The Game Boy: Dear Videogames, Shut Up



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Although I like the Elder Scrolls, this aspect has always turned me off from open world games in general. In an open world there are just too many things that can break and kill your supension of disbelief.



At least Oblivion was a little more generic in what NPCs would say to you as you got in range.  I'm so sick of hearing "I work for Belethor at the General Store", and "I'm not afraid of you, you know!" and "I was an adventurer like you until I took an arrow in the knee" (which is becoming a meme its so stupid).  Just have them say "Greetings!" or "Good day" and leave it at that.



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Skyrim is an incredible game, but one of the things that have really annoyed me is the dialog. I can't stand the annoying kids that run up to you and spout off, especially when you aren't allowed to do anything to them. "Some may call them junk, but I call them treasures" is probably the most annoying line.

It may seem petty to be griping about the voice acting, but sometimes the little things actually make a big difference. When the NPC's are constantly speaking without you interacting with them and it's the same stuff all the time it gets pretty dull.

Can't wait for a good voice over mod.



To comment on what you said about Portal; When I played it, I understood that I was "supposed" to feel some attachment to the companion cube, but I couldn't get past the logical reasoning "It's just a cube, now open the door"

I'm not the only one, right?



You can't even mention dialogue in the video game world and not mention Deus Human Revolution and, more importantly, Mass Effect (1 and 2, yes both).

I know this is more a cynic rant type of article so talking about games that get dialogue right isn't the focus, but you did briefly go into Portal 2 and Ico on their merits of sucessfully remedying alot of the dialogue issues most games have. Yet you do not mention Human Revolution or the Mass Effect series?

I still think the coolest part of Human Revolution are the dialogue sequences where you get to use your social augment. It's cool, unique, entertaining even on a 2nd and 3rd playthrough, and is thought provoking in terms of ingenuity. It's an ingeniously fun and creative gameplay mechanism.

And the Mass Effect series, most notably the 2nd Mass Effect, speaks for it (no pun intended). Change the video game dialogue interaction is approached altogether. What Bioware did for dialogue in Mass Effect 1 & 2 (and kotor to some extent), is as revolutionary to gaming as Halo 2 was in removing the health bar from first person shooters (something that is whole heartidly the standard today).

Skyrim's focus was never dialogue, and no one expected it to be, especially when Bethesda told us that while the Dialogue interactions improved (and the idle NPC to NPC chitchat is a little less insane), it's still nothing to write home about, spoken word for word almost.

I relate to the article and agree with just about everything in it, I'm just utterly shell shocked that Human Rev and ME weren't mentioned.


Roll Tide

how about this? have an option to dynamite the NPC that really cant help you anymore ala yogscast?



I think everyone's personal play style might affect this alot. I'm roughly 60 hours in on my first play through of Skyrim, and I don't recognize either of the quoted lines. In fact, this article made me realize that I hadn't heard, or at least hadn't noticed, repeated dialogue. With the extreme exception of "I'm sworn to carry your burdens."

I wonder if future incarnations of elder scrolls or fallout series could effectively employ something like a computer vocalized chat bot. (eg. Dynamically continue a conversation or create quests with a mad lib style formula that makes sense for the npc, your character, your character's relationship to the npc, and surrounding events.)

Or a possible intermediary step of vocalized text adventure engine where you speak and the game speaks back to replace the normal text commands.

Sorry going a little off topic, this is just the kind of thing I like to ponder. 



Half-Life sort of had this with the Black Mesa PA Guy (He sounded like he had horrible sentence rhythm). If you looked in the folder where his sound files were, there were files for each word he said and the game composed them via script.


Roll Tide

I read your article and whole hearedly agree except for the one statement below...


So typically, the character just goes on infinite repeat, and that's the game's way of saying, “Alright, you can go away now. Nothing to see here. Go on, then! Shoe!” 

What enchanted shoe is this that scares away even the meanest of warriors. Is it a level 80 penny loafer that reduces health by 50% with each swat? Is it a flip flop that confuses the enemy with each slap? How about a croc that has real crocodile teeth? What prey tell is this most menacing of shoe that will cast us away?




Haha, it's a Chuck Taylor All Star of course. (and fixed. my bad. I blame the DayQuil I've been on all week).



You make some good points, but I think the biggest weakness of "talky" games is that they're mainly a chore to replay. That said, I still love games like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect.



Some interesting and valid points in this article - would be much more effective edited down to an article of about half the length.




Nice style you have there, but applied so liberally it encumbers the article. Subtlety is louder than so much effort.



im so glad i am not the only person that notices that the young writer is a bit effusive, he will be great when he refines his style. i understand now what my academic writing professor was talking about when he told me to do the same thing.



All ready mentioned in another Skyrim article (the one about tweaking it) about how this is one of my pet peevs. How many people, who aren't pushing a shopping cart, do you encounter in any given day that say the same thing everytime you see them? I'd hazard a guess at none.

What's worse is this type of treatment to a game doesn't just totally break the immersiveness, it also makes me become less concerned with the over all story and interacting with the NPC's. I find I only talk with the NPCs that are either a mercent or a quest giver. I could care less about any NPC stories because I'll hear all about it as I walk by them anyway.

Now I understand that there has to be a limit to how many voice files a game has. Due to both size restrictions and the cost of creating a lot of dialog options. But since Skyrim has a reputation system why not have the NPCs say nothing other then their normal interacting dialog till you have a certain level with whatever faction they're part of. Then limit it to a common reaction. Things like "Greetings friend" or "You have a lot of nerve showing up here", and how often they say it depends on how far the reputation moves up or down. Then throw in a more unique line that is the character's own once in a blue moon. That way you'd start to tune out their more common comments and when they did say the extra comment it would be a surprise. Hopfully a pleasent and maybe even funny one.

It's simply a RPG check mark item. If you can say your game has every character "voiced" it's a great marketing tool. If every NPC's dialog is repeated ad nauseum then your feature becomes less of a positive one. Often to the point where you want to go on a reputation destroying killing spree just to get a moments peace.



I think you hit on something I alluded to in an earlier post.

EVERYONE uses the same worn-out, old formula. This formula being..... game-on-tracks. 90%+ of games out there are really a choose-you-own-adventure book. Make decision A, B, or C.... turn to page X, Y, Z. Excluding a game like Minecraft, which is essentially LEGO's on a computer platform, all games have this inherent weakness.

EVE does a pretty good job of running the limits of this, and I really think they are running an idea that needs to be taken to that next step....... free-play. All of these video game universes lack the ability to be shaped by the people in them. That is the strength of an old pen-and-paper RPG versus a computer MMO: direct impact on the fictional reality.

Again, back to EVE, the makers of that game are going to introduce a FPS that "talks" with the people in the EVE Online world, and allow the people in one game, to interact and affect the outcome of the other game's world.  THIS..... is a groundbreaking idea.

Imagine: World of Warcraft with a shapeable world. Horde invades Stormwind and takes over, but at the same time, Alliance took over Thunderbluff and kicked everyone off the mesa and started building a castle on top.

The major problem with this: every server would become a parallel universe. None would be the same and that creates a dev problem in a way. How do you introduce new content? At the same time though..... it's NOT a problem because you allow your player base to CREATE the new content by being the driving force. Another major issue.... lack of control. You might really have someone "destroy the world". Take that same scenario. You end up with a very unbalanced population.... one side essentially annihilates the other.

Really though, the future of gaming is not in creating a storyline for the player..... the future is in creating a fictional reality that allows greater freedom in creating their own story. Building a better sandbox instead of a better maze.




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