I just wanted to mention a tool I recently discovered, Chat Mapper, it’s a tool for writing and testing non-linear dialogue. I have just finished an educational game at Playerthree called Rosie: Signs of Neglect, in which you follow a couple of social workers on a visit to a family they are trying to help. Chat Mapper was essential to its development.
From the start we knew this game was going to involve a lot of dialogue, and we weren’t wrong, there is about an hour of it. The game was also going to feature multiple decisions and outcomes, different story arcs etc. In a simpler game, we could get away with some custom XML, but for something this complex and subject to constant changes, we needed a tool.
In an earlier post I talked about creating custom level editors and using 3rd party ones, we could have created a custom dialogue tool but I thought I would see what already exists. Sadly there’s not much but there is Chat Mapper. http://www.chat-mapper.com/
Chat Mapper can do everything, it is a great piece of software (PC only) the list of features is too long to list, so just watch the demo videos to see what you can do. There is one gotcha, although Chat Mapper exports to XML there is no ActionScript parser so I had to write one, it doesn’t parse everything, just what was needed to make Rose 2, maybe after another iteration, when it is closer to being feature complete, Playerthree will opensource it.
So if you have a game with dialogue and dialogue that has a habit of changing, I strongly recommend Chat Mapper.