The various roles in quest creation

For all talk about quests. Creating, testing, bugs, and development progress.
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Jay_H
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:54 am

The various roles in quest creation

Post by Jay_H » Sat Jun 08, 2019 5:53 am

Something I've thought about is the hesitation some might feel about writing quests. There are multiple roles to fill, and not everyone is meant for each of them. However, a person can certainly be good at one or two and collaborate on the others. Remember: it took the great minds of Ted Peterson and Julian Jensen working together to make Daggerfall's quests. There's good reason why quest writing can seem so daunting to a single person.

Now, the roles in order of execution:

1. Quest concept: The big picture: "Is it a dungeon-delver, an item search, a rumor chaser, a town visit, or a combat quest? What is something new or memorable I want players to feel with this quest? What would make this quest enjoyable? What would attract people to play it?"

2. Dialogue writing: I usually spend more than half my time writing dialogue when making a new quest -- which is the sum of the whole design, mechanics, and testing phases! Dialogue is tremendously important for both flavor and purpose. Imagine how dull FTL would be if every event space merely said, "New enemy craft. Destroy or spare?"

3. Mechanics: All gameplay aspects from quest acceptance to victory/failure conditions. This requires a good analytical mind that can learn the system's capabilities and limitations.

4. Testing: This includes both completion testing and feedback. I've had to shelve a few quests that first sounded fun or innovative, which were really rather mediocre in practice.

If anyone feels hesitant about writing quests, consider if you feel better off taking one or two of these roles rather than all four. Imagine the utility of a single person writing a whole draft for a quest's dialogue, and then offering it up for someone else to fill in mechanics for it -- or on the flip side, someone who programs a bunch of interesting encounters and/or actions and then leaves a bunch of placeholder dialogue for another person to write; or just a person who wants to test other people's work. I'm certain there are some quite talented people around who could do well with a more specialized approach.

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Jay_H
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:54 am

Re: The various roles in quest creation

Post by Jay_H » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:42 am

In practice, it could look like this, for one who only wants to write dialogue:
Quest offer: "We have a job here that doesn't really fit the bill for what the Fighters Guild was made for, but it still pays. Do ya wanna go over to (another town) and bring some (gem) someone left over there? Sounds like easy pickin's."

Alternate offer: "We've got a request here to go over to (another town) and pick up something that got left over there by accident. Sounds simple enough. Wanna take this one, (player name)?"

If you accept: "All right, get going then. (town name), (house name). You're looking for some (gem) that they said is gonna be on the floor. Just grab it and there should be some instructions on where you take it. That's what they told me, at least. (the person behind the scheme) should give you your reward after that. I'm giving you (time limit) days to do this."

When you pick up the gem: "You hear a faint snicker."

Then a bunch of enemies spawn. If you kill the leader: ""Th-that's... im-mposs..." The ringleader collapses."

A note on the leader's body says: "This month we're paying (huge money, like more than 1500?) for every Fighters Guild bozo. Remember: priorities are eyes, hearts, and lungs. Partials mean less pay for you."

When you go back to the quest giver: "This again? (swear). Hey, I'm really sorry about this. We told the (king) and everyone's doing everything they can to find who's behind it. But look, I'm not gonna let you walk away empty-handed. Keep that (gem) you got from them and sell it if you want, and I'll give you (small gold, like 50?) gold out of my own pocket. It's not that much but it's literally all I've got left over from last week. Just know that we appreciate how there are members like you watching out for the rest of us."
That's the most time-consuming part of making the quest, but if that's all a person has to do, it can be a fairly fluid process. Going back and forth between the execution and the narrative can sometimes make the task quite complex. If you feel capable, why not give it a shot?

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