ledge. But mention her mum or nonexistent brothers,
and the outcome won’t be as favourable. MAX: Think about your brothers.
They need their sister. KATE: You don’t know me at all, Max!
I told you I only have sisters. You never listen to me because you don’t
give a damn. You will now If this scene is about whether Max has genuinely
shown interest in Kate’s life, the gameplay mirrors this by asking whether we, as players,
have paid attention to one of the characters in the game. Another take on this idea comes from the detective
game LA Noire, where you keep an inventory of clues in your notebook. Then, mid-way through a conversation, you
can tell someone to hol’ up a minute, as you present them with contradictory evidence
that proves they just told a lie. This will catch them off guard, and turn the conversation to your
advantage. So, back in Deus Ex, you could imagine breaking
in to the cop’s house, reading his letters and emails, and gathering intel and evidence
against him – and then you could use that stuff during a protracted negotiation to try
and get your way. JENSEN: Wayne, are you getting careless? That empty pill bottle in the trash over there. Didn’t you know antipsychotics are included
in the force’s zero-tolerance drug policy? And I think that would make talking your way
into the police station, every bit as interesting as the alternative approach, which is sneaking
your way in. It’s no longer about skipping gameplay,
but choosing the type of gameplay that best fits your character, or the way you wish to
play. Of course, all of this requires thoughtful
writing, a complex web of interdependent dialogue trees, and amazing voice acting and motion
capture. Ultimately, it’s just way more challenging
and costly to make a single interesting conversation with someone, than to make an entire army
of cannon fodder goons that you can wipe out. Unless you come at the problem from a very
different angle – and go entirely abstract. In Griftlands, a new early access game from
Klei, you can often pick between beating the snot out of your enemies, or talking them
around to your way of thinking. And whether you’re fighting or talking,
the gameplay is pretty much the same – as you’ll be playing cards from a deck. Only, while fighting you’ll have cards like
elbow strike and feint – and while talking you’ll play cards like threaten and segue. A negotiation is a lot like a battle, then. You’ve got resolve, which is basically your
health. You’ve got gambits, which are basically
attacks – and can be either diplomatic or hostile. And you’ve got composure, which give you
a defence against incoming gambits. You’ve also got arguments, which are sort
of like shields against your health – but they sometimes also serve to buff your attacks. By going abstract, and by borrowing mechanics
from the combat side of gameplay, it means Klei doesn’t have to write complex dialogue
trees for every negotiation – and having a chat with someone requires the same design
skills and workload as punching them in the nuts. But it does ultimately mean that combat and
conversation end up feeling pretty similar, and are testing the same skills of tactics
and strategy, rather than your social and emotional abilities. So, that’s certainly one way to go – but
back to the more dialogue-driven approach: I definitely think this sort of gameplay has
real promise – if developers are willing to put in the extra work. And there are all sorts of high stakes situations
that involve talking to people, like hostage situations, political diplomacy, courtroom
battles, police interrogations, first dates, or impersonating someone behind enemy lines. All of which could be incorporated into games
with robust social gameplay systems And going forward, this stuff could pair well
with gameplay from LA Noire, which also has you reading face and body language during
a conversation to pinpoint signs of deceit. In that game, a character who looks nervous
might be telling a lie, and so you should push them harder. And so, a character’s body language could
be just one more weapon in your arsenal as you adapt your angle of attack. Though, it’s worth noting that such in-depth
emotional gameplay could prove inaccessible to those who have challenges with social skills,
like gamers with autism. So, accessibility options should be considered. Also, while most of these games are limited
to a conversation with a single person, we might also consider how having a matrix of
interpersonal relationships could be used to your advantage. If you’ve shown kindness to a character’s
best friend, for example, then you’re going to have a better chance of winning them over. Griftlands has a bit of that, where characters
who like you – or, at least, people you’ve paid off to help you – can buff your stats
during negotiations. So I think these examples have shown that
we can make dialogue trees that aren’t just basic skill checks that let you skip through
gameplay – but are involved negotiations that become exciting gameplay in of themselves
– where you’re gathering evidence and intel, reading social cues and body language, and
manipulating a web of relationships to get your way. In an ocean of games where you shoot first
and ask questions later, I’d certainly like to play more games where asking the right
questions can have us avoid gunfire altogether. So I’ll be back later this year, to see how
Obsidian’s latest game, The Outer Worlds, handles such things. Hey, thanks for watching. And I just want to give a huge thank you to
Sega for pulling Alpha Protocol from Steam like one day before I went to get the footage
for this game. That was fun, thanks, cheers, wicked… love
the all digital future. And… I’ll see you around.

