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cmorgan

Friendship Talks Part I: prelim organization/decisions

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OK. In no particular order, we have a soundset sketched and coded sans the actual sounds, and that has given a "voice" to our dude. We also have a set of SoA banters, 2 banters per canon BioWare™ NPCs, to define Aran's outlook to the reader/player through how he interacts with the other members of the party. The writing on ToB banters is slower going, because frankly while I have played SoA to death, playing ToB has not always been on the ticket. So we will let that ruminate a bit more, and perhaps even wait for another week, while things percolate.

 

Let's go ahead and sketch out the friendship talks in rough form.

 

Preparation and Thought-Experiments

otherwise known as a variant on the spells "Confusion" and "Horror" called recently on the forums "Wall of Text", wherein the author creates meaningless psychological, sociological, and revisionist studies for his own amusement and the purposes of stunning and confusing the reader into accepting his basic premise without thinking too deeply. Go me!

 

OK, notes to myself. Also called "Journaling", by all these new kids.

 

For good thought-provoking discussion on dialog writing, banters, and characterization, the place I like to go is PPG and JCompton. If you follow that link, it is just the Mod general discussion board; poke around at the other stuff, and you get more threads dealing with this kind of stuff. He says up front that all of his ruminations on guidelines may or may not have been broken in stuff he writes, and that there are lots of ways to do this dialog integration thing. Sure. I agree that slavishly following a set of blueprints of any kind is anathema to creative expression; but his discussion threads bring experienced coders, writers, and readers to the table and get them discussing what makes decent gameplay and dialog work together. Plus he wrote Keto, who has to be one of the coolest "companion" - like mods out there, in my opinion, even though there is no romance track (or perhaps because there is no romance track). So reading that is good prep. And I have very seldom read something that I though was a bad idea on those explorations - he knows his stuff. At least then when I chose to do something odd, it will be because I am making a choice, instead of just blindly leaping into the void.

 

And, of course, there is playing experience - I know what I like about other NPCs and what I find frustrating/lacking, so that helps - reading other folks' stuff is like listening to decent jazz players and seeing how they take the changes, modify the melody, and make a "standard tune" their own. (OK, let's be really painfully truthful - sometimes it provides the "how-not-to" demonstration. But negative energy rips years off of your life. And sometimes what you don't like about someone else's stuff helps figure out what you do like, and might make your work better). This one comes with a caveat. I am writing Aran for my own amusement, but I would like it if one or two folks have some fun too. So probably leaving him open to more possibilities is a good idea. I play way too many Paladin runs.

 

Then again, all this deep philosophical stuff really is moot. It's a mod, not a dissertation. And most folks these days seem more interested in pages and pages of discussion rather than actually creating anything for players to play - so I'll cut off the additional twenty pages of deep philosophical blather, and simply refer you to the "Cathedral" vs "Parlor" debate summarized best by Wrye in Morrowind modding, the various threads around the i.e. community that ask deep questions, and let you knock yourself senseless against *other* peoples' Wall of Text™ spellcasting, unless you make your Save vs Insanity. I find thse have increasingly distracted me from actually doing stuff I like doing, so I am going all tough love on myself - tTo quote my favorite sports movie, Jerry MacGuire - "Show me the money". OK, no cash, so my old Junior High shop teacher - "Lots of talk. Who cares. Build the *&^%^& thing. Then we'll talk."

 

Friendship Paths and FriendTalks and Friendhip Talks and Friend Banters

So, what's in a name?

At base, all friendtalks are PC>NPC banters. In fact, though I agree with JCompton that railroading a player through only one dialog choice is a waste of material, technically all that is required to build a friendtalk is to have

[ARAN] Yo, Whazzup?

[PC] Nothin'.

Of course, that's boring. So what do we do?

 

Before we go exploring all the ways to mess with player's heads add all sorts of cool stuff to branch out different options for the NPC and PC, it might be a good idea to sketch out an organization. It will help keep the writing focused and on-task, provide a guide for me to see how close things are to a finishing point, and most of all it will be a good idea-sparker while playing BG2 and seeing how Aran might react.

