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Are quests worth planning? (for a MMORPG)

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Let's say we are making a MMORPG, where players get experience both from PvE and from quests, and we want to create quests; I'm thinking of a few types of quests: 1) NPC_1 asks the player to kill X of this or that ceature 2a) NPC_2 asks the player to get a potion from NPC_3, who will ask to find some ingredients, which require.... etc... 2b) NPC_4 asks you to rescue someone, but that someone tells you something about NPC_4 that makes you doubt of his story, etc... Now, the first type looks easier to me concerning implementation, and if we change the NPC giving the quest, the creature requested and the X number, we'll make lots of quest quickly (but very similar). The second type requires more planning, more npc interaction, exploration, a background mini-story, etc... The problem is: soon after the quests are ingame, the players will put solutions online, totally removing the challenge from the second quest, so is it worth spending time to create them? Someone could say that who likes the quests, will solve them without solutions, but unless the quests give no reward at all, some people will be getting an advantage (reward) without actually putting any effort in it, and I'm a follower of the "no free lunch" principle :) So... would you spend time in making such quests? Would you accept that players use solutions, or will try to take measures against that? (like.... mmmm??? suggestions are welcome).

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Solution is simple, change them regularly.

if you quest to rescue NPC X is given by NPC Y at location Z... well, change the "quest giver", the "to be rescued NPC" and the location from time to time.


Example : Robert, the bartender at Club X tells you Julia "need to be rescued" (found later at Hotel Z).

a few days/weeks later change it to : John, the GYM X owner where you train tells you Lynn "need to be rescued" (found later in the basement of Club X!)

if it's good for 2A : different NPC asks you to get a different potion from a different NPC who requires different ingredients... it's good for 2B too ;)



just prepare LOTS of variations for the same quests and it should all be good, it will give you more work but you'll get what you want.

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The entire point and job of a game master (in an MMORPG) is to design new quests faster than the players can post results to the internet (and remove old quests when they don't fit anmore).

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The issue I can see and I always had issue was is that most Quests in MMORPGs and hell even RPGs in a lot of cases are WAY too vague about what you are to do.

I can't count the number of times that I've had a "Find X" quest with next to know information available on where to look and have spent HOURS wandering around and then lose total interest in questing period. Happened for me in EQ, Star Wars Galaxies, etc...

Sadly enough, WoW has relatively easy to follow descriptions. Everyone has posted solutions, but it flows. *shrug* One mans opinion =P

Edit: And just to actually answer the question. I find questing fun. I enjoy the story line provided by quests as well as lore. So the more indepth it is, or the more thought provoking the better in my opinion. Just don't make them too hard for players to follow. We can be dumb sometimes ~_^

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Most "quests" are really more like "odd jobs" in RPGs. Menial, repetitive tasks that provide little more than a time sink in exchange for XP or currency, maybe a little piece of loot here and there.

I think the core gameplay is to blame, really. The ancient and venerable "one-man-army chops his way through thousands of zealous, but weak adversaries, looting their corpses and stealing their treasure, then returns their ears to a merchant in exchange for potions" paradigm only allows so much freedom.

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In the game I'm beginning to develop I'm interested in seeing if I can generate an entire self sufficient economy for every faction (mostly simulated at a high level but some actions affect this). To sustain the economy the primary need is gathering food and water, secondary is housing, medical and some defense and last is goods for trade or luxury. Each need is handled by one or more activities that the player can perform.

With this system, there could be auto generated quests when someone runs out of something or wants supplies to produce a trade good and the player can use any available method to supply the good. This would prevent a single solution approach as some methods may not work as resources run out or shift around.

Also as mentioned above is generating the quests instead of pre-generated quests. The template could be there is a raider (x skills) (y location) that needs to be stopped so that the people can travel again. After you locate the raider by acting like a peasant, sneaking around to find him or just going out with a hunting party, you can choose to kill him, drive him off or hire him as a mercenary/new citizen.

