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Player-Made Quests: How It's Done
A how-to for all those who would like to run a quest in the World of Warcraft.
Last updated July 30, 2007 @ 10:38:43AM
Viewed 2971 times

Player-Made Quests: How It's Done

There has been a lot of interest in the player-made quests that I hold during the Sleeper Cartel server events, and I thought that I would write up an article that explains a little bit of the process I go through and some of the tools I use to create and manage these quests.

First off, I use no game exploits or ?hacks? to run these quests, and any add-ons I?ve ever used are legal within the game ? the quests are all facilitated by objects and functions already in-game. I have learned to work with what the game has built-in rather than struggling against it.

Here is a list of the things this article will cover:

1. Imagination: Where Your Mind Can Lead You (And Where it Can?t)
2. What Will I Need?
3. Honing Your People Skills (or, Gathering A Cast)
4. To Script or Not To Script
5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
6. Rules of the Game
7. Showtime!
8. Closing Words

1. Imagination: Where Your Mind Can Lead You (And Where it Can?t)
There are a lot of things to consider when you?re planning your quest. First, is your quest part of a larger guild event that has a theme of its own, or is it a ?stand-alone? quest that will be the only event you (or your guild) is hosting? If you?re part of a larger guild event, you want to try and theme your quest along the same lines as the large event. Use that as your starting point when thinking about the plot and activities your quest will contain. If you?re going to host the quest either just for your guild or as a single event hosted by your guild (not a full party, but the guild hosts the quest), you have a little more freedom with your quest plot.

Yes, your quest has to have a plot. About 95% of the quests I have created have been as a part of a larger guild event, therefore, I will use that as an example. The Sleeper Cartel hosted ?The Sleeper Supremacy? in March 2007, which was a spy-themed party. I thought about the theme of the party, and all the directions a quest could go, and settled on a spy-themed quest to match the theme of the party. The plot developed out of the theme; stolen documents, double agents, secret passwords, and high intrigue. The plot is important to the quest to give players the feeling that there is a point to your activity. Yes, you can say, This is a scavenger hunt, bring me back X, Y and Z and you get a prize. It?s much more fun, though, if you conceal the scavenger hunt within a plot, such as If I don?t get these items I will surely perish! Bring me X, Y and Z so that I may create a magic potion!

Even though your imagination is the key to creating a good plot for your quest, you have to remember that you are working within the confines of an established game. There are things you can and can?t do within the Terms of Use as well as the limitations of the items and locations within the game. The important thing, however, is the creative use of those items and locations and their restrictions. Don?t look at them as hindrances to be overcome, but challenges to either you or your players, and a chance to make your quest a bit more interesting.

2. What Will I Need?
The list of materials that you will need for your quests can vary greatly. I have hosted quests that required nothing more than the copy of a mail handed out to players, and I have hosted quests that require a whole list of items. In developing your plot, think about the amount of time and bag space you have to devote to farming items and storing them for use in your quest.

The best advice I have for collecting items for a quest are:
A. Choose items that fit the theme of your plot and / or guild event;
B. Choose items that are stackable to maximize bag space; and
C. Choose items that are easy to farm, yet not easily accessible to the quest players.

You may be able to get your items to fit all of these suggestions some of the time, but don?t fret if they don?t fit all these suggestions every time. If you find that perfect item for your quest plot, but it isn?t stackable and you?re willing to sacrifice the bag space, use it!

Remember, also, that costumes make the play, so when considering items needed for your quest, think about what you and your cast members (see next section for more information on selecting a cast) will wear while you?re holding your quest. A good costume that goes along with the theme of your guild event and the plot of your quest will make the quest feel like a ?real? quest.

Also, there has to be some incentive (besides the fact that it?s just plain fun) for players to actually participate in the quest. Think about what quest rewards from the game application are for players who at the mid-range (35 ? 55) and then double that. I generally give a prize of 2 to 3 gold for completing the quest. Make sure that if you plan on offering a ?quest reward? that you either personally have it, or that your guild bank / leader will sponsor your quest.

3. Honing Your People Skills (or, Gathering A Cast)
While it is possible to host a quest without any ?helpers? at all, things will go much smoother if you have at least one volunteer to help keep the quest going and pick up the ball if the unthinkable happens while you?re hosting your quest ? a disconnect. Also, a good quest can become a great quest if you utilize your most precious ?items? ? your guild members. You will find that people will be helpful and can really enjoy taking part in your quest if you just ask nicely. Post a request for volunteers on your guild forums. Ask for volunteers in guild chat. You?ll be surprised at the response you?ll get.

When looking for a cast and posting your request for volunteers, make sure you post what will be involved in volunteering as a cast member (unless you are hosting your quest for your guild members; in this case, request that your prospective volunteers to whisper you in-game for details). If you want people to be involved as cast members, they need information so that they understand what they?re getting into by taking part in the quest you?re hosting. Make sure you impress on them that they may be taken away from other activities the guild is hosting (if your quest is part of a larger event), they may be required to wear costumes different than the rest of the guild, and that you are counting on them to be there at the appointed time and place. If you feel you need them, you might recruit ?understudies? for your cast. These are people who, if your original cast can?t make it to the event / quest, will step up and take the place of your missing cast members. I, personally, have never had to use understudies.

