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Why
Lead Developer
04 Jul 2009

Location: Utrecht

This is an attempt at bringing back some structure to dialog in Tamriel Rebuilt. Yeah, sure, we want to tell stories and make the world feel engaging and whatnot. But dialog is an important game mechanic, guiding the player through our world, and without structure dialog and through dialog the world becomes very hard to navigate. Which is a shame, because our world is quite amazing. To fix that, and to avoid mistakes made in the past, this document strives to set suitable standards for the dialog added in our NPCing claims. It will focus on generic dialog, the bare minimum of content required to produce a good dialog collective and the upper limit where additional (unique) dialog starts to obscure the player's experience, all presented through a simple checklist.

Obvious work in progress is a work in progress.

Generic dialog:

Generic dialog should be the focus of your NPCing efforts. Generic dialog is the backbone of your NPCing claim. Unique dialog only adds flavor. Below is a list of topics you should include. Do note that while this is the bare minimum, you should be cautious about adding more entries, since we're going for a structured and predictable experience here. If you do want to add additional entries for, say, non-Dunmer, filter accordingly and make sure both entries are equally informative. Different entries within the same topic are ordered like how they should be in the CS. Unless otherwise specified, always filter for NoLore.

Greeting 9
We haven't really made use of Greeting 9 so far, but I believe we should. Greeting 9 is the lowest greeting tier, which means that it'll only show up when there are no other greetings that can be used. However, it contains a lot of content you see pretty often in vanilla. Town-specific greetings. Filter all of these entries for your town cell name. Do not filter for NoLore. This is how vanilla does it:
    ~5 greetings for disposition 40 and TalkedToPC == 0. Filter for Random100 so that they all show up evenly, to a maximum of Random100 < 100. (In other words, don't filter your last entry for Random100.)
    ~5 greetings for disposition 20 and TalkedToPC == 0. Filter for Random100 like above.
    Some greetings for no disposition and TalkedToPC == 0. Filter for Random100 like above.
    ~5 greetings for disposition 40 that are not filtered for TalkedToPC. Filter for Random100 so that they show up evenly, but do not go over Random100 < 50. Any time Random100 returns 50 or higher, one of the global greetings further down the list will kick in.
    ~5 greetings for disposition 20, like the above.
    ~5 greetings not filtered for disposition, like the above.
      Check Greeting 9, the Balmora entries for good examples.

