[MUD-Dev] Effort to produce a quest

Lachek Butalek lachek at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 07:09:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

On 11/12/05, Mike Rozak < Mike at mxac.com.au> wrote:

> My guess, and please tell me if I'm wrong, is that a WoW-quality
> quest on a text mud takes 1/4 - 1/2 day to write (on average).

> Combining the numbers means that 1 hour of player quest
> entertainment = 5 quests = 1.3 to 2.5 days of work by an
> author. Do these numbers seem reasonable?

These numbers depend entirely on how you define quests in your
game. If your game consists of nothing but quests, as Hitchhiker's
Guide for example, you end up with one number - but if quests are a
diversion or rarity, as they tend to be in many MUDs and MMOs, you
end up with a different one. For example, how much development time
is spent on creating WoW monsters that never has any quests
associated with them? If a single critter is used for multiple
quests, is the development time split between the quests or not?
Does city design time factor into the time function for quest
development?  Even if quests are given out, but never carried out,
in the cities? At one extreme, quest design would approximate the
total development time for the game. At the other, quest design
could be distilled into a simple, English like scripting language,
in which case quest design would be trivial and could be carried out
in a few minutes (for simple quests) to an hour (for campaign-like
monstrosities taking multiple sessions to complete).

For example, look at the NeverWinter Nights "Aurora"
engine. Creating a fedex or "slay the foozle" quest is very easy,
10-30 minutes, because all the tools are in place for it already. On
the other hand, if you wish to create a quest to woo the princess in
the tall tower so she will let down her hair and let you climb up -
well, it's possible, but will take a lot of effort. If you want the
graphical effects of the braid of hair falling down from the tower
the time to create the quest just increased by many, many orders of

In a traditional text-based MUD, quests are less central than they
are in WoW. More time is spent exploring, problem solving and
socializing in most MUDs than in WoW. This is part of the game
experience, and due to that it is hard to make a comparison between
MUDs and WoW on numbers like "hours of content" (which, if we're
talking Virtual Worlds and not Multiplayer Games is a funny figure
to throw around - how many "hours of content" does Earth offer? =) )

The point I'm trying to make is that if your game is well defined
and developed before quests are taken into consideration, like most
established text-MUDs are, it should be trivial to design and
implement quests that fit into the game engine, perhaps on the order
of an hour or two. With good quest-developing tools in place, less
than that. I doubt that creating a quest in WoW takes much
longer. Considering the "quality/scope/design" of an average WoW
quest - "move this barrel of beer from NPC1 to NPC2 to NPC3 to NPC4"
account for four of WoW's 3000 quests - I bet a single scripter
could crank out several per day on average, much like a text MUD
developer could.  It all comes down to how easily you can piggy-back
on the already developed game world and physics in creating your

As for for many "rooms" you need for N hours of play... again, it
depends on the type of game and what kind of content it features. As
an example from graphical MMO land, EVE Online require massive empty
spaces to produce the feeling of, well, space. Is an empty room
still a "room"? On the other hand, many text MUDs have far too many
rooms for the content they house, and finding content and other
players become problematic. Roleplaying-centric MU*s tend to have
relatively few rooms to facilitate and encourage roleplaying - in
such a setting, a single "room" can produce hundreds of hours of
content, much like the auction houses in WoW.

While that in no way answered your questions, I hope it added some
food for thought.

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