Dynamic Quest Engine

Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

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I'm really looking forward to Pathfinder Online for a numer of reasons but high on the list is the wealth of dynamically generated content in the game, much of which is generated by the actions of the playerbase. Some of the quests in the game clearly will be generated by the players in the form of bounties, contracts, etc. I would like to suggest a possibility for dynamic generation of non-player-created content.

Way back in the day, Sid Meier created a spy game called Covert Action. The game had its share of flaws but one thing it did which I think has tremendous potential was the way it generated "missions". The game contained ten mastermind villains; in Pathfinder Online those might be evil demigods, demon lords, mighty necromancers, or crafty dragons. Each of those mastermind villains had a specific objective, something far-reaching requiring the achievement of numerous smaller objectives; think along the lines of development, production, and distribution of a magical disease or the subjugation of an entire region by turning everyone into undead.

To acheive that larger goal, several intermediate goals would need to be achieved, perhaps an ancient formula retrieved from the depths of some ruined wizard's tower or the destruction of a village for the rapid generation of corpses for reanimation. Some of these intermediate goals might be broken down into even smaller goals such as researching the location of a wizard's lost tower or blackmailing a guard captain to turn against his village.

The accomplishment of these goals can be approached from two angles. Through successive layers of obfuscating underlings, the mastermind villain needs to hire someone to accomplish these goals. But as word gets out that someone is being or has been hired, opposing forces may choose to take action to prevent the accomplishment of these goals. So for each goal, content is generated for two types of players.

Now, from the mastermind's perspective, the goal NEEDS to be achieved. If one group fails, another group must be hired to achieve that same goal. Perhaps she hires from a different region and that same quest spawns elsewhere in the game. Once that goal is achieved, the next step in her nefarious plan gets generated as a quest. At some point along the quest chain, perhaps there is a point of no return where failure of the quest results in a complete collapse of the quest chain. And that quest chain might appear later in the game having been generated by a different mastermind.

So from a list of masterminds and a list of plots, a series of goals can be generated as quests. Each quest results in content for two types of players, the "for" and the "against." Some of those plots may share similar goals to reduce development resources and to obfuscate the true nature of the plot.

I believe this could be a great way of encouraging player interaction in an ongoing storyline without that storyline being static content that is consumed once and then ignored.

Great idea.

Goblin Squad Member

If they can pull something like this off, that would be awesome.

I support this idea.

Goblin Squad Member

I very much like the idea of NPCs with motivations seeking to accomplish their goals and creating quests for players to help them.

Goblinworks Founder

Yeah something like this would be amazing. Some of the best gaming years of my life were with old games like Sid Meiers Pirates and Covert Action. NPC's with dynamic objectives would be amazing. What would be fun is for Villains to hire PC's to investigate a variety of nearby ruins, temples or catacombs in search of ancient relics or artifacts. The villain might need several key pieces or shards of a Relic that he needs in order to become all powerful and take control of a Hex (in the tradition of the rod of seven parts or some other similar powerful artifact).

Goblinworks Founder

It would be nice to see NPC's going about the day doing jobs and not always standing in one spot chatting or looking up at the sky.

I want to interact with them, follow them around their daily chores and maybe help them. Walk by that same npc the next day and get a wave or a bow maybe even some of the food you helped collect.

Just want some kind of 'life' to the npc's that inhabit the world with me.

Goblin Squad Member

Very cool. I like this.

Silver Crusade Goblin Squad Member

Well...dynamic quest engine could be good. Or, the devs could get to play NPC's that have some pretty fun NPC's who have divergent goals. Mark Moreland vs James Jacobs shadowy fights....come on, you know you want to see it!

Liberty's Edge Goblin Squad Member

Great idea.

I think it would be especially meaningful if the players actually knew that these types of quests are as important that they are. Perhaps on the lowest level of the quests (the first iteration) it is only in the quest text so you are forced to read it, something along the lines of "We have reports that XY evil overlord is behind these raids". And then in the next level of the quest (or perhaps a few levels higher) it becomes clear who is "pulling the strings" and it is clearly denoted as a special note at the bottom of the quest.

I think it will be very important that at some point in the quest chain it is very clear how important this quest chain is to make sure the players don't feel excluded from the fun. Assuming that some of these chains get far enough to really be a threat to a hex or a larger region, I would hope it would be obvious.

Finally, this method might be really great for primary quest chains that are important to the overall plot of a region. Quest that actually matter to how the world forms, especially those that are time-sensitive, is a really great way to feel like you have an impact on the world. For example, having an epic quest chain that changes a part of the world (say burning down part of a forest or erecting a npc-controlled keep) should start with these quests and if the "good" people fail then whatever was going to happen, happens and is permanent (or semi-permanent). That way people can talk about how they were a part of that process.

TL;DR: Make these types of quests and make them have an impact on the world and feel unique.

Goblin Squad Member

Sounds like Dynamic Content from eg GW2 Dynamic Events or Rifts's Rifts Content? If so that's a lot of content required. It would have to tie in with either Dungeons, Wandering Mobs or NPC Factions (x3?), basically a meta context to link up those sorts of spawnings? Possibly? Alternatively is there a way for devs to send a mob swarm into battle with a few behind the scenes tricks?!

Emergent stories from player interactions will hopefully lead to equally epic campaigns, adventures and quests but some sort of idk, layers of hell to go through various dungeons to eventually face a mega-boss Diablo overlord would be welcome.

Adds the question how much deformation and terraforming of the world will there be possible? Eg dungeons are forests, Mountains, ruins & caverns etc etc.

Goblin Squad Member

It is the very best kind of dynamic content. Subtle. While this sort of thing is obviously very engine/coding dependent, I would absolutely love to see things like this in the game.

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