Jump to content
  • Advertisement
  • 08/18/17 05:52 PM

    The Quest for the Custom Quest System

    Game Design and Theory
       (1 review)

    Jacob Laurits Besenbacher Kjeldsen

     

    Intro - "The challenges of dynamic system design"

    Custom Quest evolved during development, from a minor quest system used for our own needs in our own game production Quest Accepted, to something entirely more dynamic and customizable, now finally released, these are our thoughts on quest design and developing standalone subsystems. 

    Splitting what is a major production for a small indie team, into smaller installments such as a quest system was a good idea we thought, this way we can get some releases out there and fuel the development of our game. But building a system that works for yourself is one thing, building a unity plugin that will let other developers create quests, missions, and objectives, you would never have thought of is something else entirely.

    The first thing we had to realize was that when building a quest system, the task is not to design great quests, the task is to enable the users to create great quests.
    That still meant we had to find out what good quest design is and what a quest really is.

    Our task was to create a system where the user is free to create creative engaging and rewarding mission experiences for their players.

    What is a quest? - "Cut to the core"

    First off, we need to know what a quest really is.
    A quest is the pursuit, search, expedition, task or assignment a person(s) does in order to find, gain or obtain something.

    In games, quests and missions function in many different ways depending on the genre.
    A single game can contain a multitude of different types of quests put together in just as many ways. In an MMO, for instance, quests are vehicles for the story and the player's progression. In many cases they are formulaic and simple, some can even be repeated, there are hundreds of them and everyone can do them. In other games quests are for single player campaigns only, here they shape each level giving the player a sense of purpose.

    Quests can span the whole game or just be a minor optional task on the way, there are so many design philosophies and creative quest designs that we had to narrow it down and really cut to the core of what is needed for good quest design.

    What all quests have in common is the task, the criteria for successful completion of the quest, and the reward, the goal of the quest, what the player gets out of doing what we ask of him.

    Quests cover an incredible variety of tasks so it was important for us to base our decisions on thorough research. In our research, we found that there are three layers to quest design.

    The type, the pattern and the superstructure.

    Quest types exist within quest patterns and quest patterns exist within the quest superstructure.

    We found that there are 8 basic types of quests these are the various tasks/criteria the player must do in order to complete the specific quest.
    There are 12 quest patterns. These are ways designers can use their quests, connect multiple quests set them up in engaging ways or teach players how to interact with and get the most out of the game world creating variety and engaging the player.
    Enveloping the patterns is the quest superstructure, the overall structure of quests in the game, we found that there are two main ways of structuring your quests.

    Historically quest have a quest giver, an NPC or object that informs the player about the quest, what they need to do, the story behind it and perhaps even what their reward will be should they complete the quest.

    Quest types - "Do this, do that"

    The core task each quest consists of, the criteria for completing part of or all of a single quest. These are the actions we want Custom Quest to be able to handle.

    • Kill
      Probably the most basic quest type, the task is to kill something in the game, for example; kill 10 goblins.
    • Gather
      Again very simple, the task is to gather x things in the game world, collecting berries or the like.
    • Escort
      The player must escort or follow a person or object from point A to B while keeping it safe.
    • FedX
      The player is the delivery boy, they must deliver an item to a person or point.
    • Defend
      The player has to defend a location from oncoming enemies, often for a set number of waves or time.
    • Profit
      The player must have a certain amount of resources to complete the quest, contrary to gather quests these resources are resources the player would otherwise be able to use himself.
    • Activate
      The player's task is to activate/interact with one or more objects in the game world or talk to a number of NPC’s. In some cases, this must be done in a certain order for a puzzle effect.
    • Search
      Search an area, discover an area of the game world. This is useful for introducing areas of the map to the player and giving them a sense of accomplishment right off the bat, showing them a new quest hub or the like.

    Quest Patterns - "An engaging experience"

    Tasks are one thing, and in many games, that might be plenty but we wanted custom quest to let the users create chains of quests, specialize them and set them up in ways that draw the player into the experience, there are many ways to go about this.

     

    • Arrowheadcustom quest arrowhead quest design pattern
      The most basic quest pattern, the quest chain starts out broad and easy, the player has to kill some low-level cronies. The next quest is narrower, the player must kill fewer but tougher enemies, lets say the boss' bodyguards. The last quest is the boss fight, the player has killed the gang and can now kill the boss. This quest pattern is very straightforward and works well, giving rewards either at every stage or only when the boss is dead.

