Fetch Quests and how would you spice it up?

Icenick

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When I think fetch quest I think Zelda Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. Im trying to think of a fun interactive system to use in my game.

I find it interesting when you have side quests that immerse you in the world instead of every NPC just saying "hey kill 10 goblins for me" (because reasons??).

The main issue I would try to change is the quests (especially when you know what to do) is that these key items just interact with one NPC and turns into a guided tour, and becomes stale and repetitive.
Step 1 find Key item
Step 2 turn in Key item to specific NPC
Step 3 receive new Key item and repeat with new NPC 10 more times.

In a more perfect game, maybe you find an item that you dont know what it does casually along the adventure and learn what it is or who is in search of said time. This would supplement the main story.

I think for me at least the goal of side quests is to explore otherwise mundane areas that you wouldn't set up a game around and enhance the lore of the world, while giving NPCs personalities and identities. Also would like the idea of choices do you help the blacksmith improve his skills via rare metal or do you use that metal to sell to the rebels or something lol.

I was playing around with an influence or Rep system but I feel it would be rather complex. So does anyone have any fun ideas or takes on fetch quests that become more impactful and doesnt turn you into a messenger?
 

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Have certain events trigger in the process of getting said items? It need not be related to that quest but can be used as an opportunity to further other quests/storylines.
 

VTDraws

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I agree with Frostorm, all I was really going to add was a bit more insight/detail:

A good way to shake up Fetch Quests is to have them go completely different to what the player thinks is going to happen. Hell, you could base an entire GAME on a single, seemingly really simple 'fetch quest' that goes horribly awry. The goal of the game remains 'fetch this Carrot' or something dumb like that, but the goal keeps getting moved around, blocked, etc.
Fetch quests that subvert your expectations are great.

Example, let's say a farmer really needs a specific species of carrot to start growing for their farm- not only to help with a food shortage crisis, but to help their farm start making money again. This special carrot breed grows incredibly fast when cared for right.
So, they send you to a specific location to find it. An enchanted forest, because of course it's in there.
All seems about your normal fare, except maybe as you're going through the forest, you start noticing some... strange activity. Glimpses into a story you're not part of. Hints of something going on that you're not privy to. And then you find... something you're not quite expecting.
There's the carrot you were sent for-... atop a... pedestal? I mean alright, you've seen weirder in ye olde 'typical fantasy rpg'. So you walk up to the pedestal, there's dramatic music and everything, and you go to take it, thinking 'I guess this is just a quirky game where the fetch quest wanted a little flare...'
But before you take the carrot from its place, the ground starts to shake, and suddenly caves out from under you. You fall deep, deep into a cavern of twists and turns, eventually sliding and landing on a massive plot of glowing moss. You look around and you're surrounded by... slimes? mole people? Who knows! But they've taken your carrot.
Turns out these people have decided to WORSHIP this carrot, and YOU CAN'T HAVE IT because HECK YOU. Oh also they're taking you prisoner because you tried to steal their object of adoration.
So now you're in mole people/slime/whatever jail and you have no carrot. Bummer. Better make friends with your cell-mate and plan a big ol' escape with the items you found in the forest!

Etc etc. The simple goal of 'get the carrot' has become an entire adventure on its own, and any other 'fetch quests' in this story could have less extreme, but still just as silly subversions to keep you on your toes. It doesn't have to be this extreme, but I hope you kinda get what I mean. Make a 'simple' task silly or unexpected, even in small ways, and you can make it a bit more interesting than 'go here, pick up thing, bring back thing, done.'


Hell, an even simpler little bit of polish? Make the fetch quest a bit more 'archaic.'
Don't make it a simple 'bring me this item: /gives exact description of what they need and send you to where you can perfectly find it/'
Make it more vague. Have them say 'I need a shovel', and when you look and look and look you just CAN'T find a shovel. But along the way, you find a metal pipe, a loop of rope, and a big shard of a giant acorn.
Mac-Gyver these things together and what can you get? A 'shovel'!
Let the PLAYER figure out what this NPC needs. Let the Player use their inventiveness and intuition to figure out the 'solution' to the problem.