To me the problem is that quests are peasant at predetermined coordinates tells you about monster at predetermined coordinates with predetermined weaknesses that you have to kill. The design should give freedom to resolve a problem in different ways so that the player can think to resolve it instead of button mashing.

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Quote:
Original post by ShadowBit
The problem is: soon after the quests are ingame, the players will put solutions online, totally removing the challenge from the second quest, so is it worth spending time to create them?


Does the challenge of the quest depend on the player not knowing what is going on? I thought the challenge would be in the collecting X,Y, and Z. So is the challenge of collecting X,Y and Z the fact that I have no clue where X is? If so then I don't think I like your game.

If you want to have little fetch quests why not allow them to be player driven? Crafters can offer gold for various items they require to craft.

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Quests in an MMORPG serve many different roles but one major reason you want them in the game is to manipulate what the players are doing. A player can sit down and kill 10,000 trolls and get to the next level. The problem is they are likely to be kinda bored by this won't see the ogres, werewolves, and vampires you populated your world with.

Personally I think this funtion should be renamed tasks or missions. Quests on the other hand can be more thoughtfully designed and written while also being limited in number. The primary purpose of the quest would be to tell a story and provide the player with something interesting to read and do.

Now there is still the potential to have guides online to quests but the insentive to read the guide is far less than it is with the missions.

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Quote:
Original post by ECorELSE
Solution is simple, change them regularly.

if you quest to rescue NPC X is given by NPC Y at location Z... well, change the "quest giver", the "to be rescued NPC" and the location from time to time.


Example : Robert, the bartender at Club X tells you Julia "need to be rescued" (found later at Hotel Z).

a few days/weeks later change it to : John, the GYM X owner where you train tells you Lynn "need to be rescued" (found later in the basement of Club X!)

if it's good for 2A : different NPC asks you to get a different potion from a different NPC who requires different ingredients... it's good for 2B too ;)



just prepare LOTS of variations for the same quests and it should all be good, it will give you more work but you'll get what you want.


Yes, this is along the lines of what I had in mind :)
Probably would work much better in a single-player RPG (so the player gets new quests whenever re-playing the game), but can be applied to a MMORPG too: the problem I see is that someone starts a quest, than stop playing for a couple of weeks, and when comes back the quest doesn't exist anymore; but this can be solved adding a "time limit" to some quests (not all of them, obviously would depend on the case), so for example if the NPC asks you to find a potion to save his wounded pet, you can't go back with the potion after 3 months and expect to be rewarded for that :)


Quote:
Original post by stonemetal
Quote:
Original post by ShadowBit
The problem is: soon after the quests are ingame, the players will put solutions online, totally removing the challenge from the second quest, so is it worth spending time to create them?


Does the challenge of the quest depend on the player not knowing what is going on? I thought the challenge would be in the collecting X,Y, and Z. So is the challenge of collecting X,Y and Z the fact that I have no clue where X is? If so then I don't think I like your game.


It's not about "not having a clue", it's more about the player having to think/work to solve the quest:
- example 1
during a quest you get to a riddle written on a stone, and 3 doors which correspond to 3 different answers: 1 will heal you, 1 will give you an item, 1 will make some monsters appear and attack you -> all this is pointless if the players already know the answer to the riddle even before reading it
- example 2
you have to find an item in a certain cave with hostile creatures, so you'll have to explore it while fighting, but if you already know the coordinates of the item, all you do is run in, get the item, run out
- example 3
an NPC asks to find an item, and offer a big reward.... but when you bring the item, he attacks you instead: were you prepared for the fight? maybe not, and you'll risk to die; or maybe you talked to other NPCs around the area, and heard rumors about the guy you are woking for, plus the big reward for an easy task made you suspicious, so you went to the meeting well armed and with some friends?

I'd say there are 2 types of challenges, 1 rely on how hard to defeat are some opponents, 1 requires the player to make choices or follow the story he's put into: IMO solutions spoil this second type of challenges.

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Quote:
Original post by ShadowBit
I'd say there are 2 types of challenges, 1 rely on how hard to defeat are some opponents, 1 requires the player to make choices or follow the story he's put into: IMO solutions spoil this second type of challenges.



