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F_Madison

Dynamic Quests

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Please forgive the wall of text and bare with me here, or skip to the last paragraph for tl;dr. I was contemplating what I consider to be the downfalls of current "massively multi-player games" (although, I agree with the definition of 'massively single-player' being more fitting to the current choices, but that's going off on a tangent.) One of the biggest killers in my opinion and from what I've read, many others, is that repetitive quests. Why are you killing 15 wolves outside of a well guarded city, when you're trying to find enough to kill because 12 other people are killing 15 wolves too, and when you come back 3 years from now, they will still need you to kill 15 wolves. Or I rescued the Princess Prissy Pants from the dragon 30 seconds ago, why is this guy charging into the castle to rescue her again, the dragon should be dead, and I've got Princess Prissy Pants right here. This also, I feel, brings into the spotlight a huge problem with what I've heard referred to as the 'theme park' problem. In most current games, for example World of Warcraft, you have a massive world (I recently read that it would be basically 460km^2) that once you've run through the quests, is LARGELY empty. There's no reason to go back. This rather long prologue brings me to my question/idea/point. Instead of spending ample development time constantly expanding a base of cookie cutter quests, Kill X amount of Y, or Gather X amount of Y, or Go see Father Time in the Clock Tower that happens to be a 2 hour walk away. All (or the VAST majority) of quests would be generated by, you got it, the players. I envision that this would solve quite a few problems, and for intents of this post am not focusing on the difficulty of implementing such a system (I think it would be relatively simple given my current design foundation). Say that Ted, who's been playing the game for many months, and has amassed quite a great personal wealth, has finally acquired the astronomical funds required to purchase a plot of land, however to build a house on it, he's going to need 1500 units of stone, and 500 units of lumber. After he's played the game for so long, it would in Ted's eyes be a waste of his time to mine out rock or chop down trees, so instead Ted decides to split up the workload, and generates 15 quests to gather 100 units of stone, and 2 quests to gather 250 units of lumber. Ted places a 24 hour time limit on the quest once it's been taken, and a reward of 500gold pieces. Upon creating the quest the reward (Whether it's pay, or item(s)) is held in escrow-land, and the quest is available to anyone who may want to take it (or could be restricted to guild mates, etc.). You are a new player, (or a professional miner or lumberjack), and quickly realize that going out to gather stone will not only be an excuse to raise your strength and dexterity, but there's some nice pay involved - and once Ted's house is built, there's no repetition of that particular quest for that particular person/location. Another example would be that Ted, our rich home owner, really has a dislike for fellow player Lucy, maybe Lucy killed Ted before, or maybe Lucy is just really mean. Ted generates a quest to kill Lucy, upon doing so - he'll give you his Uber Ring of Uber (3 uses remaining), and 10,000 gold. Any number of people can take the quest, and the first to kill Lucy 'wins'. What would your opinion be of a system/game where the majority of the content is entirely created by the players from within the game, the quests directly relate to other players/guilds desires, and their advancement (in their own minds) of the game as they see it to be. Stepping past limitations of actual implementation, what does the GD Collective think about this concept. Would it absolve the feeling that you're going through a single player game at the same time as 3000 other people, because now you're actually interacting with real people whom you're carrying out tasks for (or are carrying out tasks for you), in a constantly changing set of tasks. I also feel, from a developers point of view, this relieves a LOT of content creation issues, the day-to-day fodder quests would be done entirely by the players, only if you wanted a 'world wide' quest, would you need to set it up. tl;dr: What do you think of allowing players to generate quests/quest chains from within the game as the primary form of providing the majority of quests? Players could generate quests for anything from gathering items, providing protection, killing another player, or possibly other functions. What issues might this system introduce?

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I thought quests are designed to streamline content delivery to the player in an open world. what you're describing is taking a task, such as purchasing something at the auction house, and converting it into a player generated quest. Perhaps I need a better example, one that isn't already in existence in natural form.

However I do acknowledge that, under your model of player created quests, a player's XP is better identified as his output. It's as if every step forward a player makes produces not just advancement for his character, but also his community. Trying to produce a few ideas emphasizing that trait while keep it accessible and streamlined to players is the best heading for idea generation I can give atm.

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Quote:
Original post by Chocolate Milk
I thought quests are designed to streamline content delivery to the player in an open world. what you're describing is taking a task, such as purchasing something at the auction house, and converting it into a player generated quest. Perhaps I need a better example, one that isn't already in existence in natural form.


Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it (especially from a fellow Texan.)

This being the first reply enforced what I thought that I should have included a ltitle bit more information about my particular design/world and how this would apply.

First of all, I don't have any plans to have levels, everything will be skill based, and you will gain your skills and stats from repetitive use of the skill you're trying to gain (or a stat related to a skill if you're trying to gain stats). I also don't personally particularly enjoy the huge story line in MMOs (I realize that in an MMORPG the RPG part is usually expected to be a linaer story, I'm not interested in creating an RPG) my idea is more based along - great back story up to current events, and everything that happens after wards is entirely 100% up to the players. The motivation to play would not be to follow the RPG story line, but rather to build your reputation, your guilds reputation, and control part of the virtual world.