About the author


  1. Pretty good video, I have to say.

    I prefer, out of these examples. Life is Strange. Haven't played it but, I prefer actual dialogue options than faux dialogue. Furthermore, that it is built upon knowledge you, as the player, can access.

    Playing Shepard was pretty cool, I don't mind it, but not all the time. Shepard's dialogue options kind of transcend you in to the realm of superhero. Well, Shepard really was larger than life. So it makes sense. That's exactly why. If you want to play/create a more grounded character (and they can still be a heroic/superpowered one!), I think LiS has a better system.

    A more in-depth system with points can also still work. For example one that more measures your personality. It grants and removes points based on previous dialogue and gameplay options and some minor base stats based on character creation. Then, when you pick some more vague dialogue options, like, "Aggressive" it may or may not work out based on the character you've run up to that point.

  2. This makes me think of the movie: The negotiator. I feel like a game with that style of gameplay would have such great promise!

  3. 7:18 I mean…it kinda asks if we have SPIED on a character in a gross breach of privacy, lol. But a well made point.
    I agree with a lot of your points, but the requirements of exhaustive writing options means that, conversations being as dynamic as well made combat system may NEVER be a possibility, unless a very big studio wants to sink enormous funds into that for writing, and systems that help the player make informed meaningful choices.
    One other thought I had was that, dialogue options are so often 'passfail.' If I almost convince someone not to fight, but barely miss out due to one mistaken dialogue option, in most games, too bad, you fail. Why not change the encounter? The character is doubting themself, less aggressive, and maybe surrenders. Or by contrast, what could be a friendly sparring match can become much more heated, or even deadly if you taunt or goad the character beforehand. Maybe dialogue options in an rpg can allow you to encourage your party members, boosting their stats, or manipulatedominate them, to make them more under your control. Stuff like that, I dunno. Could be fun. Dialogue and combat are so often connected in other forms of media, but in vidya games they feel totally separate, and I think that's a shame.

  4. i like the idea in role-play to avoid fights with words but some times is feel anticlimactic . the biggest example from me is witcher 2 if you choose not to fight final boss

  5. In Deus Ex, they were trying to implement a system where you could survey a scene and make observations during a conversation. So in that conversation with Wayne, there was an empty box of sleeping pills in the bin, and you could bring that up. Eventually the whole system was scrapped due to time constraints

  6. Since action games' focus is on the core gameplay, getting dialogue to be fun and have an awesome "feel" seems difficult (since in action games the story is a dressing, and often an after thought). As a fan of interactive novels and point and click games, I can say the point is not how many options or endings there are. All that matters is that the story is good, and that the text display has good "game feel" or expression. Having extra choices and affecting the plot and the world with said choices can be interesting, but at the end of the day, it's pointless if the story around it doesn't live up to it. I'm a logical person, and even so I understand a good story is one that manages to evoke emotions in the reader (specially in climaxes). Did fallout 3 or some other shooter's dialogue and choices made me shed a tear? not really.

    If you want a game that has done it right, just play Dai Gyakuten Saiban (Great Ace attorney, which was recently localized by fans).

