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TechnoGoth

Quests the age old RPG problem.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Okay, I''m sure this is a problem all rpg fans have dealt with and maybe some of you have solved it if so I''d like to here your ideas. At the start the player needs to gain experince as well as learn about the world and npcs. The problem is these generally consist of quests like "exterminate the rats in may basement", "plow my field", "give this to my friend who lives next door", "Find my lost cat". The player has more important things on their mind then running earrands and doing odd jobs, so what can be done instead? One thought that occurs to me is to have the player rewarded with an exp bonus evertime they achomplish a new task. ----------------------------------------------------- Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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cbass2    138
have the player thrust into some exciting sitution at the very onset. Have the situation involve developing the players skill and introduce him to the game. and have it take some time to work out of it, so when he finnally comes out of the situation, he has knowledge of the basics of the game.

alternatively, could have a quest or two for the player to do in another zone. (like go in the mystic forest and find the source of why there''s rats in everyones'' basements.)

also you could have a quest like "give this 200 gold to so and so, in another town" the player can then decide to keep it and learn the value of gold at the closest shop, or complete the quest and gain a friend, a reward, and knowlege of the path between the town.

just a couple ideas

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Inmate2993    222
How about scripted story-related events that are generous in EXP and give good tutorials? I mean, what better way to get excited about a game if it emerses you in the story from the get go, rather than leaving you to your own devices for 20 hours?

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healeyx76    136
One of my favourites is the beginning of Chrono Trigger for SNES. You can choose to do certain things and there are little contests and music stuff that you do to get you acquainted with the controls and story. Then you''re arrested and everything you chose to do or not do comes back to haunt you. You never realize things when you''re doing them. Its a good way to start. But I don''t think theres any exp gain, maybe some gold and an item or 2.

But why does there need to be simple quests at the beginning? I would just limit the access you have to the world and let the person go, like in the beginning of Zelda for SNES. The guards block your entrance to the rest of the world, and you find your way to the castle. That way they can walk around and pick up some easy exp with simple monsters, but only for a limited time, then they have to move on to the real stuff.

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Cyber-Ace    140
"What can be done instead?"

I can''t say I agree that the "character has more on their mind" at the start of the game. Although this depends on the layout of the story line.

I havn''t played a whole lot of RPG''s (only about 4), but here are some of my thoughts (no matter how relevent, or irelevent they are):

You could do some type of "you must read the instuctions before you start this game" approach. But this will be deadly boaring a 2nd time though. If you make it so you can skip it then most people will skip it eager to get into their new game. Another compromise (which I would appreciate seeing) is doing some teaching of the battle system by letting them try it out, letting them experiance it. Then a little late you could explain it with text, or a tutorial. The main use of this though is that if there are really deep things about your battle system that would be missed by a total newb whos only trying to learn the basics at first, and will miss the deep stuff because he dosn''t even understand half the basic stuff.

Much also depends on how you story start.

If it''s one of those, "we join our character on another boaring morning in his life" stories at the start, then you could keep it slow for a bit. Maybe the most exciting thing that day is plowing the field. Predictably you will have to pick things up soon though. Evident by the luck that most stories have in joining the main character about a day before the exciting stuff starts.

Other stories will have you on the edge of your seat before you even get to push a button. My favorite RPG, Xenosaga, was this way. You have a preaty good feel for the enviroment before you ever touch a button. Then the tutorial is stung out over the first "level."

K, enough tangents have been touched here, so I''ll end here.

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I agree that whatever you choose as a "tutorial" feature should be non-essential. Nothing kills replay value like having to sit through twenty minutes of "Sometimes, when you ATTACK an ENEMY, it will COUNTERATTACK, that is, strike back at you during your ACTIVE TURN. This has no effect on the timing of the ACTIVE TURN of your ENEMY. All your base are belong to us," every time you start a new game.

Making such rudimentary exercises XP-rich is tantamount to requiring them, since only a fool would pass up a free level-up.

One option is to have the "help" feature optional. If you turn it on, you get the equivalent of the little paperclip guy from MS Office, maybe some kind of fearie or psionic entity, who will point things out to you as you encounter them. You could turn it off after you figure out the basics of gameplay, but when something weird happens, you can summon him up. You might even implement a "help button" that will respond to whatever just happened, so if you get hit with a two-fingered eye gouge in the Empty Woods of Loneliness, you can push the "WTF!?!?" button and Jimmy the Sprite will come by and teach you all about the Phantasmal Stooges that inhabit the region.

