In a post sketching out an Indiana Jones game I’d like to play, I mentioned that I’d like to see it incorporate “conversations that count.” This isn’t an innovative idea, I know, except maybe for the implication that it fits into the kind of game we’d want from Indiana Jones or Lara Croft or Nathan Drake. To me, conversations with meaningful — even if modest — ramifications in gameplay go a long way to adding contextual nuance and player ownership over the game’s narrative.
Some games call for rich conversation webs with major, persistent ramifications. The Mass Effects and Walking Deads of the world seem to make great use of dialogue choices and effects. I don’t think what I’m seeking in my action/adventure games is revolutionary but its underutilized so let’s talk about it some more.
Weirdly, to my mind, conversations are considered the stuff of RPGs. If Mass Effect 3 didn’t have robust dialogue, it’d be a shooter with character-customization mechanics. When you add NPC interaction and consequences to dialogue choices, that’s often considered an inherited feature from, or defining feature of, RPGs.
Why aren’t inter-character interactions a feature of more narrative games? Why aren’t they just a feature of play?