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NPC Banters with CHARNAME: How many?


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#1 Bill Bisco

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Posted 07 July 2015 - 03:09 PM

What's a good standard number of banters between an NPC and CHARNAME for a mod?

 

We say that NPCs should banter with each other at least twice as a rule of thumb, but what about CHARNAME?  How many is a good rule of thumb for BG1, BG2, and ToB?

 

Thanks,

 

Bill


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#2 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:01 AM

What's a good standard number of banters between an NPC and CHARNAME for a mod?

 

We say that NPCs should banter with each other at least twice as a rule of thumb, but what about CHARNAME?  How many is a good rule of thumb for BG1, BG2, and ToB?

 

Thanks,

 

Bill

You need to be a bit more specific

- friendship talks only

- friendship + romance

- comments on specific quests, persons, events (probably related to the class or origin of the NPC) you would encounter in normal gameplay

- does the NPC have an own quest?

-......


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#3 Bill Bisco

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:16 AM

Pure banters. Not romances or interjections.
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#4 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:29 AM

Pure banters. Not romances or interjections.

10 - 12 for BG1 + 2

6- 8 for ToB

Some of them could be via PID options.

 

Personally, I would say, if you go for this number, the talks must be quite unique and interesting. There are soooo many NPCs to choose from today, that someone who is just STANDARD will have a hard time finding interested players, unless there is something very special about this specific one (race, class, skills, unique weapons).


Edited by Roxanne, 08 July 2015 - 12:30 AM.

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#5 jastey

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:35 AM

Dialogues between the PC and an NPC are usually referred to as "dialogues", as banters are between two NPCs (sorry for the nitpick).
I'd say ideally as much as in romance case (I like dialogues with the NPCs. For me, that is the crucial contents in auch a game). But it's also OK in non-romance case if the amount of dialogues is maybe 20% less than for the romance case, as the need to share close moments is smaller. (If I recall correctly, you already have some numbers for romance case)

#6 jastey

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:36 AM

<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="Roxanne" data-cid="579041" data

There are soooo many NPCs to choose from today, that someone who is just STANDARD will have a hard time finding interested players, unless there is something very special about this specific one (race, class, skills, unique weapons).</p></blockquote>

Sorry for this - my mobile cannot handle quoting.
Just wanted to say: do NOT think you have to make your NPC interesting by class, race, background. The IE community came to a very refreshing level of not- overdone, not MatySueish NPCs. I see a certain tendency of Mary-Sueish NPCs turning the story of CHARNAME into their own backstory return. Please do not do that.

Edited by jastey, 08 July 2015 - 12:42 AM.


#7 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 01:58 AM

<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="Roxanne" data-cid="579041" data

There are soooo many NPCs to choose from today, that someone who is just STANDARD will have a hard time finding interested players, unless there is something very special about this specific one (race, class, skills, unique weapons).</p></blockquote>

Sorry for this - my mobile cannot handle quoting.
Just wanted to say: do NOT think you have to make your NPC interesting by class, race, background. The IE community came to a very refreshing level of not- overdone, not MatySueish NPCs. I see a certain tendency of Mary-Sueish NPCs turning the story of CHARNAME into their own backstory return. Please do not do that.

You are right

There are a lot of players that go for the battles and tactical mods who like to have an NPC they can development to fit their style of gameplay and who otherwise better keep the mouth shut most of the time.

I was not sure Bill was asking for this type of NPC when he was planning for dialogues/banters (I think it is a matter of taste how you call them and a decision of the B or J file you put the text and triggers to. For my NPCs I put the quest and story related talks to dialogue(J) and the more personal relationship talks to Banter(B), but that is just convenience and not the law, just a matter of how you like to trigger each talk).

Question is whether there is more need for no-frills NPCs of any standard class still.


