ScumRat1

Theory on Quest Design

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i have a few theories on quest design, and I'd like to get some feedback for them. This seems like the most relevant place to post this, however if there is a more relevant area then please let me know.

 

Anyhow, my theory on quest design is as follows.

 

Bad quest design

 

 

No matter how you phrase these quests ("Go here and kill x number of rats" or "The town is under attack, and needs your help. The king is offering 10 gold for every scalp you bring him!") both are

incredibly boring and in my opinion bad/lazy quest design.

 

Classic examples of bad quest design: Fetch quests (Go here get this), collect quests(Go here collect x many of this), kill quests(Go here kill x amount of this), courier quests(Take this to X).

 

 

 

Good Quest Design

 

Good quest design in my opinion is something that makes the player think, or forces the player to look more closely at your world.

 

Examples of good quest design could be something like  "The towns people say that the old abandoned house is haunted" So the player goes and checks out the old haunted house, inside he finds the house is in shambles and can hear bumps and various voices. Later the player discovers an old peddler on the outskirts of town who mentions he used to live in the old house, after some talking you find out his wife was murdered there and her killer got away, so you now have to try to figure out who killed her to put her soul at rest.

 

The flow of quests for good quest design in my opinion should be natural, the player should be rewarded with a more immersive quest for interacting with npcs.

 

Any thoughts on this?

 

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I agree. I try to avoid the fetching and the courier quests. I may start a quest like that, but it usually evolves into something that is actually good. Those repetitive "go here to kill/catch/grab x." gets quite boring. I guess its fine if it's for quests that are meant to be easy (and can often be used for grinding), but either way, the player shouldn't feel they are forced to go down the path of grind to get somewhere.

 

Now grinding (imma get a lil off topic) is a bit so-so. If you can't kill X, you do y quests and come back to see if you can kill X now that ur stronger. Those are fine and that might be where bad quests designs MAY be forgiven since the player will most likely want an easy route to kill X. I will still avoid it at all cost considering I rather learn while going up to kill X than to learn absolutely nothing just to kill X.

 

So I agree with you. I like games that are full. Not 95% full, 96, 97, 98, 99, 99.9; I like a big whopping 100% full game where the story drips with juice.

 

I think of those fetching quests like ice and then the stories/lore is juice. If you have too many fetching quests, there is less room for juice. And as the player plays the game, the repetitive fetching quests will melt and water down the juice (story). So its best to not have any ice to get the full juice.

O_O whoa, that was a great analogy I just did.

 

So, ye 100% agreement with ya  :P

Edited by Lord Vectra
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I agree. I try to avoid the fetching and the courier quests. I may start a quest like that, but it usually evolves into something that is actually good. Those repetitive "go here to kill/catch/grab x." gets quite boring. I guess its fine if it's for quests that are meant to be easy (and can often be used for grinding), but either way, the player shouldn't feel they are forced to go down the path of grind to get somewhere.

 

Now grinding (imma get a lil off topic) is a bit so-so. If you can't kill X, you do y quests and come back to see if you can kill X now that ur stronger. Those are fine and that might be where bad quests designs MAY be forgiven since the player will most likely want an easy route to kill X. I will still avoid it at all cost considering I rather learn while going up to kill X than to learn absolutely nothing just to kill X.

 

So I agree with you. I like games that are full. Not 95% full, 96, 97, 98, 99, 99.9; I like a big whopping 100% full game where the story drips with juice.

 

I think of those fetching quests like ice and then the stories/lore is juice. If you have too many fetching quests, there is less room for juice. And as the player plays the game, the repetitive fetching quests will melt and water down the juice (story). So its best to not have any ice to get the full juice.

 

O_O whoa, that was a great analogy I just did.

 

So, ye 100% agreement with ya  :P

 

That was a hell of an analogy XD .

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No matter how you phrase these quests ("Go here and kill x number of rats" or "The town is under attack, and needs your help. The king is offering 10 gold for every scalp you bring him!") both are

incredibly boring and in my opinion bad/lazy quest design.

 

Classic examples of bad quest design: Fetch quests (Go here get this), collect quests(Go here collect x many of this), kill quests(Go here kill x amount of this), courier quests(Take this to X).

So don't do that thing MMO's always do?  :P I don't mind if a a few of these quests a sprinkled in throughout the game, but en mass they get old pretty quick. They're the number reason most MMO's can't hold my attention. I use a few of the "kill x monsters in my game." Partly just to add a little variety. Partly because the way my battle system is set up, it's not too friendly to grinders so every now and again there's a little something extra for doing it. One quest in particular features a unique enemy that can apply a unique (and very deadly) state to your party. It's set up like you can just wander into a warehouse and rofl stomp some rats, but they are pretty tough. I had a hard time getting through all the battles without retreating to an Inn, and I'm the one who designed the damn thing. Speaking of, I really should reset the encounters if you leave without killing all of them... Mwahahaha!

 

I have far less courier quests, and one is a Zelda-style trading quest (like the one to get the Giant's Knife).

