Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

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mikeprichard
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Joined: 16 Dec 2018, 19:42

Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by mikeprichard » 18 May 2019, 20:26

Two small but significant quality-of-life improvements I'd love to eventually see with the dialogue system (if such are technically possible) are suggested below. Would it be possible to add these to the GitLab tracker for implementation later on? Cheers!

1) Assigning a different color (e.g. grey instead of yellow) to NPC dialogue topics for which the player has already heard the generic NPC response. After playing for a while, many NPCs (particularly scouts and other talkative classes) list a huge range of topics, but there's generally only a handful, if any, that are unique to the area/NPC which you haven't seen 1,000 times before. This kind of flagging by topic text color or other method to clearly distinguish topics you've already discussed vs. those you haven't would be extremely helpful.

2) Removing the need to click "Continue" to view the entirety of all applicable NPC topical dialogue response text. This probably only affects about 5-10% of topics overall, but it would be handy to never need to move the cursor between the topic list and the dialogue area just to click "Continue" to see the final sentence or two of the NPC's response. Some examples (based only on very cursory testing in the southwest of the island - I'm sure there are many more such topics):

-"East Empire Company" topic, Ebonheart area
-"someone in particular" topic, Ebonheart area
-"specific place" topic, Ebonheart area
-"specific place" topic, Vivec area
-"specific place" topic, Balmora area
-"specific place" topic, Ald-ruhn area

Chris
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Joined: 04 Sep 2011, 08:33

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by Chris » 19 May 2019, 02:06

mikeprichard wrote:
18 May 2019, 20:26
1) Assigning a different color (e.g. grey instead of yellow) to NPC dialogue topics for which the player has already heard the generic NPC response. After playing for a while, many NPCs (particularly scouts and other talkative classes) list a huge range of topics, but there's generally only a handful, if any, that are unique to the area/NPC which you haven't seen 1,000 times before. This kind of flagging by topic text color or other method to clearly distinguish topics you've already discussed vs. those you haven't would be extremely helpful.
An option to better categorize topics (ala Daggerfall, so it isn't one big massive list), would also help for this. When role-playing, it's not unusual to want to ask someone something that gives a templated answer, and I believe some actions (like guild advancement) use a templated response too. Although being able to categorize topics would certainly need to extend the esm/p format since I don't think the topics have enough information to meaningfully categorize. Doesn't help that the topics themselves are bland words like "Services" or "Background", which gives no clue about the kind of request being made.
2) Removing the need to click "Continue" to view the entirety of all applicable NPC topical dialogue response text. This probably only affects about 5-10% of topics overall, but it would be handy to never need to move the cursor between the topic list and the dialogue area just to click "Continue" to see the final sentence or two of the NPC's response.
Sounds like it could be done now with a mod, so not something for the engine to bother with.

mikeprichard
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Joined: 16 Dec 2018, 19:42

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by mikeprichard » 19 May 2019, 02:21

Chris wrote:
19 May 2019, 02:06
An option to better categorize topics (ala Daggerfall, so it isn't one big massive list), would also help for this. When role-playing, it's not unusual to want to ask someone something that gives a templated answer, and I believe some actions (like guild advancement) use a templated response too. Although being able to categorize topics would certainly need to extend the esm/p format since I don't think the topics have enough information to meaningfully categorize. Doesn't help that the topics themselves are bland words like "Services" or "Background", which gives no clue about the kind of request being made.
Very good points, but more substantial changes like that would probably be mod territory, right? Whereas I would expect color-coding the topics in the list would be - at least from the user perspective, and again assuming technical possibility - much more in line with the many other features that have already been introduced in base OpenMW.
Chris wrote:
19 May 2019, 02:06
Sounds like it could be done now with a mod, so not something for the engine to bother with.
I doubt such a small change (as it apparently would be?) would warrant a mod separate from base OpenMW, at least post-1.0. Again, it seems to be more in line with the various small QoL improvements already introduced in OpenMW.

Chris
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Joined: 04 Sep 2011, 08:33

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by Chris » 19 May 2019, 15:06

mikeprichard wrote:
19 May 2019, 02:21
Very good points, but more substantial changes like that would probably be mod territory, right?
A mix of engine enhancements and a mod to utilize them, probably.
I doubt such a small change (as it apparently would be?) would warrant a mod separate from base OpenMW, at least post-1.0. Again, it seems to be more in line with the various small QoL improvements already introduced in OpenMW.
OpenMW applies QoL improvements on things in the engine's purview, it doesn't second-guess the game data. If the game data says to have a Continue selection in between dialogs, that's what the engine does. The only time OpenMW ignores or alters what the game data tells it to do is where it caused a game-breaking bug because the original engine also ignored it (the Dagoth weakening scripts).

mikeprichard
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Joined: 16 Dec 2018, 19:42

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by mikeprichard » 19 May 2019, 16:03

Chris wrote:
19 May 2019, 15:06
OpenMW applies QoL improvements on things in the engine's purview, it doesn't second-guess the game data. If the game data says to have a Continue selection in between dialogs, that's what the engine does. The only time OpenMW ignores or alters what the game data tells it to do is where it caused a game-breaking bug because the original engine also ignored it (the Dagoth weakening scripts).
It seems (though as a non-techie I could be wrong) a large number of the features already implemented in OpenMW are also strictly game data-related features rather than engine-only bugfixes. In any case, do you or anyone else know which files I'd need to research to remove/fix the "Continue" dialogue prompts? I do have basic familiarity with the Construction Set, assuming this is something I could fix through morrowind.esm or another plugin there.

