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Josh Sawyer on Quest Staggering and why BG2 might have had it right


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If I were to change chapter 2 quests of BG2, I would make it so that they span across the rest of the game and they affect the game in different ways across chapters.

I'd disagree, I don't like being locked out of a quest just because I'm not in the right chapter, being made to do the main storyline just to get them unlocked.  I liked the fact that you had pretty much the whole world open to you the moment you stepped out of the first dungeon, made it feel like an open world sandbox but with well written and detailed side quests around that each felt like their own epic storyline, with some of the side storylines actually spanning multiple quests and locations.  The main problem with the rest of the BG2 after chapter 2 (until chapter 4) is that you couldn't stop partway along them and go back to Athkatla mid-way through Spellhold or the Underdark (and having side quests in those areas would have just dragged them out even further as you were forced to do them before moving on since you couldn't come back to them, and they do drag as it is).

 

TL;DR version: The problem was that Spellhold and Underdark locked you out of the side quests in Athkatla that were already there so you couldn't do them at the same time.

Edited by FlintlockJazz
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Who cares if you're locked out? There are so many quests in BG2 it doesn't matter. Not only that, but who said anything about being locked out necessarily? They might be in a different stage but you could still participate in them, but in a different way maybe. I think that would be amazing.

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Who cares if you're locked out? There are so many quests in BG2 it doesn't matter. Not only that, but who said anything about being locked out necessarily? They might be in a different stage but you could still participate in them, but in a different way maybe. I think that would be amazing.

Because I might want to do one quest but not another?  That I want to do a specific quest but not interested in doing the main questline at that moment?  Because I don't want the world to feel like it revolves around the main storyline?  Player agency? 

 

Who cares?  I care.

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

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As much as I love BG2, even the design team acknowledge that the quest splurge in the first part of the game jarred against the more linear second half. I'm inclined to agree, but that's maybe with the benefit of hindsight (even though a writer wouldn't get away with it --- your editor would spot the problem and give you a re-write).

 

I still love BG2 and everything about it. That's what true love is - seeing the errors as triumphs. :wub:

 

 I agree, but I don't think the more linear part is better.

 

 Really, I think the biggest flaw with BG2 (my favorite game of all time, by far) is that you get the save Imoen quest first and if you do it early, as I often did, then you have all of the chapter 2 quests to do after returning from the Underdark in a place where they don't quite fit the story. If you save Imoen late game, you have the problem that your PC would be unlikely to leave her there for that long (unless the 'best friend' relationship is one-way in your PC's mind, which it could be; for me, the most chaotic and most evil PC I've played still wanted to save Imoen (maybe partially out of spite for Irenicus)).

 

 From a metagame perspective, I really like the flexibility of BG2. It was especially good for solo runs where different (low level) classes might be better at different quests. I also like the low barrier to entry to chapter three (15k gold; you can have that much before leaving the slums if you don't buy much). It allows a very wide variety of play throughs.

 

 However, both BG1 and BG2 point you in a reasonable direction on your first play through, so you don't get the aimless wandering that can happen is a flexible game. I think it's one of the things that both games got right.

 

 Even BG1 was a lot more liinear w.r.t the main quest.

Edited by Yonjuro
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the thing about BG2 was that side quests had a story related purpose. they were odd jobs you had to do, in order to get the money you needed to move on with the story. not just fillers to make the game longer

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The words freedom and liberty, are diminishing the true meaning of the abstract concept they try to explain. The true nature of freedom is such, that the human mind is unable to comprehend it, so we make a cage and name it freedom in order to give a tangible meaning to what we dont understand, just as our ancestors made gods like Thor or Zeus to explain thunder.

 

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What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

He is making perfect sense. And I see it like he does.

 

I want to be able to do any quest at any time given that I am currently able to access it's location.

Not only when some unknown condition has been met at some unknown point in the game. Constantly having to recheck every area of the game in case a previous action unlocked some hidden content sounds grating, especially when you do a replay of the game and already know that "this" quest should be "here", but it isn't.

Edited by Quadrone
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What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

He is making perfect sense. And I see it like he does.

 

I want to be able to do any quest at any time given that I am currently able to access it's location.

Not only when some unknown condition has been met at some unknown point in the game. Constantly having to recheck every area of the game in case a previous action unlocked some hidden content sounds grating, especially when you do a replay of the game and already know that "this" quest should be "here", but it isn't.

