Author Topic: The Art of Quests  (Read 10827 times)

Kiem

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The Art of Quests
« on: June 23, 2011, 04:31:05 PM »
Reading through old posts on the forum, I came across a thread about stories within RPGs and how important they are.

Well, that leads to a very important question: What kind of quests do you find interesting and fun? And is there any possibility for originality within quests these days?

You have your kill quests, your fetch quests, your escort quests, your collection quests...What else can there be?

Can you come up with interesting and unique quests for a single player RPG?

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2011, 04:35:07 PM »
I don't personally mind those kinds of quests so long as they have good rewards. The best kind are ones that do have their own side stories, like the ones in Nier and Mass Effect. What's even better is when they have their own dungeons that have unique mechanics or use old mechanics in unique ways.

And I can't make quests off the top of my head. I'd need more time and an actual game to make sidequests for.
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Eusis

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2011, 04:40:14 PM »
THIS is where I tend to value narrative most in an RPG. I guess it's part of why Dragon Quest can be so appealing, those little vignettes you can watch unfold and (usually) participate in, but it applies just as strongly in stuff like Bioware's best and other WRPGs where the focus isn't on loot, the quest about the rival farm families in Knights of the Old Republic really sticks out to me. Ones that are simply about beating up on enemies for awhile meanwhile tend to be my least liked, especially when done as awfully as in NieR, I want unique objectives or at least something like "reach point A, do thing, go to point B for other activity".

Vanguard

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2011, 05:00:54 PM »
At their most basic level, I don't think much room exists for innovation in quests. That's not to say they're uninteresting, but the basic framework is pretty static most of the time. What really makes them interesting is what their ability to add flavor to a world or locale, introduce new characters, or strengthen the bonds between the ones in your party.

Take Radiant Historia. This game has all of the aforementioned quests, but none of them exist within the confines of their basic formula. Each time a new plot node is added, you are given the chance to further explore the world. This is a rare case, and certainly one of the best examples, but at no moment do the quests reduce to "go here and kill this monster" or "go here and retrieve this item."
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hanako

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2011, 05:16:52 PM »
Quote
You have your kill quests, your fetch quests, your escort quests, your collection quests...What else can there be?

... Talking to people, coming to conclusions, and making decisions?

But then, I'm a VN player. :) I enjoy learning about the world and choosing who to side with. That makes things much more interesting than just killing ten foozles.

Kevadu

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 05:17:41 PM »
At their most basic level, I don't think much room exists for innovation in quests.

I don't think I could disagree more.  Just because a lot of game developers don't have much innovation in their quests doesn't mean that it can't be done.  I will pretty much echo Eusis's sentiments here, but the best quests are one that have some actual depth to them.  They don't have to be world-changing events (in fact they probably shouldn't be, they are side material after all), but that doesn't mean they can't have well-developed characters and occasional twists and turns.  Bioware sometimes gets this right, but certainly not always.  

But yeah, there's nothing more boring than 'collect n units of material A' or 'kill monster X'.  Developers put those sort of quests in because it's easy to do and considered safe and reliable.

Actually, I'm going to contradict myself for a second and note that the hunts in FFXII were an example of 'kill monster X' quests that I really enjoyed.  But that was because there was often some research and planning involved in even finding said monsters and sometimes you also needed special tactics to be able to take them out.  Furthermore, if you do enough of thoses quests you should know that there actually were some unexpected twists and turns.  So yeah, I guess even that sort of quest can be done well.  Rarely is, though.

A side comment, but one thing I find really makes me more likely to engage in sidequests is some sort of in-game quest log.  More and more games do this sort of thing now, but still not all of them.  But it's really helpful for games that you're not necessarily playing all the time.

CDFN

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2011, 07:35:18 PM »
I like:

-When they end up adding a new character to your party (like vincent and yuffie in FF7)
-When they are relevant to the game's main plot and influence its outcome (like Mass Effect 2)
-When they allow you to discover locations and monsters that you wouldn't see otherwise (some of the most beautiful locations in the last remnant weren't part of the main plot)
-A good self-contained story is enough to make a sidequest worthwhile, Nier has lots of those.

These things allow the sidequests to feel relevant instead of a waste of time. You already fight thousands of enemies when playing through the main plot, giving the player a half-assed pretext to fight a few more of the same monsters by just having a NPC spout a couple of lines is not a good sidequest.
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Kiem

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2011, 08:57:21 PM »
So from the sounds of the replies thus far, the wheel isn't broken, people just don't know how to use it properly.

A good story and narrative with strong and meaningful goals make a good quest. That sound about right?

This helps a lot guys! Thanks for input and keep them coming!

I believe that quests are one of the hardest features to master in an RPG.

Fei

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2011, 09:22:19 PM »
*cries at the memory of Square*

Chrono Trigger did it like 1000 years ago.  You hardly realize you're questing when you are just exploring and getting a full helping of valid narrative.  Maybe the quest WAS to kill <however many enemies you killed before the cutscene>, but who is counting? 

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Vanguard

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2011, 09:35:01 PM »
At their most basic level, I don't think much room exists for innovation in quests.

I don't think I could disagree more.  Just because a lot of game developers don't have much innovation in their quests doesn't mean that it can't be done.  I will pretty much echo Eusis's sentiments here, but the best quests are one that have some actual depth to them.  They don't have to be world-changing events (in fact they probably shouldn't be, they are side material after all), but that doesn't mean they can't have well-developed characters and occasional twists and turns.  Bioware sometimes gets this right, but certainly not always.  

Did you read my post?

Quests, at their most basic level, are pretty linear. No matter how many twists you throw at the player, it's still always, "Go here and find this person/kill this monster/collect these items." That's the setup part, anyway. Once you're out doing it, the rules can be thrown out the window.
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Der Jermeister

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2011, 10:34:19 PM »
I find quests that actually add to a game's story most interesting and fun.
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Dincrest

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2011, 10:56:23 PM »
When it comes to sidequests, my favorites were the ones on the Hunter's Board in Phantasy Star IV.  I always did all of them every time I played the game, and I rarely touch more than a couple of sidequests.  What I liked about them was that they had subplots and enhanced the worldbuilding.  I can't imagine playing Phantasy Star IV without the sidequests, so that's done right to me. 

Personally, I'm not a fan of the chained fetch quest.  The escort quests are painful if the person you're bodyguarding is incompetent.  Like in Phantasy Star Online, it was a pleasure escorting Matha Graves because she had competent AI, unlike Mome or Shino who would win Darwin awards for sure. 

So, yeah, quests that enhance the worldbuilding and narrative through cool subplots are cool.  As long as the quest doesn't feel like needless busywork. 
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Bytor

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2011, 12:00:18 AM »
Add to the story, very simple request. Simply going from point A to point B and back simply to get some $$ or experience strikes me as pointless.
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Darklight

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2011, 12:08:33 AM »
Personal quests that explain more of your extra characters life/situation can enhance the over all game experience, if not too sappy. Fetch this/that, kill this many thingies are just there for leveling purposes or training.

Lard

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Re: The Art of Quests
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2011, 01:16:44 AM »
As much as I liked Nier, I have to agree with Eusis that the sidequests were terrible in that game.

Also agree that a quest that gives you a character or narrative moment is better than a fetch quest. Suikoden was good for that sometimes.
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