It seems silly and simple, but the 'experience' or 'feel' is completely different for the player than just finding Item A or Item B to bring to someone.

Simply put, 'fetch quests' are boring if they don't engage the player's brain. Anything in a game is boring if you could shut off your brain and just 'do it' with no effort. Fetch Quests tend to be like that :p So I hope any of this could help scratch your mind a bit with this subject? Was fun to write out, regardless!

Cheers!
 

xDRAGOONx

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Fetch quests can be just fine as a starting point if they are varied in execution, basically the soultion is provided within the problem. Here's an example,
You get a fetch quest to pick up an item from one merchant and take it to another. After picking up the item but before dropping it off, it gets stolen by a thief. You could make it so that mission is failed and a new mission begins, one to re-retrieve the item from the thief. After tracking the thief you find it to be an orphan caught up in a gang of thieves being made to pick pockets to eat.

My point is that you can always use events within the quest to explore new angles beyond "get item" and "return item"

Create situations that need an explanation, then get creative with your explanations.
 

Icenick

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Have certain events trigger in the process of getting said items? It need not be related to that quest but can be used as an opportunity to further other quests/storylines.
Agreed but where does one draw a line and how much time do you spend writing and creating a side story for a simple fetch quest?

I agree with Frostorm, all I was really going to add was a bit more insight/detail:

A good way to shake up Fetch Quests is to have them go completely different to what the player thinks is going to happen. Hell, you could base an entire GAME on a single, seemingly really simple 'fetch quest' that goes horribly awry. The goal of the game remains 'fetch this Carrot' or something dumb like that, but the goal keeps getting moved around, blocked, etc.
Fetch quests that subvert your expectations are great.

Example, let's say a farmer really needs a specific species of carrot to start growing for their farm- not only to help with a food shortage crisis, but to help their farm start making money again. This special carrot breed grows incredibly fast when cared for right.
So, they send you to a specific location to find it. An enchanted forest, because of course it's in there.
All seems about your normal fare, except maybe as you're going through the forest, you start noticing some... strange activity. Glimpses into a story you're not part of. Hints of something going on that you're not privy to. And then you find... something you're not quite expecting.
There's the carrot you were sent for-... atop a... pedestal? I mean alright, you've seen weirder in ye olde 'typical fantasy rpg'. So you walk up to the pedestal, there's dramatic music and everything, and you go to take it, thinking 'I guess this is just a quirky game where the fetch quest wanted a little flare...'
But before you take the carrot from its place, the ground starts to shake, and suddenly caves out from under you. You fall deep, deep into a cavern of twists and turns, eventually sliding and landing on a massive plot of glowing moss. You look around and you're surrounded by... slimes? mole people? Who knows! But they've taken your carrot.
Turns out these people have decided to WORSHIP this carrot, and YOU CAN'T HAVE IT because HECK YOU. Oh also they're taking you prisoner because you tried to steal their object of adoration.
So now you're in mole people/slime/whatever jail and you have no carrot. Bummer. Better make friends with your cell-mate and plan a big ol' escape with the items you found in the forest!

Etc etc. The simple goal of 'get the carrot' has become an entire adventure on its own, and any other 'fetch quests' in this story could have less extreme, but still just as silly subversions to keep you on your toes. It doesn't have to be this extreme, but I hope you kinda get what I mean. Make a 'simple' task silly or unexpected, even in small ways, and you can make it a bit more interesting than 'go here, pick up thing, bring back thing, done.'


Hell, an even simpler little bit of polish? Make the fetch quest a bit more 'archaic.'
Don't make it a simple 'bring me this item: /gives exact description of what they need and send you to where you can perfectly find it/'
Make it more vague. Have them say 'I need a shovel', and when you look and look and look you just CAN'T find a shovel. But along the way, you find a metal pipe, a loop of rope, and a big shard of a giant acorn.
Mac-Gyver these things together and what can you get? A 'shovel'!
Let the PLAYER figure out what this NPC needs. Let the Player use their inventiveness and intuition to figure out the 'solution' to the problem.

