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TheBuzzSaw

"Quests" vs "Favors"

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I am toying around with the idea of separating the concept of quests as we know them in games into two types: quests and favors. I have two ways of dividing them, and I am unsure of which I like better. I am interested in your feedback.

My first idea is to separate them by size. Basically, a "favor" would be your short term go-kill-10-rabbits or bring-me-my-medicine objective. It is something small and simple that you can probably do in one sitting. In contrast, a "quest" would be a grand adventure involving many characters, traveling to far locations, etc. It would help the player distinguish the size and nature of the mission by knowing that it is not a mere "favor".

However, thinking about that separation is when my second idea struck. My second idea is to separate them by relevance. Basically, the divide would be a subtle indication of which objectives are tied to the main storyline and which ones are tangents for extra reward. Need to level some? Do a few favors for people. Ready to proceed? Grab the next quest.

Which system would you prefer? Or which makes more sense in your mind? All feedback is welcome.

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If you have locations on your game, a favor could be a small-mid quest that take place on that location ONLY. A quest itself could involve going to other locations or take place in the current location but is bigger than favors.

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Unneeded complexity. Make everything a quest but add visual icons to them (main storyline quest, 1 star side quest, 2 star side quest, etc).

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Unneeded complexity. Make everything a quest but add visual icons to them (main storyline quest, 1 star side quest, 2 star side quest, etc).


Heh. I fail to see the difference. You say it's unneeded complexity, and then you reintroduce the complexity by adding symbols. I haven't even said anything about UI elements; I've made no indication that quests and favors would be in completely separate places. :)

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It's a neat way to create a separation layer between the main quests and the side quests. I like it! However, this is already implemented to a large degree in modern games - usually it's fairly obvious which advances the storyline and which are just 'favours' as you call them; your idea merely creates a more defined barrier between the two. :)

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I agree I don't see a purpose in splitting the two apart. To me (with a gamer hat on, not designer) I wouldn't care whether it was a quest or favour, to me it is something that I can do. Whether that be over the span of a few days or in a couple minutes I personally don't care.  Just my 2 cents.

**EDIT** As a designer I would think this is going to waste time trying to categorize where each item goes. Edited by XXChester

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TL;DR: The current system (in MMORPGs) is certainly broken. What you described would go some way to fixing it. I would personal go for the second approach which I think would probably have the side effect of separating them by size as well.
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Although a few years ago I may not have seen a reason for implementing such a system now I think it's almost vital. Why? Well there is a certain genre out on the internets that has effectively jaded players to the idea of quests as a way to tell and involve the player within a story. They have effectively taken something that works well in other genres and twisted it to suit another purpose, that being to soften the grind that has been integral to the genres design.

If you look at MMORPG design (yes that was the genre i was talking about) you will tend to have up to several thousand quests that a player will general go through as they advance through the game. What this has led to a tendency within the player base to skip what story is presented to them in the form of quests. This is essentially a missed opportunity to draw the player into the game (and thus keep them subbed longer). If companies insist on including such a huge number of quests within a game then I feel the use of a two tier system is the best option. Like TheBuzzSaw said, have one tier for simple one off tasks for the player to complete (just for a reward) and a separate one for more epic adventures/storylines.

Clearly defining these tiers to the player and putting emphasis on the quest tier as a method of storytelling (instead of just having single quests and then quest chains like some MMORPGs do) would hopefully go some way to combating the current trends of essentially ignoring the story found within MMORPGs.

I'm not saying such a system is perfect, far from it in fact, but it could be built upon and improved to create a compelling experience for the player. An example for some improvements would be to downplay/remove developer created tasks instead change the first tier of tasks as things set out by other players for a player to do, e.g. wolves are attacking my player run lumber mill so I'll ask nearby players to deal with them. The developer could then use the questing system in a similar way to say a single player RPG does with each zone having one or two story lines that a player can take some part in. Dynamic events could be introduced to add more life to a zone and provide a way for a player to gain some sort of reward without having to partake in a story drive quest. (I feel that I'm getting ahead of myself so I'll stop there:P)

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I actually really like both of your separations as I think the two generally could go hand in hand (after all, how is killing ten bunnies going to get me closer to defeating the uber dark lord?). I think there are other things you could use to further differentiate, depending on the nature of the game and how far you want to take it:

- Favors increase goodwill with townspeople, leading to lowered prices for goods or increased selling rates.
- Quests give more sizable rewards such as new weapons and armor, whereas favors yield smaller amounts of money or items.
- Favors could lead to side quests. Perhaps you do a couple favors for a townsperson afterwhich he mentions a friend in a nearby town. Upon visiting his friend, you're given the opportunity to do more favors, quests, or side quests. (In this context the "side quest" would be identical to a standard "quest" other than it doesn't progress the main story arc but would still be large and potential yield good rewards).

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I think having two tiers of quests is a really good idea and could help the player distinguish between the time investment/scope of the undertaking (and the magnitude of the eventual rewards) more readily. Many a time I've had my expectations broken in an MMO by being like, "Oh sure I'll kill these 20 wolves" then a few hours later finding myself ass deep in fel-evil guts as I save the world at the culmination of some convoluted quest line.

Naming them "quests" and "favors" is cool, for one because it gives it a more medieval feel, and two because it maps back to natural language pretty well (we tend to think of favors as pretty small things in the English language). Using stars or whatever works too, but is really no different. It's just a more abstract system that provides the same information.

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Posted (edited) · Hidden
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I am toying around with the idea of separating the concept of quests as we know them in games into two types: quests and favors. I have two ways of dividing them, and I am unsure of which I like better. I am interested in your feedback.

My first idea is to separate them by size. Basically, a "favor" would be your short term go-kill-10-rabbits or bring-me-my-medicine objective. It is something small and simple that you can probably do in one sitting. In contrast, a "quest" would be a grand adventure involving many characters, traveling to far locations, etc. It would help the player distinguish the size and nature of the mission by knowing that it is not a mere "favor".

However, thinking about that separation is when my second idea struck. My second idea is to separate them by relevance. Basically, the divide would be a subtle indication of which objectives are tied to the main storyline and which ones are tangents for extra reward. Need to level some? Do a few favors for people. Ready to proceed? Grab the next quest.

Which system would you prefer? Or which makes more sense in your mind? All feedback is welcome.


I agree with "separate them by size". I created 4 "quest like" sections for the game concept I have been writing. Quests, Tasks, Missions, and Jobs. Tasks are simple things that only take a small amount of time to complete (10-30 minutes). Quests will take a moderate amount of time to complete (1-2 hours). Missions are tasks that the player accepts, but these will follow the games storyline (So these could take any amount of time). Jobs are long lasting and requires the player to finish the objective within a very long time period. The player will also be able to redo many of the jobs over and over again, but still receive the same reward each time (Example: Kill 2,000 monsters this week or gather 200 of this specific material within 24 hours).

Also both of the quest systems you mentioned are in many MMO's already

Edited by JigokuSenshi

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