The Purpose of Dialogue

Dialogue is needed in many games to engage and hold players. It can be used to entertain, direct players, provide hints, and provides emotional and narrative context of gameplay, which is highly influenced by game genre and intended audience.

Dialogue gives your Experience a distinctive character, making your Experience unique among thousands.

Dialogue Writing Tips

Be minimalist - Dialogue interrupts gameplay

  • Trim it down for a cumulative improvement, keep critical information

  • Add character to your experience without adding too many characters/NPCs

  • Avoid overuse of all four responses with Asker behaviors in your experience

Reveal character through language - Let their words define them

Think in the character’s voice:

  • Who am I?

  • Why am I talking to the player?

  • What is my attitude, vocabulary, and tone?

  • How can I make players engage with me?

Be clear - Do NOT info dump with exposition

  • Don’t confuse

  • Help players with what they need to know, share it in character

  • Succinctly add signposts to dialogue and let the hero (the player) drive the action

Be engaging

  • Vary rhythm and structure

  • Be consistent, but not repetitive

  • Story snapshots for players to assemble

  • At least one Identifiable trait for each character

Make dialogue worth reading to players

  • Focus on details that matter to players

  • Avoid exposition

  • Make sure jokes fit the narrative

  • Ensure dialogue advances story/action

Interesting, understandable & entertaining Create distinctive dialogue to grab attention fast and make the player care before they move on to the next Experience.

Pretend you know nothing and test your experience for these vital characteristics.

Keep calm and follow the process Write, Read, Get Feedback, Revise

Level and Narrative Design Collaboration

Technical Guidelines

You can use rich text formatting, but it counts toward character limits.

Spreadsheets make dialogue writing, tracking, and collaboration easier. You can also count characters using the Len() function.

Character limits

  • Speaker component - 300 characters NPCs making statements to players

  • Asker behaviour - 260 characters NPCs with two-way dialog with players

Use plain text from the English alphabet

  • No quotation marks, back slashes, emojis, or special characters

Format and Terms

  • Speakers - Make statements

    • Barks: Initial dialog before quest start

    • Static NPCs: Mini-scenes, moments

  • Askers - Conversation chunks with player

  • Quest Dialogue - Asker + Player Response(s)

Organizing Information

Some Experiences do not need a narrative, such as a puzzle game. However, new games are finding clever ways to defy expectations and tell stories through art and minimal dialogue, making the game more memorable and appealing to a broader player audience.

Helpful Details to Include in Your Spreadsheet

  • List all quests in your Experience considering your game loops and storyboard plans

    • Will there be side-quests? Will there be branching story (more complex level design)?

  • Note characters or objects who are givers, receivers, and objectives for each quest

  • Add a name and 1-2 sentence summary for each character

  • Add the asset name (Marketplace or Workspaces) to find it easily

  • Note quest items needed to complete each quest

  • Note the location for the level designer to place characters, quest items, etc.

  • Note triggered logic related to quest events, such as visual effects, sounds, weather change, etc.

  • List of non-essential characters to fill the Experience as needed

Additional Resources

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