  7. Star Wars: The Old Republic is an interesting example of how standard gameplay and conversation tend to conflict. For example, at the end of the training missions that the sith warrior class undergoes at the start of the game, you are given a mission to go to several locations and gather pieces of relics, battling enemies along the way. When you return with the pieces, a fellow sith acolyte attacks you. Defeating him reveals that every other acolyte, with the exception of you and your rival, were killed on the final test by the various threats present in the relics' locations. He knows that he'll die if he tries to get relics of his own or steal them from your rival, and tried to steal them from you instead. You can kill him or refuse to give him your relics, which ensures his death, or say "here, take mine." If you choose this last option, the game makes you replay the entire mission, trekking back to the relic locations and gathering them all over again before you can complete it. To make things worse, your rival kills this character off shortly afterwards when he tries to protect you. It makes that option, which should be an interesting roleplaying choice for a sith, objectively the least fun to choose. That's not even getting into the game's right-side vs dark-side system, which requires you to select only light- or dark-side dialogue choices if you want access to certain vendors and some of the best gear in the game. As fun as some of the conversations in SW:TOR are, there's a lot of things like this that make it, frankly, pretty difficult to enjoy.

  8. 11:16 as someone who autism; DON"T ADD accessibility options! I don't want to be handheld in a game but rather figure it out.

  9. I'm really glad you brought up the Life Is Strange's moment. To me, that is one of the best moments involving dialogue in games: it's just so natural and rewarding for player exploration and attention to details, on top of making a crucial moment even more memorable as a real consequence of your previous choices – especially if you consider that, as a player, there's no way to anticipate that or what kind of information you'll need, which makes knowing the 'right' answer more genuine than ever!

  10. Bro I love your videos so much. Such good content, I could sit down for hours and listen to you explain how to make good games and such. Please keep making more videos! I love them!

  11. Well, it's up to interpretation… but I like to think I gave a solid crack about making talking engaging in

    People seemed to like it enough to nominate it for an award

  12. On the flip side games that rely on emotional skills could be excellent learning tools for gamers with some form of ASD. As someone with ASD I often find that my brain draws from sentences I've already heard work in a given context especially if I'm on verbal autopilot because I'm running out of energy to socialize or trying to maintain energy because I know I have to do a lot of socializing. So a game as a teaching tool for people who like me tend to struggle in social interaction by teaching us to look out for certain tells and equipping us with a series of neutral phrases that we can fall back on if actually thinking through the way to many social cues that bombard us in any given social interaction is too stressful would be damn useful and helpful.

  13. The life is strange scene always comes to mind when thinking about dialogue driven gameplay for me as well. I don't like that the game gives you incentives that don't really match with the character and world you're playing but the idea that engaging with npcs is like learning spells in an rpg is something i would love to explore further.
    I'd just love to see a game built purely around social interactions and a system that works for these without feeling too detached from the actual concept or a choose your own adventure cinematic like games handle these situations right now. Life is strange ever pulls this type of scene once and deus ex only goes into these discussions for very specific npcs. That's why i love the abstract approach here a lot. I just think it needs refinement to really capture the feel of a conversation better. There is great stuff in all the systems you showcase here and i think games that find that right balance between all of those can open the entire industry up to finally tell completely different stories!

  14. I think Skyrim has the best dialogue mechanic. It's not a challenge but it feels like real talking and immerses you in the setting.

  15. It seems like the problem is trying to put run n gun AND talk your way out of it gameplay into the same game.

  16. Oxenfree was a great game whose main "mechanic" was its real-time dialogue system. Characters would talk in real-time, and you could choose from various responses or no response at all. No combat; it was purely about character building and exploration.

  17. I think dragon age origins does a good job of this when talking to companions. Each character has a different set of values so have to learn what they are to get them to like you, otherwise you run the risk of them acting out later in the game or leaving

  18. I wholly agree. Maybe a more abstract system where you need to bluff, find information, and use your smarts and charisma to convince people to stand down in bouts of arguments? Maybe with a timer. A long timer, though. That increases stakes even if it is long enough for you to think for centuries, since you know your time is limited. That is what I want.

    Great vid man

  19. Combat action rests on giving the player the power to change the world. Killing enemies, making things less chaotic.

    I think if conversation options have more world changing impact, that goes a long way. If the player is given the option of what kind of change they want to create, that's even better.

    The fun is still there even if all you do is hit a single button.

