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Colony Ship RPG Update #4: Main Quest Design, Progress Report

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Colony Ship RPG Update #4: Main Quest Design, Progress Report

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 22 April 2016, 16:21:28

Tags: Colony Ship RPG; Iron Tower Studios; Vault Dweller

Vault Dweller has published a new monthly development update for his upcoming Colony Ship RPG. This one is an extended pontification on the design of the game's main quest. Unsurprisingly, it's extremely ambitious, and seeks to address some of the complaints people had about Age of Decadence:

There are many different ways to construct a main quest in an RPG and every studio uses a different set of building blocks reflecting their own preferences and goals. We’re all about Choices & Consequences, which means 3 key types of choices:
  • Multiple quest solutions (you should be able to go through the game in a different manner if you decide to replay it with a different character)
  • Narrative choices (craft your own story by making different choices and reaping different consequences)
  • Moral choices (aka ‘you should not be forced to play a hero obsessed with helping people’)
Needless to say, there is a lot of work involved in supporting these choices and giving them depth. Narrative choices require multiple factions, a branching main quest, and multiple endings; moral choices – evil/opportunistic bastard path, etc.

Our main quest’s building blocks aren’t that different from the ones we used in AoD...
  • 3-4 factions
  • Branching main quest (at some point you choices should take you into different directions)
  • At least 5-6 vastly different endings
... but we’ll use them in a very different way and craft a very different experience.

Before we talk about the CSG’s main quest design, let’s talk about the AoD’s main quest to illustrate some points without spoiling anything.

The main quest started vague – "go I know not where, bring back I know not what", and then the faction quests took over as the meat of the game. Essentially, the game wasn’t about finding the temple but instead working for the factions and slowly uncovering what happened in the past. By the time you’ve visited all 3 cities and learned what you can about the factions, the war, and the gods, you know where the temple is and you're ready to make your choice. That fairly important choice affects the ending slides, but not gameplay because the game is almost over at this point.

Naturally, we want to do better. So in the CSG we’ll get rid of the vagueness, move the main quest to the center stage, push the factions’ quests back, and allow you to make key choices earlier and thus enjoy the consequences earlier.

It will start simple – while scavenging you stumble upon something clearly valuable, a long-forgotten device that wasn’t meant to be used until the ship lands (but can be used in-flight). Not being an expert on such things, you need to know exactly what this thing is to figure out what one of the factions will pay for it, which is a good way to introduce you to the three main factions in Act 1, whereas in AoD the Noble Houses were introduced one Act at a time for storytelling reasons (escalating events).

Once you know what that device is (at about 30% of the game), you’ll offer it to the faction of your choice, at which point your relationship with the other factions will go down, introducing an aspect we didn’t really touch in AoD – factions acting against you, attacking your base of operations, and turning locations under their influence against you, which will boost replayability.

At about 70% of the game, you might realize (via learning more about the ship if you’re smart enough) that what you’re doing might not necessary be what’s best for the ship (or you personally) and get an option to do things in a very different, "fuck all factions" way. The remaining 30% of the game will be dedicated to each path within this fork, presenting different challenges and choices. So far, that’s 3 'working for a faction' paths, 3 'fuck 'em' paths, and 7 different endings without counting permutations.

This way you’ll get to play through your key decisions, instead of being told about what happened next in the slides. Obviously, the slides will still be there but gameplay-to-slides ratio will be different.​

Also included in the update is a short report on the progress of the game's development. VD thinks he can conclude preproduction by March 2017, leaving 3 years for actual development.

There are 56 comments on Colony Ship RPG Update #4: Main Quest Design, Progress Report

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