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Demon Hunter

Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 546
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:24 pm    Post subject: Journal System [quote]

So I'm finally working on the "Quest Journal" system (been putting it off for too long) for my game. The easiest approach is, of course, to crib from other games and mimic their functionality.

The problem is that I've never been overwhelmed by the awesomeness of any other game's quest journal system. And - well, I'm actually not getting warm fuzzies about calling it a "quest journal" either, as the term is too limiting. I was never too keen on how Neverwinter Night's journal really compartmentalized the quests, though the functionality has been serving a little bit as my mental template. But I don't necessarily want to go overboard into a Morrowind-style journal that (for me) felt almost impossible to use because it was too full of stuff.

So I'm trying to figure out how best to organize and use the journal for the game. Some of my goals (and I'm not committing to any of these - or even if they'll remain goals as they get re-thought out):

The journal is organized by headings. The headings could be the name of a quest, or the name of some other major mystery / event / storyline item. In the case of a quest, there is an option to have the heading "resolved" and filtered out. All of the headings will appear in a list in the "contents" page of the quest journal.

Under each heading there are notes, each of which is a line of text (well, the line could be a paragraph, but I'm thinking of lines). I'm toying with the idea of some notes have unique identifiers and a priority associated with them. When two notes have the same identifier, the higher-priority note replaces the previous note. For example - in the pilot, once it is discovered that the eyes of the statue have already been stolen, the "goal" of the quest necessarily changes. It might be useful to have that note in the notebook change to reflect the updated situation.

I'd like to include user-created notes as well. Even user-created headings. Though that might also require the ability to delete notes, delete headings, etc... more overhead that's more of a UI problem than anything else.

So what are your thoughts? What would you like to see in an RPG journal / Quest journal system?

(This was cross-posted at Rampant Games as well)
Tales of the Rampant Coyote - Old-School Game Developer talks Indie Games, RPGs, and the Games Biz
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Joined: 20 Jun 2002
Posts: 1731
Location: Cedar Bluff, VA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:06 pm    Post subject: [quote]

Basically the game should keep track of things the player knows about, and let them just click on the name of a thing when they see it (hyperlink system) to edit its entry. There should be a bullet system for adding multiple notes on the same topic. The player should not have to resort to creating their own system, because then they will put off making notes until they are certain of how they want to go about it.

I would add a script command to load new topics into the journal. That way you could direct an NPC to talk about something, and have it enable the player to take notes about it at the same time. You might also doing it kinda Facebook like, too, where you get real-time notifications about new entries. Xenosaga did a good job of that in the first game, as a I recall, but it still failed to get the player's attention usually.
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Rainer Deyke
Demon Hunter

Joined: 05 Jun 2002
Posts: 672

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:41 am    Post subject: [quote]

I've never enjoyed spending time in a quest journal, and I don't think that's because they are all badly designed. Time spent in the quest journal is time not spent actually playing the game. In the rare cases where I feel the need to take notes, I generally prefer pen and paper.

Above all, keep it simple and ergonomic.
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Mandrake's Little Slap Bitch

Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 69
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:52 am    Post subject: [quote]

I agree with Rainer - I think the "keep it simple" approach is best. The quest journal should really only be an answer to the question of "what did that NPC tell me to do when I last played two weeks ago?"

Of course, your game in particular allows for some interesting possibilities. You could write the log entries from the perspective of one of the Frayed Knights and have them offer a humorously skewed version of events, emphasizing how they're the hero and the other three would be lost without them, etc.

Your quest journal could be much more fun to read than usual =)
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Demon Hunter

Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 546
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:11 am    Post subject: [quote]

I'm already thinking of adding doodles to the margin. Just to keep it fun. :)

But yeah - simple. I will need to keep that in mind when the desire for feature creep surges... :)
Tales of the Rampant Coyote - Old-School Game Developer talks Indie Games, RPGs, and the Games Biz
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