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Trails of Excessive Dialogue - Editorial

InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion GuyRPGamer Staff
Falcom's acclaimed JRPG franchise does a lot right, but how much is it held back by boxes of text? Should the direction of future games be adjusted?

Editorial
"To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."

Comments

  • VeghEstherVeghEsther Full Members
    doesn't matter I manually mashed my way though the long text hence I actually beat the 2 Cold Steel games on easy mode in about 20 to 30 hours EACH game.

    But even if the text of the game got cut by like 25 to 30% I would still button mash my way through it just to get to the battles.

    But the future LoH DO need the teleport function that Cold Steel 2 has so that you don't have to manually walk everywhere for all that backtracking to complete any given subquest CS2 does have.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    VeghEsther wrote: »
    doesn't matter I manually mashed my way though the long text hence I actually beat the 2 Cold Steel games on easy mode in about 20 to 30 hours EACH.

    Do you remember everything that took place? The character's personalities or how they interacted?

    That seems like a pretty fast play through.
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • Severin MiraSeverin Mira News Director/Reviewer RPGamer Staff
    You clearly haven't seen his posts elsewhere...

    I rather like the good VNs, and my usual method playing RPGs involves talking to every NPC everywhere, so Trails of Cold Steel having all that text is part of the appeal for me. There may certainly be areas where things can be cut down but when you have a narrative and casts as engaging so Trails I would rather have it at it's current level than chopped down. Of course, that does require a story that engages as much as Trails has for me, mediocre/poor VNs can be boring as hell.

    Finally, just as you mention the whole "pressing X so many times" on more than one occasion, Tokyo Xanadu does have an auto-mode (I don't recall if Cold Steel had it, I suspect it didn't) so there's that at least potentailly for III, though I personally don't like using auto-mode on games as I'm prone to missing things.
    "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
    Twitter: severinmira | Xbox Live: Severin Mira | PSN: severinmira (EU) | NNID: severinmira
    Final Fantasy XIV: Sevvi Taubemira (Leviathan)
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed RPGamer Staff
    edited August 8
    I generally love the Trails series for its text-heaviness, enough that in Cold Steel I'd go around talking to all the students at the school every time I had free time. However, there was definitely some excessive verbiage that could have been cut in Cold Steel I and II. Main character Rean was the worst offender, with long monologues about things that had already been demonstrated clearly through the action of the game.

    We don't need to hear repeatedly about how school was the best time in Rean's life and how everybody is such good friends now and how much they've gone through together. We already know all those things from experiencing them! Having Rean go on and on (and on) about it all just cheapens everything. This wasn't a problem in Trails in the Sky I and II, despite that duology having massive buttloads of text to discover. TitS had minimal repetition and kept moving forward, while ToCS and especially Rean's dialog felt like it was desperately trying to hold back time and rehash past glories. Odd for a series about students who are just at the beginning of their journeys through life.

    I know that there's a tendency to hyper-romanticize high school in Japanese culture, but sheesh. Y'all don't need to beat us over the head with it repeatedly!
    Becky Cunningham, Staff-at-Large
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    You clearly haven't seen his posts elsewhere...
    Yeah, best to ignore his rambling nonsense.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • VeghEstherVeghEsther Full Members
    For the LoH auto mode it only works in battle and the only first games to do that are the 2 Cross Bell ark games IE Zero/Ao No Kiseki but when you DO enable auto mode via NG+ mode only for in battle its useless since party members only use the fight/attack commands and nothing else.

    The games don't have a auto mode for manually skipping text at all so even in Zero/Ao No Kiseki you will still have to hold down the X or O button to mash your way through the text to get to the battles.

    The Evolution versions of the LoH games JPN only on the vita for FC to Kiseki the 3rd also have auto battle mode in battle but party members still only use the fight command when its turned on so its useless.
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    No one cares. Pretty sure you're the only one who wants to skip the story altogether.

    I agree about excessive dialogue. It's not excessive in the sense that there's some threshold amount of dialogue that's too much. The problem comes when the dialogue gets ridiculously repetitive. The Persona games, as much as I love them, also have this problem sometimes. Characters constantly get surprised by a revelation that's basically just another character rephrasing what they already said. It makes no sense and wastes a lot of time. There's a difference between having a lot of story and a lot of filler.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Tears of Tiara II existing makes it hard for me to complain about any other game having overly verbose repetitive text.
    Ask Wheels- This Week's Episode
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  • BudaiBudai Paladin Full Members
    No one cares. Pretty sure you're the only one who wants to skip the story altogether.

    I agree about excessive dialogue. It's not excessive in the sense that there's some threshold amount of dialogue that's too much. The problem comes when the dialogue gets ridiculously repetitive. The Persona games, as much as I love them, also have this problem sometimes. Characters constantly get surprised by a revelation that's basically just another character rephrasing what they already said. It makes no sense and wastes a lot of time. There's a difference between having a lot of story and a lot of filler.