 

I prefer more detailed quests. Anything that helps develop the central characters or expand of the world's history and culture. Random stories randomly helping a random NPC are okay, too. They can be entertaining if well written. I have a bunch of those. They're a lot more fun to create than "kill x monsters" for sure.  :)

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I agree for the most part, though quests that require a large investment in thinking and time should be left as side-quests or at the least used sparingly if the main theme of the game isn't that of a puzzler nature IMO; anything extremely hard which hinders progress is more likely to frustrate most players.

 

IMO for investigative quests, The Secret World would make a brilliant source of inspiration. They have a subsection of quests called Investigation Missions which have pointers telling you what to do next (i.e. find X) but finding X follows a series of clues, maps ect. While most of these missions require a web browser and real-world knowledge (the game has an in-built one of these) a lot of the clues are included in the game. Given a lot of the clues are built into the world as little things you wouldn't consider taking note of, it really helps immerse the player.

 

For example, one mission hint says "Follow Illuminati symbols". It's up to the player to notice the symbol on the drain covers which you follow to the next location. 

 

All it would take is substituting the parts that require real-world knowledge for lore knowledge to make in-depth quests like that.

 

Extra Credits done two videos on quest design which I found interesting: 

 

 

 

Edited by HeckHound
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Yeah, I have said it before, but honestly the word 'quest' has become a dirty word for me (also 'mission') because so many games handle this so horribly. I mean, not that you shouldn't have side areas and optional events, it's just artificially filling the world up with 'quests', aka formalized tasks for the player to do, makes everything into a checklist. At it's worst it can turn what should be a fun adventure into a tedious checklist of 'things to do'. So many games have you go around talking to everyone just to waste time. Some of them even make you manually accept the task before you can do it and only let you accept a limited number. Why? To waste time and make you go back to the town or hub over and over. So many games lock some arbitrary tasks until you complete others and make you go back and talk to everyone to waste even more time. A quest board might organize things, but then you have to go back to it and scroll through everything and waste time anyway. There is nothing that ruins games for me like walking into a town and having floating icons nag at you.

 

Even if games don't go that far, having NPCs that clearly only exist for the sake of giving you some arbitrary task, no matter how complex or simple, still ruins my immersion. Rather then interesting NPCs we want to help, it seems so many games just have them send you off on some random task for you to do and wait for you to return. Going around killing x number of y for research, or cause they killed the NPC's mom, or whatever, just makes me lose interest. It becomes obvious they are written not as a interesting character, but as a way of giving the player something to do. And there is nothing wrong with an NPC giving a player something to do in principle, but when it's a whole bunch of disconnected NPCs without real personality pushing you to do things it doesn't give me much incentive. Heck, even when the story and character interaction is compelling, it still means too much sitting through dull tasks set in my way to really enjoy it half the time.

 

I rather prefer just being given a big world to explore and have stuff naturally happen in it. Don't give the player a 'quest' to go stop the bandits, just have NPCs talk about what the bandits are doing to the town and have the bandits be there out in the world to encounter. Don't give the player a 'quest' do go out and get such and such ingredients for something, just maybe have a shopkeeper NPC causally mention being low on some things and have selling those particular items to them trigger some special comments and maybe unlock additional items for sale. Don't give the player a 'quest' to go clear out a forest of monsters, just have the forest be there and have NPCs talk about it and be thankful when you do it. To me a good quest isn't a 'quest' at all, it's a naturally occurring series of events that you don't even really notice. Maybe it's just semantics and presentation and still counts as a 'quest', but it counts for a lot. Is it so wrong to not want to play an RPG like a checklist of tasks and instead rather play it like a grand adventure in a new world to explore?

Edited by KilloZapit
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I admit my game contains a bunch of "tedious" quests, however I added them in as side quests which should be easily completed as your play the game in general. Yes, the villager needs 5 wolf pelts - however you've already came from the forest anyway so should have wolf pelts. The villager will give you better rewards and exp for it, if you haven't already sold them to the store.

 

Oh? The herbalist needs 5 herbs? Well, you're on your way to that ominious cave anyway so why not pick a few while your there.

Blacksmith needs ore? Well, there's a vein as I pass by it for other things so sure, it's extra money.

 

People shun these quests, but realistically - people are gonna need stuff. Unrealistically they'd ask you instead of doing it themselves, but some people can't. Geez, I can't kill elemental spirits but as an enchanter - I need those essences.

 

So yep. My game has tedious quests, but they are majorally optional. Pretty much every fetch/kill/delivery quest will be an extra, so I try to make each quest tie in with a location the player has to go, or is nearby. Some of them will even lead to bigger things! Money will be hard earned in my game also, so not doing tasks for NPC's may leave you rather poor haha.

 

 

I agree with Killo. Sometimes having a quest log filled with tedious chores are annoying. I only add them as an optional task that can be ignored, but mostly just as a player note. I know players - especially LP'ers - get very forgetful...

