An Idea to Improve Wandering Heroes

Individual Hero Quests

By on February 26, 2011 10:48:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

IronKaiser

Join Date 10/2008
+7

                One of the big things on my Elemental wish list, and the wish list of a lot of people, is major improvement to the game’s RPG feel. Some have suggested traits for heroes, while others have suggested special dungeons and quests which can only be conquered by bands of heroes. These are all great ideas, and I have one I’d like to add to the pile. It’s simple. It’s probably so simple that it could be achieved in a mod. But it’s also ambitious and potentially difficult to implement properly. I’d propose that each recruitable hero have their own personal quest to complete.

                Some of these quests you would uncover when you first encounter the hero. Let’s say that, in our adventuring, we run into Marius the Archer. Stat-wise, Marius is a pretty impressive character, and we’d like to have him on our side. But when we talk to him, instead of demanding gold for his services, he gives us a quest. “I would gladly join you, mighty lord of Altar. However, I owe a band of rangers a debt for… some services they provided. If you will help me find the tomb of Renegon, I will gladly join your cause.” After finding the long-lost tomb (and fighting the spiders surrounding it), we inform the rangers of our find and earn Marius to our cause. We can’t help but take a look at his biography, and notice that he’s a part-time archeologist who tends to get himself into sticky situations with the wrong crowd. The quest makes all too much sense to us now.

                Yet most of these quests would be uncovered after working with the hero for some time. For some, investing a certain amount of coin in personal inventory would unlock the quest. For others, showing them enough action on the battlefield would unlock the quest, and still others would need to be stationed in a city for a time. For example, we have a talented swordsman named Gareth. Gareth’s biography states that he has traversed the land looking for his long-lost younger brother, Achan, who was stolen away during a bandit raid. This background information doesn’t have much of an impact on gameplay until Gareth wins a battle while equipped with a double-handed sword. After the battle, we receive a notice from Gareth. “My lord, I found a note on the battlefield belonging to one of the slain knaves. My brother lives, a slave in the service of woodland thieves! I must go to his aid!” We decide to undertake this quest and send Gareth and some soldiers off to search several thief camps for Achan. After a long search and several bloody battles, we find Achan and earn Gareth a happy ending. Completing this quest earns Gareth a significant XP increase. Most quests would grant large XP bonuses, though some might grant a special unique weapon for that hero.

                There are several benefits for implementing this idea. It would give a significant boost to the presence of lore within the game world itself. Right now, the character biographies have no impact whatsoever in the game world. Elena may be a wounded and jaded soul after being betrayed by her power-hungry brother in her biography, but she’s just as blithely eager to join you for cash as the optimistic Rickard in-game. Giving the heroes in-game personality would do a great deal to liven up the game. Also, it would encourage treating each hero as unique weapons in one’s arsenal. While one hero is currently inseparable on the battlefield from another, short of stats, implementing this would cause even the power-gamer to recognize Leo the mage as a unique hero, independent from Karl the mage, because of the gameplay bonus that doing so offers. Furthermore, this idea could create a fun game-within-a-game, as players try to uncover all of the hidden quests for each character.

               What do you think about this idea?

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February 26, 2011 10:52:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Love it!

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February 26, 2011 11:06:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What an idea!  Great stuff, a simple and extremely effective way of getting more RPG and personality into the game, and making us care about our heroes.   People, give this guy some karma!

Best regards,
Steven.

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February 27, 2011 2:50:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a really intriguing idea, and one I think could have real merit. In general, adding personal quests to heroes would in fact add character to your heroes as well as draw the player deeper into the evolving in each game. However, there are several key things about adding heroes quests that need to be considered beyond simply throwing in more quests. Currently, most players seem to cast many quests and quest locations aside towards the middle of a game, as these tend to take the player out of the way of their other goals. The quests player do accomplish tend to be done via multiple parties or simply as a small side to their larger movements. Thus, the single largest problem with hero quests would be making them confined enough to be completed by a single party containing the hero ( as it is assumed that each leg of these quests would require the target hero to be present) while also being interesting enough both in story and reward to justify the excursion.

