Quest Generation system :
Not sure at this point what limit there should be on how many 'active' quests a player can have at once. Having one at a time (or types that you can have only one of at a time) might be more realistsic (gets away from that canned - standard 'level' quest chains that most of these current MMORPGs have).
Some quests may require the player to 'commit' to them and suffer penalties if not completed (loss of prestige/reputation maybe). If you said you were going to rescue someone in peril and turned around and went to sleep, other citizens might think alot less of you ...
'Quests' (or Player Missions) are a persistant programming Entity that would be 'scripted' to trigger situations/quest phases and to check for completion (and award the rewards). With this game's advanced template & script system they can do much more varied/complex things than most MMORPG quest systems allow. The Quest's Generator Template programs a Quest Entity (locks in the variable/customized details), which then executes on the Server. Quest (scripted) Logic can handle 'partial' success of the Quest's goal and be more adaptable to outcomes.
How player finds a Quest/Mission :
- Can Find posted notices on bulletin boards/graffiti/mail letter ('special jobs' offers)
- Talking to a shop vendor (or any NPC might offer one) and they have something they need done (or know someone else who does)
- Register with City as a 'Fixer' (probably activates an escalating series of Quests, with ramp of improving reputation)
- Mail from a neighbor (some NPC) who has heard you go into the 'Wild', and wants you to do X for them
- On a scrounging expedition you find an Accu-Vox with a very interesting message left on it (clues to further adventures...)
- You are sitting at a Tavern (bar) and are approached by a mysterious man (the classic D&D quest starter) OR you overhear a conversation or someone lamenting their predicament.
Weather Effects - scripted storms on the ocean can effect water movements detrimentally.
- Some interactions with surface (smuggler missions) would be more than a little affected.
- Actually Im not sure how far 'high waves' on the ocean surface effects water motion deep below (or how deep Rapture is supposed to be - I would have the surface 200ft above tallest building). I do recall that storms can dredge up things on the seabed, but that may be largely an effect on shallow coastal areas.
- "Seal the air-intakes on the Lighthouse -- there is a storm brewing" - "What??? They ARE STUCK !!" ....
- The 'mode' of 'Sea-Storming' can be used as a situation modifier on many 'Outside' (water) based Quests.
Big City Events - Werver coordinated incidents (ie- Splicer Invasion, Vermin Infestations, Crime Wave, etc...)
- Heard on city announcements -- all players can join in
- Sweeps of Border & Egde areas (scheduled regularly by city authorities)
- Attack by group of Z (enemies) to be countered (unscheduled, random, increasing frequency if not 'stopped' previous times).
- Open Events usually bring uncoordinated group involvement (players (& team NPCs) just show up and help). On at least one MMORPG players were SO starved for something new to do that too many showed up for events so that the Server was severely stressed and slowed to 'less' than a crawl. In this MMORPG there should be enough of these Events happening that they don't get mobbed like that.
- Can be setup to happen at random times and in different locations taking players to parts of the city they may not have been in before.
- Can also be triggered by GMs when needed and controlled sufficiently by pre-planned 'Event' plot scripting.
- Brownout in the City - power off/on emergency backup - all kinds of things can creep out in the darkness
- Leaks are always good for emergency 'repair' scrambles.
Server Bubble Instance -- temporary Server World space (the whole game world is virtual now with the MMORPG's modular system)
- You can build scenery with templates inside a temporary 'data' bubble with any props available, and have 'prop' NPCs do anything (behavior) they normally do in the game. You could do just about anything you want with this system.
- Choreographed sequences (like what you can do in Dialog Trees except longer) can have NPCs act out fairly complex vignettes. I played with a simple/crude system that did this in Neverwinter Nights, and a good (better) tool and implementation would help make it easy(er) to compose/run this kind of thing (kinda like 'Stage Play' scripts...).
- Pseudo-Cutscenes - If its all for show with no interactions, it could actually be scripted to run ON your client, and not bother the Server (its all just canned actions going thru a shadow play).
