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Interactive Fiction: A History of Questing

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

  1. Glimmervoid


    No mention of the DiveQuest and the Orb of the Infinite Psyche?

    For those who don't know Weaver, the creator of Ruby Quest, went on to do some other quests, DiveQuest among them.

    One thing DiveQuest introduced was the Orb of the Infinite Psyche - a magical devise filled with many voices. These voices were in turn the suggestions the players entered. The main character heard them and responded to them. In this way player suggestions became part of the game and narrative, moving out of meta-game.

    This orb (and other similar objects like it) had a big impact on tgChan style quests, where main characters will often react to player suggestions. I think some of Hiver's SI fics used something similar.
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  2. Guile

    Guile Having a really great time right now

    Trusting the players to handle something like that maturely and well seems like a huge mistake you would soon regret.
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  3. Larro uses that these days to great success.
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  4. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    They don't seem to have much issue with it in Magna Graecia where the players are specifically integrated into the narrative to represent the ekklesia, the assembly of all citizens- and their comments in voting discussion can influence the city even if the vote doesn't win.
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  5. foamy

    foamy Lying liar who lies. Executive Director

    Would it kill you two to put a hyperlinked title for whatever quest you're talking about? :(
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  6. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    You should probably make a thread for this in fiction discussion imo.
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  7. All it really takes is a clever author who can properly play the audience.
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  8. Trying to drum up support to get it as a subforum in Questing.

    Leaving it in fiction creates too much separation.

    Ideally, every quest thread would have its own review thread, where players and observers alike come in to poke at the game as it is built.
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  9. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    That could work, yeah.
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  10. Ralson

    Ralson Horrible Cat

    There are a LOT of miscellaneous trends and things I skipped over, and the essay was still over 3k words.

    I didn't even plug my own quests! :V
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
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  11. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    "And yet it was a dark time for quests until a humble user known as Ralson started his own, changing the face of the medium forever..."
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  12. What is the proper/correct ratio of days per updates? Because I sometimes feel bad when 3-4 days pass without an update, and I'm not sure if I should feel bad, or really bad.
  13. In my sig, top link, I think.

    Off chance it ISN'T in my sig, which I haven't checked in months, the quest of mine Ridiculously Average Guy reviewed.
  14. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    It depends on the popularity of your quest, the content of your updates, and the amount of discussion between updates. And obviously what you are comfortable with. Never force yourself to do stuff you don't have to.

    Like for the first 2 weeks of Magna Graecia I was a crazy person who updated twice a day with like 1,200 words and it made people come back constantly. Generally, too, quests with more content per update like Panopticon and large recurring reading bases can afford much longer updates without issue.

    Regular updates and player communication is more important than the rate, IMO. If players know that something will be updated and it's not dead, they're much more likely to keep it watched and tune back in.
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  15. Well, hrm, I have content-filled updates, mostly, but a small reader-base of, say, tennish people? 6-7 of which vote? My last update was the shortest I've done since, like, the very start of the Quest, about 600-700 words. That was on Monday. Vote closed this morning Current update's sitting at 4.5k, it might be getting near to another vote soon, another thousand words or so? Though on days I have work the progress I make goes down a lot, so I'm also sorta racing the fact, today that, though I'm a bit sick, I have work on Friday so I need to get something out (plus I'm starting to feel it.)

    I do admit one big difficulty is sometimes feeling motivated with a voter-base that can be counted on two hands. I know that the length of my Quest also presents at least some difficulties to someone who just wants to dive in and vote. It's gotten rather longer than I ever expected, and it's been going on for a few months, so it's likely only to get longer. It's why I've been thinking of pausing when I finish "Chapter 2" to try to write some sort of 1k or less summary to try to get people interested.

    Edit: I also realize this might be a TMI and I might just be getting thoughts/words off my chest.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
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  16. In terms of quests, most that have open user input and fairly free choices tend to devolve into either superpowered shounen heroics, bland just there heroism, or assholes who are treated as the second coming. The best quests I've read not only have solid writers behind them, but are on the rails something fierce; you are making choices within what seems to be a preplanned scenario. I've been spitballing ideas for how to allow for open ended choices without falling into this trap from a mechanic point of view while still creating a positive experience for the audience.