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#8 jastey

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:46 AM

If you think my plea for less Mary Sue was a call for mute, non-fleshed out NPCs you are strongly mistaken (or you turned my words in purpose, I don't know.)
For using the B.DLG for scripted dialogues: it is good to keep in mind that the B.DLG is the banter dialogue file that gets triggered by the engine on a random basis. If you know what you are doing, you can use it for scripted dialogues (as it is done for the Anomen romance in the original game), but for mods it is recommended to use the J.DLG for this.

#9 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 03:24 AM

If you think my plea for less Mary Sue was a call for mute, non-fleshed out NPCs you are strongly mistaken (or you turned my words in purpose, I don't know.)
For using the B.DLG for scripted dialogues: it is good to keep in mind that the B.DLG is the banter dialogue file that gets triggered by the engine on a random basis. If you know what you are doing, you can use it for scripted dialogues (as it is done for the Anomen romance in the original game), but for mods it is recommended to use the J.DLG for this.

I agree, when using the B file in this way you must be careful to set triggers in the way that no unwanted banter can fire due to the engine's random search, i.e conditions must be really unique and one time only.

With respect to the nature of a new NPC I have the feeling, we both try to express the same, namely that said figure must interest a potential player in some way and not be stereotype (Just another human fighter with a masterwork longsword, keeping silent when asked about his past and some minimalistic talks to the PC which you think you have all heard before), A medium type cleric like Gavin for example would interest those who like long banters and romance. The joinable Sarevok does not talk much but is an interesting figure by his background and abilities. Just two extreme examples, but what I tried to point out is that a new NPC needs something why you want to take him/her into your party and not another NPC. And since players are quite different (one of the really great aspects that keeps this game alive and interesting over decades for a large community), for a new NPC decide which type of player is your target. And of course, nothing here is black and white, the spectrum is quite large.


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#10 cmorgan

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 06:36 AM

tl,dr - banters you enjoy writing are ok but mostly you should use the J file. Numbers mean squat. Write for yourself not for others.

 

[long version]

In my opinion, there is no correct numerical answer to this question - but there *is* a content-related answer. And a technical reason to keep banters limited to general fun scenery non-essential NPC/NPC dialog.

 

The "two banters for each of the joinable canonical (BioWare™) NPCs in SoA" guideline was set up by modders looking around at what others were doing, but it really doesn't serve a modder well. I use it because it is fun figuring out how to have one banter initiated by my NPC and one initiated by the canonical NPC - a creative writing and characterization exercise that I find enjoyable. I use that "standard" in crossmod content as well - it serves my sense of balance to think that two "scenery" banters to enhance the sense that the NPCs involved are independent beings with their own views.

 

BUT - writing a banter for an NPC just because that is "what is done" is a waste of your time and the player's time.

AND - writing multiple *good* banters that extend and clarify the relationships can not only be fun, well - no hard limit on that one! Go for it. 2? 3? More? Some mods do a MyNPC+Imoen = luv in as few as 2 or 3 side interactions in ToB. Others do lots more.

 

As Jastey mentioned, though, using banters this way (lots more) runs into some technical troubles.

 

Between IEP Banters and all the mods out there on a Mega and the original canonical NPCs using the banter file for some actual needed (and WEIGHT#) content, using the Banter files the way BioWare did is a very dangerous proposition these days. One messed up weight or an odd install order, and suddenly you will get bug reports that original content isn't playing correctly, or at all.

 

In addition, more banters, even with a shortened cycle tweak, means that there is much more content - and poses the risk that a player's time in-game will not match your expected outcome. Especially the one time, specially conditioned ones - they can end up hanging open and playing in a way you never intended.

 

So my "rule of thumb" is - If the content is side commentary and you don't mind if players never see it, B file. If it is triggered by a specific circumstance, area, or PC/NPC discussion, or if you need players to see it for plot/relationship development, J file with conditions and timers, triggered by the .baf, and with a rollback block put in place so that the following doesn't occur:

 

[JAHEIRA] Aran... get your hand off of my back. I know you are scared of the big bad Underdark, but  man up, dude.

