Hero of IT History: Quest Technician
Today I want to tell you about one not quite familiar profession in the industry - a quest technician. My path to her was long and winding. I will be 32 soon, and I found games from the very beginning, when there was still no Internet, CD-ROM and color monitors. I played them from the last century. Some things seemed wrong, I wanted to change them - but I came into the profession after long throws and wanderings. Institute, army, family. I radically changed my profession and went into game design. A suitable vacancy - a quest technician - was in the "Legend" project. Responsibilities included supporting the project, developing quests and game events. I liked it then, and still like it.
In the days of black and white monitors, there were more than text games. At the same time, the action genre was also developing. Today, the world of games is becoming increasingly apparent. For example, in recent years not a single game has been released where there would be an input line for the user. That is, all the answers must be selected, and not entered independently. There is such a series of RPG games Might and Magicjust do not confuse with the Heroes. The first and second parts were black and white, the third had 16 colors, and the sixth was already with pseudo-3D. There were interesting quests, and it was required to search for a word, finding by letter, enter different phrases, which you had to guess yourself. Now the input window you will not find anywhere. And the younger generation of players no longer knows about interesting plot finds in old games, they are again perceived quite positively. Therefore, the old tricks are eternal, they can be used over and over again, just in the new functionality.
The history of the development of quests went from complex to simple. There used to be an input line into which answers were entered in free form. And then just lists of ready-made answers appeared. Now, when the market for browser games is gradually disappearing, and mobile games are developing at a frantic pace, quests have transformed into the so-called activity - when you go into the game every day, do something, and for this you are given a reward. You do not need to take NPCs to your team or at least go to them for tasks. The very concept of a player’s location in the game world also ceased to exist. This is the pre-installation of games. There are more and more casual games, and less and less hardcore games. But casual players do not need quests, they do not want to strain and look for NPCs, complete tasks. They just want to press the button and collect the reward - that's all they can do.
Now I work in a division of IT Territory Studio. The first project of the studio was the game Territory . It was made in the wake of the popularity of another project - Fight Club. Legend, browser-based MMORPG, became the second project of the studio, it was developed based on the territory of the BC, only on a more modern schedule with flash battles and more. The game turned out to be quite successful, the former players of the BC and Territory pulled themselves together, and new ones came. The legend has repeatedly won the Runet Prize as the best game, tens of millions of users are now registered in it. This is a shareware game, that is, without a monthly fee, but in it you can buy gaming advantages for real money. By today's standards, this project is quite old, and it was written by more than one generation of programmers. Therefore, the Legend has such a functionality that none of the current admins knows about and which does not work exactly as it should.
Having become a quest technician for this project, I began to incorporate elements from old games into it. For example, inSpace rangersthere was a quest “Feeding Penchekryak”, when the player is given an animal, and with the help of certain objects and food it is necessary to increase some characteristics, while maintaining their balance. One subject increases something, another decreases, the third multiplies, that is, it was a kind of mathematical problem, moreover, in text form. After the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, I made Little Groot in the NPC Legend. Only our name is Simon, but everyone understands that this is Groot, because this is a talking plant in a pot. The player receives a seed from which little Simon grows. He had to be fed in several stages with different foods. One object increased one characteristic, the other two lowered, and it was necessary to derive a certain figure. The players liked this, although only a few remembered the Space Rangers. So we got a kind of hybrid of the new and the old. But in order to implement this on the functionality of the Legend, I had to make some changes to the admin panel.
For a long time, I was tempted to somehow enter the input line into the game. But it seems to me that modern players will not appreciate it. This step will appeal to units, older players, and for the young and rising generation it will be just wildness. Another obstacle to returning the input string is the localization problem. What is understandable in Russian, when translated, may sound completely different. For example, in Legend there is an event where a player must collect escaped livestock: pigs, chickens, etc. When they made localization for Turkey, they were forced to completely abandon the pigs. As a result, now the event looks like: “Collect the pigs”, but there are no pigs. They were just cut out for religious reasons. So, the input line, unfortunately, is in the past, and hardly anyone will return to it.
My responsibilities as a quest engineer included:
- Developing new events for the game. These are events in which it would be interesting for players to participate, including those related to racial confrontation: there are two races in the Legend - people and magmars.
- Tuning bots. How much they should beat, how much money should fall from them, etc.
- Reputation building. There are about 30 of them in the Legend, each has five degrees, and new reputations are constantly appearing.
- Quest development. It looked something like this: for a while you go looking for inspiration, you practically do nothing. Then you write the concept of the quest - the approximate goals of the player and a description of his actions. Then it is given to writers, they give the concept a literary look, paint replicas of NP. Then you need to order artists to draw quest bots. Other employees write scripts for them. Also, some quests require programmers to make changes to the game mechanics. When everything is ready, you need to assemble the components together and start the quest.
All this took a long time, because I didn’t like simple quests such as bring-give-go-go-kill. I always came up with this, for which later I myself was scared to take. And when you start the finished quest, it is always interesting to go through it yourself first, to feel that it all works. And the working day was never enough. Then, when everything is ready, the quest is started, you sit and think: “Did you screw up or not? Are there any bugs? ” As a rule, after starting the quest on the forum, a topic is created in which players unsubscribe - this gives good feedback on the results of your work. Also, the quality can be estimated by statistics: how many players took the quest, how many did, how many refused.
