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January 27, 2015, 08:53:22 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeWritingWriting liar dialogues
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« on: December 07, 2014, 06:48:17 AM »

Hello everybody. I've started working on a game which revolves around dialogues (almost literally, there's nothing else in it), and I need to create a couple of characters who lie. The problem is, I need to design them in such a way that the player can tell they're lying (it's strictly text, no room for facial expressions or voice cracks). I also want to do it in a mature manner, my initial approach with a guy saying something like "Uhh... it was red... No wait! Blue... and it had orange skin!" appeared to be just terribly gullible and obvious.

I'm still pretty new to writing dialogues, can you guys give me some tips on this? Even basic ones, as I've already said, I'm not experienced.
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rj
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2014, 06:54:19 AM »

watch a lot of breaking bad

think about how people who lie in real life act
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2014, 07:05:02 AM »

How about slight inconsistencies in facts and playing with the time between presenting each line of dialogue? Someone anxious will deliver lines quickly. Someone taking time to think of their answer will take longer pauses between lines.
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2014, 08:52:50 AM »

watch a lot of breaking bad

think about how people who lie in real life act
With full respect, I acknowledge the fact that different people like different things and just because I don't like something doesn't make it bad, but sadly I'm an enemy of Breaking Bad. I found its writing to be inconsistent, gullible and cheap, not to mention the fact that each time the writer wanted the viewers to hate a character he made him hurt a child. But I like the idea of seeking inspiration, so go ahead guys, give me more titles! I remember that movie Illusionist or something with Edward Norton, it got me good, I didn't suspect anything.


How about slight inconsistencies in facts and playing with the time between presenting each line of dialogue? Someone anxious will deliver lines quickly. Someone taking time to think of their answer will take longer pauses between lines.
Yeah that sounds like a decent approach which I'm definitely going to use, just sometimes it's hard to find proper details that would also make sense, that's why I need more ideas.

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rj
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2014, 12:50:43 PM »

despite your dislike of it (which is fine, dude) walter white is the single best-acted depiction of a liar i can think of in popular media, so he bears good mention.

most other examples i can recall are incidental or trite, so bear with, but:

orange is the new black has plenty of good lying
so does terriers (less, but plenty)
firefly had some but not a lot
buffy had cheesy lying but it was handled alright i guess
dollhouse is weird but has lots of lying
fringe has lying but...mostly just mysteries. good show, though
lost has some characters lying hither and thither quite a bit

as for films:

nightcrawler
gone girl
there will be blood has some instances
the godfather

that's weirdly it off the top of my head. lots of lying in media but few examples of it as a prominent character motivation that drives a thing. it's hard to find good depictions of lying to draw from.
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2014, 02:15:51 PM »

Woah, that's quite a list to go through. Thanks a lot. Hey, what about games? Do you know any games that try to trick the player?
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2014, 09:14:54 PM »

Do you describe their body language or anything like that, even in text? If so, you could mention shuffling feet, looking away, etc.

Read up on how to tell if people are lying. Stuff like repeating themselves, giving too much detail in the hope that people will believe them, attacking the evidence ("what makes you think that?", "no one was even there that night", etc), nervous laughter, etc.
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2014, 01:39:14 AM »

Unfortunately it will be a space signal with minimal information, but this:
giving too much detail in the hope that people will believe them
I think this could work. Hand Thumbs Up Right
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 03:55:03 AM »

Read up on how to tell if people are lying. Stuff like repeating themselves, giving too much detail in the hope that people will believe them, attacking the evidence ("what makes you think that?", "no one was even there that night", etc), nervous laughter, etc.

Exactly this! There are some good TED talks about lying on youtube. But I love liars with inconsitencies, it makes you feel smart as a reader when you realize they're contradicting themselves (and the text doesn't give you any hints) and suddenly you're invested way more than just when reading "John is contradicting himself" :D

The easiest way to disguise a liar is to put the character in a nervous situation. Your initial approach is good, IF you imagine the character has the gun put to their head and is asked "what was the colors of the ball?!". An honest person would have trouble remembering and a liar would have trouble coming up with a lie, but it would look the same to the reader. So context is everything! :D
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 05:17:25 AM »

Haha yeah, it also gives you the feeling of an accomplishment or dodging a bullet which is great.

