Heroes of Legionwood Devblog #2: Dialogue and Role Playing

In my last development update, I outlined some of the ways in which I’m bringing Western RPG elements into Heroes of Legionwood. One of the most important of these elements — and one that seems to be the most contentious among some fans — is the addition of a proper “dialogue system” to the game, and the ability to actually define the protagonist’s personality, something which was (for the most part) absent in the previous two Legionwood games.

I thought I might elaborate on Heroes of Legionwood‘s dialogue system today. Here’s an image of a “dialogue tree” in action:

The above is a typical example of a conversation in Heroes of Legionwood. You don’t get a list of fully worded responses like you would in Mythos: The Beginning, or a classic cRPG like Baldur’s Gate. Instead, the dialogue system in Heroes of Legionwood is modeled on the “choice wheel” that appears in Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Alpha Protocol. You don’t get to choose exactly what your character says, but you can determine his/her general attitude, which will affect the outcome of the conversation. Occasionally, you get an extra option based on your character’s class (hence the Magus option in the picture above), which represents knowledge that comes from your character’s background.

It’s important to note that, in Heroes of Legionwood, you don’t create a “blank slate” character. While you get to choose Locke’s gender and background, you’re still playing a pre-defined character who already exists within the game world and who has their own personality. It’s for this reason that I elected not to give the player fully worded dialogue choices — Locke doesn’t represent you as the player, and you’re not role playing as yourself. Rather, you’re guiding Locke through his/her story, and the dialogue choices evoke different facets of Locke’s personality.

So, that all sounds simple enough, right? But how does this affect the game? Do these dialogue choices actually have consequences? Yes, they do. Much like in a Bioware RPG, Locke’s attitude will affect his/her reputation with NPCs and party members, which in turn will subtly influence the events of the game. There aren’t any “good” or “bad” choices in Heroes of Legionwood. Instead, each character you speak to will have preferred or disliked attitudes. For example, a certain character may like when you choose Snide responses, but dislike Casual ones. At the same time, you may be talking to a different NPC who hates Snide responses, but loves Casual ones. Keeping them both happy with you is a subtle balancing act. That’s only if you want to keep them both happy, though; an NPC who dislikes you will also be useful in a number of ways.

The majority of this social engineering stuff comes into play when conversing with your party members during cutscenes or while resting at the party camp or an inn, but it does play a small part in your interactions with generic NPCs as well. The way you talk to a questgiver, for example, may influence or change which reward you’ll receive, or open and close different paths through a questline. Ultimately, even though the morality system from Legionwood 2 is gone, Heroes of Legionwood is still just as reactive to your choices.

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