Quest Variation and Thematic Flavor

Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

In order for games not to go too crazy with options, and thus break easily, you will often find that quests fall into easily definable categories. My hopes are high that the random questing system in Skyrim allows for enough variation that you won't get bored of it too quickly, but I know that as time passes people will eventually figure out the behavior of that system and it will become somewhat predictable.
 
This is pretty much inevitable, because it's a system made by human beings for human beings. There is a lot to be said, though, for even side quests to have strong thematic flavor, and for them to vary substantially enough that the theme is a major feature and not a distraction.
 
Since I'm still sitting outside of the Skyrimbox I've been playing a different game than most of you are probably playing, called Wizards. It's a java conversion of a board game from the 1970's. You can get it here, though it has some qualifiers for who the intended users are. It runs smoothly enough, has tons of options, and is as lo-fi as you might expect a java conversion of a board game to be. But it also has a quest system that I enjoy a lot, primarily because the flavor text of a given quest, and there are many quests, help elevate the go-there-and-collect-that tasks into minature stories, all centered around protecting a land that's slowly being corrupted by the forces of evil. Demons spring up everywhere you go, usually ruining you if you wind up in the same hex with them, at least to start, the portions of the lands that are the weakest fall permanently into darkness every few weeks, reducing the safe places you can go and wiping out entire quest lines. The game is mad frustrating at times, and you can be quite unfairly sidelined for long enough for it to be game over. I can already think of many ways to improve on the basic ideas, but there's something in this game, something I can't quite put my finger on yet, that is doing things in a way I'd like to see now. 
 
It's definitely tough, and sometimes impossible, but I feel really good when I manage to actually beat the game (I've only done so once out of the ten or so times I've played it since I started playing again. Got lucky, finished tons of quests, built my character up to a top-level sorcerer and managed to avoid the traitor through blind luck, collect all the gems and deposit them in the sacred circle before the end of the world. No, that's not a euphemism).
 
For those of you playing Skyrim (or other games with quest-giving systems), without going into too many specifics, what's your general feeling about the quest system so far?  Things feel varied enough?

#1 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

In order for games not to go too crazy with options, and thus break easily, you will often find that quests fall into easily definable categories. My hopes are high that the random questing system in Skyrim allows for enough variation that you won't get bored of it too quickly, but I know that as time passes people will eventually figure out the behavior of that system and it will become somewhat predictable.
 
This is pretty much inevitable, because it's a system made by human beings for human beings. There is a lot to be said, though, for even side quests to have strong thematic flavor, and for them to vary substantially enough that the theme is a major feature and not a distraction.
 
Since I'm still sitting outside of the Skyrimbox I've been playing a different game than most of you are probably playing, called Wizards. It's a java conversion of a board game from the 1970's. You can get it here, though it has some qualifiers for who the intended users are. It runs smoothly enough, has tons of options, and is as lo-fi as you might expect a java conversion of a board game to be. But it also has a quest system that I enjoy a lot, primarily because the flavor text of a given quest, and there are many quests, help elevate the go-there-and-collect-that tasks into minature stories, all centered around protecting a land that's slowly being corrupted by the forces of evil. Demons spring up everywhere you go, usually ruining you if you wind up in the same hex with them, at least to start, the portions of the lands that are the weakest fall permanently into darkness every few weeks, reducing the safe places you can go and wiping out entire quest lines. The game is mad frustrating at times, and you can be quite unfairly sidelined for long enough for it to be game over. I can already think of many ways to improve on the basic ideas, but there's something in this game, something I can't quite put my finger on yet, that is doing things in a way I'd like to see now. 
 
It's definitely tough, and sometimes impossible, but I feel really good when I manage to actually beat the game (I've only done so once out of the ten or so times I've played it since I started playing again. Got lucky, finished tons of quests, built my character up to a top-level sorcerer and managed to avoid the traitor through blind luck, collect all the gems and deposit them in the sacred circle before the end of the world. No, that's not a euphemism).
 
For those of you playing Skyrim (or other games with quest-giving systems), without going into too many specifics, what's your general feeling about the quest system so far?  Things feel varied enough?

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