[ARAN] Well, that blighted well figures.

[JAHEIRA] What?

[ARAN] We are in th' Elven Court, all in front o' this royalty, an' th' banter triggered.

[JAHERIA] I'm calling my agent. AGAIN. These independent film projects ALWAYS damage an actor's reputation. Have they never heard of the joined dialog file?

[ARAN] Put in a word for me, please. The accent on my dialog is atrocious. I want a rewrite.

 

As far as the "how many to make players happy", well... I'd say you can answer that one by google-ing what people think of mods.Better yet - don't. It might be demoralizing, if you are expecting your hard work to be appreciated :)

 

I like 'em. But the interwebz are filled with folks posting stuff like "ewww.... bad fanfic stuff and bad writing in my game! Besides, I wanted slash fic content with goth emo overtones!!" and "too much talk. I just wanted an overpoewered kensai. how do I get this npc to just shut up and fill a party slot?". Writing for fame? in an i.e. mod? Errr... Writing for fortune? In any mod? errr... Writing for a sense of belonging to a community? Ok, but you could do other things.... Writing because you want to tell a story? GO FOR IT.

 

So, just like the real world, I'd say write what you want, preferably as you play the game and think "so, in my head, I just had a conversation with my npc. Cool. I can write that out." or "Hey! If Jaheira just said that to Yoshimo, what would my npc's reaction have been? Would he/she even talk about that with Yoshimo?


Edited by cmorgan, 08 July 2015 - 06:41 AM.


#11 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 07:49 AM

tl,dr - banters you enjoy writing are ok but mostly you should use the J file. Numbers mean squat. Write for yourself not for others.

 

[long version]

In my opinion, there is no correct numerical answer to this question - but there *is* a content-related answer. And a technical reason to keep banters limited to general fun scenery non-essential NPC/NPC dialog.

 

The "two banters for each of the joinable canonical (BioWare™) NPCs in SoA" guideline was set up by modders looking around at what others were doing, but it really doesn't serve a modder well. I use it because it is fun figuring out how to have one banter initiated by my NPC and one initiated by the canonical NPC - a creative writing and characterization exercise that I find enjoyable. I use that "standard" in crossmod content as well - it serves my sense of balance to think that two "scenery" banters to enhance the sense that the NPCs involved are independent beings with their own views.

 

BUT - writing a banter for an NPC just because that is "what is done" is a waste of your time and the player's time.

AND - writing multiple *good* banters that extend and clarify the relationships can not only be fun, well - no hard limit on that one! Go for it. 2? 3? More? Some mods do a MyNPC+Imoen = luv in as few as 2 or 3 side interactions in ToB. Others do lots more.

 

As Jastey mentioned, though, using banters this way (lots more) runs into some technical troubles.

 

Between IEP Banters and all the mods out there on a Mega and the original canonical NPCs using the banter file for some actual needed (and WEIGHT#) content, using the Banter files the way BioWare did is a very dangerous proposition these days. One messed up weight or an odd install order, and suddenly you will get bug reports that original content isn't playing correctly, or at all.

 

In addition, more banters, even with a shortened cycle tweak, means that there is much more content - and poses the risk that a player's time in-game will not match your expected outcome. Especially the one time, specially conditioned ones - they can end up hanging open and playing in a way you never intended.

 

So my "rule of thumb" is - If the content is side commentary and you don't mind if players never see it, B file. If it is triggered by a specific circumstance, area, or PC/NPC discussion, or if you need players to see it for plot/relationship development, J file with conditions and timers, triggered by the .baf, and with a rollback block put in place so that the following doesn't occur:

 

[JAHEIRA] Aran... get your hand off of my back. I know you are scared of the big bad Underdark, but  man up, dude.

[ARAN] Well, that blighted well figures.

[JAHEIRA] What?