It seems silly and simple, but the 'experience' or 'feel' is completely different for the player than just finding Item A or Item B to bring to someone.

Simply put, 'fetch quests' are boring if they don't engage the player's brain. Anything in a game is boring if you could shut off your brain and just 'do it' with no effort. Fetch Quests tend to be like that :p So I hope any of this could help scratch your mind a bit with this subject? Was fun to write out, regardless!

Cheers!
Awesome Thanks for taking the time to write it out, it was a fun read. I agree as well, changing the expectations is a great way to make it less boring.
Additionally the end the carrot quest has a fetch component, a puzzle in the form of escape and a combat when you have to finally flee. Having multiple elements in a side mission seems way more fun then deliver this or find this!

You actually gave me an idea and thats have a somewhat of a crafting system for these side quests.
To get the items required you need to gather components from finding key items in certain zones or farming monster kills to get another item.

Fetch quests can be just fine as a starting point if they are varied in execution, basically the soultion is provided within the problem. Here's an example,
You get a fetch quest to pick up an item from one merchant and take it to another. After picking up the item but before dropping it off, it gets stolen by a thief. You could make it so that mission is failed and a new mission begins, one to re-retrieve the item from the thief. After tracking the thief you find it to be an orphan caught up in a gang of thieves being made to pick pockets to eat.

My point is that you can always use events within the quest to explore new angles beyond "get item" and "return item"

Create situations that need an explanation, then get creative with your explanations.
Good point! I have a time system in my game, it would be fun to have specific outcomes based on when you decide to get around to this side quest.
A) Get the item as fast as possible and return it, leads to thieves taking it from the NPC that night.
B) Take too long, the thieves beat you to the punch and now you have to enter the lair to steal it.
C)Quickly get it but don't deliever it right away maybe it gets stolen from you.
Paths lead to the same end point but how you get there is different along the way.
 

nathanlink169

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Fetch Quests get a bit of a bad rep, and for good reason: they tend to be used as a lazy designers way to fill out content. However; that doesn't mean they are inherently flawed. When talking about these sorts of things, I like looking at games that do them correctly, and what we can potentially learn from these games. So I'm going to take from two games that do them right, in very different ways: The Witcher 3, and Shantae and the Pirates Curse.

In The Witcher, there are a lot of "go here, get thing, come back", or "get here, kill thing, come back" quests in the game. The thing that The Witcher gets right about the fetch quest is that it's never actually that simple. (Very minor spoilers for one Witcher 3 mission for the rest of this paragraph) One mission, I was told to go kill an undead that was haunting a well. Townspeople couldn't get clean drinking water anymore and they needed it go. I went there, and it wasn't as simple as just finding the undead: figuring out how it died and became an undead in the first place, and gathering up certain items that would let me "banish" the undead. This simple fetch quest has turned a little more complicated gameplay-wise, and a lot more complicated lore wise.

The lesson from this, I'd say, is that fetch quests can have a lot of lore around them that makes them worth doing, and grows the players understanding of the world and its inhabitants. This, combined with the fact that the quest can initially look like a basic fetch quest, but be a little more complicated once you get there, can add to the interest.

Shantae and the Pirates Curse is a metroidvania platformer, so this won't be a one-to-one comparison. It has many fetch quests, but oftentimes the reward for finishing a quest is actually what you need to fetch for another quest. It's the classic tale of someone who sold a paper clip on ebay, and managed to work their way up to a house. "This person needs some nuts: I gave the nuts to him, and he gave me some oil. Oh, this person needs some oil: I gave the oil to him and he gave me a doll. Oh, she need a doll: I gave her the doll and she gave me the key to the next dungeon".

