I’m working on an Inform7 game and at one point have a NPC wandering a mansion. Let’s call them “Susie”. I have a fairly large table of responses for Susie about wider topics regarding the story/situation at hand, but have not included responses specific to each room Susie may be in at that moment. Also, Susie only appears after you solve a puzzle, and is only around until you solve a different puzzle that then dismisses her from the mansion.
So, for instance, when Susie is in the library and you ask her about books, she does not have a response. If you ask her something about the murder that occurred in the mansion, or the detective in the next room, she has a response.
How much does that bug you?
(i.e., should I spend the time to build out responses to those trivial things for a NPC who’s not around for very long, or shall I assume the player is ok with the NPC not understanding what the player is asking, despite that sometimes being illusion-shattering.)
Additional musing: maybe there’s some in-between where I can fashion a response table of vague acknowledgements so the Susie’s non-answer isn’t quite so bad. Like, the player asks Susie about books when they’re both in the library:
"Hmm, yeah, let's talk about that later for I have thoughts," Susie replies.
Have you played/made a game that does that kind of “error” NPC response well?