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Dear Mr. Garriott: the questing experience...

Discussion in 'Release 53 Feedback Forum' started by Gix, Apr 28, 2018.

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  1. Sir Leonard

    Sir Leonard Localization Team

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    Hmm, I also think the quest system needs a full rework. Because the way it's built, its sooo subject to bugs.
    I don't know if they use any kind of hierarchy to set which quests belongs to which questlines, but the internal structure needs to be improved (maybe using a kind of a graph system, to relate parts of one thing to others), to avoid things repeating themselves along different characters, different ways of completing those. And there is the problem of something being "partially" completed or whatever.

    I just did my quest reset. First thing i did had crushed all my intentions to wait so much time for this ONE TIME reset... A MASSIVE BUG in Arabella that ruined my start (reported here)

    Then after that, the system still feels very "broken" or irresponsive. NPCs talking range is an issue, they will not respond to you if you're not on top of them...

    Then, one major issue was with Samael in the love path. The barrier wouldn't drop, first time i talked to him at Brookside, couldn't get him to give me his ring... then i reached the barrier inside Malice, got stuck there and had to "play" the forums to discover that you should talk to him at Brookside (what?!) and do the sidequest of the ring so he would put the barrier down. Disappointing.

    Also, many dialogues need an improvement.
    Backers who own NPCs should be able to add depth to their NPCs, because conversations are usually mechanical and repetitive.

    Keyword system must have a full revamp. I find myself constantly repeating the same conversations over and over and over and the keywords never stop higlighting, not even in the bar bellow (maybe my localized client won't help either).

    I'd like to see more depths in conversations yet. I know this has improved but there's room for much more.

    SotA has such a great potential to be an "old school" type of questing.
    The virtues should play bigger parts on them also.

    So, for episode 2, I hope they will firstly spend time polishing this before trying to add new expanded content. The more it takes to fix the entire actual system, the worse for the game overall.

    And for a "robust" system, i have to agree... the actual one is far from even being stable yet. :/
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
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  2. Quenton

    Quenton Avatar

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    The feedback from this thread, especially in the original post, is important enough that you could forego all other feedback in this forum to fix these issues and still dramatically increase the quality of the game.
     
  3. Tsumo2

    Tsumo2 Avatar

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    The toxic effects of the shards have demented Novia's population! The Avatars must use all their skill and determination to overcome this adversity!
     
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  4. Burzmali

    Burzmali Avatar

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    Fixing the questing system in the context of the rest of the game isn't something that is feasible without changing that same context. That's like asking Ferrari to build you a new high end racing car, but it can only cost $5 and has to fit inside an envelope.
    Here are the rules that restrict questing, both stated and implied:
    1. Quests must have no meaningful impact on the game world, either on the grand scale or at scene level.
    2. Quests can not provide a reward that is better than what crafters can provide.
    3. Quests can not provide a reward that is better than what can be purchased in the Addon store.
    4. Quests can not provide a reward that would unbalance a part of the economy.
    Think back to any awesome quest from a single-player RPG, chances are that it broke one of those rules, probably at least 2. That's why questing will remain mediocre until the servers are turned off, it is hamstrung by design.
     
  5. Hermetic

    Hermetic Avatar

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    Yes. I have an item in that list telling me to visit Artifice and I haven't even started the Truth quest. o_O

    And a similar issue which spoils quests, including having avatars complete steps out-or-order, is having key words show up in dialogs before anyone has mentioned the thing the keyword points to; before the avatar has heard of or experienced anything about it. E.g. In first talking to Tanya Crumpson(?) the keyword "black arrow" shows up in the list of keywords to click on. She said nothing about black arrows before this; I didn't hear about black arrows from anyone else; I didn't find or see black arrows before this. Why would that keyword show up? There are many other examples which are more problematic.

    And not just keywords and quest tips... one can get messed up just by encountering people and things before one should meet them as part of a quest. ( this is what probably caused that Artifice tip to show up which I mention above ). I don't know if it has been fixed but one could complete the Love quest just by accidentally running into Samael in Spite and following along from there, before completing the earlier stages of that quest.

    With a sandbox game there should be flags sets that keep certain things from happening; keep certain keywords/tips from showing until the proper requirements have been fulfilled.
     
  6. Gix

    Gix Avatar

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    Sorry! I originally missed this post so I'll reply now:

    I don't know who the characters you mention are. All I know is that there's a knight standing near (and standing out) the entrance of the castle and he doesn't know jack about much of anything.

