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Low level quest design and how it really works is the subject of this MMO Underbelly. Sanya Weathers looks inside how quests are really designed and put together, talking to some real professionals in the field. She finds out why you often kill ten rats.
“Text limitations mean you have to learn how to write again. No lengthy descriptions, no rambling dialogue. Short, concise, yet still interesting,” says a content producer on an upcoming triple-A MMO. That seems easy enough, but that’s not all. “You can't write in your own "voice." You have to learn someone else's writing guidelines, that you may not agree with, and often times write quest lines that you flat out don't like.”
Text limitations are actually fairly new. It used to be assumed that people playing an MMORPG wanted story – as they did in their single player RPGs - but then the industry introduced metrics. The fact is, people skip walls of text. They might listen to a voiceover (LOTRO’s primary means of dishing out long bits of lore), and they will occasionally pay attention to backstory if it’s a large part of the game’s feel (see also Warhammer Online), but for the most part, if the text consists of more than two sentences, forget it. In fact, one of the newest MMORPGs (Free Realms) usually keeps their quests to one sentence blurbs interspersed between one sentence task assignments.
Read the full column here.
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios