Quests

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Goals within games with rewards associated to their completion.

While players need to complete many goals in a game, not all are clearly described with how they should be completed nor what rewards they will give. Quests on the other hand are goals where both finishing requirements and rewards are well-known in advance.

Examples

The gameplay in roleplaying games such as the Fallout series and The Elder Scrolls series is structured around solving Quests, some which are needed to finish the game and some which are optional. This also goes for action roleplaying games such as Torchlight.

Games such as Empires & Allies, Ravenwood Fair, and Zombie Lane on social media sites direct players efforts in games by providing several Quests players can work on in parallel.

Using the pattern

Designing Quests consists of selecting goals, Rewards, and how players are made aware of them. Most goals can be used for Quests but some are more common than others: Capture, Collection, Delivery, Eliminate, Evade, Game World Exploration (possibly to find Secret Areas), Gain Competence, Gain Information, Gain Ownership, Herd, Race, Rescue, Stealth, Survive, and Traverse. These goals can of course involve various types of Enemies, Game Elements, Traps, etc., depending on what type of goal is used, but MacGuffins is worth mentioning since they do not have any gameplay function besides that of the goal but can still have diegetic roles. While any type of Rewards can work, e.g. gaining Resources, Game Items, gaining Companions may be more suitable than in other contexts due to the diegetic social context. Another type of Reward is to let players prove their Loyalty. While Quests may automatically be completed when certain requirements are met, players can be given an Exaggerated Perception of Influence and a Freedom of Choice by making the formal end of them be tied to activating Controllers of some sort.

While game systems can provide Quests directly to players, it can be done diegetically through Dialogues with Non-Player Characters (including those that are Self-Service Kiosks or Tutorial Neighbors). By using NPCs that are connected to Factions this can linked to Narration Structures and possibly Internal Rivalry. An alternative in how to provide Quests is to let it be known through Gossip or Eavesdropping. Clues can be used to both make players aware of Quests and provide hints on how to solve ones they are engaged in.

Two main varieties of Quests exist, Main Quests that needs to be completed to finish a game and optional Sidequests. The gameplay of Quests can be made more Challenging and Complex by introducing Enemies, Factions (potentially with Incompatible Goals), or subgoals (i.e. Goal Hierarchies consisting of Quests). They can be made easier through using Helpers. Adding Penalties to failing Quests make the Quests into Committed Goals (as long as they are Optional Goals), and thereby making the choice of accepting Quests into Risk/Reward considerations. Two other case, more specialized and both examples of Optional Goals, are Companion Quests and Endgame Quests which can be created for games with Companions and Endgame phases respectively.

Testing Achievements are be linked to Quests to further encourage them to be completed, or to replay them in other ways.

Since it requires resources of varying kinds to develop Quests (e.g. to script them, provide game art, develop dialogue, etc.), an option is it to let players play them several times or, in the case of Multiplayer Games, let different players independently have the same Quests. This creates Non-Consistent Narration and makes it difficult to let the Quests affect the Game Worlds; Phasing is a partial solution to this for games with Mediated Gameplay. An alternative is to use Randomness to create variation and thereby a form of Varied Gameplay in the Quests without having to develop completely new content resources for each possible Quest.

Diegetic Aspects

Since Quests explicitly state the Rewards and the requirements associated with received them, they draw attention to the mechanical aspect of a game and thereby may work against Narrative Engrossment and point out any problems with Thematic Consistency. This is especially true for Persistent Game Worlds, and Quests may be necessary for these to be able to have Predetermined Story Structures.

Interface Aspects

Quests are typically handled through Secondary Interface Screens, especially if there are optional ones or if one can have several available at the same time.

Narrative Aspects

Quests have many aspects related to Predetermined Story Structures in games since they require providing players with intentions for tasks and planning what the effects of completing those tasks, as well as possibly creating Agents or Factions that provide the Quests. They are also useful as basic elements to build Goal Hierarchies tied to Predetermined Story Structures, and Adventures or even Campaigns can be built around one or more Quests. They are quite often started and ended through Cutscenes, possibly combined with Quick Travel as Ultra-Powerful Events. A common use of Quests in relation to Narration Structures is to open up access to Inaccessible Areas when the Quests are active, or as part of the Rewards for completing them.

It is common to have Boss Monsters rather than ordinary Enemies at the end of Quests in order to provide more satisfying finales.

Consequences

Given that the designs of Quests include having planned how players are introduced to them, how they complete them, and what effects solving them would be, they are both Ephemeral Goals and Predetermined Story Structures. Since these link the Narration Structures of a game with how the Agents in it behave, Quests can be seen as a way of defining them and creating or steering their Open Destiny through Goal-Driven Personal Development. In this sense, they can lead to Character Development or Abstract Player Construct Development for players regardless of what Rewards, if any, they provide.

Quests can provide players with both Anticipation and Hovering Closures since they can observe their own progression and know what the requirements for completing them are. When Quests give players to clear direction where they should move in the Game Worlds they lessen the reason for Game World Exploration by promoting Traverse goals instead. Completing, or permanently failing to complete Quests are Closure Points. While completing them typically provide clear Value of Effort in how they provide Rewards or advance the narration, failing Quests can also give a Value of Effort if they clearly show what effects the efforts had.

Quests provide Smooth Learning Curves when they are organized so that players are slowly exposed to the gameplay design of a game.

Relations

Can Instantiate

Abstract Player Construct Development, Adventures, Anticipation, Campaigns, Character Development, Closure Points, Ephemeral Goals, Goal-Driven Personal Development, Goal Hierarchies, Hovering Closures, Loyalty, Predetermined Story Structures, Smooth Learning Curves, Traverse, Value of Effort

with Committed Goals

Risk/Reward

with Controllers

Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Freedom of Choice

with Enemies or Goal Hierarchies

Challenging Gameplay, Complex Gameplay

with Optional Goals and Penalties

Committed Goals

with Randomness

Varied Gameplay

Can Modulate

Agents, Companions, Inaccessible Areas, Internal Rivalry, Open Destiny, Persistent Game Worlds

Can Be Instantiated By

Capture, Collection, Companion Quests, Delivery, Endgame Quests, Eliminate, Evade, Game World Exploration, Factions, Gain Competence, Gain Information, Gain Ownership, Herd, MacGuffins, Main Quests, Non-Player Characters, Race, Rescue, Self-Service Kiosks, Sidequests, Stealth, Survive, Traverse

Can Be Modulated By

Boss Monsters, Clues, Controllers, Cutscenes, Dialogues, Eavesdropping, Enemies, Factions, Game Items, Gossip, Helpers, Non-Consistent Narration, Non-Player Characters, Resources, Rewards, Secondary Interface Screens, Secret Areas, Testing Achievements, Tutorial Neighbors

Phasing in Multiplayer Games with Mediated Gameplay

Possible Closure Effects

Quick Travel

Potentially Conflicting With

Thematic Consistency, Game World Exploration, Narrative Engrossment

History

New pattern created in this wiki.

References

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Acknowledgements

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