Welcome to Corneria!note
"Don't speak to me again! I refuse to speak t— dangit! Leave me alone! Please do not repeat the exact same words exactly the same in exactly the same tenses, exact same speed and exact same tone! Are you insane or what?"
One common feature of most Role Playing Games
are random townspeople that you can talk to and pump for information. However, many developers leave this as a low priority, giving them very limited dialogue that is endlessly repeated each time the Player Character
engages them. Usually, it will just be a single sentence or two with little bearing on the plot (most often just giving some local flavor to a town), or a single sentence with some minor hints of the plot (that someone who actually matters will explain in more detail). Often goes hand in hand with poor translations
(where the same dialogue that was given lowest priority during the writing will get even lower priority for translation).
Most of the time, individual NPCs
don't have anything useful to say, but if you Talk to Everyone
, you get a complete enough picture that you can figure out what to do next. (And if your current objective really is
to talk to everyone, they might change their lines to indicate when you've succeeded.)
It's especially humorous if you go back to an old town after a major event and the townspeople are still giving the same dialogue they had before (e.g. they still lament over the dragon stealing their sheep long after you've killed it). It can be vexing when you try to envisage the NPCs as people
and think they might tell you anything informative. Though in real life, you would most likely hightail it out of the town because you would consider all the NPCs as either insane or part of some satanic cult.
Many more recent games make a halfhearted attempt to avert this by giving NPCs two
pieces of dialogue at a time that they alternate, changing no more often than their one-line counterparts. Another method is to change the dialogue of everyone in the town after you've beaten that town's Fetch Quest
(or even after you've completed other plot events), but even this quickly becomes unrealistic if it never changes again. It can get particularly ridiculous when, say, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon
has risen and the fate of the world is obviously in the balance, but the NPCs still won't talk about anything other than their livestock or their love lives
Of course, every dialogue tree ends somewhere, so this trope will always pop up sooner or later.
Compare Dialogue Tree
This is one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality
, since the programmers can't put in endless random dialogue.
Not to be confused with the planet Corneria from Star Fox
or the town Coneria/Cornelia
from Final Fantasy I
. The trope name is from a parody of the latter game.
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- Extremely common in The Legend of Zelda. Some examples below:
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: A character repeatedly states that "I am Error." There is also a character who lives in the woods named Bagu. As in a messed up recursive translation of Bug. Error. Bug. Programming jokes. He also triggers different dialogue/events in people, but aside from his appearance is not connected to Error in any way. This page explains it all.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, there's an aversion. Many NPCs say different things depending on the day and time, whether you've done certain things, and what mask or form you present. Even if you aren't going for 100% Completion, getting to know them all really enhances the game's emotional depth — such as if you talk to people awaiting death on the night of the third day.
- Lampshaded in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: One of the posters in the Sturgeon's house reads, "If the person's advice is strange or cannot be understood, one should not feel shy. One should simply ask the person to repeat the statement by pressing A again. More often than not, if one asks politely, a person will say the same thing over and over again until the meaning is clear."
- In La-Mulana, the elder has a wide variety of sayings which include useful hints as well as gratuitous Take Thats at Nintendo games, but past a certain point in the game will only repeat, "The wind is restless..."
- Alice in Wonderland: Despite being a modern game for the Wii, the video game version of Tim Burton's film has this with a number of the talking flowers.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: Lampshaded near the beginning of the game, Farah is telling you how to use the Dagger of Time. If you do not use it within a certain time, she tells you again, with the same words, to which the Prince replies, "You already said that!", although Farah says, "No I didn't!"
- Guise of the Wolf has castle guards that say nothing but "Good evening, me lord" and "Helps to have a map."
- Subverted in Half-Life 2. Most human or vortigaunt Non Player Characters have a relatively limited vocabulary, but there are at least two known cases of a so-called "All-Knowing Vortigaunt" indistinguishable from a "regular" vort except it has a huge list of stock lines, some of which actually give away important parts of the game's backstory and plot, or bend the fourth wall.
"Your bright face obscures your darker mask. We call you sib, although your mind and meaning are a mystery to us. Far distant eyes look out through yours. Something secret steers us both. We shall not name it. We have endured these chafing bonds for eons, yet a single moment of further servitude seems intolerable! How often have we slipped our yoke, only to find it choking us again. Let this war end in either total victory or our extinction. No further compromise shall we allow. We take our stand beside you, here, upon this miserable rock."