However, don't expect every little detail to be noted ;) can't have you finding all the secrets and optional bounties at once~

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I think having a 'quest log' at all sort of ruins it, but there is at least one interesting counterpoint I could bring up: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. On the one hand, it does have the bomber's notebook which acts as a kind of checklist to show you things you can do. On the other hand, you are not really given explicit tasks and instead everything is focused on each NPC's character and schedule. Since the game uses a time loop, the player's primary way of solving problems involves needing to observe and interact with NPCs at particular times. Some will hand you a task for you to do, but many maybe most involve you figuring out what you need to do and when yourself. It acts as a good mix between a 'quest' task based system and something closer to what I was talking about where events naturally are put out in the world to stumble on.

 

I am not sure how well it can or should be replicated in that way without the time loop thing, but the idea of switching the focus to learning more about the NPCs instead of doing a set task is interesting. I saw an LP of a kinda weird stealth game that also involved observing NPCs to do stuff, so it might not be a bad idea. I could imagine stuff like a book of notes on each NPC you encounter and as you learn information about them it adds to the notes, learning their daily routine, figuring out how to make them happy, or maybe figuring out how to manipulate them to particular ends, or learn their fears to take advantage to get them out of the way if you have to do something.

 

Would that be better, or not make a difference at all? I donno. I think I would like it a lot more interesting that instead of a quest for x wolf pelts you just had an NPC that you can learn wants/likes wolf pelts and you get a bonus for selling/giving them to that NPC or something. Is that the same thing? Maybe. But it feels more organic to me. Focusing more on the NPCs and not the tasks seems like the better idea.

Edited by KilloZapit

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 So many games have you go around talking to everyone just to waste time. 

I recall many older RPG's that require this. Not only that, you'd have to talk repeatedly to people at different points of the story to find every last sidequest. I've noticed that you don't really see that as much now, and most games make it simple and put a good ol' exclamation mark over the NPC's head and marks them on your map.

 

 

Oh? The herbalist needs 5 herbs? Well, you're on your way to that ominious cave anyway so why not pick a few while your there.

Blacksmith needs ore? Well, there's a vein as I pass by it for other things so sure, it's extra money.

If you're going to have shopping quests, this is the best way to go about it. Allow the player to complete several quests or objectives while in a single area. That goes for crafting, too. It should be relatively easy for the player to farm items while going through the game. The better, rarer stuff may be harder to find, but at least the basic stuff should be easily available either on the map or from enemy drops. 

 

 

 

I think having a 'quest log' at all sort of ruins it

Not at all. Most RPGs have elevetny-billion sidequests and collectibles nowadays. Enough that a quest log is almost a necessity to keep things organized. Especially when a lot of the quests have multiple objectives. If youre game has minimal or zero sidequests, it's not really necessary, but a lot games now have tons of quests.  

 

 

 

 

Would that be better, or not make a difference at all? I donno. I think I would like it a lot more interesting that instead of a quest for x wolf pelts you just had an NPC that you can learn wants/likes wolf pelts and you get a bonus for selling/giving them to that NPC or something.

More organic, yes, but if that's how your quests are structured then you're right back to talking to every single NPC to find who has quests. I vastly prefer it when the NPC's that have quests are marked. It's not realistic at all unless your character can read minds, but it beats the hell out of talking to every single person or vastly limiting the amount of quests to make this less tedious. All of the above is for longer games. Obviously if you have a game that only takes a few hours to beat, you probably don't have a ton of sidequests. A game's length and world size are huge factors when trying to determine how much content to fill it with. Like everything in game design, it's a work in progress. 

You just develop and tinker and develop and tinker some more until you feel like the game has a good balance and flow. 

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I recall many older RPG's that require this. Not only that, you'd have to talk repeatedly to people at different points of the story to find every last sidequest. I've noticed that you don't really see that as much now, and most games make it simple and put a good ol' exclamation mark over the NPC's head and marks them on your map.

 

Marking quest givers doesn't fix the problem, just makes it more obvious. Nor does easily listing all the quests in a town on a board or even in your menu. Convenience features like these are nice, but they don't fix the underlining flaws of the 'quest' structure. The whole 'find every last sidequest' mentality alone is in my opinion a completely backwards way of looking at it. I don't mean in some anti-complicationist way, I just mean that if the game needs a NPC with some floating punctuation over their head to tell the player to explore such and such dungeon or whatever, then that game has often failed to make the dungeon compelling. You talked about 'shopping quests' and letting you collect stuff while you play through the game, so why can't everything be like that? Why does everything you do have to be dictated by the whims of NPCs you might not care about?

 

Not at all. Most RPGs have elevetny-billion sidequests and collectibles nowadays. Enough that a quest log is almost a necessity to keep things organized. Especially when a lot of the quests have multiple objectives. If youre game has minimal or zero sidequests, it's not really necessary, but a lot games now have tons of quests.

 

Having notes about things and having a billeted checklist to get to the next task are not the same thing. Besides, if you need a log to remember elevetny-billion unrelated little things people tell you to do, isn't that an indication of a problem? Isn't the fact that you can't remember what to do and keep needing little reminders of all the unrelated shit you need to take care of a huge indication you are being lead by the nose through a bunch of arbitrary busywork?