    What's obvious to you might not be for me or anyone else and vice versa so it's imperative that each NPC can at least direct you to an NPC that has the knowledge you're looking for. Not only do we currently have to find the exact NPC but we also have to wrestle with them to get the information we want. It's stuff like this that the devs seem to take for granted and why we have tons of players criticizing the quests for having to "guess the keyword". Having the keyword highlighted or organized in the dialogue window helps but it doesn't rectify the issue(s).

    Like the sparkling quest markers, I'd argue that listing the keywords in the window does more harm than good. The devs want players to read the dialogue but it's so bloated and convoluted and players resort to spamming the keywords. Like @Hermetic says, they also spoil quests.

    Just having NPCs talking while they're walking is an issue all in itself. I don't know about you but I can't read moving text; especially when there's no background to make it more visible.

    Not to mention that quests that ask you to give an item to an NPC will sometimes trigger the trade automatically. Other times, you'll need to type the name of the item to trigger the trade... other times, you'll need to remember the specific keyword that originally gave you the quest.

    The Alchemist in the Solace Bridge Outskirts (a N.U.E) is a perfect example of this.

    1. Quests need to work.
    If you constantly have to do edge-cases to fix the numerous amount of bugs that is nearly consistent across all your quests, then you need a new system. That's what being suggested here.

    We're asking Ferrari to build a car with wheels.
     
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  7. Lord British

    Lord British Lord British SOTA Developer

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    Replying first to make sure y'all know we / I are / am reading all this. Second, you are making some very good points. While overall, I am personally pretty happy with how vary many of the quests have turned out, there is no question, that we will rethink the system as we now look towards Episode 2. There remain plenty of ways we can and will improve the Episode 1 quests as well.
    - Lord British
     
  8. Gix

    Gix Avatar

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    Would these improvements happen prior to Episode 2 as opposed to being retroactively implemented with Episode 2's changes?
     
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  9. kaeshiva

    kaeshiva Avatar

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    I'm not sure how the technical side of the questing is designed, but from a programming perspective, it seems to me (and how I understand these things to work in other games) is something like this:

    NPC gives quest to player - example, kill 5 rabbits
    -sets a flag for that player being on the quest
    -adds quest to journal
    -adds quest to location markers/waypoints

    Player kills a rabbit (or achieves whatever the quest objective is)
    -journal updates showing progress

    Player kills final rabbit (or whatever)
    -journal updates to 'go turn it in'
    -location marker returns to questgiver NPC

    That is pretty straightforward.

    Where the problems seem to occur the most are:

    Problem Spot No. 1

    Step 1: NPC giving quest to player - this, or updating quests, seems to be the biggest frustration point I see over and over again in the feedback. There are too many keywords and too many continuation of dialogues and too many conversation branches. Suggestion: Have the NPC say what they want to say, have them spout a wall of text - once. Those who are interested in the story will read it. Limit dialogue responses to where an actual choice or input is required from the player.

    If you want to have a few flavor dialogue options, fine, but many npcs will recognize dozens and dozens of words and tell you nothing relevant, and other words which they really should recognize, they don't know the location of an NPC who is stood 5 feet away from them, and so on and so forth. Fine, have the dialogue system. Divorce it from the quest. Once you offer to help, disable all the other crap and let them speak their peace. The words help, quest, or job should trigger the quest from an npc, 100% of the time. Don't make us play whackamole with the dictionary. It gets frustrating, and most of us end up missing out all that great lore just trying to get the thing to work.

    Problem Spot No. 2
    Quest Journal is not fit for purpose, is buggy, the 'cleaner upper script' deletes incomplete items and leaves other completed items, and marker/waypoint updates don't do anything. I'd honestly say whatever system is in use for a quest / task log and waypoints should be scrapped and rebuilt in a sensible, straightforward manner. I know early on, we didn't want this to feel like a fetch x and bring to y game, that we wanted it to feel more real, more immersive but....its a nice dream, but from a technical standpoint, it simply doesn't work. The R53 cabalist quest is a scintillating example of complete quest journal failure. I had no idea what the heck to do. I ended up having to go to every single caretaker, some multiple times, kill every cabalist, some multiple times, and make several trips back and forth to finally be rid of it. What should have happened was:
    Kill cabalist, get quest to talk to caretaker. Caretaker gives a (single) quest to visit all the other caretakers. These get marked off as completed and each (new) caretaker gives a new quest. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for me to have nearly twice as many quest entries as there are caretakers! Or cabalists!