- Played straight elsewhere in the game, however. For instance, most human NPCs have a single line to say to the player; if prompted again, they will just say it again.
- Lampshaded in Half-Life when a scientist says to a Barney "You know, you tend to repeat yourself" — something of which the scientists are equally guilty. NPCs talking to each other at all outside a cutscene was uncommon back then.
"Do you know who ate all the doughnuts?"
"Why do we all have to wear these ridiculous ties?"
- Stalker takes this to new irritating levels, especially in the bar area where people repeat the same dialogue over and over again. Plus they stop you using your gun to vent your frustration. It's really no surprise whatsoever that nearly every mod for the game in existence either stops them from repeating the lines or simply makes them all stop talking altogether.
- Also, in one area of the game (one of the factions that you are sided with), there is a guard there who will repeatedly say "Get out of here, Stalker" and, no matter what, constantly repeat this single line over and over and over again. You can hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Ydsn1coBg
- The gamemod They Hunger has this right in the end during the bossfight. Your helicopter pilot tells you the same thing again and again: "Come on, shoot that bastard!"
- Far Cry 4 has the usual suspects with both enemy and friendly dialogue, but a more glaring example is Rabi-Ray-Rana's radio broadcasts, which either provide background exposition or comment (and hang lampshades) on the player's actions and accomplishments. His spiels are usually hilarious the first or even second time. They get old after the third or fourth or fifth or sixth or seventh time the player has to listen to him ramble about how clean his asshole is due to his owning a bidet.
Hack And Slash
- Diablo II:
- The guards in the city of Lut Gholein only say "Welcome to the palace" and "Stay out of trouble".
- Flavie: "Take care! The Corrupted Rogues in the wilderness ahead are not to be trifled with."
- The temple guard says the player "may not pass" before the quest is triggered, and Flavia can warn the players who have not yet completed the first quest that they are "not ready" for the tougher enemies.
- OTOH, almost every NPC has four or five "random" lines, plus quest-specific dialog, so Welcome to Corneria is somewhat averted.
- Actually, Diablo was much worse than its sequel. Outside of quest info, the 3 most useful NP Cs only had the following lines.
- "Stay a while and listen." - Cain the Town Elder
- "What can I do for you?" - Griswold the Blacksmith
- "I sense a soul in search of answers." - Adria the Witch
- You're gonna get a lot of this in the Dynasty Warriors: Gundam series. While characters have multiple lines derived from whatever mission they're in, their responses to simple and common things, such as beating 100 enemies is limited and get very repetitive. Yes, I KNOW you're Master Asia, now shut up about it!
- The camp soldiers from Dynasty Warriors 7 onward always say the same things no matter how may times you talk to them.
- City of Heroes, though the game's mechanics tend to mask it well. Any "contact" whose missions have been exhausted will repeat the same line explaining that "and now we are done" and any who have not been introduced will direct the player to speak with someone else, instead. Even worse are the civilians roaming the streets, who will repeat a single random line every time they are spoken to. Interestingly, civilians whose names start with a particular letter can give out meta-game information, such as total hours of playtime or players currently in the surrounding zone.
- RuneScape tries to avert this, probably. Doing quests, miniquests or generally changing the world will change available dialogue lines in conversations with people, or change the people themselves. A few select NPCs, most summons and the common level 2 men and women have a bank of possible dialogue lines or whole conversations, but it's not a large one. Some conversations react to stimuli like your inventory contents - for example, if you have a few sharks in your inventory, one of the summons suddenly starts saying trivia facts about them, one out of a few available every time you chat to it. On the other side, the conversations are fixed in their contents and will always go exactly the same if you keep stumbling upon the same ones and/or choosing the same lines to say in them.
- Capital City Guards in World of Warcraft actually manage to be useful, as they can be asked for directions. They all share the same (rather extensive) Dialogue Tree per city, but still. As with Warcraft, the NPC spoken dialogue will go into "pissed" when you pester the same NPC long enough, but with only about two sets per race/gender, the variation isn't quite as much. A few NPCs use lines directly from Warcraft III, though.
- There is some variation for the guard talking to a few of the different classes. Rogues are told by city guards that they are being watched, with Stormwind's guards wishing they were allowed to drag you to jail.