 

One way to solve this would be to keep the quests from being area specific; ie if you unlock quest Z after completing Quest D, then the quest giver spawns at the next logical area you enter the first time or something, perhaps seeking you out because they've heard of your success at completing Quest D.

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What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

He is making perfect sense. And I see it like he does.

 

I want to be able to do any quest at any time given that I am currently able to access it's location.

Not only when some unknown condition has been met at some unknown point in the game. Constantly having to recheck every area of the game in case a previous action unlocked some hidden content sounds grating, especially when you do a replay of the game and already know that "this" quest should be "here", but it isn't.

 

 

Lol that's a new kind of neurosis. 

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Events in reality are staggered. "Randomly," even. It's not as if just because you set foot into town, those thugs have just stolen something, that kid has just gone missing, goblins have just started attacking some farmer's fields and stealing all his sheep, someone just so happens to need something fetched/delivered for them (that's really important, apparently), some thugs in town just so happen to be trying to take the tavern from its owner, etc., ALL at the same time.

 

The odds of that are preposterous.

 

There are going to be multiple situations to deal with, sure. Things that, without your interaction, will remain as they are (conflicts, mysteries, dilemmas, etc.). But, there are plenty of reasons for plenty of "THIS JUST HAPPENED TODAY" things to be staggered. It's not staggering just for the sake of it. It's staggering because it makes friggin' sense. The fact that it doesn't present the player with 7,000 quests at the same time is just a bonus.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Wow, ok wait.... What?

I can't even wrap my head arround this one. You'd really prefer scouring the world map high and low repeatedly because any event or finished quest could unlock another quest at any random loction to just having the avaible quests at each location right there for you to pick and choose from?

 

Huh.

 

Because it's more "real"? Being drip fed content sounds exactly like something I wouldn't want from an RPG that strifes to be "oldschool" like the Infinity Engine RPGs. Are questlogs really that hard to use for you?

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Completionists gonna.... complete.

I know I'll re-play a good game several times so I don't have that "gotta do everything" mentality on the first playthrough anyhow.

Ouch - being one I always try to do and find as much as I can within particular story branch (and I mean real ones, not "pick one of the three endings five minutes before the credits roll" abomination) and in case of a simple "what if I pick other answer to end this quest" you bet I'll reload  :grin: 

 

hitting F5 before EVERY SINGLE chit-chat with npc

 

Despite that I don't really feel the urge to have everything (quests, locations) available from the start, as long as we are discussing "no scaling to the PC level" scenario. Otherwise, it gets all murky and I'm out (because in such case I can't make up my mind). So as you can see completionists can be happy with "blocking some content off" too - it has to be something else.

 

Still, there is an exception - followers. They fall strictly under the "sooner the better" rule in my book - to this day I never tried some followers in original BG, only because I meet them "to late".

 

Back on topic - I never felt that Athkatla was overpacked with quests - if anything, it was the rest of the game that lacked additional content to satisfy rampant expectations that, were there, because of the sheer size and abundancy of the Big City™. To this day I remember how disappointed I felt, when I realized that I just did everything possible in Trademeet and it's surroundings and it's time to go back...

Luckily PoE will have two of them (Big Cities I mean), thus giving hope for more balanced distribution of... you know, things (quests, npcs, areas, merchants to spend my honestly looted money or whatsoever).

 

BTW: I must agree with Teknoman2 - at least as long as you didn't hit that 15k goal that is.

"There are no good reasons. Only legal ones." - Ross Scott

 It's not that I'm lazy. I just don't care.

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Wow, ok wait.... What?

I can't even wrap my head arround this one. You'd really prefer scouring the world map high and low repeatedly because any event or finished quest could unlock another quest at any random loction to just having the avaible quests at each location right there for you to pick and choose from?

 

Huh.

 

Because it's more "real"? Being drip fed content sounds exactly like something I wouldn't want from an RPG that strifes to be "oldschool" like the Infinity Engine RPGs. Are questlogs really that hard to use for you?

Who said anything about scouring the world map repeatedly? If we're gonna go with worst-case scenarios, then how about you ask me why I want all the quest staggering to be strictly time-based, and have 1 new side quest become available every 17 hours of play? Because that would be as good a question.

 

Also, let me ask you this, because it might allow you to better understand my point:

 

Why do things at the end of the game happen at the end of the game, and things at the beginning happen at the beginning? Why isn't the Last Battle for the entire world occurring when your character is introduced to the story? And, is the only alternative that you constantly have to search everywhere just to find out how the story's progressing? And that it arbitrarily/randomly progresses every time you do the tiniest thing?

