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Interactive Fiction: A History of Questing

Discussion in 'Fiction Discussion' started by Ralson, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. Exactly what's been said. Hell, I'll say this, there are even Tiers like Quests are fighting games with existing franchises.

    Like, Warhammer and Worm automatically get you, like, 10 voters minimum, as long as you can put pen to paper at a moderate competence or higher.

    Things below that tier maybe get a few automatic voters.

    Things below that are "Original content" and you'll be desperately scrounging up voters unless you have a prior reputation as an awesome QM, in which case, well...at this point, torroar (to use an example) for instance could pick any sort of Quest they wanted and start running it and probably get dozens of people voting out of their knowledge that anything he does is gonna be good.
     
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  2. Avalanche

    Avalanche Atypical Netizen

    Location:
    Australia
    A very attention grabbing title can basically annul the stigma of original setting if you don't mind the indignity. :whistle:
     
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  3. I'd be more willing to believe you if Strike Witch Quest's universe hadn't done the whole multiple canon quests and side stories which both interact and set up future events for each other thing first.
     
  4. Ralson

    Ralson Horrible Cat

    It's difficult to piece together the details of the history of a place where all posts were deleted in a day, but to the best of my ability to determine, Ruby Quest was the genre namer.

    However, someone made an MSPA reference and the GM caught it, so that must've been an influence.
     
  5. Eukie

    Eukie Powered by furious Canadian redheads Moderator

    To elaborate on some points here. Early D&D was a game about stealing treasure, and you hired people to steal treasure for you. The average character could hire four NPCs to help them out, and even the most uncharismatic adventurer could hire at least one. The rules note: "However it is likely that players will be desirous of acquiring a regular entourage of various character types, monsters, and an army of some form."

    I suspect for PQ that it was as much the tradition of D&D-derived computer roleplaying games of having PC-type NPCs join the Player Character in a party, though. D&D-based computer RPGs tended to give the player command over a party comprising their own character (who made all the decisions), and a number of other NPCs that served the role of all the other people at the table. Translating this concept to a play-by-post RPG, the "player" character became surrounded by other PC-style characters that, because of all the write-ins, ended up being basically handed to the players.
     
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  6. DarkLight140

    DarkLight140 Credit to Team

    This analysis was interesting, although it is off in a few particulars- most jarringly to me, while /tg/ became quite hostile to quests for quite a while, at no point that I can recall did it actively suppress all quest content as is said here. In fact, I ran a short-lived but fairly successful quest there in mid-2009 and another in very early 2010, which according to the image tracking quest communities had virtually no quest activity on /tg/ at all.

    Actually, I'd tried my own hand at making a history of quests a few years back in the form of an image timeline by start date, listing out all quests with, I believe, five or more threads or particular quality/interest, which has since been updated occasionally by interested parties. (Actually, that first one was one of the first updated versions as I can't find the original, which only went through September 2010.) It's largely /tg/-specific as that was the center of my interests at the time; it just notes the /tgchan/ split instead of listing anything going on there, for example, and its depiction of the hilariously large number of anime CYOAs going on for a while on /a/ (which trended very strongly toward resembling visual novels; no write-ins during a period when text questing on /tg/ was almost universally freeform) is woefully incomplete.

    Still, the point here is that while there were severe community issues on /tg/ and 4chan in general which drove off significant portions of the population and made questing difficult, overall the 2009-2010 period was a time of growth for quests there even if they didn't experience their later unhindered nigh-domination of the board. Artquests were rare to the point of near-nonexistence after mid-2009 (yellow backing on the first image I linked indicates that a quest was largely or entirely text, so you can track their rarity easily for that period), but text quests on /tg/ underwent a lot of the evolution that this essay describes during the period when it shows there being virtually no quests at all.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
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  7. Ralson

    Ralson Horrible Cat

    There was definitely a period of open hostility to questing, which drove off all the Art Quests/drawquests with everything up to and including direct mod intervention. It's possible I misremembered when text quests picked up the slack. The kitten sticky from 2011 is still up today, marking when the administration officially stopped trying to fight them.

