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Ivza
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Reged: 01/05/03
Posts: 168
What makes a quest a good one?
      #2976084 - 08/27/04 03:28 PM

First off: no, this is not one of those "list best quest mods" threads. I hope. And I hope it won't turn into one.

There are some unforgettable quests in some mods and quite a few forgettable ones. Some might be even infamous for some reason. But what is it that raises the good above the rest?

Is it how the quest is tied to an involving background? The pages of text fleshing out the world to reason why Senzani Na was in that cave? The way the player was dragged into the events? The new insight into the lore the quest provides in the process? The overwhelming opposition?

Of course, this is a feeble attempt to start a discussion on what makes good quests good. There probably isn't a single definitive answer - and in most cases the quest is memorable because it was more than the sum of its parts. But there probably are some common factors.

If you want to take as an example some quest in some other mod, please try to describe it so that you won't spoil it. And I'm talking about single quests - not whole quest mods. But if the quest stands out as the pinnacle of the plotline leading to it, go ahead.

The stage is yours.

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teggerModerator
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2976104 - 08/27/04 03:35 PM

Quote:

Is it how the quest is tied to an involving background?
The pages of text fleshing out the world to reason why Senzani Na was in that cave? The way the player was dragged into the events? The new insight into the lore the quest provides in the process? The overwhelming opposition?





Yes, yes, yes, yes, and possibly. For me, the actual individual quests are not nearly as important as are the reasons for them and the characters I have to interact with. Well-written dialogue and other texts are important to me because of that.

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Schneeflocke
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Reged: 03/19/03
Posts: 124
Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: tegger]
      #2976133 - 08/27/04 03:42 PM

Yes, I agree, there's nothing more important than a good background story, fleshed out by papers/books and dialog that also fit into the Morrowind background (and is written well, of course).

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slategrey
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Schneeflocke]
      #2976164 - 08/27/04 03:50 PM

A good quest is in the details. What Why When Where How. Supporting characters, scrolls, books. Dialogue.

I like details. The whole quest has to make sense as well.

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CBCRonin
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2976166 - 08/27/04 03:51 PM

A good quest is one that blends seamlessly with its environment and makes you say "wow". A great quest can flip the environment head over heels and still make you feel that it fits perfectly. If I say " I want more", it is a success. Of'course I have high standards.

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stargate525
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: CBCRonin]
      #2976299 - 08/27/04 04:41 PM

for me, it's uniqueness. I would -never- consider the fedex type quest good.(bring me this or deliver that and pick up youre reward) exept under very special circumstances. I am a thinking kind of person, so I am more into the riddle and puzzle quests thatn all out hack and slash. I know there are people who feel otherwise, but that is just my personal opinion.


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Ghost_in_Red
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: stargate525]
      #2976332 - 08/27/04 04:47 PM

I love chaos in quests. No matter how unique or challenging a quest is, to me it is better if it is random. I want life to get in the way and make things complicated, and in the end you may not even complete the quest you thought you were starting out on.

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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2976385 - 08/27/04 04:59 PM

Speaking as a quest mod writer, the starting point is the story. IN fact, its all about the story; how can you immerse the player into your world, and give them the motivation to do what you want them to.

This is a bit more involved than you might think, because the motivation must also extend to the NPCs. Why are the NPCs there, why are they asking you to do these things, or why are they opposing you. Quests also invlove a detailed backstory, stuff that the unobservant player may never pick up on, small details.

Still, the story is the thing. Suck players into your world and keep them there.

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stargate525
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ghost_in_Red]
      #2976388 - 08/27/04 05:00 PM

quests where youre journal dosnt give you all the information. ie you walk into a building and your journal tells you to go talk to this person, etc.etc. Honestly.......figure it out yourself

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Vivli
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: stargate525]
      #2976469 - 08/27/04 05:24 PM

I say a good story, but I also love it when it builds up so you feel like your fighting for something. When after whatever quest you began (that's normally better if they start small) has built up into an epic finale, and you feel you've saved the world once again. But that's because I like playing the hero. Although I know you probably don't want to here my opinions on the best quest mod, I loved Blades: Prophecy of the Lost Heir because of the relationship between NPCs, it made you feel very involved and is probably another good thing to see in quest mods. Involving NPCs (even better when their involved with each other as well).

