=MECH= Quest writing (Full Version)

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Eukara Vox -> =MECH= Quest writing (5/18/2013 18:50:35)

Just about everyone has played a game and after a quest, thought to themselves "If I wrote it, I would have..."

So what makes a great quest, great?

What are the essentials in a successful quest in your opinion?

What kind of things kills it for you?

Are there quests you have played lately that are either a great example of what you like or a great example of what you don't?


Hopefully, this discussion will generate a lot of feedback and conversation. Quest writing is a joy, though what one man's joy is another man's disappointment. Through this, perhaps we can provide some great, thought-provoking fodder for future writers and current quest designers.



Please do not take advantage of my good graces to make this into a rant/complaint/troll thread towards current writers. That is not what this is for.




Gingkage -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (5/18/2013 19:13:08)

As lazy as this answer sounds, it really depends on the quest.

If a quest is supposed to be little dialogue and a lot of action, then the dialogue that is there should... enhance the action, so to speak. On the other hand, if a quest is to be dialogue-heavy, the dialogue should be almost action-packed. I don't mean that characters should talk as if they're fighting (unless they are, I suppose). Instead I mean that the dialogue shouldn't be stagnant. A dialogue that's entirely, or almost entirely 'What do you want to do?' 'I don't know.' is boring and no one wants to read it. There should be feeling that's present in the words. The dialogue should carry the scene, each line leading up to the climax.

That being said, in general, the quests I enjoy are more dialogue than action, or at least a combination of dialogue and action that makes you think (like a mini-game in between dialogue, the 'Memory' quest in the Ravenloss story being the first example to come to mind). A quest that isn't black and white, where you actually have to think about how you respond, or how you would respond were you in that situation, is an amazing thing. Because after all, we don't live in a black and white world. There are numerous shades of gray. There can be a situation that can be looked at and seen as repulsive, and shocking, but also inspiring the greatest of pity. To use a shameless plug as an example, I have a story where, if I can successfully write it, will have scenes that will be horrifying, making you wonder why a person could do that and not feel a thing, and at the same time feel great amounts of pity for the character, because to be able to those horrible acts unflinchingly reflect the type of life that she had.

I also love quests where the emotional involvement is real and powerful, not just for my character, but for me as well. If I can see something happen to my character, or to someone my character knows, and it's a wonderful thing, I want to genuinely feel happiness and/or excitement for that person. Or if it's a tragic, shocking thing, I want to feel that. Quests shouldn't just be played. They should also be felt.

And re-reading this post, I have no idea what I'm talking about anymore. I know I had a direction when I started writing, but I think I lost it somewhere in the second sentence. I think what I'm trying to say is that I like quests that make me think and make me feel. Maybe.




Dwelling Dragonlord -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (5/20/2013 9:21:07)

A good quest, just like any story I suppose, is where the personalities and histories of characters are being fully incorporated. There are times where a statement which I believe to be genuine in nature is forgotten and then makes the character look like a hypocrit or a completely different character. Such moments make me cringe.

A simple example would be if Warlic were to use the full extent of his powers for a menial task and almost overloaded because of it.

(From what I noticed however these characters usually don't have much to do with the actual quest themselves and are just "thrown in" there for no apparent reason. Should you feel like including a character like that always make sure you are not giving them dialogue which doesn't fit them and opt for a new/other NPC altogether.)*


I also believe that if a sense of urgence is to be portrayed then it must be done so with more than words. The whole quest must have me, the player, thinking that if I fail to achieve my objectives something bad will happen. Make me WANT to win.

This can effectively done by creating a build-up throughout sagas. Neglecting this build-up can greatly diminish the emotions you wish the player to experience.


Battles are an important aspect of almost any quest and one must never forget that they strongly shape the story in an indirect way (and so do their stats and difficulty). Depending on the subject of a quest you are writing you will put forward different enemies who each work best in certain environments.

No matter the environment, variation and moderation are always needed for without it most players will become bored or annoyed. DF tends to suffer less from this as battles are more quickly than they are in AQ, but I think you get what I mean.

QUESTS
* (AQ) Meet Memet: Why would Twilly go to Sila's tower when going to Warlic would be just as simple? Xarymandias serves no purpose other than to create an inconsistency for adventurer characters and ruin (in my opinion) his character by making him sufffer from memory loss which in turn reduces his value in this quest.

Not neseccarily limited to this quest are Twilly's intelligence levels. I get that a lot of different writers are using him for their quests, but they really shouldn't fluctuate as much.

(AQ) Lt. Lore: This quest makes good use of random characters to introduce a new character. It feels like it is actually a part of the underlying story and the townsfolk make Battleon feel a bit more like a hub.




