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Links to the Past – Quest Design (Part 2)

August 14, 2010

Welcome back to my short series on quest design.

Today I’d like to cover my steps 3 to 5 when I design a new quest chain.

Let’s go….

Step 3 (General Information):

Last time, in the previous steps, we talked about the background and the high concept for our quest chain. With the third step, I start collecting all the general information, which is needed for this quest chain to be implemented.

To do so I usually ask myself the following questions:

  • How many quests are parts of this chain?
  • Where does it take place? Which locations are involved?
  • Which game regions are involved?
  • Which NPC’s/Factions are involved?
  • What items do I need?
  • Is there any special game play connected to these items?

I see the answers to these questions very critically, because ultimately they give me a picture of how complex the quest chain will be. Also answering the questions at this points helps to set the limits for the actual design of the quests within this quest chain. As soon as I’m done answering these questions, I fill all the appropriate fields in my template with this information.

While I’m finalizing this step I write a short summary about the special content, which makes this quest chain unique. I also write a short paragraph about the background to connect it with the lore, so that it becomes a part of the world and its lore.

Step 4 (Quest graph):

Now, since I’m done gathering all the general information, I start drawing the quest graph, which shows how all the quests in my quest chain are connected with each other. To distinguish the different quests from each other, I either give them a descriptive name or name them with the high concept/hook.

For drawing this graph I prefer using yEd, but you can use any tool you like. While drawing the graph for “Links to the past” I chose green as the color for the starting quest and red for the last quest in the chain. I also included an additional box to mark the point where the player as to make a choice between option A or B.

This is the final graph for “Links to the past”:


Step 5 (The map):

After I designed (or sometimes while I design) the quest graph I start to draw a map of the region, where the quest chain will take place, to get a better feeling of the quest flow. This map is usually drawn as “Designer art” and far from anything what the player will see in the later game, but again it helps to get a better understanding of how the player will travel between the different locations while solving the quest chain.

For “Links to the past” I only draw a map for the new region, because this became the place where he will spend most of his solving this quest chain. Also the other regions involved had already great maps, which I used to get a feeling for rest of the quest chain.  

This was my first map for the new region in “Links to the Past”:

Later I finalized the map with the help of Campaign Cartographer:

As mentioned in the text. Together with the quest graph you should already get a rough feel of how the player will travel across the region to solve the quest chain.

That’s it for part 2. Please check back later to see how I wrap up things by designing one specific quest in part 3.

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