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Allow us to fail Quests!

failure failing quests success rates

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#1
JFSOCC

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I've been thinking about this for a while.
It's one of the many things I think have been lost over the last two decades: The ability to fail and continue the game.

Now, for the main quest this is obviously the end. But in a content rich environment it should be perfectly OK to have the player easily fail their tasks and yes, have doors close on them.
One of the major problems with games lacking challenge these days is that a player failing a quest or questline can end up seriously disadvantaged. So you often see that quests are fairly basic, lacking complexity or challenge.
It's easy to get it right.
But that shouldn't have to be the case

Because one of the greatest enjoyments you can get from a game is succeeding at something difficult. Failing and coming back to retry, and that sweet victory when you finally figure out how to succeed.

And I think this philosophy applies to quests as well. In a world which has a high density of content, it doesn't generally matter if players don't succeed at everything they do.

Sure, many players may reload (which is why long, multi-stage quests are desired!)
But if there is more to do, then it's OK for us to occasionally see a door closed.
ESPECIALLY if you're already particularly invested in this. For instance you've joined a faction, and done quite a bit of quests for them already, and then suddenly you fail one tragically. You now cannot proceed with this faction any more. That'll be a serious hit to the player. It'll get your attention. "This **** is for real!" and lend some weight to doing quests. Quest investment will certainly lead players to be more immersed in what they are doing.

I think of games like Assassins creed, where if you fail the game actually resets you to the last checkpoint and lets you retry. You get to do EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING right. Which is boring and narratively weak. Her name is Mary Sue, good at everything.

I'm not saying I fear this won't happen, but I feel it is worthy of discussion.

Edited by JFSOCC, 24 May 2013 - 05:33 AM.

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#2
cleric Nemir

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And I would,once again,like to mention the Temple of Elemental Evil,do not hate me for it,but it is a good source-rather a model-for most of the suggestions I've seen here on the forum. Let me be clear once more: the solutions of ToEE may not be entirely perfect,but they provide more than a start and still they remain overlooked by the majority.


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#3
PrimeJunta

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I'd like to see it taken a bit further than that, even.

I'd like to get rid of unambiguous "success/fail" conditions. Instead, have a range of possible outcomes. Some of them will be more desirable than others. Some may be more desirable than others depending on your motives, your needs, or your character builds. And sometimes there should be interesting consequences for apparent failure.

This would add a lot of depth to the game, and as a side effect not reward savegame abuse.
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#4
mcmanusaur

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I'd like to see it taken a bit further than that, even.

I'd like to get rid of unambiguous "success/fail" conditions. Instead, have a range of possible outcomes. Some of them will be more desirable than others. Some may be more desirable than others depending on your motives, your needs, or your character builds. And sometimes there should be interesting consequences for apparent failure.

This would add a lot of depth to the game, and as a side effect not reward savegame abuse.

 

I strongly agree with this; "success" and "failure" are linear and prescriptive terms that only have value in so much as there is a particular long-term goal in mind, and this may or may not be the PC's actual goal (emergent gameplay should be nurtured rather than discouraged).


Edited by mcmanusaur, 24 May 2013 - 07:02 AM.


#5
Gorgon

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I have a particular hatred for babysitting or stealth missions where when the precious cargo dies or you are discovered results in instant fail, but I take the point of the OP.



#6
ultimis

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Divergent quests sound awesome but are a pain in the ass to implement and very time consuming. But it would be interesting to have a range of "outcomes" at completion. So in "failing" you might get something more beneficial to your character than you would have by suceeding. I imagine though you would have less reloading and more strategy guide/walk through exploitation. But again this becomes a rather large time sink for the developers to implement this.

 

As to the original poster, yes basic quests outside of the introduction are mostly worthless besides guiding you through the world. At the same time some players will be annoyed if they have to constantly reference a walk through in order to finish quests (which is what would happen). Game developers generally want to reduce what annoys their paying customers. It is possible that this could be an option when starting a new game to tone down the obviousness of the quests. That way those who want to be immersive and hunt down these quests by subtle clues can do so.



#7
Aldereth

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I'd like to see it taken a bit further than that, even.

I'd like to get rid of unambiguous "success/fail" conditions. Instead, have a range of possible outcomes. Some of them will be more desirable than others. Some may be more desirable than others depending on your motives, your needs, or your character builds. And sometimes there should be interesting consequences for apparent failure.

This would add a lot of depth to the game, and as a side effect not reward savegame abuse.


^ this.

