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Quest/MSQ Dialogue Design

Lark WyllLark Wyll Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
One thing I normally don't pay any attention to is the design of the text based story in an rpg. I remember in some older single player rpg games I disliked that they wouldn't allow you to fast-forward past the slow text read out. Over time games improved to let you to skip through text faster or skip entirely.

While playing Lost Ark, one aspect of the game that has just about made me set it down permanently is how tedious playing through it's story based text read out is and having to spam the G key. I've started to greatly dislike any and all npc text/story in this game as it forces you into the grating g-key spam loop, followed by clicking on a text bubble statement for your character, more g-key spam, then having to re-engage conversation with the npc immediately after the last conversation to click on them for more dialogue, or type in an emote, or click on the npc to watch a timer go down while standing in a circle, typically followed by more npc dialogue with the same character to conclude.

I can't stand this crap. Feedback I'd share is that I would prefer story text not to become a frustration point to either read or bypass if one so wishes. In Lost Ark it seems their time sinks to keep players playing for good amounts of time is to have them run in circles and get stuck in never ending npc text dialogue. It's very low quality time.

It may be inconsequential for most players but I've found that something so simple like this that you're forced to interact with so frequently can wear on you and cause you to start disliking a game. It's probably on par with UI design in a game.

If anyone has a game where they liked how the text/written story was presented in a non-tedious way feel free to share. Unsure if this type of feedback is helpful at all in the discussion towards A2. I didn't have any problems with the quest text layout during A1 even in its raw state.
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    Taleof2CitiesTaleof2Cities Member
    edited March 2022
    Are you sure you're playing the right kind of games for your interests, @Lark Wyll?

    Ashes of Creation and Lost Ark are both MMORPGs.

    Skimming text or skipping full text sections bypasses that "RPG" portion of the game ... versus other players who enjoy being immersed with the dialogue, cut scenes, and e-motes. I know for me the storylines are one part of Lost Ark that I've found satisfying so far.

    In contrast, there are certainly other MMOs that don't have a questing focus. Easy fetch quests to get the rewards sooner ... while not feeling bogged down by the text read out.

    Fortunately in Ashes, quests won't be the sole source of legendary rewards.

    There will be an interdependency between raiding, PvP, questing, and player crafting roles to obtain those legendary items. In other words, no pressure in getting to the end of the questline will make it a lot easier to enjoy the narrative.

    Bottom Line: I'm sure Intrepid could follow a few other MMOs and have a dialogue bypass feature. But, if players aren't interested in the storyline/dialogue from Intrepid's talented writing teams, why are we here?
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    I see the way to fix this is make it so you have to read quests to complete them.
    In many games today you don’t have to read quests to do them, know what to do, or even what is going on in the game. There are simple markers that point the way and you click the buttons. There are also two main types being overused: collect x items and kill x monsters. Like that, who would want to read essentially the same quest 50 times?

    I personally think quests should be designed in a direction kind of similar to old school RuneScape. If you just don’t like questing, there should be other ways to enjoy the game. If quests are too boring that you don’t want to do them because you have to read any sort of dialogue, they’ve been designed wrong. Quests could be very dynamic with multiple progression trees, interesting puzzles, reputation requirements, and no markers to start.
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    unknownsystemerrorunknownsystemerror Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Intrepid has onboarded a few different people known for their quest design, but one thing you are not going to get away from is having to read text. They have said in the past that you could choose to skip dialog, but you might have no idea where to go, what to do, or even fail certain quests, which are not repeatable and are meant to affect node/personal progression. Could they add it down the line? Sure. But they have a very heavy lift already and are behind schedule, so don't expect anything more than they have promised.
    https://ashesofcreation.wiki/Voice_acting
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    @Taleof2Cities IS is creating an MMO, many of us are here because of the player driven story that will be created through the node system. Quest should have normal dialogue that is engaging, while it won't appeal to everyone players should have the ability to take many different paths towards endgame content that should satisfy players who hate NPC dialogue
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    Lark WyllLark Wyll Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2022
    Are you sure you're playing the right kind of games for your interests, @Lark Wyll?

    Skimming text or skipping full text sections bypasses that "RPG" portion of the game ... versus other players who enjoy being immersed with the dialogue, cut scenes, and e-motes. I know for me the storylines are one part of Lost Ark that I've found satisfying so far."

