In an IF context, conversation refers to communication between the PC and NPCs, meaningfully influenced by the player. Dialogue that doesn't respond to player decisions is something else - probably a cutscene. Directing game commands to NPCs is sometimes treated as conversation and sometimes not.
Conversation as Puzzle Tool
Due to the difficulties of writing responsive, realistic conversational NPCs, many IF games feature little or no conversation; indeed, many authors avoid including NPCs altogether rather than include NPCs with weak conversational abilities.
The term 'conversation system' refers to a mechanism controlling conversation between the PC and the NPCs; a parser convention governing how the player gives orders governing conversation. Two common conversation systems are ask-tell and menu-based.
Lists of Games using Conversation
Some IF games have conversation as a primary focus; the main or only way to explore the game or accomplish goals is through dialogue.
- Alabaster (John Cater, Rob Dubbin, Eric Eve, Elizabeth Heller, Jayzee, Kazuki Mishima, Sarah Morayati, Mark Musante, Emily Short, Adam Thornton, and Ziv Wities; 2009; Glulx).
- August (Matt Fendahleen; 2001; Z-code).
- Best of Three (Emily Short; 2001; Glulx).
- Galatea (Emily Short; 2000; Z-code).
- Glass (Emily Short; 2006; Z-code).
- Redemption (Kathleen Fischer; 2003; Z-code).
- Shadows on the Mirror (Chrysoula Tzavelas; 2003; TADS 3).
- Snowblind Aces (C.E.J. Pacian; 2007; TADS 3).
- Urban Conflict (Sam Gordon; 2007; Z-code).
- The Visitor (Peter Polkinghorne; 2000; Z-code).
Personified narrator games
Certain games, by personifying the parser in various ways, frame part or all of the story in terms of a conversation.
- Photopia (Adam Cadre; 1998; Z-code).
- Violet (Jeremy Freese; 2008; Z-code).
- Voices (Aris Katsaris; 2001; Z-code).
- Conversation Systems in the IF Gems review quotes collection (also available from the IF Archive).
- Choosing a Conversation System - article from the TADS 3 Technical Manual.
- Discussions about conversation systems on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
Conversation articles by Emily Short
Emily Short has written extensively on this topic:
- Modeling conversation flow, a series of articles:
- Homer in Silicon: Sub-Façade - written for GameSetWatch; 12 May 2009. This article introduces the elements of the conversation model in the articles that follow.
- Types of NPC initiative - 22 July 2009.
- Subject changes - 24 July 2009.
- Transitions in player speech - 26 July 2009.
- Interrupting the player - 27 July 2009.
- NPC repeating information - 30 July 2009.
- NPC questions - 2 August 2009.
- Actions in conversational context - 5 August 2009.
- Silence - 6 August 2009.
- Conversational analysis studies - 8 August 2009.
- Beginnings and endings using scenes - 10 August 2009.
- Multiple people conversing - 12 August 2009.
- The conversational "script", 26 August 2009.
- Moods in conversation, 10 December 2009.