Author Topic: Formatting of in-game dialogue  (Read 4914 times)

Blondeshell

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Formatting of in-game dialogue
« on: August 04, 2014, 04:16:09 AM »
As I've been going through my collection of chat logs and screenshots to fill in mission dialogue with {{NPC Text}}, {{divbox}}, text colors, and other text, it occurred to me that this could likely be the last time anyone edits this content. Yet, to the best that I can tell, there are no guidelines on the wiki (either in the Article Guidelines or directly in the templates) that explain exactly what standard formatting the dialogue should have. This has led to there being quite a bit of variation, while containing largely the same information, in the presentation of the dialogue that various editors have used.

(Side note: There was a discussion in 2010 about how to format mission information in such a way that it mimics the in-game presentation overall. There were some interesting ideas being demonstrated, but they didn't deal specifically with dialogue and the whole idea appears to have been dropped completely. I have no idea if there was any discussion on the old Paragon Forums.)

What I'm specifically referring to are the guidelines for bolds, italics, quotes, capitalizations, indents, line breaks, and titles used for NPC text. I've tried to be as consistent as I can over the years to use formatting that is descriptive and accurate, though not necessarily in-step with what other editors chose to use.

For example, the Silver Mantis Strike Force has a section of NPC text at the end when you fight Colonel Duray. The previous version of the text looked like this:

Quote
Spawned ambush: "I won't let you end this, Task Force Name!"
"I won't let my dream die to the likes of you!"
"All I've built in flames, and for what?"
"You stupid punks don't even know ANYTHING!"
75% Health: "You Project: Destiny puppets are all alike."
"Villains dancing to Recluse's tune."
50% Health: "You think you've got me down?"
"Ha!"
"You ain't got nothing!"
25% Health: "I've been through worse! I won't let you win!"
Upon defeat: "All that we've done..."
"It can't end like this!"
Defeats a player: "The only thing worse than heroes is villains. Losers."

My current version looks like this:

Quote
Spawned Ambush: 
      Colonel Duray: I won't let you end this, Strike Force Name!
      Colonel Duray: I won't let my dream die to the likes of you!
First Blood:
      Colonel Duray: All I've built in flames, and for what?
      Colonel Duray: You stupid punks don't even know ANYTHING!
75% Health:
      Colonel Duray: You Project: Destiny puppets are all alike.
      Colonel Duray: Villains dancing to Recluse's tune.
50% Health:
      Colonel Duray: You think you've got me down?
      Colonel Duray: Ha!
      Colonel Duray: You ain't got nothing!
25% Health:
      Colonel Duray: I've been through worse! I won't let you win!
Upon Defeat:
      Colonel Duray: All that we've done...
      Colonel Duray: It can't end like this!
Upon Player Defeat:
      Colonel Duray: The only thing worse than heroes is villains. Losers.

As you can see, several elements of the formatting are different between the two examples, not that either one has the best possible solution. (Check this version of The Pilgrim's article for even more variations.)

After mulling it over, here are my guideline suggestions for standard formatting of each element.

Bold
  • Each section within the text shall be bold
  • NPC names, if used, shall be bold
Italics and Quotes
  • All dialogue spoken by an NPC shall be italicized
  • Text that is displayed but not spoken, such as an alarm message, shall not be italicized
  • Quotation marks shall not be used for italicized text because they are redundant
Capitalization
  • Each section within the text shall be capitalized
  • The title of the text box shall be capitalized (e.g., Random Dialogue)
Indents and Line Breaks
  • Section headers shall be left-justified
  • If there is only one line of text per section, it shall be shown in-line with the section header
  • If any section has more than one line of text, all text shall be indented on the line following the section header
Names and Titles
  • If only one NPC is speaking, the name shall only be included in the title and not in the text
  • If more than one NPC is speaking, each line of text shall name the NPC who is speaking it
  • An actual NPC name shall be used rather than a "generic" or "random" mob name (acknowledging that the name may change upon repeating the mission)
  • If more than one NPC is speaking, the title may be related to the content (e.g., "Negotiation Dialogue" or "Patrol Dialogue") or be generalized by enemy group (e.g., "Hellion Dialogue") rather than listing the individual NPC names
  • Dialogue shall always be spelled "dialogue"
Colors
  • In the {{NPC Text}} template, the "hero" type shall be used for allies, the "villain" type shall be used for enemies, and all others (such as hostages or mixed ally/enemy) shall use the default color
Sections and Groups
  • The following section headers shall be used for combat-oriented NPCs (acknowledging that there may be special individual exceptions, and that not all of these sections may be needed):
    • Before Combat
    • Combat Start
    • First Blood
    • 75% Health
    • 50% Health
    • 25% Health
    • Upon Defeat
    • Upon Player Defeat
  • The following section headers shall be used for hostage or captive NPCs (acknowledging that this may sometimes be incorporated with combat text):
    • Upon Rescue/Capture
    • If Lost/Captured
    • When Found/Recaptured
    • Upon Defeat
    • At Objective/Exit
  • If more than one NPC group is speaking related dialogue, the < hr /> tag shall be used to separate them within the same text box rather than making separate boxes
  • Dialogue shall be sorted logically, in order to correct instances, for example, where one NPC gives an answer before another NPC asks the question