 

More organic, yes, but if that's how your quests are structured then you're right back to talking to every single NPC to find who has quests. I vastly prefer it when the NPC's that have quests are marked. It's not realistic at all unless your character can read minds, but it beats the hell out of talking to every single person or vastly limiting the amount of quests to make this less tedious. All of the above is for longer games. Obviously if you have a game that only takes a few hours to beat, you probably don't have a ton of sidequests. A game's length and world size are huge factors when trying to determine how much content to fill it with. Like everything in game design, it's a work in progress. 

You just develop and tinker and develop and tinker some more until you feel like the game has a good balance and flow.

But your once again falling back on quest-centric thinking, assuming it's all about the task you have to do. For me it isn't. I could care less about gathering wolf pelts, or finding someone's lost axe, or whatever inane thing people what you to do. I could care about the NPC themselves, their character and their story. I could care about interesting gameplay interactions I can do with the NPC. You talk as if having lots of repetitive, tedious, and annoying things to do is the point of NPCs. You talk like checking every NPC at all times because your starving for some kind of new thing to do is just the natural order of RPGs. I disagree. Any game where the main engagement of playing is finding a bazillion little jobs to occupy your time is not one I am interested in.

 

But, and it may be a semantic difference, being presented with lots of interesting puzzles? That I can get behind. Having little clues to find, having ways of manipulating things to get things I want, figuring out the relationships and interactions between things, all of that I can appreciate. Having NPCs be their own little puzzles, having their own secrets and wants, that's something I can appreciate. Actually investigating and interacting to find those clues and wanting to do so because the NPCs are actually interesting puzzles to solve,  think I would like that much more. If that means less NPCs and shorter games? I can cope with that if the alternative is more NPCs I actualy care about interacting with and gameplay I care about playing.

 

Of course, maybe that's just me and all games have different needs. I just wish a few more of them looked more interesting to me. :3

Edited by KilloZapit

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Marking quest givers doesn't fix the problem, just makes it more obvious. Nor does easily listing all the quests in a town on a board or even in your menu. Convenience features like these are nice, but they don't fix the underlining flaws of the 'quest' structure.

Where we disagree is that you believe there's a problem to begin with.  I have zero problem with this quest structure as long as I'm not killing x monster x times 50 times over. 

Games that do it well succeed in making the NPC's seem alive despite the magic exclamation mark and their little stories are usually at least mildly entertaining. They also make all the regions and dungeons interesting enough that they're worth exploring.

 

 

 

Why does everything you do have to be dictated by the whims of NPCs you might not care about?

Sidequests are optional. Technically, the NPCs dictate nothing because you don't have to help them. Sometimes you even get a choice on how to help them or screw them over and help the other guy. If the main story is dictated by NPCs, then there's a big problem. Obviously, there's usually some big bad antagonist that forcing your hand, but the main character should have some sort of self motivation throughout as well.

 

 

 

Having notes about things and having a billeted checklist to get to the next task are not the same thing. Besides, if you need a log to remember elevetny-billion unrelated little things people tell you to do, isn't that an indication of a problem?

Nope. It just means there's a ton of stuff to do in the game, and having little reminders is helpful. Games that are very grand in scale are very easy to get sidetracked in. I have a shitty memory, too  so getting sidetracked and forgetting why I originally went to an area to begin with happens a lot. 

 

 

 

 

But your once again falling back on quest-centric thinking, assuming it's all about the task you have to do.

Not quite. I've embarked on many a sidequest because I wanted to know how it effect things and/or see how that side story plays out and what becomes of the characters in it.

 

 

 

You talk like checking every NPC at all times because your starving for some kind of new thing to do is just the natural order of RPGs.

It kinda is, but only if you're like me and like to complete every sidequest and collect every collectible. Which you're not. That's fine, but it doesn't mean the quest structure is flawed. It just means you don't like. 

 

 

 

But, and it may be a semantic difference, being presented with lots of interesting puzzles?

This I agree with. You should already be well-aware that I looove puzzles. It's something I do find lacking at times. Not enough puzzles. 

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Where we disagree is that you believe there's a problem to begin with.  I have zero problem with this quest structure as long as I'm not killing x monster x times 50 times over. 

Games that do it well succeed in making the NPC's seem alive despite the magic exclamation mark and their little stories are usually at least mildly entertaining. They also make all the regions and dungeons interesting enough that they're worth exploring.

 

And I guess that's fine for you, but those are usually not the type of games I really seek out to play expressly because I do have problems with the quest structure. I can get over it sure, but it's always an obstacle to my enjoyment of the game. If that is being a weirdo again that's fine, but I know I am not the only one who complains about, say, the location markers that tell you where to go all the time and how dull open world games are getting.

