Steve Ince: Dialogue trees donâ??t work

Steve Ince: Dialogue trees donâ??t work

By Stuart Richardson

June 16th 2010 at 2:01PM

Seasoned writer-designer of So Blonde rubbishes â??distractingâ?? game writing technique

In an exclusive article written for Develop, So Blonde writer-designer Steve Ince has discounted dialogue trees as a system for delivering conversations in interactive gaming as “very clumsy and a huge waste of time.”

“One of the problems with a tree structure is that there is often the need to copy whole sections of dialogue into new places in the tree in order to get them to trigger in the right way,” he said.

“If dialogue needs to be copied and pasted anywhere, then it is likely to be a problem with the scene structure or the system that drives the dialogue.”

Ince went on to detail his personally preferred method of working with in-game dialogue as to use Boolean Variables, a simple variable in conversations that has only two values: true or false. Conversation then returns to a central point from which an unchanging group of questions can be asked.

“Because Boolean variables can only be True or False, it may seem that there is a danger of losing the spectrum of subtlety,” Ince said.

“They are not there to define the subtlety, or lack of such, but control the structure within which the team creates the subtlety. The real subtlety will come from the writer knowing the characters well.”

The full article can be read here.