I think that is a choice a player has to make...
When you have a book you can directly read the last chapter, or find in the ending of a movie in web, the player is the one to decide.

But somethings can be solved like in your examples 1 and 2 just put the solution in a random point.

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I think the answer is obvious, do all of them! You said doing the "kill X amount of creatures" gets repetitive, so does every quest that asks for the same thing. Mix in each quest you said, make chains of quests so one leads to another, having mini stories keeps a game fun, NPC's telling you to kill creatures for no reason is juts pointless, even that needs a story like "__ is eating all our crops, kill X amount of them!". Be creative, focus on keeping them fun, and have fun with it. I'd even suggest playing a little bit of World of Warcraft because you can get a good idea how they set up their quests, but of course don't do exactly what they do, do your own thing.

So the final answer to the title, yes, without planning out and without mini stories, what's the point of someone just saying "go kill these things" for no reason...

[Edited by - Tenac on July 9, 2008 9:23:37 PM]

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As a pen and paper RPG game master, when designing quests, I don't hang the quest as being totally dependent on a specific even (NPC in certain circumstance). I will set it up that way, but I will adapt it depending on what the players do.

For example, if I set up the quest so that it would be given to the players By Bob the Barkeeper in The Wayford Inn, but instead of going there, the players go off to The Gutrot tavern, the I simply adjust the NPC to one in the Gutrot Tavern.

It all works on "Hooks".

The Quest Giver is one such Hook. You can allow your Quests to change Hooks as needed.

All you need to do is to create a list of attributes that a hook needs (maybe they know another NPC or they know of/have an Item). Then all you need to do is a query on a list that contains the Hook type (NPC, Item, etc) to find any matches. You could then use some further queries or sorting criteria (like its an NPC that the players have visited recently or interact with often). After this, you can then randomly select one of the candidates as the Hook receiver.

This would allow you to develop templates for quests and then at run time fill in the details by attaching the Hooks. It also allow for "random" (well not entirely random, more like procedural) quest creation during play. This means that no "solution" can be posted as each player has unique quests.

Also, as the details can be easily stored (essentially you store the hook attachments), you can even allow players to share their quests with party members.

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Quote:
Original post by ShadowBit
Let's say we are making a MMORPG, where players get experience both from PvE and from quests, and we want to create quests;
I'm thinking of a few types of quests:
1) NPC_1 asks the player to kill X of this or that ceature
2a) NPC_2 asks the player to get a potion from NPC_3, who will ask to find some ingredients, which require.... etc...
2b) NPC_4 asks you to rescue someone, but that someone tells you something about NPC_4 that makes you doubt of his story, etc...

Now, the first type looks easier to me concerning implementation, and if we change the NPC giving the quest, the creature requested and the X number, we'll make lots of quest quickly (but very similar).
The second type requires more planning, more npc interaction, exploration, a background mini-story, etc...

The problem is: soon after the quests are ingame, the players will put solutions online, totally removing the challenge from the second quest, so is it worth spending time to create them?

Someone could say that who likes the quests, will solve them without solutions, but unless the quests give no reward at all, some people will be getting an advantage (reward) without actually putting any effort in it, and I'm a follower of the "no free lunch" principle :)

So... would you spend time in making such quests? Would you accept that players use solutions, or will try to take measures against that? (like.... mmmm??? suggestions are welcome).





Even though they might know the solution they will still have to kill the guardians or run the distance, etc...

These days it is becoming possible to on-the-fly create parts of scenarios (like changing the location in a large enough area so that the online cheat turns into just a hint). Numersou factors could be changes (combinatorics is your friend...) and even sections of terrain can be made different each time.


Instancing can allow recreating environments entirely as well as keeping out ringers and other ways of nullifying a quests difficulty.


NPCs (monsters) can likewise be scrambled (amazing how much more complex a situation gets to solve when the monsters roam around in (more)unpredictable ways and vary in abilities, etc..

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