    If I did present an inaccurate picture of that portion, I'd like to apologize for that. I also didn't cover the activity in /a/ or elsewhere, because I didn't find anyone to talk to who was familiar with it. (That could actually help fill in the gaps about where things began shifting from suggestion-based to vote-based player participation.)

    edit: Part of why I was reluctant to write this was because I had to rely on my own memory for so much of it. But now that it's up, I of course encourage anyone familiar with the period to make suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
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  8. DarkLight140

    DarkLight140 Credit to Team

    Oh, no need to apologize; no one can have been everywhere. We all have our own perspective on things.

    I'm certainly not disputing that the /tg/ environment became hostile to quests in general, including moderating activity- I remember not reporting trolls in quest threads because I thought that the moderators would be as likely to attack the OP as they would be to remove the trolls, and what I'd planned to be the last thread of the second quest I ran was stretched into two by literally hundreds of posts of spammed vitriol. I took it as a fairly usual, if annoying, occurrence at the time. Quests were occasionally subject to deletion without warning and people were (rarely) banned for writing them, often on thin pretexts- the NSFW excuse was a popular one, as I recall, though exactly when people stopped being able to post outright pornographic images on /tg/ with no moderator comment is pretty hazy in my memory so there may have been overlapping crackdowns going on there.

    Anyway, none of that ever actually stopped quests from being run; it just made it more inconvenient. We wanted to play, and while /tgchan/ was known to be an alternative option it was widely perceived as elitist- even more hostile than /tg/ if you were incapable of drawing. /tg/ retained easy accessibility and a much larger user base. While I can't really substantiate it, my perception at the time was that the moderator team was small and only a portion of it was actually against quests and enforced the various commandments from on high, so in general running a quest was a minimal but present risk- a lot like speeding. The 2009-2010 chart is pretty clear there; at no point did we stop making new quests, and enough of them were generally decent to maintain a community with significant enthusiasm even through the worst of the times.
     
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  9. Ralson

    Ralson Horrible Cat

    That's not entirely inconsistent with what I saw. I'd very occasionally see a quest thread on /tg/, but their reception gave me the impression of a house in the process of being burned down. (I'm looking at a screenshot I took in early 2010 of a 'Frost Giantess' text quest getting saged with "Fuck off and die, fetishthread," right above a highly active thread about "Centaur penor.")

    This isn't inconsistent with my dinosaur-killer metaphor. You had mammals clinging to life despite everything being on fire. :V

    I'll be sure to change my wording when I edit the essay. (And probably my sketched timeline as well, which is partially inaccurate in several ways) I'm reluctant to edit right away, though, because someone nominated this for Sufficiently Summer and I don't think edit passes are allowed during judging. Or something? I don't know how that works.

    You aren't wrong about Tgchan being unwelcoming of text quests, as @Havocfett can, unfortunately attest. I think it was more apathy than hostility, though.
     
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  10. DarkLight140

    DarkLight140 Credit to Team

    Frost Giantess is actually a great example of putting up with things, because it started in January 2010 and finished in September 2010 after more than eighty threads in spite of a fairly consistent stream of post like the one in the screenshot you mention. We were just putting up with basically anything short of banning for a long while there- and we'd come right back after the bans expired.

    The only significant text quest I can think of that ran successfully on /tgchan/ is Golem Quest (and later Gun for Hire, which basically inherited a large portion of its userbase). Starting one on there was utterly brutal in a way that it simply wasn't on /tg/; on /tg/ it was relatively simple to scrape up a fairly reliable userbase which would respond quickly to any but the most mediocre prompts at almost any hour of the day, whereas on /tgchan/ it wasn't unusual to see carefully-prepared story updates go ignored for extended lengths of time and end up needing to proceed with a mere handful of players- sometimes as few as one!- simply because no one cared. There just weren't enough people interested even when the content was well written and original. That's crushingly demoralizing to someone trying to start out.

    So you're probably right that the overall problem was apathy, but the perception that I remember on /tg/ was a sense of being actively unwanted there- and given how participants are the lifeblood of a quest, there's honestly not that much difference between the two.
     
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  11. Havocfett

    Havocfett Support Gaza Moderator

    It was pretty much entirely apathy, and a friend of mine managed to run a TextQuest without serious issue (Demon Quest or something? It's been a while) and Necromancer Quest did OK till I ditched it. I ended up leaving more because I kept stumbling onto NSFW shit and went 'no, not putting up with that anymore' than real hostility to text quests.
     
