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Old February 22nd, 2007, 10:46 PM   #1
katriell
 
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Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

My goal in posting this is to give GameForge some advice on designing believable, multiplayer-friendly and roleplay-friendly missions. This primarily involves being careful with the words used in dialogs. Secondly, replacing an entire psychological-reward concept ("you're the hero") often used in standard MMO quests with a better concept ("you're the master of your own choices and actions").

I have tried to form this so that, if it were implemented, no player type would be left in the cold. It accommodates roleplayers, but it doesn't exclude non-roleplayers or force any playstyles. I hope the only people who would not enjoy this would be those who shouldn't be in Ryzom: the selfish, anti-social powergamer noobs who prefer their ego to be profusely stroked in the least intellectual manner.

However, I would like to receive feedback on this set of "guidelines" from fellow players. If there are any flaws, it would be good to make them known. *points at signature quote*

GameForge appearing to notice and consider suggestions made about ranged combat has evoked my optimism that they might consider suggestions about missions as well.

=== Mission/"Quest" Design ===

Notes:
When I refer to the "player," I mean the person sitting at their computer playing the game. "Character" means their in-game avatar. The definition of "roleplaying" I use is basically the same as the relationship between an actor in a television show and the character they play. Ryzom has long been considered a good game for roleplaying, which is a strength I hope GameForge will allow to thrive - especially by being careful with the nuances of the quests you implement.

According to Phelan, you've already decided to implement quests, so the details of quest design are going to be important; please don't underestimate how important Quests are an obvious and forefront form of "content" which will affect the expectations players have of the game, how they interact with other players, how they view their character, and how they feel about their role in the game's world.
  • When designing the concept of a mission, keep in mind that it will be repeated thousands of times.


  • Don't tell the player they've saved the world (or a town in the world, or even a single person in the world). Treating the player like they're the sole hero is a throwback to single-player gaming, and a concept which is inappropriate to Ryzom. The reality is that the player is one of thousands in a very community-driven massively multiplayer online roleplaying game, and their character is one of thousands in a world where cooperation - on the group, race, faction, and homin level - is vital to survive and overcome the threats presented by an untamed living planet, religious war, and giant genocidal insects (Kitins). This must be recognised, accepted, and promoted by the nature/composition of missions.

    There are already missions on Silan which do not follow this guideline, such as the last of Chiang's missions, in which the NPC (Chiang the Strong) tells the player they've saved the camp from Kitins and everyone owes their lives to the player. The reality of this mission is that the player killed maybe a dozen Kitins in the nearby jungle, including a Dominant Kirosta that they've probably already seen respawn several times due to the way boss-killing teams work on Silan (usually they're composed of several players who need to complete the mission, and they kill the boss once for each player who needs it, waiting together during the few minutes between its respawns). The Kitins will forever remain in the jungle regardless of whether the mission is completed. Furthermore, the player probably did not complete the mission alone, so they don't deserve singular recognition. There is nothing in the mission truly worthy of such high praise as the NPC lavishes on the player in the mission's texts. Therefore, most of the work involved in creating believable missions is only a matter of carefully choosing the words used in the mission texts. Missions that ignore reality and try to make the player feel like they're the only one who will ever be able to successfully complete the mission are a component of WoW (and many other "standard" MMOGs) and are one of the things that do not belong in Ryzom.

    A relevant quote from another player:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hazira
    The quest thing, as a newbie and a lover of lore and story I'd really love to see more written to the world of Atys. Please don't misunderstand that as adding more quests in the genre of WoW, EQ and ect.... I don't like how those quests are setup, they become tedious, annoying and make you feel empty inside, for the very reason that after some pretty easy kills you get named Savior of The Realm... I mean how much sense does that make? In a single player game that's perfectly acceptable, but when you play with thousands of people and everyone's a Savior, you would think the world would be pretty darn safe by now?


