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LucFrench

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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Since we're on a puzzless IF thread again, I'd like to bring up another regular
thread on raif. Namely, conversation; how should it be implemented?

So far as I know, there are a limited number of ways to do it. A brief list
follows.

1. Infocom Style. "ask about <foo>".
Pros: Easy to implement. Everybody knows how to use it.
Cons: Can be mimesis breaking. Too simplistic for some tastes.

2. LucasArts style. Pre-Scripted multiple choice conversations.
Pros: Allows for more detailed NPCs. Eases PC characterization.
Cons: Can be mimesis breaking if done poorly. Requires a large amount of
writing.

3. Civilization Style. Simple Attitude with minor branching.
Pros: Can accentuate a good AI. Simple.
Cons: Simple. Not used in IF.
[I know, it's not IF, but it's still worth mentioning, particularly if you've
played Sid Meier's Alpha Centari; for example, I strongly dislike Miriam, which
says quite a lot, considering she's not that different in tactics from Diedre,
who I like. Quite amazing for an AI routine in a 4X strategy game.]

4. Myst Style. Point & Click, and away you go.
Pros: Easy to write. Very simple to implement.
Cons: No interactivity. Can be annoying.

5. Cut-Scene Style. Scripted, non interactive scene.
Pros: Allows you to use Hollywood Actors (TM). Builds atmosphere.
Cons: Can be annoying/break mimesis. Brings up the specter of "Interactive
Movies". (SPIT!)

[Contrary to what you might think, Myst and Cut-Scene Styles are different;
Myst tends to cast the PC as merely an observer, while Cut Scene moves the PC.
As an example of Cut-Scenes, look at the Square "RPG"s.]

6. Topic List Style. Infocom, with a list of topics.
Pros: No guessing. Easy to implement.
Cons: No 'mystery'. Hard to implement well.
[I'd like to add here that I'd suggest a TOPICS verb, which lists the Currently
Known topics. As you learn things, more subjects get added to the list.]

7. Eliza/Parser Style. "Eliza, Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?
Do you have anything worth living for? Where are you going?"
Pros: Can encourage mimesis. Wide range of possible implementations.
Cons: Can be annoying. The sinking feeling of "yet another keyword scanner".

8. Attitude Adjustment Style. Pick an attitude, and add it to any of the
previous.
Pros: Makes the game world more interactive. Gives depth to NPC interaction.
Cons: Requires a lot more writing. Slightly mechanistic.

Of course, Zarf manages to break this list in Tangle, we'll ignore that for the
moment, because it was so situation specific.

Did I miss anything? Any Styles, Pros, Cons I left out?

If I get a good enough response, I hope to submit a modified version of this to
the FAQ.

Thanks
Luc "Really Really Tired. Does it show?" French

Will Jennings

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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lucf...@aol.com (LucFrench) wrote:


>Since we're on a puzzless IF thread again, I'd like to bring up
another regular
>thread on raif. Namely, conversation; how should it be implemented?
>
>So far as I know, there are a limited number of ways to do it. A brief list
>follows.
>

[list snipped]

Maybe the important issue isn't just limited to conversation
(implying speech)
but communication in general. (Then again, maybe the important
issue is speech
and I'm just doing my part to ensure no r.a.i.f. thread ever remains
on topic)
Some ways that other verbs can communicate:

1) showing and pointing to objects (and (spoiler deleted) as in
Edifice)

2) nodding, shaking one's head, shrugging

3) verbs for customary social exchanges: APOLOGIZE TO, THANK, WAVE
TO, and so
on. More exotically, BUY, ACCUSE, DISAGREE WITH, um...EVADE THE
QUESTION...

4) I don't know of an instance of this, but miming an action, or
pretending to
be an object, like the Stranger does in Edifice, could be effective.
Of course, IMITATE WINSTON CHURCHILL isn't any easier to implement
or any more mimesis-
enhancing than NPC, WINSTON CHURCHILL.

And many more; now that I think about it, just about any action can
serve a
communicative purpose in some situation. Two examples:

-----

Sancho Panda looks away and coughs. "Well, Donkey 'ol pal, I'd love
to help you
find that toothbr-- I mean, Wand of Hygenification, but really I
have to get
east to Sector 84 and perform_task, work, repeat... you know how it
is. So much
lonely work, a Mover's life."

>DROP SACK. E

"Really? You'd be willing to help me out? Well, maybe in that case
I could
spare a couple minutes."

-----

"Oh, I'm _so_ glad you've returned, delightful, delightful!
(Delicious,
delovely, ah ha ha!) We've, in fact, no, I wouldn't kid you, _just_
received,
meaning _just_ now, the most a-maz-ing shipment, I wouldn't kid you!
Straight
from our Central American sweatshops, _just_ received today, in
fact, the _most_
_a-maz-ing_ _thing_ you ever did see (and the green grass grew all
around, ah ha
ha!). It doesn't just spin salad anymore! No ma'am! I wouldn't
kid you!
Meatloaf, tapioca, cream cheese, any foodstuff you could possibly
_dream_ of
spinning around..."

>PUT TOASTER ON DISPLAY CASE

"Oh, I _told_ you you'd come to love that toaster so much you
wouldn't _bear_ to
part with it! What a delightful, dee-lightful, dee-luxe dee-vice!
No ma'am! I
told you I wouldn't kid you, and I wasn't kidding!"

>TURN ON TOASTER
(first plugging in the toaster)

That same horrible noise starts up - like a piano being compacted -
and that
smell...it's best just not to mention it. Then the side of the
machine folds
inward and those pencil-sort-of-things pop out and start burning
their way
through the display case. In a few seconds, the toaster has made
its way into
the basement of the shop, leaving behind a series of holes
remarkably similar to
those in your kitchen.