    Hello, so to clarify I wouldn't want to take away text story questing from the game. I only brought up the topic as a discussion for ideas to make it less tedious.

    I like mmo's. Tbh the only mmo that I've ever cared to read the text of quests more than skipping was Runescape as it had a quirky humor that I enjoyed and found amusing. I play mmo's for other reasons and a large portion of the player base of mmo's fall into the same camp as myself.

    My problem isn't with questing, but how the text dialogue is presented and designed from a UI perspective allowing players of different preferences smooth options to skip/bypass when they wish.

    I of course would really dig great questing and story telling. But even then there should be a skip option.

    FF14 was too bogged down in story telling that it took me too much time to level and I would get bored and quit the game. I tried to read it all but it was simply way too much bloat.

    In ESO the same. I started out reading the text during leveling, took way too long and was completely uninteresting after a while. Quit.

    In New World I completed every quest they had through December patches. Their quest text I would say was done well. I didn't feel trapped in endless text and could read or skip at my desired pace. I would much prefer NW quest UI/skip options compared to Lost Ark's arthritis inducing g-key spam to move the text forward and silly emotes.

    That's not an argument for the quality of the quest or New Worlds story telling. Only the UI/text skip function.

    I like mmo's for the group based activities both pvp and pve, exploration, story telling, world building, market and crafting aspects, gear progression compared to peers, adventure, comeraiderie.

    Reading text story was the key selling point in a game like Runescape that had low graphics so the humorous stories and quests were much more a center point of the game. As graphics and engines have been able to advance to support more interesting systems I think most players now play mmo's for those combat and adventure experiences rather than a dated reliance on a text based story. Just my take though and again to each their own not trying to take your enjoyment away. It still has a place in modern mmo's I just don't think it should be the focal point, at least not in a boring/tedious way.
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    Lark WyllLark Wyll Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Intrepid has onboarded a few different people known for their quest design, but one thing you are not going to get away from is having to read text. They have said in the past that you could choose to skip dialog"
    https://ashesofcreation.wiki/Voice_acting

    Valid point. I wasn't asking for voice acting though as I know the cost associated is substantial. It's not that I don't like reading but I don't want to read a book of NPC quest dialogue either. Npc text is most often not worth the time to read from an enjoyment stand point. It is typically dull, and drags on way too long. In Lost Ark's case it is also extremely tedious to bypass (my main discussion point).

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    CROW3CROW3 Member
    edited March 2022
    I’m a story guy, but there are a billion ways of conveying a story beyond exposition. I agree with the OP on Lost Ark, it’s derivative without any effort to hide it - the player knows it, and the devs know it - so it becomes a tedious ‘feature’ that’s stapled on to an isometric action game.

    Writing exposition is a last resort to good story tellers and the first tool for beginners - especially in a game - where the ‘reader’ is literally immersed in whatever setting, plot, and tone you can imagine.

    Some specific examples of good game story telling: Half-life, Gothic, RDR2, Fallout 4, Myth: TFL, FC5, The Forest.

    Some examples of bad/awkward story telling: Wow, Wolcen, FFXIV, Lost Ark.
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    tautautautau Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I love a well written story. I try hard to resist the temptation, perhaps learned from modern life, to try to rush through content as fast as I can. Really, what is the rush to finish a quest? Aren't we playing the game for the fun of it? Playing a game isn't a race, we get no glory for rushing through a quest so fast we don't know what we have done.

    But the key is a well written story, as @CROW3 makes the point.
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    CROW3CROW3 Member
    edited March 2022
    tautau wrote: »
    But the key is a well written story, as @CROW3 makes the point.

    Thanks, Tautau - just to be clear though, I’m not advocating for just a well written story, but a well conveyed story.

    For instance, you don’t need to tell me I’m in the poor section of a city if I see open sewers, dilapidated buildings, Mass homelessness, and orphans trying to pick my pocket.

    In games, it’s best to immerse me in the story without telling me or making me read anything.

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    VaknarVaknar Moderator, Member, Staff
    What are some examples of storytelling through questing that captured your attention, rather then made you want to skip through it? @Lark Wyll :)
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    Vaknar wrote: »
    What are some examples of storytelling through questing that captured your attention, rather then made you want to skip through it? @Lark Wyll :)

    I think that some methods that work *better* are generally avoiding long walls of text where able, and keeping what you see on screen literally short sentence/s at a time.