     

    • Side stub custom quest side stub quest pattern
      A side stub is an optional part of the overlapping quest. Lets say quest A leads to quest C but there is an option to complete a side objective B, which makes completing C easier or it changes the reward, for example. The player must escape prison, the side stub is “free the other prisoners” in this example escaping with all the prisoners is voluntary but it might make it easier to overpower the guards or the prisoners might reward the player when he gets them out. The side stub differs from a generic side quest in that it is tied to the main quest directly.

     

    • Continuous side-questscustom quest continuous side quest design pattern
      These are side-quests that evolve throughout the game, one unlocks the next, but they are also affected by external requirements such as story progress. This pattern is often found with party members in RPG games, where the player must befriend the party member to unlock their story quests.

     

     

    • Deadlinecustom quest deadline quest design pattern
      As the name implies these quests are time sensitive. The task can be of any type, the important thing is that the quest fails if time runs out. This could also be used for a quest with a side quest where the side quest is timed for extra rewards but the main objective is not.

     

     

    • Deja-vu questscustom quest deja vu quest design pattern
      This kind of quest pattern gives the player a quest they have done or seen before. In some cases, this “new” quest will have a twist or something that sets it apart. It can also be the same sort of quest that exists in different areas of the game world, perhaps there is more than one goblin camp? or perhaps the player has to pick berries daily.

     

     

    • Delayed impactcustom quest delayed impact quest design pattern
      Delayed consequences of a previous decision. Often used in games where the story is important and the players’ choices matter. These quests are tied together without the player knowing. Let's say the player is set the optional task of giving a beggar some gold to feed himself. The player gives the beggar a few gold and is on his way. The next time he meets the beggar the beggar has become rich and rewards the player for his kindness with ten times what he gave.

     

    • One of manycustom quest quest design one of many quest pattern
      The player is presented with a number of quests, they have to choose which one to complete, they can only choose one. The others will not be available.

     

     

    • Hidden quests
      Hidden tasks that aren’t obviously quests at first glance orcustom quest hidden quest design pattern are hidden away for only the most intrepid players to find. This could be an item the player picks up with an inscription in it if the player then finds the person the inscription is about he can get a reward for delivering it. A good quest pattern for puzzles, these kinds of quests can really make the game world come alive and feel a lot more engaging, allowing the player to uncover secrets, Easter eggs and discover all of the world created for them 

     

    • Moral dilemmamoral dilemma custom quest quest design pattern
      Punish the bread thief who stole to feed his family? often used in games that have a good/ evil alignment level for the players, these kinds of quests make the player make a choice about what kind of character they want to play, they get to choose if their character is good or evil.

     

     

    • Side questscustom quest quest design side quest pattern
      Optional quests, these quests are often found in level based games where the overall quest must be completed to get to the next level, the player can optionally do some extra tasks to get more points. The important part is that these are optional but they give the player a reward for, getting everything they can out of the game.

     

     

    • Tournamentcustom quest quest design tournament
      Tournament style quests, a series of quests that get harder as the player progresses. An example could be a gladiatorial arena if the player defeats five enemies one after the other he gets rewarded as the champion of the arena, but if for example, he fails at the third, the whole tournament is failed and he has to start all over from quest 1.

     

     

    • Vehicle missionscustom quest quest design
      Despite the name these quests are not confined to being about cars, these are simply quests where the players control scheme changes to complete the quest(s). An example could be; changing from running around in the game world to driving a tank to destroy a fort.

     

    Quest superstructure - "The whole package"

    With quest superstructures, we are venturing into general game design. The superstructure is how the player is allowed to complete quests in the game world. It's basically a question of whether the game is “open world” or a linear experience.

