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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Quests without Rails

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33 posts found
  Alcuin

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/15/07
Posts: 299

6/29/12 8:14:04 AM#21
Everquest has quests that weren't on rails in the form of bounties.

Any character of any level could do them.
Gnoll teeth from black burrow gnolls.

These would randomly drop off of gnolls in Blackburrow, but would rarely drop on gnolls outside of the burrows as well - even in the newbie area. There was a guy who would take them and players would get experience and faction adjustments for each tooth.

There was a similar bounty for Crushbone Orc belts and shoulder pads in Kaladim.

... And one for fire beetle eyes in Freeport ... And one for Red wine in Neriak.

Dwarves were generally KOS in the dark elf home city. Through use of an invisibility potion and a lot of red wine, I was able to walk around the city unhindered by most NPC dark elevs...much to the surprise of pretty much everybody I came across. There was a wandering guard that was of a different faction that would get me though, so I was always on edge.

_____________________________
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  User Deleted
6/29/12 8:33:52 AM#22

I think Runescape had one of the best questing systems in the industry. It had no hubs and for a long time it also had no hand-holding quest log. I consider this to be questing along a trail (or something lol) as oppose to being strapped to a rail. It was fun figuring out how to bake a cake, make a dye, create a disguise and performing a jailbreak as a newbie.  It didn't have walls either. You could try and defeat the boss dragon in RS1 without your dragonfire shield but you'll probably die or barely survive.

The quests were varied and pretty interesting too. It's really too bad that Runescape is cash grabbingly craptastic nowadays.

I've never played a game that allowed you to complete a quest in any order before. I think it'd overwhelm people and require too many scripts. That's why I believe that Runescape had a good compromise between varied, scattered and hands-off but linear questing.

  fervor

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/13/07
Posts: 145

6/29/12 8:43:20 AM#23

The essential problem with MMORPG questing is that most of them are NOT MEANINGFUL.  You do the quest and nothing changes.  It impacts nothing.

It's the primary difference between single player RPG's and MMORPG's. 

Many quests in single player games are pretty standard too.  If you look at the ME3 or Skyrim quest log, it reads just like a normal MMORPG quest log.  Kill.  Fetch.  Deliver.

Even in Skyrim, if a quest giver tells me to go fetch 10 pelts, I get annoyed.

  ReallyNow10

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1629

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/29/12 9:02:05 AM#24
Originally posted by Alcuin
Everquest has quests that weren't on rails in the form of bounties.

Any character of any level could do them.
Gnoll teeth from black burrow gnolls.

These would randomly drop off of gnolls in Blackburrow, but would rarely drop on gnolls outside of the burrows as well - even in the newbie area. There was a guy who would take them and players would get experience and faction adjustments for each tooth.

There was a similar bounty for Crushbone Orc belts and shoulder pads in Kaladim.

... And one for fire beetle eyes in Freeport ... And one for Red wine in Neriak.

Dwarves were generally KOS in the dark elf home city. Through use of an invisibility potion and a lot of red wine, I was able to walk around the city unhindered by most NPC dark elevs...much to the surprise of pretty much everybody I came across. There was a wandering guard that was of a different faction that would get me though, so I was always on edge.

Exactly, and this, I think, is the way to do quests.  Turning in pelts, scalps, gnoll teeth, weapons from bandits (maybe the city guard sees this as helping keep crime down).  Stuff like this feels real ("real" within game world terms), makes sense and does not lock you into some prewritten "story" (which always feels false and canned).

I think the biggest problem with MMORPG design over the last decade is the dev fallacy in thinking that gamers have to be led by the nose, forced to follow a storyline (with spoonfed questing being the primary mode to accomplish this).

  ReallyNow10

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1629

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/29/12 9:04:47 AM#25
Originally posted by fervor

The essential problem with MMORPG questing is that most of them are NOT MEANINGFUL.  You do the quest and nothing changes.  It impacts nothing.

It's the primary difference between single player RPG's and MMORPG's. 

Many quests in single player games are pretty standard too.  If you look at the ME3 or Skyrim quest log, it reads just like a normal MMORPG quest log.  Kill.  Fetch.  Deliver.

Even in Skyrim, if a quest giver tells me to go fetch 10 pelts, I get annoyed.

A quest should be meaningful, but you do not necessary have to be "the one" who "changes the world."  You can be a compentent and formidable adventurer in your own right without being special on a world level or impacting grand events.  And this is fine.

But "meaningful" quests can simply be actions that sensibly serve the NPC's in some locale and adjust your faction with them, accordingly.

