Shared quests

Alex Trofimov
05/06/2018 at 14:22

Traditionally, MMORPG quests are similar to those in single player RPGs, an NPC tells you what it needs, and you go get it – rarely interacting with other players. If you were the only one on the server, it would still work – it’s an isolated experience. And it barely makes sense – some sad merchant asks you to bring him a new wheel for his cart, and you do – as do millions of others before and after you. This merchant has millions of wheels by now, but the cart is still not repaired and he is still at his place, looking sad. Maybe he doesn’t really want to go anywhere and the wheel was just an excuse for procrastinating.

MMOs are shared worlds, shaped by the players and their actions. Shouldn’t their quest systems use the abundance and the variety of players instead of treating them as copies of one and only Chosen Hero? We decided to try another approach – minimize the involvement of NPCs. What if we replace every quest component (questgiver, quest item, the antagonistic force), which are usually NPCs, objects and mobs/bosses with players?

Not just any players though (like «kill 5 elvish players»), but specific ones – they are chosen from a pool of people of your lvl/strength, that are online generally at the same time you are. The game knows all the players you had contact with – someone you defeated in combat, ones you traded with, ones you worked for. Your friends, clan buddies or members of the rival clan. If the person goes offline or you can’t find them for too long, the game can give you another candidate.

Player A (classic hero of a quest) can come across a red jacket with a note «Be at this bar at 7 p.m. wearing this red jacket», player B (supplementary questgiver) gets a different quest (or another point of entry into the same shared quest): «Come to this bar at 7 p.m. and give this box to anyone, wearing a red jacket. Tell them to bring it to this planet». Player С (antagonistic force) is told to ambush anyone wearing a red jacket before they enter the bar, kill or stun them, put on their jacket and go in their place, taking the box to a villain of the story.

Player D (a third party, neutral to a certain point) must observe all the interactions of red jackets, wait for the box to change hands and follow the “jacket” to his destination – they are not that interested in the box, more in the planet it is taken to, where something important can be hidden. Player E (quest companion) has to watch the “jackets”, follow them like a guardian angel, intercepting anyone suspicious, that may harm them. And so on, you can add layers to this mission as long as you like.

Players can also be of different levels of strength, for example if “red jackets” are levels 10-15, then we can add a Player F (raid boss) that is level 50-55 to wait for them on the destination planet and stop heroes from entering the cave, but these roles are given in proportion of 1 boss for every 10-20 jackets, that motivates them to join forces or use distractions to pass the boss.
It doesn’t even have to be the same item in all the boxes – it can be different parts of some complex machine, too powerful to risk transporting it as a whole and losing it to some malicious party. That way they can get only some parts, but not all of them, and not even know how to correctly assemble the thing.

As with everything we talk about here, it’s a theory, an idea to strive towards. We’ll have to see, if it’s doable at all and if it is interesting and engaging to all the parties involved. But we believe that players don’t always want to be the hero of the story, delivering mcguffins like pizzas 24/7. Sometimes you want to be a troll under the bridge, saying «Oh no, you won’t».
If you want to leave a comment, ask a question, or just want to be notified about new posts or announcements about alpha or beta releases of the game, please register.