A style of NPC interaction in which the player chooses an option from an on-screen menu to indicate what the player-character should say. Some such menus display the actual dialogue that will be spoken:
1: Hello, Bob. 2: Bob, something terrible has happened! 3: Say, Bob, have you seen Lucy? >
. . . while others display a description of what will be said, rather than the dialogue itself:
1: Greet Bob 2: Tell Bob about the accident 3: Ask Bob if he's seen Lucy >
This style of interaction is an alternative to ask-tell. It is preferred by some because it frees the player from having to guess at what to ask about. However, one disadvantage of this freedom is that the conversation can become mechanical, resulting in the player feeling he has little real control over the conversation. Careful writing is required in the menu choices to avoid giving away the "right" thing to say.
A modification of the basic approach, known as the topic-menu system, adds some of the advantages of ask-tell by allowing the player to change the subject.
1: Hello, Bob. 2: Bob, something terrible has happened! 3: Say, Bob, have you seen Lucy? >TOPIC WEASELS 1: So, Bob, tell me about this weasel business. 2: Tell me, Bob: was Lucy eaten by weasels?
This system inherits some of the disadvantages of both systems, while being more laborious to code than either. Like ask-tell, it can require the player to guess topics; like vanilla menu-based, it can lead to automatic play.