#8
Lephys

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Babysitting/escort type missions/quests makes me think of a good context point: Don't make things TOO complicated, for the player, that is. The reason I bring this up with such quests (you're probably scratching your head right now) is that, sometimes, during those, the AI is SO terrible, or the mission design is just SO brutal that you're not really given enough control over anything, as the player, to have your choices really produce a range of consequences. Basically, how to not-fail at the task you want to achieve (preventing that escorted person from dying) becomes an enigma, because effort and tactics seem to do little good. Then you find out some obscure thing, like "Ohh, if I cast 17 protection spells on this person, then have them stand in a corner, and aggro enemies in small groups, and kill them all, I can totally do this without him dying!"

Essentially, make sure you don't make the quest "deeper" simply for "Ohh, see it's not so simple now"'s sake. Along these lines are those quests in which you just kind of have to eenie-meenie-miney-mo stuff to determine your odds of success. You took the left path instead of the right, to approach the town? Well, if you went left, you JUST SO HAPPEN to find out a bunch of important info regarding the handling of this situation. If you went right, you're pretty much effed. You missed your chance. You should've gone left, even there there wasn't any logical deduction to be had there as to which way to go. No clue as to which way might've led to actual info.

As complex as you wanna make it is fine, but if you don't allow the player to be able to figure things out. And, by that, I don't mean "there's always a happy ending, and you're always in control of everything." But, there should at the very least be an opportunity to figure out what will help you have more control and knowledge of the situation and what will not.

I don't like it when "complex" quests get turned into labyrinths of rooms in which you can't backtrack, ever. Some contain treasure, some contain traps, and when you reach the edge, you exit, no matter where the exit leads. So, it's just coin tosses. You might go through 10 rooms of traps, then leave, accomplishing nothing but almost dying. Or, you might go through 10 rooms of treasures, then leave through an exit that's conveniently only a brisk walk away from your next destination. If the complexity doesn't actually allow invested effort and thinking to pay off in any way, then it's for naught.

As others have touched upon, this almost encourages save-scumming. If the only way to control the situation is via manipulating chance, then your choices are A) replay this 80-hour game 15 times and hope you don't go through 15 rooms of traps every time, OR B) keep reloading and figure out where the good routes are. At that point, they might as well give you the Dagger of Time (from Prince of Persia).

Edited by Lephys, 24 May 2013 - 12:38 PM.

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#9
TrashMan

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Essentially, make sure you don't make the quest "deeper" simply for "Ohh, see it's not so simple now"'s sake. Along these lines are those quests in which you just kind of have to eenie-meenie-miney-mo stuff to determine your odds of success. You took the left path instead of the right, to approach the town? Well, if you went left, you JUST SO HAPPEN to find out a bunch of important info regarding the handling of this situation. If you went right, you're pretty much effed. You missed your chance. You should've gone left, even there there wasn't any logical deduction to be had there as to which way to go. No clue as to which way might've led to actual info.

 

I actually think a few quests (or quest stages) like this should be there.

 

Some chance and randomness are part of combat - is having even a tiny bit of it in quests that bad?

 

Just make reprocussions sensible. Quest faliure doesn't mean an end to everything.

You done 4 quests for the brotherhood and failed the 5th? Well, that shouldn't halt your progress.

You'd have to really screwing things up for a faction to kick you out completely.



#10
Lephys

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I actually think a few quests (or quest stages) like this should be there.
 
Some chance and randomness are part of combat - is having even a tiny bit of it in quests that bad?
 
Just make reprocussions sensible. Quest faliure doesn't mean an end to everything.
You done 4 quests for the brotherhood and failed the 5th? Well, that shouldn't halt your progress.
You'd have to really screwing things up for a faction to kick you out completely.


I don't fault you for misunderstanding me here, but, that paragraph was not meant to be standalone from the rest of my post.

I was referring only to quests/scenarios designed with "how you deal with this affects the entire rest of the game" stuff. Like "Ohh, you picked the wrong rooms, so you ended up siding with Faction A and getting NPC C killed. If you had HAPPENED to take a different route, you would've ended up with Faction B and NPC C would've lived."

You know, objectives that are "failable." Chance is fine for "do you happen to get 200 gold pieces from a chest, or do you happen to get burned by a trap?." The labyrinth example was figurative. I was saying I didn't want actual "how do you want to handle this situation?" quests to be reduced to chance-labyrinths, with random/arbitrary rewards and punishments.

#11
Pipyui

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I'd like to see it taken a bit further than that, even.

I'd like to get rid of unambiguous "success/fail" conditions. Instead, have a range of possible outcomes. Some of them will be more desirable than others. Some may be more desirable than others depending on your motives, your needs, or your character builds. And sometimes there should be interesting consequences for apparent failure.

