[MUD-Dev] Re: Quest engines

Michael.Willey at abnamro.com Michael.Willey at abnamro.com
Mon Oct 5 16:21:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

Raph writes:
>Most quest engines rely on basic plot elements
>that are combined and recombined in interesting
>ways. The strength of them is that you can build
>an easily extendable database to generate a TON
>of unique quests.
>The weakness--quests can seem rote or repetitious
>or simplistic, and the work involved in making
>the database large enough to prevent this problem
>is very large.
>Basic premise: most quests are actually broken
>into discrete individual actions. For example:
>- give Item A to mobile B.
>- destroy Item A.
>- kill mobile B.
>For example, the entirety of Lord of the Rings
>can be seen as "take this item to this location
>and drop it."
>Interesting quests can then be made by linking
>together basic elements.

Here's an interesting idea:  What if your quest
engine generated not only quests, but "counter-
quests", where a different person/group is given
a quest that involves some of the same elements
as the first, but in a combination such that both
quest conditions cannot be fulfilled at the same

If a primary quest of "take object A to mobile B"
is created, a counter-quest could be to "destroy
object A before it reaches mobile B".  Using your
LOTR analogy, the entire trilogy could be termed
as exactly that: a counter-quest to "destroy object
ONE_RING before it reaches mobile SAURON".  For
each quest you generate with your system, a number
of conditions could arise that would make it's
completion impossible - any of these could become
a counter-quest.

The point of such a system would be to partially
remove the burden of providing unique challenges
to the questors from the shoulders of the game designers.
Instead, players would be given a reason to have
conflict with one another, and these conflicts would
have discrete goals rather than being just open

I have been thinking through a similar scenario
with my wife.  We called it the "Spooky/Peaceful
Forest" scenario.  We were speculating that a persistent
object A, when placed in location B, would cause
the spirits of the dead to rise and haunt a specific
area.  If the object is instead placed in location
C, the spirits would be allowed to rest.  If we
provided organization D, with a vested interest
in keeping the area peaceful, and organization E,
with a vested interest in keeping it haunted (perhaps
they operate a toll road that a journey through
the haunted woods would bypass?), then the two
organizations would maintain a constant state of
quest, as minions of the two groups tried to steal
the object from each other or keep it from being

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