Faerdin -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (5/20/2013 19:21:58)

One aspect I find to be a defining feature of good Quests would be if they broaden my knowledge of Artix Entertainment and the universe of whatever game I should be playing. To better understand the world in which our Characters struggle only makes our successes all the more sweet, as we will fully comprehend the very forces we had to overcome in order to attain victory. In Dragonfable, for example, there are many subjects- SoulWeavers, DragonLords and the DragonLord Order, Atealans, and Infernals to name a few- that I am certain people would love to see expanded upon, and I know how enjoying it can be to learn more about what makes such things tick.

The Quests in the Necropolis (And Amityvale by extension) are a very good example of this from Dragonfable. We learned quite a bit from Artix and Sir Malifact about what it was that defined Paladins and Death Knights, and we had even found in Sir Malifact a brief but thoroughly enjoyable series of Quests that explored the Sir Malifact's dark descent. ^_^




Balu -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (5/22/2013 6:20:41)

Well this is quite the topic isn`t it?

There is so much that can be discussed in regards to the success of the failure of a game quest/saga, chain! When thinking about all the elements that can make or break, again, there is a ton to discuss and elements to touch upon. Especially looking at different games and their quests.

What makes a quest great?

Looking at the AE games, there are of course elements common to all games but also different ones, due to the nature of each game.
Doing a lot of quests and having played all the AE games (some more then others), I have like a personal criteria list off of which I rate each quest I complete. Purely for my personal entertainment.

  • Basic quest comprehension: If the player doesn`t know the protagonists, what is happening or if the lexicon used is not player friendly then that takes its toll on the quest from the get-go. Regarding this aspect, To give an example, I`d like to point at AQ, where i`ve played through quests with too many NPCs in them, strange and hard to rationalize situations and events and/or a lexicon of hard to read and understand or even unknown words that always make me wonder if other players know, enjoy seeing them and if there really was such a necessity to justify their presence. DF also suffers from stuff like this, moreso in the background story of plenty of protagonists...like Faerdin mentioned. If a player doesn`t know or remember who the beings on screen are, or if he doesn`t understand what they are doing and why they are doing it, there is not much chance of getting an emotional connection or response regarding said player.
  • Quest accessibility and difficulty: If the player is having a too difficult time completing and playing through the quest, this again diminished the quest`s awesome factor, as well as the player`s entertainment/enjoyment values. If the quest has difficult prerequisites or is just too difficult, this can hurt it.
    From the top of my head I would point at the Legion and Tercessuinotlim quests in AQW, some quests from AQ where there are too many and tedious fights ( Kill the Beast - Part 2!; Truphma Camps! mission), DF Alchemy training, The First trial of Super Death (HS) etc
  • Quest`s overall richness: If the quest is too simple or stale in gameplay and the on screen action, if it lacks elements that make it entertaining. This can be different from game to game. In AQ for example, the quest must be more rich in order to not disappoint. It must contain fights, meaningful dialog, maybe a small action cutscene. In AQW or HS since you have quest chains, you can mix it up with only farming/gathering quest + exploration quests + small cutscene here and there.
  • Quests`s meaning, story and tone: If a quest doesn`t make sense, either in regards to the Action taken by the protagonists, or in regards to the actual story told, then it can be considered as a failed endeavor. Taking into consideration the tone of the quest, this I feel, is based on each individual player. Some like a really silly tone in quests, a story full of puns, breaking the 4th wall and so on. Others like myself, like to see a more serious approach taken by the writer and consider stuff like a pony with hax powers "destroying" a whole planet something undesirable to watch and experience in a quest. Like i said, this a case by case thing, but there needs to be a limit to how silly or dark of a tone a quest can have. Another thing to consider is player immersion. If you have a story heavy quest, with a more dark tone to it, the last thing you want to do is to make one of the NPC directly speak with the person behind the monitor. That`s a big nono in my book.
  • The player`s character actions and involvement: If a quest downplays the role and action of the player`s avatar, it can really hurt it. The player`s ego needs to be stroked a bit every time. A good quest make a player feel like the role he played in it was worthwhile and important. A bad quest makes the player feel like whatever he did didn`t matter and was pointless. Don`t remember of ever seeing something like this in an AE game, but I thought I would mention it.

    So, for a quest to be great, it must not contain repetitive, grindy gameplay, fights that are too tough, a convoluted plot that is difficult to understand, too many NPCs, NPCs that are introduced into the action but without building them a solid/meaningful background first, player unfrieldy speech and dialogs. Must contain action (fights, small cutscenes etc), worthwhile rewards, meaningful repercussions on the main story the quest builds upon.

