Post-Apocalyptic RPG forums

Development => Writing and Quests => Topic started by: egalor on February 18, 2009, 10:51:33 AM



Title: META: Quests
Post by: egalor on February 18, 2009, 10:51:33 AM
I suggest we start discussing this very important issue already. Just like in the case with "Meta Setting" thread, please share your vision of 1) the Main Quest; and 2) the Side Quests. It would also be nice if you could add any arguments (apart from your personal preferences).

My own starting points.

1) It is not a sandbox game (as already noted in the cliches thread).
2) There is such thing as the main plot, which is the same as the Main Quest.
3) The PC is not the Chosen One, nor different in any sense from the rest of mankind.
4) Ways to involve the PC without any reference to his or her background in the Main Quest ("triggers") might be as follows:

- an incident which causes the PC to be hunted (e.g., an accidental eyewitness to a crime);
- an incident which appeals to the PC's conscience (e.g., to hunt down the evil-doer);
- treasure hunt (might seem boring, but in any case the treasure hunt could become something far bigger);
- a task which evolves into something bigger (e.g., look for the Water Chip);
- need for survival (e.g., PC's home base is destroyed)

plus any PC's background-related triggers.

5) Keep in mind, that "there is no such thing as good or bad, there are only consequences of the PC's actions or inaction." There is the Main Antagonist in the game, but he/she is not necessarily evil. I know, this might sound a bit cliched, but potentially, nonetheless, this is still a very good point. Main Antagonist's example agendas might include:

- make humans immune to the effects of excessive radiation/cold/biochems/diseases exposure by some controversial means;
- sacrifice a lot of innocents in order to neutralize some real-bad evil;
- make humans evolve to some new life form (which is, of course, much better suited to the hostile Earth conditions than the current one);
- kill all mutants to purge the humanity (who are sometimes, by chance, are more human than their "unchanged" counterparts), and develop racial hatred against them;
- other.

Needless to say, in each case the PC will have at least, three options: to side with either party (thus making suffer the other party to a certain extent, which is, the necessary evil), or remain neutral (to avoid any necessary evil and pay the price of neutrality). So, the basic idea is to make the line between good and evil invisible.

Do I need to say that there should be multiple endings? :) As the next step, I would even suggest to develop different paths to win the game for each type of the PC (I dunno whether this is possible to implement from the realistic point of view, but definitely this is worth thinking of).

6) Each quest (be it a Side Quest or Main Quest) is resolvabe by fighting/sneaking/talking.

7) Hide the true nature of the Main Quest from the PC for roughly the first quarter of the game. Here's an example from classics (Warhammer: Dark Omen): Orcs are intensifying their raids due to an initially unknown reason. Later it becomes known that the Orcs were actually fleeing from some evil rising far in the South (and that evil in the South is actually the Main Quest).

Eight) Locks: indeed, they should be, as noted in the Wiki, and there should be ways to lockpick them. However, there should always be an option to shoot/bash the lock as well (depending, of course, on each single situation and circumstances).



Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 19, 2009, 05:22:51 AM
I am good with 1-8. EXCEPT 5.

I am not convinced we need such an antagonist.   I mean - are there any other options?


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 19, 2009, 06:24:41 PM
I got this link off of RPG codex:
http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/216/doctoral_thesis_story_games_and_.php

PDF there in is 206 pages of AI-based storytelling theory for games.  Just started reading it.  It seems theoretically possible to get source code (since the work was not commercial at the time of creation)... if we could track him down.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: mvBarracuda on February 19, 2009, 06:48:32 PM
Good find zenbitz! I added it to the notes section of the writing department at the wiki.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 22, 2009, 06:31:12 PM
So, I have been doing a little reading on this...  The usual definition of a "story" has some kind of antagonist.  Since our game is obviously focused around 1 player (PC) and his NPC friends... the antagonist has to oppose them in some way.

However, I am not sure this antagonist has to be "master villian" - typical of 90% of RPGs.  I still like the idea of the "environment" (particularly cold) itself being the main antagonist.  I think we really need a lead writer to develop this idea further.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: Sirren on February 22, 2009, 11:06:17 PM
Hello there.
Well, this is not really my field but...
Recently I saw Hellboy on TV. A sloppy made comic which failed in many ways and mostly in the plot area. What made me watch it till the end was how the main character was developped. I feel that it kept all the movie standing. On the other hand the grand villain really was something non existant - and something which the movie lacked.
I'm all for not having a final boss, that's something I really hate... Just don't understimate one or two fully developed side villains, they'd make a difference. Just my two euro cents.
See ya.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: mvBarracuda on February 23, 2009, 10:18:25 AM
I'm opposed to a cliche antagonist as well. Fallout and Planescape: Torment did a good job in this field as their antagonist were not shallow but rather deep and interesting.

About lead writer: any volunteers for this position or should I rather invest some time and try to find somebody who's got a talent in this field? Gamedev.net might be a nice place for that. I remember that Hory from IRC mentioned searching for specific writing forums but didn't really succeed.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: Lamoot on February 23, 2009, 03:03:14 PM
http://www.writingforums.org/ ?


