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Links to the Past – Quest Design (Part 3)

August 24, 2010

Welcome to my third and final post to “Links to the Past – Quest Design”.

Today, I’d like to show, how I designed a specific quest within this quest chain. Also at the end of this post you’ll find links, where you can download my template that I used to design this quest chain.

A single quest

So far we only talked about the general information (or “concept”) that is needed to design a quest chain. Now I’d like to cover some of the things you need to design when you create an actual quest. I call this information “In-game information”, because most (not all) information in this section will be visible to the player in one form or another. 

Just a side note: If your quest chain only consist out of one quest, you may want to skip Step 4 and 5 of the general information, but I highly recommend to still consider Steps 1 to 3 from my pervious posts as a starting point for the whole design process, because it helps to create a solid concept for the whole quest.

Step 6 (Summary):

As a first step, I prefer to write the short summary that will be visible to the player. The goal for the summary is that the player will know within seconds what his current objective is. So for this text it is good to be as short and as precise as you can without breaking the imagination.

For example in Quest Nr. 1 of “Links to the past” I wrote:

“Fly to the unusual rock, which is floating in the Twisting Nether north of the Pools of Aggonar and talk with Drak’Thas.”

Here you can clearly see what you’ve to do (“Fly”;”Talk”) and where you can solve the quest (“at the unusual floating rock in the Twisting Nether”).

Step 7 (Player information):

This step covers all the texts that are connected with the quest and which will be visible to the player during the quest. Here you can write in a highly narrative style to create an appropriate atmosphere and tone for the whole quest. Usually this is the most fun part for me as developer before I implement and test the quest, because I can let my imagination wander around and create with words the pictures I’d like to share with the player.  

For me this step consists, at least, out of 3 different texts: Description (the text the player will read, before he accepts the quest), In progress text (the text after he accepted the quest, but before he solved it) and the debriefing (the text when he solved the quest). The first 2 texts are usually attached to the quest giver, while the third one can also be attached to another character, if to talk with him is the objective of the quest.

An example can be found in Quest Nr. 1 from “Links to the past”.

Step 8 (Game play information):

The last step in my design process is the creation of all game play information needed for this specific quest. This information block gathers information like: when a quest in unlocked, who the quest giver is, the closing condition (aka the objective) and so on. It also contains balancing information like the target level range and which rewards the player will get as soon as he successfully solved the quest.

For the sample quest I mostly used placeholder values for all the balancing information, because I’ve only a very basic and limited knowledge about the balancing functions used by Blizzard. If you’re working on an actual game and you’re not one of the technical game designers, make sure that you check your balancing information with them before implementing the values.


I know this was a very long post, but I hope that it helped you to get a first insight in the process I use to design new quests. As said in the introduction, quest design is a very complex field and there is no bullet-proof answer that will always guarantee perfect, entertaining quests. 

One of the best things you can do while designing a quest is to wake the player, the nerd inside you and to design something you would enjoy.

That’s all for now according quest design. Please feel free to join me on my next series, when I cover some level design basic and show how you can implement a quest with existing game editors.


The final quest chain:

You can download a pdf of the final quest chain here.


If you like you can use the following template to create your own quest chains or quests.

All names that are part of the Warcraft lore and been used in this series on quest design are copyright protected by Blizzard Entertainment.

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