Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On Questing

Quests are a major part of many MMORPGs, and have been implemented with various degrees of success. Some games have tried to make quests completely automated and random, where an NPC or computer gives you a random reward to go to a random place and kill random enemies in a randomly-generated dungeon; other games have gone with the more traditional approach of coding quests by hands, with various degrees of originality (Kill 10 wolves is certainly less original than Protect my house from goblins). Final Fantasy XI has even gone as far as having cutscenes upon the completion of some quests, to give the player a greater feeling of accomplishment.

What I envision is something greater. Instead of being story-driven, quests would be player-driven; that is, you do a quest to advance yourself (or your friend, or your guild). The system would implement both the traditional and random approaches to some degree.

Say you want to learn a new pattern for your tailoring skill. You go to your favorite tailoring master and ask for a new pattern; after some discussion, you decide that you want to learn that cool open-sleeve pattern for shirts. Your tutor informs you that he does not know the recipe, but Davis from the next city over does. So you grab your favorite mean of transportation and go meet Davis, who proceeds to teach you the pattern.

But not all quests are that easy; this one was fairly simple. Because everyone knows that great masters are excentric people who can't live within convenient locations, you have to travel further to get more advanced recipes.

Your teacher could inform you that you need to meet a master on his sheep ranch to learn the wool shirt pattern. Or that you need to meet the smith in a distant dwarven city to learn the blade of sharpness. Or that you need to collect the heart of a red dragon and deliver it to a secluded mage in an orc-filled volcano to learn the vorpal enchantment. The difficulty of the quest scales with the reward, and you might even need to get help from your guildsmates to get more advanced recipes.

What divides this from traditional quests, however, is that those quests aren't hard-coded (Except maybe the few higher quests of greater learning). If your teacher can't teach you what you want, he or she will point you to the most conveniently-located teacher who can (Or maybe a few of them, and let you decide). This way, a player doesn't feel like all he does is help other people find their lost chickens; they work for their own advancement, creating their own story, which is different from other people's stories.

On a side note, I really need to work on my concluding skill. Maybe my Writing master could help me with that...

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