Thursday, May 19, 2011

Questing revisited

Now, I’ve covered this idea a bit before, but we need to take a look at Public Quests as well as the idea of completely revamping the quest system. Tobold recently pointed out that either we improve the quest system or we replace it.

So aside from separating quests into different categories so that we can reclaim the true concept of a quest, what else can we add to the game? I suggest player generated Item requests (with rewards generated by the system), and a rework to public quests.

Some ideas are already in existence in different MMOs, and most exist already, but are all labeled quests or missions instead of being properly identified.

So lets break down the player’s Agenda: Errands, Item Buy Mission, Shared Missions, Public Missions, Missions, and Quests.

Errands: Quick one off events, mostly used to guide the player from one location to another. These would be the usual skip the text events. Rewards would be based on distance from origin, and would include unlocking Missions, small monetary reward and a small experience gain.

Item Buy Mission: This is a player generated request for materials. They pay an amount of money to place the quest. Anyone who accepts will have their chance to get the item increased by 40% until they finish the mission (canceling the mission causes them to lose the items). This is also a just check the map and go hack type event. The player will get a choice of items equal to the difficulty of the items requested based on number of items needed and the level of the enemies needed to get the items.

Shared Missions: This is much like crossover missions in Champions Online. The idea here is that if a friend can’t yet get a mission or has already completed a mission you can share the mission you are working on with them, so that you can work together. Doesn’t work with Errands, Item Buy Missions, Public Missions or Quests. Only standard Missions can be shared.

Public Missions: Unfortunately, in this area I feel a bit ignorant. I never played Warhammer Online, and Champions’ PQ doesn’t work very well due to scale (you need a minimum of X people to successfully accomplish the PQ and it just goes on a cycle instead of being triggered). Finally, I haven’t had a chance to try Rifts (I missed the free weekend). So, ultimately I’m unsure of what to change other than improve scaling and timing (if no one is present it should have an idle situation that can lead to a trigger instead). So we are talking about two states, an active state, and an idle state. There is no reason to cycle through if no one is there to experience it. As another step, it is important for Public Quests to have several pass/fail states, so that successful progression continues to change the area that the PQ is in, and failures set it back.

Missions: All missions (except Item Buy Missions) would have actively progressing objectives, some objectives would be open-ended or could present different options depending on how the player RPs his character (paladins/priests might choose to not kill a bunch of kobolds who were attacking only due to demonic possesion).

Quests: This is where things get interesting. The idea of a quest log holding hints that you choose to memorize. As you piece clues together you realize what your goal could be. You go to explore the area that is hinted at. You find something for you. You discover details, more hints. You go talk to someone. You get history. You get clues. I’m thinking along the lines of the girl who lost her dolly in Darrowshire for people who are newer, and how quests work in older single player RPGs.

Though this is only one aspect of the leveling gameplay, this level of improvement could really improve how people view quests.