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Iudas
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2976653 - 08/27/04 05:58 PM

The Hook.
Any good quest writer has to answer one question first. Why should the Player be interested in doing this quest; these connected quests?
Then the surround. The reactions and actions of the NPC's.
Then the impediments and the assisters. What gets in the way? Are there several approaches that will work to getting around the impediments. Is there a preferred approach? Is help going to be available? Shall I include books or notes or hints in dialogue or on paper? Riddles? Quizzes? Bribeable SOBs who will assist for a price?
Then the reveal. Shall all be revealed during or at the end of the quest or shall some be left unexplained. Shall what is revealed be real or mendacious.
Then the continuity. Does this quest's solution lead to another or several other potential paths.
Then the failure conditions. What is the cost to the PC if he screws the pooch and how many interesting ways can he screw the pooch?
Can the quest writer assist the NPC by misdirection or indirection so that the PC willingly screws the pooch?
Quest writers best friends are Who, what, where, when, how and most of all why.
Quests do not have to rational, they do have to present a challenge moral, physical, emotional, quizzical, logical or any combination of.
The PC's curiousity is your ally. The PC has already willingly put aside his rational disbelief in the gestalt of the game, so within that gestalt you can lie, partially lie, lie by omission, tell the truth but in a way that sounds like a lie ( consider M'aiq he has truths among the lies and misstatements), tease, torture, confuse, reward, educate, con, twist, surprise, scare, relax, mind blow as long as you keep it within the expectations of the behaviour of the game and the interacting NPC's.

When you have those questions answered to your satisfaction then comes the dialogue, the starting condition, the environmental and ambience considerations, the condition testing, proofreading and editing.
An example of a great quest is The Charms of Aqueous. An old quest mod. Small. PC follows a fairly linear path from a standard "damsel in distress" "worried father" beginning. By the end the PC is fighting a farily strong enemy and the only way the PC can "win" is by losing. PC has to give the weapon to the Villain. Classic double think situation. No grand rewards either just a job well done and an excellent surprise when the PC finally works out that how to defeat the opponent is by losing to him.
Another example of a not so great set of quests that hang together to make an enjoyable mod is The Theurgist. Another older mod. Here the PC learns through dialogue with enchanters only that there is a "crazy old enchanter" living on an island off the coast near Sadrith Mora. Nothing more so not a lot to pique the interest. Eventually meeting this guy and he offers to teach the PC the arts of Theurgy in exchange for the PC doing things for him. The things are mainly FedEx style quests and some Dialogue but the rewards are interesting. Any one of the quests is just another job; it is the blow off at the end that makes the quests interesting. ( The Alice in Wonderland Red Queen approach always jam tomorrow and always jam yesterday but no jam today ).

Personally I have two big gripes with MW and they both come from the questline.
1) There are very few quests or mini quests that have multiple possible outcomes where each outcome leads to another quest line and closes off other quest lines. ( they almost did this in the later House Hlaalu quests but backed away for some reason )
2) There is almost always one preferred strategy for every Bethesda quest. The main quest as the harshest example requires warrior skills to "win." You can play the whole game as a Mage or a Thief but when it comes time to destroy the heart you have to beat it up with a hammer and a short blade. And of course there is no way within the main quest for a PC to decide to join with Dagoth Ur. And joining DU is an entirely rational choice for a PC to make. Not to mention it would have added a lot of replayability to the game. So to me the main quest in MW is an example of things left undone and things done without really taking into account the gameworld they had created.
Since I am feeling longwinded today there is one other point. Define the audience for your quest. If you are writing for the sub20's set, there will be a different set of expectation than if you are writing for the over 40 set, and since I am a member of that over 40 set you might as well take my advice with a whole lot of salt.




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dark_elf_fiend
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2976728 - 08/27/04 06:14 PM

the quest has to pull you in to it... get you interested... actually give you a feeling YOU are there actually finishing the quest

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fable2
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: tegger]
      #2976730 - 08/27/04 06:14 PM

Quote:

For me, the actual individual quests are not nearly as important as are the reasons for them and the characters I have to interact with. Well-written dialogue and other texts are important to me because of that.