  20. Hey Mark ! I've been thinking a lot about "difficulty inflation" lately, while playing a game called Arcaea (the concept exists in a lot of games though).
    Here is the catch : Arcaea is a rythm game with a static difficulty scale going from 1 to 10. When the game came out, the level 9 songs seamed hard. But after a few months players became better at the game and Lowiro gave those players harder songs… Now, a level 9 song in arcaea can be either "rather easy" or "downright brutal"

    I noticed this in league of legends : back in 2009, the champions and the items were simple, and now the game is significantly harder to approach for new players.

    Online updates may be main component of a difficulty inflation : if mario bros had been updated for 40 years to fit the players experience, it would now look like super meat boy's dark world, and noone would still be able to experience the good ol' 1-1 level xD

    What do you think about this ?

  21. Another great "diplomacy is handled exactly like combat" game in the vein of Griftlands is Renowned Explorers: International Society. Any encounter can be "fought" with aggression, deviousness, or friendliness, and different explorers are better at different approaches. And those three attitudes use a rock-paper-scissors relationship: friendly beats devious, devious beats aggressive, and aggressive beats friendly. And if you're being friendly while the enemies are being devious, your whole team gets a buff; but if they decide they've had enough of talk and suddenly shank you, that buff gets yanked away and replaced with a team-wide DEbuff, and now things are looking pretty bad for you. So it's all about constantly changing tactics to win the match-up.

  22. This is an interesting topic that I enjoy seeing explored, but you're making some weird distinctions at the beginning of the video that I feel is unnecessary limiting: you call gun play/fighting gameplay, but refer to dialogue/talking as not gameplay. But in games like RPGs/adventure games, dialogue IS gameplay! (I'd actually argue that as long as it's not part of a cut scene or auto-dialogue, it's always gameplay.) Immersion in your character IS ALSO gameplay, in particular in a role playing game. I think what you're actually talking about is "gamification", as in you want the dialogue to be gamified, not just immersive.

  23. Can you please cover the topic of "Metroidvania" in a future video? I think it's a very awkward and misleading term to describe a common concept.

  24. I think expectation can play a big part in this too. I can play a visual novel for hours on end. But if an rpg cutscene drags on for more than 10 minutes I want to scream.

  25. Man I read the title and immediately thought: alpha protocol🤔

    Well and there is alpha protocol, watch the video before commenting guys.

  26. I wonder if games that require emotional cues to progress could possibly help people with autism or asbergers develop their emotional compass or emotional or social cue skills more? Just a thought I had while watching this video.

  27. Really interesting video. I came into it thinking "No, talking will never be as interesting as combat or stealth". My mind has been changed.

  28. There are a lot of good points here, and I would love games with more in depth dialogue mechanics, but it does feel a bit over critical at times. For some of these clearly the developers were trying to figure things out, and Mark just dismisses them as obviously bad. Also sometimes conversation options can be fun even if they aren’t mechanically amazing, especially when you have lots of other opportunities to fight, so it feels less like skipping a fight, than deciding not to fight that person.

  29. Throwing a spear at a man, shooting multiple people with shotgun, blood everywhere, heads exploding: ok

    Girl standing on the edge of the roof of a two-story building: CONTENT WARNING EVERYONE THAT SHIT IS DISTURBING

  30. I love how you mentioned Ladykiller in a Bind! It’s awesome the variety of games you discuss in your videos

  31. This clip, although talking about face to face conversation, makes me think of the recent take on diplomacy from Creative Assembly's Total War. It's not strictly a conversation but I think diplomacy is not unlike a chat between factions so its kind of related.

    Things that make Total War Three Kingdoms's diplomacy engaging and meaningful are that every factions have its own relationships and everchanging opinion of each other, the faction leaders have their own traits that effect his/her deplomatic and strategic decision and most of your campaign map actions like war atrocities against their friend or foes, your trustworthiness and power balance. All of these things affects the outcome of the diplomacy which in turns feeds into the game feedback loop to make the other faction like or hate you more, causing a realm divide without needing to put a force script everyones-hates-you-now events like in the previous title.

