Sponsored By

Schneider: Keep Game Dialog Short, Snappy

Talking as part of <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3816/ode_to_short_dialog_reconsidering_.php">an in-depth Gamasutra article</a> published today, Big Huge Games and former Iron Lore narrative designer Ben Schneider has been advocating for

October 14, 2008

2 Min Read

Author: by Staff

Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra article published today, Big Huge Games and former Iron Lore narrative designer Ben Schneider has been advocating for short dialog in video games, suggesting: "Condensed writing can result in subtler accents and richer flavor." Schneider, who most recently worked on Dawn of War: Soulstorm at the now-shuttered Iron Storm alongside series creators Relic, explains in his introduction to the feature: "I'm here to sing the praises of short dialog in video games. The quip. The utterance. The sound bite. Call it what you will, I fear that short speech may be under-appreciated. Not to get polemical, mind you -- longer dialog is not the root of all evil. Short dialog will not heal burns or mend broken hearts. But very short dialog (which I'm defining as two seconds on average, and no more than six) can do things in games that longer speech simply cannot. Short dialog is fully digestible in the moment. It can function as ambient audio, in the background -- or out loud, in the foreground. When ambient, short dialog can be repeated, with variation, until the player happens to take notice. When in the foreground, it can deliver critical information without unduly interrupting or bogging down gameplay. Information conveyed via very short dialog can be reacted to immediately." Later in the piece, Schneider discusses use of short dialog in earlier versions of the Dawn Of War series, noting: "When it came time for me to write the unit voice-over it was first necessary to stop and admire the standard set for my task by the folks at Relic. I was an instant fan of lines such as "Just as Falcon brought Anaris to Eldanesh...," which deftly and poetically evokes the labyrinthine mythology of the ancient Eldar, not to mention, "'Ere ta fix yer gubbinz!" -- capturing perfectly all the comic braggadocio of an Ork warboss." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including lots more detail on how or why short dialog should be implemented in your game, as opposed to unduly interrupting or bogging down gameplay with longer speeches.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like