    Agreed. Persona 5 has many cases of the characters asking if they did the right things or just confirming what they did over and over.
  • Severin MiraSeverin Mira News Director/Reviewer RPGamer Staff
    I had forgotten about Rean's repetition of things that were common knowledge and still fresh in the memory, yes, that could be cut down rather :)

    And just to confirm I was talking about auto-text, why the hell would I be talking about combat in response to this editorial?
    "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
    Twitter: severinmira | Xbox Live: Severin Mira | PSN: severinmira (EU) | NNID: severinmira
    Final Fantasy XIV: Sevvi Taubemira (Leviathan)
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    edited August 9
    Budai wrote: »
    Agreed. Persona 5 has many cases of the characters asking if they did the right things or just confirming what they did over and over.
    .

    I've only recently started playing Persona 5, but I'm more annoyed by the Cat that tells me when I can't do stuff that my High School peers that rehash the same issues.

    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • blurpoblurpo United StatesFull Members
    Character chatting is not even the problem for me, it's having the side-quests not shown in any way other than having to talk to each NPC in town after every event of significance. Granted, each NPC has his/her own personal storyline that you get to read, but at least dim the NPC's name when they don't have anything new to say to me!
  • ACPACP A Crustacean in a Pot Full Members
    I don't have a problem with lots of text boxes. I like reading as much as I like battling. And I'm a fast enough reader that it looks like I'm button-mashing my way through the text boxes, although I'll generally go slower if the text is paired with spoken dialog. Otherwise, fast reading!
    When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
    - Mark Twain
  • jscarpejscarpe RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Lets see if I can do my best to rein in my Trails fandom here.

    Trails, like so many story focused games from Japan, is excessively wordy. I remember the first time I played Trails in the Sky FC, I found it to be a bog standard JRPG for the first 10-15 hours. There was lots of dialog for what felt like a straightforward RPG. It was quite a spell before the charm started winning me over and a big part of that charm for me is those incessantly wordy little characters. Getting to Bose, having a major story event happen, and then every character in town had something unique to say about that event; it made it feel like this was a real place where everyone is talking about the news of the day instead of so many games where a blacksmith may have one canned line of dialog that he repeats no matter what happens. It's daunting, and I'm sure it limits the appeal of the games (not to mention ballooning the text to localize to War and Peace levels), but this sort of world building that Falcom has latched onto for the Trails series really clicks with me.

    The NPCs in particular really make the game for me in many ways. I love Anton, this unimportant NPC who keeps popping up to fall madly in love with women who are completely inappropriate for him. He's not pointed out by the game, but I love finding him and seeing what sort of stupidity he has been up to. So many of the NPCs are like that; Becky with her Scottish brogue accent always plotting some way to make money, Dorothee pushing novels extolling the virtues of male companionship on everyone she meets, or Beryl providing spookily accurate predictions.
    Killika, head of the Zeiss Bracer Guild, is another character I love. Any other game, she would be a bland hub for quests; giving out gold for turning in assignments. Trails gives her a backstory of being from the East and having a famous martial artist father, and other characters keep expressing surprise that she's working as a pencil pushing bureaucrat instead of working in the field. It does enough to give you the sense that there is more than meets the eye with Killika and based off Trails 3rd, when the story finally turns to Calvard, I expect Killika to play a big role.

    It's crazy (and also speaks to my rabid fandom for this series) that I can rattle off half a dozen NPCs from Trails and so many games I play I can barely remember the main character names.

    As to Cold Steel, I guess there are more "main" characters hanging around putting their two cents in than in earlier Trails games that would center on two main characters and usually only have two other side characters tagging along at a time. Maybe that makes it feel even wordier than usual for a Trails game? I do think there is a point to spending so much time with the class in CS1, because in CS2 you will be spending most of the game reassembling your class and other school members back together after being torn apart by the civil war. I think it becomes this great Suikoden homage as you travel around slowly assembling a team to take on the bad guys. All that characterization in the first game is paid off by adding NPCs who open up things on your ship that help with the quest. If you find Becky, she opens a shop; Fencing club members open practice arenas; and Cooking club members allow you to purchase a wider selection of ingredients. It was a really cool way of paying off setting up all those NPCs from the first game.

    Also, some of the use of text instead of visuals may be a function of Falcom's size and budgetary limitations. Falcom has 45 employees, but it's probably closer to 35 making games and even that gets split into teams making Ys and LOH games. Falcom isn't exactly indie, but they are closer to indie than they are to Square Enix. I imagine it's just cheaper and easier to have talking text bubbles than even in-engine animation and they obviously have some writers that can churn out tons of dialog. I feel like Cold Steel is improving from the earlier Trails games and was a bit more cinematic, but that could be my fandom blinding me.

