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  • How To Write a Quest-Based RPG

    [08.31.21]
    - Giannis Georgiou

  • Finishing touches

    Final screen

    To track which quests the player pursued-and which of them successfully-I created an integer variable for each quest.

    Screenshot from Arcweave's UI for managing the project's global variables. One column shows the variable's name, the second shows the type (here, integer), and the third column shows the variable's initial value.
    By using one variable per side quest, the game knows which of them the player completes, fails, or skips.

    All those variables have an initial value of 0, which means the player hasn't taken the quest.

    If the player takes the quest, the value ends up becoming either 1 (if they have succeeded) or -1 (if they have failed). In other words, if the player has taken a quest, the relevant variable's absolute value will be 1.

    Adding all the variables' absolute values, I get the number of the quests the player has gone after: quest_sum = abs(quest_1) + abs(quest_2) + ...

    Screenshot from Arcweave: the code that runs under the hood, at the game's final screen.
    The final screen is basically one long Arcweave element that performs a series of "if" checks and renders the appropriate content.

    Then, all I had to do was write a list of if statements, covering the results for each quest, rendering "SUCCESS" or "FAILURE" accordingly.

    Screenshot from Arcweave: the code that runs under the hood, at the game's final screen.
    By checking each quest's variable, the game prints a message of SUCCESS or FAILURE for it.

    And this is how it looks on Arcweave's play mode:

    Screenshot from Arcweave's play mode: the game's final screen showing which quests the player pursued.
    Should I get the game to rank the player as casual or a completionist? "During the course of tracking down the villain, you pursued 2 side quests. YOU ARE A LITTLE CASUAL, AREN'T YOU?"

    Images

    Finally, let's not forget about the wonderful art that I was lucky enough to find for the game.

    Cartoonish illustration of a medieval tavern's interior.
    Image by upklyak on Freepik.

    All the images on the game are from Freepik and they are free to download and use-as long as one credits the source.

    Which one should always do, anyway.

    For the credits, I created a special page that is accessible at the very beginning and the very end of the game's play through.

    Aftermath

    Writing process

    Creating this game didn't take more than a week of part-time work. It was great fun to write and it certainly didn't aspire to be anything more than what it is-a little treat for the readers of my article on completionism.

    I once again had the opportunity to test the tools I use and the process I have come to follow, which I describe in my post on writing interactive fiction. No story is the same with any other, but after staring at a blank page until your eyes need recalibrating, you realise a little methodology wouldn't hurt.

    And as for the tools, yep, they still work: mostly good old fashioned pencil and paper (for the messy part of the work) and Arcweave for the polishing and testing.

    Trying it on for size

    I must admit that-for an article's companion game-it turned out to be a little longer to play than I wanted. Especially if you take on several of the side quests, the time you can spend playing it is considerably more than 5 minutes.

    I did some editing, but I didn't want to cut it down.

    First of all, I didn't want to reduce the number of the side quests. The whole point of this game is to offer multiple options, which the player can honour or ignore.

    Neither did I feel like cutting down each scene's narration. If I had forced it into a smaller size, I would have taken away the feeling of reading a story and would have created a feeling of reading a shopping list, like:

    • You are on your way to the Chaotic Neutral Tavern. Someone picks your pocket. Do you follow (click here) or do you ignore it (click there)?

    • You ignore then incident. You continue to the tavern. There is a brawl. Do you join in (click here) or do you ignore it (click there)?

    • You join the brawl. You aren't strong enough, so they kick your derrière. There is also a drinking competition. Do you click here or there?

    Something tells me this wouldn't have been so much fun.

    But don't take my word for it. Go and play the game yourself and tell me what you think.


    Giannis is a writer and story consultant focusing on subjects of narrative structure, theory, and technique. He is content writer in Arcweave.

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