EDIT: I see in the CS that in the Character-Dialogue menu, I can view the various topics, some of which include in the "Result" window the text "Choice 'Continue' 1". However, I suspect that simply deleting that text from each such topic wouldn't in itself fix the issue, as (for example) there may be a hardcoded limit on the number of characters that can be displayed in one block of dialogue response text, and the text would then simply be truncated to display only the portion before the original "Continue" prompt. Any ideas?

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sirherrbatka
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Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by sirherrbatka » 19 May 2019, 16:18

It would be a whole lot more useful (and less disputed) to focus on improving the journal UI instead. Full-text search is possible improvement right now, adding your own notes and tags to entries probably would have to be delegated to post 1.0 features.

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DestinedToDie
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Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by DestinedToDie » 19 May 2019, 16:45

mikeprichard wrote:
19 May 2019, 16:03
I see in the CS that in the Character-Dialogue menu, I can view the various topics, some of which include in the "Result" window the text "Choice 'Continue' 1".
This sums up why this is a bad idea. Continue 1 means there is a continue 2 as well. That means you get different dialogue tree if you click on Continue 2 as opposed to continue 1. A singular continue with no other choices is basically a linear dialogue tree. But it still works the same way.

1. Click on topic.
2. Get text, scripts associated with that text go off (like getting a journal entry or a potion) and you have a continue.
3. Continue initiates the next text, where you may get a journal entry and a sword.

Let me give you an example....

1. Click on topic "I need some equipment."
2. "I'm not sure if I have any. Oh, here, I actually have this potion in my backpack." potion gets added to inventory
3. "And let's see... I think I also have a sword lying around under my bed. Here, you can have it." sword gets added to inventory.

If not for continue, both 2 and 3 would happen at the same time, where you get both texts and the potion and the sword, as opposed to getting them one at a time. Without continue, I basically wouldn't be able to write such a scenario where the NPC would give them to you one at a time.

What really needs to be extended is the wordcount. So if someone wants to write paragraphs longer than 255 words or whatever the current limit is, they can skip using the continue where it is unnecessary for the effect that they want to achieve. Personally, I prefer the continue style of presentation, where a huge wall of text isn't dumped at you at once, but instead separated into neat continue chunks.

I'm not sure if OpenMW limits wordcount. Probably doesn't? Why bother adding in such restrictions. If it does not limit wordcount, a mod could be made that merges the continues, though it'd be somewhat tedious to make such a mod...

mikeprichard
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Joined: 16 Dec 2018, 19:42

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by mikeprichard » 19 May 2019, 17:41

DestinedToDie wrote:
19 May 2019, 16:45
What really needs to be extended is the wordcount. So if someone wants to write paragraphs longer than 255 words or whatever the current limit is, they can skip using the continue where it is unnecessary for the effect that they want to achieve....

I'm not sure if OpenMW limits wordcount. Probably doesn't? Why bother adding in such restrictions. If it does not limit wordcount, a mod could be made that merges the continues, though it'd be somewhat tedious to make such a mod...
Thanks for the feedback, all. This is what I'd be interested in; I've already searched through the dialogue topics in Morrowind.esm (haven't yet looked at Tribunal, Bloodmoon, or the official plugins), and many are of the above nature - i.e. where clicking "Continue" just pops up another line or two, as I originally noted. E.g. in topic "Aldmeri", "Choice 'Continue' 1" merely results in the second and final text string displaying (tagged with "Function: Choice = 1"), and there are no other consequences (such as adding an item, changing disposition, adding a map tag, etc.). There are quite a few of these, and I see no benefit to leaving them as is (these generally aren't quite the "wall of text" you might expect).

Unfortunately, the vanilla Morrowind CS has a 512-character limit (which is apparently why these arbitrary "Continue" choices are forced, as I suspected in the first place), and I'm not familiar with OpenMW-CS (even assuming OpenMW doesn't have this limit), but I may come back to this as OpenMW and OpenMW-CS become more developed.

fredzio
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Joined: 12 Apr 2019, 05:56

Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by fredzio » 25 May 2019, 11:52

mikeprichard wrote:
18 May 2019, 20:26
1) Assigning a different color (e.g. grey instead of yellow) to NPC dialogue topics for which the player has already heard the generic NPC response. After playing for a while, many NPCs (particularly scouts and other talkative classes) list a huge range of topics, but there's generally only a handful, if any, that are unique to the area/NPC which you haven't seen 1,000 times before. This kind of flagging by topic text color or other method to clearly distinguish topics you've already discussed vs. those you haven't would be extremely helpful.
I made a patch a while back after seeing some screenshot of the "ui expansion" MWSE mod. It does more or less that + have a different color for topics that are specifics to the NPC you're talking to (so mostly quest related stuff). Technically, in the example screenshot
- the blue color is applied if this topic explicitely specify this NPC
- then the grey color is applied if the NPC have no answer that are not already in the journal (so old quest related stuff is greyed out as well)

To the end user, it is just 2 additionnal FontColor fallback to override.

I'll clean it up and make a PR if there is some interest. I couldn't find a way to keep the behavior of changing the color when clicking / hovering the topic (which is a big no-no for inclusion IMO) but I didn't really tried hard.
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wareya
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Re: Better NPC dialogue - flag previously heard topics; no need to click "Continue"

Post by wareya » 25 May 2019, 14:37

The "continue" button is an outdated design pattern that only makes sense for tiny displays or people who don't expect the dialogue window to be flooded with ten paragraphs. It's like flipping between different textboxes in a multi-textbox dialogue in a console game, but without the ability to buttonmash a single button through the entire thing. You have to move the mouse for each click.

Maybe you could make it so that clicking anywhere on the topics list acts like clicking the "continue" button? That would probably satisfy everyone.
paying attention to #1751 #2473 #3609 #3862/#3929 #3807 #4297 #4623

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