05 January 2018

Guild Wars 2 - A Different Quest System

If I would happen to be decent at drawing I would've made a comic unfortunately you have to bear this the script.

Classic Quests

HansiBah the Great: Hey, this NPC has an exclamation mark above him. I guess he has a quest for me. Have you gotten this quest yet?
Meta6969: No, I'm currently killing these trolls that try to destroy the garden.
HansiBah the Great: Alright, wanna do the quest after you're done?
Meta6969: Sure!

* a few minutes later*

Meta6969: Alright, let's see what it is.
Farmer: We have a great problem. Can you help me keep these trolls away from my garden so they won't destroy it?
Farmer: Do you accept my request?
Meta6969: I already did that quest.
Farmer: Do you accept my request?
Meta6969: I helped you already, didn't you see me defend your garden?
Farmer: Do you accept my request?

So back in the old days, you had to talk to NPCs to get your quests. So you walked to the person asked them what their problem was and traveled to solve this problem. Once you're done you return to this NPC to get your reward. Surely you can't finish a quest without knowing about it, right?

Controversy

Well if someone has a problem in real life, for example, they lost something and you found it. Thanks to the address you knew where to bring it and as a result they're grateful you helped them and give you a reward. You didn't know they were searching for it though you might have assumed they were.
This could be done by a quest item, but let's say they mixed up their stuff and can't find anything you don't talk to them and yet you help them sort their stuff and they're grateful afterward.

Okay, taking the example in my script. You helped the farmer protect the garden. Why shouldn't you get the reward? Just because you didn't talk to him? Is talking to a person to know what's up really required to solve the problem or help them?

I don't think so.

Innovation

Having to walk to an NPC to accept a quest to fulfill it and get the reward from the NPC in person is called a classic quest system. There has been some innovation here and there like adding the ability to accept quests or rewards via phone but the greatest innovation has come from Guild Wars 2.

The quest system uses heart-quests. These heart-quests are shown by yellow hearts on the map and yellow hearts above the NPC's head. While in this area doing anything, related to helping the NPC progresses the heart. When the heart is full the quest is done. Once the quest is done you get your rewards sent by mail and additionally you can buy items at this NPC as thanks for helping.

So what has been changed:
  • No need to accept a quest
  • Technically Quest works retroactively
  • Rewards are sent by mail
  • Heroes choice of how to help
Unfortunately, this system has some downsides as well.

Problems of This System

These heart-quests work in a certain area. That means if there are possibilities to help the NPC by carrying something from point A to point B you'll most likely leave the quest area and this kind of help to the NPC might not be recognized. This limits the number of possibilities for quests.

NPCs only have and can have only one quest. How would you implement multiple quests? Show multiple hearts? Show a heart after the first is finished? This would probably confuse people more than it would help.

There shouldn't be two hearts next to each other. It would probably be possible to know about both quests and keep track of them though it might overwhelm the player.

Conclusion

Compared to the classic quest system it's much easier but more limited. It allows more freedom for the player but restricts the developer. Also, it depends on the person. Some might like the classical quest system more others like this dynamic system. Though this is definitely a good alternative to the classical quest system so I wouldn't give it up. Another idea could be to have both systems in a game where it matches. Some quests make more sense to work retroactively while others don't.
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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.