Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report: Keeping Track of What You Said

Last week, I reported that I was creating the Tell dialogue flow to complement the Ask flow in The Dungeon Under My House, my second Freshly Squeezed Entertainment project.

I was looking forward to finishing the final tasks for talking to characters.

Sprint 42: Pre-production and initialization

Planned and complete:

  • Characters speak when TALKed to

Unplanned and incomplete:

  • Create location art

Here’s the companion video for this report:

I say final, but what I mean is “currently planned” because I anticipate that there will be more dialogue-related work to do in the future.

But for now, the player can select a Topic and a Belief about that Topic to share with another character.

The Dungeon Under My House - telling someone a belief

Before, members of the player’s party were the only ones affected by changing beliefs due to someone else’s response to the party’s questions, but now other characters need to have their beliefs updated. So I added code to update not only the party but also any non-party characters in the same location.

Initially, someone always updated their beliefs based on what someone else said, which in a practical sense is fine.

But I quickly ran into the problem that if Dad tells you where the jar of pickles is located, Dad KNOWS where the jar of pickles is, but it was possible to then have his own belief about the location of the jar of pickles updated.

The location is the same, but to have Dad say “I know where they are” at first but then later say “I heard where they are” is confusing. He’s talking about this belief as if someone else convinced him, but that someone else was himself! His direct knowledge was being replaced with indirect knowledge by his own speech.

So I tweaked the criteria for updating the belief of a character, which means beliefs get updated only if the character either doesn’t have a belief in the first place or they have indirect knowledge about the topic. Eventually there will be more criteria, such as recency of information and trustworthiness of the source.

Finally, in service of making conversations meaningful and impactful, I wanted to make sure that if you ask a character about a Topic, they know not to respond with a random Belief that they’ve already told you.

That is, characters now need to track what beliefs they have shared with other characters, if only so they can avoid repeating info when they have other info to share, and if they shared everything, they can say something like, “I already told you about that.”

The Dungeon Under My House - remembering what was already shared

It will also be useful for a character to keep track of deceptions and lies they’ve told, as well as making some characters better than others at tracking their own lies. But that work comes later.

For now, dialogue can be scripted and also dynamically generated by the player and the current beliefs any characters have, which is going to be a major part of the game play, and I’m happy this piece is finished.

At the end of the week, I was getting tired of the temporary background art for the rooms of the house, so I started making better-looking temporary background art.

The Dungeon Under My House - temporary bedroom background art

My first attempt was using patterns provided by Gimp, which was serviceable but a bit too noisy and bright.

The Dungeon Under My House - temporary bedroom background art

So I tried a more cartoony style that implied what was there instead of directly showing it, and I think it looks a lot better, especially when using darker colors so that the foreground characters can stand out better.

The Dungeon Under My House - less temporary bedroom background art?

Soon I’ll add props, such as posters on the wall, a rug, a door, and a bed to make it clear that it is a bedroom and not a strange window-less warehouse prison, and I’ll do similar work for the other rooms as well.

Meanwhile, I was going through my game’s intro and trying to find ways to shorten it and make it more interactive, using the new dialogue options right away to both make the game feel less like a novel and to ensure that the core game play comes up right away.

Thanks for reading!

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