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  12. I'm not sure I'd call Tgchan's attitude towards Textquests hostile, but it was also worse than apathetic. They didn't go into Textquest threads to fuck with people or the quest, but a lot of people certainly talked a lot of shit anytime the subject of Textquests came up. Definitely agree there was a sense of Textquests being unwanted there, but if you just stuck to quests and their related discussion threads you'd never see it.
     
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  13. Guile

    Guile Having a really great time right now

    Ahh, Anonkun. The best-designed quest board with no content worthy of perusal (except for Golden Empire and its spinoffs) that I have ever seen.
    And yet, 'Battle Action Harem Highschool Side Character Quest (No, SV, You Are the Waifu)' still manages to be an incredibly engaging original setting quest, despite its lackluster title.
    Before Golem Quest was Antquest (also by Bob) back in 2009. A bit before my time on tgchan (I almost missed Golem Quest), but quite popular.


    Speaking of popular quest boards, when did touhou-project get in on this action?
     
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  14. Bromeliad

    Bromeliad But her friend is nowhere to be seen

    Location:
    NYC
    Oh cool there's a pic of my quest in this discussion!!!
    Although for a number of reasons that specific redesign didn't go over well with my readers so the art in Static is a lot less fancy than that. Full disclosure.

    Funny Story: I actually started Enemy Quest (the quest some of the people on Sufficient Velocity may know me for, as it inspired Ford Prefect's fantastic Seven Sisters - DateQuest on this very website) with the full intention of running it as a text quest, believe it or not. The plan was mostly text updates with the occasional low-detail image thrown in as a taster. I'd already had some success beforehand running a hybrid text / image quest called Vodou! which was a short one-shot that I'm still fairly proud of.

    I got about one imageless update into Enemy Quest before I realized I gave up on that. Many of the early images in it I actually inserted after the fact; the updates were originally only text.
    I don't know why but image quests just fit my M.O. a lot better for reasons I can't identify. My background is in theater so I guess I value the spacial and visual part of storytelling being image rather than description. IDK.

    Anyway as someone mentioned I've started an image quest on SV! I come as an envoy!! Greetings!! Although it's understandably kind of slow I've got a little audience going for it and I gotta say I'm in love with the presence of an edit button in my life. Forum Supremacy!


    ......oh
    I wish I'd known that before I started Hymnal here. No wonder it's been slow going. Weird how that works; on TGchan it's the exact opposite.

    TGChan also, despite its reputation as a den of furry degeneration, has really cut back on the NSFW lately, especially in the quest proper. To my surprise I'm just about the only dude there running a risque quest (and I always like to tell myself that's not the main draw). Many of the purist "porn mafia" of old spend a lot of time on IRC, mourning the loss of the edgier, yiffier tgchan of years past. We recently put in a rule that censors all thumbnails with NSFW content, and as a courtesy I usually try to put the racier stuff I write in spoilers as well. I never thought of myself as "that kind" of quest author but it looks like I'm one of the only ones left and Enemy Quest is my most popular by far. So I guess that's my reputiation now. Oops.

    The only other "mature themes" quest currently running I can see by a quick skim of the front page is a little number called "Eadoo's Quest", which you will not look up if you value your sanity. It is probably the grossest, most stomach-churningly distilled mass of everything wrong with NSFW questing in general (and tgchan in particular) imaginable.

    So maybe I'm just fooling myself.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
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  15. DarkLight140

    DarkLight140 Credit to Team

    Anonkun really shouldn't be dismissed entirely from consideration in any serious attempted analysis of quest history, if only because of the fact that it's a custom-built interface devoted entirely to the medium- which is something that literally no other site which hosts quests possesses, to the best of my knowledge. That's a milestone of significance on its own, so at least a cursory glance into what caused its creation and why it hasn't taken off to the same extent as other sites (my opinion: too much mediocre pornography, too little in the way of features assisting users in finding the non-pornographic stuff or the better quality pornography, and a lingering bad reputation that it can't shake) in spite of that. Besides, a glance at web traffic for the site shows that it has come close to matching the traffic of /tgchan/ within the last six months, so while both of those sites are pretty small it's not as though one can claim to wholly eclipse the other in significance purely by virtue of popularity.