  32. I love this concept BUT L. A. Noire is a TERRIBLE example of reading body language. Real human body language is very different than the body language of your typical actor and the motion capture in that game shows this because they used actors. Police officers and other professionals who are trained to do interrogations pick up on entirely different clues than what you'll find in that game. It's very unrealistic. That aside, I really do like where you're going with this concept. Take a look at Vampyr's locked conversation tree model when you revisit this topic after Obsidian's The Outer Worlds is released. And if you want to know more about reading body language please google the excellent Eyes for Lies.

  33. One thing I always find difficult with games where knowing a specific thing about a character gives you dialogue clues is remembering all the random things I've discovered about the character. In a social interaction game having them as cards you can play would be really handy, maybe with the mechanics relying on you bringing them up at the right time?

  34. Cool video. Recommend you check out Consortium – . Your conclusions at the end of this line up remarkably to what Consortium actually does. There are no skill checks involved, the vast majority of the gameplay is dialog related and players are challenged with doing actual investigative work, research and interrogations to be able to make the best decisions and get the best ending.

  35. Wait how is the dialogue in FNV not considered gameplay…? You are actively choosing what to say to X goon so you don't get shot in the face/waste resources. Yes, it tells you that you can convince him, it rewards the stat investment and it's not like you have just one set of dialogue options

    I'd argue that some dialogue system focused on "social cues" are worse for the player as they're either too easy or too confusing. Alpha Protocol's generic Joke/Aggressive/Professional don't allow you to know the actual line that will be spoken which can lead to frustration (see Fallout 4, Mass Effect). Alternatively, Human Revolution does indeed execute well the social cue idea. You can persuade the people without the upgrade and you always know what Jensen will say

    Life is Tumblr's story is… shit to say the least.

    Coming back to the FNV example, how is it not gameplay…? You choose who you character is…

  36. Something I really want and feel is missing is a life sim, like the Sims, with the ability to make families and live life and all that, but with a much greater focus on dialogue and micro decisions. Life has you go through incredibly many decisions, and those decisions help shape both you and your life.
    Imagine a Sim that actively changes depending on the choices you make, with no right or wrong; only what feels right at the time. It'd make for so many more meaningful relationships; friends that return favours, both good and bad; parents that actively meddle in your life and judge you if you act against them; colleagues that will try to get you fired if you get in their way; bosses that promote you through charm; or even abusive relationships that you maintain through manipulation. Having someone that is jealous by your side might make you restricted in terms of a social life; or someone who is too hyper might neglect you.

    Of course, such a game would be difficult to create, but I don't imagine you'd need to actually write dialogue for millions of events to do it. You'd just need a pretty dynamic system that places less focus on actual words being said and more focus on the event itself, like the example of the card game dialogue but without the combat heavy feel.

  37. It seems to me that Deus Ex Human Revolution's social enhancer augmentation could be considered to be a social accessibility option.

  38. Good use of Doom when talking about making an army of goons to kill. Also I think you are right about having pass/ fail skill checks being a lackluster game design tool. While it had that in speech, which was bad I find myself remembering fondly he little lockpicking minigame from Skyrim, where you had a choice greater than "Do I pick this lock?" I always contrast it with Dragon Age Origins, where you simply checked your lockpicking skill against the strength of the lock. The latter felt like I was actually asked to test my skills in real life, rather than simply answer a yes/ no question. Shame they simplified speech down to the same damn yes/no choice that only comes up a dozen times.
    By the way, what do you think of skill trees for non combat stuff. I think Skyrim had a few good ideas, mainly based on the lock-picking minigame, but it also struggled, especially with speech. What sorts of choices make for a good mini game and which make for a bad one?