 

Sidequests are optional. Technically, the NPCs dictate nothing because you don't have to help them. Sometimes you even get a choice on how to help them or screw them over and help the other guy. If the main story is dictated by NPCs, then there's a big problem. Obviously, there's usually some big bad antagonist that forcing your hand, but the main character should have some sort of self motivation throughout as well.

You are totally missing my point. Say I am playing one of these quest-heavy games. Okay, these quests are optional, got it. Okay. say I don't want to bother with them. No quests at all. I never get quests from NPCs, never bother with their little flashing icons or whatever. So what do I do? What is there to keep me playing? Oh a interesting combat system? Oh wait all the fun encounters are part of some quest an NPC gives you. Exploring the world? Oh wait, all the neat places you get access to because of some quest an NPC gives you. An interesting story? Oh wait... You can see where I am going with this. NPCs, or more to the point quests, dictate everything because only through them can you basically do anything at all. They aren't optional because all of the real content is part of them. So what if I don't care about that boring looking NPC over there? Oh you better care, he has a quest!

 

Nope. It just means there's a ton of stuff to do in the game, and having little reminders is helpful. Games that are very grand in scale are very easy to get sidetracked in. I have a shitty memory, too  so getting sidetracked and forgetting why I originally went to an area to begin with happens a lot.

 

Of course they are easy to get sidetracked in, they are mostly filled with shiny distractions called 'quests' always being waved in your face and lack any kind of coherent overall goal besides 'play with shiny quests'. :P But seriously, this can probobly spin off into a whole discussion about ideal game size, the amount of content you want to jam in there, all the design pitfalls of trying to shove too much or too little in there, and the presentation of such, and so many other things. But what I come back to is this: Notes are always useful if done right, but how much are they a useful tool and how much are they a crutch put in by the designers so they could go overboard?

 

Not quite. I've embarked on many a sidequest because I wanted to know how it effect things and/or see how that side story plays out and what becomes of the characters in it.

 

I mean more that you formulate your ideas in a quest-centric way, where the quests come first and the character elements are part of that. I rather do the opposite.

 

It kinda is, but only if you're like me and like to complete every sidequest and collect every collectible. Which you're not. That's fine, but it doesn't mean the quest structure is flawed. It just means you don't like.

 

Eh, I am not sure if I am that different then you in that aspect. I do like to do everything and collect everything. I am just much less willing to put up with stuff. I guess if I can be accused of anything when it comes to playing games it's being lazy and impatient.

 

Also: What about achievements? To me achievements kinda seem like quests except you can do them any time and they often have a small or nonexistent direct impact on your progress through something, so really they seem better then quests to me. If you want a list of stuff to complete I think I rather achievements then quests.

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Also: What about achievements? To me achievements kinda seem like quests except you can do them any time and they often have a small or nonexistent direct impact on your progress through something, so really they seem better then quests to me. If you want a list of stuff to complete I think I rather achievements then quests.

I have mixed feelings about them. I like seeing my Gamerscore increase while playing (or the progress bar on Steam), but usually I don't really care enough to actively try to unlock them.

 

 

 

 So what do I do? What is there to keep me playing? Oh a interesting combat system? Oh wait all the fun encounters are part of some quest an NPC gives you. Exploring the world? Oh wait, all the neat places you get access to because of some quest an NPC gives you. An interesting story?

Not true. Usually the vast majority of these worlds can be explored freely and areas are unlocked throughout the main story. The are always some little extra areas to unlock, but usually there's plenty to explore. And yes, an interesting combat system goes a very long way. What's more fun than exploring a vast open world? Killing things while doing it!  :P

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I have mixed feelings about them. I like seeing my Gamerscore increase while playing (or the progress bar on Steam), but usually I don't really care enough to actively try to unlock them.

I think more games can do more with achievements really. They do seem disconnected to the game, but I sort of like that in a way. It's kind of nice to have a set of challenges that exist more for completionists or something to help give you a bit of an extra for finding secrets. At the same time, I kinda like it when games give you a small but meaningful bonus for doing them.

 

Not true. Usually the vast majority of these worlds can be explored freely and areas are unlocked throughout the main story. The are always some little extra areas to unlock, but usually there's plenty to explore. And yes, an interesting combat system goes a very long way. What's more fun than exploring a vast open world? Killing things while doing it!  :P

Well, if the main story is told through quests, I could count that too, but regardless I am not sure if it's true that a 'vast majority' of games like that offer a very compelling worlds. Then again I don't play many modern popular games games. All I know is, from what I have seen a lot of open world games follow the kind of Grand Theft Auto approach which involves a rather bland world peppered with missions and occasionally secrets, and I never really enjoyed that very much.

Edited by KilloZapit

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 All I know is, from what I have seen a lot of open world games follow the kind of Grand Theft Auto approach

Oh yeah. There's plenty of these. They typical aren't RPG's though. At least not by the traditional definition. The ones that are up to GTA's high bar for quality are far from bland.\Watchdogs is basically GTA with hackers, and has a fun little big world to explore. It's set in Chicago so I'm biased  :P

 

I'm playing Arkham Knight right now. That one added the city-exploring element. There was always exploring, but the whole of Gotham is your playground in that one.