 

Besides, you don't have to scour anything. Unless you're suggesting that there shouldn't be any reason to ever visit a huge city more than once, one would think the city guard would typically know about local news. So, you walk in the gate, because you're visiting the city for ANY other reason at all, and you ask the guard what news he has. And he tells you there's a search for some missing lad, and/or someone stole the duke's jewels, etc. Then, you have the option of pursuing these leads, or not.

 

Naturally, there'd be SOME quests that people don't just conveniently tell you about. But, I highly doubt you're suggesting that there be absolutely nothing in the world to discover on your own that requires a little exploration or digging.

 

It's not about being drip-fed, and it has nothing to do with quest logs being hard to use. Why don't you find all the loot in the game at once? Does that mean you're being arbitrarily drip-fed staggered loot? Why do you level up? Are we being drip-fed progression?

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Wow, ok wait.... What?

I can't even wrap my head arround this one. You'd really prefer scouring the world map high and low repeatedly because any event or finished quest could unlock another quest at any random loction to just having the avaible quests at each location right there for you to pick and choose from?

 

Huh.

 

Because it's more "real"? Being drip fed content sounds exactly like something I wouldn't want from an RPG that strifes to be "oldschool" like the Infinity Engine RPGs. Are questlogs really that hard to use for you?

Who said anything about scouring the world map repeatedly? If we're gonna go with worst-case scenarios, then how about you ask me why I want all the quest staggering to be strictly time-based, and have 1 new side quest become available every 17 hours of play? Because that would be as good a question.

 

Also, let me ask you this, because it might allow you to better understand my point:

 

Why do things at the end of the game happen at the end of the game, and things at the beginning happen at the beginning? Why isn't the Last Battle for the entire world occurring when your character is introduced to the story? And, is the only alternative that you constantly have to search everywhere just to find out how the story's progressing? And that it arbitrarily/randomly progresses every time you do the tiniest thing?

 

Besides, you don't have to scour anything. Unless you're suggesting that there shouldn't be any reason to ever visit a huge city more than once, one would think the city guard would typically know about local news. So, you walk in the gate, because you're visiting the city for ANY other reason at all, and you ask the guard what news he has. And he tells you there's a search for some missing lad, and/or someone stole the duke's jewels, etc. Then, you have the option of pursuing these leads, or not.

 

Naturally, there'd be SOME quests that people don't just conveniently tell you about. But, I highly doubt you're suggesting that there be absolutely nothing in the world to discover on your own that requires a little exploration or digging.

 

It's not about being drip-fed, and it has nothing to do with quest logs being hard to use. Why don't you find all the loot in the game at once? Does that mean you're being arbitrarily drip-fed staggered loot? Why do you level up? Are we being drip-fed progression?

 

 

What? I'll just assume we are talking past each other and you therefore completly misunderstood my last post.

I was posting in reference to the suggestion the one who necro'ed this thread made:

 

My thought: Have (some) quests become available only after certain other quests, which have nothing at all to do with, and indeed may not even be in the same region as, eachother...

This, I believe, will ensure that the player doesn't have 800,000,000 quests to deal with at once, but may limit it to a few hundred thousand. ;) AND (again, It's my believe) will create a better illusion of a real, dynamic world, where things happen, seemingly at random, so that one npc who might have a quest for you will not have it to begin with, because the event that sparked the quest "haven't happended yet." Also, in consecutive play-throughs, all quest will not be available at exactly the same time...

 

This would lead exactly to what I said. Quest popping up after another one "...which have nothing at all to do with, and indeed may not even be in the same region as, eachother..." is completed. This would be fine if said quest were connected but to my understanding what is being suggested is quest appearing "...seemingly at random...".

I don't expect all content to be thrown at me at the very first , how would that even work? But, (taking BG2 as an example here) when I enter the Temple District all Quest that are availble in the current chapter should be in place. Don't make some Questgivers vanish just because I didn't do some fetchquest in Trademeet yet.

Worked well enough in the old games. Why remove freedom of choice?

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I don't mind scouring and exploring the gameworld for quests, nor new quests opening up due to my actions, if the gameworld is interesting and reactive enough then to do so should be a treat.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

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What? I'll just assume we are talking past each other and you therefore completly misunderstood my last post.