     

    • The diamond structure diamond-structure-300x300.png
      The open world model, think games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the player is introduced to the game through a quest, but after that, they can go wherever and do whatever quests they want. There are tons of quests of the above types and patterns, the player is free to pick and choose which to do, giving the player the illusion of freedom within the game world (the diamond). However, the game still ends by completing a quest that is locked and always a requirement to complete the game. This can, of course, be varied by different choices the player has made throughout the game or even have multiple endings. Quests can be concentrated into quest hubs, i.e. towns with lots to do or the like, but they don't have to be completed in a linear fashion

     

     

     

    • Linear hub structurelinear-hub-structure-300x300.png
      This structure consists of a number of required “bridge” quests that need to be completed in order to unlock the next area or “hub”, each hub can have any number of quests, this could be a town full of people in trouble, each with their own quests and quest chains to complete, when they are all done, the player moves on to the next hub through another bridge quest. Limiting the quest size of the hubs will make the quest structure feel more linear and thereby the game linear, and creating larger more open hubs can make the player feel freer.

     

     

    Outcome - "So many options!"

    The development of custom quest has been the quest to allow game developers to create quests and missions that use these types. However, no matter how well we have researched, some one will come up with a new and creative way of doing quests.

     

    The solution for us was to make the system more customizable. Letting users convert their quest prefabs to quest scripts that automatically inherits the core functionality, so the user can freely add their own additional functionality on top of the existing core

    Asset development as fuel - "A learning experience"

    Developing this way, splitting the production into sub systems that can function on their own and even be used by others is not something that should be taken lightly, but if you can build something lasting, something others can find value in using, then the final product will be all the better for it. Custom Quest started as a project we thought could be completed in a couple of months, it ended up taking 7.

    In part this is because we realised that if we were going to release the system, we might as well do it right, that meant creating a system that was customizable and robust, a system that can be added to the users game and not the other way around, a system we could be proud of.

    The experience of developing for other developers is quite different to developing a game. One that has made us much stronger as programmers and as a company, it forced us to think in new ways, in order to create a dynamic and customizable solution. Custom quest has evolved from an asset we could use in Quest Accepted, into a tool others can use to create a unique game experience. All in all, the experience has been a good one and Random Dragon is stronger for it, I would, however, recommend thinking about your plugin and extra time before you start developing.

     


     

    Sources:

    www.pcgamesn.com -"We know you aren't stupid" - a quest design master class from CD Projekt RED
    http://www.pcgamesn.com/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt/the-witcher-quest-design-cd-projekt-masterclass

    http://www.gamasutra.com/ - Game Design Essentials: 20 RPGs - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4066/game_design_essentials_20_rpgs.php?print=1

    Extra credits - Quest Design I - Why Many MMOs Rely on Repetitive Grind Quests

    " rel="external">
    " rel="external">

    Extra credits - Quest Design II - How to Create Interesting MMO and RPG Quests

" rel="external">
" rel="external">

Center for Games and Playable Media - Situating Quests: Design Patterns for Quest and Level Design in Role-Playing Games - http://sokath.com/main/files/1/smith-icids11.pdf

Center for Games and Playable Media - RPG Design patterns https://rpgpatterns.soe.ucsc.edu/doku.php?id=patterns:questindex

 

Special thanks to Allan Schnoor, Kenneth Lodahl and Kristian Wulff for feedback, constructive criticism and background materials.



  Report Article
Sign in to follow this  


User Feedback


Thanks for this article. I've been working on a game for quite a while and I'm trying to build procedural quests that I can layer in to a randomly generated world. Applying all this to an atomic model will get me there.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement
  • GameDev.net and Intel Contest

    GameDev.net and Intel® have partnered up to bring GameDev.net members a gamedev contest running until December 21, 2018 - Submit your game for Intel® Certification and you could win big!

    Click here to learn more and submit your game.

  • Latest Featured Articles

  • Featured Blogs

  • Advertisement
  • Popular Now

  • Similar Content

    • By GameDev.net
      GameDaily.Biz spoke to Improbable about its new shortcuts to multiplayer game development for Unity and Unreal. 