My thought is that heroes should each have multiple quests with various triggers. While many would simply say "yes please, more quests=better", the idea would be to not simply give each hero a whole host of quests to be completed in a single game. The idea would be to give each hero a set of quests which have specific game related triggers so that the quest is not simply a bit of lore thrown into the game, but is a natural extension of the game you are playing. For Instance, say you have a hero name Artemis who is an adventure. Artemis might have 4 unique quests, but lets examine on in hypothetical quest in particular. Say that you recently went to war with Umber, this might trigger an Artemis quest such that you find out that she was one imprisoned in an Umber prison in city X ( X being some random city in Umber ) and she comes to you telling of old companions still locked in the dungeons of X. You might have some limited amount of turns to get to city X and save these poor souls from their fate. Thus, now the player is not only at war, but has an optional goal to fulfill for both an additional reward and a great sense of story for the war. These types of goal based quests would allow Elemental to not only create a deeper RPG experience, but also reward players for undertaking additional tasks as well as intertwine the 4x and RPG experiences in a way that the current quest system does not. Also, by making multiple such quest for each hero which are trigger probabilistically, the events of each game would be more random and would keep this aspect of the sandbox game from becoming overly stale.

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February 27, 2011 11:11:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

+1 Nifty idea Iron Kaiser.  and +1 Kenata for the further refinement and his ongoing contributions to the game.

I believe this idea could help get rid of the researching adventure tech and provide alternative means of triggering quest spawns.  And what a great use of existing but unutilized game assets (hero backstories). 

 Heck, you could use such mechanisms to unlock whole new areas of a map or a unique recruitable unit(s) or even minor faction:

  A hero tells you of a hidden pass that leads to a fertile valley and the land of his awesome mounted archers of unerring accuracy.  You then gain an opportunity to hire said units, trade for their bows or specially trained mounts, send a child to marry their ruler's offspring and seal them to you or even have it your forces are the tilting point that lets the exiled ruler (your hero NPC) retake his birthright and become a permanent vassal/ally.

These quests could make every phase of the game more exciting.  Some could be triggered as you meet certain factions:

"Watch yer back with them Umber scum... they turned on my former liege after signing a bloodtruce."  etc...

  

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February 27, 2011 11:32:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks so much for the thoughts and the karma. I really appreciate, and am glad to see that this idea is so attractive to you all. Now if only Team Stardock would stumble upon this thread...

Quoting kenata,
However, there are several key things about adding heroes quests that need to be considered beyond simply throwing in more quests. Currently, most players seem to cast many quests and quest locations aside towards the middle of a game, as these tend to take the player out of the way of their other goals.

First off, thanks for the thought out post, Kenata. Regarding the importance of hero quests in gameplay, I would hope that hero quests would be implemented alongside an overhaul of the quest mechanic. Quests ought to be more immersive and more important to the larger game of Elemental. The mid and late-game blob of low-level quests ought to be trimmed down, and the quests that do appear should scale better with the growth of one’s heroes and kingdom. Hopefully, the renovations to the quest system would open up room for hero quests. Also, hero quests should only appear with heroes that you’ve invested significant time/resources in, so hero quests should not themselves add significantly to the quest blob. But you’re right: it would be important to make sure that these quests remain important to the main game even as they deepen the immersion and role-playing features of Elemental.

Quoting kenata,
My thought is that heroes should each have multiple quests with various triggers... Say that you recently went to war with Umber, this might trigger an Artemis quest such that you find out that she was one imprisoned in an Umber prison in city X... Thus, now the player is not only at war, but has an optional goal to fulfill for both an additional reward and a great sense of story for the war. These types of goal based quests would allow Elemental to not only create a deeper RPG experience, but also reward players for undertaking additional tasks as well as intertwine the 4x and RPG experiences in a way that the current quest system does not. Also, by making multiple such quest for each hero which are trigger probabilistically, the events of each game would be more random and would keep this aspect of the sandbox game from becoming overly stale.

This could work, and would certainly achieve the goals you’ve outlined. I definitely appreciate the focus of making quests flow naturally from the individual game being played. There are two challenges with this idea, though, that we would have to keep in mind. First is the sheer workload. The idea here is that each recruitable hero has their own individual, personalized quest. For one hundred heroes, that’s one hundred new quests that have to be written and implemented. If we expand that to four possible quests, that’s four hundred different quests to write up. I’m neither modder nor developer, but that sounds like quite the workload, even if some are different only in flavor text. Second, I think it is important to make sure that the quests remain tied into the character’s backstory, or at least the character’s personality as revealed in said backstory. Now, if Artemis’ backstory says that she is “cold and reclusive after some tragic encounter with the Fallen, which she won’t provide the details to,” and then we later figure out, due to declaring war on X Fallen faction, that she was imprisoned by X Fallen Faction in Y city, then that’s very cool. But if there is no connection between backstory and character, and Artemis' revelation (or any random hero's revelation) seems to just come out of left field, then it seems like we’re moving away from personalized hero quests and into game events simply generating quests (which is very cool, mind you, but not really a personalized hero quest). But I agree with you that the hero quests should definitely be a “natural extension of the main game.”

