Archive for the ‘Questing’ Category

Daily Quest #3

Sorry it’s been a while since I wrote up the last quest, but I’ve got a new one for today. Basically it’s a combination of a few elements that I think would be pretty interesting. It’s really not even a quest in the strictest sense of the word, but more of an opportunity for risk vs. reward.

With this talk of gambling both here and on the SUWT podcast, it got me thinking of a way to make this aspect of the game more fun. With that said, I’ll dive into the heart of it.

For the sake of this “opportunity,” I’m going to use the Shimmering Flats raceway in Thousand Needles, something that doesn’t actually involve gambling (though I wish it did.)

Game: World of Warcraft

Quest Location: Shimmering Flats Raceway

Quest Giver Location: Gadgetzan, Tanaris

Quest Dialogue: “Greetings, traveler. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind doing me a small favor. You see, this here shop hasn’t been paying the bills as well I’d like, so I’ve been using most of our earnings over at the Shimmering Flats Raceway. The returns have been… well, there haven’t been any returns, but I plan to change that with the next race. One of the mechanics told me he’s going to sabotage the other rockets, which means that the CX-250 is a shoe-in to win the race! I’d go and place the bet myself, but the wife’s been on me to fix a leak for too long, and I can’t take it anymore.

Here’s 20 gold to go place the bet. If it wins, I’ll split the return with you, which isn’t bad with 4:1 odds. Come back when the race is over, and we’ll have a drink to our success!”

Quest Reward/How it works: This depends. This situation requires you to make the decision of whether to place the bet or not. Obviously, you can’t be certain whether the mechanic will sabotage the other rockets or not, and if he doesn’t, you the odds of winning aren’t really that great compared to the other rockets.

Here’s where some new game mechanics could be incorporated. If they were to be used, it would add some neat elements to the game, but they wouldn’t necessarily have to be used. Here are several scenarios that could come about from this:

1) You keep the money and never return to the shop-keeper.

2) You keep it and tell the shop-keeper that the rocket he bet on lost the race. There is a chance that he will discover that you lied, and all of the shop-keepers in town find out. If this happens, prices go up and money for selling goods goes down. He might not find out, though, and you could get 15 gold with no consequences.

3) You bet the money and lose. Obviously in this case, you get to go bet on a race but get nothing out of it.

4) You bet the money and win and go back to the quest giver to return his share. In this case you get 40 gold for yourself and you make a shop-keeper happy.

5) You be the money and win, but keep the money for yourself. Similar to the second scenario, you could avoid the shop-keeper and pretend it never happened, or lie and run the risk of negative effects if you get caught.

6)You bet the money and lose. You feel bad for the shop-keeper and decide to give him the gold that he would have won. This will cost you 60g basically, but if you can afford it, then you might consider doing this, as it would increase your favor with people in town and you recieve monetary and other benefits of some kind.

Obviously, the amount of gold here could be changed depending on the amount of gold you should have at that level and other circumstances. This was just a value that I picked randomly. Also, this quest could be simplified to just be a “quest” to go bet on a rocket and see if it wins. It could be taken to all different levels depending on how much effort and detail you want to put into it. I just thoguht this would be a neat way to incorporate both betting as well as an element of choice. Let me know what you think.

~Kanthalos

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Daily Quest #2

Well, some of the commenters on my Daily Quest #1 thought I should spice up my quests a little more, so that’s what I’ll try to do with today’s quests. I hope they satisfy. I actually wrote this first one about a year ago for another post I wrote about questing in general. Since I’m sort of re-using this one, I’m also including a second quest. Hopefully you’ll find them to be a bit more exciting.

Game: Any MMO with a fantasy setting.

Questgiver: N/A

Questgiver location: N/A

Quest Destination: N/A

Quest text: “Hero, please help me! The other day while I was out in the forest rummaging for mushrooms a band of goblins took me by surprise. I barely escaped with my skin, but that’s the least of my concerns. I had a ring inside a lockbox that I desperately need back.

