Quests #3

I remember a great gaming experience I had with Might and Magic VI. The game started in a small town where everything seemed to have a place and a purpose. I really enjoyed the immersion factor of this area. Never did I get the feeling that I didn’t belong or that my actions were meaningless. Unfortunately, the rest of the game didn’t quite live up to the promise of that first area.

That initial town started me thinking about crafting playing areas where everything had a function. As per my previous posts, I will explore the potential of using a village (and surrounding areas) as the main questing area in the context of a roguelike.

I want the village to seem alive with every actor having a clear role and back story. The village should function like a living organism. It should be able to operate without relying on the actions of the player and should react to environmental events (weather, economic, physical threat) in a acceptable manner.

It is my vision that the player will be able to see the impact of his actions on the livelihood of the village and it’s villagers. If the baker gets sick (special event) the player can choose to go find a cure or do nothing. If the player fails (there might not be a cure) or does nothing, the baker could either die or get well. If the baker dies there might not be a baker in town for a while, which could impact the baked goods supply within the village. There might be other consequences depending on the other relationships impacted by the death of the baker.

It is these indirect consequences that I would like to explore in a game design. I am hoping that direct feedback (through quest rewards) and indirect feedback (through changes in the village) would inspire the player to engage with the game.

For the next few posts, I hope to explore building the indirect feedback loop into the fundamental game design.


3 thoughts on “Quests #3

  1. This is a nice idea. I’ve been thinking along similar lines lately. However, the kind of interactivity you describe would be impossible to script, so the village will be more like a simulation. Such a model seems difficult, and will turn out to be even more difficult in practice.

    Even with a very sophisticated AI, the player will probably bump up against its limits quickly. And the longer the game goes on, the more small errors in your models will compound. There’s a reason even the biggest game designers resort to scripting, rather than fully dynamic worlds. This is one of the holy grails of game design, I’m sure.

    Still, if you can pull it off, this would certainly help immersion. The world wouldn’t feel artificially tailored to provide the player with quests. In your baker example, maybe an NPC manages to find the cure for the baker and saves him, because the player refused. Then the baker would be mad at the player.

  2. This is very much like an idea that’s been haunting me for months now. I currently don’t have time to work on it unfortunately, but I surely will sometime. I believe collaborating autonomous intelligent agents provide the future of immersive gaming. Every entity should have its own purposes, they should all live their lives, and as a whole, form some sort of society. The game should play itself even when the player stays passive.
    I’m really curious about any research/progress in this area, and I sincerely hope you’ll get back to this topic (I see how old this post is).
    Anyhow, best wishes.

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