Saturday, December 19, 2009

Modding Design: Planning Quest Flags

One thing I have found with the Dragon Age toolset so far is that good planning makes the work a lot easier, even more so than with other toolsets I've used previously. Given the toolset seems to have been designed to cater for planned projects done by large groups, it makes sense that the best way for modders to use it is to adhere to a similar modding creation workflow. With that in mind, I'd like to discuss my explorations with the plot editor and quest design.

First, I'd suggest writing an outline of your quest, listing the plot, characters, locations and events. With this done, you can break the quest down into various stages, which will then correspond to plot flags within your module.

Let's take a simple idea of a player being contracted to steal a valuable vase from a local merchant. The thief wants it done with a minimum of bloodshed. The player can talk/bribe their way past the guards the warehouse and steal the vase, or simply fight their way in. As the player steals the vase, they are caught by the merchant.

If the player killed the guards, he can intimidate the merchant into letting him go. If the guards are alive, the player can persuade the merchant into letting him go.
If the player fails at either of these, the merchant will flee and warn the local officers of the theft.
Alternatively, the player can choose to kill the merchant to prevent him from warning the authorities.

The player can then return to the thief, and get a reward based on his performance.

So our characters/locations are:
Thief - Asks the player to steal the vase.
Merchant - The victim for the theft.
Guards - Two warriors employed by the merchant to protect his warehouse.
Warehouse - where the theft will occur.

Now we need to work out our possible stages/plot flags.
Quest Received
Guards Killed
Guards Persuaded
Merchant Killed
Merchant Alive
Merchant Alive, Authorities informed
Quest Completed (finished)

That was fairly simple, right?

With that quick outline, it's now easy to create a new plot with those flags. Then it's a simple matter of setting and checking those flags in the conversations with the guards, the merchant and the thief. It will be a simple matter to check those plot flags to give the player a slightly better reward if he managed to carry off the theft without killing anyone and without alerting the authorities.

Of course, this is a fairly simple example, and it would be quite easy to add in extra complexity... perhaps if the authorities are informed, they try to catch you out as you return to the thief. Or perhaps a rival thief heard about the job and intercepts you...

Let's see...
Quest received
Guards killed
Guards persuaded
Merchant killed
Merchant alive
Merchant alive, authorities informed
Refused competitor
Sold to competitor (finished)
Thief killed by authorities (finished)
Rescued thief from authorities, vase sold (finished)
Sold vase to thief (finished)

If you work out these plot flags before you start working on your conversations and the nuts and bolts of your quest design, the whole process will be a lot simpler. In addition, it will make it easier for you to assign plot assist markers, because you'll know the location/character that the player must visit in order to advance the plot.

No comments:

Post a Comment