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 [+] Questing Theory: A Guide to coming up With Quests.

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LadyLeilani
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PostSubject: [+] Questing Theory: A Guide to coming up With Quests.   Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:38 am

*chugs a glass of water...ever so delicately*
Ahhhh...thank you for joining us today! Please, have a seat and take a free doughnut.
Today I'll be teaching you a few ways to make your quests interesting, and how to properly reward the player without breaking the game. There will be given many suggestions throughout the course, but the point is to get the mind flowing. If you're trying to implement quests in your game, and wondering what to do next, you've come to the right place.


Course Outline:
i. What is a quest, and how do I know they are right for me?
ii. Why is this quest feasible/possible?
iii. Common quest types
iv. Rewards
v. How can I make my quest fun?
vi. Putting it into practice
vii. In closing


What is a quest, and how do I know they are right for me?
Quests are basically tasks the player has, whether brought on by Non-player characters, player characters, or the main characters themselves. The very first definition of a quest in the dictionary goes as such:
"a search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something"

This is usually taken to mean that quest and "fetch quest" are basically the same thing, but that's not always the case...truthfully I'd love to play a game where that's rarely the case if at all. Quests are done in order to obtain rewards, which keeps in line with the definition of "obtaining something" after a quest is completed. Today I'll be focusing on a brand of quests dubbed the Side-Quest, which are quests given to you that do not need to be completed in order to advance the main plot of the game.

These bastions of optional goodies can be used to curve having to grind, and add something interesting to do in order to take a break of the usual town>dungeon>boss formula plaguing just about every RPG in existence. So if you ask yourself "Should I put quests in my game?" I can't exactly answer that for you, but I will say this to keep in mind.

Giving the player an option to be helpful to people who have problems (and everybody's got problems) can make the world the player plays in feel more alive...or make them feel like they are some crazy chosen hero there to listen to townspeople whine 'cuz they figure you are the one to save them. It walks a pretty thin line in the difference between the two, but making believable quests that heavily rely on gameplay enjoyment, extra world trivia, and a competent reward system may give someone that incentive not to care about the blurring line.

Besides...it's not like we have to make every person who gives out a quest to seem like a needy beggar.


Why is this quest feasible/possible?
So that brings us to our first line of thought. Why does this person need your help? Will giving them said help lead to some awesome twist that brings up a new quest? Try to keep in mind the why, and the what ifs of quest giving. What-ifs meaning, that by completing this quest, will there be a ripple effect because of it? As said in another tutorial of mine, things don't just stay the same in a living world, so quests should reflect that.

In order to find out how to first make a believable NPC the quest can be tied to, take a look at my NPC creation tutorial here:
http://ava-community.forumfree.co.uk/t22-npcs-and-you-a-guide-to-creating-background-characters

This brings up another point; will characters desire the same goal in a quest, thus making you choose who to use to complete this quest? The easy example would be obtaining an obscure cure with only one use, and deciding who should get it. Will the player give it to the one who needs it the most, or will the player give it to the person with the best reward? Keep that in mind as well.

Bottom line however, is why have this quest in the first place? Think about it while I go over other fun-filled ventures in quest making.


Common quest types
In order to help get the creative juices flowing, I'm going to list some common types. Take this however you want; something to build upon, or something to avoid as much as possible.

Fetch Quest: Oh the lovely quest of questing. Not many people in RPG land want to help the poor NPCs, and God knows they can't go into the ghoul infested catacombs to get their grandmother's ring, so the player is given the option to be helpful for the incentive of a reward. This can also be used to describe the endless delivery service of the player. Since you can get through the Cave of Death, an NPC wants you to deliver a letter to her pen pal on the other side of said cave. God only knows how they kept in touch before you came along.

Kill x number of monster Quest: For some reason people really hate a certain enemy, whether it be because the gigantic acid spitting bees are ruining this NPC's crops, or maybe the NPC just really hates bears. Whatever the reason, somehow killing 10 of them stops the problem.

Get x number of item from monster Quest: The ugly cousin of the quest above, although able to make more sense with infinite enemies than its cousin. Maybe the same bear hating NPC wants to kill them because he/she buys into the honey stealing stereotype, only made more plain when some bears drop the honey the NPC wants. By giving the NPC 10 things of honey they're sweet tooth is sated...for now.

Tutorial Quests: Quests that are completed by doing something new gameplay wise. Unless it's in a teaching setting, the only possible explanation is the game gods giving you random trinkets for playing the game in the "right" way. Usually only used in MMORPGs...but not exclusive to them.

"I'm Poor" Quests: You know the one, with the starving or in debt NPC about to die unless you give them 10 gold to live/pay off some debt. Not as common, but if you played anything Bioware it is.

There are a couple more in the vein of the "I'm Poor" quests, but most quests consist of the first three I mentioned. It is possible to keep running with the same formula? Of course, but keep in mind not to cross the line of "oooo SIDE-QUEST" to "Oh great...ANOTHER damn bear massacre." Unless your player hates bears as much as those NPCs; things can get boring pretty quickly. Is it possible to avoid these three common quest-points?