If you?re planning on hosting a quest, chances are you know your guild members pretty well and already have people in mind for your cast. You know who is and isn?t trustworthy, and who you can count on to be there when you need them. If its getting near the date of your quest and you don?t have enough people who have signed up to volunteer, go directly to the source; send whispers to the people you know and trust in-guild and personally request their assistance with your quest.

4. To Script or Not To Script
A lot of the success of your quest may hinge on one small detail ? whether or not you choose to ?script? the quest. Will your volunteers have anything to say to the players? Will you say anything? How will you convey your plot to your players? All these are questions you must ask yourself prior to your first practice (see below for more information on practicing your quest) and that you must have a firm answer for. It?s wonderful if you and your cast know exactly what the plot of the quest is, but unless you?re able to convey that plot to your players they will end up confused and unsure of what is going on. There are a couple of ways to get your plot across:

A. A saved mail that briefly outlines the plot and what you want the player to do (most effective when the quest hosts? name is on the mail);
B. /Say and /Yell (/say is less disruptive if your quest is part of a larger guild event) that outlines the quest (most effective when used in a macro); and
C. A macro-driven /whisper that will convey the plot and point of your quest.

All three of these methods work well on their own, but I have found that using a combination of these works best. Try out different configurations, use what you like, throw out what you don?t, or come up with a new method for conveying your plot.

If you choose to have your cast help you convey your plot through /says or /whispers, it is your responsibility to script the quest. Make sure you get them their ?parts? in a timely fashion so that your cast members have ample time to set up their own macros. Also, it is your responsibility to describe to your cast members in what fashion you expect them to use their parts. Must they wait for the player to speak to them first? Do they automatically send the /whisper or /say upon seeing the player? Explain all this to them when you send them the text for their part.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
How important is practice in hosting your quest? Well, let?s think about that. What you are doing, as a quest host, is essentially producing a play within the World of Warcraft environment. You are the director and (usually) the star of the show, surrounded by cast members. Would a Broadway-style play go into opening night without at least one practice? Nooooo?.and neither should you.

To make sure your cast members know exactly where to stand, exactly what to say, and exactly what to wear, you should try to have at least one dress rehearsal. If you are hosting your quest as part of a larger guild event, ask your guild to be your quest players and ask your cast members to perform their roles at least once before the actual guild event is scheduled to happen. Believe me ? it will help you to work out any bugs, bottlenecks, vague script sections (where players are unsure what to do next) and a myriad of other problems that can come up unexpected.

If you?re not able to get the guild together (not to mention your cast) for a practice run, try to get with each cast member on a one-on-one basis during the week before your quest is scheduled and run through their parts with them individually. Show them where to stand, have them try on their costume, and test out their macros / lines with you. This doesn?t guarantee that problems won?t pop up during the actual event, but at least both you and your cast members will know what to expect.

6. Rules of the Game
You have your quest idea. It fits the theme of your guild?s event; you?ve selected your costumes, items and cast members. You?ve had a practice run with your cast members, worked out the kinks, and you?re ready to hold the event. Now, what about the rules of your quest?

It is your responsibility to establish the rules for the quest you are hosting prior to the beginning of your event. Some things to consider are:

A. Is the quest repeatable?
B. Can a group participate in the quest, or only individuals?
C. What happens if a player ?cheats??
D. How will you handle unruly or disruptive players?
E. What will be required for a ?completed quest? and how will you know for sure every player has played by the rules?

Make sure that you have your rules firmly in place prior to the night of your event, and make sure that you communicate the rules to your cast. Make sure your cast understands the rules, and make it clear to them why certain rules are in place. Charge your cast with helping you to enforce the rules; remember, it is either your personal gold or the guild?s gold on the line here. Make sure everyone has a fair chance to play, and plays fair.

7. Showtime!
Everything and everyone is in place. The cast is wearing what they?re supposed to, have the items they need, know their lines, know the rules, and you?re ready to start. How do you, the quest host, manage the event and keep it from becoming utter pandemonium? Here are a few of the methods I have used in the past that seem to work well for ?night-of? quest management.

Note: Anyone who has ever volunteered for one of my quests as a cast member will tell you, I get highly stressed, very cranky, and tend to not remember what I?ve done after the quest is over. This is what I?ve gleaned from their recollections of the quests.

First, start a raid group separate from the guild event (if your quest is part of a larger guild event) so that your on-the-fly instructions to your cast don?t get lost among other chatter, and so that you can make use of the Raid Warning channel to give instructions.

Utilize either TeamSpeak (TS) or Vent (V), and get in a private channel with your cast members. Use this to tell them the names of characters that are playing the quest so that they know who to expect coming their way. If your quest requires assigning players to certain cast members, use of both the Raid Warning channel in conjunction with TS / V can ease understanding for both you and your cast members.

Quest players should not be invited to your quest raid group or be in your channel on TS / V. There are only certain circumstances (such as a player-ran escort-type quest) where players will be invited to the raid group; they should never be in your TS / V channel.

8. Closing Words
I hope that this little article has helped those of you who were interested in running a quest. I?m sure I?ve missed something, and I?ll probably come up with some new information after I do my next quest, but for the time being, this is all the information I have on running a player-created quest.

If you have any questions on specific sections of this article, please feel free to respond to this thread or email me at Callistana(dot)Perenolde(at)Gmail(dot)com. I?ll be happy to answer if I can!

See also, How It's Done II, for a case study of "The Sleeper Identity" quest.

(Cross reference to WoW GR post: Link)
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