I believe the goblins are hiding out in an old tower not too far into the forest. There were some big stones out behind the tower. If you are sneaky enough, you could trap them inside the tower by placing a stone in the front of the doorway. I have this explosive device here that I found a while back, but it’s of no use to me. Perhaps you can use it to burn that tower down and find my ring. I don’t have much to offer you for your services, but I can give you some of my best mushrooms. Will you help me?

Concise Instructions: Find the old tower to the east within the forest. Use the stones out back to trap the goblins inside before tossing the explosive up top to burn it to cinders. Depending on how well the stone protects the door, goblins may escape, and they won’t be happy. Be prepared!

How it works:

you find a dilapidated tower in the middle of the woods has been taken over by some goblins. Occasionally a patrol walks around the tower but eventually go back inside. If the patrol spots you, they would shout to the others and they would all charge you, forcing you to flee or fight. If things go well though, this won’t happen. A pile of hefty stones is laying at the back of the tower, which you can pick up and place in front of the door once the patrol walks back inside. You could then toss an explosive to the top of the tower, burning the goblins alive. If you don’t secure the door well enough they could burst through enraged and attack you dealing twice as much damage with only a quarter of their health, but if you secure it tightly, you can watch them jump from the top of the burning tower falling to their death. Once the tower burns down, you enter to find a lockbox containing the ring. Here’s where a dilemma enters. Either you can return the ring to its owner, keep it for yourself, or simply sell it. You could gain faction for killing the goblins, a nice ring to wear or sell, faction and an xp reward should you return the ring, and you’d get to watch a tower burn to the ground while goblins are falling from the sky! This shouldn’t even be that difficult to code either. LotRO has the ability to pick up, carry, and drop things as does Guild Wars so it’s already in games. Then you would just have to determine whether the stone adequately secured the door or not then they would break out or jump out accordingly. If you had more than one person, you could put multiple stones at the door to secure it better.

Reward: This depends on your choice. Either a ring, money for selling the ring, or a faction and xp reward from the owner.

This seems incredibly fun and interesting to me. You have an interactive quest where the better you perform the required action, the easier and more enjoyable the quest becomes. You also have a choice involved with three options, all of which could be equally appealing.
Here’s the second quest for the day.

Game: World of Warcraft

Questgiver: N/A

Questgiver location: Arathi Highlands

Quest Destination: Arathi Highlands

Quest text: “The dark iron dwarves has taken up residence on an outcropping near the Thandol Span. They are posing a problem to passing travelers, and we need to do something to stop them. Their choice for their camp site was poor, however, and it plays perfectly into our hands. I’m going to need you to destroy that bridge so they can never leave that place again! Your method of destruction is up to you. Should you not have a powerful ranged attack, I have this incendiary bomb that you can use to ignite the bridge. Let’s be rid of those dwarves once and for all! Should you feel the desire, you can destroy them at a distance once the bridge has collapsed.”

How it works: It’s pretty self-explanatory. You use a ranged attack of some sort to blow the bridge up so that they can’t use it to escape. Now my memory of this location is not crystal clear and I’m not currently subscribed to WoW, so I can’t check, but if I remember correctly, this location has no other means of escape but the bridge, which is the way I wanted it. Obviously, the bridge would need to reappear after so long so that the quest could be done again, as well as in the event that a player was out there when the bridge was destroyed. I think it would be pretty fun to blow up a bridge and trap a bunch of no-good dwarves. What do you think?

Obviously, this is going under the assumption that no other quests are tied to this location, which there are. A way to remedy this would be to re-word the quest text and make this the last quest in the chain, which wouldn’t be too tough.

So there are a couple more quests I’ve come up with that hopefully you’ll find to be a bit more interactive and unique. Let me know whether you like them or not.

~Kanthalos

Daily Quest #1

I am constantly considering quests and missions of all sorts, thinking up new and interesting quests that I would love to see implemented into a wide variety of MMO’s. After all, this is ultimately what I want to do as a career, so shouldn’t I be thinking about this stuff? In that vein, I decided that I would come up with a new quest of some sort each day (hopefully) for either a specific game or one that would fit any number of MMO’s out. Obviously, without knowing the inner-workings of these games, some of the details might have to be shifted a bit, but they provide a general idea of what would happen. I also know nothing about the format these would be written in, so bear with me. So for the first day, I’ll create two. Since I’ve been playing Mythos mostly, I figured I’d use it for my quests today.

