Official: Beyond Skyrim TES VI #93

Post » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:21 am

This thread is for ideas and suggestions for future Elder Scrolls games, and to keep all the discussion in one series of threads.

We have a long way to go before we get another ES game. In the meantime, similar topics will be closed and referred to this one.

Note there is a separate thread specifically for suggestions for future games.

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Post » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:58 pm

New thread, new topic to bicker over.

I've been holding off on bringing this one up, because it's usually pretty contentious... But Dialogue is something we haven't talked about in awhile. There's a significant range of things pertaining to it, from how things are written, to how it's presented, to how we mechanically choose options, so it's something that can take up a lot of time to discuss and get pretty deep... Bug seeing as we've got some newer participants I figure sticking my neck out and bringing it up may be worth it.

Now, for the moment, I'm not going to bring up the List-Vs-Wheel debate. I think that's an end of the line topic that is going to ultimately depend on a number of other choices being made. It's not the sort of thing that I think you should decide fitst, but rather the type of thing that will be decided for you based on other decisions you've made along the way. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and what you are trying to accomplish and present is going to heavily influence which is a better fit.

So, the first issue I want to bring up is voice acting. In terms of NPCs, voice acting allows you to convey a lot of things that are very difficult to do in text, such as subtle personality characteristics, mood, temperament, and situational cues. You can handle these in tect, but you generally need to resort to more obvious descriptions, such as 'Andrea seems evasive' which can strip out some of the nuance. Since NPCs are characters written by the developers, rather than shaped by the players imagination, the only thing you really lose out on is volume, though this is somewhat of a diminishing issue, since many games today contain as much voiced dialogue as games of yore bad written.

On the flip side, voices PCs cause more issues. Like with NPCs, they impose a degree of identity that, while appropriate in some situations (The Witcher, Mass Effect, Deus Ex etc.) aren't quite as useful in more open-ended games like TES. Even in Fallout, in which they were far more appropriate, was a serious strain on the limits of their value, to the point where I think it's appropriate to say it did more harm than good. You can alleviate the lack of control in the PCs identity somewhat with different voice options, and extra dialogue choices, but the issue then becomes a work-Vs-payoff issue. And frankly, ibdont think we currently have the ability to reasonably offer enough options to overcome the loss of input. At least not in games like TES (a voiced PC is fine in games like The Witcher).

The second issue you're going to encounter is exactly wait purpose dialogue serves. Is it a narrative tool, indented to progress stories? Is it a general purpose interaction tool for moving about and getting involved in the world. Is it a hybrid of both? Is it simply there to give useful information? Is it superfluous and exists more to build character?

In most cases, Dialouge is going to serve some mix of these. Most of it is going to serve to present information, move stories along, or function as a general narrative tool, but you also tend to have a sprinkling of background fluff that serves more for Character and World building. So, whatever model you use needs to ideally be both conversational, and investigative. It needs to be useful in both direct narrative interactions, as well as general all-purpose ones.

Important to both, however, is that it be concise. The options given need to be clear in content and intent. We shouldn't be presented with options that have confusing outcomes, such as asking about a Pig and having the NPC suddenly react like you insulted their mother. This is doubly important if the PC is voiced, and requires clear, concise wording be expressed before picking an option to prevent a further lack of control over the Character. Bugs are one thing (such as Shepard always punching Victor) but obscure options are just bad design. Fallout 4 was especially guilty of this, particularly the Sarcasm option.

Now, whether you are necessarily going to need fully written dialogue options, or can still use topical ones, is going to depend on whether or not you've got a voiced PC. It's practically mandatory to have expanded, full sentence choices if the answer is yes, but with a silent PC you can still get away with mire topical options, depending on the situation. Presentation and the actual interface can influence this as well.

I'm going to stop there, since this is getting pretty close to 'Bleeding Eye' territory... Though I'll stipulate that I have never played a game, RPG or otherwise, that uses what I think is a good dialogue system. They've been functional, acceptable, and even tolerable, but never GOOD.
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Damian Parsons
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Post » Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:53 am

Freaking Oblivion, Lachdonin, I was going to go first! Hmph. *Folds arms in grumpy fashion* :angry:

I would bring up my suggestion I had in a previous Beyond Skyrim thread, but I don't remember it and it was in the thread that was deleted.

So, in regards to what you said, I am one of the many who adamantly oppose a voiced protagonist in TES. Sure, it can be a little weird to not hear your character talk, but I think it is far, far better than the alternative. It'd be worse to hear your character have a voice that you don't imagine them having, and for those who play multiple characters it would be even more unlikely to be satisfactory to those players.

With the greater amount of voice acting and lines that Fallout 4 apparently had, this can only bode well for TESVI. How it is implemented, however, is a different issue. It seems now that it'd be easier to have more conversation topics to have per NPC, and have more unique dialogue for each. Even for the dialogue that is very similar or the same, it'd be nice to have even a little bit of difference in wording unlike how Morrowind, Oblivion, and (to a lesser extent) Skyrim had. Having more unique greetings should be more feasible too. Morrowind and Oblivion had more of them per NPC but a lot of them were reused far too much across characters, whereas for Skyrim NPCs there were many more unique greetings but they were repeated ad nauseum.

With the increase in sheer volume of lines spoken, I think having more topical conversation options similar to Morrowind and Oblivion is possible, while still having some of the more unique lines from Skyrim.

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Jason Rice
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Post » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:46 am

I don't want voiced this series at least. I just want more dialogue branching and choices from NPCs. Not just some "checklist" of dialogue options available to everyone.

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Erich Lendermon
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Post » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:26 pm

See, I work too much, and after a certain hour there's not much to do other than browse the net on my phone. So you've gotta be pretty quick to beat me to the punch :P .

But anyway, I agree. While there are advantages to a voiced PC that are difficult to pull off otherwise, I still don't see those advantages outweighing the sacrifices. At present, anyway. Maybe someday, but not for the foreseeable future.

I also agree regarding the general favouritism towards topical options. They offer a bit more leeway in character identity, because they maintain a degree of ambiguity in terms of the actual statement. So long as context is clear in the option, the exact wording remains open to the players interpretation, giving you that little buffer in regards to your characters identity. It can be a bit tricky to ensure that sort of context mind you, such as with the intro sequence to Oblivion. When you're given the option 'Emperor?' in dialogue with Uriel, its not actually clear what's being asked. At least, until he looks at you like your a moron, and has to explain who he is and his job description.

Topical options also have an advantage of being somewhat reusable. If you ask the same thing multiple times, you're able to get different answers based on context, without having to make the fact there is new information too obvious. The result can be the difference between 'Family' being 'Got any Family' the first time, and 'Hows the family doing?' Subsequent times without actually needing to have the distinction in the interface. This helps a bit with encouraging repeated interaction with otherwise familiar NPCs, but does cause some issues with clarity.
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Monique Cameron
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Post » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:13 am

Questions like "Emperor?" need to be thrown out. They're meant for ignorant players, but no character should be that ignorant. They handled this a bit better with Skyrim, where you can choose to not have heard of Ulfric Stormcloak before, and Ralof or Hadvar give you a little info. And it's written in a way where the ignorance is believable.

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Jesus Duran
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