 

I see two basic ways that would work for my style and my patience level.

  1. We can go all Pointilistic/Atomistic/Impressionist, and randomly write some scenes that appeal to us between Aran and the PC, and see what happens. Fun to do, and the way many NPCs are coded. Here, a couple of scenes that have no relation to eachother get tucked into the story.
  2. We could always build a "friendship track", where a series of talks lead from an initial lightweight banter through the development of a friendship - basically, a "Platonic Love Talk Sequence", as opposed to a "Romantic Love Talk Sequence". Here, the depth of the relationship is patterened, and there are opportunities for the PC and Aran to "break up" as friends, or at minimum to become "frenemies" [what a horrible word. Yuck.].

Guess what - I like both ideas. But I am not writing the Next Great American Novel™, so how about we ignore the list completely, and go with a middle ground - a "sequence" of talks, so that I have some targets and goals to shoot for and an idea of what kind of topics/stuff I want to have Aran and PC talk about, plus some semblance of a track. But all those random ideas that may not fit into a track, or may have conditions, set them up as "floaters", outside of the sequence. Later on, I can add in the changes needed to adjust to romance/no-romance, and perhaps even for more specific situations.

Edited by cmorgan

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Basic Ideas:

/* SoA Friendship */
/* "SellSwords and Adventurers", or, boy you guys aren't exactly normal, eh? */
/* "My Pal the Shield Wall", or, merits of Heavy Metal (Whitesnake) vs Alternative (Feist) */
/* "The Price of Fame", or, Whoa - *that* <CHARNAME>? Sux to be you, pal. */
/* "Irresistable Forces and Immovable Objects", or, is the pen really mightier than the sword, or does he just have a better PR firm?  */
/* "Creative Culinary Conundrums", or, Whaddaya like to eat, 'cause I make this mean curry...  */
/* "Alternate Paths to Sun Tsu", or, tactics are fun, but sometimes you just gotta whack 'em. */
/* "Warning - Objects Are Closer Than They Appear", or, why you want to check carefully behind your target area before firing that arrow. */
/* "Bhallspawn, Shmallspawn. Meh.", or, So your dad's a god. Mine just thinks he is.  */
/* "Weapons Practice for Fun and Profit", or, never bet with a Sicilian when death is on the line.  */
/* "Optimists, Pessimists, and Realists, Oh My.", or, the glass is half full, half empty, who cares - as long as it is a glass of good scotch!  */
/* "What's under all that Armor, Anyways?", or, take it all off, baby - take it all off. Emotionally, dude[ette] - jeeze, get a life.  */
/* "Sisters, Sisters (White Christmas)", or, sisters are way cool. Especially yours. (NR = ) Is she available? */
/* "When Harry met Sally, there ensued the Eternal Conflict" or, Women. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, and gods help you if you don't take out the garbage. */
/* "Mother is the Invention of Necessity" or, Your mom was screwed up. Mine wasn't. So why does she drive me nuts? .*/
/* "The Best Way To Eat A Lobster" or, a how to demonstration of elementary eating and fighting tactics. */
/* "Peace through Superior Firepower" or, time to go Midaevil on Jonny-boy's arse. */
/* "The Third Wheel" or, dude[ette], we never talk any more. Ditch the girl[boy]friend, and let's go play Diablo like we used to. */
/* "Artistic Tastes Differ" or, B52's, Whitesnake, Celtic Thunder, or Yanni - HaerDalis needs singing lessons. */
/* "10 gp my sister can take your sister" or, how to be the annoying older brother in ten words or less. */
/* "Friend With Benefits?" or, the perils of buying a pal a drink when there are scantily clad teenage barmaids about. */
/* "So, do you think she..." or, talking trash about cute coworkers is a sure recepie for lawsuits. Or wild partying. */