As to the quest thing, I think that the best thing to do is make quests less formal. Fill the world with things that you might or might not take part in, like the street crimes in True Crime. If I''m on my way to a meeting with my new partner and I get a call about a possible mugging, I might hit the lights and go play hero, or I might let the LAPD handle it. Same deal with the rats in the basement. Everyone''s got their share of problems, and no man can solve them all. So if the bartender complains about some jackass stealing his garbage, you can camp out there all night and catch him, or not.

The thing that makes players want to take part in every damn little cat-up-a-tree quest is threefold:

First, they expect some kind of reward. Mrs Gibbons gets her cat back, and she gives you the Golden Armlet of Lightning Resistance that her nephew found by the creek. This is bullshit, but designers have been doing that sort of crap since the earliest days of RPGs, so gamers expect it. If you lose three HP to cat scratches and take fifteen minutes getting the damn cat down, and all you get is four XP and a nice warm bran muffin, you''ll eventually stop hunting for little gay-ass quests to do, and just kind of keep your eyes peeled for something that you actually want to do. If cats in trees are your thing, then by all means rescue them, but no player will feel particularly compelled to do so.

Second, they assume that solving all the little nonsense quests will eventually lead to something bigger. Mrs. Gibbons gets her cat back and says, "You''re a strong, agile young man. Maybe you can help me with this Super Ogre of Pain that''s been harassing my cousin Jerry. I hear it''s the cause of all those strange illnesses you''ve been investigating." Again, bullshit, but it''s a convention of gaming that has been imbedded into players'' minds. As soon as you get the mission to look into the disappearance of the princess, a mysterious stranger shows up who will tell you all about it if you''ll just perform these four Herculean tasks... If you take that inevitability away, then again, players won''t feel like they have to jump down every hole to find the parts for E.T.''s transmitter.

Third, players know that these problems won''t take care of themselves, that they, the hero, are the only creative force in the universe. God knows that cat will never get out of the tree unless you haul your armor-clad ass up there and grab it. If these "quests" would come and go, then players would, once again, feel less obligated to get involved. Maybe you sit at the tavern, and out the window you see the cat climb up the tree. Well, damn. Mrs. Gibbons is going to have her panties in a twist about that one. Guess you''ll have to go rescue that cat, but first, you''ll finish this beer and reorganize your inventory. So, you take care of business, and on your way out the door you see Big Bob the Blacksmith climbing out of the tree with a shrieking feline in one hand and his bleeding face in the other. Super. A little NPC character development, and you don''t have to get your nose bitten off by an ungrateful kitten.

So the solution here is to make MORE little quests, and make them inconsequential. Important ones might wait around for you, or maybe the important rewards, like the .223 pistol, would show up randomly in quests of the proper grade. So yeah, if you run out of story-specific quests, you can walk the Earth and improve it by your actions, but you generally won''t have to help every villager with every wolf.

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Kylotan    9853
quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Okay, I''m sure this is a problem all rpg fans have dealt with and maybe some of you have solved it if so I''d like to here your ideas. At the start the player needs to gain experince as well as learn about the world and npcs. The problem is these generally consist of quests like "exterminate the rats in may basement", "plow my field", "give this to my friend who lives next door", "Find my lost cat". The player has more important things on their mind then running earrands and doing odd jobs, so what can be done instead?

One thought that occurs to me is to have the player rewarded with an exp bonus evertime they achomplish a new task.


Sorry to be awkward, but this reads like "I want to make a generic RPG and am having trouble finding enough content to fit all the generic requirements".

Why do you need the players to accumulate experience?
Why do you need them to perform quests to do this?
Why do you cite the quests in other games as if they somehow hold you back? It''s your game, your choice of quests.

I think that a little critical thinking on these points, instead of "how can I make an rpg like all other rpgs but better" might yield some interesting results.


[ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Heres an idea throw quests out completely and create a building called a job office where your character can get jobs where He/She can earn money and or items.... also id like to see some more rpgs have a town created by the player. thats always fun especially if your not forced to do the same dam thing in every game.