Real Time Strategy
- Blizzard's Warcraft and Starcraft games subvert this. If you click a unit (or an NPC in World of Warcraft) enough times, it will start Breaking the Fourth Wall, saying One Liners from movies, referencing Real Life, or noting some absurd detail about its fictional existence. The (incomplete) GameFAQs list of Warcraft III "pissed quotes" is over 90 kilobits big.
- And in Starcraft and Warcraft, clicking on a critter enough times will cause it to explode. (No Splash Damage, though)
- In Warcraft II there was splash damage. It was the ordinary explosion like the ones caused by the fireball spell. The damage was minor, and the time spent on clicking would be a complete waste.
- Happens all the time in Izuna Legend Of The Unemployed Ninja. Especially egregious in that 1) sitting through it is mandatory, provided you want to do such exotic things as repair your equipment, access items you've put into storage, buy or sell things, or save the game outside of a dungeon, 2) every single time you want to do any of the aforementioned actions, 3) it seems to be unskippable (the manual says something about holding A to speed the text up, but it's never seemed to help much), and 4) this isn't some NPC giving you a one-line greeting—oh no, these are full-blown conversations, complete with responses, counter-responses, and often counter-counter-responses.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
- In a Filler arc the characters have to play a virtual-reality RPG, there is one example of this despite the apparent intelligence of most of the rest of the game - the characters attempt to cross a desert and fail, only to be greeted by an old man who tells them they need a specific card to cross the desert. The heroes try to get more information out of him but he just repeats the same line.
- Another filler arc that featured many of the same elements revealed that Gozaburo Kaiba had a biological son, Noah, before adopting Seto and Mokuba. When Noah was in a car accident, Gozaburo uploaded his mind into a computer to save him, and provided him with a virtual world to keep him occupied. He went to the trouble of making the world fairly detailed, but it had obvious limitations, this being one of them. In short, Noah is one of the few characters to actually be driven mad by this trope.
- The above is also done in the Greed Island arc of Hunter × Hunter, where trying to ask an NPC specific questions that he doesn't know just results in a generic "...What?" response.
- Parodied in this chapter of To Love-Ru.
- Level E: "Welcome to Tarsting Town!"
- The cast of Love Hina encounter this when they end up in an RPG-like world.
- In episode 5 of Log Horizon when Shiroe is discussing about non-player characters, the background shows a female NPC who keeps on saying "Welcome to the village of Arb" no matter what the players ask! This is used to underscore how the NPCs of post-Catastrophe Elder Tale subvert this trope; they have names and backstories and emotions.
- Back to the Future Part II features Marty walking into the "Cafe 80's" and is hounded by Ronald Reagan and Ayatollah Khomeini "video waiters" who repeat their recommendations forcefully until Marty shows the machines who's boss and declares that all he wants is "a Pepsi".
- The Stepford Wives has a scene in which Joanna's friend keeps repeating the same couple of sentences despite her attempts to encourage her to snap out of it, leading her to catch on to the fact that she's been replaced by a robot, which she has caused to malfunction.
- A variant occurs in Young Frankenstein. They take a train from New York to Transaylvania. In the New York station, two background characters are having a bizarre conversation. In Transylvania, they have the exact same conversation, only they've both switched to German.
- Forever Gate: This is why humans don't respect the gols; they're only programed to do one thing which means they can't have more than a superficial conversation.
- Scrubs: Old M.C., only ever saying "bust a move." This does not go unnoticed.
J.D.: "...part of me wants to talk to her, part of me wants to—"
Old M.C.: "Bust a move?"
J.D.: "You have a problem sir! Seek help!"
- In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick first encounters Christmas on a large scale. A woman manning a Christmas donation stand says "Merry Christmas" whenever Dick puts a coin in the box. Obviously, that woman is coin operated.
- The RPG Episode of Warehouse 13 overlaps this with But Thou Must. Pete and Claudia encounter an NPC based on Artie in Fargo's virtual reality game. Pete tries to grill him for information, but he keeps repeating the introductory dialogue until they say yes.
- Occurs fairly often in Data East's Batman pinball, due to the small number of voice clips available. Hearing the Joker declare "Oh, there'll be a hot time in the old town tonight" gets tiring after the fifth iteration...
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the same problem. Hope you like hearing "Serious pizza!" a lot, because by god you will.