I found the TED video btw, just incase somebody would like to watch it.
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 10:14:56 AM »

The easiest way would be to make sure the story they tell can not be 100% correct. But you need to keep this subtile ofcourse or else it would be to obvious. Make them tell details of wich the player knows they can not be true, or let them later tell stuff that conflicts with what they told before. If done right, only an alert player will spot it.
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2014, 11:12:06 AM »

Unfortunately it will be a space signal with minimal information, but this:
giving too much detail in the hope that people will believe them
I think this could work. Hand Thumbs Up Right
Someone telling the truth will always give you all the facts if you ask them.
So they provide a lot of detail if asked, but not before.

A liar will try to give a lot of detail but it will usually be unrelated to the actual question.
Also when pressed for more info they will often give inconsistant information
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2014, 11:19:35 AM »

If the speed text appears is variable, liars almost always respond too soon and too fast because they're nervous and there are no details they need to remember, but truthfull people will take their time and try to remember what actually happened.
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s-spooky g-g-ghosts
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2014, 12:06:43 PM »

A liar will try to give a lot of detail but it will usually be unrelated to the actual question.
This sounds awesome, but at the same time, I'm afraid the player will rather judge lies in my game as simply writer's fault and not a hint. Like for example I've recently bought Fallout: New Vegas. So there was this guy telling me to check out one place and he had such boring voice acting and basically no facial expression that I was very confused whether I'm being lied to to lure me into a trap or it's just bad acting.

So that could be a problem, maybe I should add a specific warning before starting the game? Like a hint or something that the player should watch out for discrepancies?
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2014, 12:33:24 PM »

orange is the new black has plenty of good lying
so does terriers (less, but plenty)
firefly had some but not a lot
buffy had cheesy lying but it was handled alright i guess
dollhouse is weird but has lots of lying
fringe has lying but...mostly just mysteries. good show, though
lost has some characters lying hither and thither quite a bit

there's A LOT of lying in Boardwalk Empire, and it's also a FUCKING GREAT tv show, I can't  recommend it enough
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2014, 08:18:24 AM »

There's no hard way to tell if someone lies until you find out.

Your best way to determine is if they're motivated. If you think of lies like crimes, they always seek motives.

Someone who needs something is strongly motivated to lie.
Someone who committed a crime is motivated to lie and make other people lie.
Someone who wants something is motivated to lie. It's harder to detect as motives become fickle and pointless, something you might never consider motivated them.
Someone who gets their way frequently by lying is the hardest case. They have no reason to lie, and they do for entertainment. I like to call these tattlers.

With evidence, you can determine if there's a strong motive or if the person's a habitual liar.

People have their own way of talking. "He talks different," this isn't a good reason.

The infomercial guy earns money. He's not telling the full truth, he's just telling us what he was told to tell us.
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The ebb and flow of storytelling and gameplay: http://i.imgur.com/bPu7y7Z
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2014, 08:23:31 AM »


TEDx: Pamela Meyer: How to spot a liar

Psychology Today: 9 Ways to Tell Who's Lying to You

Psychology Today: How to Spot a Lie
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 10:34:30 AM »


Watched.

The part about lies being cooperative sounds right, it's the best part of the speech. Experts can claim duper's delight is an inappropriate affectation, and from that you might even think the raised eyebrows and surprised blink that the 'mother' makes right when she smiles is grief.

A bunny wouldn't do that. That's impossible. So we tell ourselves.
Silent consent can also be seen as agreeing. But the fact is bunnies don't want to make noise, they have long sensitive ears, and they hop away from things they don't like without a word.
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Tolerate the playful.
We are the future normal.
We'd rather be having fun, instead of thinking about useless stuff.
I know what's real. This other guy. He cured three types of cancer, and he got to level 4, without cake.

The ebb and flow of storytelling and gameplay: http://i.imgur.com/bPu7y7Z
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« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2014, 09:47:00 AM »

A neat trick used in TV which would also work well in games is for the character to reference something they couldn't know if they were telling the truth.

The classic example is when a murder suspect says "I couldn't possibly have stabbed Mrs Muggins, I don't know how to use a knife!" and the detective replies "Hey, wait a minute! I only said she was murdered. I never mentioned that she was stabbed!"
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