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how would you make quests and activities more meaningful , especially in open worlds

samoilaaa

Member
I see alot o people talking about how either gaming hasnt evolved , gaming isnt fun anymore stuff like that , so im thinking that this has something to do with level design

when you play a game the thing that keeps you hooked on the screen is gameplay ( here it depends on what kind of game it is , if its action how good the combat is , if its adventure how good the puzzles are etc. ) and level design ( how well is the game world build , what activities can i do in that world that can make my time worth spending ) , in no way is graphics the thing that keeps us playing because if that were true games like the order 1886 would be one of the best games of all time but luckily its not

So the world structure can be improved all it takes is imagination and not be afraid to make a complex game because it wont sell tens of millions , we see games like dishonored , elden ring , prey , divinity original sin 2 that give the player the freedom to aproach everything the way he wants , let say i need to get into a building to steal an item , i can go brute force and kill everyone , i can go stealthy and use a non lethal takedowns , i can find a secret entrance and avoid everyone or in divinity original sin 2 i can talk my way into the building if i built my character that way

But in terms of questing and activities its pretty hard to make something out of the ordinary because no matter how you slice it quests will always be about go there , do that , rescue x , help x go there , gather x amount , so how can this be improved ? One way i can think of is make x a likeable and believeable person , that way helping x might not be such a dull experience

what do you think ? if you were a dev how would you improve questing and side activites ?
 

Wildebeest

Member
The benefit of open worlds is allowing the player to navigate and explore freely.

1. The main fun should be to find your way from where you are to a goal. To make this more interesting, the terrain should be designed appropriately, so you can't just go from a to b in a straight line but must find your way around a more complex map with dynamic challenges and opportunities. Only give the player fast travel or flight in the very end game when you just want them to be able to done with your game if they want.
2. Unique locations should be tricky to get to or identify, and should have unique rewards. Not crafting trash, currency, or points on some random progress bar.
3. Side activities should be more interesting and have more character and depth than the main story. You want people to stray. It should almost be a joke how perfunctory and skippable the main quest is.
 
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Big problem with open world design is you have to fill with stuff to do.

You basically have three options:

1. Bespoke and intricately designed quests/missions (Witcher series, GTA series) - this is the mostly costly and requires huge teams and thousands of man hours to create all this content for players. Where quality is a function of production spend with near linear scaling; worst case bang for buck.

2. Dynamic/procedural quest systems - these maybe fully procedural or partially procedural (randomised mix of sub-quest archetypes assembled on-demand). Problem with these is they become transparent to the player quickly and so lose all interest because they are contextually shallow (no real narrative generation or impact) and rely on the strength of rewards to keep players coming back (e.g. Warframe).

3. Sandbox - provide enough tools to try to let the players create “stuff to do” for themselves. This can come in many forms, from UGC quest making frameworks, to more fluid sandbox mechanics that try to promote emergent interactions and scenarios between players, or between the player and the environment. Survival games tend to do this well, leaning on survival mechanics creating core tension, and providing the player with techniques (scavenging, crafting, building) to overcome this and successfully navigate the world (e.g. Astroneer, Subnautica, NMS etc).

You can mix these up to provide measures of each.

Or try to explore novel approaches to improve the quality of them (e.g. the “Nemesis” system in the Mordor series).

Overall though you’re trying to balance the high play value of intricately hand-crafted experiences that cost a lot to produce, with the flexibility and scalability of procedural and emergent approaches, that cost far less to create content, but don’t have the same level of play value as they lack contextual depth, variety and ingenuity in their construction.
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
Just make the sidequests fun, and have them actually take advantage of the open world rather than just have the quest be "go to this area". Make them more dynamic too, quests aren't just things that always happen the way you want them, making them predictable abd scripted is how they stop feeling like sidequests and more like laundry lists
 
Pretty much what The Witcher 3 did. Almost all side quests have interesting characters and stories connected to them, there are very few filler fetch quests etc.
Nah, Witcher open world is shit. It's the same old map icon grind we know from all the Ubisoft-type games. Of course it helps that the side quests are good, but that has nothing to do with the open world.
 

RoadHazard

Gold Member
Nah, Witcher open world is shit. It's the same old map icon grind we know from all the Ubisoft-type games. Of course it helps that the side quests are good, but that has nothing to do with the open world.

