Welcome, one and all, to the long-awaited sequel to the idle banter project!
WHAT IS THIS?
For those of you who weren't around for the previous iteration, idle banter basically consists of short dialogues between NPCs across the whole of Vvardenfell. These would be scenes without any real player interaction, and are just there to make the NPCs seem less static and dependent on the player. A good example of this would be in Skyrim's Riverwood, when you first walk in and hear an old lady complaining to her son(?) that she's seen a dragon. Just a few lines, nothing much, to make the world seem more alive. Naturally, the original Morrowind wasn't capable of this, but with the standards set by Skyrim, the taverns and streets of Skywind would feel rather empty without it.
The first time we did this project, we focused on all the characters from the original game, and with great perseverance we were able to get all of it done. Now, all we have left is writing for the expansions, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. This is a much smaller endeavor, and with the experience we already have under our belts, it should hopefully run a lot smoother as well.
CAN I VOLUNTEER?
Yes! Well, I mean, I should probably be more specific. This project is open to anyone who has a strong passion for writing and decent ability. The ideal volunteer should also know at least a thing or two about Morrowind lore, or be willing to learn it. If you haven't the slightest clue about lore, a great place to go is the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (UESP) wiki. If you think this describes you, then welcome to the project! Everything you need to know can be found below.
Okay, so this is going to be basically the same process we did last time, except a bit condensed as far as formatting. All you have to do is follow these steps (they will be explained in greater detail below):
1. Claim a spot on the signup sheet!
2. Write your lines on an excel document!
3. Format those lines!
4. Submit those lines by attaching them to a post in this thread!
IN GREATER DETAIL:
To claim a spot, open the link at the end of this document for the signup sheet. There, you'll see a fairly self-explanatory chart with all the different major areas in the expansions. I tried to only include cells (buildings or small regions) that had multiple people in them to interact. To sign up, just put your name (TESR username, please!) under the "claimed by" column.
Note also the "state of completion" column. This is for you to track your progress, as well as keep me updated on what still needs doing. When you've claimed a piece but haven't started work on it, change the "unclaimed" to an "incomplete." When you've started on it, but haven't finished or it hasn't passed official review, label it as "in progress." Color coordination also helps here if you can; there will be a key on the document. I will be in charge of marking cells as "complete," as all submissions will be reviewed by me before they are approved. You should not under any circumstances mark your own document as "complete," even if you feel you're done with it. This is so that I can keep straight which documents have passed review and which ones have not.
Oh, and one more thing for this. Once you've claimed an area, it's yours, and nobody else's. Which means you assume full responsibility to complete it in a timely manner. If at any point you feel this isn't possible, then you should take your name off the list or hand off the area as soon as possible, or else you're slowing down the process for everyone.
Ah, the actual brunt of the work. Once you've claimed an area, usually in the form of a building or small location, you must write lines for all the NPCs contained within it. This should include both interactions with other NPCs, as well as a few solo lines that they can mutter to themselves. Each character should have at least a couple interactions with others, and each interaction should be no longer than 5 lines exchanged. We want short scenes, not a play. Now, keep in mind that the whole "two-to-three interactions per NPC" isn't necessarily concrete. As the writer, you have full authority to determine whether or not certain characters should have more or fewer interactions, or perhaps should have more, less, or even no solo lines. It all comes down to the NPC you're writing for, and what you think is best for them.
In terms of content, my major piece of advice here would be not to make the conversations too heavy handed. Just because one NPC might give the player a certain quest doesn't mean that every conversation should relate to that quest. Imagine the kinds of short conversations you have in your life; they tend to not be on life-or-death situations or drama-filled speeches. They're just on the small things, like how you're feeling, what you've been up to that day, maybe just a few short words of greeting. Maybe even throw in a few jokes (not too many, of course, for fear of removing all seriousness). Again, the goal of this project is to make these NPCs feel like real people, and to do that, sometimes you have to stick to more down-to-earth conversations.
Make sure also that the personalities you give your NPCs aren't too over-embellished. Ultimately, they should still be the people that they were in the original games. To find out more about the NPCs you're writing for, just search for your cell's name on the UESP wiki, and you'll find a list of all the NPCs within and some basic info about most of them. Some have detailed descriptions that are great to find inspiration. Others don't have a page of their own, but often you can extrapolate a lot about a person's character by looking at their race, class, and faction.
Oh, one last thing. If you happened to claim a miscellaneous section on the signup sheet, that generally means that you're writing lines for everyone outside of major buildings but still within the region. This includes people who live alone in their houses, as Skywind will allow them to actually leave and interact with people on the street. The miscellaneous sections tend to involve more NPCs than others, so if you're in the mood for a challenge, that's a good place to start.
continued on the next post