Town names
    One entry describing the town. This is the go-to topic for whenever a player enters a new town. Filter for the Town Cell name. Include plenty of link-able topics. ShowMap the town in the result box. Give a brief description of the town, but do not (heavily) describe NPCs or specific places, since those have their own topics. Every normal NPC in the town will be able to tell you about the town they live in.
      - Narsis is the ancient capital of Great House Hlaalu. Situated at the great bend of the Thirr river in the southwest of the Shipal-Shin, its proximity to Cyrodiil and free access to Morrowind's waterways makes it one of the most important trading centers in all of the province. Unlike the rest of the province, Narsis is very open to outlanders. Alongside the Hlaalu Council it houses the Imperial Proconsul, the Emperor's highest representative in Morrowind.
    An entry with a general, scholarly description of the town. Filter for Savants and TR_Map>0. ShowMap in the result box.
      - Narsis is the political heart of southern Morrowind. It is both the seat of the Hlaalu Council, as well as the residence of the Imperial Proconsul and the Duke of the district. It is renown for its bustling markets and merchants from all over Tamriel travel there to sell their wares. The town is built around a central hill in the bowl carved out in the Shipal-Shin plateau by the mighty Thirr river.
    A few entries filtered for Scouts and nearby town names. ShowMap the town in the result box. These entries do not have to be as detailed as the previous. Coordinate with other people working on nearby claims.
      - Narsis is the ancient capital of House Hlaalu. Sitting in the great bend of the Thirr river, it is the largest settlement in the Shipal-Shin and renown for its many markets with goods from all over Tamriel.
Region names
    One entry for Savants. Give a brief description of the region and note which towns and landmarks are located there.
      - The western highlands of Vvardenfell are called the West Gash. The largest settlements are the trading village of Gnisis, north of Ald'ruhn, and Caldera and Balmora to the south. The fishing villages of Ald Velothi and Khuul lie on the north coast. Muckspunge grows there, and I have collected chokeweed and roobrush as well.
    Entries for Scouts, with some basic information about the region. Coordinate this with other claimants working on the same region. Vanilla used between two to five unique descriptions for the region but I'm fine with one good one, then duplicate these entries and filter them for every named town in the region. If you use multiple entries, filter for Random100 to make them all show up evenly.
      - The herds of the Ashlanders of Urshilaku camp graze on the sparse but hardy highland vegetation of the West Gash.
      - The main settlements in the West Gash are Gnisis, Ald Velothi and Khuul to the north coast, and Caldera and Balmora in the south.
      - The West Gash region goes from the Sea of Ghosts on the northwest coast to the town of Balmora, where the region is sandwiched between the Bitter Coast and the Ashlands.
      - The western highlands of Vvardenfell are called the West Gash.
Local area
    At least one entry describing the area around your town. Filter for the town's name. If you add multiple entries for the same group of NPCs, filter equally for Random100. You can add additional entries that add a little bit of dialog for, say, people of a certain faction, if you want. The entries for this topic in TR_Mainland are a rather nice example, even though I don't think it's necessary to make entries for Slaves too.
      -Gah Sadrith itself is situated on Hlavan Isle, the smallest of the settled Telvanni Isles. A short way to the north-east lies the uninhabited Moravan Isle. Directly north of here is Vahn Isle, the largest of the islands in the Archipelago, and the site of Port Telvannis, the magnificent center of our culture. (for Telvanni)
      - Gah Sadrith itself is situated on Hlavan Isle, the smallest of the settled Telvanni Isles. A short way to the north-east lies the uninhabited Moravan Isle. Directly north of here is Vahn Isle, the largest of the islands in the Archipelago, and the site of Port Telvannis.


To be continued.

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Post Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:54 pm Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Bloodthirsty Crustacean
Developer Emeritus
02 Feb 2007

Location: Elsewhere

Any hopes of extending this? I find these kinds of checklist really useful when in the midst of an NPC claim; helps give some perspective!
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Post Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:14 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
arvisrend
Lead Developer
04 Oct 2010

Location: substitutional world

I think we should avoid Greeting 9 except for early-game stuff. Due to the generic and almost unconditioned "all hail the Nerevarine" talk at the end of Greeting 7, these will only be said to a player who hasn't yet finished the Morrowind MQ, but many people are playing mods with late-game characters who already have done so.
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[22:07] Haplo: pffft this is TR
[22:07] Haplo: ETAs are strictly prohibited by the Department of Mysteries
[22:12] TF|Laptop: Just as long as we don't let the department of mysteries plan any more cities
Post Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:20 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Why
Lead Developer
04 Jul 2009

Location: Utrecht

I'll see what I can do in the next couple of days, I really do need to expand this.
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Post Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:54 pm Send private message       Send e-mail       Reply with quote                   up  
Not
Developer Emeritus
01 Mar 2012

Location: Elsewhere

I like this check list, it should prove pretty useful on NPC claims. That being said, would my list of what the different greeting tabs are used for be of any help?

I only ask because it's confusig for someone like me, who works on faction claims, and then the majority of people here put the faction greetings into dialogue 7 because they don't know any better. Honestly, that's great and all, but we have more than two greeting tabs, lets atleast start using them.

My reference post is here http://tamriel-rebuilt.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21296&highlight=

I don't know how to make it automatically scroll down to the proper post, but it's my bottom post that I'm referring to.

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Post Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:17 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
arvisrend
Lead Developer
04 Oct 2010

Location: substitutional world

Bump.

