Looks like we’ve definitely been neglecting the blogosphere once again! I blame the fact that summer has officially started in the northwest, and thus we’ve all been on a mad dash to get in as much sun as we can before the clouds roll back in.
I’ve also been drafted to fill yet another new role at Skull Theatre, so I’ve been taking a break from art and world building to write dialogue.
If you’ve ever played a true adventure game, then you know that, puzzles and pretty pictures aside, dialogue is the real (and oft under appreciated) meat and potatoes of the genre. To put it another way, witty and dynamic conversation is to adventure games what gun play is to first person shooters. Its the interaction that drives the player through the game and even more importantly, it helps to create that immersive experience that we’re all striving for.
We intend for Rustclad to be a very story driven game, and thus we want to give our conversations center stage. The challenge for us is going to be striking a balance between having a lot of player engagement with dialogue and creating the sort of tightly crafted monologues you would find in a visual novel.
In the Rustclad story a terrible disaster will send the main character on a journey to discover what went wrong (and how to rectify the situation) through conversations with other characters. We’re playing with some non-linear forms of story telling as well, so our dialogue composition needs to be particularly strong.
Recently a friend recommended a great bit of software called Chat Mapper which is an easy to use tool for writing and testing non-linear dialogue. It kills the need to use a clunky excel spreadsheet for creating branching dialogue and allows you to simulate the flow of entire conversation trees. Best part is, many of its essential features can be used for free.
So far I’ve found the new resource extremely helpful, not just for mapping out conversation trees, but for creating dramatic timing and emphasis. We’re excited to see this come to life in the game!