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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Developers explains a new unique quest system for Darkfall

Darkfall Unholy Wars developer ^Ma$$^ has been good enough to respond to the many requests asking for more information and background on the upcoming Unholy Quests, and he prepared the following :

Some information on Unholy Quests

We thought it might be a good time to present some of our thinking behind the introduction of quests to Unholy Wars, with the aim of making it clearer why we believe the inclusion of such a system is important to the game, to explain the reasoning behind the decision, and hopefully to include you all in our excitement about the system. So here goes:

One of the issues we faced when thinking about how to bring quests to Unholy Wars was how to make them distinct from the Feats system, which is such a large part of the game. The quest system that we had in DFO, while very capable, was ultimately restricted to a linear “Quest/Sub-Quest” structure, which bore too much of a resemblance to Feats to be truly “useful” for Unholy Wars; so something new was required.

After (a lot of) discussions and design meetings, several “key differentiators” were identified, to give quests their “own place” in Unholy Wars, the most important of these were:

  1. Where the focus of Feats is to “complete x task”, the focus of quests should be to “tell stories”, about Agon and its lore.
  2. While Feats are presented as a static set of goals, quests should be dynamic, allowing players' choices to shape their personal journey through the lore of Agon.
  3. Where Feats reward players with Prowess, quests should provide material rewards to players. That’s not to say there can’t/won’t be Feats for “complete x quest”, but Prowess is gained from Feats, not directly from quests; quest rewards should provide players with the things they need, for their future journeys through Agon.

During our (extensive) discussions on the topic, we also realised that this re-design of our approach to quests would also afford us the opportunity to re-consider what questing, in general, can “bring to the table” in an MMO; especially as they relate to the open-world, full-loot MMO, that is Unholy Wars.
In most games quests serve as a “means of character progression”, as this role is already fulfilled in Unholy Wars by Feats, this “frees up” our quest system for other purposes; also, quests in other games tend to be very “character-centric” and attempt to give the player a “special role” in the world, while this may be fitting for single-player, or instanced, games, this feels ill-suited to Unholy Wars (there will be no “Saviour of Agon” quest-lines in our system!).

This led us to 3 main “goals” for our quest system:

  1. To help teach new players about the game and mechanics in a more interactive, engaging and rewarding manner than a tutorial ever could.
  2. To present the wealth of lore and history about the world of Agon, and the races that inhabit it (both past and present), within the game, for players to explore and immerse themselves in as they wish.
  3. To offer an “alternative PvE experience” for players, provide goals to work towards and rewards for achieving them, with a more fully “fleshed out” motivation than “for the loot” (or “for the Prowess”).

In the hope of realising these goals, we moved away from linear systems, in favour of a graph-based system, similar to the dialogue systems used in several other games. This system gives us unprecedented freedom, both in the structure of the quests and the way they are presented to players (branching progression paths, based on player choices, with multiple possible outcomes are fully integrated into the system), and also in the complexity of the individual tasks that players must perform to progress (these can be highly customised to integrate with any game mechanic, in any manner).

One final feature that is prevalent in a lot of other games’ quest systems, and was an absolute requirement of the quest system in DFO, that is worth mention is that of “quest givers” (NPC characters that invariably want players to do things for them). With our new system being more “world -centric” than “player-centric”, we saw no need to maintain such a requirement; in fact, we found such a requirement to be quite limiting. As a result, quests in Unholy Wars will not (for the most part) be started as requests from an NPC to “do something for them”, they will not be presented as “missions” that the player chooses to accept or reject; they will be (much like Feats) things that, once certain conditions have been met by the player (which might, on occasion, be “spoke to some NPC”), will be “available” to the player, to pursue if and when the player chooses to do so. This allows us to “distribute” quests around the world, far more freely than would be possible with “quest givers”; quests can be made available to players based on any number, and any combination, of factors, such as being in a specific area of the world, or a certain time of day, or using a specific item (or even, using a specific item, in a certain location, at a specific time of day!). We hope that locating, and receiving, all of the quests in the system will be as engaging and rewarding as the quests themselves can be.

We are all very much looking forward to presenting the system, and the stories it contains, to you all, and reading all your feedback about your experiences with it.

Source: Official News Forum