  39. meanwhile in actual games themeselves that is all pointless nonsense with abysmal writing and skipping what pretends to be "gameplay" is the best reward
    in if you waste resources into talkie points you'll get mandatory terrible bossfights to which you are never prepared

    rpgs are worse cancer than gaming in general

  40. the best way you can go about it is like life is strange (which some times appears in new vegas). They are either like quizzes" or say you found some evidence or something.
    but ultimately, its pretty much impossible to make talking as fun as shooting. Those games that have talking play like shooting are unintuitive because what you get is shooting but intead of bullets its words and that's odd. The reality is that, in real life, shooting, running jumping… these are all activities that are fun, while nobody really enjoys talking in the same way. Talking doesn't require timing.

    talking is talking, shooting is shooting.

    anyhow, cool vid

  41. deus ex dialogue were a lot better than the one from life is strange, really. game gives you this info only after you get the social implant, but back when it was out and I talked him to handle the hostage felt damn great, better than anything I ever saw(and probably will for a longass time). character traits which are given away by implant are easy to find from their background and first lines of dialogue.

  42. Honestly though whoever thought to themselves "Man I wanna play this board game on a computer with story" is fucking wild

  43. When people say good social aspects in a game, I respond with a single title: Danganronpa.

    My god was arguing and debating in that game, building relationships etc was so great.

    It's only flaw was that you'd never know who would die and would sometimes miss out on some really interesting characters. And if you wanna know about them now you have to play again but the game no longer has any mystery behind it and its essentially a chore at this point.

  44. Can we just not have skill points? Can't we just have decisions with results? Tired of RPG mechanics getting in the way of skilled play and that includes dialogue choices.

  45. In the game "Cat Lady" was a situation like in LIS, you as a player needed to listen to the nurse, so you can later convince her, that you cared and, welp, listened to her x)

  46. If I remember correctly, in Elder Scrolls 2 you can change your tone of voice during conversations, which would influence their ourcome.
    This is a very simple and systemic concept that should be used and expanded more.

  47. The Griftlands approach reminds me a little of the Duel of Wits mechanic in the tabletop RPG Burning Wheel. I think there's interesting things to be learned about potential video game mechanics by examining that comparison more closely.

    In a Duel of Wits, you play through multiple rounds, and in each round both players play a card (such as point, rebuttal, dismissal, obfuscate, etc) face down, and then reveal the cards simultaneously. Different combinations of cards have different results. The amount of "health" (or "body of argument") you start the conversation with, as well as the effects of your cards, is based on your stats, so the choices you make will depend on what kind of person you are, and what kind of person you think your opponent is. After a certain number of rounds, or when one participant's Body of Argument reaches zero, the duel ends in either a decisive win or a mixed result, and the two participants must change or maintain their Beliefs/attitudes/goals in accordance with that result. Like Griftlands, this is congruent with the rest of the game, as a similar system is used for high stakes combat (the "Fight!" mechanic). You also get a bonus to your rolls in a round where you roleplay out what your character says, rather than simply stating "I obfuscate this round" – in practice, I've never seen anyone neglect this bonus, which means this stats-driven gameplay plays out as a rhetorical sparring match between the players. Duel of Wits is the best dialogue mechanic I can think of in a tabletop RPG, and the only one I can think of off the top of my head that treats social interaction as a complex conflict on par with combat (rather than reducing it down to a single roll of the dice).

    How does this compare to Griftlands? Well, I haven't played Griftlands, but one notable difference is that Griftlands is a deck-building game, whereas in Duel of Wits you have access to all the cards from the start. Deck-building is more fun as a core mechanic for an entire game, but as this video noted, it's abstract and gamey, and loses some degree of verisimilitude. There's not a lot of in-world reason someone should have to choose from three obfuscates and one rebuttal, simply because that's the hand they were dealt. One strength of viewing moves as acquirable cards, however, is that they may have been acquired through previous gameplay rather than random chance. You might have the "Kate's Sisters" card available because you looked at the picture in her room. I think it's possible to have a decent synthesis between this and Burning Wheel's roleplay bonus – you choose the card you want to play, and optionally drag on something from your notebook that helps ground your move in the world. Doing so gets you a bonus, provided the addition was relevant. Ultimately though, if the cards aren't shuffled into your hand and aren't physical cards that get flipped over, it might make more sense to simply indicate them as tags on the dialogue options (with a submenu or tooltip explaining how they work), rather than as actual cards.