The lesson from this, I'd say, is that fetch quests can be basic, if they are a part of a larger puzzle: potentially akin to the feeling of slowly unravelling a complicated knot in a rope. This is helped by the fact that all the characters in that game are quite charming and quirky, meaning you sort of forget how basic the puzzle actually was.

In conclusion: fetch quests can often be used as filler, but they don't really need to. They can be used as a part of a larger puzzle, they can shine a light aspects of the world the main story may not be able to, they can showcase some more quirky and out-of-the-box characters and themes (side quest themes don't have to match the main story themes), and they can be more than they appear to be when you initially get them.
 

Failivrin

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In The Witcher, there are a lot of "go here, get thing, come back", or "get here, kill thing, come back" quests in the game.
It's that "come back" part that makes me hate most fetch quests. The player should always be moving upward and onward. I also get annoyed by quests with unexpected surprises. Basically, when I accept a quest to catch a chicken for a farmer, I'm choosing to devote a short time to something not related to my immediate goals, in exchange for a fitting reward. If there's a surprise complication, like a thief stealing the chicken, which apparently lays golden eggs, I now realize I've been duped. The quest requires a long time investment, and the real reward is being withheld until I complete... who knows how many more steps? At the end of my time, I'll end up right back at the farmer's cottage and have to pick up where I left off.

I put that last part in bold because it's the main source of my frustration. If the quest ends in the same place it began (the same game location but also the same position in the main narrative arc), I feel like I've wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent pursuing my real objectives. The golden egg I got during that quest will probably become obsolete once I get through a couple more levels--and getting through a couple more levels should take about the same amount of time and effort I put into getting the golden egg.

If a quest ends in the same place it began, it should be short and simple, and the player should be able to complete it immediately without waiting for future events to unlock the necessary conditions. On the other hand, if a quest has multiple stages, each stage should be removed to a future point in the main narrative arc. For example...

You're on your way to the village of Yarrow when a farmer asks you to find his chicken which ran into the mountains. You find the chicken, but it's captured by a thief. You learn that the thief is headed towards the village of Yarrow--your original objective. Best of all, the farmer is going there to sell vegetables in the market. He can give you a ride so you don't have to travel on foot fighting monsters the whole way through the mountains which you've already visited. Now you're in Yarrow and instead of wondering around looking at quest boards, you already know there is a quest there waiting for you! You find the thief's gang in a tavern and brawl it out. Now you've got the chicken, and you can take it directly to the farmer in the market square. As an added bonus, clearing out the thieves' gang has opened more roads for travel. Through the whole quest, you've discovered more about the world and it's characters, and you've never deviated from your objective. This is the kind of quest I would like to see in games.
 

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Personally for me there has to be a great story behind it and a terrific reward that impacts the game. I think if the quest builds a character's background you can't go wrong either. If it impacts the ending that's a bonus.
 

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Adding heavy theming and relevant, exciting background information that gets revealed throughout the fetch quests (or any other quests), rather than being dumped on you at the beginning, can go a long way toward spicing it up.

Additionally, one thing that I really loved about a few of the fetch quests in Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky was how it required the player to use a bit of creativity and reasoning to figure out how to get the item required for the fetch quest. A fetch quest which asked for "a key I dropped somewhere in the harbor district" had the key visible (but not very obvious) underwater, and once you found where it was, a character mentions you'll need some way to grab it. The solution is to go get the nearby fishing pole that you used earlier in a fishing minigame. Another fetch quest was for a valuable urn stolen by a gentleman thief; the thief left a series of clues all around the city in a form of scavenger hunt. By deducing what landmark was being alluded to by each poem/clue and checking there, you'd eventually find the urn and be able to recover it for its owner (the giver of the fetch quest).
 

Tai_MT

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A "Fetch Quest" comes from the same place many of the most hated "Quests" come from.

Devs designing things backwards.