/* ToB Friendship */
/* "All for One, and One for All!" or, We Da Bomb, yo. Check it out. */
  /* "Care and maintainence of Hero(ine)s" or, be sure your helmet still fits on your head. */
/* "Hero or Sidekick?" or, I'm never gonna catch up with you, am I? */
/* "Serving the Balance" or, how come we don't just go hit the bars and chase chicks anymore. Are we getting old? */
/* "The Usual" or, Yep. It's time to save the world. Again. You know, The Usual. */
/* "Make New friends But Keep The Old" or, we aren't Girl Scouts here - but what happens after this whole thing is done? */
/* "Is it me, or is it hot in here?" or, give a guy a break - this whole conquer Hell thing is pretty heavy. */
/* "Waste not, Want not" or, the difficulties of scrollmaking and scribing. */
/* "The Open Road" or, boy, it is nice not to have big rocks being pelted at your head. */
/* "Hey, I Didn't have Beans For Lunch" or, something's rotten in Denmark. Your Mother was a Hamster, and your Father Smelled of Elderberries. By Elder, I mean decaying. */

 

We have two ends to code by - the code skeleton, or the talk sketch. I am going to work from the skeleton out in this thread, and make some decisions as to which I want to keep in sequence, and which ones I might want as situation-dependent "floater". And more may come into being, or some may be dropped - but at least I have a plan in place. For individual talks, well, we will play with them later. Those probably will work better from a "talk sketch" approach.

 

So, first, a quick organization.

 

All of these are going on c-aranj (Aran's Joined dialog file for SoA) and c-arnj25 (Aran's Joined dialog file for ToB.)

They get opened up by the script (usually run from c-aran.bcs, but sometimes from other places - but for the vast majority from the .cre assigned C-ARAN.BCS), and closed by the dialog.

And finally, they start out as one big file, so I can mess with stuff and do internal searches and make sure I am not repeating ideas, or using the same variable twice in two different contexts, or silly stuff like that. But eventually they will be separated.

 

So, organization that will help later, and splitting off a few as "independent" talks (which should really be "specially dependent" talks, but we don't want to offend them).

Most of all, since some of these will be CHAIN and some will not, just some of the stuff needed so I can adapt quickly on the fly . No timers yet, nothing fancy - just a straight IF<>THEN setup.

 

/* SoA Friendship Path */

/* BG2 FriendTalk 1 c-aranfriendbg2 = 1 */
/* "SellSwords and Adventurers", or, boy you guys aren't exactly normal, eh? */
IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",2)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 2 c-aranfriendbg2 = 3 */
/* "My Pal the Shield Wall", or, merits of Heavy Metal (Whitesnake) vs Alternative (Feist) */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",3)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",4)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 3 c-aranfriendbg2 = 5 */
/* "The Price of Fame", or, Whoa - *that* <CHARNAME>? Sux to be you, pal. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",5)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",6)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 4 c-aranfriendbg2 = 7 */
/* "Irresistable Forces and Immovable Objects", or, is the pen really mightier than the sword, or does he just have a better PR firm?  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",7)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",8)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 5 c-aranfriendbg2 = 9 */
/* "Creative Culinary Conundrums", or, Whaddaya like to eat, 'cause I make this mean curry...  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",9)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",10)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 6 c-aranfriendbg2 = 11 */
/* "Alternate Paths to Sun Tsu", or, tactics are fun, but sometimes you just gotta whack 'em. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",11)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",12)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 7 c-aranfriendbg2 = 13 */
/* "Warning - Objects Are Closer Than They Appear", or, why you want to check carefully behind your target area before firing that arrow. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",13)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",14)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 8 c-aranfriendbg2 = 15 */
/* "Bhallspawn, Shmallspawn. Meh.", or, So your dad's a god. Mine just thinks he is.  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",15)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",16)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 9 c-aranfriendbg2 = 17 */
/* "Weapons Practice for Fun and Profit", or, never bet with a Sicilian when death is on the line.  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",17)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",18)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 10 c-aranfriendbg2 = 19 */
/* "Optimists, Pessimists, and Realists, Oh My.", or, the glass is half full, half empty, who cares - as long as it is a glass of good scotch!  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",19)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",20)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 11 c-aranfriendbg2 = 21 */
/* "What's under all that Armor, Anyways?", or, take it all off, baby - take it all off. Emotionally, dude[ette] - jeeze, get a life.  */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",21)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",22)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 12 c-aranfriendbg2 = 23 */
/* "Sisters, Sisters (White Christmas)", or, sisters are way cool. Especially yours. (NR = ) Is she available? */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",23)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",24)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 13 c-aranfriendbg2 = 25 */
/* "When Harry met Sally, there ensued the Eternal Conflict" or, Women. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, and gods help you if you don't take out the garbage. (IR = Except you, of course.) */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",25)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",26)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 14 c-aranfriendbg2 = 27 */
/* "Mother is the Invention of Necessity" or, Your mom was screwed up. Mine wasn't. So why does she drive me nuts? .*/
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",27)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",28)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 15 c-aranfriendbg2 = 29 */
/* "The Best Way To Eat A Lobster" or, a how to demonstration of elementary eating and fighting tactics. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",29)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",30)~