    Problem Spot No 3
    The Illusion of Choices - sometimes you get options to tell the truth or lie, to help or not to help, but these don't feel impactful. Particularly since your virtue seems mostly determined by the amount of inkwells you've stolen in your life or how many boss monsters you've killed and the actual impact of the quests/dialgoue is minimal. Ok, so I killed this guy that maybe was innocent but, don't worry, its ok, because I told every NPC in Central Brittany my name and I was honest about it. That's not the only problem though. The dialogue system frustrations often put the player into 'buttonmash rage' mode in which they are clicking everything trying to get something to happen and quite often miss the choice completely. Revamping the quest system as per my suggestion under problem spot no. 1 would address this.

    To summarize:
    Quest Acquisition/Turnin
    Quest Journal/tracking/direction
    Quest impact/meaninguflness

    are the problems. The quests themselves, and the background, lore, etc. are actually quite good.

    I recently had a friend reset the main questline and try to do it without any spoilers. He started at the path of love and didn't even make it out of solace bridge before he was stuck. Over the next 12 hours or so I had to step in with "try this keyword" or "go back and do this" no less than 20 times. We were both relieved when it was over. There's really just no reason for it to be this awkward. I know we can do better. You have a community full of willing writers, testers, translators etc. willing to help in any way they can, to make it better. Its not good to hold on to something just because fixing it would be hard, if it needs fixing - don't bandaid it, lets just fix it.
     
  10. Gix

    Gix Avatar

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    To add to what you're saying, @kaeshiva :

    1)
    Even that simple thing is hard to do considering:
    • NPCs are on schedule and will forcibly close the conversation.
    • NPCs will block you off from conversation if you happen to say/trigger something that deprecates the rest of the dialogue.
    The dialogue system has a habit of making NPCs state their names without removing the keyword "name" from the list.

    2)
    The journal also has a nasty habit of suggesting that you can accomplish certain tasks when it's mathematically impossible. "This should be easy to do" guides me to multiple encounters of 3-4 yellow enemies that proceed to desecrate my corpse. Because in an open-ended class-less system, the worst thing you can do is associate difficulty directly to Adventure LvL without considering the skills the player has leveled up.

    It also speaks volumes about the quality of the UI when I keep hearing about this feature that the journal cleans itself up but I've yet to either see it in action or see a button that might activate it.

    3)
    Not to mention that the game never really establishes what the players can and can't do within its reality. "Bentley's Key" in Soltown is a perfect example of this:

    If you give the key to Bentley, the Oracle slaps your wrists for not pursuing the truth.
    ... this was one of the earliest quests in the game since Novia was available and I still don't know how to solve it "properly". It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't exhaust every scraps of item, NPC, dialogue option all the way from Ardoris to Solace Bridge and still fail to find the answer. I went above and beyond and I'm left with nothing.

    The "someone set fire to the refugee camp" quest in Soltown is the only quest I know where the game tells you that you can "not" give an item to an NPC and that, sometimes, it's better not to... but I haven't found any situation in the game where pressing "cancel" triggers anything in the particular quest. How are we supposed to get the quest in a completed state? Give the particular item to someone else? Who? I ask because I've tried and found nothing conclusive.

    Richard Garriott is probably grinning at comments like these because he might believe that he's achieved something when players are frustrated at not getting the ultimate outcome.... and I'd be grinning right along with him as I also believe that players shouldn't strive to achieve perfection.
    The problem is that we're frustrated because none of OUR solutions work; either through bug, design or lack or thereof. It might be improbable to account for every possible solutions we can come up with but at least come up with a straightforward design so that we can work our way to the ones you've designed.
     
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  11. Fister Magee

    Fister Magee Avatar

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    The Journal system (and quest triggers I guess) need to be rewritten ASAP.. make it priority, or we'll be laughed out of MMORPG existence.
     
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  12. kaeshiva

    kaeshiva Avatar

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    I don't think the end goal is to just cause frustration, or to cause players to avoid/ignore quests entirely, though.