(Frankly, I like the idea of turning in bandit weapons as a faction bump with the law enforcement of a local region, as a good example.  You don't even need a formal quest; you just need to kill some bandits, gather their weapons up, then turn them in to the local constabulatory for minor coin reward and slight faction increase.  This keeps it simple and sensible; the local authorities always want the bandit population trimmed down, and the turning in of weapons or sashes or something is evidence of that.)  

Remember, you don't always have to be "the one" who "saved the princess" or "change the world".

  eykosurf

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/25/12
Posts: 14

6/29/12 9:43:22 AM#26
Originally posted by ReallyNow10
Originally posted by Wolfenpride

Not sure how you can make a quest without having some form of rails. Every quest has to have some sort of goal or target.

As a start though, I think you could give players a more of a sense of exploration/discovering by not putting a giant circle on where they need to go to do the quest, but that seems to be the trend of future games.

 

Take a zone with 4 or 5 quest hubs in it.  Instead of forcing the player to go from A to B to C to D to E, in that order ONLY, allow the player to hit them in any order, or to even skip them and pick up some in another level-appropriate zone.

A to B to C to D to E is ONE variation only.

A or B or C or D or E can be mixed up (what? help me, mathematicians) 5 factorial times in combination? 

ex. 

A, C, D, E, B

A, D, E, B, C

D, B, C, A, E

etc.....

This is what quests "without rails" means.

So, have more than one level-appropriate zone to level in, and have quest hubs that can be hit, or skipped, in any order.  And the result will be player freedom and exploration.

 

If I read this comment correctly, this outline somewhat reflects the mission terminals in Star Wars Galaxies.  The terminals would allocate missions to the player based on their skill and equipment. 

The issue with this system is that the missions were quite repetative and didn't really do much to extend the lore of the game or area.  Star Wars Galaxies also had embedded themeparks, but those missions were mostly 'on rails' as the OP describes.

I'd love to see a creative solution to adding player created content to quest lines.  Allowing players to extend the lore without being too gimicky would be compelling.

  ReallyNow10

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1629

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/29/12 9:53:39 AM#27
Originally posted by eykosurf
Originally posted by ReallyNow10
Originally posted by Wolfenpride

Not sure how you can make a quest without having some form of rails. Every quest has to have some sort of goal or target.

As a start though, I think you could give players a more of a sense of exploration/discovering by not putting a giant circle on where they need to go to do the quest, but that seems to be the trend of future games.

 

Take a zone with 4 or 5 quest hubs in it.  Instead of forcing the player to go from A to B to C to D to E, in that order ONLY, allow the player to hit them in any order, or to even skip them and pick up some in another level-appropriate zone.

A to B to C to D to E is ONE variation only.

A or B or C or D or E can be mixed up (what? help me, mathematicians) 5 factorial times in combination? 

ex. 

A, C, D, E, B

A, D, E, B, C

D, B, C, A, E

etc.....

This is what quests "without rails" means.

So, have more than one level-appropriate zone to level in, and have quest hubs that can be hit, or skipped, in any order.  And the result will be player freedom and exploration.

 

If I read this comment correctly, this outline somewhat reflects the mission terminals in Star Wars Galaxies.  The terminals would allocate missions to the player based on their skill and equipment. 

The issue with this system is that the missions were quite repetative and didn't really do much to extend the lore of the game or area.  Star Wars Galaxies also had embedded themeparks, but those missions were mostly 'on rails' as the OP describes.

I'd love to see a creative solution to adding player created content to quest lines.  Allowing players to extend the lore without being too gimicky would be compelling.

The example was more to reflect Vanilla WOW.  You'd have zone with a few quest givers or hubs, and you could tackle it on your own terms.  You could even travel through high level zones (always exciting and dangerous) to get to a more level appropriate zone near another racial starting area to work on a different faction or simply to vary your leveling experience.

(The quest hubs in SGW, I found annoying; that game lacked that "something" in my opinion.)

But, the point is not adding to a quest line or building a story, but in giving players something to do while making them feel they are still free-willed and have choices.  Too many games make players feel like they "ought to" do something, or worse, "have to" do something.  I'd like to see a return of player freedom where the devs make the world and turn the players loose within in.

Somewhere between what EQ1 and early WOW offered might be the sweet spot of MMORPG design.

  SEANMCAD

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 5219

6/29/12 10:15:48 AM#28

I think its entirely possible and fairly low cost to create a player created quest system that also is not easy to abuse.

 

Your a crafter and you need 100 plets to make that armour? create a quest to kill 100 beavers and as a reward some sword you just crafted.

 

yes I know its still just 'kill 100 rats' kind of quest but players are making them.

Correlation does not imply causation

  dontadow

Novice Member

Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 1045

6/29/12 10:19:29 AM#29

RPGs are defined by rails, from tabletops to video games to mmo.  The secret in some games is either making the game so fun that it doesnt matter or giving an illusion that there are no rails.  

