Quests #1

I’ve been thinking about doing an experiment with quests in a roguelike game. My ideal quest implementation would steer away from the traditional Fedex and “kill x number of y creature” quests. The problem with the aforementioned quests is that they are easy to implement and simple to complete and therefore very tempting to use. Unfortunately, they are also very boring and unfulfilling.

I hate it when a game gets me to spend my time on it and then rewards me with inane quests and even better, zero consequences for completing them. I don’t see a quest reward in the form of an item or experience points as being a good consequence for completing a quest. Although these rewards have an impact on my character, they don’t have any bearing on me, the player.

A great example of this is Oblivion. A game with an “immersive” game world, where you can do almost anything, but whatever you do has no real impact. I remember one quest where the champion gladiator asked me to find out about his parents. During the quest you discover that his father was a vampire or something sinister like that. Upon telling him the disturbing news, he responds with some cookie cutter dialog and carries on hacking away at the practice dummy he was busy with. So after I travelled half way across the world, fought many deadly enemies and delivered this dire news, my actions have had no impact whatsoever. I ask myself, what was the point? All the game designer actually did was waste my time to give my character experience points and maybe some items or gold.

These quests although meaningless from the player’s perspective, do serve some purpose. They are useful in driving world exploration and rewarding the player character with experience and better loot, constantly steering the player experience towards a (hopefully meaningful) conclusion. In essence there is nothing wrong with this, but I want more from a game. I want to be engaged and entertained, I want my efforts to have some meaning to the world my character inhabits.

I hope to explore some quest designs that will, hopefully, engage the player and reward him with a meaningful playing experience.


8 thoughts on “Quests #1

  1. You should check Outcast, an old game from 1999

    It had missions that weaken your enemies, like cutting the food supply to have fewer mounted guards or shutting down the mine of the material they use to make ammo, so they woud not open fire so often… etc..

    It was a great mechanic where your character become more powerful by weakening your enemies. It’s still “advancement”: instead of having your power grow and enemies’ power remain fixed it has it the other way around: your power remains more or less fixed and your enemies weaken.

    You can see a list of every quest in the game here, along with their outcomes:

    • Thanks for the links. I never played outcast, but will check it out.

      There are a few examples of games that got it right.

      One of my favourites is Fallout 1, I really enjoyed how my actions changed the ending of the game and to some extent my experience within the game.

  2. Absolutely. Have you had a look at Fable 1&2? Apparently they tried more “interactive” results for quests. I’ve heard they didn’t quite hit the mark, but at least they’re trying.

    Also, in Knights of the Old Republic I & II there were some actions that had far reaching consequences, but the most important were your overall demeanour, good or bad.

    • I really enjoyed Fable 1. Don’t have a console to try Fable 2, but would love too.

      I think we all agree that there are examples of games where your choices have some kind of impact in the game world. (Although these are few and far between)

      What I would like to explore is whether I can have my choices change the complete gaming experience. And to what extent I could actually implement this without frying my brain.

  3. The problem with that example is that it DID have an effect outside of the immediate reward, that occurred later on in the game. You just haven’t mentioned it here, or never noticed it.

    But it depends on how you look at RPGs and questing; even the later effect from completing that quest is still ‘more experience, more gold, more items’ if you ignore what you went through to complete it – fights, dialogue, seeing more of the world. You travelled half-way across the world, fought many deadly enemies, and eventually delivered the dire news; did you not see anything interesting on the way?
    Part of what made Oblivion a good game was its world, and being able to play tourist.

    • I guess I missed it. And then the example was the wrong one 😛 It does not, however, change my playing experience.

      I agree with you, Oblivion had a great world.

      The long and the short is that I would like to craft a player experience that is meaningful to me.
      Meaningfulness however, is largely subjective and I will therefore not be able to please all players.

      I do hope I will be able to please some.

    • I remember now. He helped with the arena fights.

      But I think you’re missing the point. If you just found out you were part vampire, would you just turn around and carry on trainig? I expected a different reaction. Maybe I expected to much.

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