Game: Mythos

Quest Title: Helping Raskin

Setting: Instanced

Quest Giver: Raskin

Quest Giver Location: Stonehill

Quest Destination: Stonehill Valley

Quest Text: “Greetings <player>! It is truly an honor to meet you. Stories of your valour have reached even my little ears, which is saying something. Adventurers such as yourself do much to ease the fears of the villagers here in Stonehill, and we can never truly thank you for that. However, there is a task I would very much like your assistance with. Though it doesn’t involve slaying any great beasts, it is something that I fear I cannot do myself. You see, I am in need of some wood to fix several holes in my home, but no one in town seems willing to share any with me, so I need to go find some. I know of an old windmill that no longer works that would likely have some wood that I could use. I don’t think it would be missed since the valley is swarming with beasts, anyway. If you could go destroy it and bring back five of the best pieces, I would reward you for your efforts.

Reward: Unknown

How It Works: The windmill spawns in a random location with X hit points. After dealing X damage, the windmill explodes, splintering into a mass of pieces. The pieces worthy of retrieving are labelled as such, and once enough are collected, “‘Helping Raskin’ complete, return for your reward.” flashes briefly across the screen.

Obviously this wouldn’t need to be instanced, it would just need to be set to respawn on a regular basis so it could be completed by more than one person.

Game: Mythos

Quest Giver: Unknown

Quest Giver Location: Stonehill

Quest Destination: Stonehill Valley

Quest Text: “<player>, as I’m sure you know, Stonehill Valley is teeming with monsters of all kinds, but there is one kind that is truly a nuisance: the Lazarus Beetle. They have the power to resurrect their fallen allies, and they must be stopped.

This is not all, however. Their wings have powerful magical properties. If you could bring me 15 of their wings, this would provide me with plenty of material to experiment with as well as craft you a fine cape. This cape can also be imbued with other properties, depending on what you need. If you desire to be stronger, a wolf’s frayed hide would be required. Should you seek great intelligence, the eye of a hollow would serve well. Greater dexterity could be achieved with the use of an imp claw. Bring me the wings and the reagent of your choice, and the cape will be yours.

Reward: 1,500 xp and:
“Lustrous cape of [modifier]” Stats: 8 armor, +5 to all attributes, with a +3 bonus based on the reagent.

How it works: It’s pretty self-explanatory. The creatures could of course be switched, and the drops could be things that they already drop, so they wouldn’t necessarily need to be a unique item used just for this quest, but the general idea is there.

I think the idea that you can alter your quest reward is one that hasn’t really been used enough. Yes, there are currently reward choices, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to alter the stats to suit you better? Obviously they could simply offer more items, but I think this is better because something that you do (acquiring the reagent) has an effect on your reward.

So there are a few quests I thought up. More than anything, this is a way for me to get some of my thoughts out. I just figured they might be worth putting up here. Let me know what you think. I tried to make them pretty simple so they wouldn’t be all that tough to implement. Obviously, the windmill explosion would have to be created, but barrels and crates can explode, so the ability to do this is already there.

~Kanthalos

Questing Woes

I’ve really been thinking a lot about this issue the last couple days, and as I aspire to become a writer for an MMO in the near future, I think it’s time to get down and dirty and really look at what makes them good and what makes them bad. We, as players, want the best of both worlds. We want quests that are both interesting to read and interesting to do. This does pose some problems, though. Every MMO out there today is based on progression of some sort, and we tend to want to maximize our time spent in game, meaning that we tend to cut corners. For the vast majority, this includes looking at the quest objective and click, click, clicking away through all the dialogue the NPC gives you as it’s background. I’m beginning to wonder whether we’ve seen so many “Bob needs to make a stew, so gather 15 pieces of boar meat for him” that we simply expect these quests to be this dull so we skip the text, or whether these types of fetch quests have actually been improved with interesting dialogue. Obviously, these are just the tip of the iceberg, and they are the epitome for dull quests given their nature, but have we just gotten so used to expecting these monotonous quests that they have gotten better and we simply don’t pay attention to notice? Granted, there are usually well over a thousand quests in a full-scale MMO and not every one of them can be a gem, but players will only continue to do these generic, run-of-the-mill quests for so long before they’ve had enough.