Tyrant wrote:
Also, noticed some dialogue I found strange from a character called "orenin hlano"
X - 258156.00
Y - -9891.74

This character offers a quest where you have to go to a nearby cave to find medicine for his sickness. I thought some of the text throughout this quest between Orenin and the doctor (forget his name) seemed to be in an odd context. As if some of it was narrated instead of spoken.
Example: And this is not the exact dialogue used, but very similar from what I remember.

At one point Orenin coughs, and in his text box it says "[He coughs]" rather than "*Cough...". I honestly don't know if this is wrong or not, but it's something that just seemed to stand out to me.

Also, when speaking with the doctor, some of the red response sentences seemed peculiar. I believe they were describing the doctors actions, rather than the PC's own speech. Again, I don't know if this is outright wrong or not, but I dont seem to recall anyone in vanilla using speech like that.

Sorry for this quite vague report.


I think this needs an authoritative answer.

We should also decide what to do with this. In a nutshell, when a mod edits an existing dialogue topic, it shouldn't introduce new replies in the beginning of the doubly linked list, nor in the end; otherwise, bad things may occur if the mod is used in conjunction with another mod doing the same. It's a valid issue -- our mod is a compatibility landmine because of this, and even if we don't care about 95% of all MW mods we should care about SHoTN and P:C eventually. On the other hand, fixing this would require a lot of work which I don't completely understand how to do. (It requires doing serious changes to the reply linked lists in both TR_Data.esm and TR_Mainland.esm; if we start with Data, we might get directed cycles in the list, though. Maybe put all separators (like "MAP 2 GREETINGS BEGIN HERE") entirely into Mainland rather than Data, and then work on Mainland only?)

_________________
[22:07] Haplo: pffft this is TR
[22:07] Haplo: ETAs are strictly prohibited by the Department of Mysteries
[22:12] TF|Laptop: Just as long as we don't let the department of mysteries plan any more cities
Post Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:10 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Gnomey
Lead Developer
19 May 2006

Location: In your garden.

I'll just dump this here for now, as this seems to be the sticky closest to addressing the topic in question, but it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that a lot of our stickies need reworking, and I will probably get to that myself if nobody else does.

I think a very important point about dialogue is brevity. The character limit for a single entry is rather small, (512 characters), and Bethesda left it small for a reason. While Morrowind has the reputation of being a dialogue-heavy game, with paragraph after paragraph of dialogue, the reality of the matter is that Morrowind's dialogue is incredibly utilitarian.
Each entry gives the player a specific piece of information pertaining to the topic, and no more than that. The player only gets as much information as asked for, and no more. If the player wants to be immersed in a sea of information, he either clicks through a ton of topics or just reads a book.

To illustrate, I tossed together a block of text:

Andothren wrote:
Never been to Andothren, outlander? You'll want to avoid the western side of the harbor, then, though the look and smell of the place should already turn you away. It's a bad lot that makes that side of town their home. I mean, you'll run into bad sorts all over the city -- except up on the hill to the northwest where you outlanders have your fancy houses -- but they won't give you much trouble unless you pester them. The western harbour is their territory; just by being there you're pestering them. If you're an outlander and don't happen to own a manor, you'll want to stick to the east side of town, for the most part, where the rest of your sort generally keep to. It has services, guilds, taverns, and all the other niceties you outlanders could wish for. The siltstrider, too. It's also a short walk from the eastern docks, where a ship will carry you off to Teyn, Vivec, Old Ebonheart and Almas Thirr. In the middle of the city is the Temple, though I doubt you care. Well, maybe you're one of those outlanders who likes to use our shrines to cure an illness, or to make yourself a little more robust. I wouldn't judge you for it; more gold to the Temple either way, and a bit of that gold eventually reaches us here on the western bank; food for our poorest, education for our youngest -- or slowest -- and more of the sort. Up the stairs you get to the Hlaalu district with Hlaalu shops and Hlaalu manors. A good place to visit, if you're Hlaalu. They also sell some good stuff there, mind, that you won't find on the eastern side of town, but the prices are pretty steep. For non-Hlaalu.