This would add a lot of depth to the game, and as a side effect not reward savegame abuse.

 

This vision is glorious.  Success shouldn't always be measured in binary.



#12
Lephys

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This vision is glorious.  Success shouldn't always be measured in binary.

 

We could bump it up to Trinary. But then, Yoda would say "There is no try-nary... only do-nary." So, according to him we'd be back down to mo-nary. 8(


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#13
JFSOCC

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Essentially, make sure you don't make the quest "deeper" simply for "Ohh, see it's not so simple now"'s sake. Along these lines are those quests in which you just kind of have to eenie-meenie-miney-mo stuff to determine your odds of success. You took the left path instead of the right, to approach the town? Well, if you went left, you JUST SO HAPPEN to find out a bunch of important info regarding the handling of this situation. If you went right, you're pretty much effed. You missed your chance. You should've gone left, even there there wasn't any logical deduction to be had there as to which way to go. No clue as to which way might've led to actual info.

 
I actually think a few quests (or quest stages) like this should be there.
 
Some chance and randomness are part of combat - is having even a tiny bit of it in quests that bad?
 
Just make reprocussions sensible. Quest faliure doesn't mean an end to everything.
You done 4 quests for the brotherhood and failed the 5th? Well, that shouldn't halt your progress.
You'd have to really screwing things up for a faction to kick you out completely.

Good point, however, I do believe that sometimes having the door shut in your face is OK. maybe you get one failure before the faction you work for labels you incompetent. Or it could vary by faction.

#14
Iyanga

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The problem is that there are not many good ways to fail a mission, but plenty of bad ones.

Just again in Mars: War Logs - you have three options to choose from, one is the "Everyone will be happy" result. Unfortunately, there is no way to know the right dialogue option. So whether you win or lose is rather random. I hate this.



#15
JFSOCC

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You can fail by not meeting your objectives. IE: "Save little timmy from drowning in the well" "timmy drowned, quest failed"

#16
Frenetic Pony

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I suppose an alternate ending to a quest could always be "you failed".

 

Might be interesting. In most every game out there you always succeed in everything (or die) or if you're a failure then it's planned for you and taken out of your control. Failure as an option hasn't really been explored I don't think.


Edited by Frenetic Pony, 25 May 2013 - 06:01 PM.

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#17
Lysen

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I always wondered what would happen if I 'failed' a GOAT in Fallout 3, or failed to save the father, or to stop the Enclave. Alas, modern games don't allow us this option: you will, indeed, succeed no matter what. And that's not a success at all.



#18
Carlo

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Excellent point by JFSOCC.  Actions should have consequences in an RPG and protagonists don't always win everything.  Those players who want to reload always can, but it adds greatly to the immersion factor when your decisions or actions don't always turn out 100% fabulous, but that's not a game-wrecker.

 

A variation of this in-game is having to make decisions that are complex and have both positive and negative repercussions.  The Witcher I thought did a particularly good job of this, for example.  But that type of decision-making play I don't think should be a substitution for not allowing failure in side quests or related NPC interactions (e.g. someone becomes your enemy or refuses to give you what you want).

 

Another variation on this is the death of companions.  In BG2 (both my run-throughs) I did my damnedest but just couldn't keep Aerie alive for the distance; she was perma-killed in dragon battles both times.  Having a companion die is certainly a failure and will result in failing any of their related quests (per the original topic), but again I felt it added to rather than detracted from my overall BG2 experience.  Salute the fallen, accept the loss, move on.


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#19
Darkpriest

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I sure want to be able to fail quests, which will then result with some in game consequences...

 

Maybe not every quest has to be like that, but surely I'd love to see some bigger quests with this kind of failure resutls


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#20
Rostere

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It's always boring when you fail something in a trivial way, on the road to an obvious objective. Most players will surely reload. On the other hand, it's great to fail with things unknowingly - for example if you think you've "completed" a quest, you might have finished it but missed or botched several parts of it.

 

To generalize the argument - it's boring with few outcomes. If the only acceptable outcome is success (like in most modern simplified games) it sucks. If there are two outcomes, success and failure, the game is made more interesting. Quests can the be interwoven so that completing some part of a quest will make you fail something else. Failing a quest might also have interesting consequences (see most old adventure games), where people become angry or disappointed with you, opening up new story possibilities.

 

Best of all is of course if there are several more ways to complete a quest, and you will never know if you've completed a quest in the "best" way - "best" preferably being in the opinion of the player. There is only the beginning and the end of a story sequence.


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