Developer Diary: Conversations 101
22 February 2003
It's time to go back... back to Production Land. So what's happening in Production Land I here you ask with eager anticipation. Currently, we are wrapping up a few sections of the game which have been dragging on for a while. It's D-Day for Flummaxed I guess, as we see if it is actually possible to ever finish this game! Sometimes I think it will only take another couple of months, sometimes a couple of years.
OK, so things are progressing at different speeds. What IS actually in progress? Well, currently the majority of our effort is being poured in Backgrounds. While the artists work on that, the writing side of the staff is continuing work on the Conversations and Narrations. There is also the programming side, as Coal, the new name for Game Studio, begins development.
My expertise is the writing and the programming as you may have noticed, so I'll turn my attention to Conversations and Narrations. Conversations involve two or more characters having a bit of a chin wag. Max is usually one of them, talking with another character in the game. Flummaxeds' conversations are made up of topics that the player can choose. As certain things happen in the game, or certain topics are probed, more topics may appear. From the writing end, Conversations involve looking at the characters having the conversation, reviewing any concepts for them, and making a personality for them. You've got to be careful that every pleb in the game doesn't have the personality of a goat, nor of an idiot. There's got to be enough variety to make each character very different; just like people in real life!
Narrations are Max's reflections on his world. The player selects something to look at and chooses what they want to do from a list of verbs. Max then needs to make a response; either an animated one or a spoken one. Once again, writing narrations can have their problems. A player wants to interact with the environment, look around, feel comfortable. But what if they choose to take something that is not required? I have to make sure that the narration is more than Max saying, "No", "I can't" or "It's too big" to everything. His answers need to be informative, funny and not full of negatives.
Of course, once Narrations and Conversations are written, checked and checked, they need to be recorded. But we'll leave that discussion to another day.
"Even if I wanted to pick it up, would I really want a mutant giraffe? It might bite."