Over at RPG Codex, they have a Q&A session with several developers on the topic of dialogue/conversation, along with story-telling. It’s a pretty free-wheeling discussion, as they touch on many aspects, not just the mechanics as I wrote about in Can We Talk?.

Indeed, they cover a lot of ground, with some fascinating responses. I was interested to read their remarks on moral choices in games, and how evil (as we all know) is usually handled in a shallow manner.

In particular, David Gaider mentioned something we’ve talked about before: pretending to be good for evil ends:

“This entails, however, a character who seems to be doing good but is otherwise manipulating those around him to ultimately evil ends. How do you convey to a player that, yes, he is accepting this heroic quest right now but only to do “x” later on? The only way would be through some blatant out-of-game means, which we’ve never done yet and I’m not sure how it would work. So other than having an overarching plot that is intrinsically villainous as opposed to heroic, you’re stuck with assigning options that are short-term and largely transparent – both good and evil.”

Well, no one ever said something like that would be easy to do. However, I do think it’s possible, just that no one’s come up with the right way to design it yet.

When the discussion gets to “diplomatic” (or non-violent) methods, I have to take issue with Brian Mitsoda. He didn’t think there should be such an option, his argument being all the time and trouble required to set up the “big fight”, and then the player bypasses it all.

Hah. Is that game worth playing only once? Many gamers will go through multiple times, trying different things. So this time, they’re nice. Next time, they’re bloodthirsty. Fortunately, the others saw some value in allowing non-violent solutions to confrontations.

I like having a choice, rather than “talk followed by slaughter” all the time. Why should every situation end in a bloodbath? RPGs have more than enough combat in them. If all someone wants is “hack-slash-chop”, play a shooter.

Anyway, do go read that article; it’s really worthwhile to see what these guys have to say.

Dialogue Interview on RPG Codex