[ARAN] We are in th' Elven Court, all in front o' this royalty, an' th' banter triggered.

[JAHERIA] I'm calling my agent. AGAIN. These independent film projects ALWAYS damage an actor's reputation. Have they never heard of the joined dialog file?

[ARAN] Put in a word for me, please. The accent on my dialog is atrocious. I want a rewrite.

 

As far as the "how many to make players happy", well... I'd say you can answer that one by google-ing what people think of mods.Better yet - don't. It might be demoralizing, if you are expecting your hard work to be appreciated :)

 

I like 'em. But the interwebz are filled with folks posting stuff like "ewww.... bad fanfic stuff and bad writing in my game! Besides, I wanted slash fic content with goth emo overtones!!" and "too much talk. I just wanted an overpoewered kensai. how do I get this npc to just shut up and fill a party slot?". Writing for fame? in an i.e. mod? Errr... Writing for fortune? In any mod? errr... Writing for a sense of belonging to a community? Ok, but you could do other things.... Writing because you want to tell a story? GO FOR IT.

 

So, just like the real world, I'd say write what you want, preferably as you play the game and think "so, in my head, I just had a conversation with my npc. Cool. I can write that out." or "Hey! If Jaheira just said that to Yoshimo, what would my npc's reaction have been? Would he/she even talk about that with Yoshimo?

I guess you are completely right, first of all writing a mod and the corresponding dialogues is fun and the satisfaction you get from seeing it work in the context of the game just like you expected it. You do not get this from filling 10 or 12 or 20 empty dialogue sheets with something if you have nothing to say on behalf of your NPC. Neither you nor a potential player wants some blablabla that just shows the NPC is not deaf and dumb and still alive.

Anyhow, I was understanding Bill Bisco's question with the intention of a NPC mod that wants to be published, ie a mod that someone beside the author would have an interest in. Like jastey was saying, you want that NPC to have some flesh, something that makes him/her distinguishable. If the author himself cannot think of anything interesting enough about his NPC to give him a dozend or so dialogues for the whole game, how should someone else get interested. (Did anybody ever think of taking Mur'Neth from the Nashkel mines through to the Throne of Bhaal?) You can find interesting One-Day NPCs (Interesting from the point of concept) but you rarely keep them long or recruit them a second time if there is no real content (sometimes I felt the urge to adopt one and flesh it out because I liked the basic idea - but I did not like the idea to waste one of my rare party slots for them as they were.)


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#12 Bill Bisco

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 10:39 AM

Thank you Roxanne.  Yes, this is a mod that intends to be published.  I do agree that quality is better than quantity and that merely filling up dialogues to meet these quotas doesn't really make them interesting which is the point.  And, I totally agree the NPCs need something (personality, race, class, mechanic, background, whatever) to make them interesting and worth taking both mechanically (worth a party slot in combat) and emotionally (worth a party slot compared to other talkative NPCs).

 

Standards help determine a minimum metric to aim for to help ensure enjoyment.  I don't view it as a straightjacket; just something to aid in the creative process.

 

So, instead of making another thread, immediately, let me coalesce some information between the threads:

 

Standard Mod NPC Dialog Guidelines

 

1. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG1

2. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG2

3. 1 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for ToB

4. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG1

5. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG2

6. 3 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for ToB

7. 5 pre-conflict Lovetalks (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

8. 8 post-conflict pre-commitment (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

9. 5 post-commitment Lovetalks (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

10. 8 post-commitment Lovetalks for ToB

11. # of Player Initiated Dialog BG1?

12. # of Player Initiated Dialog BG2?

13. # of Player Initiated Dialog ToB?

14. Friendship Path same length as Lovetalks?

15. # of Lovetalks for Romances that span BG1 to BG2 to ToB?

 

Let me know your thoughts about 11 through 15.