Here's why a Fetch Quest exists:
1. "I have a piece of loot I want to get to the player. How do I do that?"
2. "I need to have a quest in here somewhere for content, what's easy to do without much story?"
3. "I need the players to gain some XP to level up and grinding monsters is boring. Fetch Quests aren't as boring because they're quests".

What's the commonality?

They're designed backwards. This is bad, you want to avoid designing anything in your game backwards.

What do I mean by designed backwards?

These are things the devs want to give to the players and then they decide a Quest is the best way to do it. That's not how you design quests. After all, you're just using your Quest at that point as an excuse for delivering rewards to your player.

Here's how a dev SHOULD be designing a quest:
1. Do you have a story you want to tell? If no, you don't need a Quest. If yes, turn your story into a Quest.
2. Decide all the ways the player should be able to interact with the story you're telling. Can they make choices? Can they solve the Quest in a number of different ways? Is it linear? Write the outline for all possible choices and outcomes.
3. Create a satisfying conclusion to the quest that accounts for everything the player did.
4. Decide on a reward for the Quest based on the amount of time and effort the player had to put into the Quest to complete it.

This is how you design Quests. If you design them this way, you'll never create a "kill quest" or a "fetch quest". Why? Because you're using Quests to TELL STORIES now instead of as DELIVERY SYSTEMS FOR REWARDS (this is one of the reasons why MMORPG's have some of the absolute worst Quest content in existence. They're designing quests backwards and using them as delivery systems for rewards).

You know what else?

It's okay to have very few, if any, side quests in a game. Nobody is going to critique an RPG and say, "there's not enough side quests in the game". It is better to have no sidequests than to have hundreds that are boring, repetitive, and annoying.

Your sidequests should be telling a story of some kind. They should be a story you want to tell to the player.

If you just want to give a player an item or experience or create a lot of content... just deliver it through your monster slaying and dungeon clearing. There's no need to have Quests serving the same role as stabbing monsters in the face or killing the bosses at the end of dungeons. You've already got a system for delivering rewards, you don't need to have a secondary one on top of it to do the exact same redundant task.
 

zeroace074

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It's that "come back" part that makes me hate most fetch quests. The player should always be moving upward and onward. I also get annoyed by quests with unexpected surprises. Basically, when I accept a quest to catch a chicken for a farmer, I'm choosing to devote a short time to something not related to my immediate goals, in exchange for a fitting reward. If there's a surprise complication, like a thief stealing the chicken, which apparently lays golden eggs, I now realize I've been duped. The quest requires a long time investment, and the real reward is being withheld until I complete... who knows how many more steps? At the end of my time, I'll end up right back at the farmer's cottage and have to pick up where I left off.

I put that last part in bold because it's the main source of my frustration. If the quest ends in the same place it began (the same game location but also the same position in the main narrative arc), I feel like I've wasted a lot of time that could have been better spent pursuing my real objectives. The golden egg I got during that quest will probably become obsolete once I get through a couple more levels--and getting through a couple more levels should take about the same amount of time and effort I put into getting the golden egg.

If a quest ends in the same place it began, it should be short and simple, and the player should be able to complete it immediately without waiting for future events to unlock the necessary conditions. On the other hand, if a quest has multiple stages, each stage should be removed to a future point in the main narrative arc. For example...

