Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
July 29, 2021
arrowPress Releases

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Direction Tools For Your Game's Dialogues

by Pietro Polsinelli on 01/08/19 10:01:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Following the research done for “Videogame Dialogues: Writing Tools And Design Ideas” (a quite popular Gamasutra post on game dialogue’s user interfaces written by Daniele Giardini and myself) when I had the chance to get back to developing the narrative part of Football Drama I decided to create further layout tools for the writer, building upon the research done then.

One of the observations of the linked post was how mature and feature rich are dialogues in contemporary comics with respect to today’s games, as in the examples below.Comic sample layout

Comic layouts.

Our dialogues in Football Drama were more or less in this format:

Early Football Drama dialogue layout

From that Pino Panzarella and I started designing possible evolutions, like in this draft:

New Football Drama alternative dialogue layouts

An obvious fact that makes evolving the design of dialogues in games not that easy is that dialogues are generally at least partially generative (and so is the case for our Football Drama game), so its normal that the dialogues are generated by structures like these:


This is our internal dialogue editor, Outspoken (developed in Unity by Daniele Giardini). What would be great would be to have the possibility to (1) configure single nodes’ balloon appearance and (2) configure alternative layouts of sequences of nodes.\

(1) For single speech balloons, we opted for having four classic layouts: thought, scream, speech, whisper.

Football Drama speech balloons layouts.

(2) For the alternative layouts, we have three cases,

  • A full-screen layer that sends some message before or between dialogue exchanges

  • A node with a question and then choices (as the first column in the draft illustration below).

  • A couple of dialogue nodes where in the second node we want to zoom in the character (second and third columns in the draft)

Alternative layouts.

You can see our solution in action for both cases (1) and (2) in the following video:

So I hope this gives you some inspiration in designing tools for your game dialogue’s layouts.

You can follow me on twitter here.

Related Jobs

Treyarch / Activision
Treyarch / Activision — Santa Monica, California, United States

Associate Systems Designer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

AI Systems Designer
Ramen VR
Ramen VR — San Leandro, California, United States

Junior Content Designer (Remote)
Mountaintop Studios
Mountaintop Studios — San Francisco, California, United States

Lead Tech Artist

Loading Comments

loader image