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Old 09-28-2010, 06:53 AM   #21
KaVir
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Re: Quest Design

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Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
2. It is somewhat more difficult to provide multiple resolutions to the same quest plot. It may seem trivial to add 2-3 potential goals instead of one on an individual basis, but if you're chaining quests, this represents a fork in the quest path, and then choices rise exponentially. All great RPG's have such quests but they require top-notch story-telling and the awareness that after putting in many hours of work, some forks in the path may never be traveled. Coding support for these "multiple choices" is somewhat difficult, but not impossible if you limit the number of forks and the number of times one quest plot can fork. That said, in my own experience as a gamer, multiple choice resolutions don't add up to a sense of freedom, even if I'm left to guess which of several people I can bring the letter to.
I think it depends on whether you view the quests as encapsulated modules, or as a grouping of interconnected tasks. If your quest system uses a similar design to a skill-web, it should be relatively straightforward to have multiple paths, with certain tasks blocking or unlocking others, and different quests merging with or branching from each other. This should allow you to provide a fair degree of freedom, although it will obviously mean more work.

However you can also make the quests feel less restrictive by focusing on the objectives rather than the means of achieving them. For example if one part of the quest involves obtaining a letter from a house, you could allow the letter to be obtained through combat (defeat the guard), stealth (pick the lock and sneak through the back door), or subterfuge (convince or trick the guard into letting you past, using your disguise skill/spell, social combat, offering him a drugged drink, or some other means). In this case the overall quest would still be linear, but the emphasis would be on finding "a" solution rather than "the" solution.
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:44 PM   #22
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Re: Quest Design

@silvarilon:

It is absolutely a matter of audience. Mine comes primarily through the AppStore, and graduates from "modern" mobile MMO's like "Pocket Legends" and "IMO: World of Magic" that let you quest-grind ad nausem. The average mobile MMO quest takes 1-2 min. to complete (lest someone gets bored) and comes in two flavors: "kill this" and "find this". Sometimes even random tapping on the screen will eventually kill the right mob and complete the quest. Think monkeys on typewriters. This is just to provide context.

Because of the above, I believe that for my particular world, advanced quest concepts may not be worthwhile. But in this brave new simplistic world, I do want to retain and cultivate the spirit of MUD creativity, so I'm focusing my energy on opening parts of the quest engine to players themselves. That is, I'd like to allow the top levels in my game to kick off quests for lower levels as part of their mentorship (e. g. explore this area and you'll earn my spare diamond robe). They'd also be able to start races where the first one wins, or to put a a price on their head (we have limited PK). All this has to be very straightforward to do, and my current approach is a web form connecting to an SQL db that the server is reading from in real time. If users provide their own reward, then the quest starts immediately. If not, it is queued up for immo revision and approval.

The emphasis for me is in having my quest engine support a wide variety of relatively simple tasks and in making it easy for users to contribute content. Because individual quests can be linked together (see KaVir's link), I believe that creative players may help build quite complicated multi-step scenarios. They'd be engaging enough even without multi-goal or random detour support.

While it is certainly possible to do anything with code, the more advanced a quest engine becomes, the less open it is to the average user. This, I think for most MUDs translates into content dearth (since none of us have staffs of hundreds). In CircleMUD, I can devise and code in one incredibly advanced plot using the baked in special procedures (C code assigned to entities). Or, in the same amount of time, I can build a robust simple-quest engine that can spurt user-generated content endlessly. My choice is already made.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:22 PM   #23
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Re: Quest Design

Plamzi, sounds like you've already got things figured out

I'm very eager to see the sort of content that gets created. Maybe add some sort of user-feedback mechanism (if that's easy to do in a non-intrusive way)

for example, when it pops up the "You completed the quest. Your reward is a diamond robe" maybe they rate the quest 1-5 stars.

That way you can organically reuse the higher rated user content, and let the lower rated content vanish. Hopefully allows it to become self-regulating?
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:57 PM   #24
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Re: Quest Design

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Originally Posted by silvarilon View Post
Plamzi, sounds like you've already got things figured out

I'm very eager to see the sort of content that gets created. Maybe add some sort of user-feedback mechanism (if that's easy to do in a non-intrusive way)

for example, when it pops up the "You completed the quest. Your reward is a diamond robe" maybe they rate the quest 1-5 stars.

That way you can organically reuse the higher rated user content, and let the lower rated content vanish. Hopefully allows it to become self-regulating?
That's a great idea! A lot of the mortal quests will be one-time wonders but I think if people could rate QM's and the better of them get some kind of reputation points (nobility title, or why not quest points?) then some QM's may even try to improve their spelling! I'll add this in as soon as I get done with the basics. Cheers.
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Old 09-30-2010, 02:21 AM   #25
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Re: Quest Design

As well as titles, you can use it as a very crude trust mechanism. Maybe players that have a lot of highly rated quests are trusted to give away better rewards, or put in harder enemies (or even boss enemies!)