    Bad quests, I suppose lack in one or more of the above departments.




  • Darquess -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (5/29/2013 8:40:41)

    Quests have to be interesting.
    In AQ's case, because our gaming option is limited to killing things in set battles, the story is key to a successful quest.

    The main thing is having characters that are likeable and the ones you want to protect, plus some horrible and idiotic characters you can kill of in humorous ways or kidnapp.

    Make quests WORTHWHILE. Far too often have I come to the end of a quest and found nothing of interest in the shop, or not enough cash to buy stuff with( or too low or high a level to care).
    Give us a proper conclusion, substatial rewards in gold, some exp and a chance of getting Z tokens.

    Other quests should be shorter than they are.
    Too often does the quest line go somthing like this:

    Character enters area. Fights two battles.

    Cutscene (or one chat, heal)

    Two more battles.

    Change background.

    Four fights.

    Boss.

    Shop.

    This is boring and far too long. Somtimes its just good to have two fights and then a hard boss fight than eight fights and then a hard boss fight.

    OR...

    Make it our fault if we fight eight guys becuase we failed some challange, like the quiz in the devourer saga. Dice rolls are good as well, as it leads to some comedy when my super suited melee guy wanders through the enemy defences and my rouge is butchered.

    This was more of a suggestion post but that is h=what makes up a good quest to me as well.




    Senras Wolf -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (7/6/2013 16:30:32)

    I'd like to pop in for a few words.

    For a game like Adventure Quest, where quests are all over the place and in a sort of disarray. The only exception being Saga but I think they could also use some help too.

    I think individual quests should act as their own short story taking place in this universe. What I mean is that, as players, we should know what the stakes are or at least understand the reasons for going through the quests. It does not have to be some "I'm going to take over the world!" thing or something world changing unless it's done for laughs though I feel the AQ writers are more sophisticated then that. There should be more personal feel to these quests maybe add more choices in the game for that moral compass mechanic that is collecting dust. I believe that the quest rewards should somehow be included in the quest somehow. It does not necessarily have to be talked about in-game but it could be an item used or referenced in-game. Though the game does a good job of that already. A player should also be able to join into any quest (again with the exception of quest threads) and have an understanding of who the NPC's are, what makes them so important, and give a reason to care for them. This can apply to characters like Artix, Warlic, Robina, etc who have a legacy but only to those that have been here since the beginning. We should probably give these characters backstory or a more complex reason to want to do their quests. Newer characters like Eukara have this but it lacks in older characters. Also if we treat quests like short stories this should be able to expand and make locations in the Southern and Eastern parts of the Tavel map more memorable, if we knew how we got there or what makes the area worthwhile apart from being just another place with monsters. It's not a bad thing but we have the Battle Monsters button for that. So in short I'm asking for more gravitas in the places we go to. Make them stand out more.

    There isn't much to say about Saga's seeing as how they are written by specific AQ writers and everyone has their own style but I feel that they should be written in a way that if someone skips around the quest thread they should have some understanding of what is going on. Though I feel that there should be specific quests that are cut scenes only in-between actual quests releases. Like the looming battle between the Trumpha and Paxia. If we had more of those to better understand where the villain stands or for to better explain the mechanics of the AQ universe such as quest threads like the Devourer, and possibly Absol-ution it would help make the characters more realistic and create a build up toward any climax at the end of the quests. I think that Bizarre Flecks and Hall of Memories does a good job of this but it would be better if the Bizarre flecks referenced the dialogue in Hall of Memories to give a complete package to the character relationships and a bigger emotional payoff toward the ending of these Sagas. They would feel more complete and less inconsequential.




    mega worrier -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (1/25/2015 22:36:54)

    Chill's Storyline / Questline.

    So, while I was in Colorado visiting my Dad for a month, I had a lot of free time. I decided to start thinking of something to write and what I came up with was a questline for my AQW character: Chill...

    It's based in a wintery-like area and it is being taken over by the opposite elements clan.

    There will be monsters, a boss, quests, side quests, shops, hair-cuts and more.

    This Storyline / Questline has it's own area that the players will be able to visit by typing in the command " /join "Area"" or clicking on my characters NPC in battleon.

    Here is the link to my story and I hope you guys enjoy it. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ohJ8LB7oOIiDTOSTIabqtQ2dFF-h5DSzbZW01y_Wc28/pub

    ~Chill




    chrono2 -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (4/14/2015 22:43:43)

    I tend to prefer things with a darker, more serious atmosphere... But not at the cost of a sense of humour when it's appropriate, or a happy ending(Provided it's logical, of course). Which is one of the reasons I love DragonFable so much. We have areas as heavy and atmospheric as Ravenloss, and then just a little ways away, we have Oaklore and the Pactagonal Knights. We have endings as soul-crushing as Book 2, and as uplifting and heroic as Book 1(Until the start of book 2 makes you realise how horrible your "heroic" deeds actually were, that is[8D])... And what's really cool to me, is that we don't always win, but we don't always lose either.

