Philosophical Ranting of an Engineer

Zone with a purpose

August 1st, 2007

In World of Warcraft (WoW), there are many different zones or geographical regions. Each zone has a variety of monsters to fight and quests to complete. Zones are designed for characters of a certain level range. Some zones are places where low level characters can fight, quest, and level while some are for high level characters. I think zones could be organized better than they are now.

When playing in a zone, a player has the option of taking on quests. These quests might have the player talk to or deliver an item to an NPC. Or he might be asked to kill a number of monster or kill a single powerful monster or retrieve an item that is guarded. Whatever the quest is, the player receives experience and gold and sometimes an item for their work.

Some quests have follow up quests. A player might get a quest that asks them to kill 10 small monsters, then 5 big monsters, then kill the boss monster. Some quests are elite, that is they ask you to do something very difficult and are for groups of people to accomplish. Some of these elite quests are dungeon quests. That means you must go into a specific dungeon, filled with elite monsters, in order to complete the quest. Elite quests and elite dungeon quests generally give the greatest rewards in terms of money and items.

Quest lines are a great way to give players continuity to what they are doing and give them more of a purpose than simply being given a smattering of unrelated quests. I believe that more can be done to give players more of a purpose and a direction and make the quests and the zones more compelling.

I propose that quests in zones should be related and should guide the player along a mini-story. After finishing with quests in a region, a player will have completed a variety of quests leading up to defeating the overarching evil boss in the zone’s dungeon. While some quests will be unrelated to this path, most will progress the player along a branching series of quests. To give you an idea of how I imagine the quests to work, here is a graph.

In this image you can see several nodes with direction lines connecting them. The square nodes are normal quests, the hexogonal ones are elite. The line signifies what quests unlock another quest. In order to start the “Kill 10 Blobs” quest you have to have completed “Talk to Quest Giver.” However the lines are not requirements in that all must be completed, the line only means it unlocks a quest. The “Kill Mini Boss” quest doesn’t require you to complete all 3 prerequisite quests, only one. This means that if you loathe collecting quests, you can avoid those and focus on the killing path. Or maybe you want to complete all of them, you are free to do that. I think the number of quests in the area and the experience given should be such that a player need not complete all quests in order to level past a zone, letting him pick and choose.

I would expect a real quest graph for a zone would be much more complex with some dead ends, unconnected branches, but this would be the general shape. The idea is that all of the quests leading up to the dungeon quests, are preparing you to face the end boss. As you work your way through the quests you learn more about the evil boss and all the horrible things he has done to this zone and why you must defeat him.

This method of organizing quests and displaying a quest graph to player (information to be filled in as players discover each quest) means that players know they are working towards something as they play through a zone. The best rewards come from finishing the elite quests and running the dungeon. They have choices on which quests they want to do on the path to the elite quests. By requiring players to finish a series of quests to get the elite dungeon quests, players will feel more of an accomplishment and purpose to running the dungeon. I feel that dungeons right now are rather unattached to the rest of the zone.

1 Response to “Zone with a purpose”

  1. Lem Says:
    Um...World of Warcraft is already designed this way, except that you are not required to have a quest in order to enter the dungeon. I've done a number of dungeons without having any quests for them whatsoever, I just wanted to do them. But if you read a lot of quest texts and follow their chains, you eventually will be assigned to kill the "zone boss" in the dungeon. Tempest Keep and the Black Temple are good examples of that. I think what makes you feel that dungeons are really unattached to a zone is that you CAN enter a dungeon with a party without having any back story or doing quests for them. Then you go around fighting things wondering why the heck this place even exists. As far as story goes, however, the dungeons are VERY in-sync with Warcraft lore.

Sorry, comments are closed for this article.