/* BG2 FriendTalk 16 c-aranfriendbg2 = 31 */
/* "Peace through Superior Firepower" or, time to go Midaevil on Jonny-boy's arse. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",31)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendbg2","GLOBAL",32)~


/* SoA FLOATERS */

/* BG2 FriendFloater 1 c-aranfriendbg2 GT 15 PC in another Romance */
/* "The Third Wheel" or, dude[ette], we never talk any more. Ditch the girl[boyfriend, and let's go play Diablo like we used to. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloat1bg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloat1bg2","GLOBAL",2)~ 

/* BG2 FriendFloater 2 c-aranfriendbg2 GT 15 and a bard in party (or PC is a bard) */
/* "Artistic Tastes Differ" or, B52's, Whitesnake, Celtic Thunder, or Yanni - HaerDalis needs singing lessons. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloat2bg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloat2bg2","GLOBAL",2)~ 

/* BG2 FriendFloater 3 c-aranfriendbg2 GT 15 and past Imoen's rescue */
/* "10 gp my sister can take your sister" or, how to be the annoying older brother in ten words or less. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloat3bg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloat3bg2","GLOBAL",2)~ 

/* BG2 FriendFloater 4 c-aranfriendbg2 GT 15 and in an inn [romance/noromance conflict] */
/* "Friend With Benefits?" or, the perils of buying a pal a drink when there are scantily clad teenage barmaids about. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloat4bg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloat4bg2","GLOBAL",2)~ 

/* BG2 FriendFloater 5 c-aranfriendbg2 GT 15 and resting [romance/noromance conflict] */
/* "So, do you think she..." or, talking trash about cute coworkers is a sure recepie for lawsuits. Or wild partying. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloat5bg2","GLOBAL",1)~ DO IF ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloat5bg2","GLOBAL",2)~ 


/* ToB Friendship Path */

/* ToB FriendTalk 1 c-aranfriendToB = 1 */
/* "All for One, and One for All!" or, We Da Bomb, yo. Check it out. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",1)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",2)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 2 c-aranfriendToB = 3 */
/* "Care and maintainence of Hero(ine)s" or, be sure your helmet still fits on your head. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",3)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",4)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 3 c-aranfriendToB = 5 */
/* "Hero or Sidekick?" or, I'm never gonna cath up with you, am I? */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",5)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",6)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 4 c-aranfriendToB = 7 */
/* "Serving the Balance" or, how come we don't just go hit the bars and chase chicks anymore. Are we getting old? */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",7)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",8)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 5 c-aranfriendToB = 9 */
/* "The Usual" or, Yep. It's time to save the world. Again. You know, The Usual. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",9)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",10)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 6 c-aranfriendToB = 11 */
/* "Make New friends But Keep The Old" or, we aren't Girl Scouts here - but what happens after this whole thing is done? */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",11)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",12)~