    To kind of build on this - one issue is that due to the length of time in the game and how it tends to be more gameplay-centric than story, perhaps spreading out the story and periods of reading could be a consideration.

    For example, in some cases perhaps you get a quest giver with some background and your direction - but fragment some information to be displayed on screen for example when entering the "quest area".

    I guess re-reading that I don't want to have to overcomplicate in terms of code basic quest design, however I think breaking up the text into more readable chunks is a basic first thing that could be done.
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    CawwCaww Member
    I find that major quest lines with polished text and story-telling are worth the effort. All the other "side-line" quests that try to explain why you need "10 skins, 5 lumber and 3 ores to be delivered to so-and-so who was at onetime such-and-such" are beyond maddening and so contrived as to be insulting and really don't belong in this opus.
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    CROW3CROW3 Member
    Caww wrote: »
    All the other "side-line" quests that try to explain why you need "10 skins, 5 lumber and 3 ores to be delivered to so-and-so who was at onetime such-and-such" are beyond maddening and so contrived as to be insulting and really don't belong in this opus.

    Seriously. I wish these types of quests would present the problem the dude is trying to solve instead of bring me x, y, z stuff. That way the player can be more involved in crafting one of several ways to solve the issue with recipes they go find.

    e.g. let's make sure this refugee family is well fed, so go make me something that will help them. The player can then determine how complex and what quality of food they want to make, and might be rewarded differently depending upon the outcome of the quest.

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    I remember enjoying how older WoW presented their quest. Around 200 words to introduce what is happening and what needs to be done, then showing the quest objectives and reward. Ez pz. Can't have too much text, but you also have to tell the player what's going on.
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    McShave wrote: »
    I remember enjoying how older WoW presented their quest. Around 200 words to introduce what is happening and what needs to be done, then showing the quest objectives and reward. Ez pz. Can't have too much text, but you also have to tell the player what's going on.

    I was just about to say the same thing. Older WoW presented quests perfectly in my opinion. You could skip reading it and check the objective down below and if at a later point you want to read it then you could just check your quest book. That is a perfect formula! When it's a side quest "bring me x y z" then the story is rarely interesting enough and you are just doing it for the XP and Gold so you can just check the objective + reward down below and accept it. Then there were some quests which you had to read because there were clues inside as to where you have to go and what you have to do and it's not straightforward. I loved those quests because they allowed for more player agency. It didn't feel like a grind. It actually felt like a quest. The formula works here as well because you could always check what the quest said in the quest book and search for those clues in the text. Then there would be some quests, part of a storyline which I liked, which I wish I could re-read in the future after I completed them. I'd like to see my quest book to have the option to read past finished quests again - or even better summarize them in a journal-like fashion with perhaps different text for each race. That would be amazing but I'd be happy with just being able to read the quests I've finished whenever I want to.

    Old WoW quest design where you had skippable 200 words for each quest + objective and reward at the bottom was perfect. The ability to read those 200 words again in your quest book was also perfect. I only wish I could re-read any quests I finished and for them to be sorted per date of completion at any point.
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    Lark WyllLark Wyll Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Vaknar wrote: »
    What are some examples of storytelling through questing that captured your attention, rather then made you want to skip through it? @Lark Wyll :)

    Runescape quorky humor. Some of the classic rpg's do it well. Skyrim and Witcher: Wild Hunt but there's a lot of quality voice acting and some cinematic mixed in. I don't know if that's a route AoC is going. They haven't shown much if any voice acting or cinematic. I don't know if it's in their scope for the game.

    Personally though I don't play mmo's for the quest story line. It would have to be very compelling and the quests would need to be siginificant events in my characters progression or be humorous and achievement log based like Runescape did theirs.

    How about you?
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    SongcallerSongcaller Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    There are two quests that I keep in mind:

    1. Prison escape in Operation Desert Storm 2 I believe (multiplayer but not an mmo). It was cool how the story separated the team and one player broke free and had to save the other team members. I loved the twist but not just the twist, the fact you played through the twist rather than a cinematic twist.

    2. Oddworld with multiple endings. I love the main stories to have multiple endings. It's cool for multiple playthroughs and caters to different playstyles. What I don't like about this concept is when content is only accessible by the 'correct' endings. All in all though, when done well, you can have a great laugh or fall in silence depending on how you have performed throughout oddworld.

    To summarise, I loved goosebumps books and I love multiple endings to storyline. I also love active twists rather than cinematic twists in the storyline.
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