[MUD-Dev] Congratulations Horizons...

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Fri Jan 9 11:48:14 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Thu 08 Jan, Brad McQuaid wrote:
> From: "Lee Sheldon" <lsheldo2 at tampabay.rr.com>

>>   2) Here's one for Brad McQuaid to chew on. His quote: "All
>>   quests are FedEx." In fact out of several steps (5?) in Trials
>>   of the Gifted only one step requires you to go obtain items and
>>   return to the questgiver and that is if you solve a simple
>>   riddle. The rest are not.

> In fairness, I'm trying to think back to the exact context of that
> paraphrase, yet I do recall saying something similar.

> I believe my point was you are ALWAYS taking something from one
> place/NPC to another place/NPC, hence it is like 'bringing a piece
> of mail'.  Whether that 'mail' is in the form of an item or
> something else (generically, a 'flag' on your character) was
> simply my point that all quests can be boiled down to that --
> regardless of all the cool story and setting you can place on top
> of it, you still need that fundamental mechanism.

While you are not exactly wrong, you do come periliously close to
saying that 'All stories are the same, they always have a begin, a
middle and an end'

In my opinion you are generalising beyond the point where it is
useful, or at least to how a designer may look at it, and not how a
player would. To many (!) players the story and setting ARE all that
the quest is about. Or at least part of its appeal.

>From a literary point of view a quest is a journey into the unknown
to achieve a goal of great value or importance and one that will
cause the quester to grow or transcend.  E.g. the knights of the
round table's quest to find the holy grail, or Frodo's quest to
destroy the one ring.

In games this is not so easily captured. The travel itself is not
effectively possible, given that game worlds generally are very
small and instant travel is widely available.  Also the sense of
urgency is very difficult to achieve, unless the player wishes to
suspend disbelief and submerges in the game world (and even then)
Finally, the 'unknown' is currently next to impossible given the
proliferation of 'quest guides' as soon as the first players solves
the 'puzzle'.

So, the fed-ex that you seem to despise so are really one of the few
ways the game designer has to partition the quest, give it a certain
sense of travel and allows him or her to actually advance the
storyline.  If you want to treat the quest as a checklist of actions
to do to finally obtain the reward, then yes, everything is a
fed-ex, and big quests are just strings of them.

But then, almost everything you and I do in reality is also just
another form of fed-exing.  (e.g.  you fed-ex food from the shop to
your kitchen to craft-skill a meal... if you want to reduce it that
far)

What would be welcome is a way to preserve the 'unknown' part of the
quest between various takers. And perhaps rather than relying on
persistence make it quite possible to actually fail.

The first would make it impossible to hand out a checklist of
actions once the first player finishes it.  The second would make
taking the quest, and completing it, really meaningful.  You can
have time to prepare for each stage, but you get only one shot at
it.

And of course once you completed the quest the game should recognise
that fact and treat your character differently from others.  If you
have become the champion of the gods, you should not then (have to)
return to exterminating mice.

marian
--
Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey
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