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A textbox (or text box) is the region on the screen where dialogue is displayed.
ADV (Adventure Format) is a format in VNs where the sprites are mostly unobstructed by the textbox, and the textbox occupies some portion of the lower third of the screen. This is by far the most common format.
Some titles use a floating textbox where the textbox moves around the screen, usually to mimic a comic book or manga style.
Grisaia no Kajitsu [VNDB] (2011)
Koshotengai no Hashihime [VNDB] (2016)
Dead End Junction [VNDB] (2011)
NVL (Novel Format) is a format in VNs where the textbox covers the sprites or the majority of the screen. This is generally used for narrative-heavy VNs or monologues.
Heart of the Woods [VNDB] (2019)
Epistolary writing conveys a story through a series of letters or documents. This can include letters, diary pages, newspaper clippings, text messages, emails, or blog posts.
Analogue: A Hate Story [VNDB] (2012)
The only requirement of a textbox is that it contains text for the user to read. However, a variety of features may be optionally included to help the reader follow the flow of the conversation more easily or to perform useful actions.
A name tag (or name plate) is an area where the speaking character’s name is displayed.
A side image (or side portrait) is a character picture that is displayed on the textbox. They are usually head-only or busts. A side image can be used in a variety of ways.
- Protagonist side image: The protagonist's reactions to events are displayed in this side image, either throughout the whole game or only when the protagonist is speaking or thinking. This use of the side image is often coupled with the protagonist's sprite never actually appearing onscreen.
- Mirrored dialogue side image: The side image is used to display the expression of the character that's speaking, even when it is also visible on their sprite. Sometimes, this type of side image doesn't appear when the character's sprite isn't onscreen or there is a CG. If this side image doesn't appear when the character's sprite isn't onscreen, sometimes it is instead replaced with a silhouette.
- Hidden character dialogue side image: The side image only appears when the speaking character's sprite is not onscreen to let the player know their expression even when they cannot be seen. Sometimes also utilized when the speaking character isn't in a currently displayed CG.
A click to continue (CTC) indicator conveys to the reader that there is no more text to read, and the reader should click to continue to the next line of dialogue.
A quick menu is a small menu on the textbox that allows the player to take actions and access menus directly from the game. It will often be represented by either text buttons or icons with tooltips. The quick menu is usually located at the bottom-center or bottom-right of the textbox and is always visible, but this does not always have to be the case.
Common buttons on a quick menu include:
- Skip text button
- Auto mode toggle button
- View backlog/rollback button
- Hide textbox button
- Quick save/quick load buttons
- A button that opens the options menu
- A button that opens the save/load menu
It is also possible to include sliders on a quick menu, such as a slider that changes the opacity of the textbox window.