So, I’m tinkering around with RPGMaker 2003. I had this really cool idea for how to create “evolving conversations” for the townspeople. It builds on the premise of this “dialogue ladder” I’m designing. Every unnamed NPC in a town draws their dialogue randomly from a “ladder” of dialogue that’s stored in a common event. If you speak to one NPC repeatedly, they either go up or down the ladder.

The idea is that each NPC begins somewhere in the middle of the ladder, and depending on where they start, as you speak to them, they’ll move along until eventually reaching the end of the ladder, at which point they start repeating themselves. It’s possible for them to “skip” rungs of the ladder, so that no two conversations are exactly the same.

My intended approach to coding this in RPGMaker was to generate a random variable and use “labels” to jump to a specific part of the script where the line of dialogue could be found. If it worked the way I hoped it would, I could have each NPC generate a random number when spoken to, and then jump right to the line of dialogue.

Unfortunately it seems as though you can’t jump directly to a label based on a variable, so what I have to do instead is jump through a series of conditional branches (“if variable X is equal to…”) before jumping to my labels. I could have the conditional branches themselves contain the dialogue, but that would mean I have to wade through them every time I change a line. (Or the entire ladder…)

Here’s my problem: it’s possible the player might not leave the village during the course of the game. If I’m going to give them NPCs dialogue, it has to be varied and interesting enough that the player will want to keep talking to them. Otherwise, why bother with dialogue at all? They should just be part of the backdrop.

Anyway, I’ll see how much the coding is going to slow down the game. If it takes too much effort for the machine to process the dialogue, I’ll come up with something … less. I would love for the dialogue ladder to work, but it might take more work than it’s worth. Harvest Moon is a great game and it barely has any dialogue. *shrug*