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MMORPG: Quests, quests and more quests.

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Hello again, Another post of myself, but this time on something more functional in a game. The genre I'm targeting this time is the very lucrative, yet complex, though compelling MMORPG. This genre has become perhaps one of the most lucrative genres in the game business, but lets not forget it is the most expensive and complex too. One aspect of this genre is like the regular RPG's: Quests. A player takes his avatars talks to various NPC in that virtual world, often named then quest-givers, to receive tasks of epic proportions (or sometimes just an annoying errand). Now this has one big problem, especially for games with the massive scale of MMORPG. Getting quests to feel compelling and fun to do, without it becoming too grind-like. We all know the problem of the mother of all MMORPG's World of Warcraft: Kill X of monster-type B. How many times do we have to kill boars? How many times do we have to kill stupid spiders. We are mighty heroes, not pest control. Now this is hard coming up with various sorts of quests and that is why I made this thread: To make a long list of quest types to be implement in games for you to choose from or get inspiration from. So lets do some brainstorming! List of types of quests: -'Kill X monsters'-quest: Example: "Hail hero, I got a big spider problem. Them nasty bugs are eating my farmhands! Now could you be a friend and kill ten of those spiders for me?" This is perhaps the quintessential quest in the genre, but this gets rather dull quickly! -"Collect X items from monster-type A"-quest: Variant of the "Kill X monsters-quest". Example: "So you need an antidote? Well go to a lair of those spiders and collect their venomous fangs for me. I'll need twenty fangs to make this antidote." This is obviously a variant of the "kill X monsters"-quest and players will tolerate it as a substitute, but too many will get dull as well. Must be balanced with the "kill X monster"-quest. "Kill monster X"-quest: Variant of the "Kill X monsters-quest". Example: "Wanted: Erberd Dragontooth, Scourge of Singson Wood. This fiendish beast is wanted for the murder of dozen innocent creatures of the wood. A large sum of gold is to be given to the one to bring the claws of this dragon." Another variant of the "Kill X monsters-quest", but this time the monster you have to kill is often unique and has more detailed story behind it. Often the targeted monster therefore is stronger than your regular monster. These are more challenging and thus more fun! -"Collect X objects located in region A"-quest: Example: Hero, last night I got robbed by bandits and now I don't have any apples left to sell. Woe me! Could you go to the valley north of here and pick some apples for me? I would need fifty apples. I would be so grateful to you." This is a nice change from the killing monster quests as it is something simple and doesn't take long. It would be refreshing after hard fighting quests. Although remember it gets dull if you have to do this too many times successively. -"Find object X"-quest: Variant of "Collect X objects located in region A"-quest. Example: "Traveller, listen to this tale. Long ago, not far from here a caravan met their untimely demise. Stories tell us of a mighty relic they transported, a relic still there waiting for someone to find it. I'm too old as you can see, but you are strong. Could you find this relic for me? I shall reward you handsomely!" This is a variant of the "Collect X objects located in region A"-quest, but is more challenging as it often calls for players to read the quest text for clues and scout the entire region looking for one small detail/object that is what they are looking for. -"The Escort"-quest: Example: "Hero, I need to pass this canyon, but harpies lurk there and prey on lonely travellers like me. Would you accompany and protect me against any attacks? I would reward your for the effort, of course." These are fun quests to do and can be very challenging if designed correctly. If designed poorly, these are a pest. Though players don't want to do these to often as they take too long (if the NPC speed is independent of the player's speed) Well I have given some quests already, I'll add more when I have more time. However, you can post your quest idea. I'll put it in the list. This way everyone get inspiration for designing a game with a more varied quest setting. Thank you and hopefully this thread is helpful for you all.

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it's late at the moment so I just read your intro. I'd like to read more detail when i have a bit more time, but somethng i think is importand in any quest is motivation.
for any quest to be good there needs to be a sound and solid reason for teh tasks in hte quest. that means making the player care about teh task. the outcome of the quest needs to be important. that gives motivation. wether the quest is grind-like or not.
in an rpg, gameworld, story and characters are very important.

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guild's should be able to create quests for things they need.

This adds some purpose to them and people can get recognition in the guild without actually joining them. Get the perks without the responsibility. Kindof like a contract programmer.

Revenge / out law board.

Post the name of player you want killed, everytime he is killed by a player they will receive the listed reward from you (as long as they have accepted the quest). Mix it up, say you want an item he has, quest will deactivate once he no longer possesses the item. Each player can only have on listing on the board to stop spamming. Pick your arch nemesis!

Get 5 wizards together, begin casting "ultimate storm" spell which takes 1 hour and requires 5 wizards. It creates a massive storm which lasts X Hours damaging/weakening players in the area. A spell you may want to cast in the enemy realm. During the spell cast there location is revealed to nearby players. As the spell progresses the range at which their location is revealed increases until it is revealed to everyone. You'll need many other players to protect you.

