Sunday, December 30, 2018

This took way longer than it should. (And what I *think* it taught me.)

*Hitting hand rhythmically on the table, shacking stuff...* This Took Longer Than It Should!

Now, what does that video show anyway? Just some text with a typing-in effect.
Yeah, that's the front of it, or rather one of the 4 versions of it. It's the dialog system that I wanted to make for a game.

There's a function that loads a dialog file created from my custom dialog editor, and the dialog function looks at the NPC, what kind of a dialog they are supposed to have, and enables the correct kind of screen to show said dialog. It can be either a simple "Hello" / "Hi, you ok?" kind of dialog, a long conversation, a dialog tree with available options as buttons and lastly, an interrogation mode. Where you can actually construct questions, and if those questions are something that the NPC has the answer to, they will reply accordingly.

"Vanilla stuff" you might say and you'd be right. But this is the first time I've been trying to make something like that and on top of that I had my ideas of what I wanted to have them do. First of all I wanted the function to be "NPC-agnostic." I didn't want to have to script stuff constantly, I just wanted to pass the name of the character you are talking to, along with some flags of what kind of a dialog it is, and have it come up. Standard stuff. But then I wanted to have the system do stuff like receive an item through dialog. Or enable a new dialog topic, mid-questioning. And then I wanted to have the system to be able to control the non-player character as well, for example, you said something to the NPC that they didn't like and that perhaps made them anxious, so their pose on screen should change. But what if I wanted to have something happen externally at a certain point during the dialog?! Like something blown up or a phone ringing! And of course, it should be able to jump from simple dialog to interrogation mode.
Or! Or ... what ever! The system should be agnostic to everything! Make it able to do *whatever* "I know how I'll do it! Every dialog line can have its own flags and codes embedded in it, and the system would check those codes while it's displaying the dialog, and fire off other functions and animations all over the place! Do all the things!"

People with experience know where this is leading up to. Bloaty, messy code. It does work now, but I noticed that I'm cleaning things as I go along, and with cleaning I mean selecting blocks of code and hitting "Del".

Since the dialog system in my mind was a single thing, I did just that. Made a big file with lots of functions in it, for the various dialog types.

NO! *table-hitting intensifies*.
Don't do that George. Had I asked around some more I think it would've been obvious that it will just make the code hard to follow when I would inevitably need to revisit it later on. A bunch of functions clumped up together without needing to talk to each other.
Since there are different flavours of the dialog, have a file for each dialog type with only the relevant functions to that type together. And for the dialog lines that were read from the file, just use a single struct to place them in and have it being read from the different dialog classes. It doesn't have for everything to be in the same class.

In the video just above, the first NPC is asking our main character to go and interrogate the other Character about stuff. (That Character's name is "Ch". Yes, I was feeling creative that night... Now that I think about it, it should be Ch1 and Ch2. Oh well.)

The video shows 3 different types of the dialog system at work, yes the visuals do need work and not all places have that "type-in" effect - but it's coming. It's a  caller-friggin-agnostic function now so all that needs to be done is to call it for that dialog panel...

Simple dialog, that unlocks the dialog tree type for the other character, which in turn leads to the interrogation mode.

*Hits table* Don't Make Monolithic Systems If You Don't Have To.

Oh btw, there's a ready made 3rd party system for dialog that could be utilized...
I guess it can be modified to do *all the things* and become monolithic blob if required. 

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