I answered the question asked by the OP:

"how would you make quests and activities more meaningful , especially in open worlds"
 

Pejo

Gold Member
There's 3 ways, IMO:

  • Rewards have to be unique and worthwhile. If it's just materials or collectibles, you don't get that dopamine hit. Elden ring mostly got this right, except for hard fought/navigated battles to get to the edge of a cliff past 10 baddies only to find an Erdleaf Flower. But when you beat a difficult challenge or fully explore a castle or find a secret passage, you need to be rewarded properly.
  • Level design must be on point. One rectangular room into the next rectangular room into the next etc isn't compelling. Neither is stuff like "now it's a battle encounter, then it's a puzzle, then it's a battle encounter". The experience needs to be directed in a way that feels organic and complete, otherwise you get the feeling that you're just running through the motions.
  • There should be more dynamic conditions during the quest. Imagine if you got a request to go kill 4 Dickwolves, then you head out and after the 3rd one a huge dinosaur descends on you and eats the 4th Dickwolf. All the rest run away and your path to them is blocked off by the dinosaur. Now you have to think on your feet - do you go back and fail the quest, take your reduced reward, do you try to sneak past the dino, do you try to take the dino on? That's just an example, but there's a lot that CAN happen between when you accept a goal before you complete the goal. But the truth is that most times these types of quests are just put in games to pad playtime or as a way to grow your character in experience/equipment/rewards/etc. That can be re-evaluated though, and could become something significant.
 

samoilaaa

Member
Nah, Witcher open world is shit. It's the same old map icon grind we know from all the Ubisoft-type games. Of course it helps that the side quests are good, but that has nothing to do with the open world.
witcher 3 is probably my fav game of all time but you are right , the game shines with the writing and characters but in terms of level deign of the open world its like all the rest but the writing does help the player to not feel as tedious as the other games
 
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Fredrik

Gold Member
Just focus on exploration and seeing cool places and meeting cool people and having a great sense of progression.

In real life, does everyone want to be a delivery boy on their free time? No. Then why do devs assume gamers want to be a delivery boy in games?
 

SmokedMeat

Gamer™
I think it’s best if they’re well written, and have a variety of objectives to set them apart from one another.

Like, when I’m Spiderman the last thing I want to be doing is photographing fish or chasing a pigeon. Seriously the worst side missions of any game ever.
 
The thing with open world games is that you never really a give shit about side characters. They ain't fleshed out enough most of the time. Witcher 3 and ghost of tsushima did it the best.
 

RoboFu

One of the green rats
You can’t .. 🤷‍♂️

VR is way too limited in the very thing it’s supposed to do. You can’t really walk anywhere, you can’t really touch anything, you can’t feel the weight of an object or the incline of a step.

You can how ever throw pretend darts at a board and hit phantom blocks with weightless light sabers To a beat . 🤷‍♂️
 
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Sosokrates

Report me if I continue to console war
Have them make sense and be more interesting.
Gaming has evolved.
Im GTA3 90% of mission involved just going somwhere and killing some baddies. In RDR2 there is a lot more specific and varried tasks, weather it be transporting your family, getting some drinks, hunting, setting up dynamite with a wick and detonator.

They should continue in this direction and also expand freedom, like being able to climb trees and effect the world. The real world is a lot more ractive then video games, so they need to continue to make the world behave more realistic e.g starting fires, crowd reaction, distraction etc

In GTA specifically there is so much that can be improved with the law and wanted system, it should be more like the bourne Identity/mission impossible/the fugitive where escape from authorities requires avoiding cameras and changing identity. In GTA5 its unrelistic because even though you may escape the vision of the police you will still be picked up by CCTV.
 

Fuz

Member
Make them realistic; don't make them like a series of tasks from a videogame.

TW3 did good in this regard.
 
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Sosokrates

Report me if I continue to console war
You can’t .. 🤷‍♂️

VR is way too limited in the very thing it’s supposed to do. You can’t really walk anywhere, you can’t really touch anything, you can’t feel the weight of an object or the incline of a step.

You can how ever throw pretend darts at a board and hit phantom blocks with weightless light sabers To a beat . 🤷‍♂️
I feel the thing holding back VR is not the current tech, its the games, they are just not rich or complex enough. Just being able to interact with lots of basic things is fun and combine that with a great story and purpose would be an amazing new experience. Somthing like LA noire mixed with until dawn, haveing the NPCs react to your eye movements, feeling your heartbeat via the PSVR2 built in rumble etc could be amazing if done well.
 

Perrott

Member
Pretty much what The Witcher 3 did. Almost all side quests have interesting characters and stories connected to them, there are very few filler fetch quests etc.
Even Witcher 3 side quests fail at providing a meaningful gameplay experience: you can have all the plot, character arcs and dialogue in the world, but if you keep on using the same three gameplay mechanics and verbs throughout dozens upon dozens of hours worth of side content, then you are still falling into boring and reitirative game design.