      Improbable helps game developers build believable online worlds with its bespoke technology, SpatialOS. Now, that task is much easier and accessible for those building games on the technology with the recent release of the SpatialOS Game Development Kit (GDK) for Unity. With these kits, Improbable hopes that developers find it easier to create vast, dynamic and unique worlds.
      This GDK for Unity includes a 200-gamer, first-person project that allows developers to experiment and tinker with their ideas for what their vision of a multiplayer game will look like.
      GameDaily.Biz met with Improbable’s Head of Product Marketing, Paul Thomas, and Head of Comms, Daniel Nye Griffiths, to speak about the SpatialOS GDK for Unity, as well as the upcoming launch of the SpatialOS GDK for Unreal Engine.
      In its first week, the SpatialOS GDK for Unity achieved over 2,000 developer sign ups to use it. “What we're trying to do is basically make it really fast for people to build multiplayer games,” said Thomas. “It comes with all the multiplayer networking so that developers don’t have to do any multiplayer networking. It comes with feature modules to allow [easy] solutions to common multiplayer problems, like player movement and shooting. And it comes with a cool starter project where you have 200 players in a free-for-all scenario. You can obviously use the power of SpatialOS to scale that project up to more players, with NPCs, and things like that. It gives people a really good base to start building multiplayer games.”
      There are several games currently in development or early access that utilize SpatialOS. The first into Early Access was Spilt Milk Studios’ Lazarus, a space MMO where the player becomes a pilot in a universe that ends every week, complete with a map that’s twice the size of Austria. Additionally, Bossa Studios released its survival exploration game Worlds Adrift into Steam Early Access earlier this year.
      Also using SpatialOS is Scavengers from Midwinter Entertainment, a studio founded by former 343 Industries studio head and Halo 4 Creative Director, Josh Holmes; the game is heavily inspired by his Halo 5: Guardians’ multiplayer mode, Warzone. Right alongside that company, Berlin-based Klang Studios is working on Seed, a simulation MMO that, according to its developers, lets players “interact and collaborate to create a world driven by real emotion and aspiration.”
      According to Thomas, for those looking to use the SpatialOS GDK for Unity, there is no limit to  what their games can do with Improbable’s tech.
      “What we're doing is expanding the possible gameplay you can do. Traditionally, when you make a multiplayer game, you're constrained by one single server. So you can say you have a 64-player game with a handful of NPCs or you could have a world that's 3km by 3km. With Spatial, you can go beyond that, test a much broader canvas to start thinking about different gameplay.”
      “You can go for a massive online persistent MMO with 10,000 players and hundreds of thousands of NPCs, something very, very vast and big like that. But you can also have smaller experiences. For example, there's a lot of interesting space in just extending what you see in the Battle Royale genre and session-based gameplay.”
      Thomas continued: “Our partners at Automaton have a game in development called Mavericks. The interesting thing there is they have a Battle Royale with 1,000 people, but what I really find interesting is the gameplay mechanics they've put in, like footprints so you can track people. They've added a cool fire propagation mechanic so you can start a fire that  spreads across the map and changes the world. Or you can add destructible buildings and things like that.”
      “So I think even looking at smaller scale games, we add a lot of value in terms of the new gameplay you can start adding. I'm just interested to see what people do with this extra power - what they can come up with.”
      While Battle Royale games and MMOs are obvious standouts for genres that best fit with SpatialOS, Thomas introduced some other ideas of genres that could benefit from the technology.
      “I also think there's a space for very interesting MMORTSs as well,” he said. “An RTS where you have persistent systems, like telling AIs to do things and then coming back to them a week later and seeing what's happened is an interesting space.”
      “I also see interesting mobile experiences that could come up. Having these worlds where you lay down some interesting things and then come back a few weeks later to see how they've evolved and changed, and the massive player interaction. Say for example with Pokemon Go, we can actually roam around the world and battle on the streets. I can see something like that working very well. Again, these are just ideas we've had and talked to people about. It's about giving people that flexibility and the ability to explore these ideas.”
      Klang’s Seed
      Griffiths added the possibility of events in a game that will have a massive, rippling, and lasting impact on its world as something that has people excited. One example he gives is how someone on one side of the map can do something that’ll have a knock-on effect for the rest of the world in real time.
      “There's a whole bunch of different angles you can take, some of which are about much larger player numbers or a much larger map, but there are other things you can do which are taking a relatively constrained game experience, a smaller map, a smaller number of players and adding richness to the game as well.”
      In fact, this is something that Thomas refers to as a “persistent in memory database,” meaning that for every object in the game world, there’s a history. Two examples cited by Thomas: “...a player could chop down a tree and that tree stays disappeared forever. Or a player can kill a big monster that was raiding a town and that town no longer gets raided by that monster, and this changes the dynamics of the world. Worlds can have a history. That means players can have a lot more meaning in these MMO worlds.”
      “Normally in MMOs, they're kinda like roller coaster rides: you go into a dungeon, you kill the boss and that guy respawns. It all resets,” Thomas continues. “But in Spatial MMOs, you could have these persistent effects that should change the gameplay meaningfully for all the rest of the player base.”
      “The other one I think that is interesting is the level of dynamism that you could have. So because you can have so much more server-side compute, you could potentially have NPCs roaming around the world changing their mind and deciding all of a sudden, 'oh, we're going to attack this player's base' or 'we're gonna go attack this town' and they have a lot more range and emotion and intelligence to them that you'd not see in other MMOs.
      “Normally in MMOs, NPCs sit there tethered. You go near them and they come and attack you, you run away, and they go back to where they were. In a Spatial MMO, that NPC can trace you across the whole map or a group of them can decide to get together and attack someone..”

