A twelfth installment to the TQ Vault's developer blog feature is now available, this time with Titan Quest designer Ben Schneider discussing the game's dialogue system. A snippet:
All in all, we wrote about 1,400 lines of dialog for Titan Quest where a (line) is one to seven sentences!
To understand the challenge involved (other than sheer volume), let's consider how our dialog system is different from a movie or even from real life. To begin with, you, the hero, don't say anything. You just click. We're playing a little trick here. We're kinda implying that you asked something, or demanded something, or inquired politely after the poor farmer's health. In early drafts we discovered that there are some things you cannot do. It's tempting to write dialog like, (Where did Diacritus go? I saw him standing by the river yesterday, fishing.) Just about everyone hated the question. They were being told what they asked, when they didn't actually say it. It's a fine line! If you talk to the NPC again, it feels a little funny if they start a whole new conversation (although us seasoned gamers have gotten used to that sort of thing). You clicked on her ten seconds ago. If you click again, why is she starting over? Ideally, even though the only thing you can (say) is click, you'd like to feel like you're having a conversation. This is where the fact that the lines can appear in random order sneaks up behind us and pounces.