The Batman: Arkham games and Infamous are a bit more along the lines of exploring and finding stuff w/out a bunch of quest givers.

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Oh yeah. There's plenty of these. They typical aren't RPG's though. At least not by the traditional definition. The ones that are up to GTA's high bar for quality are far from bland.\Watchdogs is basically GTA with hackers, and has a fun little big world to explore. It's set in Chicago so I'm biased  :P

 

I'm playing Arkham Knight right now. That one added the city-exploring element. There was always exploring, but the whole of Gotham is your playground in that one.

The Batman: Arkham games and Infamous are a bit more along the lines of exploring and finding stuff w/out a bunch of quest givers.

They might not be RPGs but they are similar in terms of how they handle quests/missions sometimes. Though the last GTA game I really played was San Andreas. And I have heard many bad things about Watchdogs really, but I never played it so I don't know. What I have seen of the Arkham games I am not sure about.

 

One thing I kind of liked in a modern open world game which I have seen is Shadow of Mordor's 'Nemesis System'. Honestly though from the LP I watched of it, Shadow of Mordor was kind of bland and generic in almost every other aspect. Not sure how I feel about Breath of the Wild either, though if/when I get a Switch I am probobly going to play it regardless.

 

Honestly though when it comes to RPGs I don't have much experience with newer triple a ones. Last popular modern RPG I played even a little bit of was Skyrim. It didn't grab me, but I am not sure I really gave it a chance. Might not be the best example to go by either.

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Well I'm not really-really get whatever above me but I don't like call it bad quest or good quest, I more like say it Side Quest and Main Quest, Main Quest for me is more following story and Side Quest yeah like that "Go and kill x wild boar" or "Bring me water from lake" Side Quest can be whatever but Side quest main idea is to help player to gain more item like gold, potion, etc. to fill their bag than just fight regular monster alike to gain gold and buy em, you know game has no side quest might be let player just kill monster alike to get gold to buy stuff and they have to do it over and over is might be boring, and you can see most of MMO game have it(you know the reason). About main quest is based on the story of the game it self, yeah like defeat the boss to the boss, get the key to the key, get this get that and bam game clear, in Main Quest there might be a reward but most of it usually used as key item, there might be something else too (Depend on the who make it), Main Quest is made so player didn't get lost on the way, like the first main quest capture stray cat, the second kill wild boar, the third bla bla bla until the last quest defeat final boss, unlike Side Quest that might not lead you to clear the game.

 

:giggle: Is this too much I wonder, Since I'm simple-minded person I might don't understand what was I talking about...

Lord Vectra likes this

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I'll be honest and say the reason I truthfully think these quests come up is due to the devs being flat out lazy. The argument can be made that they're just to buff up the player with items, gold, exp w/e but those items, gold, and exp can all be awarded to the player during the course of a well designed non boring quest as well.

 

Their isn't really an excuse for these types of quests to be as abundant as they are. There aren't many people who enjoy doing them from my experience (I play tons of MMOs) and their is hardly ever any lore or content that can be found, that engages the player in a meaningful way. In my experience I'm far more likely to look at a world, and it's characters more closely in a game that uses good quests design, than I am in a game that asks me to go and kill x amount of monsters.

 

Even if the lore given to me during the go and Kill X amount of monsters quest is beautifully written and profound, due to the clunky and poorly delivered manner it will become wallpaper instead of something mysterious and wonderful.

 

 

I also want to be clear that there is no "Correct" quest design. You might love those quests where all you do is kill this or gather that, and that's cool. You may not enjoy having to read deeper into the lore to complete a quest, which is also cool.

 

Those were more my theories on quest design, and how I decide if a quest gets added, amended, or cut from a project.

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I agree that I don't think saying something is 'correct' in design really makes all that much sense. Design isn't like a puzzle or a math problem. So much of design is situational and can only really be judged in retrospect, and even then there is so much subjective bias involved it's hard to say most of the time. That said, when there is a particular task that is trying to be accomplished a designer may choose to select different 'tools' to do it, and I think those 'tools' can be more critically judged in light of how well they seem to accomplish a given task. I know I have been hard on quests in this thread, 'good' and 'bad', but really I am more annoyed because: 1. So many games seem to me like they are deliberately trying to pad out the playtime as much as possible at the expense of quality, and 2. So many games seem to me to reach for the same box of tools even if those tools don't necessarily fit what the designers seem to be trying to do.

 

But rethinking it, I never really brought up that. So really the most important question is: What exactly are you trying to do when using quests? I am kinda curious what people will say to that.

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Well my goal when developing quests, is obviously to make the player think more about the world and characters I've built and look at them more closely. In my opinion quests should be constructed and used as a tool, to almost force a player to immerse themselves in my game. Now you've brought up padding game time, which I agree is something these styles of quests do, but that's only as a secondary effect. Obviously the game is going to be longer, because now the player has to take more time to learn about the world, or a character, or an item, and how interacting with it in the right way will progress them through the quests. That's a side effect of this style of quest design, not the intent.