    The other thing that could be brought in from Burning Wheel is that the consequences of combat are social and psychological, rather than necessarily physical. This is harder to systematize in a video game – a computer can't enforce a rule about coming to a compromise between two incompatible beliefs. However, this general idea could be represented through a) the NPC doing what you wanted (per the usual outcome of these events), and b) changes in disposition and mental debuffs applied to the character. Losing a social conflict could diminish your standing in the eyes of any bystanders, and might inflict a temporary (or even permanent until undone) debuff such as humiliated, uncertain, reticent, even cynical – traits that would affect your social bonuses and the options available to you as long as they are active.

    I think there's a lot of possibilities in adapting social mechanics from tabletop to video games, and I'd welcome any additional insight others have on either this mechanic or on other games that have an interesting social mechanic.

  48. I never worked on speech options because they never helped in the over world. I couldn't talk my way around bandits or raiders. And creatures always had to be fought or run from. There was no advantage outside of main narrative to work on speech. But sneaking and archery? There's some useful skills..

  49. A linear directed conversation where you don't get dialog options, but you get button and thumstick prompts that essencially have you puppeteering your character's speech rhythm and inflection (speed and pitch) to make shit angry or genuine, sincere or sarcastic

  50. I actually love talking as a viable game mechanic. But often times 90% of the choices in dialouge is filler and one or two choices only really matter overall- That should defilitly be fixed in the future, as most games have this problem. It should more be like a scale that starts neutral and you let small and big crumbs fall onto each side. So one bad choice (that could be entirely misinterpreting often shortened dialouge in the selection menu or just missed content) can be outweighed by five smaller good choices. Like if a game tells you to fing 3 X in a level, but there are actually 5 hidden around the area, so you have a bit of freedom to not go on pixel-hunt. The same general approach should be brought to dialouge options.

  51. I want a game that promises that you can talk your way out of litterally any fight BUT it's guarenteed impossible to do it for every fight in one playthrough. Cause that offers a replayability that a lot of the games named in this episode are lacking.

  52. Convincing the criminal to release the hostage in Deus Ex was really satisfying, while in Fallout they literally show your the needed score to succeed, which is lame.

  53. You brought up the difficulties of this idea as I was thinking it. My only addition would be, if you see this, to say "autistic gamers" as we are not people separate from our syndrome, we are autistic people. All in all, awesome video as usual.

    To elaborate, we aren't people with or separate from autism, but rather people who ARE autistic. I am lucky to be able to work with social cues but I am still autistic; I am on the spectrum.

    That you mentioned us at all is deeply appreciated but "person-first" language only hurts us

  54. You should really check out the mechanics in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I reference your video here every time I'm talking about that game.

  55. As a gamer with autism, i find these games useful as i now know more about people and how they work due to certain dialogue problems and puzzles in games such as life is strange.

  56. There is also the possibility of the dialogs just being good and even interesting. Like the one I call "The Abastract Cop" in Deus Ex Mankind Divided:

  57. I love dialogue choices…but often they're just used as a shortcut to a goal…and less about expressing your player identity, I.E role playing or building relationships with characters etc…the best versions should also open up new choices, offer optional goals and create new situations…I can't think of many dialogue options that do all of that.

    Personally I'd like to see more dialogue options that intentionally provoke manipulate and escalate peaceful situations instead of always attempting to defuse them or simply bypass an obstacle…often when a conversation devolves into an argument or violence it's treated as a failure state and the player is often just reduced to the default of combat…or the conversation just ends.

    If for example I'm playing a villain in a game where there are dialogue options I'm more or less relegated to being little more than a belligerent and violent psychopathic thug who goes around lying, insulting and threatening people in a uncreative manner…and well even when the options offered are restricted to binary black and white good or evil choices there should be more nuance and room for individual character expression and identity.

    Most modern games seem to forget old school DnD concepts like…lawful…chaotic…neutral evil or good…which would go a long way to improve these kind of systems…but personally I think they should go further, players should be able to choose a recognised and established world view or philosophy that helps establish and reinforce their role play characters, something they can call on or quote the tenants of during conversations.

  58. I have autism, and I actually love social games, because it's more logical and predictable than real life interactions, and helps me practice empathizing.

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