- Can occur in Diner if the players take too long to fill a customer's order.
Boris: "Hey! Get lead out!"
- Cue Ball Wizard is notorious for constantly calling the player to shoot the ramp.
Shooter: "You sure need that ramp shot."
- This is a frequent complaint against Data East's Lethal Weapon 3, especially with Leo Getz's (Joe Pesci) lines.
Leo: "Okay, okay, okay..."
- Played with in Stargate; while the instructional callouts can get repetitive, holding down both flipper buttons before launching a new ball will reduce their frequency.
- Hitting an already-lit Hat Target in The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle And Friends will prompt Rocky to yell "Wrong hat!"... repeatedly.
- The "Skulduggery" table of Full Tilt! Pinball repeats its hoary old pirate quotes fairly frequently.
"Aye, walk the plank!"
- Shaq Attaq is annoyingly infamous for its highly-repetitive callouts.
"Shoot the basket!"
- Petitioners in the Planescape setting are described suspiciously like this. Petitioners are souls of the dead, now incarnated on a plane that matches their Character Alignment in life, or the home of their god. They're very fixated on embodying their alignment and eventually merging with the plane or their god's realm, and so any attempt to deal with most petitioners will very quickly swing back around into this as they're so monomaniacal.
- Unforgotten Realms: This one was played with in the first episode. Rob, having decided to voice most of the characters, played an NPC "realistically": only saying one thing; this went on until Mike corrected him. And in the next episode, there was an NPC who could only say "Press B to jump", and in fact continued to say it when no one was talking to him. Who then died accidentally, at Mike's character's hands.
- In The Adventures Of Ledo And Ix, the titular pair's visit to a town turns sour when they discover that every citizen is "automated," mindlessly repeating the same few sentences or frames of animation. One of the few times the trope isn't Played for Laughs.
- The trope name comes from 8-Bit Theater, parodying said games. (Note: in the first English release of Final Fantasy I, the actual line is "This is Coneria, the dream city." Later remakes translated the name properly as Cornelia (so no, it's not a Star Fox Shout-Out, but the "the dream city" was in either way)
- Parodied in RPG World, where one minor character just simply sighs and says "Times are tough" to anyone and everyone that interacts with him. He also appears in every bar that the team visits.
- The author of S.S.D.D actually made a flash game RPG-NPC Sumulator based on this guy. There is a text box, and you can type in anything you wanted to say to him. Naturally, he would only respond with "*sigh* Times are tough." This is about as amusing as you let it be.
- Dueling Analogs points out one of the rare benefits this trope can have.
- Adventurers parodied this repeatedly. In the comic's RPG Mechanics Verse, it's apparently in the NPCs' job descriptions to walk back and forth shouting one line to passersby. Repeating one line over and over again may be boring, but at least one NPC doesn't take kindly to being questioned about it. The line "There are many guards in the castle" became a Running Gag, especially as seen here.
- Said NPC's advice is apparently taken as sage wisdom in the setting, as he eventually puts out a book and gets a movie deal based on the line. Sadly, near the climax the castle is destroyed by some random ordnance, and his monomemetic empire comes crashing down.
- El Goonish Shive presents an example — according to its annotation, taken from the Real Life.
- The Way of the Metagamer: Just replace "Corneria" with "Townwithanequipmentstoreaplacewithmapsandatavernofcourse".
- In Gold Coin Comics, the NPCs really want the main character to go to the tavern.
- Shortpacked! had fun with "I'm Batman," a Verbal Tic taken to ridiculous levels. It escalated when Batman met Daisy. He has trouble staying undercover as Bruce Wayne, because he says stuff like, "I'm Batman." [shocked silence] "No, I'm, uh...not Batman. ...I'm Batman."
- Customer support call centers are often given a script that they must follow no matter what. This gets very irritating for someone who gets shuffled around departments and have to answer the same questions over and over again. It's even worse if it's not a live person at the other end but a phone bank Dialogue Tree.
- Parrots can speak, but being animals, to them it is just a sound that they repeat whenever they like. Typically, depending on the species and how much you say certain words, they also learn only three or five words or sentences in a lifetime. You can only hear "polly wanna cracker" so many times before it begins to get a bit annoying, and God help you if they pick up on your swearing.
- In Moebius, Improv Everywhere stage this in real life.