I was posting in reference to the suggestion the one who necro'ed this thread made:

My apologies. I had no idea. I had assumed you were simply responding to the previous post, which was mine. Sorry about that.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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You had the same freedom once you got out of the Underdark, unless you suffer a serious case of completionist's syndrome and really *have* to complete every single quest before heading off to the Asylum.

 

I don't think I've ever completed all the quests in Athkatla before heading off and I doubt I even did the same quests on each playthrough (though Nalia's keep was a staple) I also didn't feel like I was flooded with quests, more that Sigil, Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter were some pretty dead cities, which might also be due to the fact that those entire cities are mapped while in Athkatla you only get to visit certain (parts) of districs, which imo worked a lot better and resulted in a city that felt much more alive.

 

On that note I really dislike it when quests are stricly tied to a chapter (well, sometimes it makes sense of course, like Telos in KotOR...), this forces you to either complete everything before furthering the story or missing out on quests because they'll be gone if you do further the story... This is what I "read" when there's talk about "staggering" quests, I don't like it, it forces me to play a certain way and pits my "omg I wanna know what happens next" against my "noooo, must do all sidequests" and that sucks :( (DA2 was horrible in this respect)

 

 

 

 

I agree. And I like to be able to go back to quests that I previously skipped over. This is why I enjoy the Baldur's Gate games. You can usually go back and do those quests that appeared in earlier chapters. On my play through of BG2 and if I want Imoen in my party, I do the absolute bare minimum of quests and go off to the asylum to rescue her. Otherwise I find her to be too far behind in levels with the rest of my party if I stick around in Athkatla to do quests. And it's great when you get out from the Underdark, that there's so many quests to do.

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I liked that Athkatla had many quests - I just didn't like the number of people who came up to you (unavoidable) and said "I need your help NOW!" while at the same time you need to rescue Imoen NOW, and then when you get back from spellhold you need to confront Bodhi NOW and get the lanthorn so you can face Irenicus NOW because he's attacking elven city NOW.

In other words - many quests = good, having too many urgent quests forced on you at the same time = bad.  (not that urgent quests are bad, just the volume at once)

Basically, there was never a good time to do most of the side-quests from an rp perspective.

 

I also don't like quests that are locked out after chapter x, unless there's a good reason (like quest-givers in village B are put to the sword in chapter 2).

 

 

Still, there is an exception - followers. They fall strictly under the "sooner the better" rule in my book - to this day I never tried some followers in original BG, only because I meet them "to late".

I've done specific run-throughs to pick up just those late characters I otherwise wouldn't have used - a less than optimum team but with the BG NPC pack it was still worthwhile.

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What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

You asked who cares, I answered that I do. :p  Being able to choose which side quests I wanted to do was pretty much the main thing that gave Baldur's Gate 2 any kind of player agency at all, the choice of which side quests to do and in which order.  The problem with the Spellhold and Underdark sections is that you couldn't just leave them when you felt bored with them and go do some other quest for a while, forcing you to do the side quests before or after those sections.  Whenever I play through BG2 the Underdark and Spellhold sections are usually the points that I tend to lose interest in, since they are long and have no opportunities for me to bugger off and finish off some of those other quests I have lounging in my quest log instead or to try leveling up in.  The Athkatla sections are awesome because I can spend forever ignoring the main quest line if I want just being an adventurer!

 

 

What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

He is making perfect sense. And I see it like he does.

 

I want to be able to do any quest at any time given that I am currently able to access it's location.

Not only when some unknown condition has been met at some unknown point in the game. Constantly having to recheck every area of the game in case a previous action unlocked some hidden content sounds grating, especially when you do a replay of the game and already know that "this" quest should be "here", but it isn't.

 

Exactly, thanks.  Things unlocking due to the progression through the main quest sounds too much like a JRPG to me, not that they are bad mind you just not what I expect from Baldur's Gate inspired game.

"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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What in the crap are you talking about man? You are making zero sense. You would be able to pick which quests to do...and I think it would make the world more believable..

 

He is making perfect sense. And I see it like he does.

 

I want to be able to do any quest at any time given that I am currently able to access it's location.

Not only when some unknown condition has been met at some unknown point in the game. Constantly having to recheck every area of the game in case a previous action unlocked some hidden content sounds grating, especially when you do a replay of the game and already know that "this" quest should be "here", but it isn't.

 

 

Lol that's a new kind of neurosis. 

 

So because someone has a different style of playing to you it's a neurosis?  We are discussing different styles of play here, I understand and respect that your playstyle is different to mine, so let's keep it civil please.

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"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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