Contextualizing Quests

Description

In most RPGs, there are a series of events that help the player assimilate into the new world that they are entering within the game. Some of these events are in the form of quests that the player must complete. These quests are primarily based on creating a believable and compelling game space. They help the player ease into the world while also introducing them to core mechanics of the game (primary contextualizing quests), or are introduced later in the game to allow players who may already be seasoned in the game to learn new mechanics or elements of the game world (secondary, tertiary). Both types of quests thereby allow players to contextualize the game world.

Variables and Affordances

  • Mechanic: the mechanic that is introduced
  • Method: the way in which mechanic is introduced, via different quest and level design patterns
  • Level: how advanced the mechanic is or what prerequisites are on the player character

Examples

  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. One example of a primary contextualizing quest pattern is the first set of quests, in which the player must help escort a king out of a castle while simultaneously breaking out of jail himself. The player is given his first set of quests, labeled “Tutorial,” in which he must take actions linked to the events taking place in the game that serve the dual purpose of familiarizing him with the game and its core mechanics: he must open doors, shoot a bow and arrow at a bucket, kill mice, and cast spells in order to progress the quests and the game.
  • Borderlands. Another example of a set of primary contextualizing quests is the first set of quests in this FPS-RPG. The player's first mission, “Fresh Off The Bus,” instructs her to familiarize herself with the HUD and New-U Station - two essential interfaces within the game - and not long after this launches her into a battle with some pretty harmless bandits, in order to force her to familiarize herself with the battle system.
  • Dragon Age: Origins. An example of a set of secondary contextualizing quests is the set of quests that has the player become familiar with the newly-introduced shape-shifting ability in the Fade, which prompts him to slay four demons while using these new skills to figure out complex puzzles.
  • Diamond superstructure and linear hubs contain contextualizing quests in their nodes. Normally, the first node in one of these patterns is almost wholly made up of quests with the purpose of helping the player contextualize the world; then, as the player proceeds through the different hubs in the game, contextualizing quests make up less and smaller nodes of the types of quests that players encounter.

Quest-Level Relationship

  • Linear Level. Linear levels prevent necessary contextualizing quests from being missed.
patterns/contextualizing_quests.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/12 20:39 by Gillian Smith
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