An important point is the quest reward. It should not be excessive, it is not necessary to give a ton of gold, enough new degrees of freedom. Therefore, you have to show fiction. Sometimes it’s harder to think of what to pass off as a quest than to come up with a quest itself. You can give consumables, but nobody cares. And some kind of artifact, even if not strong, but unique, which is given once per game, or creatures that you can call on your side in battle, is already interesting. But to realize this, you have to spend a lot of time.
I started quests in series of 8-12 pieces connected with each other. The most memorable was the line of quests with vampires. I did it for more than a year, but did not have time to finish, because I was transferred to another project. So, there was a complicated storyline, five vampire lords, each of its own color. They had a queen who was bewitched many years ago. And there was a paladin whom the vampires lured to their dark side. There is a choice in these vampire quests: for example, if a player received an artifact, then he could take it to the good people or the villains. Or talked to the vampire lord, and he said: “Get on my side. I'll give you money. ”Or“ Kill me. ” As a result, the plot still boiled down to some one decision: if you attributed the artifact to the villains, then in the next quest your task was to take it from them. If you betrayed the paladin and sided with the vampire lord, then in the next quest the vampire lord betrayed you. It took a month and a half to prepare each quest series. I tried to use mechanics that were not previously used in the Legend. Say, feeding Groot is a quest from this line. Or generating a unique nine-digit cipher for each player, as a result of which you can not complete the quest once, and the rest will use your prompt.
When I first came to the project, to complete the first quest I came up with, I had to spend 15 bonuses, and it had 20 goals. This is a kind of measure of the volume of the quest: how many bonuses are needed for it and how many goals are in it. My last quest already had about 150 goals and demanded 500 bonuses - this was more than what appeared in the Legend in 3-4 years.
Search for inspiration
When searching for ideas for quests, I rarely focused on the wishes of the players themselves. There are many of them, and everyone has their own opinion. If you try to please everyone, in the end you will not please anyone - and they will always be unhappy. It happens, you sit, think, nothing comes to mind. Then suddenly you sit down, and word for word is written quest. He looked around, worked somewhere, polished - you can do it. It happens that you watch a movie, a series or read a book, you meet some interesting plot twist, you take notes. After two or three years, you recall and realize when it comes to the place. We can say that writing a good quest is like writing a script. It happens that the leadership sets clear deadlines, for example, the next launch of the continuation of the line - in three weeks. Take it out. And there is a choice: either make cheap and cheerful, that is, according to the principle of "take more, throw further ”, or spend non-working time so as not to lose quality. I think for quest technicians this is not the best way to organize work.
Often, inspiration comes to me when I ride a motorcycle, attention is taken dear, but some part of the brain remains free, and she has nothing to do. It happens that you come, and from somewhere thoughts and answers arise for questions that I have been looking for for weeks and months.
Thoughts about the future
The future is in the casual mobile gaming market. The bet will be on players who do not bother, play the subway on the way from home to work or just wait for some events in the game. People spend less and less time on one game session. If before there were games that were interesting to play for hours, now the success of the latest mobile games comes down to the fact that they do not allow players to play themselves. There appeared such a resource as endurance, energy, is called differently everywhere - it is spent on a player to perform certain actions. After this resource has ended, you must either wait for it to be replenished over time, or buy for money. As a rule, for the game to be successful, free energy should be enough for 1-2 hours of active play per day. And the games themselves are developing so that players enter them more often, but spend less time,
Previously, for example, on the PlayStation there was the so-called fourth wall effect - in the game you just had to insert the joystick in another port of the console, because only in this way could you kill the boss who said that he could read all your moves. That is, a player, performing an action in the real world, influenced the game. And the fourth wall - the TV screen - collapsed. And now everyone is talking about virtual reality, about full 3D and so on, but almost none of the game manufacturers are trying to destroy this wall. So you can safely talk about the death of such a genre as a quest.
Perhaps in the future they will come up with how to connect computer and mobile games with quests in reality, which have now become very popular with us. Perhaps such games will occupy their niche, but so far it has not received wide distribution. Not everyone is ready to do quests in reality. And as for the financial issue, no one knows how to make money from it, and the task of game developers is precisely to make the game profit. And the ways of monetizing games today are changing with cosmic speed - what would have rolled a year ago is no longer working. On the one hand, the gaming industry is developing, but this development is broad. Qualitative growth is absent. For example, new genres do not appear. If before there were popular quests and shooters, now the same shooters are simply riveted on an industrial scale.
The essence of the quest lies not only in the complexity of the actions that the player must take, but also in the originality of the goals. You can do the quest in one action, but for some interesting purpose, or not so much interesting as relevant. For example, activity quests that are timed to coincide with some events, holidays. That is, everything goes towards simplification - both functionality, and the plot itself and the goals of the game. A vivid illustration of this thesis is the game "Murder". Here, the player controls the hero who was killed, he investigates "his" murder, that is, it is a full-fledged, fairly high-budget game. But she did not become popular. Now the quest as an independent genre almost no longer exists. He entered into a criminal relationship with other genres.
Danila Shikuts Quest
Tech, IT Territory Studios, Mail.Ru Group