      Bossa Studios' Worlds Adrift
       

      Next week, Improbable plans to launch its SpatialOS GDK for Unreal Engine, which will have a big focus on ease of use for access to Unreal, as well as a big emphasis on porting your projects to SpatialOS.
      “One of the things we'll be trying to push is a porting guide so you'll be able to take your existing Unreal game, move it onto SpatialOS and then you can grow to expand it with new and extra gameplay,” says Thomas. “ You can bring across your existing Unreal game and it feels very, very native and similar to Unreal if you're familiar with Unreal.”
      Griffiths continued, explaining how testing these experiences includes free cloud deployments, to a certain point. “If you're developing in SpatialOS in other ways, we provide a sandbox environment so you can get your game running. When you’re happy, you can port it over and sort of experiment with it in a free sandbox environment with a small number of cores to get started.”
      Based on what we learned, Improbable’s SpatialOS GDK for Unity will give developers enhanced flexibility to produce more in depth and engaging videos games. That said, we look forward to catching up with the company in the near future to see how this exciting technology is being used in the different games that we play.
    • By MiniDarkOF
      Hello Again,
      I'm trying to create a "sound expansion"

      The Example:
      a nuclear explosion sound has 1000ft of audible sound area
      players who is next to the explosion hear it first
      players who is far to the explosion will hear after some seconds
      when the sound reaches its area limit, it ends with a "fade-out"

      The Point:
      i already know how to create fade-out sound effect in Unity
      know i want to know how i can create this "sound expansion" effect
    • By Florian Gionnane
      Hi everybody !
      We are an indie startup called Darkstar Games !
      We are just creating our first game called Greater powers, a novel type medieval fantasy TCG MMORPG with which we use unity. 
      We develop our games for Android, PC, iOS, and we have a software kit developer contract with Microsoft to adapt them to VR Microsoft HoloLens and VR Magic Leap in the future.
      We are developing our own alpha for the Kickstarter campaign at the moment !
      So we are actively searching for motivated programmers willing to take place in our project to build the engine we are creating of our own right now ! The game is coded in C# and any unity experience is greatly appreciated! 
      We collaborate to the startup worldwide remotely !
      Programmers collaborating to the project such as building the alpha become shareholders and are hired in the start-up launch !
      Here are some links about the project:
      https://www.artstation.com/floriangionnane
      https://www.facebook.com/DarkstarGamesCorp
      https://connect.unity.com/p/games-greater-powers
      If anyone interested, please send your resume to flosambora123@gmail.com
      Have a nice day !
       


    • By Glasshalfpool
      Hi there
      I'm working on a simple racing game at the moment that I like to pitch as Thumper vs. Burnout vs. Journey.
      In a nutshell it's a single player experience where the player races across a city in the dead of night with a time limit of one hour. The main mechanic being that driving well earns the ability to go faster, making things more challenging and opening up shortcuts and alternative routes, while mistakes (colliding with walls for example) make the player loses their highest speed and have to re-earn it.
      I have a grand vision for an a pounding, dynamic sound track with elements being added to the music as the player goes faster and I'm looking for someone to collaborate with on the audio effects.
      Here is a video of the early direction and feel of the project (it's moved on since, but this still gives a sense of the style):  
       
      Contact me if you're interested in the opportunity to work on an interesting unique soundscape with me.
      Kind regards,
      Jamie
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!