Runemaster - Developer diary 8 - Quests: Basic Mechanics

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SolSara

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Welcome to developer diary 8 for our upcoming role playing-game Runemaster, where we will talk about Quests and Basic Mechanics! With Runemaster, we really want every single playthrough to be a unique saga, but how are we working to make that happen?

We have previously told you that we are building the RPG on the attributes of emergent storytelling, so that the game’s procedural quest system will take note of your deeds and challenge you accordingly. Every quest counts toward the goal at the end and the game mechanics will make sure that no quest is made in vain. But how will these quests work? With triggers, configurators, stages and dialogue - among other things ;) Welcome behind the scene for a sneak peak.

DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES
If you compare scripting quests in Runemaster to scripting events in either of our PDS strategy games, you’ll notice some similarities such as triggers and effects - but mostly differences such as configurators, stages, objectives, chance and dialog.
Speaking as someone who has scripted events for almost every game and expansion from Paradox Development Studio since Hearts of Iron 3: Semper Fi; scripting quests for Runemaster is both different and much more challenging. It is fun, of course, but it gets complicated fast.

TRIGGERS
The first you'll notice when you start scripting a quest is that we have kept Triggers, which are conditions that are required to be met in order for something to happen, in this case a quest to be shown and to be available to the Hero. We have too many triggers for me to go through them all today, you will find out more later on, but I will mention a few basic ones:
  • The race of the Hero, if s/he is a Troll, Human, Darkelf, Lightelf, Dwarf or Giant, so that we can make quests just for a certain race.
  • The class of a Hero, if s/he is a Berserker, Runemaster, Skald, so we can create class-specific quests.
  • The level of a Hero, so we can base the difficulty and length of a quest on the Hero's level.
CONFIGURATORS
The next thing is Configurators. Configurators decide where this quest will happen, where NPCs of different kinds will show up and also create a random value that can be used for various things. The Configurators will also help us find things such as the name of a city or a Den, as these things are randomized. As with Triggers, it is a long list indeed, so for now I'll just talk about the configurators that locate stuff for us.
These configurators that find certain locations in the worlds, for example dens, cities, treasures, boats or runestones, pinpoint the various locations. Through the configurator, we can put a tag on the location, so we can refer to that tag in our dialog and get the real name of the city, den, boat or whatever it is. Each of these configurators have small triggers that gives us the possibility to either make the location random, or allows us to specify what exactly we are looking for. For a city, that would be the race of the city, for a den, it would be whether it would be inhabited by Trolls or Humans, for example.

STAGES
When the conditions of a quest's triggers are fulfilled, and the player has accepted the quest, then comes the fun part! Stages. This part of the quest is what the player should do in order to complete the quest, and this is where it starts to become complicated.
Stages can have Objectives, which are similar to triggers in that way that they are conditions that are required to be met in order for the quest to progress. In short, Objectives specify what we can ask the player to do before progressing to the next part of a quest. It can be many things, and I'll mention a few.
  • Clear a Den mean that the player will have to go to a certain location, battle its inhabitants and emerge victorious from the battlefield. Then you need to use the Find Den-configurator so the game knows what you are looking for.
  • Quest Flag is a certain flag that can be set almost anywhere, most often in dialog, and they work in the same way as character flags in CKII, for example. They are placed on the Hero and, unless they are removed by script, will stick around until the end of the game. Quest flags can also be set as a result of combat with an NPC or even from certain events happening during a combat.
  • Stages can also spawn NPCs - non-playable characters - that the Hero can interact with in different ways. Talk or attack are the two most common interactions.
The last stage is the Reward stage - and depending on the choices the player made through the quest, what that reward is can change - which will grant the Hero Experience, Gold, Reputation with a Faction or a unique object of some sort.
Each stage also contains a trigger that can be used to create branching within a quest and provide certain objectives/rewards when some conditions are met.

DIALOG
A RPG is not a RPG without NPCs, quests and massive amounts of texts. In Runemaster, we script dialog in a way that allows us to go back and forth, and gives us plenty of opportunities to flesh out quests in a very nice way. Depending on the traits (which we talked about in an earlier dev diary), triggers and the player's own choices, the dialog can develop, change and progress, both in terms of text and quest. Those of you who has taken a look “behind the hood” of Crusader Kings II or Europa Universalis IV will recognize the scripted options, which are the text choices the player will be able to take.
Options can also have triggers, requirements to be met in order for them to become available for the Hero, and those triggers are the same as the ones I talked about at the beginning of the Dev diary. As with the events and their options in our Strategy titles, options in Runemaster can have an effect that will be placed on the Hero or will make him/her do something. This can be accept a quest, attack a NPC, progress to a certain trait, decline the quest or keep talking to the NPC, to gain more information or find another way to solve a problem.

THE END
We have of course a lot more we can talk about in terms of Quests and the mechanics behind them. But even as I would want to write a full-length essay about this subject, I don't have the time for now, so you will have to wait for future developer diaries :)

Come back next week for another developer diary from the PDS team behind Runemaster!

P.S Here's a teaser for you - an early concept of a female Human! Doesn't she look badass? D.S
View attachment runemaster_dd8.jpg
 
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Rubidium

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Cool diary.

You mention "Dens"; are these just certain spots on the map, or separate dungeons that you have to enter? E.g., if I get a quest to clear the "Den of Evil" (or whatever that first quest in Diablo II was), when I get to the location, will I just fight a big battle with some enemies, or will I enter a new map?
 

SolSara

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Thanks for the diary. So do you guys have the entire game's story in one gigantic localisation file or what? :p

There will be several localization files, or else we would never get a good overview over all the quests and other text we'll need. The bare skeleton of the main quest is already 70 lines long, and I imagine it will be quite a lot more when I'm done with it :)
 

Birken

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Cool diary.

You mention "Dens"; are these just certain spots on the map, or separate dungeons that you have to enter? E.g., if I get a quest to clear the "Den of Evil" (or whatever that first quest in Diablo II was), when I get to the location, will I just fight a big battle with some enemies, or will I enter a new map?

The "Den" is just one or more battles. Entering other maps is a different mechanic.
 

Archam

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Will you have to complete certain quests in timely fashion before they expire/fail ? (a la baldur's gate) Or will you always have an infinite amount of time to do quests ?
 

Teonod

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Will you have to complete certain quests in timely fashion before they expire/fail ? (a la baldur's gate) Or will you always have an infinite amount of time to do quests ?

Since all quests matter, and directs you towards the end, I can not imagine that it would be possible for you to become stranded in the middle of the story with no quests to move you forward.
 

wolfing

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I do hope things won't be too scaled.
I think it's more like when you get quest X it can spawn a level-relevant army somewhere that you need to dispatch. Before you get that quest, that army doesn't exist in the map. It's optional, a quest probably might spawn a fixed level army too. It' s probably going to be a combination of both.
 
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