"See! What an amazing feat! Toasts _and_ ... um ... excavates!"
The
shopkeeper's smile suddenly ceases to endanger the topology of his
head. "Erm,
I suppose you'll be wanting to make an exchange..."

-wj

Trevor Barrie

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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On 9 Mar 1999 01:23:13 GMT, LucFrench <lucf...@aol.com> wrote:

>2. LucasArts style. Pre-Scripted multiple choice conversations.
>Pros: Allows for more detailed NPCs. Eases PC characterization.
>Cons: Can be mimesis breaking if done poorly. Requires a large amount of
>writing.

I call this "Law of the West" style, and will continue to do so until
somebody points out an earlier game which used it. (And will probably
continue to do so afterwards.:))

>3. Civilization Style. Simple Attitude with minor branching.

You know, I hate it when people refer to Sid Meier's Civilization as
just "Civilization"; when I see that I assume they're talking about the
real Civ. (And an NPC whose communication was along the lines of "I'll
give you three objects, two of which are a bronze key and a crystal rose,
for a brass lantern, sword, and something else" would be pretty cool.)

>6. Topic List Style. Infocom, with a list of topics.

Might be called "Sierra Style"; Gabriel Knight and the Quest for Glory
series both used this. (Don't know about other Sierra games.)

>Of course, Zarf manages to break this list in Tangle, we'll ignore that for
>the moment, because it was so situation specific.

Spider and Web's conversation could be seen as a degenerate example of
a number of these.

Adam J. Thornton

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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In article <36e5...@news1.us.ibm.net>, Trevor Barrie <tba...@ibm.net> wrote:
>>3. Civilization Style. Simple Attitude with minor branching.
>You know, I hate it when people refer to Sid Meier's Civilization as
>just "Civilization"; when I see that I assume they're talking about the
>real Civ. (And an NPC whose communication was along the lines of "I'll
>give you three objects, two of which are a bronze key and a crystal rose,
>for a brass lantern, sword, and something else" would be pretty cool.)

That, however, would be "Advanced Civ". The original Civ didn't have
particular rules about how you swapped cards.

Yours in revolting pedantry,

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman

Jonathon Duerig

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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"Adam J. Thornton" wrote:

> That, however, would be "Advanced Civ". The original Civ didn't have
> particular rules about how you swapped cards.

I would like to point out that it was such in normal civ... here's the
quote from the rules book.

"16.3 Each player offers a stated number of cards, which must be at
least three, quotes their total point value, and names one commodity
included. This information must be correct. Any other information
verbally revealed in an offer, whether volunteered or sought, need not
be correct. (Trade cards in a player's hand can never be shown to other
players.)"

> Yours in revolting pedantry,

I suppose this post makes me even more revolting than you...

-D

fra...@sinopsis.com

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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paene lacrimavi postquam tba...@ibm.net (Trevor Barrie) scribavit:

>I call this "Law of the West" style, and will continue to do so until
>somebody points out an earlier game which used it. (And will probably
>continue to do so afterwards.:))

Oh, wow. Is this that game where you were the Sheriff, and the left side
of the screen showed your gun in its holster, and you held conversations
with people but you could still shoot them if you wanted to?

And when you talked to the doctor, and got to the point where he says
"We'll both try to save lives," he'd save you if you were shot during the
bank robbery?

Golly. I'd forgotten all about it.

Fraser.

Jon Petersen

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
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Trevor Barrie wrote:

> >3. Civilization Style. Simple Attitude with minor branching.
>
> You know, I hate it when people refer to Sid Meier's Civilization as
> just "Civilization"; when I see that I assume they're talking about the
> real Civ. (And an NPC whose communication was along the lines of "I'll
> give you three objects, two of which are a bronze key and a crystal rose,
> for a brass lantern, sword, and something else" would be pretty cool.)

To drag another random board game into the mix... you know what would be
really cool? Diplomacy, played with a map of the GUE.
"Accardi-by-the-sea can be yours, my friend... but at what price?"

Jon

Trevor Barrie

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Mar 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/10/99
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On 9 Mar 1999 21:41:28 GMT, Adam J. Thornton <ad...@princeton.edu> wrote:

>In article <36e5...@news1.us.ibm.net>, Trevor Barrie <tba...@ibm.net> wrote:
>>>3. Civilization Style. Simple Attitude with minor branching.
>>You know, I hate it when people refer to Sid Meier's Civilization as
>>just "Civilization"; when I see that I assume they're talking about the
>>real Civ. (And an NPC whose communication was along the lines of "I'll
>>give you three objects, two of which are a bronze key and a crystal rose,
>>for a brass lantern, sword, and something else" would be pretty cool.)
>
>That, however, would be "Advanced Civ". The original Civ didn't have
>particular rules about how you swapped cards.
>
>Yours in revolting pedantry,

In that vein... yeah, it did. You had to trade at least three cards,
and had to truthfully say what _one_ of them was and what the total point
value of the three cards was. I went with the Advanced rules because I
couldn't think of a particularly elegant IF equivalent to point totals.

Trevor Barrie

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Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
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On 9 Mar 1999 23:21:36 GMT, fra...@sinopsis.com <fra...@sinopsis.com> wrote:

>>I call this "Law of the West" style, and will continue to do so until
>>somebody points out an earlier game which used it. (And will probably
>>continue to do so afterwards.:))
>
>Oh, wow. Is this that game where you were the Sheriff, and the left side
>of the screen showed your gun in its holster, and you held conversations
>with people but you could still shoot them if you wanted to?
>
>And when you talked to the doctor, and got to the point where he says
>"We'll both try to save lives," he'd save you if you were shot during the
>bank robbery?

That's the one, yeah.

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