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#13 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 12:59 PM

Thank you Roxanne.  Yes, this is a mod that intends to be published.  I do agree that quality is better than quantity and that merely filling up dialogues to meet these quotas doesn't really make them interesting which is the point.  And, I totally agree the NPCs need something (personality, race, class, mechanic, background, whatever) to make them interesting and worth taking both mechanically (worth a party slot in combat) and emotionally (worth a party slot compared to other talkative NPCs).

 

Standards help determine a minimum metric to aim for to help ensure enjoyment.  I don't view it as a straightjacket; just something to aid in the creative process.

 

So, instead of making another thread, immediately, let me coalesce some information between the threads:

 

Standard Mod NPC Dialog Guidelines

 

1. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG1

2. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG2

3. 1 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for ToB

4. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG1

5. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG2

6. 3 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for ToB

7. 5 pre-conflict Lovetalks (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

8. 8 post-conflict pre-commitment (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

9. 5 post-commitment Lovetalks (for Romance NPCs) for BG2

10. 8 post-commitment Lovetalks for ToB

11. # of Player Initiated Dialog BG1?

12. # of Player Initiated Dialog BG2?

13. # of Player Initiated Dialog ToB?

14. Friendship Path same length as Lovetalks?

15. # of Lovetalks for Romances that span BG1 to BG2 to ToB?

 

Let me know your thoughts about 11 through 15.

I think 11-15 depend a bit on each other, especially whether the romance is continous through the three parts or triggered by game progress and you reach a certain stage upon any of the transitions. For friendship as well as lovetalks you can assign some of them to the PIDs, so the PC can decide e.g. if he wants to encourage the romance - or in friendship whether he wants to further explore some topics specific to the NPC. There are even some mods that require you to show enough interest in your romanceable NPC by taking the initiative through PIDs to keep the romance alive and continuing, others just add additional flirts for fun.

Is 15 the sum of 7 through 10 or are those different concepts?


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#14 Bill Bisco

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 01:27 PM

15 was intended as something else.  For example, if we had a BGT romance that started in BG1 instead of BG2, would we expect fewer lovetalks in SoA and ToB resultingly?

 

I understand what you're saying about PID overlapping with lovetalks.  Perhaps we should distinguish between regular and lovetalk PID.  If we want to reduce some lovetalk dialogues and replace them with PID, that's fine, but I'd like some opinion on a standard number of PIDs.

 

Thanks,

 

BIll


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#15 Fiann of the Silver Hand

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:05 PM

Personally, I don't like it when an NPC is silent in a situation they should be vocal:  Aerie and slavers, Edwin and Red Wizards, Viconia and Drizzt.  Conversely, chiming in on every fallen leaf and random battle is just plain tedious (Imoen in some mod I tried and deleted).  If it fits contextually and serves to further the story, it's a good candidate.



#16 Roxanne

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 02:21 PM

15 was intended as something else.  For example, if we had a BGT romance that started in BG1 instead of BG2, would we expect fewer lovetalks in SoA and ToB resultingly?

Understood, I missed the point that your romance part really only starts in BG2 -

However, when you started in BG1 and are at phase 9 according to your list and you are just halfways through BG2 at that time you may consider to a) do nothing b) have some random talks between lovers to show the romance is still alive but no longer of much interest to the external viewer c) let it end and give some other NPC a chance d) create some crisis/test that either strengthens or fails the relationship. Consequently, all except a) would require additional dialogues where d) would be some new phase of its own that I cannot recall any other mod has.

I understand what you're saying about PID overlapping with lovetalks.  Perhaps we should distinguish between regular and lovetalk PID.  If we want to reduce some lovetalk dialogues and replace them with PID, that's fine, but I'd like some opinion on a standard number of PIDs.

We can look at it from the design side, as probably not all of the possible PID options will be shown at all times.

When you click on PID the normal dialogue opens with the NPC saying something "What's up, Bill?"