You're on your way to the village of Yarrow when a farmer asks you to find his chicken which ran into the mountains. You find the chicken, but it's captured by a thief. You learn that the thief is headed towards the village of Yarrow--your original objective. Best of all, the farmer is going there to sell vegetables in the market. He can give you a ride so you don't have to travel on foot fighting monsters the whole way through the mountains which you've already visited. Now you're in Yarrow and instead of wondering around looking at quest boards, you already know there is a quest there waiting for you! You find the thief's gang in a tavern and brawl it out. Now you've got the chicken, and you can take it directly to the farmer in the market square. As an added bonus, clearing out the thieves' gang has opened more roads for travel. Through the whole quest, you've discovered more about the world and it's characters, and you've never deviated from your objective. This is the kind of quest I would like to see in games.
This is in my opinion the best way of spicing it up, since it makes the side quest a part of the main game itself instead of some kind of chore with a bonus. It grants more satisfaction to the player upon completion as they're completing this side quest along with the main narrative at the same time, whereas with standard side quests, although you can make them interesting and fun, don't contribute to the reason why the player picked up your game in the first place. This even adds some form of replayability to your game - do you choose to find the farmers chicken so you can get a ride to the next village where the theives took it, or do you fight the monsters in the mountains and get there on foot? It allows players to choose whichever they find more fun, all while working alongside the main story AND granting the player the feeling of completing a quest and being rewarded.
 

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@Tai_MT I REALLY like that breakdown of why sidequests exist (and why they should exist instead). To sum it up, I might say that the reason for creating any good sidequest has to be the Journey, and not the Destination. :D

I'd like to add on that I feel "do you have a gameplay experience you want to provide your player" can also be a worthy reason outside of "do you have a story you want to tell", and if that gameplay experience doesn't fit neatly into the core of the Main Quest (and its core gameplay loops), then it might be better to offer it up as a sidequest rather than as a tacked-on mechanic. I'm not totally sure you'll agree with me here, but I feel like this approach has seen a lot of success in WRPG's in particular.
 

Tai_MT

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@Wavelength I think it sort of depends. I tend to lump those in with "a story to tell". If you mean it in a way of introducing a completely new game mechanic that you may never see or use again... Then, it may be "hit or miss" with players. A story is more easily "ignored" by players than the mechanics of how you complete a quest, after all.

But, Quests should be delivered for the sake of themselves and not for the sake of Loot Delivery Systems. You don't necessarily need to tell a story with each Quest, but having a reason to give a Sidequest beyond "give player item, give player XP, or give player content" is the way to deliver a Sidequest. You'll avoid a lot of the usual "bad sidequests" that way. You'll have very few "Fetch Quests" as a result.
 

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@Tai_MT Yeah, I find myself agreeing with your point of view completely here (and good point about the player's ability to "phase out" mechanics vs. dialogue). I've played a lot of grindy games where looking forward to a cool new reward (usually a new skill, class, or character) made a really boring, dumb, repetitive objective less painful and even a little bit memorable - but I would have been much happier if I could have just skipped the middleman and spent those hours laying in bed daydreaming creatively, instead of performing some menial virtual task over and over and then getting the reward! Or, you know, playing through gameplay and story that was actually compelling on its own merits.
 

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I can think of two ways off hand: Adding weight and seamless inclusions
So for weight, give the player choice in the matter and have it impact something other than pushing forward the story. So, they can choose how they solve the quest and/or can choose if they finish it. Perhaps it'll give them a different end, but it's better than just "You need to do this before you can move forward."
Alternatively (or as well), a seamless inclusion would be making it feel less of an after thought. While some people may ask "Can you get me ____" they're just as likely (or even more so) to inform you about what they like/need/are missing, which you can find later in the game and take it back to them. I would warn to be careful about how many fetch quests you have in a row, though. Variety is the spice of life.
 

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I agree with @Tai_MT that quests should be there to introduce parts of the story and not solely to distribute loot. Dungeon clearing is already a huge part of RPGs and if clearing a dungeon is part of a fetch quest, whats the point of the actual quest-giver step. Think of the way Legend of Zelda handled this after A Link to the Past, fetch quests are laid out clearly and award the player for progress. Instead of a fetch quest to retrieve 1 item and return it, set the player looking for recurring items and have a merchant in each town that will update and reward progress. This can drive the player to explore every inch of your map, but beware, if you dont have a dedicated visual cue to notify the player of the item from a distance, exploration will become tedious.

Think about the relevance of the quest reward, is it a unique item that can only be obtained through this specific quest, or are you giving the player an item that can be purchased at a shop, either now or later in the game? If you're offering items that can be purchased, just offer currency instead.

