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BCullis

MMO Design 2: player as quest-giver?

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This is in tandem with my other current thread, same project, different question :) Something I'd like to implement is the role of "fence" in my game design. If anyone is unfamiliar with the term, a fence is the guy that knows people, has less than reputable connections, and can generally acquire all the nice illegal items that you'd like to have, provided you have a little time and a lot of money. Now, item acquisition aside, I thought it might be interesting (and drive social interaction as the fence would be a subset of the social skilltree) if this role played the intermediary between the NPC corporations and the mission-seeking players. A couple key points follow. -to hedge bets against player population issues, not many people taking up the social mantle, or poor timing (Joe is looking for a good mission at 3am and all his known fences are asleep) there would be NPC mission-givers as well. However, they generally wouldn't have as varied or rewarding of sources as a player-character fence might. This also helps for the startup phase, when the social player scene hasn't had time to build up connections. -Essentially, the system would flow like this: Fence gets ahold of a job that needs to be done (lets pretend it's to break into a rival corp's armed warehouse downtown and steal a crate of experimental weapons). Fence keeps a list, similar to a friends list, of good people to contact who would be interested in adventure. If none of them are on, Fence posts job to an in-game BB system that other players can search. Ultimately, Fence and job-takers meet up, an exchange of the job necessities (door key, coordinates, what have you) is done, and players run off and complete job. Players gain their respective combat experiences, and money upon completion (probably returning required item to an NPC so the Fence isn't required to wait around if they'd prefer not to.) Also upon completion, Fence gains political/social/fencing(haha) experience that eventually leads to better NPC contacts and a wider array of jobs that need doing. -This pre-supposes that the PC populous of the game adheres to a model where there are many warriors for few tacticians, essentially. The world would get a bit boring for people if there were more Fences than combat-focused players. My questions, therefore, revolve around feasibility. Do you think there would be any draw for this kind of social gameplay? Assuming this isn't ALL that a social class does in their playtime, but rather a service they can offer players and be involved with. Do you think this would foster social interaction, or would the majority of the players still seek out NPCs?

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The thing to do is make an NPC, or better yet an automated market/trading system accessible from anywhere in the world, which takes quest requests and payment from players and dispenses the quests to other players and collects the items from them. That way it doesn't matter who's awake, and you don't have to find your employer or trust them to pay up, they have to put the payment down when they place their request.

Myself, I was thinking along the lines of selling services - a half hour of labor, a contract to be a roleplay partner or a mentor to a noob. That's a more complicated problem because there's no way the game can guarantee that people pay up.

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Face of mankind uses an entirely player-generated quest system (I think they might have added a few NPC-based training missions since I played it).
They have a hierarchy within each faction. The higher ranks set campaign goals, which the middle ranks then create missions to achieve those goals, and the lower ranks can join in the missions as quests.
The problem with this system was that the middle ranks needed to create so many missions, that most of them were the same, and many of them failed due to not enough players being available at the allocated time (FOM missions had to have a pre-defined starting and ending time).

I think this is a very good system though, because it relies on the new internet fad of "user created content", which people love.
It will build social interaction - imagine meeting a guy in an alley who tells you the location of a case of rocket launchers, you go steal the case and take it back to him, he picks the lock on the case, takes some rockets for himself and gives you the rest. After this, you're definitely gonna write down this guys name and trust him the next time he tips you off! Also he's gonna write down your name and trust you to give him his share of the profits next time you give him a tip!

With your system, the fence players will need to have the ability to find things to make quests about - you will need to give them some kind of ability that lets them sniff out loot or something... Perhaps you could have NPCs "leak" information to the fences, and then they can use that info to build quests for other players?

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Quote:
Original post by Hodgman
... Perhaps you could have NPCs "leak" information to the fences, and then they can use that info to build quests for other players?


This would be an absolute necessary in order to make this thing work.

I like the way Eve Online is going with man-made mission system. It isn't able to create any kind of combat missions yet, but it does truly provoke (PvP) combat, in longterm perspectives.

Regards,

Xeile

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Ah, definitely, I glossed over that portion. The Fence would have an NPC list of "contacts" that they can pull quests from, I'm thinking with the potential to add their own "incentive" reward (an additional item(s) or some extra cash) if they want to get into the RP aspect of the role, or just want to sweeten the deal so their job gets done faster.

Hodgman sparked an interesting idea though, by reminding me of the old mission terminal system from Anarchy Online. You had various sliders that you could shift to vary the type of mission you received (however all that really changed was the type of random mob that filled the randomized dungeon). I thought it might be more entertaining for the Fence to have a similar set of sliders, but they would reflect the kind of political shifts the player was trying to enact in the corp, and the resulting missions would reflect that (theft, espionage, destruction, etc). This would fit within the "political" skillset that the fence role is a part of, by giving the player a *goal* as the mission giver, rather than just being a middleman for the hell of it.

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I liked the idea of an NPC taking quests and then giving them out.

But the problems are
-Must have a highly versatile all knowing program to run the NPC, it would have to be able to understand exactly how the quest works and what must be done. If you want a troublesome giant taken care of, you want that giant dead not some other random giant.

-If an item is given to do the quest with, the person could run off with the item it was given and not do the quest. Like if you give a rare key to a dungeon so they can do something there for you, the reward has to be greater than any possible loot they could build up by killing in there.

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Adriac-
Both these issues are handled fairly easily, actually. First off, I think you have the system a little confused, as the NPC's can give out quests easily enough, but the player is the real focus of the thread, being the "better source" for quest material.

Second, if indoor missions are instanced and tied to some kind of access key that is only spawned when the mission is created, and the interior is dynamically created with a system of room nodes and contextual AI, then the loot and overall contents of the dungeon can be tailored to the task at hand, and won't give much incentive for the player to take the key and never come back.

In line with that same idea, if there was some kind of outdoor mission set in the world, then the players could be given some kind of triggering device that was related to a world map node, so when they approached the target's location, only then would it spawn, preventing other players from accidentally killing your target (this happened a lot when SWG first launched) and making sure you kill the right giant/dragon/terrorist/etc.

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