Thanks again for the awesome thoughts.

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February 27, 2011 1:55:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This could work, and would certainly achieve the goals you’ve outlined. I definitely appreciate the focus of making quests flow naturally from the individual game being played. There are two challenges with this idea, though, that we would have to keep in mind. First is the sheer workload. The idea here is that each recruitable hero has their own individual, personalized quest. For one hundred heroes, that’s one hundred new quests that have to be written and implemented. If we expand that to four possible quests, that’s four hundred different quests to write up. I’m neither modder nor developer, but that sounds like quite the workload, even if some are different only in flavor text. Second, I think it is important to make sure that the quests remain tied into the character’s backstory, or at least the character’s personality as revealed in said backstory. Now, if Artemis’ backstory says that she is “cold and reclusive after some tragic encounter with the Fallen, which she won’t provide the details to,” and then we later figure out, due to declaring war on X Fallen faction, that she was imprisoned by X Fallen Faction in Y city, then that’s very cool. But if there is no connection between backstory and character, and Artemis' revelation (or any random hero's revelation) seems to just come out of left field, then it seems like we’re moving away from personalized hero quests and into game events simply generating quests (which is very cool, mind you, but not really a personalized hero quest). But I agree with you that the hero quests should definitely be a “natural extension of the main game.”

You're points are completely valid. These are two overwhelming challenges which would have to be addressed. Yet, here one could implement a kind of trick in the hero system to minimize the number of quests needed while maximizing the quests for a particular hero. The general idea would be to tie quests not to the characters themselves, but to link them with a character's back story. Thus, looking at our "Artemis", she could have back history tags - "Former Fallen Prisoner", "Capitar Native", and "Defender of the People". Thus, each of these tags would confer personal quests which fit with her back story, while both minimizing the amount of quests needed to fill out all the NPCs as well as allowing the mod community to create new NPCs without needing to go through the process of several personal quests for each of them.

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February 27, 2011 2:54:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kenata,
This is a really intriguing idea, and one I think could have real merit. In general, adding personal quests to heroes would in fact add character to your heroes as well as draw the player deeper into the evolving in each game. However, there are several key things about adding heroes quests that need to be considered beyond simply throwing in more quests. Currently, most players seem to cast many quests and quest locations aside towards the middle of a game, as these tend to take the player out of the way of their other goals. The quests player do accomplish tend to be done via multiple parties or simply as a small side to their larger movements. Thus, the single largest problem with hero quests would be making them confined enough to be completed by a single party containing the hero ( as it is assumed that each leg of these quests would require the target hero to be present) while also being interesting enough both in story and reward to justify the excursion.

My thought is that heroes should each have multiple quests with various triggers. While many would simply say "yes please, more quests=better", the idea would be to not simply give each hero a whole host of quests to be completed in a single game. The idea would be to give each hero a set of quests which have specific game related triggers so that the quest is not simply a bit of lore thrown into the game, but is a natural extension of the game you are playing. For Instance, say you have a hero name Artemis who is an adventure. Artemis might have 4 unique quests, but lets examine on in hypothetical quest in particular. Say that you recently went to war with Umber, this might trigger an Artemis quest such that you find out that she was one imprisoned in an Umber prison in city X ( X being some random city in Umber ) and she comes to you telling of old companions still locked in the dungeons of X. You might have some limited amount of turns to get to city X and save these poor souls from their fate. Thus, now the player is not only at war, but has an optional goal to fulfill for both an additional reward and a great sense of story for the war. These types of goal based quests would allow Elemental to not only create a deeper RPG experience, but also reward players for undertaking additional tasks as well as intertwine the 4x and RPG experiences in a way that the current quest system does not. Also, by making multiple such quest for each hero which are trigger probabilistically, the events of each game would be more random and would keep this aspect of the sandbox game from becoming overly stale.

i agree with kenata here. as game progresses right now in the current state of the game one does tend to stop the random quests which deter from the goals of the game ( ie eliminate the enemy). i do think the OP is a good idea i think that hero quests with how kenata sugests not only keep a player involved but ur still moving in the direction that all 4x games go (seek out and destroy ur rivals).