    The reality is we don't actually have anything that has significant consequences for a different path taken: the virtue system is so clunky, vague, etc. its hard to know what effects your actions will take as the game gives you no feedback (of course now, you can approximate by looking at the stats on virtue gear). However there are still fundamental things wrong with the way it is implemented, i.e. truth virtue being linked to theft has never made a lick of sense, love (callous disregard for other peoples things) or courage (stealing and running away/hiding) would make far more sense for the negative hit. Furthermore, theft, or killing of certain mobs, weigh more heavily on the system than anything you do via the quests, making the quest decisions pretty insignificant.

    For a long time, before there were 'stats' associated with virtue, I was the bad one and my husband was the good one, we'd intentionally complete 'choices' quests as opposites to see if there was any different reward or quest arc for doing so. The answer: not really. Of course, now that my ability to fight is contingent on my virtue choice, I keep my nose clean not because its a reflection of my character or karma, but because quite simply, I want the +int, since the game gives you so few ways to actually raise the int stat as compared to the other two.

    I can think of only one quest where should you go a certain route, you (permanently) lose the ability to speak to a particular npc that you spurned in the process. And this to me seems too far a swing in the other direction. Quest decisions have little impact, but this this one has no chance of redemption whatsoever. Another example is you are given a quest to go kill a guy who the quest giver says is bad, and along the way you may/may not find evidence to the contrary. So you have to choose to either fulfill your contract, or not kill the guy (+ virtue here) but then well, you're unreliable, not sticking to your word or doing the job you were asked to do. This is great in concept, but it falls flat because there's no persistent quest state, you don't miss out on anything by doing this quest one way or the other etc.

    I think we need to be somewhere in the middle. Decision should matter, but there should be a long road back to redemption as well. Being honest with someone (+truth -love) vs. sparing their feelings (-truth +love) is evident in a couple of places but feed a beggar a few cheeseburgers or tell everyone your name honestly and you easily adjust the balance toward whatever virtue you want.
     
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  13. FrostII

    FrostII Avatar

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    From your lips to LB's ears, M'Lady !
     
  14. Burzmali

    Burzmali Avatar

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    Frankly, when the most complex quests the devs can come up with are kill and collect, fedex, and scavenger hunts, what's the point? Not a single quest in the game has a conclusion more complex than here is some gold, XP and a trinket if you're lucky. When quests are just a loot and XP faucet, why bother?
     
  15. majoria70

    majoria70 Avatar

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    Can you state examples please of interesting out comes to help?
     
  16. Hermetic

    Hermetic Avatar

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    I will give an example of something that at first showed a lot of promise but turned out to be a big disappointment.

    In the courage quest you meet Grannus. There Mara takes you aside and wants you to get Demig to arrest the irresponsible drunk Ferig. Essen on the other hand wants you to side with Ferig against the traitor Demig. A choice to be made! But no... no matter what actions you take things turn out the same. In fact if it seems required that you give the warrant for Ferigs arrest to Demig for the actions which follow to make sense.

    With the three siblings the quest could have been set up so that depending on what actions you take one out of the three would become the successor to Grannus.
    One of the siblings could've represented Courage, one could've represented Love, and one Truth. No wrong answer but a chance to take action for the principle you most believe in, and a quest I think that would've been completed in fine Ultima tradition with the Avatar feeling like he had a role to play rather than being just a mere frustrated spectator.
     
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  17. Hermetic

    Hermetic Avatar

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    To further elaborate...

    Or they could've represented the lack of a particular virtue giving the avatar the opportunity of helping bring it out.

    For example you could've been given the option of taking 1 of 3 paths, and depending on your choices and interactions you could:

    1. Help Mara to see that she and her brothers were really interested in the same thing; helping their father Grannus. Help her rekindle the Love of family.
    2. Help inspire confidence and Courage in Ferig so that he gets over his drunkenness and becomes the type of man befitting a true leader.
    3. Help Demig discover the Truth of what this war with the Kobolds is really all about so that he can bring it to an end.
     
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  18. Baratan

    Baratan Avatar

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    Can you?
     
  19. majoria70

    majoria70 Avatar

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    That wasn't a criticism or a put down when I said that to him. Lord British just said he is reading this. I'm hoping for this to set the stage for Episode 2 questing to be improved if we get players awesome feedback. I wouldn't attack someone for their ideas. I just wanted to hear his opinion from having completed the quests.
     
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  20. Baratan

    Baratan Avatar

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    So, no?

    I'm not sure what you're going on about but I think you may have quoted the wrong post?
     
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