Also, if you're using a quest log/tracker, letting the player know the reward for minor quests allows them to better choose how to spend their time playing your game. Obviously, you'll still want to hide the reward for major quests, driving the mystery and making them stand out that much more against the minor quests.
 

Icenick

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Tai_MT, thanks for chiming in and sharing a very clear and elaborate opinion. Its nice to be reminded of things that are pretty basic but we can forget because as we know making a game alone has you doing every aspect of it and we forget how things sometimes should be.

I agree with what you said, along with most of the other members who brought their opinions :).

I think for me going forward side quests will be either very story driven, which works great because I want my NPCs to feel like they don't just stand at the shop 24/7 waiting for our heroes to buy and sell loot. It is a great chance to introduce minor characters and give them personality and humanise them a bit.
Failing that I will also have some side quests have multiple options and endings, nothing too impact. I liked the idea from the witcher 3 where instead of kill this mob, you are asked to figure out how to kill it.

Welcoming feedback: Im working on my first side quest and trying to fine tune the detains but it will be a quest chain that involves the mayor of the town is caught out in his cottage just outside city, when cultists invade the area (not the city), blocking off the safe passage for the mayor to return, the guards barricade the path to protect the city.

An NPC will give you the mission but along the way you will be introduced to a mercenary hired to find the mayor, he will be a demon hunter and specialise in supernatural foes. He will temporary join your party.

The mayor will be imprisoned and to free him youll need a key or something. He also selflessly begs the player to ignore saving him and tells you the cultist just took his wife and to save him.
A choice is given to find the key or go save the wife.
A) If you save the wife, the mayor will die and you will forfeit the gold (will gain an equal reward elsewhere, I dont want players to pick choices based on loot) the first NPC hired you for, causing the NPC to become the new mayor. Opening a story line where the wife was corrupted by cultists and will later try to kill you.
B) If you go and get the key to free the mayor, he will live and continue being the mayor, you get the initial gold reward. The mayor will resent you and no longer give you quests as he wants nothing more to do with you. Opening a quest line very similar to (A) but deals with NINJAS! and a different NPC starts it.

Moving towards the cottage will reveal a summoning ritual for a powerful demon, the mercenary has knowledge and gives you the choice of finding the components to banish this demon instantly, or a very tough straight forward battle against the cultists and the master demon.

Im not sure if I want to expand on this or if this is enough to deal with.

Im going to be using a time system for quests and side quests to prompt the player, if you don't complete the boss fight by a certain time the wife will surely die after all they did just take her and realistically wont just wait all day until you barge in. Im not sure if I want an option 3 where if you play perfectly you can save both. I find that 2 choices are already hard enough.
 

duty

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The problem with fetch quests in MMOs and some other titles is that they're not special. You find a handful of them at every milestone in the game. The quest board that's in every town with a variation on the same few fetch missions makes them common, and therefore less interesting.

Don't overuse the formula. Limit your fetch quests. Do not make them regular occurrences.

Don't make the fetch quests obvious. Unless it's core to the progression of the plot, place the fetch quest giver off the beaten path.

Make the reward worth the player's while. Getting something for some random NPC isn't very exciting. What's Jane Doe got to offer you that you can't get anywhere else?

Now, if the fetch quest is coming from a famous wizard, or blacksmith, or a raspy voice inside a coffin inside an ancient temple hidden in the woods - you can pretty much guarantee the result will be interesting.

Tease the quest before it's given. Maybe the player keeps running across mysterious altars, picks up torn pages from a book, occasionally sees a unique enemy in battle, or otherwise finds something that's interactive with no obvious purpose. This builds a bit of suspense and curiosity, and gets the player invested in the quest before it has even begun.

Build shortcuts. There should be a relatively quick path back to the quest giver, or a convenient method to turn in the quest once completed. Put a warp point by the quest givers location, or have multiple convenient locations where it can be turned in.
 

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