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February 28, 2011 10:24:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kenata,
You're points are completely valid. These are two overwhelming challenges which would have to be addressed. Yet, here one could implement a kind of trick in the hero system to minimize the number of quests needed while maximizing the quests for a particular hero. The general idea would be to tie quests not to the characters themselves, but to link them with a character's back story. Thus, looking at our "Artemis", she could have back history tags - "Former Fallen Prisoner", "Capitar Native", and "Defender of the People". Thus, each of these tags would confer personal quests which fit with her back story, while both minimizing the amount of quests needed to fill out all the NPCs as well as allowing the mod community to create new NPCs without needing to go through the process of several personal quests for each of them.

Fascinating idea, Kenata. I've done a bit of script meddling before, but I'm not a big-time modder. Still, if I understand your idea correctly, that could be a brilliant way to provide unique quests individualized to the hero while minimizing the necessary workload. Genius, I dare say.

Now, since I'm not too familiar on scripting, let me ask: would implementing this history tag idea restrict the creativity of developers or modders? Say, for example, someone wants to port a medieval Luke Skywalker over to Elemental (not my cup of tea, personally, but I digress). Said modder wants to add in a personal quest in which Luke will ultimately fight his father, the Dread Lord Vader. Would the history tags prevent him from creating this quest (or whatever wild, wacky, unheard of quest he would otherwise be able to create) because of the history tags, or are those tags only a useful tool that one could deviate from if they so desired?

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February 28, 2011 11:17:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now, since I'm not too familiar on scripting, let me ask: would implementing this history tag idea restrict the creativity of developers or modders? Say, for example, someone wants to port a medieval Luke Skywalker over to Elemental (not my cup of tea, personally, but I digress). Said modder wants to add in a personal quest in which Luke will ultimately fight his father, the Dread Lord Vader. Would the history tags prevent him from creating this quest (or whatever wild, wacky, unheard of quest he would otherwise be able to create) because of the history tags, or are those tags only a useful tool that one could deviate from if they so desired?

In my mind, these types of tags would be similiar to the current history or ability systems. Thus, one would create a pool of such backgrounds which could be used to tie a quest and a hero. There are two ways one could implement the connection, either via adding a background tag to the quest and the hero, similarly to how items or abilities are linked, or by create something similar to a spell book, where all the quests of a particular background are specified. Either way, modders would be able to create new backgrounds and associated quests to support any number of new or modded heroes. So in your Luke Skywalker mod, you could create a background called "Evil Estranged Father", and like your "Darth Vader Fight" quest to that background. Then, you would simply say that Luke Skywalker has a backstory of "Evil Estranged Father" and it would be a quest possibility under the correct trigger event.

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February 28, 2011 11:32:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's what I suspected. Yep, brilliant implementation, Kenata. Thanks for your input.

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March 1, 2011 12:13:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's what I suspected. Yep, brilliant implementation, Kenata. Thanks for your input.

Just happy to give me two cents. The truth is that the quest system has a wealth of untapped potential, in some way greater than any other system in Elemental. Every quest is an opportunity to inject a narrative into the characters and events moving around the game world. In this thread, we have been discussing quests as a means of filling in the backstory of the various NPCs, yet this same type of quest could be used to create narratives based on previous game events. For instance, let's take our hero Artemis again. Artemis has joined with the sovereign and is now leading one of the armies. While travelling with the Army, Artemis and her army encounter a shrill which casts some foul spell on our hero. This spell will confer a backstory upon Artemis called "Residual Effect from X". Later down the road, Artemis hits level 7, which triggers the quest associated with this background. Thus, the current narrative concering Artemis reminds the player of this old fight with a shrill years earlier, drawing the player deeper into the life and times of each hero. Even in this example, we have only begun to scratch the surface of this idea, and have yet to even discuss the idea of applying it to the sov, cities, or the faction itself. In fact, these quests could be made to use the current game to fill in the blanks, thus allowing one to seamlessly integrate this new content with each game to keep the quest topical and part of the nature evolution of the game forming from the player.

While this could become too outrageous, a new option could also be created to tone down the trigger chances. Thus, one could say they want heavy, medium, light, or no quests for a particular game, and would not be force to sit through a lot of story when they simply want to play the war game experience.

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March 1, 2011 2:44:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent ideas, guys.

Best regards,
Steven.

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