I agree with all this. A game like TOEE had plenty of non-combat quests tied to characters with no background or intelligent dialog: they were simply stick figures to hang quests upon. By contrast, Korgan's quest in BG2 did a nice spin on the traditional "find this object" plot (with some double-crossing in the background), and offered a great opportunity to become familiar with an exceptionally well-written character.

I would add the following:

A great quest is very clear in its dialog. You aren't directed west, when you should go east or even southwest. You aren't told to speak with "Guard" when the quest means you should speak with one particular guard--unless you're given a hint about the appropriate guard.

It has to fit nturally into the game environment. No references to professions, or pop culture icons, or use of terms that break the illusion of reality.

On another level, objects, requests, the entire interacitivity of the quest with the player should fit in with Morrowind. If you're given a book, it should be readable, even if you're told not to read it. Spells referenced in the quest system should be drawn from the game, or possible using the mechanics of the game.

It should be well-balanced. No rewards consisting of uber-weapons. On the other hand, you shouldn't be told "this quest is for level 15-25 characters" only to find yourself facing numerous level 50 monsters. The difficulty of the quest, in other words, such be commensurate with the payoff, and the difficulty level should be actually reflected in the readme file. A great quest gives the player an interesting challenge, which doesn't mean it's always a deadly one, much less an endless, sadistically deadly one. And it gives you something nice that isn't over the top, in the end.



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Leonardo
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: stargate525]
      #2977048 - 08/27/04 07:43 PM

A good story that is believable in the Morrowind universe, good dialog(sp?), challenge and a good reward makes a good quest mod for me.

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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: Ivza]
      #2977085 - 08/27/04 07:57 PM

Most story book and gaming quests need an antagonist (sp??) I have yet to run into a really well developed enemy in Morrowind, but there again I am very new to mods. The bad guy, or group, what is it that makes them do what they do?? Money? Power? Religion? Ok that is the way the "real world" works too...I think the more important question is how the "bad guy" conducts his work. Dagoth Ur for example, he just hangs out in a cave alone? Why? He feels like just another liflless monster to me. He has done realitivly nothing to the character to make you want to kill him. A villian, (even if you are playing an evil char fighting good) has to match the hero, has to take everything from you, has to be planning for your end as well. Malek from KOTOR good example. And if you are a evil char there should be some force trying to stop you, not just attacking you in your sleep for example..

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DragoonWraith
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: ]
      #2977220 - 08/27/04 08:43 PM

I agree with vON_bARKY, there really isn't any enemies that I really hate (and meanwhile I despise certain neutral or even good characters; Fargoth being the main example). One of my favorite games ever, Ogre Battle 64, had me HATING the enemies. To the point that I'd curse under my breath if one got away, because I wanted to kill him. Morrowind lacks that very much, and if you can create that with a mod, that is amazing. Of course... an enemy like that has to take something from you, he has to hurt you... how can you hurt the player in Morrowind without being annoying? (for instance, you could take away all his equipment... but that'd just be obnoxious and annoying, trying to win without all your hard-earned stuff... unless you can pull it off right). That I think would be a very important thing to think about if you are making a quest mod.

All that isn't to say you can't have a good quest without it. For instance, I've yet to play a quest in Morrowind with an enemy like that, and I still love it and enjoy it very much. But if anyone knows of a mod that involves an enemy that you want to kill solely because you want him dead, and not because you get something cool from him, let me know, I'd love to play it.

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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: DragoonWraith]
      #2977851 - 08/28/04 12:21 AM

Framed for a crime? used often in movies..

Killing/kidnaping your mate? Hard to devlope a relationship to a Char in just one mod...

To have your char be taken tortured/imprisioned ect...happened in Balder's gate 2....

Donno it is a hard one I know, somebody smarter than me has to come up with a worthy advisary.

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brady228
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Re: What makes a quest a good one? [Re: ]
      #2977883 - 08/28/04 12:31 AM

For me for a quest to be great it simply has to challenge me to think as well as be well thought out and having things that support it's story so it feels real!

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