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: mvBarracuda on February 23, 2009, 04:18:10 PM
Just registered there. Haven't found some kind of help wanted / help offered board there but I'll simply ask and let's see how it goes. I'll keep you updated.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 23, 2009, 10:50:13 PM
I think we should just get SOME writers, who start actually , you know, writing stuff.  Doesn't have to be shakespeare, just story board stuff.    It should be obvious  which of these would best fit the "LEAD" requirement.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: DK on February 24, 2009, 12:28:16 AM
*thinks this is where I introduce myself*
*volunteers self to be one of the SOME*
 hey guys I am DK, resident of the UK, uni student, aspiring writer (as in has not written a goodamn thing of worth but thinks much of my own ability to produce "eventually"), part-time codexer, fan of rpg's.
I like your project, have had a few thoughts on direction of the story myself, and for now will keep to myself to think on a little more but soon will post up what I think soon as I have caught up with you guys.
I will admit one thing.. I love the potential of scandinavia and a frozen sea. Can just see our protagonist sledging across it with just a pack of dogs, to reach some destination the other side, exposed to the elements, the horizon invisible, ice merging to sky, harassed and hounded by bandits who can spot easy pickings (or not so eay pickings as our player would have it) from miles away, the player standing out against the flat landscape, stumbling across ships frozen stuck in the ice, the crew frozen dead inside, or long abandoned.


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: marcus on February 24, 2009, 12:45:21 AM
That does sound awesome, I love the idea of the frozen ships trapped in time, I like the idea of an almost arctic feel to it as well despite it covering areas of Sweden and Lithuania (which can be darn cold), but the idea that this premature ice age has made these places colder ten-fold. Scrambling over frozen U-boats and searching the icy cabins of some old fishing trawler or tanker could be graphically amazing to look at. The side quests could be very easy to set up as well over these abandoned places.

Ice pirates would be a nice enemy group too, driving gas guzzling ice sleds and catapiller track vehicles covered in macabre saws and spikes (abit like some vehicles from Madmax 2).

I'm loving the idea of this game and the potential it has.  :)


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 24, 2009, 08:27:18 AM
DK and Marcus:  Gets it!


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 24, 2009, 08:32:08 AM
Oh to follow up on that storytelling AI thesis... I have gotten to the "meat" of it and it's quite interesting.
It is perhaps TOO avant gard to put into this game, but if some programmer got an AI bug on his bum to write some Case-based planning code, it might be worth while to allow the possiblilyt.

It might be a really cool and innovative way of automatically generating side-quests (and that would leave the main quest in full control of human authors).  (For you writer types - there is still plenty of input in terms of dialog and character dev in the AI version)

I will post a summary of this "book" when I finish it... probably by the end of the week sometime.

There is a big thread on this on gamedev.net, but I have not worked my way through it.
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=332564


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: egalor on February 25, 2009, 08:44:34 AM
1)

It might be a really cool and innovative way of automatically generating side-quests

I'm afraid, that wouldn't be innovative. These "random" quests have already been used in the first part of The Elder Scrolls, or in Freelancer (remember that one little space sim game in the beginning of 2000s?). As for me, though, I doubt that any AI-"invented" quests could do any good to the gameplay because of 1) their recognisable pattern and 2) their predisposition to bugs. I don't want to sound sceptic, but I strongly recommend that we ensure, that every more or less eminent quest in the game is hand-made.

2) I have forgotten about one thing: will we have any humour in the game? If so, will that be Fallout-like?

3) It's good to see the willing writers pour in! I support Zenbitz in his proposal to start writing something already. Although, I'm no native speaker in any way :) I still would like to contribute somehow. In this respect I suggest we accentuate on the following parts:

- background for every region in the game (pre-war/post-war/pre-game/in-game timeline);
- local inhabitants/society groups;
- suggestion for the main plot.

For the purposes of optimization of our efforts, I also suggest that we divide the regions amongst the people willing, and then combine them into one draft.

Any comments?


Title: Re: META: Quests
Post by: zenbitz on February 25, 2009, 09:05:09 PM
I'm afraid, that wouldn't be innovative. These "random" quests have already been used in the first part of The Elder Scrolls, or in Freelancer (remember that one little space sim game in the beginning of 2000s?). As for me, though, I doubt that any AI-"invented" quests could do any good to the gameplay because of 1) their recognisable pattern and 2) their predisposition to bugs. I don't want to sound sceptic, but I strongly recommend that we ensure, that every more or less eminent quest in the game is hand-made.

Read the thesis before you dismiss it out of hand (i.,e it was done poorly in the past.

Quote
2) I have forgotten about one thing: will we have any humour in the game? If so, will that be Fallout-like?

I hope so.  Especially black humor.  I also like pop culture references if they are not too frequent - examples, references to the Empire Strikes Back (Hoth), references to "The Thing" or other movies where wierd/old stuff is found frozen in the ice.  Oh, and we should make fun of "The Day After Tomorrow".  References to Fallout of course.

Quote
- background for every region in the game (pre-war/post-war/pre-game/in-game timeline);
- local inhabitants/society groups;
- suggestion for the main plot.

For the purposes of optimization of our efforts, I also suggest that we divide the regions amongst the people willing, and then combine them into one draft.

I don't think we are there yet.  I think we should just start by thinking of cool stuff like "Hell, Norway" or "Seed Vaults" or "Atomic Wikings" or Sami (finnish) tribes., or whatever.     We can move things around in time, place, importanance...

So, I am not really disagreeing - but i think we should start by just collecting bits of the above, rather than divide everything out.  At least until we have some official writer or Lead Writer (tm)