Senior Honours Project

Investigating Different Dialogue Interaction Mechanics for Talking to Virtual Characters Within Virtual Reality


Narrative has become an increasingly important part of video games, leading to developers and designers creating new techniques to enable increasingly complex storytelling. One commonly used technique is to emulate conversations between a user and a non-player character (NPC) within the game. The most common way of doing this is with the use of dialogue trees. This gives users a choice between a select number of dialogue options at every stage in the conversation. It allows users role-play as the protagonist, giving them a deeper connection with the game.

Virtual reality is a technology which allows for far greater embodiment of a character, within the virtual world, than traditional games. Therefore there is huge potential to tell stories by utilising dialogue conversation within virtual reality. However this presents the question of how to adapt this gameplay mechanic into virtual reality, in a way that is natural and enjoyable.

In this project, three dialogue control mechanics were developed using Unity3D for the HTC Vive. Two are somewhat traditional control mechanics, utilising the HTC Vive controller as a pointing device, and mapping areas of the touchpad on the controller to different dialogue options. The third mechanic is more experimental and uses speech recognition to select dialogue options. This is closer to the action of having a real conversation.

An experiment has been run evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of all three control mechanics. Finally these control mechanics have been packaged into a toolkit which can be used in any Unity project.