Conversations

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This documentation applies to the following games:

Introduced with Arma 2 version1.00
Introduced with Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead version1.50
Introduced with Take On Helicopters version1.00
Introduced with Arma 3 version1.00


Introduction

Conversations is a system created to manage discussions and has been introduced in Arma 2. This system allows dynamic conversations and a more fluid sentence/answer flow.

Its main advantages are:

  • The system itself waits for the sound sample to finish. No more sample time measuring and countless sleeps!
  • Conversation always flows through the appropriate channel (direct for face to face, team radio for distant team members etc.)
  • Possibility to create fully dynamic conversations
  • Transparent syntax (FSM branches allow fast and efficient edits)


Usage

  • A topic is defined by a String for id and sentences defined in a Conversation .bikb file
  • A Conversation .bikb lists all available sentences in a topic
  • A topic must be added to the concerned units, with eventually a Conversation FSM and/or a Conversation Event Handler
  • A Conversation FSM defines an AI unit reaction to a sentence
  • A Conversation Event Handler defines a player's unit reaction to a sentence, potentially defining available answers
  • If the unit is playable (can be either player or AI), both should be present to ensure a proper reaction in every encountered scenario.


Commands

A conversation topic:

  1. must be added to units (via kbAddTopic)
  2. for the units to be able use it (via kbTell for example)
  3. once the unit said wanted sentences (checked via kbWasSaid),
  4. the topic can be removed (via kbRemoveTopic).


Manual conversation example

miles   kbAddTopic ["briefing", "kb\briefing.bikb"];
shaftoe kbAddTopic ["briefing", "kb\briefing.bikb"];

shaftoe kbTell [miles, "briefing", "shaftoe_briefing_H_1"];
waitUntil { shaftoe kbWasSaid [miles, "briefing", "shaftoe_briefing_H_1", 3]; };

miles kbTell [shaftoe, "briefing", "shaftoe_briefing_M_1"];
waitUntil { miles kbWasSaid [shaftoe, "briefing", "shaftoe_briefing_M_1", 3]; };

hint "Conversation ended.";
// you could use kbRemoveTopic here to "clear" the units if the topic is not required anymore. This is not mandatory.


Conversation .bikb

.bikb extension stands for "Bohemia Interactive Knowledge Base" as it was originally used only for storing an AI unit's memory of what it has seen.
This file declares the available sentences in the topic, their sound samples and the corresponding subtitles (see example 1 and example 2).
As the syntax is the same as config files (Description.ext, Config.cpp) PreProcessor Commands can be used.

Sounds don't need to be defined in CfgSounds or CfgRadio unless you want to use them with e.g playSound, say or groupRadio.
As opposed to these commands, this new conversation system will automatically use setRandomLip during the speech if no .lip file is present. A .lip file can however still be used for a more precise animation.

A duplicate sentence in .bikb file WILL crash the game!


"Interrupted" event

The left-side conversation menu (with the list of possible sentences) can be closed via backspace at all times. If you want to handle this event as well, you have to add new sentence class called Interrupted into your .bikb file. It can then be used as a standard _sentenceId in the script.


.bikb simple example

class Sentences
{
	class hello1
	{
		text = "Hello!";					// sentence subtitle - can be "text" or $STR_ stringtable reference
		speech[] = { "\Sound\hello1.ogg" };	// sound file path relative to mission or campaign directory
		class Arguments {};					// unused here
	};
	class hi_how_are_you
	{
		text = "Hi, how are you?";
		speech[] = { "\Sound\hi_how_are_you.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
	class good_you
	{
		text = $STR_GoodYou; // has to start with "STR_"!
		speech[] = { "\Sound\good_you.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
	class fine_thanks
	{
		text = $STR_FineThanks;
		speech[] = { "\Sound\fine_thanks" }; // no extension means .wss to the engine
		class Arguments {};
	};

