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Persuasion Minigame

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Many video games include interactive dialogue that allows the player to pick what their character says and determines the outcome based on that. When it comes to persuading an NPC to help in a specific situation or generally increasing their Relationship Values, most games either make the players find just the right path through the Dialogue Tree or resolve it with a background Persuasion Skill Score check. Some games, however, frame such persuasion attempts as mini-games, with several common mechanics thrown in:

  • Persuasion meter. A graphic or numeric indicator of how close the player has come to convincing the NPC — often represented by abstract "persuasion points".
  • Argument menu. At the start of the minigame, the player may be given a limited number of "arguments" — i.e. actions usable once per minigame — and must figure out which ones to use in which order for the largest persuasion point gain. A variation with opposed arguments has the NPC AI doing the same thing simultaneously, and the party with the most points wins the debate.
  • Skill Scores and Perks. In RPGs, a higher Persuasion skill score may increase the yields of persuasion points from successful arguments and decrease the losses from missteps. Certain perks may open up additional persuasion options.

Subtrope of Mini-Game. Compare/contrast Dialogue Tree, Pop Quiz. Compare also Multiple Persuasion Modes, where persuasion attempts are instead framed as background skill checks, and Betting Minigame.


Adventure Game

  • The Insult Sword Fighting minigame in the Monkey Island series is a borderline example. While its objective is to defeat the opponent in a Sword Fight, you can only do so by beating them in a Battle of Wits. Each round of the duel, the attacker selects one of 16 available insults, and the defender replies either with a witty comeback specific to that insult, or a generic response. The proper comeback reverses the attacker-defender roles, while giving a total of three generic responses loses the duel. The minigame is complicated by the fact that the Player Character starts out with only two out of 16 insult-comeback pairs and has to learn them individually from his NPC opponents, who, despite "knowing" all 16, pick insults completely at random and have a chance to pick a generic reply instead of the proper comeback. Further modifications include bosses using a different (but equivalent) set of insults, if not comebacks, and, in the second game, a requirement that the comeback must rhyme with the insult.

Real-Time Strategy

  • In Republic: The Revolution, recruiting new party functionaries, as well as many special events revolve around a negotiation minigame between your functionary and an NPC. First, you get a number of persuasiveness points (dependent on your functionary's Resolve score), which you have to assign to four differently-weighted arguments you will use later. In the first round of negotiation, you must play each of these arguments in any order, not knowing which arguments the other party has. In the second round, the process is repeated, except both parties now know each other's arguments. The party with more successful persuasions (i.e. matching the opponent's argument with a stronger argument) wins the entire negotiation.

Role-Playing Game

  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, each NPC has a Disposition score and will only help the PC if it is high enough. The Disposition can be raised with a minigame accessible from the dialogue screen, in which the PC must use four actions (Admire, Boast, Joke, and Coerce) in any order to gain a Disposition boost. Each NPC reacts differently to different actions (increasing or decreasing Disposition by different amounts), and the "weight" of each action shifts randomly every time one is used (higher weight increases the results, whether positive or negative). A high Speechcraft skill increases Disposition gains from liked actions and reduces losses from disliked ones.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a rather unique implementation with its "social boss battles", which occur when Jensen attempts to coax one of seven key plot NPCs into helping him. These battles actually consist of two interrelated minigames (depending on your choice of augmentations):
    • As explained by the devs, the main mini-game is framed as a Dialogue Tree, except with more computation going on in the background. Each "battle" opens with the NPC and Jensen talking for some time with no input from the player, giving the latter a chance to assess the NPC's mental state and goals. Then, the player is offered three NPC-specific verbs describing available persuasion strategies (e.g. you can try to humble the first social boss, Zeke Sanders, to empathize or to reason with him). After the player picks their argument, based on their prior understanding of the NPC, the computer picks a counterargument at random, and the dialogue is played out on screen. Depending on the player's choice, the NPC has a higher or lower chance of picking a strong counter, and a hidden persuasion meter goes up or down accordingly. This verbal Rock–Paper–Scissors repeats for three to four rounds, with the player free to switch to a different persuasion strategy if the first one doesn't work out, and they win the whole boss battle if the persuasion meter is at or near the maximum after the final round. The first level of the CASIE augmentation makes this minigame somewhat easier by displaying a short Flavor Text of the NPC's current inner state, which contains clues (but no explicit instructions) for better arguments, and by visualizing the persuasion meter.
    • Upgrading CASIE to level two additionally displays a personality type indicator on your HUD that briefly lights up at predetermined points during the boss battle, allowing you to assess whether the NPC is an "alpha"note , a "beta"note , or an "omega"note . With this upgrade, you can interrupt the dialogue before choosing your final argument, and instead pick from one of universal persuasion strategies (appeasenote , charmnote , or pressurenote ), making Jensen launch a personal appeal tailored to the NPC and backed up by the release of human pheromones for the corresponding personality type. This automatically wins the battle if you guessed the opponent's personality correctly or loses it if you misunderstood it. This second mini-game can be used in the seven social boss battles in case the persuasion meter falls too low, but also against several non-boss NPCs throughout the game, whom Jensen can manipulate into providing additional aid this way.
      • However, NPCs who also have CASIE implants (Faridah Malik and Michael Zelazny) are immune to pheromone manipulation and using it against them will always end in a soft failure, wherein they ask you to stop and the dialogue continues somewhat awkwardly.
      • Additionally, employing the second persuasion method can have unforeseen consequences. Use it on Wayne Haasnote  for example, and players may be surprised to find themselves threatening blackmail over an empty pill container in a nearby wastebasket - with the ultimate consequence of turning a later angry confrontation with Wayne into an angry and armed confrontation.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided sees Adam retain his CASIE implant and features some improvements as well; the augmentation is now automatically fully upgraded, has all responses in a given dialogue tree tagged with their matching personality type, and even reduces the response choices from three to two at some points. The simplified mechanics are balanced with the addition of text message conversations, for which CASIE is unusable.
  • In Divinity: Original Sin, whenever the player characters get into an argument among themselves or with an NPC, they must pick a mode of persuasion (intimidation, charm, or reasoning) and play a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors, where every win awards a number of points determined by the character's Charisma score and, in dialogue with NPCs, by the expediency of the chosen persuasion mode in the given situation. Whichever side gains the target total points first wins the argument.
  • Anachronox: More heuristic than systematic (that is, he talks and talks, and talks, and...), the "Yammer" verbal persuasion sessions handed out by Grumpos (appropriately an old geezer) require him to gather enough air beforehand, which translates into a minigame with visualization of his lungs. Gathering air requires the player to keep quickly tapping certain buttons at the right periods of time. Some targets require sort of special variations in technique (some periods require to tap two buttons together or to click a third button), those targets can not be properly yammered unless Grumpos' finds someone to train his skill to Master level first.
  • In order to recruit Felicia in Rakenzarn Tales, Kyuu has to win three rounds of a dancing minigame, as Felicia wants to see if a brigade leader can also have fun and not be serious all the time. It's one where you input the correct button sequence within a time limit.
  • Sparring monsters in Undertale usually involves navigating (or just enduring) a Dialogue Tree of sorts between attacks. However, while fighting Mettaton EX, the "ratings" meter is secretly a Persuasion Meter, and doing various things to raise it to the top defeats the boss non-lethally.

Visual Novel

  • The sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations introduces "logic chess", special confrontations where you have to persuade your opponent into spilling the beans. Gameplay wise it is navigating tricky dialog trees under a time limit and trying to avoid agitating the opponent further (which will cause a time penalty) and to spot when the opponent accidentally leaks information.