4 Characteristics of Compelling Quests


Through gamifying my goals I’ve discovered there’s more to setting up a quest than calling your ‘To Do’ list or some big future goal a quest. Here are 4 characteristics I think make up a compelling quest design.

1. Quest Giver

Who are they, what is their story, what is your relationship to them and why do they need your help?

Every quest starts with a quest giver, whether its the citizen in distress, the king who needs a hero or the friendly farmer who wants help with his crop. These characters and the way they convey what they need to us matter.

In gamified goals, maybe the quest giver is really you, but how are doing this. Write out your intent or challenge to yourself. Write out why it is you want it to be completed and importantly at the end offer yourself the choice.

“Quest accept?”

2. Multi-staged

Some quests might only be a simple go ‘do this, get this’ single staged exchange, but many we know have more than meets the eye.

That doesn’t mean you write the entire list of of tasks that complete the quest all out in one great big list. Especially when its a big job, splitting the jobs down into the smallest acceptable grouping, start with the simplest and mix it up.

I discovered this whilst creating my Follow 150 quest for twitter. Originally splitting it down in simple increments of 10,25,100 and quickly lost interest. This is where the flow described in my A to Z post on Epic wins and Epic meaning, comes practically into play.

3. Meaningful Choices

All games offer us choices and this level of autonomy is vital to our engagement with the game.

The choices start with whether I do the quest or not. Even when the quest in part of the main story and therefore has to be completed. There can be choice of do it now or later. Some people enjoy doing all the side quests and discovering hidden secrets of the game before touching the main quest-line.

Beyond these two basic choices, however, creating branching possibilities in a quest can be extremely important for player engagement. Shall I spare the life of the thief or kill him? Can I collect the ingredients for the potion by buying it, hunting for it or stealing it? These are the varied choices and different turns that reinforce my feeling of autonomy during a quest line.

4. Reward

What am I going to get in return? Quests have rewards, if we’re going to do something for the quest giver, we expect something in return. However, through the varied approaches for creating this quest reward set-up our motivation can vary hugely.

For my R post I’ll be exploring in more detail some of these different approaches to rewards and how this relates to our extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

4 thoughts on “4 Characteristics of Compelling Quests

    • AverageJoey

      Thanks. I’m sure I could learn a lot from DMs about how they create and sustain compelling quests for players. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. My husband plays video games regularly and I occasionally play with him so I am quite familiar with the gaming quest. :) I enjoy reaching goals in games and checking things off a virtual “list.” :)

    Stopping by from the A to Z!

    • AverageJoey

      Me too Jamie. I’ve been playing around with making my virtual list more my real life list lately, without losing that questing enjoyable set-up. Thanks for stopping by.

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