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.