The ideal solution would be to take the RDR2 approach and make most of the side content be about entirely different things from a mechanical standpoint: it's not the same to spend an afternoon fishing with your fisherman buddy on his mountain lake than being hired by a book writer to track down and take photographs of legendary cowboys from the period, and everything in between (testing and controlling a submarine device for an inventor, infiltrating into a ranch in the mountains with one of your outlaw buddies in search of valuable goods, following the trail of a serial killer whose victims' bodies you stumble upon simply by exploring the world, just having a conversation with a priest at a train station, etc, etc, etc).

And the best thing about RDR2's side content is that it actually helps develop the character Arthur Morgan will become, which makes for a pretty big pay off during a certain horse ride.
 
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jroc74

Phone reception is more important to me than human rights
After playing Forbidden West, they were good in that game. So more like that.

I hear it get compared to The Witcher alot, I never played it so I wouldnt know.
 

Markio128

Member
Rather than having to replay a quest (main or side) if you fail, live with the repercussions instead. Open world games just need to expand on this concept for me.
 

Fbh

Gold Member
In a way that feels like an evolution? I don't really know.
But just in general there's 2 things I'd like to see more:

- Better Stories (good example: Witcher 3): Give me proper side plots with interesting stories, twists, unique characters, even choices with multiple outcomes (even if it doesn't affect the main plot). The sidequests in the Witcher 3 can get samey in their design but I still spent dozens of hours doing them because their stories and characters still made them feel unique.

- Content that's as good as the main game (good example: Elden Ring): Don't send me to the same locations to fight the same enemies and some reskinned version of a boss I already beat, or 20 instances of slightly different enemy base. Make side content unique and just as good as the main game. Elden Ring is a perfect example of this, many of the best locations and bosses in the game are entirely optional, and it makes you want to see it all. FROM has always been good at not being afraid to make awesome content that many players might miss, but it's one of the big reasons their games are so fun to explore.
 

OZ9000

Member
Honestly the only 'open' game which does side quests right is God Of War. It isn't littered with useless activities but there are sufficient quests to complement the main campaign missions. It is one of the few games where I wanted to do extra shit in addition to the main story.

For most open world games I play, I skip all the side content and play the main missions only. Spider-Man is an example where the main story missions are excellent but the side content is simply garbage and represent nothing more than Ubisoft-like diarrhoea (barring some exceptions like the Tombstone quest)
 
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Flabagast

Member
Valhalla had a interesting way of doings things imho.

Side activities are small stories strictly contained within 200m radius from the quest giver (who can be unmarked on the map in the options, and so can seem spontaneous if you play it this way), all the rest is main quest - so in principe fetch quests disappear entirely

It was still pretty bloated (as always with AC) but it's an interesting concept imho, like upgraded stranger events from Rocsktar games. I hope Ubi iterates on it while trimming the fat.
 

Business

Member
The key to open worlds is that in the game it’s fun to just roam the map. The very few games that catch this lightning in a bottle (Botw, Rockstar…) have no problem with any quests, side or main, while the rest feel like busy work no matter what crap writing they try to feed you.
 
As someone else on this thread previously mentioned, The Witcher 3 had some of the best side-quests I've experience in any open-world game mainly because the character NPCs and actual motivations for completing the quests were as well written and fleshed out as a main-quest would be. Of course this means more money and time is required to craft each mission, but this is necessary to not have us as players feel like we're simply checking off a box or completing a mindless chore.

Good writing + Memorable/Believable NPCs + Same effort as Main Quest Design = Great Side Quests
 

Ceadeus

Member
By triggering quests and event without the players consent.

Situations would happen in real time and wouldn't leave the player many choices.

It would be a good departure from the usual standing still NPC asking us to go somewhere and come back.
 

kiphalfton

Gold Member
By triggering quests and event without the players consent.

Situations would happen in real time and wouldn't leave the player many choices.

It would be a good departure from the usual standing still NPC asking us to go somewhere and come back.

Resident Evil Remake had that part where you hear Rebecca IIRC scream and if you don't go she dies.

Small little stuff like that, where there's no quest marker and you'll miss it if you don't look for the cues.
 

bitbydeath

Gold Member
Days Gone did it perfectly by making no two trips the same through dynamic events.

That should be the future of Open Worlds.
 

Ceadeus

Member
Resident Evil Remake had that part where you hear Rebecca IIRC scream and if you don't go she dies.

Small little stuff like that, where there's no quest marker and you'll miss it if you don't look for the cues.
Sounds neat, I should play this game, it looks quite good!

Last time I played RE2 was on N64 ahah
 

Guilty_AI

Member
It really depends on the game. When you have solid foundations, with great mechanics and progress systems, throwing "generic quests" works perfectly fine.

It all comes down to asking the question: Why is X in the game?
 
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