Arrowhead Questing

Description

This pattern is commonly seen in open world RPGs. “Arrowhead Questing” refers to the pattern of quest chains in which quests begin with broad, insignificant objectives, and eventually narrow down to specific objectives of great significance. These objectives most commonly take the form of having to kill progressively smaller amounts of progressively stronger units, from the cannon fodder all the way to the Boss Battle at the end of the chain.

This style of Arrowhead questing is a common pattern for making a player's actions feel more significant. Sure killing the King of the Orcs is impressive, but it is made all the more impressive by having the previous quests involving killing his lowly grunts and picking off his personal guard to compare to it. By having the quest chain be introduced by a generic quest involving a simple and relatively low-impact objective, the impact the player has on the game world is all the more important when they finally do get to bring down the boss at the end of the quest chain.

In terms of story, this pattern gives narrative a framework with which to naturally progress. The story is introduced through minor, generalized missions, allowing the player to get a feel for the world as a whole before delving deeper into a specific aspect of the world. Once the missions become more specific and important, they cause the player to feel like they are having a massive impact on the world. The mid section of most arrowhead quests is used to ease the player from one level of impact to another.

Variables and Affordances

Arrowhead Questing is a structure that contains multiple smaller quests.

  • Starting Quest: the first, broad quest
  • Middle Quest(s): middle, progressively narrower and harder quests
  • Ending Quest: the final quest

Examples

  • Fallout 3. The Fallout 3 quest chain “Blood Ties” fits into this pattern. The player is first asked by someone in Megaton (the starting town) to deliver a letter to their family at a different settlement. Upon arriving the player finds out that things aren't so simple, as the person who was supposed to receive the letter has gone missing, and the people of the town blame raiders that only come out at night for the kidnapping. The player is now tasked with the less general but more significant objective of hunting down said raiders. Upon finding them there is an option to either kill them all, effectively wiping them from the game world, or converse with them and convince them to not attack the town anymore. Either way, the final task is the most specific and has the greatest impact on the game world.

In Worked Examples

Quest-Level Relationship

patterns/arrowhead_questing.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/16 19:23 by Gillian Smith
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