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1096489 Posts in 45422 Topics- by 37205 Members - Latest Member: romanchiller

March 03, 2015, 02:36:42 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeWritingWriting liar dialogues
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Author Topic: Writing liar dialogues  (Read 973 times)
Oracizan
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2015, 12:49:41 AM »

Lying is difficult to get across in written dialogue. If the text is too dry, a player is tempted to look at it like a logic puzzle, and I don't think that's the effect you're going for. You're hoping for players to pick up on cues, or intuit, the liar. Empathize rather than analyze.

To evoke that sort of empathy from the player, you need to give them something they can relate to. They don't necessarily need to relate to the characters themselves, but they need details that make them feel one way or another about a person.

If you have a format in which you can describe body language, this becomes much easier. You can say that a person looks nervous, and it doesn't give away whether the person is lying or not. Maybe they're nervous because they're about to be caught. Or maybe they're nervous because the player is all up in their grill, and all but accusing them of some heinous crime they didn't commit.

If you can't convey body language (so if you just have lines of dialogue with no exposition), you've got to convey the same information through dialogue. The more personality you can convey, the better. "Um" is a good word that shows that a person is nervous, for example. Providing flavorful text is also a good way to give players something they can relate to:

JESSE: Hey, Mr. White...hand me a drink, please?

vs.

JESSE: Yo, Mr. White...gatorade me, bitch!

The player is going to make immediate assumptions about someone who speaks like the second version of the dialogue, and you can use this to your advantage to convey information about the character (or mislead them). More importantly, once players know who the characters are, they'll be able to spot lies more easily. The example I use is a cliche, but it's useful for illustration purposes.  Imagine if Jesse suddenly switches from "Yo, bitch" to "Hey, ma'am" - he's not speaking naturally, which means he's watching his words. Is he trying to be respectful, or is he hiding something? It gives the players an intuitive 'in', a way beyond binary logic to determine if characters are lying or not.
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autumnspark
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2015, 12:59:47 PM »


JESSE: Hey, Mr. White...hand me a drink, please?

vs.

JESSE: Yo, Mr. White...gatorade me, bitch!



I'm laughing so hard right now. You brought up a lot of good points. There are more ways that you can instigate player suspicion...one of which is pauses...but that gets kind of old fast...right?

Ways to get around that would be to include some filler words such as "Umm," but even more effective might be to have the character trip over their own words.

Mr. J: The index is in the mammoth replica.

vs.

Mr. J: The index is in the mammoth replica, no, wait, it's definitely in the dungeon.

Where the fuck is it? Is Mr. J just a fuckwit or is he trying to lure you into the dungeon because a cybernetic cyclops ogre will assimilate you into its nervous system if you venture into its depths. Who knows?

Also a character tripping over their own words can show they are holding something back as well and indicate they are nervous.

Mr. J: Megan's children's book is, ha, I mean the index is in the mammoth replica. Sorry, I must be tired...

What! Megan has been missing since the beginning of the game. Wtf? Is Mr. J tired because he has been torturing Megan the entire time?

Anyway, this is fun.  Gomez
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LeonDaydreamer
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« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2015, 08:20:10 PM »

Quote from: Panurge
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!"

Haha! That totally is classic. That could be a good finale sort of lie where the person you're talking to finally gets so nervous they completely slip up and say more than they're supposed to know.

Leading up to it, though, I think you might try giving the player a real sense of the behaviour and way of speaking the different characters have and like Oracizan suggested, have them speak out of character when they're lying. Like having a Jesse from Breaking Bad sort of character suddenly throw out more sophisticated words, or a university professor suddenly speak like a gangster, 'cuz he had 'nuff of your jibber-jabber.

You'll probably want to check out Ace Attorney, that's all about catching witnesses in a lie (also it's a darn great game series!), but it relies on having information that contradicts them in front of you.
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