Friday, May 16, 2008

RPG Quest Types - Not Much Variety!

These days not many people read or listen to the quest descriptions before clicking the accept button. I'm definitely one of these people. Being a hardcore MMORPGer its a lot more productive to race through the quests in order to get rewards and level your character. This often steals away from the RP experience of the game, but makes your character more powerful faster, which is a reward in itself. The question is why deliberately ruin the RP experience? Isn't the RP experience the reason your playing an RPG?

Each quest in an RPG is typically the same as the last. Its the quest scenario and setting that changes, not the quest type. As far as I can tell there are four different quest types:
  1. Search and Destroy Type: Go somewhere kill somebody. Destroy the facility at location x.
  2. Courier Type: Take object x to destination y. Go somewhere collect object x.
  3. Protect/Escort Type: Protect someone or stand your ground for n amount of time. Ensure NPC gets to destination y.
  4. Explore Type: Uncover the map. Find somebody or something. Follow the clues. Respond to hot/cold type messages.
All quests/missions in RPG games can be made up of one or more of these quest types. Often additional elements are added to increase the difficulty of the quests such as timers, multiple objectives and quest chaining, but fundamentally the quest types are the same.

So how do we solve the problem of 'deja vu' questing in RPGs? Sadly I don't believe we can. Quest types in RPGs will always be limited to the same four types. There is however hope in reducing the questing 'deja vu factor' through clever disguises. I've seen techniques like creative story telling, appealing quest UIs, cinematic cut scenes and clever NPC interaction used to make receiving a quest more entertaining and enjoyable.

If RPG quests were treated more like puzzles rather than tasks, I think players would be forced to pay more attention to the quest instructions, and gain greater satisfaction from completing them. Adding random elements to the quests would also increase re-playability and reduce the 'deja vu factor'.


Anonymous said...

Dude, you should link your blog to

That way more people than just you and me will read it :)

Very true about the quests though. I was thinking it would be cool to have a quest creation UI available to players, where you can browse through top-rated quests/dungeons that other players have made.


Garumoo said...

There are also the collect 10 mob drop quests which is a variation on the Search & Destroy type, while collect 10 shiny rocks is a variation on the Explore type. Sometimes the destroy facility x is implemented with the same mechanisms as the collect 10 rocks quest. That is: go somewhere and click a thing.

Tesh said...

I keep wishing there would be a quest that had a relatively simple goal (bring Uberjerk to justice), but leave the means to the player. They would have to do detective work, plan assaults or infiltrations, make contacts, that sort of thing. (It would have to be dynamic and randomized, or else the whole gambit would be mapped by Thottbot or whatever.) There wouldn't be a single "golden path" to success, rather, players with diverse skillsets could approach the problem in different ways. (Much like how the Quest for Glory games played differently for different classes.)

Crimson Starfire said...

I think dynamic quests (like you suggest) will be the stuff of the next gen of MMOs. It sounds easy in theory, but in practice it is very hard to build into a game. The first MMO to do it will be very popular indeed.

Tesh said...

It does take a fair bit of work and dev time, but for the $15/month, they had darn well better be doing some of this sort of legwork. If the aforementioned QFG games could get it done without the subscriptions, Blizzard can do it.

That they (or anyone else) haven't is lazy in my book.

Lopaki said...

you forgot 2 types of quests: the minigames where you have to do something that is totally different than the game itself + the hiding quests where you have to evade the enemys by hiding behind walls or objects

Crimson Starfire said...

"Stealth Type"

I totally didn't even think of that. They rarely use stealth type quests in MMORPGs, cheers for bringing it to my attention.

"Mini-game Type", is definitely another type of quest. I guess that could include things like PvP tournaments as well. Nice one!

Garumoo said...

Another to add to the list: "pursuit".

This is a variation on the Protect/Escort Type, except you need to chase some NPC and this time he goes too fast (instead of the awful ambling typical of escorts).

The NPC might be magically protected at the start, but can later be attacked ... if only he'd stand still long enough, didn't throw down so many snares, and didn't veer so close to hostile mobs.

Or he could simply be a jerk that can't be attacked until the final reveal (see Pusillin).

Throw in a timer requirement and a random selection of paths and destinations, and hilarity ensues.

Crimson Starfire said...

I'm thinking I should re-do this post now that I've grown wiser and had some helpful feedback...