    I think if I was going to rewrite anything in DragonFable... I'm not sure, to be honest. I think I'd make the villain a little more, y'know, down to earth, so to speak? Not more believable--this is a fantasy game where I ride a dragon and fight Cthu--I mean--Kathool Achoo, after all. [:D] I'd just make him a little bit less.... Godly. I'd probably make Drakath the main villain, and forget Sepulchre even existed. What I like about Drakath is that he has his own motive, he's already a fully developed character, and he's not too far away from the player in terms of power. If tweaked a little, he could become a fitting rival to the hero, who was always just barely ahead of them. I think it would've been more of a rewarding and exciting conclusion to the story that way, but it probably wouldn't've been nearly as epic as what we got.

    Actually, you know what? Let's just rewrite the whole story, since we're here and all.

    I'd make Drakath the mastermind. He'd still have the same goal, that being usurping Alteon's throne and reclaiming his birthright as sovereign, but he'd use his own cunning and wit to do so. The player would begin their life as a Guardian in Falconreach, rather than a random adventurer. They would be out on patrol, when they would see Drakath and a small band of miscreants running from a turned-over cart. The character goes over to the cart and meets Lady Celestia for the first time, who almost immediately recognises them, but says nothing of the prophecy. The player is told that Drakath has stolen a very precious cargo, and they must retrieve it. Drakath has stolen both of the dragon eggs.

    The first few missions of the story would be about finding Drakath and ultimately coordinating an attack on his base hidden in Doomwood(because why not Doomwood). This would lead to the first war of the game and the conclusion to the prologue, where in the end of the war the player breaks into the keep and is allowed to steal either the black or white box(In reality, this choice would be a red herring, and both chests will still house the same dragon; the destroyer).

    The rest of the story wouldn't be about collecting the Elemental Orbs, it would be about Drakath's struggle to reclaim his throne and the Hero's rise from lowly Level 1 Guardian to level how-should-I-know Captain of the Royal Guard. Over this time, the Hero and Drakath would fight several times, each time showing off how much they had grown, and each time showing more and more power. Their dragons would grow with them, and ultimately it would culminate with Drakath's attempted siege of Swordhaven. The city would fall in a purposefully unwinnable war, and Drakath would attempt to reclaim his seat of power. Alteon would be killed in the siege. In a last-ditch effort, the player would singlehandedly crash through the castle on dragonback, and an epic multistage battle of awesome would take place, as the player and their dragon fought to Drakath, who would be waiting for them with Fluffy. In the final confrontation between years-old rivals, it would finally be revealed whose dragon was intended to destroy the world, and whose would save it. As the dust cleared and Drakath is vanquished... The player looks around and realises that in the fight, Swordhaven and the surrounding countryside has been decimated. With their dying breath, Fluffy and Drakath cast a powerful mending spell, restoring the once-proud city and giving their lives to revive the people within. Drakath realises that even if he cannot be their ruler, he will not be their destroyer, and the player and their dragon realise that they have fulfilled their destiny. Since that fateful day when they met, they have decimated Drakath's world, and everything he held dear.

    Despite the role he once played as an antagonist, a statue of Drakath and Fluffy would be erected in Swordhaven, a memorial to the capital city's unlikely redeemers. This would conclude Book 1.

    Book 2 would be about finding an heir to take the throne.... That's all I've got though. Maybe it could be about the player taking the throne for themselves, and creating a new lineage of Dragonlord kings. [&:]


    I'd say that's not bad for a ~20 minute rough draft. [8D] Especially considering I was actually playing DragonFable and watching a video while working on it.




    Overlibertyshead -> RE: =MECH= Quest writing (7/11/2015 10:52:38)

    I believe the quests I like the most are the quests that ;

    1) Don't count on you to have knowledge about another quest that doesn't require you to play first before doing the current quest. Continuity lockouts can really happen.
    2) Keep it simple while maintaining a level of complexity and smart structure.
    3) Doesn't involve you fighting 100 of the same enemies you've fought before over and over.
    4) Reveal something new about the game's world that actually affects how the player think of the game's world.
    5) Something that breaks from the game's normal structure, gameplay-wise. Be it special mechanics that are only present in this quest, bosses with very different set of rules and abilities from what you normally deal with, heck, even special music can help.
    6) Involve Frogzards.




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