Please do not make another game that saying No to a quest just makes you say NO 30 times before finally accepting just to get out of the same question. example

Would you like to join the kingdoms army?

choices
1. Yes
2. NO

me: No

are you sure

choices
1. Yes
2. NO

Me: Yes

Would you like to join the kingdoms army?

choices
1. Yes
2. NO

Me: No

are you sure

choices
1. Yes
2. NO

Me: yes

repeat 30times.

Please do not do that Make the damn thing fun not a "oh ok i have to go there I guess". It should be ok I want to go here and kill my boss and then create my own castle and then defeat the evil empire so I alone can rule the Planet!!!.".


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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
no dammit im probably the one who tied her up and fed her whiney behind to the seadragon now leave me be.

Anyway if your asking me a hardcore rpg fan I dont beleive in doing things i dont want to do since im playing a character i want to mold the character to what i want him/her to be.

Ok I think to solve this.

Start the game as a child let the player if possible create name and ect the main character. while being a child you can do whatever you want. After a certain amount of time. not QUESTS you grow a little older and your stats increase acording to what you did as a child. keep ageing the character untill he dies of old age. where then the game then Shows a book.
The book is a story of your characters life which could be skipped. And you could continue the game from your one of your children if your character had any.

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Inmate2993    222
Well, yeah, I hate replaying tutorials myself. Actually, since we''re on the subject, my favorite tutorial method was in FF7, when in Sector 7, Cloud could teach NPCs how to perform actions. I thought that was nice, because it established how good Cloud was already with this stuff.

Also, single player RPGs aren''t MMORPGs or MUDs. You''re creating an experience for a single person. Theres nothing wrong with starting the game in the story. Theres nothing wrong with helping the player along by giving them EXP bonuses and teaching them how to play. For the replay, have a button that skips it. Or even better, on a New Game+ replay, have the game be a bit more interesting by having those same Miagi tutorial guys offer up a lot more experience and rare items by challenging you to see how well you can handle the system.

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Flarelocke    410
quote:
One thought that occurs to me is to have the player rewarded with an exp bonus evertime they achomplish a new task.
This has been done for time out of mind.

Forgive me, but it seems to me like you''re way ahead of yourself. You need a world first, and then the quests arise naturally from the richness of the world. i.e. an endless number of interesting quests arise from factional or personal rivalries, or, for that matter, anything else in the world you''ve created.

Other ideas:
In Might and Magic, it is possible to buy something from one merchant, sell it to another, and then buy the seller''s related product. For example, you could buy a crate of fruit, sell it to someone who then sells the juice, and you can take the juice and sell it to someone who will make some sort of alcoholic beverage from it, and then sell that beverage to someone who distills it into a stronger beverage. You make a great deal of money from this.

There''s also the arena idea, where the character (or player) gains experience by practicing in an nonlethal environment.

Exploration can be its own reward. If there''s an overland map like in Fallout of Arcanum, there could be positive events that occur randomly while travelling. For example, merchants who sell rare items or valuable items for cheap.

I don''t know what games you''ve been playing, but I haven''t encountered errands and odd jobs very often in RPGs.

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
The problem is these generally consist of quests like "exterminate the rats in may basement", "plow my field", "give this to my friend who lives next door", "Find my lost cat". The player has more important things on their mind then running earrands and doing odd jobs, so what can be done instead?


I remember these from Baldur''s Gate on the Playstation. Why oh why am I, an adventurer, jousting with rats in the basement of a tavern with a rusty dagger? My friend and I call our party "broke-ass adventurers incorporated" whenever designers enforce this because we''re too poor to do the stuff we really want to do.

Isn''t the main problem context, though? The tasks that we''re given relate to the insistence most games have at starting us out at level 1. We get killed by bunnies (as in Ultima Online) because we''re too weak to fight anything else. We have to fight rates because we can''t yet fight ogres.

The answer to that one is much more simple: Change the symbolism. If you don''t want to break the mold of "stupid beginning quests educate gamers" consider making the symbolism more significant. Saving a cat or being a pest exterminator is humiliating when you''re supposed to be saving the world. So how do you break up saving the world into small enough constituent compenents so that the beginning tasks--while still making you feel like a fresh faced apprentice--are still important?