    To bring this back to the OP, stuff like Ruby Quest was so damn solid because it was effectively having the audience play Myst; the puzzles were there along with certain tools and the quest runner could easily veto choices just by setting up the puzzle just so. There was even a failure mode which kicked you back to the beginning, albeit with some consequences. Larro quests have the audience purely as advice givers; the character is free to reject ideas that go against what they would do. I'm trying to think of a way that doesn't require the strict confines of a Ruby interaction while still letting the audience feel like they are the character.
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  17. Threadmark: 2015 Sufficiently Summer award post

    foamy Lying liar who lies. Executive Director

    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
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  18. Congrats, man. Uhh... someone should probably sticky this essay to the Quests subforum if it hasn't been already.
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  19. Ralson

    Ralson Horrible Cat


    It's linked in the OP of the Intro to Questing sticky.
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  20. Havocfett

    Havocfett Be, So It Is Moderator

    We do, in fact, have a thread to put Quest Review in now.

    (Also many other things vaguely related to Questing)
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
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  21. Swordomatic

    Swordomatic Shadow Cabal Nep Dante Moderator

    South East Asia
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  22. Havocfett

    Havocfett Be, So It Is Moderator

    I have no idea what you're talking about, you slanderer.
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  23. Aranfan

    Aranfan Team Plasma Grunt

    I actually did make something approaching (poorly) a formal definition, which I will submit here for your consideration.

    In light of your essay I would make the following modificaitons:

    A Quest is a type of interactive collective roleplay, where the Quest Master (QM) presents a scenario and the participants make various proposals on how things should happen next (usually these proposals are focused on what a given character does next, but it could be an organization, or other things), then the QM takes those proposals and uses them to generate a new derivative scenario (which proposal wins could be anything from majority rules to best argument to whichever is funniest), the process then repeats.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
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  24. cB557

    cB557 NORTH

    It might be worth noting that the exact site of origin of MSPA was the Penny Arcade forums.
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  25. Late to the party -- great read. I had never thought of SV as a "Quest site", but I suppose you're right. I don't think I even knew half this history.

    Yeah, that was me. Theoretically, you could improve that into an automated scrape with many more data points, even doing things like taking a random sample of all posts from a given year and seeing how active each forum was.

    For the curious, here's the SV equivalent of that graph (crummy Excel version):


    I just added the post-January points today; there's fewer of them due to laziness. Still, it looks to me like we've gone from hovering around 6,000 posts/day to 7K-8K. Nowhere near the heights of those first weeks after the Athene debacle, though.

    (If you're wondering why there's a break in June 2014, that's when all those posts from Spacebattles were scraped -- nearly 900K in under a week. Including those would've squashed the actual posting patterns into invisibility.)

    I was curious, so I decided to check the Wayback Machine's copies of the front page of the forums. Here's what I found.

    Forum8/19/20107/16/2011Change in post count, 2010-20116/15/2012Change in post count, 2011-2012
    Spacebattles News1,7603,0391,2797,2644,225
    Al Harrington's Internet Bargains163331168485154
    Space Battles1,030,9221,408,671377,7492,004,727596,056
    Games & Gaming260,790323,55162,761430,954107,403
    Technical Support31,78135,2073,42639,1133,906
    Art and Animation52,90556,4543,54958,8072,353
    Creative Writing427,955685,790257,835998,952313,162
    Story Debates272,775316,32143,546340,30323,982
    Vs. Debates1,045,4081,220,244174,8361,413,846193,602
    The War Room231,511285,09553,584354,20769,112
    Non-Scifi Debates1,456,7501,657,497200,7471,963,930306,433
    This might not be exactly the period you were talking about, but these are both just-under-11-month gaps, so I thought they'd make a good comparison. There's a copy each from July 2007 and July 2008; if you want, I can compare those to the August 2010 one too.
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