Of course, but I wouldn't ignore them because of how overused they are. Keep in mind as long as it's believable and interesting with back-story and gameplay variation that even the tried and true methods can carry your side-quests. I will be posting a quest idea that eliminates these three points entirely in the "Putting it to practice" section in order to help keep the unique ideas flowing.


Rewards
With all of the quests out there, sometimes rewards begin to truly lack incentive, or creativity by just giving more money. In many commercial RPGs I have played this ends up being the case. Of course the extra money is good and all, but oftentimes it's only used to buy better equipment. In games like that I tend to have more than enough money anyway; not to mention I could just grind some monsters if I wanted money that badly.

That's what you should ask yourself; what makes quest rewards different than everyday accessible rewards from enemies/shops? You could remedy this by making better equipment/items from quests than available in the store, but what about an hour down the line when store-bought stuff is better again?

Why not make the player debate whether slightly more defense or attack is better than the effects of the equipment from the quest? Rewards aren't just limited to equipment either:

Quests could hand out Reward Points (RP) which act as a second currency similar to casino coins that can buy better things, as well as skills and more quests if you so choose.
You could also be given special synthesis items from quests that make powerful items/skills. Synthesis is basically putting together a few items to make awesome brand new ones.

These are just a couple quick examples, but make sure to put thought into every reward. Being fair to gameplay balance ask yourself; what would I find a good/interesting quest reward by completing this quest?


How can I make my quest fun?
If you've seen this and my other tutorial; the answer's going to be obvious. Fun is subjective, so make a quest that you'd find fun, but let's go a bit deeper than that.

When making a quest keep in mind what the player will actually be doing for the quest. If they have to go into a cave infested with monsters to obtain an item, this leads to figuring out how to make the battles themselves fun before thinking about the item in the chest. (or wherever the item is) The item in question can also be found in creative ways. How about a talon from a giant combustible eagle? Then in order for the quest to be fun, the fight against the combustible eagle should be fun too.

The point I'm getting at is to look at the quest in parts and figure out if each part of the quest is fun before declaring the quest fun.

Putting it into practice
So now that we have an idea on what would make a worth-while quest, it's time to put the idea into practice to create an interesting quest.

Here's my example, and as promised, will avoid the the three common quest ideas if only to show that it is possible. I myself find the three common quest ideas perfectly suitable when going to battle, as long as the battles themselves are fun. The driving force for me being the quest giver's tale and how interesting and usable the reward is. That too will reflect in this example:

Quest Name: Training Supervision
Quest Giver: Sampson
Quest Giver's Background: Sampson is an adept warrior who goes overboard in arena fights for show. Instead of making an interesting show for the spectators to watch, he instead demolishes enemies as quickly as possible with the best skills at his disposal. Figuring the main character is a seasoned fighter who takes the time to be a spectator in the arena, he decides it's best to ask him how he can remedy this by showcasing all his moves.
Quest Objective: Sampson will showcase his attacks on a dummy, the player will have to balance out how much damage they do to how flashy they are. The damage is important, because too much damage and the fight will end before the crowd is pumped up enough, and flashy being used to pump said crowd up. After seeing each of Sampson's moves, the player will decide which ones he should use in his fight and which ones are too damaging/boring for the crowd's pleasure.
Additional Quest possibilities: Making Sampson beatable in the arena.
Reward: Sampson will give you one of his flashiest yet damaging moves.

This is a basic outline I use when coming up with quests with only one objective; feel free to think about the same points when creating quests of your own. As you can see watching a deadly fighter perform moves and giving the fighter advice on which moves would please the crowd can be an interesting alternative to the sea of killing things to get things. Seriously though...poor bears.
Disclaimer: Anyone making a game with copious amounts of bear killing after reading this tutorial will get you LadyLeilani as your permanent beta tester.

In closing
I hope you've enjoyed another lesson by myself. If you're able to really think about what type of quests are available to you to make, then I've done my job. Just keep in mind one basic driving force for your quests, and that's making quests you enjoy. That's the beauty of making your own game, and in extension, your own quests.

All I want to say is good luck, and have fun with your creations! Thank you for taking the time to read this! ^_^

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PostSubject: Re: [+] Questing Theory: A Guide to coming up With Quests.   Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:10 am

Ive never been a fan of making side quests. reason: look at all there is to know about making a good one xD But I'm sure someone out there will find this useful lol. Its just too much switch/variable synching to worry about for me ATM.
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PostSubject: Re: [+] Questing Theory: A Guide to coming up With Quests.   Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:47 am

A-hey, you said you'd make a tutorial for this and you did! OwO Way to keep a promise!

Thing is, you should probably include the fact that most quests should certainly involve the main quest line ever so slightly, or even have an impact on the course of the main quest line. Different endings are always a load of fun.
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PostSubject: Re: [+] Questing Theory: A Guide to coming up With Quests.   Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:15 am

@kzar
This is assuming that the only things the player experiences are battles and towns, then of course there's not much to add besides the three main common parts of a quest.
All I wanted was for people interested in making quests to think for themselves with some guidance.

@BlackMuffin
Indeed, almost didn't but felt like it today xD any longer it would have been more than a week.
As for ties with the main quest, that's pretty much where the "What-ifs" come in. A ripple effect in the broadest sense. It's great that you're thinking about tying together what happens to the main quest through side-quests.

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