/* ToB FriendTalk 7 c-aranfriendToB = 13 */
/* "Is it me, or is it hot in here?" or, give a guy a break - this whole conquer Hell thing is pretty heavy. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",13)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfriendToB","GLOBAL",14)~

/* ToB FLOATERS */

/* ToB FriendFloater 1 c-aranfriendToB GT 1 and in a library or temple */
/* "Waste not, Want not" or, the difficulties of scrollmaking and scribing. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloater1ToB","GLOBAL",1)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloater1ToB","GLOBAL",2)~

/* ToB FriendFloater 2 c-aranfriendToB GT 1 and outdoors */
/* "The Open Road" or, boy, it is nice not to have big rocks being pelted at your head. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloater2ToB","GLOBAL",1)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloater2ToB","GLOBAL",2)~

/* ToB FriendFloater 3 c-aranfriendToB GT 1 and in Hell */
/* "Hey, I Didn't have Beans For Lunch" or, something's rotten in Denmark. Your Mother was a Hamster, and your Father Smelled of Elderberries. By Elder, I mean decaying. */
IF ~Global("c-aranfloater3ToB","GLOBAL",1)~ DO ~SetGlobal("c-aranfloater3ToB","GLOBAL",2)~

 

 

At this point, there are lots of choices to make. I am going to make some of them now, so I don't get all excited and hare off after (more than a minimal amount of) new and strange ideas mid-stream.

 

Some basic ideas:

  1. No friendship-killing from Aran's end. He stays with the sequence, and can react to the player's choices, but he never leaves FOREVAR in a huff. Worst comes to worst, he swears at PC and goes off muttering. After all, he is a Companion Mod. And we have all seen Platoon. Sometimes, men do things that are just plain wrong when called by war. And the dreams may haunt them forever, but they don't stop being good men.
  2. Every friendtalk/lovetalk needs a "yo, I'm sick of this" exit condition right away. I don't want to force-click my way through FT 17 for the 1000th time. Aran will understand. He'll swear, spit at my feet, and grumble a little, but he's just 1's and 0's - no feelings really to hurt. And that should be cool.
  3. No Conditional Talks That Are Part Of The Sequence. I don't like having to juggle stuff around to get a cool talk, or wait until I rest someplace specific to keep the dialog rolling. The friendship talks run on a timer, and the floaters by condition and timer. I'll stick with the "easter egg" scenario, where the sequence merrily goes on its way and then there are special floaters that have to have conditions to be met. But Aran doesn't go silent and wait in the sequence. Anything that has to do with plot, let's put as a floater - and since Aran really is not a leader at heart, he may not even have much to say alone to PC on those points, unless he is in a romance. Interjections should handle most of that.
  4. Party members probably have something to say here and there, unless the talk is truly alone. So some of these will end up with sections of party banter intruding, just like while I am trying to talk to my best friend while my wife, his wife, his son, his daughter, and his Goldendoodle [don't ask] all try to get involved in the conversation - until we head out to the porch and close the door on the mayhem.
  5. This list is too long. So when an idea just looks like it is going to feel wrong, it gets dumped on the scrapheap. There is no "magic numbber" of FT/LT - and no prizes or cash by the word. So if it all makes it in, cool - but $10 says the Mom and Dad dialogs turn out trite and stupid, and more than a little forced - so if so, out they go.

 

There. That should be enough to give me some basic guidance for Friendship talks. Time to start playing with some of them.

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Guest -Anonymous-

I really like the idea of a multiple-NPC banter. Granted, maybe not more than two because the work involved, but even so.

 

Aran: Blah blah blah.

 

PC: Blah blah.

 

Aran: Hah! Bla bla bla?

 

Jan: Bla bla bla bla.

 

Aran: Bla bla.

 

PC: Bla bla.

 

Edwin: Bla bla bla

 

Imoen: Bla bla?!?

 

Jan: Blah blah blah blah blah....

 

Everybody but Jan: WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT UP!??

 

Aran: Hahah!

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