An Example of Technique Stacking

In one fell swoop, the previous example with the Old Man exhibits four separate Emotioneering techniques at the same time:

  1. His dialogue is interesting; thus, it's a Dialogue Interesting Technique. It's even more interesting than usual, because he has two Traits instead of one: Bitterness and Wisdom.

  2. He has depth, because he displays Wisdom or Insight. This is one of the Dialogue Deepening Techniques discussed in this chapter.

  3. As mentioned earlier, you feel two separate emotions toward him. On one hand, you're annoyed or angry at him because he won't answer the question. On the other hand, you feel sorry for him. Having two different feelings simultaneously toward an NPC is a Player Toward NPC Relationship Deepening Technique (see Chapter 2.13).

  4. You then will decide to kill him or not. Because of what he's been through, it's not an easy decision. Giving the player tough decisions is a First-Person Deepening Technique (see Chapter 2.21) a technique that causes the player to reach inside to a deeper place within himself or herself.[2]

    [2] You may read this and say, "No one would put that much thought into a single line of dialogue. Nor would anyone playing the game notice the subtle differences between a line like this and a less artful one." This kind of thinking, when it occurs, demonstrates a real naiveté about the art of writing and of Emotioneering. There's nothing wrong with being naïve, but this kind of naiveté is responsible for much of what amounts to little more than hack writing in games.

    The professional writers I know the good ones often rewrite heavily to make their dialogue perform several functions at the same time. To them, writing has more in common with a composer creating a complex and layered musical score than it does with what most game designers consider "writing."

    If you were to look at any one of many stunning television shows that have come and gone over the years the better episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, various episodes of the different Star Trek series, Smallville, The Practice, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and so very many others you'd see techniques like these layered on top of each other in almost every single scene.

So far, we've focused on Dialogue Deepening, which is a tool to enrich dialogue, but we've left aside the idea of using NPC dialogue to prompt an action by the player which is usually its key function.

So let's return to our Cook and up the Emotioneering challenge even more. Let's see if we can make the NPCs dialogue prompt player action and be interesting and be deep. Let's do three things with a single line of dialogue.

The Cook needs to direct the player to see the Captain. His example lines will use some Dialogue Deepening Techniques you've already seen, and introduce some new ones as well.[3]

[3] To see an example of writing with 35 Emotioneering Techniques stacked on top of each other in one three-minute scene, see Chapter 2.31, "Pre-Rendered and In-Game Cinematics."


 COOK (worried for you): Captain wants you for an assignment. The kind you don't come back from. 

This (long by game standards) piece of NPC dialogue by the Cook exhibits Technique Stacking by simultaneously accomplishing four things:

  1. It's interesting. (He has two Traits: concern for you and a gallows sense of humor.)

  2. It conveys depth via worry.

  3. It prompts action.

  4. It also creates suspense, because we're setting up the idea that something horrible is going to occur. Suspense helps make plots interesting, and it is a Plot Interesting Technique (see Chapter 2.16).

Let's take a look at a few more Dialogue Deepening Techniques.

Creating Emotion in Games. The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
ISBN: 1592730078
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 394

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