Below you have the number of answers you can select. Given all are just one-liners you may see 5 options at a time, otherwise the list will become longer and you will need to scroll to see all the options (A PID that has been done can be removed from the otions and make way for another one to keep the list shorter). Those may lead directly into the topic or they may be just headlines for a subject, like

1. I want to talk about our relationship

2. I have interest in your background

3. Your behaviour in battle

4. Other topics

5. You voice sounds strange (for repair options)

The more specific options for the topic you chose come in the next dialogue.

 

I think you have seen all of this in the game and probably have a preference.

 

After that level you need to consider that each PID entry is more than just a simple answer but actually just the start of a full dialogue, i.e. 10 - 12 PID options for BG1 and 2 and 6-or 7 for ToB equal to the same number of additional dialogues. (If you go for the option to show always a limited number of PIDs and reload new stuff when one is used - and given that the contents is not dependend on where you are in the game-  not all the PIDs must be new in each of the three packages. e.g. if the PC never asked the NPC about the weapon he carries during BG1, the option is still in the BG2 package.)

 

Just a hint from my own work - I always start with the contents of what my NPC has to say to the PC and why. Then I think of the situation and conditions for that dialogue. This leads to the solution of how to implement the dialogue, be it triggered by an event or just the next LT after the previous after a time interval, or at he next rest, or a condition I may as well put into a PID.

 

Thanks,

 

BIll


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#17 Bill Bisco

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 09:30 PM

I modified the list.  Give me your thoughts on the below:

 

Standard Mod NPC Dialog Guidelines

 

1. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG1

2. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG2

3. 1 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for ToB

4. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG1

5. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG2

6. 3 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for ToB

7. 5 Player Initiated Dialogs for BG1 (not romance)

8. 5 Player Initiated Dialogs for BG2 (not romance)

9. 3 Player Initiated Dialogs for ToB (not romance)

10. 5 Pre-conflict Lovetalks (romance) for BG2

11. 8 Post-conflict per-commitment (romance) for BG2

12. 5 Post-commitment Lovetalks (romance) for BG2

13. 8 post-commitment Lovetalks (romance) for ToB

14. 5 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for BG1

15. 5 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for BG2

16. 3 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for ToB

17. 8 Friendship Path dialogues for broken or ineligible romances for BG2

18. 5 Friendship Path dialogues for broken or ineligible romances for ToB


Edited by Bill Bisco, 08 July 2015 - 09:30 PM.

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#18 Roxanne

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 02:14 AM

I modified the list.  Give me your thoughts on the below:

 

Standard Mod NPC Dialog Guidelines

 

1. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG1

2. 2 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for BG2

3. 1 NPC-NPC Banters with every Bioware NPC and selected project and crossmod NPCs for ToB

4. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG1

5. 5 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for BG2

6. 3 CHARNAME-NPC Dialogues for ToB

7. 5 Player Initiated Dialogs for BG1 (not romance)

8. 5 Player Initiated Dialogs for BG2 (not romance)

9. 3 Player Initiated Dialogs for ToB (not romance)

10. 5 Pre-conflict Lovetalks (romance) for BG2

11. 8 Post-conflict per-commitment (romance) for BG2

12. 5 Post-commitment Lovetalks (romance) for BG2

13. 8 post-commitment Lovetalks (romance) for ToB

14. 5 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for BG1

15. 5 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for BG2

16. 3 Player Initiated Dialogues (romance) for ToB

17. 8 Friendship Path dialogues for broken or ineligible romances for BG2

18. 5 Friendship Path dialogues for broken or ineligible romances for ToB

If I read it correctly, you would have some friendly PC talks and PIDs + some PID *flirt* options in BG1. The real romance stuff will be in BG2 and continue into ToB. This looks reasonable, as well for the alternative broken romance path. You can still add some conditional interactions like Fiann pointed out in #15, they need not be full dialogues but for situations where an NPC of that alignment or class should show any reaction.


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