Games need rails in order to provide a sense of organization and realisim.  I was reading aobut Dayz, and the thing that is missing is the lack of humanism of the characters.  It's lack or organization is why i don't find it all that realistic.  Rails tends to balance out the humanism factor that would be lacking without it.  

  SEANMCAD

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 5219

6/29/12 10:24:24 AM#30
Originally posted by dontadow

RPGs are defined by rails, from tabletops to video games to mmo.  The secret in some games is either making the game so fun that it doesnt matter or giving an illusion that there are no rails.  

Games need rails in order to provide a sense of organization and realisim.  I was reading aobut Dayz, and the thing that is missing is the lack of humanism of the characters.  It's lack or organization is why i don't find it all that realistic.  Rails tends to balance out the humanism factor that would be lacking without it.  

true. I mean to be honest none of us play to fall in love, or be enlighted by a good story (we will read a book for that), we play for a challenge and a challenge implies and begin and and end which implies 'rails'. That said you can make it so that the over all goal is more 'customized' as you move along. How many of us have ended up with a character in Skyrim with a back story exactly as we had planned from the start?

Correlation does not imply causation

  Gaia_Hunter

Elite Member

Joined: 5/04/12
Posts: 2590

6/29/12 10:25:49 AM#31
Originally posted by dontadow

RPGs are defined by rails, from tabletops to video games to mmo.  The secret in some games is either making the game so fun that it doesnt matter or giving an illusion that there are no rails.  

Games need rails in order to provide a sense of organization and realisim.  I was reading aobut Dayz, and the thing that is missing is the lack of humanism of the characters.  It's lack or organization is why i don't find it all that realistic.  Rails tends to balance out the humanism factor that would be lacking without it.  

It seems to me Dayz is really about creating a situation where stuff we consider essential in a society is tossed away.and humans behave more like barbarians or wild animals.

On the other hand online games already tend to remove some of the humanism even when they aren't trying to.

Currently playing: GW2
Cooperative (semi cooperative)board games you should check: Pandemic, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Eldritch Horror, Descent 2.0,Level 7 Omega Protocol, Last Night on Earth

  Darkmoth

Novice Member

Joined: 5/14/12
Posts: 175

6/29/12 7:28:14 PM#32
Originally posted by seridan
Originally posted by Darkmoth
Originally posted by Shariest

I was just going to say something about GW II fulfilling most of the mentioned :D

At least 3 people in this thread have said this, but I don't see it. "pick up 31 apples as they spawn". "Defend farm against X waves of bandits".  Those both felt very quest-like to me. I remain baffled at how people see this as anything but "kill 10 foozles" except you can kill them in any order you want. Mind you, I don't have a problem with killing 10 foozles, but that's what it is.

Reread the posts then.

Did you have to take a "quest" to pick up the 31 apples? No you didn't. Did you know that "event" happens after certain conditions are met first? There is a big chain of events that leads to the apples or the bandits. But unlike other games you don't HAVE to finish the prerequisities in order to help. Events appear and you participate as you see them, no matter what other events you might have done in the past.

Also the wave of bandits event has a failure option, if the bandits manage to burn the farm then they win. Another event will begin following the farm's destruction, while if the players WIN a different event will result. Different outcomes, different playthroughs, lots of consequences. What I do affects what you will see.

You can reread my own post, I think I explain the difference well enough.

I did read them, of course, I suspect we simply disagree about what constitutes a "quest".  The fact that I don't have to right-click an NPC to get the quest is simply a quest managment mechanic. WoW could certainly auto-assign you every quest in a zone when you enter, and auto-complete them as you meet requirements. They'd still be quests.

The fact that I don't have to pick up all 30 apples just makes it a group quest. I don't have to solo every rift in Rift, or defeat every zone invasion by myself. In Champions Online, everyone within a certain radius contributes to ending the Prison Invasion, or Stopping The Riot, or whatever. This is a tried and true mechanic, and can be applied to great effect, but it's still questing.

See, I've picked up those apples three times on three different characters, I saved the quarry from Earth Elementals each time, I helped the farmer each time, and those Centaurs are the most persistent bastards ever, given that I've killed them three times.

I'll take you at your word about the various bandit outcomes, I ve never lost it. It sounds similar to what happens in Rift if you fail to defend a WardStone during a ZA. If you read MY post, I did say that both games are trying to push the envelope of standard questing.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12141

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

6/29/12 7:47:34 PM#33
Originally posted by maplestone

The Bulk Order Deed system in UO was probably my favourite quest system of any MMO I've played.

Kept me busy for months. :) 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

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