In its latest feature, GameCareerGuide presents a look at several conversational systems
in games from the Commodore 64 onward, and analyzes them from the ground up to figure out just what makes them work.
Author Oluf Pedersen, who originally wrote this paper when studying for his masters of science in media technology and games, design & analysis at the IT University in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was inspired by his memories of a Commodore 64 game called Law of the West
to examine the evolution of conversation systems since that game's release.
Says Pedersen, "I was especially impressed by [the game's] choices of interaction, because at the time I was fooling around with Oblivion (yet) again. And this old C64 game from 1985 had much more interesting dialogue choices than the 2006 smash hit (and many other newer RPGs/adventure games)."
In addition to the two mentioned games, the analysis encompasses Pool of Radiance, The Secret of Monkey Island, Fallout, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate II, Morrowind, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
, and Neverwinter Nights 2
Pedersen says, "I definitely think that a distinct pattern emerges from all these games. If one takes LotW as the starting point, it becomes clear that dialogues in games have evolved since then. Games with dialogue choices today are usually much more dependent on previous player choices and behaviour.
And a game like Oblivion is not representative of the options and possibilities normally given the player in games with dialogue choices. The developers of Oblivion obviously didn't think this part of the game to be worthy of as much attention as for example the graphics, and in looking at the sales and reviews of the game, it's difficult to argue with this."
The full feature, The Lost Art of Conversation in Games
, which delves deeply into these gameplay systems, is now live on GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra's education-focused sister site.