(I think that's everything. *whew*)

The result of these guidelines on the previous Colonel Duray dialogue would be thus:
Quote
Spawned Ambush: 
      I won't let you end this, Strike Force Name!
      I won't let my dream die to the likes of you!
First Blood:
      All I've built in flames, and for what?
      You stupid punks don't even know ANYTHING!
75% Health:
      You Project: Destiny puppets are all alike.
      Villains dancing to Recluse's tune.
50% Health:
      You think you've got me down?
      Ha!
      You ain't got nothing!
25% Health:
      I've been through worse! I won't let you win!
Upon Defeat:
      All that we've done...
      It can't end like this!
Upon Player Defeat:
      The only thing worse than heroes is villains. Losers.

The biggest question to all of this is probably "Why start getting this detailed now when nothing's been done about it before?" Allow me to quote Felderburg in response:

2. Now that the game is "over," the wiki should theoretically be able to be Completed. I think it'd be really cool if it was - the entire wiki, every page, without errors or red links. Well, not just cool -  it would make some vaguely OCD parts of me quite happy. At the very least, I can do everything possible to get it in such a state that all that has to be done is add missing bits of minor dialogue, and then someone with those records can add that in.

I totally agree that it would be really cool to make Paragon Wiki one of the most complete game wikis, especially for a game that's not being played any more. And it's things like this, the minutia of how consistently small bits of text are formatted, that can add up to how our efforts will be viewed by future visitors.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 10:44:44 AM by Blondeshell »

Thirty-Seven

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 07:08:49 AM »
I agree with the vast majority of what you posted above and think the majority of your work on the Wiki in this regard is great!

However, I have never liked the practice of matching in-game colors with usage of Divboxes.  I think it detracts from inter-article consistency and adds often very clashy colors to a page, sometimes all smashed up next to each other.  In the game, it made it easy to distinguish who was speaking on screen, on the Wiki this can be done more easily because there is no such thing as "off screen." Names can be used instead.

Yes, this may reduce visual interest on a page, but having 30 different color divbox templates is unwieldy, and also can create some visual chaos, most notably in Who Will Die where many NPCs can be talking in a single cutscene.  Glacia's arc is a good example.  I feel like the NPC text on that page is just hideous.  It really defies what is taught of good web design IMO.

Is it faithful to the game? You bet!  And that is generally our goal, but web presentation and readability is important too.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I don't really edit mission articles: I don't want to use those color templates.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 10:33:38 AM by Thirty-Seven »

Blondeshell

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 10:44:07 AM »
Thanks for the feedback, 37.

As I've mentioned previously elsewhere, my intent with the colors was to make them match what was used in-game as faithfully as possible. If we decide that some of the colors are too unreadable or distracting, then I'm fine with changing them to something else that we agree upon. But at least we have a starting point where the accurate colors are represented.

For now, I'll remove the colors from this discussion, to avoid the rest of the suggestions from being hung up by it. Do you have any other thoughts about the rest of the suggestions I made?

Thirty-Seven

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2014, 10:51:21 AM »
No, not really.  It seems like you formalized a lot of the general principles we already had been using, and are merely advocating uniform usage so that we actually have a "standard." For a long time, most folks just copied the formatting from some other article, and if that one was slightly wrong so would the next one.  And any time the Devs did something new, we'd just have folks kludging it to make it work.

It seems like the changes you are advocating and formalizing are within the vein of what we already do.  So, I can get behind whatever rules we formalize.  I have never had strong opinions on whether this or that is italics or bold, so long as it works and looks nice in the end.  Your example looks just fine to me!

Could you point to a page on the wiki that totally matches your suggestions?

Sekoia

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2014, 06:46:28 PM »
I'm in favor of most of what you have written and I certainly see value in getting the pages standardized better. Thanks for taking the time to come up with such a thorough plan.

I have mixed feelings about the color issues so I'm glad to see that separated out for discussion later.

My biggest quibble is this:

  • If only one NPC is speaking, the name shall only be included in the title and not in the text
  • If more than one NPC is speaking, each line of text shall name the NPC who is speaking it

I don't like the inconsistency of that. I'd rather each line of text name the NPC universally. Prefixing is inherently more clear. Consistency also improves clarity. As a side aspect, it also makes it more clear where each line of dialogue ends (depending on how your browser is sized, a long line of text may otherwise look like it belongs with the following short line of text). It also makes the end result better match what you would have seen in game (since all dialog in game is prefixed by who speaks it).


