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Standing Stone Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/24/07)  | Pub:Daybreak Games
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New Developer Diary

Posted by Jon Wood on Sep 11, 2005  | Comments

New Developer Diary - MMORPG.com

Lord of the Rings Online has released a new developer Diary. This one comes to us from Chris "NobOrBob" Foster and takes a look at the sometimes perilous life of a developer whose job it is to populate a gaming world with quests.

Perilous Quests

With several dozen quests created, we had a solid body of content to review. The gameplay they provided was solid – well, perhaps for the one quest, which I wrote early on and for which I take full responsibility, where players help the Mayor of Haysend complete the yearly Driving of the Toads out of Haysend Hall, which involved collecting toad-skins to replace the bellows on something suspiciously like bagpipes – anyway, the gameplay was solid, but the process we went through to create them was cumbersome.

To explain: the quest file was the file that defined the structure of a quest, and it consisted of listing of the steps the player must accomplish to complete the quest, such as:

  • Step 1: Speak to Fred.
  • Step 2: Kill the Great Evil Bad Thing, Because It Is Evil, and Collect its Monogrammed Handkerchief.
  • Step 3: Return to Fred and Give Fred the Handkerchief.

That sounds simple enough, but the quest file contained only those steps – just the descriptions of each phase of the quest, and the order in which they occurred. The quest file did not tell Fred what to say, or even that he was part of the quest. The quest file did not tell G.E.B.T. to advance the quest when he was killed, or to have a Handkerchief on hand when he died. In order to build the quest, the designer had to edit or create all of the relevant files individually: the monster, Fred, Fred's AI tables, the Handkerchief, a special "death effect" file that told the monster to advance the quest, and a treasure profile that told the monster to drop the Handkerchief, in addition to any other treasure.

In practice, this system worked perfectly fine, but it was time-consuming. The system also made it hard to have a single NPC or monster involved in multiple quests – and in a world where someone like Barliman Butterbur is likely to know a little about a lot of things, this is a frustrating limitation.

To read more of this Developer Diary, click here.  

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