Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

29 October, 2007

Weekend design challenge: Quest rewards
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:16 AM

Going back to a quest theme again, let’s talk about rewards for quests.

What makes for good reward for quests?

There are several different issues to consider. First, consider how to offer something that is meaningful to everyone. For example, in a game with different types of armor and different classes restricted to wearing different types of armor, how do you offer something that everyone can use? Offer one item of each armor type? Expect that some people won’t be able to use some quest rewards? Don’t offer armor as quest rewards?

Another major issue to consider is balancing quest rewards with drops and crafted items. Should quest rewards be comparable to the other categories? What does the generally established convention of having set quest rewards mean when comparing different sources of equipment?

What do you think about these issues? What other issues are important for considering quest rewards?

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  1. Basically I would say that the WoW System works pretty well, Players get some usefull Items as rewards but if they aren’t able to use them, they can still disenchant them or sell them and have some money.

    What I miss in WoW is the point that players never get any resources which can be used for the crafting professions. I guess this is mainly because the best items in the game cannot be player made which is something I personally dislike. Anyway I think that every Player can use a reward, it doesn’t matter if he is able to actually wear or equip the item, as long as he is always able to sell it it doesn’t matter.

    The question here would then be, would it be easier (also for balancing) to give the player only money as reward so that he can buy himself his Equip? I guess that would be boring for many players….

    Comment by Christian — 29 October, 2007 @ 5:15 AM

  2. Well, several things could go on.

    First, for quest rewards like armor that not everyone can use, personalize quest rewards by class, or (trickier, but more expandable) by current equipment. If you’re using a two-hander, the quest will give you a two-hander.

    Second, if you’re dealing with a heavy-craft environment, build your recipes to have commonalities among all recipes for a class, all recipes for an equipment type, and all recipes at a particular “tier”. So if you want to make a hat for a 30th-level mage, you need a hat thingy, a mage thingy, and a level 30 thingy. Then your quests can reward generic materials which can be made into anything, or materials specialized based on the quest which can add a feature like poison resistance or boosted regeneration to any piece of equipment.

    Third, don’t bother with gear as a quest reward. Just pay cash and let the players buy what they want.

    Comment by Glazius — 29 October, 2007 @ 5:56 AM

  3. Quest Rewards

    [...] I’ve found…) and ran across Psychochild’s latest weekend design challenge re: quest rewards. Woot, a topic for a post, and it’s been less than a week since the original post! [...]

    Pingback by Voyages in Eternity — 29 October, 2007 @ 6:03 AM

  4. One solution that I haven’t seen much in more recent games, but which we used to good effect in Asheron’s Call, is for quests to provide one reward that not everyone can use — and make that reward tradeable to other players.

    (Mind you, this probably would have worked a lot better if we’d had some sort of real trading system in game. Player-written tradebots helped, but a game-supported trading system would have opened it up to a much wider set of players.)

    Sometimes designers object that players should ‘earn’ their quest rewards, but as a non-optimal solo player who often couldn’t complete content at the ‘proper’ level, I really appreciated having multiple pathways to obtain the equipment I needed. This really isn’t any different than the bind-on-equip dungeon loot in WoW. (And note that binding an item to a character on use actually makes this solution even more attractive, since that solves the hand-me-down issue.)

    Comment by srand — 29 October, 2007 @ 8:26 PM

  5. I think this might be one of the most fundamental issues in game design. Every player plays for ‘rewards’, though we all disagree on what kind of rewards we’d like.

    Is the reward known in advance? Can it be shared? Transferred? Sold to an NPC? Is it useful to many or only to a few? Is it ‘useful’ at all, or is it merely a badge? Is its utility something that will only be revealed later? Is it useful in different ways to different players? Is it cursed? Might its value rise and fall as the game progresses? Will it be spent or otherwise removed from the game at a later time?

    And of course, what did you make the player do in order to get it?

    I think the key to the thing is, who will be drawn to this reward, and how would I like to challenge him or her?

    I think maybe one of the most interesting quest rewards I ever knew of was in A Tale in the Desert. The winner of a particular contest was allowed to broadcast 500 words at one go to the ‘announcements’ chat channel (to which normally only the devs had access). In a game largely about politics and relationships, this riveted everyone. Can you imagine a similar reward being offered in WoW, where you can already chat at will to entire zones?

    Comment by Bret — 29 October, 2007 @ 10:32 PM

  6. I think it would be good for some quests to offer an alternative selection of rewards. One thing that I run into is what to do when you reach the level cap. It always becomes frustrating for me to find more reasons to run quests after I reach the level cap and gear up.

    Ideas of alternate rewards could include recipes for armor or weapons that could be attractive to the crafting crowd that also adventures, a small increase in XP (pre-level cap), extra faction points, some short burst skill (i.e. faster mount/run, increase in stats), or side quests.

    Comment by Tim — 31 October, 2007 @ 1:19 PM

  7. The reward can be the gameplay itself. In many FPS games, players play primarily for the action. In Puzzle Quest, it’s the variety of individual encounters that keeps me playing, not the character or story advancement. Likewise, my enjoyment of Carcassonne is founded in the emerging nature of individual encounters. I don’t think MMOs are incapable of rewarding players more with experiences than with consequences.

    Actually, I’m hoping Warhammer Online (the endgame, at least) and The Agency will help demonstrate this point to some degree. We’ll see, though.

    Comment by Aaron — 1 November, 2007 @ 6:39 PM

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