Shroud of the Avatar: Lum Explains the Conversation System Technology

Included among Scott “Lum” Jennings various responsibilities at Portalarium is the conversation system the game uses, and many NPC dialogues therein. Recently, he posted an example of how he makes revisions and adjustments to that system to the Shroud of the Avatar forums, complete with images to illustrate it:

I kind of am already doing this. Let me show you something…

sota-npc-anton

This is the unrecognized keyword list for one NPC in R2 (Anton, the leader of the smugglers, er, “import company”). We can learn quite a bit from this, but for our purposes, we learn that Anton doesn’t respond to “Yes”, “trapped”, “money”, etc. So I can pull this report, and do a quick pass, and thus, first:

sota-npc-anton1

I went ahead and added a default response to “Yes”, but I’m not happy with it. Really what should happen is that Anton’s introduction shouldn’t really pose a question. Not sure how (or if) that should be rewritten. The next one is pretty clearly people asking after Lauren, encountered earlier in the building….

sota-npc-anton2

But I’m not quite happy with this, because it’s too spammy. It picked up that I asked about Lauren and trapped, but in this context, the “trapped” answer should be the only response; clearly I already know about Lauren, so Anton doesn’t have to respond with that. So a new R3 feature for the conversation system is the ability for designers to flag certain responses as “important”. If an important response is triggered, only play that one. So, I’ve flagged the “trapped” response as important, and the exposition about Lauren not so much. And so:

sota-npc-anton3

One more step towards readability. (Also, this breaks the script of certain folks who planned to meander through SotA hitting one key to spam all known keywords at every NPC. I spent a few moments mourning that death, and then quietly moved on.)

Not the only fix planned, by far (next I’ll be working on basic memory so that NPCs don’t constantly repeat themselves) but wanted to give a quick update. Thanks for your support!

He also showed off an image of the actual conversation editor used at Portalarium:

As a bonus, by request from irc chat:

sota-anton-editor

how this appears in our editor.

If you were at all curious about the technical underpinnings of conversations in Shroud of the Avatar, here’s…well, about as close a look as you’re likely to get until such time as the system is made available for sale on the Unity Asset Store, I suppose.

1 Response

  1. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    They could deal with the spamming/macro issue by examining the speed of text entry client-side. Of course the local client could be hacked or the “tool” could simulate a human typing, but they could add additional layers as well. For example the server could examine and limit the length of a text entry string. It could look for lengthy duplicate entries between different NPCs. It could sum the ASCII values of each character, stripped of case, to detect duplicates with shuffled word order. Own it, guys.