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After taking a look at the technical side, it’s about time to give some hints on the actual dialogue creation. Although it might take a little while to get used to the Dialogue Editor itself, the real difficulty lies in the writing of high-quality dialogues. What follows are merely personal experiences rather than the ultimate wisdom, but for the sake of consistency you should keep these points in mind when doing dialogues for Adonthell. You shouldn’t consider them as strict rules, though. If you have a good reason to break them here and there, feel free to do so.

  • Describe the NPC
    At the beginning of the dialogue, a short description of the NPC’s mood or other features that would be obvious to their counterpart but cannot be portrayed by the game engine can give the player an idea how to deal with that character. It also enables us to give each NPC an individual touch thus adding more flavour to the game world.
  • Leave the thinking to the player
    All the information contained in a dialogue should be kept in the NPC’s part, whereas the player’s part should contain as little hints as possible, and no information the person in front of the screen cannot deduce from previous dialogue(s). After all, part of the fun of playing the game comes from making connections between information given by various NPC’s. Therefore, a player’s answer may reveal the correct result of the thinking process, but it shouldn’t give any (lengthy) explanations.
  • Avoid single choices
    A single choice is no choice and rather boring. The reason for writing dlgedit is exactly this point. Adonthell is no self-running demo, but an interactive game, and interactivity requires that the player can choose from different alternatives. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have lengthy monologues of the NPC. However, if there is only one choice for the player, you might as well leave it away and let the NPC go on without interruption.
  • Keep the player’s text neutral
    Bear in mind that different players will have different feelings in the same situation. And unless you don’t give the player the chance to chose an answer that comes close to his or her own personality, you should try to leave (strong) feelings away. Of course, depending on the underlying role playing system, you might present players with choices according to their alignment or behaviour in previous situations.
  • Keep the text short
    Since there is only limited space in the game’s dialogue window, you should limit the amount of text displayed a time. NPC text should fit entirely into the window, meaning it should not exceed 4 lines in the Edit dialog. Longer text can be distributed over several nodes. Player text should take a single line, 2 at most, so that several choices fit into the dialogue window.
  • Make use of skills [Adonthell specific]
    With Charm and Diplomacy, there are two distinct skills specifically related to dialogue. Use them to provide proficient characters with additional information and optimized ways to interact with their opponent. Diplomacy will work best with fixed skill checks, while Charm is a good canditate for variable checks.

In addition to these points, you should also have a look at the more generic Adonthell Plot Guidelines [1].

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