I’ve already posted about the need for more variety and excitement for the quests themselves, and that’s something that we probably won’t really see until the next group of games at the earliest. That aside, though, I’m going to dig into EQ2 over the next week or so and really read through the quests and question whether we are doing ourselves a disservice by not reading through them and immersing ourselves into the game more, or whether they are doing us a disservice by half-assing these quests and expecting us to suck it up and deal with it. I’ll be back later with what I find.

~Kanthalos

Alternatives to XP-Based Leveling

Damianov saw a concept for leveling that involved ranking quests by difficulty and then advancing based on completing so many quests of a certain rank. He admits that there are some flaws with the system. There is definitely some great potential as well, though. I’ll look at both.

The main flaw with a system like this is that everything in the game would have to be quest based. Even if everything wasn’t stuck in a city, I think this would give the game a very strong “DDO” feel. No one is going to want to fight their way through a bunch of mobs that give no reward in order to get to the content that they can progress with, so it would be all of these encounters spread out across the land. I guess one solution to this would be to have random mobs strewn about that provide gear or other materials, while the quests are how you advance, but again, I don’t think people would want to spend half their time advancing their character and half their time finding gear, with no common ground.

Another problem with this system is the conflict of instancing vs. camping. If everything was instanced, this would obviously prevent camping but instances are horrible immersion-breakers. There’s nothing like climbing up to a “griffon’s nest” (example used by Damianov) when a load screen pops up and everyone else disappears. I just don’t think I could do this personally. That said, I also don’t enjoy the thought of a riotous mob of players waiting 45 minutes for their shot to steal the egg when it respawns.

So what is a possible solution to this? Have enough quests that they can simply do another one. This means an enormous number of quests, and by quests, I don’t me “kill 10 rats” or “deliver this to Bob, standing six feet away from me.” I mean true, meaningful quests. The whole idea behind this system is that you feel like your quests matter, otherwise why would they be your only source of advancement? This is good and bad. This means that quest designers actually have to put their thinking caps on and create some intriguing quests that really challenge and entertain the players. This also means though, that they have to come up with an incredible amount of these.

For example: Assume you have to complete 15 of these at each level, and there are 25 levels, that’s 375 quests, and you are probably going to want at the very least twice that many to leave some options including a mix of solo and group quests and long and short, that’s 750 quests. Furthermore, once you get the higher levels, like almost all games, quests are going to become much more intricate, difficult, and time-consuming. It’s going to to difficult to make quests that seem important that don’t take more than 20-30 minutes. If all your quests take an hour, that’s going to make questing very difficult for a lot of players, especially if you have to find a group to do them before you go. This balance can surely be found, but it will take a lot more planning and writing to find it.

This is highly ambitious, and would take a lot of work. If you don’t have enough content to keep the players interested long enough due to a lack of quests and/or make the leveling curve too easy, players are going to reach max level far too soon and be left with nothing to do and leave. There are other elements to keep them there, such as crafting or PvP, but that’s a different topic.

The last real problem I have with this is that even if quests are more fulfilling, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being lead around being told what to do. I think there needs to be some balance between player freedom and being sent from one spot to the next. I think this would also force developers to feel like they had to fill every inch of their world with quests since there would be nothing between them (mobs) and then it would feel more like an amusement park than an MMO.

I’m all for getting more interactive, challenging, and all around fun quests in MMO’s, but if they aren’t implemented well in this system, it will absolutely kill the game as it’s how you level. To date, I haven’t found a game that has quests that are more than tasks. Warhammer looks like its going to start to break this trend, but until we see more of it, I think this goal is too ambitious to build an entire game around. I’m barely scratching the surface of this concept (in a somewhat incoherent fashion,) but those are my initial thoughts, I’d love to know your opinions on it.