 

At least it's not the intent when I design a quest anyhow, I can't speak for other developers, or writers.

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I don't know, like I have said I have found formalized quests do more to take away immersion then to add to it. The more standardized and expected quests become, the less I tend to care about them and the more they tend to be just annoyances to me. But unformalized quests on the other hand... well they work better for this but have their own problems. I think there are better ways of doing that kind of thing then relying on quests. I personally find the most immersive games to be ones that are more simulation-like, or just kinda allow you to go through the world and interact with it in almost anyway you seem fit. I mean the extreme example I keep coming back to is Minecraft. While not everyone likes that type of game or finds it immersive, being dropped in a world to fend for yourself and almost never leaving a pure game state allows me to be immersed much more easily.

 

But I suppose what you want is more getting the player immersed in the story, which is fair enough. I have stated before that I think games are actually pretty poor at pure storytelling, But admittingly very few good games try and do pure storytelling. Usually it's either the story being used to give context to the gameplay and/or the gameplay being used to give emotional impact to the story. Quests in this context are... a little more understandable I guess? I still think the best method to mix gameplay and story in that way might be different, but it's a simple solution at least. And I think I have rambled about that quite enough for one thread.

 

Though, one other thing makes me kind of curious. Is it really a good idea to try and force immersion? I mean, it seems to me a player will either immerse themselves or they won't, I don't think it's something you can really force on them by making them pay attention. It reminds me a little of the controversy with weapons breaking all the time in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. People defending it says it forces variety, and I'm just kinda like: Why would you need to force variety? If you offered a good variety of weapons with their own quirks and uses and generally balanced them right, you wouldn't need to have them be such limited use. I can't be sure the same principle applies here. but I do ask myself the same question: Why would you need to force immersion? Are there other changes to the basic gameplay/story that would make it unnecessary? I am not quite as sure. But I do think 'forcing players to pay attention' might not be the best approach.

Edited by KilloZapit

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There are a number of reasons you can want to force immersion. For one games that are good at forcing immersion, are typically regarded as "Good" games. Does this mean that any game that doesn't force immersion is bad? No. Does this mean that all games that force immersion are "Good"? No. What it means is that players enjoy an immersive experience. They like a world they can explore, secrets they can uncover, and interesting npcs for them to encounter.

 

When I say forcing immersion I mean a variety of tactics and tools used in order to pull the player into your story, and world.  I don't mean just putting in random stuff into the game,  then not letting the player progress unless they read up on the lore.

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Hmm, it seems to me that a lot of what has been said has been directed towards 'sidequests' rather than 'main quests'. Except they aren't really very different. Eg. Killing ten rats equals a bad filler quest but killing ten bosses (each with an accompanying dungeon) is somehow more acceptable. It sounds kind of similar to complaints about anime filler and has similar counterarguments:

a.'Its filler if its in the anime but not the manga': (well, often, the same content is in both but) by virtue of the transition in form there is a tonne of junk that isn't in the original - would you rather anime be a flipbook of still images without accompanying sound? No, games, just like anime, has certain conventions of form that has developed alongside its playerbase. Or, the Some People Genuinely Want To Kill Rats Get Over It Brah theorem.

b. 'Its filler if it detracts from the main story': I don't need separate examples for this one. Define the main story? Is it one that skips over potential character development or events of minor significance - even if its something as straightforward as where did the protag find that sweet sword they killed the Big Bad with.

c. 'Its filler if its just filler ;3' : Again, should be fine to deal with both forms simultaneously. Here's the thing, you're not obligated to do anything. You don't want to watch filler, skip the ep. You don't want to do a sidequest, er, just don't. Some people do want these things though; they want to interact with that IP's universe as much as possible or wander around a game world godmoding with their maxxed stats - so let them. And if it does reach a point you feel this game is too directed towards another audience then just graciously accept you're not a part of that group rather than demand something change for the sake of your inclusivity.

 

So, yeah, typical contrary stuff from me. I think its great to want to develop the form  and do your own thing and all that junk. I just also think its important to keep the player in mind when doing so as this is probably the most interactive medium out there. A lot of people like their simple side quests in their quest logs and that's cool. Some people don't and that's equally (choice phrasing, it is neither more nor less ) cool; You don't have to make these games, but you also have to recognise that they're not objectively bad- they're the conclusion reached, so far, by a majority of a career developers and are enjoyed by large audiences of lifelong gamers, not vulnerable and exploited babes in the woods.

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There are a number of reasons you can want to force immersion. For one games that are good at forcing immersion, are typically regarded as "Good" games. Does this mean that any game that doesn't force immersion is bad? No. Does this mean that all games that force immersion are "Good"? No. What it means is that players enjoy an immersive experience. They like a world they can explore, secrets they can uncover, and interesting npcs for them to encounter.

 

When I say forcing immersion I mean a variety of tactics and tools used in order to pull the player into your story, and world.  I don't mean just putting in random stuff into the game,  then not letting the player progress unless they read up on the lore.