  • Give the player choices, i.e. branching dialogs and courses of action, that allow them to affect how they complete the mission or even what the outcome is. This will replace the false satisfaction derived from being a sole hero, with the safely realistic yet sufficiently satisfying feeling of the player having control over their actions. It will provide opportunities for the player to develop who their character is based on the choices they make, creating a roleplay-centric atmosphere even in solo gameplay. It is also a matter of freedom, which is a very special part of Ryzom and worth preserving and promoting in every aspect of the game - including quests. I hope you see here that you can do so much more benefit in quests than "masking grind" with fake accomplishment and linear leading of the player.

    There is another mission on Silan, specifically the last one in Sterga Hamla's line, which is an example of both good compatibility with this principle I'm trying to convey, and decent mission design in general via the game-mechanical inclusion of multiple choices. In the mission, you are asked by Sterga to meet with an associate, Aryu Ken, who can transport plant samples to the mainland for study so that the Matis can see what went wrong with the plant modifications on Silan and resume their experiments. He advises the player to make sure Nomis Merclao, the Zoraï magician master, doesn't hear of the transportation or the intended use of the samples. Of course, this means that if the player wants to prevent the Matis from continuing their experimentation, they should take the samples to Nomis. This leaves you with a choice, noted in your mission journal: you can either go to Aryu Ken, or to Nomis Merclao. This gives the player a situation which may help to define what ideals their character supports and what kind of person they are. Another good aspect is that if you give the samples to Nomis, he informs you that although you made the "right" decision, others serving the Matis (inferably, other refugees who have done, are doing, and will do the same mission) have undoubtedly chosen to give the samples to Aryu and furthered their plans.


  • Never directly refer to game mechanics within NPC dialogs. If you have to, pop up a box with the info. The NPC, as a character within a fantasy world, cannot know things like "your HP is 508/870" or say things like "click on this," "open the mission journal window." Maintaining the character of an NPC, rather than reducing it to a means-to-an-end mechanical item, is another vital component of promoting an immersive gameworld and a roleplay-friendly environment. Example of what should not be done: link
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 07:05 AM   #2
sehracii
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Seconded, agree, /sign, etc
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 07:34 AM   #3
hazira
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Thirded, I definately would like to see quests that make good sense within the world and don't feel like an easy add-on.
There's nothing better then juicy writing that draws you in is what I say. Then again this could be what you are planning all along too...
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 08:31 AM   #4
setstyle
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Excellent post Katriell, I think this sums up a lot of our sentiments. I'll give everyone at GameForge a cookie if they take this into serious consideration.

(Disclaimer: I will not be held accountable for shipping charges. )
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 08:43 AM   #5
ashling
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Some nice points on how the missions should be layed out Katriel. Even as a non roleplayer I agree that missions that can potentialy be done by every player in the game shouldn't be the 'you've saved the world!' type and choices in how to complete the missions would be much more fun then set storylines you play through. The Sterga Hamla mission was a favorite of mine on Ruins of Silan but odly I'll turn him in every time

Also as this is a sujestion on how Gameforge should do missions I'd like them to look very carefully at how they decide to do rewards for the missions. Giving out fully made items that are better then what crafters can do would for me hugely hurt Ryzom. I'd prefer to see the rewards be something like experiance, experance catalysers, or maybe even a certain amount of a material but not a unique one that is better then what a harvestor can get.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 09:27 AM   #6
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashling
I'd prefer to see the rewards be something like experiance, experance catalysers, or maybe even a certain amount of a material but not a unique one that is better then what a harvestor can get.

I myself dont want to see any rewards tie to a quest besides dappers and fame and the rare chance for a entry in the encyolpdia. If you start giving experince for quests, you will see people just grinding thru quests to level up and the game will be like WoW. Cats would just be as bad as giving experince for the quests but you will have a period where the person would stop doing them for a hour or so and grind using the cats they earn. Materials i dont beleive would have a negtive impact on the game, but it would have to be worked into the quest where you deserve matrials for the reward.