I gave a few examples that I agree were tasks, but that's sort of what a Quest is, is it not? In World of Warcraft for example, often times a random NPC will ask you to kill X number of enemies for an abritrary reason, the real reason is obviously to gain XP to gain levels. I won't have levels or "XP", the reason to "quest" will be to gain resources, items, equipment, raise skills, or just plain try to find money or explore.

I also am strongly opposed to a lot of current implementations in online games, I feel like auction houses, instances, world-accessible-banks, item insurance, et cetera have greatly reduced the bonds of players, I see these 'dynamic quests' as one of the ways to reunite the community, if you're a miner - regularly engage in quests to fulfill real orders for real players, likewise for lumberjacks, blacksmiths, etc. Pay other players/guilds for protection while transporting expensive items. The whole idea is to bring 'multi-player' back to the table, instead of everyone playing their own seperate game on the same server.

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I agree with the approach of dynamic quests. I've been working on an RPG design for a while and my plans have always been to use dynamic quests. Most quests will be very similar to many others but they will always change where they came from, what and where the ultimate target is.

Things like shops wouldn't change as far as standard buying and selling but they could become a source for a unique reward should they choose to offer a job to you ( though for an MMO instead of single player, most shops would probably be PC run similar to EVE Online).

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This sounds a lot like Kraland, where there are almost no quests at all and everything is created by the players (both the quests and the environment, not to mention the political structure).

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How do they keep these kinds of games in balance? Are they mainly aimed at the hardcore crowd? It seems that for the WOW audience the design choices have been aimed at making sure the widest audience has a chance to experience the widest range of content.

I'm not an MMO player, so maybe this isn't as much a problem as I might be thinking. But I can easily see the system being dominated by a small elite (those with the most time and money) who are really having the most fun. I don't think I'd pay for a game that was essentially a lottery in terms of who gets to experience its full range.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
How do they keep these kinds of games in balance?
Role-playing. The game is utterly pointless as a grinding game, so only people interested in roleplay stick around. In that universe, getting all your stuff stolen by another player is a great way to make connections and play out an interesting story of despair and revenge. I mean, you can actually be sold into slavery.

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Quote:
Original post by ToohrVyk
This sounds a lot like Kraland...(snip)


Thanks, I'm reading about it now - through a translator of course.

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
How do they keep these kinds of games in balance? Are they mainly aimed at the hardcore crowd? It seems that for the WOW audience the design choices have been aimed at making sure the widest audience has a chance to experience the widest range of content.

I'm not an MMO player, so maybe this isn't as much a problem as I might be thinking. But I can easily see the system being dominated by a small elite (those with the most time and money) who are really having the most fun. I don't think I'd pay for a game that was essentially a lottery in terms of who gets to experience its full range.


I don't think this necessarily is aimed at the hardcore crowd, although I do entirely agree that games like WoW have been neutered and watered down with the intent and purpose of pleasing the largest possible group of people.

While some of my examples indicate that it would be the rich and powerful commanding everything, I don't really think of it that way. Yes, the more veteran players would probably be assigning the majority of quests, and a large and powerful guild would be a constant source of quests, but they're paying out for the things they want done. So, if you're a new player - yes you're technically working for someone else, but you are gaining resources and power yourself.

Rich player A pays not-so-rich player B to do task A. Yes A is enjoying something else while B is doing smoething for A, however - my vision is that there will be enough new fresh quests that you won't take one you don't enjoy. If you don't like mining, don't take a mining quest. If you don't want to murder someone, don't take a quest to kill them. I think the end result is not an imbalance in enjoyment, it's a spread of players being able to actual do what they want to.

I also think it helps guild organization, take for example Corporation in EVE that want players to provide them with X amount of resources, the guild can make quests for their guild members, and automatically pay them for fulfilling the orders.

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Some pointers derived from the real world example "Eve Online":

In Eve, a player can place "buy orders" on the market, where they say they want to buy a certain quantity of a certain good for a certain time for a certain price (with some additional options as well). Everyone in the region can view those buy orders and fulfill them if they think they are profitable.

This is not unlike to "material gathering quests" you suggested in your initial posts. Take note, that in Eve, these buy orders are very formalised, making it possible to show only the most profitable buy orders when browsing the market.

Now, at any given time there are lots of buy orders which offer a ridiculously low of money for the goods they ask for, but they are usually hidden away, because there are also better offers.

So, what you can learn from that is, that people will always try to exploit other people with these kind of quests, so you better have that in mind.

Eve Online also has a bounty system, kinda like you suggest. (Ultima Online had one too, or still has.) Unfortunately this doesn't do much for the average player, because in order to be kill someone with a high bounty, you'd have to be in the elite circle of PvPers, which isn't very big.

Hope that helps...

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The problem is that these kinds of quests still seem just as generic as WoW. You are still gathering X units of Y or killing Z. This is not far removed from random NPCs giving the same kinds of quests, so sou still need to come up with a variety of potential tasks to be any less repetitive than existing MMOs.

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