 

Ah, well forgive me for being mistaken, but 'putting in random stuff into the game then not letting the player progress unless they read up on the lore' is pretty much exactly the kind of thing it sounded to me like you wanted to do. Or at least metaphorically sitting down with a highlighter and mark out parts of the story you really wanted players to focus on. That's the kind of thing I think of when you say you want to 'force immersion', structuring the game to set up metaphorical big neon signs that have "Pay attention, damn it!" written on them.

 

Where in my experience the most immersive experiences tend to do the exact opposite of that. I guess what it comes down to is, immersion is not a state you can induce, it's an activity players like to do. A player able to drawn themselves into a world will often naturally want to ask questions about it. But if there is too much getting in the way of that, it becomes harder and harder to do. To me the most immersive games are subtle, careful, without a lot of interface clutter or extraneous stuff to think about. They set up the world for you and let you draw yourself into it. They also tend to focus more on atmosphere and emotion. That's one of the reasons horror games are so popular. Even if I don't care for most of them, the best ones are filled to the brim with atmosphere and emotion. Heck, it isn't a horror game exactly, but look at Dark Souls' bleak world and the community's hunt to build the lore out of scattered item descriptions and optional dialogue.

 

The core thing is it's all in the background, all staying out of the way for the most part and letting the player play. The more you push into the foreground, the harder it is, for me at least, to stay immersed. And it just seems like 'forcing immersion' sounds like just trying to bring everything to the foreground which just kinda ruins the whole thing.

 

 

Hmm, it seems to me that a lot of what has been said has been directed towards 'sidequests' rather than 'main quests'. Except they aren't really very different. Eg. Killing ten rats equals a bad filler quest but killing ten bosses (each with an accompanying dungeon) is somehow more acceptable. It sounds kind of similar to complaints about anime filler and has similar counterarguments:

a.'Its filler if its in the anime but not the manga': (well, often, the same content is in both but) by virtue of the transition in form there is a tonne of junk that isn't in the original - would you rather anime be a flipbook of still images without accompanying sound? No, games, just like anime, has certain conventions of form that has developed alongside its playerbase. Or, the Some People Genuinely Want To Kill Rats Get Over It Brah theorem.

b. 'Its filler if it detracts from the main story': I don't need separate examples for this one. Define the main story? Is it one that skips over potential character development or events of minor significance - even if its something as straightforward as where did the protag find that sweet sword they killed the Big Bad with.

c. 'Its filler if its just filler ;3' : Again, should be fine to deal with both forms simultaneously. Here's the thing, you're not obligated to do anything. You don't want to watch filler, skip the ep. You don't want to do a sidequest, er, just don't. Some people do want these things though; they want to interact with that IP's universe as much as possible or wander around a game world godmoding with their maxxed stats - so let them. And if it does reach a point you feel this game is too directed towards another audience then just graciously accept you're not a part of that group rather than demand something change for the sake of your inclusivity.

 

So, yeah, typical contrary stuff from me. I think its great to want to develop the form  and do your own thing and all that junk. I just also think its important to keep the player in mind when doing so as this is probably the most interactive medium out there. A lot of people like their simple side quests in their quest logs and that's cool. Some people don't and that's equally (choice phrasing, it is neither more nor less ) cool; You don't have to make these games, but you also have to recognise that they're not objectively bad- they're the conclusion reached, so far, by a majority of a career developers and are enjoyed by large audiences of lifelong gamers, not vulnerable and exploited babes in the woods.

 

The thing that annoys me, and the reason I am so cantankerous around these types of discussions, is not that stuff like filler quests are 'objectively bad', it's just that people don't often even think to question their existence or think critically about their execution. Yes, it's a conclusion reached by a majority of a career developers and are enjoyed by large audiences of lifelong gamers, but let's not forget a majority of a career developers are bound by deadlines, budget, and oversight by idiotic managers, and most of the large audiences of lifelong gamers simply haven't been exposed to even a fraction of the deep well that is gaming. We, here in this forum, are not necessarily bound by the same rules a majority of a career developers have, and I don't see any reason why we should force ourselves to conform to the mainstream market's expectation. To not use the freedom to experiment that comes from being as independent as most of us are seems kinda like a waste to me. If that's not your prerogative as a designer that's none of my business, but I don't think the popular solution is always (or even often) the most satisfying one, at least for me personally.

 

But I will say this. I heard someone describe before the difference between 'filler' and 'filling'. Where 'filler' adds nothing except padding out extra time, and 'filling' offers a little something extra even if it's not necessarily related to the main thing. Which thing is what can be subjective, but it's an interesting thought. Because some things do seem to exist just to pad time and some exist to offer you a little extra side dish. I can admit that quests can be as much 'filling' as they can 'filler' a lot of the time. I have been very harsh on the 'quest' structure, but I am not so opposed to it I think it has no right to exist in games. I just wish people thought up different ways of doing things is all.

Edited by KilloZapit

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