Imho i just want to see rest of the encylopdia implemented into the game. There is no need to have alot of great quests in Ryzom. I have never seen Ryzom as a quest driven game and i dont care to see it turned into one.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 10:14 AM   #7
ashling
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Quote:
Originally Posted by great83
I myself dont want to see any rewards tie to a quest besides dappers and fame and the rare chance for a entry in the encyolpdia. If you start giving experince for quests, you will see people just grinding thru quests to level up and the game will be like WoW. Cats would just be as bad as giving experince for the quests but you will have a period where the person would stop doing them for a hour or so and grind using the cats they earn. Materials i dont beleive would have a negtive impact on the game, but it would have to be worked into the quest where you deserve matrials for the reward.

Imho i just want to see rest of the encylopdia implemented into the game. There is no need to have alot of great quests in Ryzom. I have never seen Ryzom as a quest driven game and i dont care to see it turned into one.

Well I wouldn't be upset if it was just dappars and fame, actualy I'd be pretty happy but I don't think some experiance for the missions has to hurt the other ways of getting experiance and coming up with a way to get catalysers apart from outposts comes up every now and then on the forums. I'd want it as a choice, less then current ways of getting experiance or catalysers but for some a more fun way of doing it. Of course it's just my opinion on it
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 12:34 PM   #8
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Hey! I thought on the exact same aspects as mentioned in this post as of yesterday. Great post!
And therefore I want to express my support for the thoughts and guidelines that (mainly) katriell put down in words. Quests should be available but be apart of what's already in there and not squeeze in WOW-ish types of "hero" quests. But doing quests/missions on the ML should, imo, give something back to the player and story advancement could be reward enough.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 01:21 PM   #9
acridiel
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

The only thing I have to say to this is a word of caution.
While I second the ideas and I am absolutely in favor of such "Mission-Quests" as Kat describes them I´d like to remind you all of something.

Navrax has been "building" these Missions for the better part of three years now.
As it seems they do stand only a short time away from implementing them.
And while these Ideas and suggestions all have been given before,
don´t you think it´s a little late for "advice".

IF they have Missions that are like others we know of other Games (and I surely hope not) do you think they´ll do a 180° all of a sudden and beginn anew just from reading this "advice"?

Just imagine they would take your words to heart... It would probalby take another 2 years to finish Missions with them in mind... *sigh*

So I´d like to caution all of you, and not try to be the spoilsport, to hold down your enthusiasm a bit. But at the same time don´t be to angry or dissapointed if the new "Mission-Quests" will be like any others we know.

Again, I surely hope this will not be the case and I truyl and utterly support Kats ideas, but better to be cautious and aim a little low, then aim high and be crushed with dissapointment if worst comes to worst.

*hopes for the best*
Acridiel

Last edited by acridiel : February 23rd, 2007 at 03:45 PM.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 04:05 PM   #10
mugendo
 
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Re: Advice for GameForge on mission design - please consider

Quote:
Originally Posted by acridiel
..................but better to be cautious and aim a little low, then aim high and be crushed with dissapointment if worst comes to worst.

*hopes for the best*
Acridiel

Ryzom has plenty of content,
There is the crafting system with recipes that players have to discover themselves..
There is the gathering of resources through hunting or digging.....both require extensive knowledge of the world.
There is the Outpost ownership to consider for resources, this of course brings the PvP player into the world as an another aspect of playing.
Each example above has Player interaction for a reason.

The missions in Ryzom play a small part of the current game,
but it has taken three years of developer time ?
Now there are suggestions that the missions being implemented have the possibility to effect the delicate balance already in Atys.....
For example look at how much the 'expansion' of PvP effected the perception of the game,
Is Ryzom morphing into PvP quest runs ?

What is needed are improvements to existing features everyone uses, Improving the economy with money sinks, centralising crafters points of sale will benefit all, multiple homins in apartments, More interaction with spreading the goo, there are many aspects of Ryzom left to rot while the priority is given to 'easy to understand' additions.

Maybe I am a cynic, but when I see that standards should be lowered to avoid disappointment, I have to check if I have am looking at the SWG site.
I understand your post Acridiel, I just refuse to buy into the 'core change is good' scenario...............again

Last edited by mugendo : February 23rd, 2007 at 04:29 PM.
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