    Falcom also marches to the beat of their own drummer. I remember an interview with Kondo (the CEO) being asked about bringing Ys back to consoles on the PS4. He wasn't interested in 1080p or using the hardware to improve the graphics; he was excited about being able to have more enemies on the screen at the same time without slowing down the combat. They just come at things from a different angle than most of the gaming industry and have managed to make that work for them. It still boggles my mind that such a small company has been around since the 80's and hasn't been bought up or made a couple of bad games and gone out of business.




    I guess I'm also not 100% sure what your exact complaint is? Is there too much dialog in general? Too many NPCs chiming in about the events happening? Would it be better if more of the main story bits were cut-scenes rather than dialog boxes? If you were editing it, where would you be cutting? I agree in the abstract that Trails is too long and could use some streamlining, but maybe I just love it too much to see where that line should be.

    Wow, I was afraid this would trigger me into a long (and hopefully coherent; I've been writing it over the course of the morning so with luck this makes sense) diatribe about Falcom and Trails. I feel like such a hypocrite writing about this because I'm constantly complaining about the length of games; thinking an editor should take an axe to excessive text. Unfortunately, in this case I find myself falling into the "Falcom is special" camp. Intellectually I want to agree with you; we shouldn't just write off problems in design because that's what a developer does, but you've hit on the game where I'm so emotionally invested I have a hard time treating it in a rational way. Does that make sense?
  • VeghEstherVeghEsther Full Members
    edited August 9
    I also skip the cutscenes in any game I play just to get to the battles as well IF those are skippable ie the 3 Xenosaga PS2 games were so long for both in game text and anime movie like cut scenes just to get to its battles I had to manually skip both.

    As for Auto text mode for some of the games that have it ie Star Ocean 2nd Evolution has such a option I STILL had to manually mash the X or O button until all those long cut scenes end as well.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    VeghEsther wrote: »
    I also skip the cutscenes in any game I play just to get to the battles as well IF those are skippable ie the 3 Xenosaga PS2 games were so long for both in game text and anime movie like cut scenes just to get to its battles I had to manually skip both.

    No one cares. No. One. At. All.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
  • Daniel36Daniel36 Member Full Members
    I've played one Trails game and it wasn't so much the amount of text that bothered me, as much as it was the way it was translated. It was obviously translated pretty literally when Japanse has a very different style of speech to English.

    That said, in any case, having said that, this being the case, as it is... Every other sentence starting with one of these or a variation of it... That is literal translation, and bad, and what bogged down Trails for me.

    Translations shouldn't be literal, they should be in the right spirit.
  • SlayerSlayer Member Full Members
    We need to be able to be critical towards the things we love if we want them to improve in the future.
    This is my favorite line.
  • Lord GolbezLord Golbez Member Full Members
    Daniel36 wrote: »
    That said, in any case, having said that, this being the case, as it is... Every other sentence starting with one of these or a variation of it...

    All of these sound like the beginning of a VeghEsther post.

    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • Fowl SorcerousFowl Sorcerous Dread News Editor RPGamer Staff
    Daniel36 wrote: »
    That said, in any case, having said that, this being the case, as it is... Every other sentence starting with one of these or a variation of it...

    All of these sound like the beginning of a VeghEsther post.

    except, y'know, with commas.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    Slayer wrote: »
    We need to be able to be critical towards the things we love if we want them to improve in the future.
    This is my favorite line.

    xo
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • OrophinOrophin New Member Full Members
    I haven't played Cold Steel so I guess I can't relate. The main allure for the Trails in the Sky games for me WAS the dialogue and character interactions. It's not like you were playing those for their graphical fidelity. The battle system was "just ok" too, but nothing stellar.

    Seems like from the editorial and the comments here that Cold Steel maybe goes a bit too far with some repetition. I'm hesitant to play the Cold Steel games until there's some kind of confirmation that they're going to localize the Crossbell games, because I hear there's some pretty big gaps/spoilers in Cold Steel from Crossbell.
  • ultranessultraness Member Full Members
    "The over-reliance on dialogue to deliver lore, political history, characterization, and relationship development loses its charm quickly and can be fundamentally disruptive to the flow of the game."

    Uh, what? Dialogue is by far the best way to deliver pretty much all of these things (and definitely characterization and developing relationships).

    Anyway, I agree with Orophin about the biggest asset of the series being its dialogue (although I extend it to the Cold Steel games, as well). It's a problem for the series if people's dislike of reading harms sales, but I'm fine with the games staying as they are (or having more dialogue) rather than Falcom making sweeping changes in an attempt to gain a more mainstream crowd. For one, I don't think they'll ever capture a wide audience akin to Final Fantasy, and, furthermore, I find that altering what makes a game great in order to appeal to the masses tends to have the opposite effect.

    Repetitive dialogue is an issue, sure, but I don't find the series held back by the text at all. The text is what makes the games stand out.
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