With the Elemental community voting for the best fan-made quest right now, the forum is filled with different opinions and ideas on the very concept of quests. The two most interesting questions (at least to me) are these: How should quests factor into the larger game, and how can we make them more interesting? After reading the fascinating discussions on this board, two ideas have jumped to my mind. One deals with the role of quests in a game of Elemental, and the other tries to add a little spice to some quests.
Make Quests a True Tool in Your Empire-Building Arsenal
One of the more interesting things I read from one poster (whose post I can’t seem to find) noted that quests seem to be little more than a distraction from the real game of building your empire. Just look at the Technology trees. Military has an obvious reason for existing – to expand your empire. Magic serves a very similar function. Economics strengthens the production capability of your empire, thus giving you a stronger army and empire. And Diplomacy enables you to pick and choose your friends and foes, as well as introducing you to new military units, which strengthens your empire. But Quests don’t seem to fit into the picture quite like the others do – they don’t have a clear purpose in the larger game of Elemental.
My proposal is that we strengthen the role of quests and the Quest Tech Tree by tying it more directly to the larger game. Imagine a game of Elemental being played, where we decide to climb up the Quest Tech Tree. In my idea, the game might begin as it already does: some quests randomly appear, and we are rewarded with neat equipment for our sovereign, or a bit of the map, or what have you. But, as we continue the game, Quests become an active force in our empire. We research “Espionage I”, which spawns quests near our neighbors’ closest cities. We move our hero over to the quest, and the quest-giver promises us information on the enemy city if only we will complete the challenging, riveting quest that awaits us. Or perhaps we research “Sovereign’s Benevolence I” and we are given the ability to assign targets as quests that others can complete. What this means is that those mischievous bandits (and/or other player heroes) that plague the countryside will target your mortal enemy’s trade routes, heroes, and cities specifically, in hopes of earning the reward we’ve promised. Towards the end of the game, we might research “Prescience of Glory,” which allows us to see what quests the other nations are trying to complete. With this knowledge, we can throw our own malignant twists into the quests of others. Say a Pariden questing team has just saved The Nobleman’s Daughter from a band of thieves, and is trekking back to the mansion where they’ll deliver her to her grateful father. The band of heroes lands on the mansion space and triggers the pop-up window, only to find a second band of thieves generously financed by us, waiting to fight Pariden for the daughter and her reward. And then, if we were in Pariden’s shoes, we would have to decide whether we would hand the girl over, fight the intruders, make a run for it, bribe the thieves, etc.
While I hope the specific ideas are appealing, it’s really the general principle that I’m promoting. Maybe some techs can only be researched by unlocking and completing a specific quest, or quests can be used to strengthen the other tech trees. Whatever the case, upgrading quests from a random grab-bag and a cool mini-game for our sovereign to play into a true force for our empire in its own right seems like a good idea to me. Quests should have a specific yet varied and exciting function in strengthening our empire. What do you think?
Quests/Choices appearing based on Attributes/Histories/Stats
The idea behind this one is much simpler, but I think it would add a little spice to the game. Imagine that we are playing as Gildar, a kingdom that has the Master Smiths attribute. We are questing around with our sovereign, when we find a questing hut. We stride into the hut, assuming that it will be another one of the same quests we’ve already solved in our previous games as Altar, Pariden, and Kraxis. Instead, we are greeted by an old weapon forger who recognizes us as a people of great knowledge in the ways of anvil and hammer. The subsequent quest is tailor-made specifically for Master Smiths, and could not be discovered by any kingdom or empire lacking this attribute.
A similar principle might apply to individual heroes. While questing around, the Sovereign’s daughter stumbles across a quest involving bickering scholars and an ancient scroll precisely because she has the “brilliant” talent and/or has invested a certain amount of points in the “intelligence” stat. Or your Sovereign’s history as a Miner brings you to the mouth of a once great mining station, now infested with crawling creatures protecting a bounteous hoard of Gold/Iron/etc.
Or maybe we walk into the same quest as anyone else, but the results change slightly as a result of our unique faction/character. Let’s jump back to the situation where Pariden was deciding what to do with Nobleman’s Daughter. The responses available to any player might be A. Give her up or B. Fight However, since the hero in charge of this questing team has the Intimidating talent, he has an extra option: C. Intimidate. As Pariden, we decide to pick this option. The risk is high if the fiends aren’t impressed by our scare tactic, but we decide the chance to get rid of these guys without a fight is worth it. As it turns out, the intimidation works, and the party runs for the hills while we deliver the woman to her father safely. Who knows what would happen if the hero were Diplomatic or Meditative.
Implementing this quest mechanic would enhance Elemental by personalizing its quests. As the player is playing these attribute-specific quests, he’ll realize “Hey, that’s me!” His kingdom will actually be recognized as Cultured, instead of just being +2 whatever, Her custom thief-turned-sovereign will actually interact in the world as a thief-turned-sovereign, and we will better appreciate our menacing hero when we owe our success at reuniting daughter and father not just to the stats, but to the hero’s unique personality itself (attributes).
Anyway, those are my ideas. Thanks for reading, and tell me what you think!