~Kanthalos

Make Quests More Fun!

This is sort of in response to both Tipa and Darren which I’m going to sort of combine. Tipa wants a game thats more difficult, intuitive, and puts more faith in the players. Darren quoted someone from WAR describing a quest which was actually rather amusing. I’m going to sort of combine them and discuss realistic expectations for what we should expect from quests in MMO’s coming out soon or enhancements to current games. While we can say that we want town-building, better AI on mobs, player created content and a whole slew of other things, there is one thing that can be improved which is far easier to implement and isn’t too much to ask for. Better quest writing. Quests should be interesting enough to the players that they should WANT to read them. No more of this crap on your screen that says “Commander Keen (hehe) wants six wolf hides: 4/6” Quests should interest enough that they can’t be summarized into one sentence at the bottom of the quest with a number on your screen telling you how many more you need.

For instance, you find a dilapidated tower in the middle of the woods has been taken over by some goblins. Occasionally a patrol walks around the tower but eventually go back inside. If the patrol spots you, they would shout to the others and they would all charge you, forcing you to flee or fight. If things go well though, this won’t happen. A pile of hefty stones is laying at the back of the tower, which you can pick up and place in front of the door once the patrol walks back inside. You could then toss an explosive to the top of the tower, burning the goblins alive. If you don’t secure the door well enough they could burst through enraged and attack you dealing twice as much damage with only half health, but if you secure it tightly you watch them jump from the top of the burning tower falling to their death. Once the tower burns down, you enter to find a lockbox containing a jewel that could be returned for a reward, or simply sold. You could gain faction for killing the goblins, a reward (monetary or item) for the jewel, and you’d get to watch a tower burn to the ground! This shouldn’t even be that difficult to code either. LotRO has the ability to pick up, carry, and drop things as does Guild Wars so it’s already in games. Then you would just have to determine whether the stone adequately secured the door or not then they would break out or jump out accordingly. If you had more than one person, you could put multiple stones at the door to secure it better.

This is much more thrilling than “Armorsmith Stonehand needs lumber for a shield, you should be able to find some in the outlying forest.” I mean come on, a nine year old could come up with that. So there you have it. Quests simply need to be written better and with more originality. All it takes is a little imagination. That took me five minutes to come up with, and while there might be some flaws to work out, it has a lot of potential, and it’s pretty interesting (or so I think.)

~Kanthalos

Player Based Quests

I’ve been thinking about questing lately and what’s wrong with it. Well, I’m not going to take on the whole issue right now, but here is a little something I’ve come up with.

I think one of the main problems with quests is that you don’t feel like you have any reason to do them, other than for the reward. Even though I realize that this is a good chunk of the problem, I think part of the solution can be found in changing the reward, and the way to do this is to have rewards from other players (in a sense.) From what I’ve heard and read, EVE Online has a contract system in which players contract other players to find or do certain things for them. A similar system could be used when players require something in other games that they need. Say they need a crafted sword or they need materials gathered. They could post on a task board that they will pay for them very similar to an auction, but they will also recieve a visible trinket (which is unique to every player, or at least one of a thousand patterns) could be given to the player as well in order to show that they’ve helped another player. Maybe when the player receives so many of them they could turn them in to an NPC and receive a commendation award or some kind or equip them or use as a decoration for housing. While this isn’t very different from doing a normal quest it does two things. It allows the potential to develop relationships and find players who can help you with certain things in which loyalty can be formed. It also gives players reason to help real people as opposed to an NPC, show off a little bit, and if you choose, to receive a reward once you’ve helped lots of other players. Hopefully they could create a system that allowed for more interesting tasks that players needed assistance with, but this would still be an interesting possibility. They would of course have to make the rewards not so powerful as to exploit the system, but good enough to make it beneficial to do it, possibly consumables or just a novelty item as well that looks cooler. I’ll focus on other aspects of quests later, but there’s a little bit to think about.

~Kanthalos