    Anonkun still has a better interface for quests run in a session format where the GM wants rapid feedback from their users in order to produce a large number of updates over the course of a few hours than any other place I can think of. /tg/ is dominated by that kind of quest for obvious reasons, but the system just isn't designed for it and it really does show- how many quests there have had GMs need to break update posts into multiple parts, or had people get confused as to where to find previous threads when things were improperly archived? Forums are competitive but not outright superior to Anonkun when it comes to quests updated on a daily or less frequent basis, largely because they get around Anonkun's GM-only main posting area by using indexed update links and/or threadmarks and it's hard to say that a chatroom which keeps visible logs is outright superior or inferior to a forum thread. Until very recently, Anonkun was the only place quests were run that had automated vote counting- and it's still the only place with truly automated counting, because someone needs to manually run the forum vote tally tools while the Anonkun polling system is entirely automated. It's still the only place that has the option of fully anonymized voting, as far as I know. That's a huge mechanical edge.

    For all its advantages and the fact that it can and does get dozens of people simultaneously participating in its more popular quests during peak hours, though, Anonkun almost since the moment of its creation (at the end of 2012, I believe) has remained derided and marginalized by most people who participate in them. It's a shame, because honestly it could be the best quest site out there with a larger population of good writers. It just doesn't have them, for all that it's got millions- probably tens of millions- of words in story posts written into it at this point, and as other sites improve in convenience and quality is unlikely to get them at a rate which will bring it to prominence.

    It goes back to /jp/ in March of 2008 and spun off rapidly into its own board thereafter, I believe. It's probably also worth looking at and considering if we're trying to make this reasonably thorough- it's not only the first quest-heavy spinoff of 4chan I can think of, it's also notable for being dominated by text quests, by being entirely devoted to a single fandom and yet still full of comparatively massive stories, by heavily favoring huge updates in its text quests even going back to a point when the heaviest text quests in other locations were measuring their length in hundreds of words rather than thousands of them, and by having a dedicated NSFW section for people writing that.

    Unfortunately, I've never done more than casual perusal and participation there, so we'll probably want input from someone who was consistently a part of that community to provide their perspective on its origin, history, and evolution over time.
     
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  16. FBH

    FBH Write drunk. Edit Hungover

    I actually think that original content on SV questing has become much, much easier. While fanfic quests are still a majority, there's now quite a few original quests out there, such as @Bromeliad Hymnal, @Ford Prefect Seven Sisters, Squishy's Into the Black, that one where you're a member of a harem protagonist's harem I can't find right now ( :V) @Peel's Hell's Garden and my own libertarian space nomad quest.

    It's still harder but you get good traffic.
     
  17. LordSquishy

    LordSquishy Probably Not A Producer

    I think you're thinking of @Exhack 's quest?
     
  18. FBH

    FBH Write drunk. Edit Hungover

    No there's another one IIRC.

    Exhack's is also awesome but there's one where you're flat out an anime haremet.
     
  19. LordSquishy

    LordSquishy Probably Not A Producer

    Hmm, dunno then.

    Anyway, going back a bit... I think original quests are harder on SV. But that's always been true around here. Original stuff has always been a lot harder to get through than fanstuff.

    I don't particularly like it, for a number of reasons, and I'd like to change that, but to some extent it is what it is; I think most of our participants are just not really that adventurous. :V
     
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  20. FBH

    FBH Write drunk. Edit Hungover

    It's because it's easy to know if you'll like an unoriginal thing.

    "Oh I like game of thrones/worm/railgun/exalted, that means I'll like this quest/fic."

    You don't know what you're going to get in an original quest.
     
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  21. LordSquishy

    LordSquishy Probably Not A Producer

    That's totally false though. :V

    Besides you know what you get when you get into a FBH-Quest or a @Ford Prefect Quest!
     
  22. FBH

    FBH Write drunk. Edit Hungover

    And now we both get pretty great traffic.

    I am the brand.
     
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  23. LordSquishy

    LordSquishy Probably Not A Producer

    Now if only you finished one. :mad: :p
     
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  24. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Location:
    Across the Horizon
    I am pioneering the fan non-fiction genre
     
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