	// these sentences are here to be a full example for later Conversation Event Handler example
	class what_do_we_do	{ text = "What do we do today?"; speech[] = { "\Sound\wdwd.ogg" };	class Arguments {}; };
	class choose_football	{ text = "Let's football!";		 speech[] = { "\Sound\cf.ogg" };	class Arguments {}; };
	class choose_bike		{ text = "Let's bike?";			 speech[] = { "\Sound\cb.ogg" };	class Arguments {}; };
	class choose_arma2		{ text = "I know! Arma 2";		 speech[] = { "\Sound\ca.ogg" };	class Arguments {}; };

	// the Interrupted sentence triggered when the conversation menu is closed without answering (e.g using backspace)
	class Interrupted
	{
		text = "Hey, come back!";
		speech[] = { "\Sound\interrupted.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
};

// Needed parameters.
class Arguments {};
class Special {};
startWithVocal[] = { hour };
startWithConsonant[] = { europe, university };


.bikb advanced example

See Words configuration and below for more details.

class Sentences
{
	class AirstrikeRequest 
	{
		// %team and %location will be replaced by the game engine with according values
		text = "%team requesting close air support at grid %location ";

		// available words are defined in config > RadioProtocol > Words
		speech[] = { %Team, RequestingCloseAirSupportAtGrid, %Location };

		class Arguments 
		{
			class Team { type = "simple"; };		// refers to %Team, first element of speech[]
			// "RequestingCloseAirSupportAtGrid" is part of Radio Protocol
			class Location { type = "simple"; };	// refers to %Location, last element of speech[]
		};
	};
};

class Arguments {};
class Special {};
startWithVocal[] = { hour };
startWithConsonant[] = { europe, university };

Above sentence would be used this way:

player kbTell [
	BIS_HQ,										// to
	"Airstrike",								// topic
	"AirstrikeRequest",							// sentence
	["Team", {}, "Anvil", ["Anvil"]],			// argument 1
	["Location", {}, "Strelka", ["Strelka"]]	// argument 2
];


.bikb BIS_fnc_kbTell example

BIS_fnc_kbTell needs a Description.ext CfgSentences entry presented as follows:

class CfgSentences
{
	class MissionName
	{
		class Event1
		{
			file = "kb\event1.bikb";	// mandatory
			class Sentences
			{
				class Sentence1
				{
					// the following arguments are used by BIS_fnc_kbTell (if they are defined, they are not mandatory)
					actor = "obi1";		// (missionNamespace getVariable actor) speaker variable name (can NOT be "player")
					variant = "";		// used by BIS_fnc_kbTell to define an alternative sentence
					variantText = "";	// used by BIS_fnc_kbTell to define an alternative sentence
				};
				class Sentence2
				{
					actor = "griev";
				};
				class Sentence3
				{
					actor = "griev";
				};
			};
		};
	};
};

with a .bikb file looking like this:

class Sentences
{
	class Sentence1
	{
		text = $STR_HelloThere;
		speech[] = { "\Sound\hello.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
	class Sentence2
	{
		text = $STR_GeneralKenobi;
		speech[] = { "Sound\gk.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
	class Sentence3
	{
		text = $STR_YouAreABoldOne;
		speech[] = { "Sound\bold.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
	};
};
class Arguments {};
class Special {};
startWithVocal[] = { hour };
startWithConsonant[] = { europe, university };


A tidier way of doing so is to put all the needed information in the .bikb file:

class Sentences
{
	class Sentence1
	{
		text = $STR_HelloThere;
		speech[] = { "\Sound\hello.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
		actor = "obi1";
	};
	class Sentence2
	{
		text = $STR_GeneralKenobi;
		speech[] = { "Sound\gk.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
		actor = "griev";
	};
	class Sentence3
	{
		text = $STR_YouAreABoldOne;
		speech[] = { "Sound\bold.ogg" };
		class Arguments {};
		actor = "griev";
	};
};
class Arguments {};
class Special {};
startWithVocal[] = { hour };
startWithConsonant[] = { europe, university };

