Quests [was Resets, repops and quests]

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Fri May 30 11:04:55 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Thu, 29 May 1997, Raz wrote:

> On Wed, 28 May 1997 23:09:35 PST8PDT, you wrote:
> 
> > It's more work, but how about something more like the
> > traditional storytelling quest - find something? If your world is large
> > and generated, you can pick somewhere out in the boonies and plant some
> > special object. Then, you have to plant rumors, hints, etc. all over the
> > place, so that players have some clue as to where to go.
> 
> This sort of thing makes for nicely atmospheric quests, which are
> satisfying to complete, *but*, immensely frustrating to *know* you're in
> the right place, but someone beat you to the prize.

I started a rather large discussion on the topic of 'dynamic' quests, on
usenet (I believe r.g.m.lp, although it may have leaked into r.g.m.admin
after a while), and I'd like to present some of the more interesting
points that I recall here.

Note that there are two terms used herein, which have explicit although
broad meanings: 'Dynamic quest' used to represent a quest which a
character can undergo, that is not necessarily the same as the time the
last player did it, involves random features, changes, or is otherwise not
100% linear and reproduceable. 'Static quest' means the typical sort of
quest found on LPs (find this, do this), which no matter how complicated
it is, is linear, and repeatable by almost exactly the same steps.
Encountering monsters in slightly 'random' fights does not count as a
random feature.

It should also be noted that there are currently lots of 'cheating' issues
attached to static quests, but that is not to say people would/couldn't
cheat at dynamic quests - it's just that the former appears to be a newer
and rarer implementation. I'm not overly interested in cheating issues (if
people are determined to cheat, they probably will), at least not at this
point, but rather in the 'fun' values of the two types of quest, and
associated difficulty to produce.

Pros/cons of these types:

Static quests are easier to conceptualize, and set up - if by no other
virtue, than they need less thought initially. However, they probably need
more detail put into them, and some careful planning as to placement of
elements. Players are typically used to them, and get the idea right away
- mind you, overall themes for them are limited (although truly original
ones pop up now and again). Eg of a static quest (albeit a very poor one)
is the infamous 'orc slayer' quest from LP 2.4.5 (I think). Typically
players are presented with a list of quests to look into in their class
hall, along with guidelines as to difficulty, and trot off to investigate
(triggering the inital bumf by saying 'quest' to a key NPC). It feels
quite artificial, but can also be fun with a lot of thought put into
creation. Quests adapted to allow groups of players work nicely as well.

Dynamic quests are far harder to visualise and get into initially,
although if the elements are assembled properly, they probably fall
together easier. The main problem here is picking a standardised method of
implementation. Personally I'm considering a scripting language that the
mud can interpret via a quest engine - but it would have to be very
complex, and very clever. These quests basically have far more potential,
can do literally anything (in ideal). I have not yet seem them done, apart
from some muds having a wizard actually run quests (via a sort of DM
approach).

Another big issue surrouding quests is probably 'trigger mechanisms'. The
stereotypical trigger is the list in the guild hall, and suchlike as
mentioned above. I plan on having NPCs who will hand out quests to
appropriate adventurers (and one or two more who will point them to those
NPCs if they haven't done the quest/s), soemthing like the roguelike game
'ADOM' does things (and the player will have a list of quests s/he has
undertaken available). Actually being-on-a-quest will be a recorded and
acted upon state of being.

Something else to which I've given little thought is the matter of rewards
for quests.

Regards,
	-Matt Chatterley
	http://user.itl.net/~neddy/index.html
"Fishing is complete and utter madness."  -Spike Milligan




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