Watching a guy trying to steal garbage is one thing. Watching a bank vault is another. The two tasks may be elementally the same, but the symbolism and context is what brings about our interest or dismay.

In games like Champions of Norrath and Armada, the game starts out with an attack on the starting area. You have to defend that area. The enemies may get mopped up by the starting area''s defenders, but you at least have a chance to practice. In the 2nd console Baldur''s Gate game, they start you out as a level 5 resurrected hero, so that you automatically qualify to bash ogres and orcs. This is alot less humiliating than fighting rats with a rusty dagger.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
You might even implement a "help button" that will respond to whatever just happened, so if you get hit with a two-fingered eye gouge in the Empty Woods of Loneliness, you can push the "WTF!?!?" button and Jimmy the Sprite will come by and teach you all about the Phantasmal Stooges that inhabit the region.



OT, but these have got to be the funniest examples I''ve read in a long time. I''m dying for an RPG-spoof that has all of this!



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Just waiting for the mothership...

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NytzovNee    122
Grand Theft Auto!

That is, a game which is entirely quest based and hugely popular. You could quite easily make conversions of the quests in that for a fantasy environment.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Well, I have to agree with Iron Chef Carnage''s assement of the problem. If the player feels that solving every little problem that going on in a town is going to provide a useful reward and leader to something greater then players will do this because they have been trained to.

So instead I''m going to remove quests entirely instead there will be events, both scripted and generated. Generated events will vary but include all those little problems of the local like lost cats and such. These events can resolve themeselves and the rewards for resolving them are generally non existent. So You could rescue the cat but generally its not worth the effort.

As for the tutorial part well that another kettle of fish and one that defently will be optional.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
These events can resolve themeselves and the rewards for resolving them are generally non existent. So You could rescue the cat but generally its not worth the effort.



Why put them in at all, then, if they don''t affect the game world? Or do they? I''m not saying that you should create a reward, but there should be a consequence one way or another. Otherwise, it should be an ambient animation, which is altogether less effort in design, art, development and debugging.

Consider non-tangible rewards, such as being considered a "nice person" or having your reputation raised in town. At least then it''s not pointless.



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Just waiting for the mothership...

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TechnoGoth    2937
Well, the events will serve to create npc character growth, thus evolving the game world. So Janes cat runs away, the player could find it and return it for a small reward and some appreciation, rasing the settlements sentiment towards you. Or an npc say jack could find it and return it, thus creating a new friendship between jane and jack. Which could later lead to other things.



-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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grbrg    126
I don''t mind if there are "rescure the cat"-quests in the game, but I''d like to have the choice whether I want to do them. If I''m in a good mood and want to rescure Jane''s cat - why not? It might lead to friendship or whatever...

But I hate to have to do such quests. A RPG can easily be designed to make the player feel less wimpy. Why not investigate the the kidnapping of Jane''s nephew...? Feels a lot more than finding her cat, but is basically the same thing. I agree with Wavinator on this, people start at level 1. In most worlds level 1 should be equal to the "normal guy", and not weaker than a rabbit. It''s a matter of context - and you can easily make tose quests sound more interesting.

------------------------------
There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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Or maybe you could just make level 1 more powerful. I''ve got to think that a level 1 soldier could probably beat the crap out of a level 12 housewife, if only by virtue of the fact that he has a freaking halberd.

If you start at an elevated level, then players will feel like they missed out on some of the creative process that went into their character. That''s a stone drag. If you use the little intro story to make your character into a certain class (soldier, ranger, etc.), then the player still misses out on some of the creative process, but it''s easier to take, since that amount of creation is just the characterization part, not the actual RPG levelling. Why shouldn''t a level 1 ranger be able to kill an orc?

I suppose that a milkmaid might have trouble with a few large rats, but for her older brother and a stick they pose no real problem. For an armored soldier with a sword they should be child''s play, so easy in fact that the task might be beneath him. If you run out into the street and flag down a police car and shout, "There are rats in my basement!!" they aren''t going to get out their ASP batons and their Surefire Combatlights and go down there to whack them, they''re going to give you a number for an exterminator. Unless you''re a really hot milkmaid, in which case they''ll use the shotgun.

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