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RivieraKid I've just quickly thought of similar spells like your 5 wizard Ultimate Storm spell but had to comment because I love the King of the Hill spin you added to it. In a PvP game spells like this would add some tactics and be a lot of fun ^^

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An exotic animals dealer pays for animals that he doesn't have in stock. His stock depletes over time (rate adjusted by server player population), and he only gets animals from the players. So there is a bit of hunting involved. Knowing what creatures exist in the area, and where to find them is a start. Recognizing what animals are missing from his collection is more skillful.

The quest is dynamic, according to what players have recently hunted. The easy and the expensive are competed for, depending on the worthiness of the payment. And perhaps he pays better for healthy live specimens -- by percentage of health.

His overseas deliveries pay him in silk and incense, so he gives great deals when the player accepts silk or incense in trade for animals. This makes hunting/capturing animals an indirect way to mine silk and incense.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on September 14, 2009 7:40:51 PM]

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When coming up with meta-game systems (things that tie together the basic actions in a game), it's always useful for me to start from the bottom and work my way up. I look at the smallest actions that can be taken and then combine them to see what's possible.

So, in an MMORPG, you can usually do the following:
- Walk around
- Talk to people
- Battle
- Use items

So you can just take these and combine them to come up with a good variety of things...

1) Walk to a certain place, or a sequence of places
2) Talk to several people
3) Battle + Use Items

Then layer on some thematic elements...
1) The evil boars are coming to destroy the town, unless someone lights the torches in the four corners. Battle through them as you go stand near the torches to light them.
2) Figure out a puzzle, by talking to them, who stole the cookie jar, "I was in the kitchen from 9am on, but Lorax left at 10." Then fight the person who you think stole it.
3) Defeat the black dragon, who only becomes vulnerable after using the correct colored magic ruby (you can pick from red, blue, green)

Hope this helps!

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I think tremault was working in the right direction. Motivation is important (but it is not everything). The same actions are boring if you don't have motivation to do them. But, if you have a strong motivation, then you can repeat the same tasks again and again (to a limit).

Motivation is not a simple thing. It is a complex mix of emotions that play off reward, novelty, immersion, willing suspension of disbelief, empathy and many more. A failure of any one of these can cause Motivation to drop, even to the point of the player no longer feeling motivated to perform the tasks.

Look at a simple act of pressing a button (say the left mouse button). How long could you see your self just pressing the left mouse button? Not long a suspect. But if you give them some motivation beyond just pressing the button then you can happily press the mouse button for hours on end (like when you play a game) without it becoming tedious.

It is the same with other actions in games. If properly motivated the players will perform the actions repeatedly, but that "motivation" is not as simple as a reward for the action. Many designers use the terms "reward" and "Motivation" interchangeably, but from this I hope that you can see that they are not.

From what you read on forums, Agency is a big motivator for many players. Agency is where a player has an impact in the game world. This can be pre-scripted (and usually is) but it can also be dynamic.

Dynamic quests are both easier and harder than most people think. They are harder because you ahve to avoid making them "Broken" where the entities will do stupid things, but they are also easy in that you can usually do them with some simple rules (it is when you start having complex rules governing them that they are more likely to become broken).

If you remember the game Doom (the original, not the remake), there was often a way to exploit the AI to make clearing a room easy. What you would do is to get tow enemies to shoot each other when trying to shoot you. The AI system was designed so that they would automatically attack any target that had injured them (in preference to one that they could just see). This meant that two powerful enemies could duke it out and you would be left to clean up the scraps.

I am not sure this was an intentional feature, or just a bug in the AI, but it certainly made strategic and tactical method available for defeating enemies (rather than just run and gun).

Now, usually the tolerance for this is set quite low for enemy AIs. If they are attacked once they respond with aggression. In games where you want more realistic responses form enemies (say MMOs) this is not a good thing. But if you want creatures to be able to be fooled into attacking each other, then you need some mechanism for it.

A simple solution is a Hostility metre that each creature has. If they are attacked, then they increase the hostility value to that target. If this hostility exceeds a certain value based on the factional relationship between them, then the creature attacks (other wise it tries to avoid being attacked).

This avoidance and hostility limit will allow an AI to respond more realistically and also avoid situations where they accidentally attack each other.

It is actually a simple thing and all the pieces to make it are usually included in a game anyway. In MMOs it is common to have an Aggro meter for each target and enemies have avoidance behaviours for attacks. All you need to do is combine them so that they work together.

And this is where it is both difficult and easy. It is easy because most, if not all, the parts already exist, but it is difficult because you have to work out what parts from the ones that exist (or you might have to make new ones) and how to combine them in such a way as to reproduce the behaviours you want without causing behaviours that you don't want.

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