Checking in the CS, that block of text would have to be divided into four entries to work; the player would have to click 'continue' three times. That chunk of text has enough information to provide for several entries on diverse topics:

specific place wrote:
Most outlanders keep to the eastern side of town, with its taverns, guilds, affordable shops, siltstrider and a ship that will take you out of the city. West of that is the Temple, on an island, and west of that the houses of poor Dunmer, the majority of whom regularly visit the Temple. Go up the stairs from there and you'll arrive at the Hlaalu district, with a few expensive but high-quality services, and go north from there to see the manors of rich foreigners. Just don't go to the western harbor.


That would all fit in one entry, but 'specific place' should include nearby locations and travel destinations from Andothren as well, so:

specific place wrote:
[continue]
The siltstrider will take you to Kartúr and [Gnas Mor], the ship to Teyn, Vivec, Old Ebonheart and Almas Thirr. The road northwest from town leads to the Imperial village of Teyn, guarded by Fort Ancylis, and the craggy Redoran lands beyond; southwest to the Hlaalu village of [Gnas Mor], Hlaalu plantations and the dreary Armun Ashlands beyond, and east to the shack village of Gol Mok and the fertile Thirr River Valley with all its plantations beyond.


Other than that, we have all single entries:

little advice wrote:
Never been to Andothren, outlander? You'll want to avoid the western side of the harbor, then, though the look and smell of the place should already turn you away. It's a bad lot that makes that side of town their home. I mean, you'll run into bad sorts all over the city -- except up on the hill to the northwest where you outlanders have your fancy houses -- but they won't give you much trouble unless you pester them. The western harbour is their territory; just by being there you're pestering them.

This entry describes a specific part of town to the player. (well, two). More simply, it tells the player where the 'bad lot' hang out, and conversely where they don't.

little advice wrote:
Up the stairs on the west side of town you'll find the Hlaalu district with Hlaalu shops and Hlaalu manors. A good place to visit, if you're Hlaalu. They also sell some good stuff there, mind, that you won't find on the eastern side of town, but the prices are pretty steep. For non-Hlaalu.

This tidbit tells the player where to find the best and most expensive gear in town, and as a bonus points the player to a way of getting that gear for a discount.

destination wrote:
My ship, 'Whats-Its-Name', can take you to Teyn, Vivec, Old Ebonheart and Almas Thirr.

This line informs the player of the ship travel destinations. I assume the ship already has a name, but couldn't be bothered to look it up. Razz

Morrowind lore wrote:
Maybe you're one of those outlanders who likes to use our shrines to cure an illness, or to make yourself a little more robust. I wouldn't judge you for it; more gold to the Temple either way, and a bit of that gold eventually reaches us faithful. Food for our poorest, education for our youngest -- or slowest -- and more of the sort.

This entry tells the player a little about how the Temple operates.

One of the few topics the first text does not adequately supply lines for is 'Andothren'. Town entries are mostly there to supply the general context of the town, and should read something like this (for people in Andothren; Scouts and Savants would have different lines):

Anothren wrote:
The city of Andothren is the largest Hlaalu city outside of Narsis district. Located on the Inner Sea in a calm natural harbor, on the most secure road leading out of Velothis district and near the mouth of the Thirr River, it is a major port, as well as being a Dunmer holy site. Rich citizens and Hlaalu live in the West, overlooking the rest of the city; foreigners in the East, where most of the services are located; and the city's poor are squeezed between them with the Temple, which sits on an island.


As a note, it kind of bugs me that 'Temple' is capitalized in all instances, whether referring to the organization or a building, but Bethesda did it that way. I assume it's there to provide a link to the 'Temple' topic.

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