And to include it via #include in Description.ext:

class CfgSentences
{
	class MissionName
	{
		class Event1
		{
			file = "kb\event1.bikb";
			#include "kb\event1.bikb" // avoids a double declaration
		};
	};
};


Et voilà ! All you need to do now is call your discussion like this: ["Event1", "MissionName"] call BIS_fnc_kbTell; // note that the topic comes first; the game will make the defined actors say the lines in the order they were declared. BIS_fnc_kbTell will manage to use kbAddTopic, kbTell and other commands.


Please note:
  • use class CfgSentences in Description.ext
  • use class Sentences in .bikb files


Conversation FSM

As stated earlier, the Conversation FSM fires on sentences received by an AI and defines an AI unit's reaction. The Conversation FSM receives the following arguments:

  • _this: Object - receiver or listener of the sentence. One of the units that had this particular script assigned via kbAddTopic
  • _from: Object - the unit that told the sentence
  • _sentenceId: String - the sentence this unit is reacting to. Defined in .bikb in class Sentences
  • _topic: String - topic name used in kbAddTopic

See also: FSM, FSM Editor


Conversation FSM example

A simple FSM that AI uses to react to a speaker's sentences


Conversation Event Handler

The Conversation Event Handler is not an Event Handler as we know them. It is Code that will be executed with each sentence received by a player, and will constantly fire (onEachFrame) when the player is pointing at a "talkable" person at "talkable" range. Following parameters are passed:

  • _this: Object - the player receiving the sentence. Must have had this particular script assigned via kbAddTopic
  • _from: Object - the unit that told the sentence
  • _sentenceId: String - the sentence the player is reacting to. Defined in .bikb in class Sentences
  • _topic: String - topic name used in kbAddTopic

Its return format is an Array of arrays (or an empty array) and can look like this:

[
	[
		localize "STR_AnswerTitle1",	// conversation menu's display text
		"myTopic",						// topic to answer to
		"answer1SentenceId",			// sentence ID
		[]								// sentence arguments
	],
	[
		localize "STR_AnswerTitle2",
		"myTopic",
		"answer2SentenceId",
		[]
	]
];

You will notice a certain resemblance with the kbTell syntax. Note, the forceRadio parameter is not present.

The Conversation Event Handler's code is executed in unscheduled environment !


Conversation Event Handler example

// here we will be storing all the sentences from which the player will choose (left side menu)
// if there is only one option in the array, the sentence will replace the "Talk to" action name

private _convMenu = [];

// we want the player to be able to approach his buddy and talk to him via the action menu.
// we need to check:
// if the player is pointing at his buddy
// if the player is not answering any of his buddy's sentences
// if the player hasn't told him hello already
// then we add that array to _convMenu - the parameters are mostly self-explanatory:

if (_from == buddy1 && _sentenceId == "" && !(_this kbWasSaid [_from, _topic, "hello1", 999999])) then
{
	_convMenu pushBack ["Say hello.", _topic, "hello1", []];
};

// here we make the unit say the proper sentence based on the one he just received
// switch-case-do is used here but it is completely up to you how to evaluate it (if-then etc.)

switch (_sentenceId) do
{
	case "hello1":
	{
		_this kbTell [_from, _topic, "hi_how_are_you"];
	};
	case "good_you":
	{
		_this kbTell [_from, _topic, "fine_thanks"];
	};
	case "what_do_we_do":
	{
		// the player will have 3 answers to choose from:
		_convMenu pushBack ["Football.",	_topic, "choose_football",	[]];
		_convMenu pushBack ["Bike.",		_topic, "choose_bike",		[]];
		_convMenu pushBack [["Arma II.",	_topic, "choose_arma2",		[]];
	};
};

// return the sentence list pool
_convMenu;


See also