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Acharis

Sending out heroes on quests

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You are a guild master, you hired some heroes and you want to make quick bucks (and save the world in the meantime) by sending those heroes on various missions.

 

So, how to make the action of sending out heroes fun, engaging, non boring, non tedious, etc, etc? I'm asking in a very broad sense (mechanics, UI, balance, etc). Feel free to make it in any context or make any assumptions you wish.

 

 

 

 

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If I am a guild master and I hire a flood of new recruits, but I also want to save the world. I'm just going to skip past the bullshit and treat them as fodder. Send them flying into the enemy at full force. Might as well launch em out of a cannon if I have to.


The strong will survive, and they will get progressively harder missions. There can be only one hero. And the player must prove himself.

 

Reason for this approach? The more dead soldiers, the less you gotta pay. But the brute force method also works pretty well at chipping away the enemy stand.

Edited by Tangletail

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There was a game that did this, but it's approach was a little different.  Instead of hiring heroes directly, you placed a bounty on a thing you wanted done.  Kill this Dragon, defend this town, etc. Heroes would flock to points to try to get the money.  

 

It's a little more streamlined, as you only have to place the bounty on the thing, and then pay the hero who completes the task, as opposed to assigning heroes to different tasks.

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There was a game that did this, but it's approach was a little different.  Instead of hiring heroes directly, you placed a bounty on a thing you wanted done.  Kill this Dragon, defend this town, etc. Heroes would flock to points to try to get the money. 

Majesty 1 & 2, it was a very interesting game :)

 

I want the game to be from the side of the middleman, sort of. The king (and other nobles) places various bounties (contracts), the player (guild master) hires heroes (in bulk, paid monthly not per quest) and then decides to which bounty send them (then collects the money from those contracts).

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The more dead soldiers, the less you gotta pay. But the brute force method also works pretty well at chipping away the enemy stand.

Sounds more like a business person than a guild leader. LOL 

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So, how to make the action of sending out heroes fun, engaging, non boring, non tedious, etc, etc? I'm asking in a very broad sense (mechanics, UI, balance, etc).
 

 

There are a few games that do it.  Majesty. My Life as a King. Recettear.

 

Most of us are quite familiar with the life of the hero. They go out on long adventures and save the world....

 

But those adventurers come back to a town over and over and over again.  They sell all the stuff they bought, they go to the quest boards to look up new tasks. They pick up items, new potions, new weapons, new armor. They go to the various level-up buildings to gain new skills. They go to the big marketplaces for standard objects, and if the city is large enough they might also go to the black market, the thieves guild, pick up assassin jobs where the guards are on the lookout.  Some cities focus on specific topics, a city of wizardry, a city of paladins and knights, a city of clerics, a city of thieves, a city of engineers and blacksmiths. 

 

 

 

Knowing what the heros are doing as they travel the world, think about what the people in the city are doing.  Then consider how the city's economy is built. What do they do with the piles of loot? How do they produce crafts for the arcane shop? How do they craft all that heavy armor, or the magically-enhanced armor.

 

With that in mind, you have some game directions.  If you want to build a city focusing on something you'll need to create quests searching for items. Pay a premium for items that help your city, but doing so costs your city's treasury since you're subsidizing it. Get a profit for useless items since they can be mended or used as raw sources for the blacksmith or toolsmith or weaponsmith.   If your town can get 500 gold profit for selling a flaming sword, posting a quest paying 200 gold for the missing flaming sword ingredients is a bargain.

 

Also consider levels of the party. If you are attracting high level adventurers they don't mind paying 500 gold for a stay at the inn, but novice adventurers are looking for a 4 gold bargain.

 

 

There are many ways to make that interesting.   Maybe your townsfolk petition you for the ingredients they need and you use that to build quests to post.  Maybe you balance the economy by building different buildings, figuring out how to use your limited space as an economy game. 

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Setting aside the larger gameplay loops for the moment (e.g., what money buys, how your guild/town/etc. develops, the main plot arc), the core loop of this sort of game is a gambling game a lot like poker.  You choose a hand (your heroes) and hope that alone or in combination they can face an unknown competing hand (the challenges that the heroes will face during the mission), and often there are "tells" in the game that hint at what the challenges are going to be.

 

If this core loop isn't fun, it can be tough to build a good game around.  But to some extent we can guess whether it will be fun by wondering if the equivalent poker-like game would be fun.  So consider "sending out heroes on jobs" in the Final Fantasy Tactics series.  It isn't by itself a lot of fun; it'd be like poker where you only choose one card at a time (the hero you're sending), and then wait and see if it's higher than another card or the right suit (the hidden requirements for the job, like having high strength or being a dragoon).  It's fine as a minor mechanic in an otherwise complex game, but it'd be too tedious if it were the core gameplay loop.

 

Given the perennial popularity of poker-like games, adding mechanics from poker is a possible way to keep the core loop interesting (rather than having a tedious core loop supported by external incentives).  

  • Most obviously, treating the heroes more like a poker hand by giving the heroes properties in combination with each other that they wouldn't have alone.
  • In some forms of poker, you gain more information as the round proceeds, and can make decisions based on your better understanding of the situation and its stakes.  Maybe you get letters from your heroes noting a changed situation and asking for advice.  "The duke fortified the castle with more troops.  Do we still attack at dawn, do we give up and go home, or wait a week for you to send reinforcements?"
  • Letting the "opponent" "fold" when outmatched ("The enemy abandoned the castle and ran away!") adds some tension when the opponent *doesn't* fold.  Are they more powerful than they let on, or are they bluffing?
  • Having "community cards", random elements that are shared between the player's team and the "opponent".  Like after sending them out on the mission, a sandstorm arises. Does this help your team overcome the challenge (so press ahead), or make it more difficult (so run away)?

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Fallout Shelter (iOS/Android) has a mechanic where you send your suitably-trained/equipped dwellers out into the wastelands to collect supplies.

 

While there is basically no gameplay to this section (the only actual choice you make is when to recall them from the wasteland), it's kept entertaining because the game generates a ongoing log of the dweller's encounters and thoughts as they progress.

 

I think that's a valuable approach to holding the player's attention: regular reports from the field (suitably doctored up with flavour text) gives the player a reason to keep checking in on their heroes' progress, and gives the player some investment in the heroes' ongoing survival.

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What if you move the focus on actually creating the quest? The player, as the guild master, could be the one who creates the quest. Game provide him with events (bandits ambush on the bridge out of the city, mysterious thefts, murderers, kidnap...) and player create quests to resolve the problems. The amount of reward is the parameter for the game to determine the type and level of heroes who make a try.

Each failure is a downrate on the player's guild (with economical side effects for the guild), while each success is a burst of glory, depending on the difficulty of the "event".

This way player has to be creative, make choices and wait for a result, which is funny for me.

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