If we do universally prefix dialogue with speaker, then I would also suggest that we no longer italicize dialogue text. Right now the italicization is necessary to differentiate between spoken dialogue in a single-NPC section versus text that is displayed but not spoken. If everything is prefixed, then italicization is no longer needed for that. Removing the italicization makes it slightly easier to read, makes it look a bit better, and again, matches better what we'd have seen in game.


Going with both of those changes, that means the end result for Duray would actually be exactly what you have under "My current version looks like this". :)

The above issues aside, I think the rest looks great.

Blondeshell

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2014, 01:51:55 AM »
Could you point to a page on the wiki that totally matches your suggestions?

Not easily, no. Pretty much every page that has dialogue would be different in some way to the suggestions I've made here. There are many pages that would be formatted as the middle example above, though.

My biggest quibble is this:

  • If only one NPC is speaking, the name shall only be included in the title and not in the text
  • If more than one NPC is speaking, each line of text shall name the NPC who is speaking it
I don't like the inconsistency of that. I'd rather each line of text name the NPC universally. Prefixing is inherently more clear. Consistency also improves clarity. As a side aspect, it also makes it more clear where each line of dialogue ends (depending on how your browser is sized, a long line of text may otherwise look like it belongs with the following short line of text). It also makes the end result better match what you would have seen in game (since all dialog in game is prefixed by who speaks it).

If we do universally prefix dialogue with speaker, then I would also suggest that we no longer italicize dialogue text. Right now the italicization is necessary to differentiate between spoken dialogue in a single-NPC section versus text that is displayed but not spoken. If everything is prefixed, then italicization is no longer needed for that. Removing the italicization makes it slightly easier to read, makes it look a bit better, and again, matches better what we'd have seen in game.

Going with both of those changes, that means the end result for Duray would actually be exactly what you have under "My current version looks like this". :)

Thanks for the feedback.

The main reason I made the suggestion of only prefixing the text when more than one NPC is speaking is that I thought it would minimize the "wall-of-textness" and redundancy of seeing the same name so much. Thinking back, though, it's likely that most NPC text instances have more than one speaker anyway, so that rule probably wouldn't make much difference overall. And having fewer exceptions helps reinforce the K.I.S.S. rule.

I agree that using non-italicized text is a bit easier to read, though it does help, I think, to reinforce that "this text is being spoken by someone." But you're right, the text is not italicized when it shows up in the chat balloons, and the only times we do see it in-game are in occasional mission briefings and souvenirs. I do think it's useful to maintain use of italics in mission objectives to indicate something that's an aside to the narrative, as well as explaining actions that aren't otherwise reflected in the text. For example, in the final cutscene dialogue of the Magisterium Trial, I inserted "Tyrant nukes the Magisterium." in between his dialogue divboxes to indicate that something had happened.

Of course, if we ultimately decide that what I've been doing all along is the preferred way, then that just means there's less I have to update.  ;D

Still open to feedback from other people.

eabrace

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2014, 02:38:52 AM »
I've read the thread and I think a lot of good point have been made.  I don't really have anything new to add, so I suppose the best I have at the moment is a "yeah, that sounds good" in regards to what appears to be the direction in which the discussion is already headed.

And it sounds like that might be the least amount of work, too, so that's a bonus.

So... yeah... that's my not terribly useful two cents.
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Sekoia

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2014, 06:09:40 PM »
I do think it's useful to maintain use of italics in mission objectives to indicate something that's an aside to the narrative, as well as explaining actions that aren't otherwise reflected in the text. For example, in the final cutscene dialogue of the Magisterium Trial, I inserted "Tyrant nukes the Magisterium." in between his dialogue divboxes to indicate that something had happened.

Yeah, I agree, that's a good use of italics. :)

Blondeshell

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2014, 12:20:47 AM »
I've been trying to wrap my head around the best way to tackle this project, and I decided that the only way to keep from flailing about randomly was to make a list of all the contacts in the game. So I did that, separating them into task forces, origin-based, zone-based, etc. (That was also the inspiration for my update on the stature levels article.)

Basically, there are at least 450 contacts that have to be checked for consistency. This doesn't count multiple story arcs or other individual missions (like tips) that might also use the {{NPC Text}} template. Now I can simply cross off the contact when it's done, all while I'm going through my collection of chat logs and screenshots. Wish me luck and mental fortitude.  :)

eabrace

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Re: Formatting of in-game dialogue
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2014, 12:26:36 AM »
Good luck, and here's hoping that most of the articles already come pretty close to matching the format you're going for.  :)
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