Varieties of Quests :
- Quest sets associated with particular skills/experience advancements (even specific quests using a 'high' skill the Player has achieved)
- Random Encounters - just things that happen along the way to somewhere else
- Canned Epic Quests (maybe including flashbacks to historical events in Rapture - many forum posters mentioned wanting to see in Rapture in its "Hey day" - things like the Dedication by Ryan in 1946, the incident at Kashmirs, Ryans (faked) Death, The shootout with Fontaine, etc...) Players COULD take the part of an 'actor' in Rsapture's dramatic events.
- General Player Missions (randomly found by Players (or sought out in usual Quest source places), progressive chains and tree groups of Quests can be included). Can be tailored/adjusted to Players experience level
- Tutorial Quests (lots of these in a more complex action option game)
- Teamless 'solo' Quests - Player gets no 'help' - situation can cut Player off from help by other players also.
- City Events (mentioned above)
- Quests with timelimits (urgency can make things very interesting (expediency) and tests your 'evade' skills)
- Puzzle Quests related to Mini-Games (find the pieces and solve the puzzle) Enable use of Mini-Game...
Auto Quest/Mission Setup :
Quest generation is done with Templates similar to what the terrain auto-generation system uses. Alot of logic can be built into the Scripts to 'fit' locations and to vary the details of the Quest significantly. Can be made to 'fit' the Player, but its better for the Player to have to figure out how to come up with the needed resources/skilled help/solutions.
- Sets up NPC quest-giver with Dialog Tree (for more than just 'stand there like a mannequin with a menu'). Many situational details can be inserted as parameters (names/locations/item types/etc..) into Dialog. Inconsequential text Quest 'story' descriptions can be mutated.
- Many Quests/Missions given by NPCs include directions to a specific place. The place can be changed (varied) and the terrain can actually be built/modified 'on-the-fly' to match the Quest, so that you don't wind up going the same place 100000 Players have already done the exact same Quest before you.
- When the Game World is far enough along, the 'Quest' locations can be set further out to a similarly 'flavored' location and where it won't be interfered with by other Players activities and changes (in an area that matched the type of Mission).
- The Auto-Generation allows creating such unique (semi-unique) situational experiences when there are lots of substitutions for the multiple details that make up a Quest..
- Place Props at destination - Often it is just a matter of adding a few Prop items or target NPCs to an existing location (go pickup the secret note hidden behind the water cooler at Luigis Pizza place). Locations not previously visited by any Player can be found and used (gimmicks like blocked doors to keep other Players from blundering in until the Player who has the Quest is on-site).
- Information (briefing text) would be supplied to the Player about the Mission, and this information can be built up specific for the generated Quest (simplest is like a form letter).
- Progressive Quests can be built with subsequent Quests opening on completion of predecessors (the usual Quest trees used on most MMORPGs). Completion Markers for Player characters can be added to prevent repetition/or too frequent attempts of particular Quests (same as used on most MMORPGs).
- Quest log is maintained so Player can look up the details. A common Quest mechanism seen in MMORPGs when Players may have many Quests or might not have played for a week and can't remember details (this interface would be available on the 'offline' Tablet Interface for Quest planning.)
- The Player should be able to direct his NPC 'Team' members to start to prepare/move into position to be ready to start into the dangerous territory the Quest might be set in.) Good use for the Tablet interface to handle logistics like this offline (issue orders for 'Team' to 'gear' up and meet me at Metro Station 17 ...)
- Sequential Multi-Quests are easily generated: Goto X, Pickup Y, Deliver to Z -or- Patrol A then Patrol B then Patrol C .. and the locations can be shifted to 'fit' the city areas (civilized part of city keeps expanding). They are like simple Quests except have just more parts for the Template and Quest Entity to setup and run.
Constantly Expanding Game Content :
Additional Quests can be created and added to the available (developer/creator) Template sets to add more variety. Existing Quests can be improved with more variations/options/ better 'fitting'. Quests would be one of the Asset types created via the 'Player Created Assets' system which would hugely increase the number and varieties of playable Quests available to Players. Some fairly simple Quests can be added by NON-Programmers (non-scripters) which have : a Basic Outline, some easy Substitution Options (and clear instructions), and nice simple Text Inputs for the Quest Author to fill-in the 'story'.
Player Generated Asset Quests/Missions of course will face the usual Vetting Process of Validation, Content Review, and Test Running (first by Player Inspectors and then by Company inspectors) before they are allowed on the running game worlds. The Creation Community would have available ideas and advice and help.