Basically, any of the features that would be good to have in quests, but you don't want to make available to everyone for fear of being misused.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:28 PM   #26
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Re: Quest Design

Questing is a big part of Maiden Desmodus, and we handle it in two ways...

Workhouse Tasks:

These are a linear series of 'quests' that bring the player into the basic backstory of the game and the game world. At present there are two major factions in MD, and each faction has their own line of workhouse tasks. The first few of these are designed to get the player familiarized with the system and basics of play with a 'fetch', 'goto <place>', and 'combat' task first on each side. From there on, the quests spin off on their own storyline. For example, in one task you are hired by the city workhouse to escort a diplomat into the city of the other faction. In a later quest, you find the negotiations didn't go so well and you now have to go break that diplomat out of the stockade and get him back home. By going through the series of workhouse tasks the player gets involved in the backstory of the game through IC play, rather than help files and background documents. The workhouse tasks also take into account a lot more than just go somewhere and kill something, even in the more combat-oriented ones. An example being at one point along the storyline you are sent to work with a few knights and send them into an enemy war camp to provide cover (and clear the way) for you to get to a siege engine and burn it down by lighting barrels of oil on fire around it.

Quests:

We handle quests much differently. A big part of Maiden Desmodus deals with talking to and interacting with the NPCs. There are conversational keywords to lead conversations, and NPCs usually know a lot of responses to subjects not directly pointed to in a conversation and might start new conversations if you bring up another NPCs name, some happening somewhere in the game, part of the NPCs own background, etc. Occasionally, talking about one of these conversational keywords will award a quest. The more you play the game and the more exposure you get to the game world, the more you'll have to talk to NPCs about.

The quests are optional and well varied with some being attainable at any level and others opening up only after a certain level is reached by the character. Gained experience also scales with the level of the character. You can see the steps needed to complete the quest, and if you mess it up too badly at any point you can abandon the quest and start it anew. Unwanted quests can be abandoned, and some quests are one-time quests while others can be repeated every game month (which is about a week, real-time).

Another aspect of quests in our system is that some are faction dependent. If the vassals of your kingdom have taken control of a village (through our mass warfare system), you'll be able to do some quests there that the other faction cannot, such as basic labouring quests which are a good way to earn gold in the game.

Our player guide has a walk-through of the first few workhouse tasks and quests you're likely to encounter as a new character.

As for writing quests, I always work within the framework of the world. I don't add quests just for the sake of adding quests. I look at the game world as it is, the NPCs in it, recent events, and I put in new quests to fit in with all that. I think that is why players often comment that we have such an in-depth game world that feels authentic to our theme.

I'm often seen in-game asking players if there are any special types of quests they would like to see added to the game. Some of our bi-weekly events are created based upon player suggestions. We hold the events every other Sunday (the next being "Bank Robbery" on October 3rd) and during these events release new content to the players that always features new quests. We also turn on double xp and double training rates and provide a period of no-xp loss for defeat so players there for event day can go after the new quests without any knock-back.

Some quests remain available forever. Some like those for our "Northman Invasion" event are available for a week or so and are then replaced with changes to the game world to reflect the invasion (burned ships along the coast, etc).

We also have quests that are triggered now and then by the staff, such as "Eruption" which causes the volcano on The Isle to erupt and loads the game with NPCs that can thereafter issue quests related to the eruption to players who go up there. These sorts of events also change the game world by loading smoke and magma in that region, adding new environmental hazards that eventually cool off.

There are also quests that are triggered by player activities and choices. For example, by completing one workhouse task a certain way a player is able to obtain a rare "gas bomb". The player can then go get quests from a key NPC in their faction's city that will allow that bomb to be set off in any of the enemy cities in the game. The player sets off the bomb and a plague spreads through the city killing hundreds of NPCs and rats and leaving others dying. New quests mobs are loaded into place allowing players in that city to get new quests where they try to rescue those injured in the attack while burning the bodies of the dead citizens and rats before plague spreads through the city. (And yes, it's a real plague that has to be treated by player physicians able to deal with the disease).

I think my point in all this rambling is that we're proud of our quest design and the fact that from the feedback of the players that I hear, it all makes Maiden Desmodus seem truly immersive and less mechanical than a lot of other games out there.

Feel free to judge for yourself, click here to play and if you play a Thirian talk to the slavemaster near the beginning about 'bounty' or if you are Kneyan talk to the gangly sailor about 'visit' to start off on an early quest, which of course will lead to many others...

If you're interested in seeing our newest event quests, drop by the game on Sunday:

UPCOMING EVENT -- "Bank Robbery" The Bank of Johannasburg has been robbed and the culprits escaped with over 50 gold ingots worth of loot. Discover and follow clues to track down the network of thieves responsible for the robbery and choose to bring them to justice, or keep the booty for yourself. Join us on Sunday, October 3rd at 4pm EST/9pm BST for this exciting event. Double XP, Double Training Rate, and No XP Loss for Defeat will be in effect for the first two hours of this event.

Last edited by Wade_Gustafson : 09-30-2010 at 03:40 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo
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