Dialogue Runner and a High Level Overview

The main way to actually manipulate the state of your dialog is through a DialogueRunner. You create it from a YarnProject (see Compiling Yarn Files) with either YarnProject::create_dialogue_runner() or YarnProject::build_dialogue_runner(). The first uses default configurations which should be alright for many use-cases, while the latter allows you to add or change functionality.

Dialog Flow

The actual navigation through a dialog is handled by a Dialogue View, which is responsible for back-and-forth interaction with the player. As such, most of the methods provided by a DialogueRunner are to be called by such a view. The one you will want to call yourself, as seen in the Quick Start, is DialogueRunner::start_node, which will tell the DialogueRunner to start running from the provided node.

Variable Storage

Variables need to be stored in some place. By default, they are kept in memory through the InMemoryVariableStorage. This means that when you quit and reopen the game, all variables used in Yarn files will be empty again. Of course, this is suboptimal when you want to allow the player saving and loading their game state. To accomplish this, you can go one of two routes:

  • Manipulate the variables in the variable store. Read then when saving and write them when loading. You can access the variable storage through DialogueRunner::variable_storage().

  • Directory use a variable storage that stores its variables in a persistent way, such as a database or a file. You can change the underlying variable storage through the builder API discussed later in this chapter.

For information on how to create your own variable storage, see the chapter Variable Storage

Functions and Commands

Yarn files can contain user-defined functions and commands. These can be accessed with DialogueRunner::library() and DialogueRunner::commands(). For more information, see the chapters Custom Functions and Custom Commands.

Text and Assets

We make a distinction between text, which are the written words organized into lines contained in Yarn files or in localization files, and assets, which are supplemental data associated with a line. Assets are referenced over a Bevy Handle and can be used for things such as voiceover sound files or images that might need translation.

Of note is that using assets requires using localization, or at least thinking about it. As a consequence, language settings are split between text and assets. After all, a player might want to hear lines delivered in the original recorded language but read the text translated into their own language.

You can read more about how current language can be set for a DialogueRunner in the localization chapter.

Text is provided by a TextProvider. While it can be overwritten, the default StringsFileTextProvider will be a good choice for nearly all users. The only reason you might have to create an own TextProvider is if you want a very custom localization strategy, such as translating text automatically through AI.

Assets are provided by AssetProviders. In contrast to the TextProvider, you might very well create your own AssetProvider. For your convenience, Yarn Spinner already ships with an AudioAssetProvider that you can use for voice lines and a FileExtensionAssetProvider that can load any asset based on naming conventions and file extensions. See the chapter Assets.

Text and asset providers can be set through the builder API and accessed later with DialogueRunner::text_provider() and DialogueRunner::asset_providers(). If you know the exact type T of AssetProvider you want, you can call DialogueRunner::asset_provider::<T>() instead.

Builder API

As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, a DialogueRunner can be modified or extended on creation by using YarnProject::build_dialogue_runner(). In fact, YarnProject::create_dialogue_runner() is nothing but a shorthand for YarnProject::build_dialogue_runner().build().

You can use the builder API to inject your own implementations of traits used for the features presented in this chapter. DialogueRunnerBuilder::with_variable_storage changes the underlying VariableStorage and DialogueRunnerBuilder::with_text_provider the TextProvider. DialogueRunnerBuilder::add_asset_provider adds an AssetProvider to the set of asset providers called for each line presented to the player.

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