Narrative and Quests
Many of you have asked us about the quest system in Lords of Xulima. Today we’d like to give you a little information about our thoughts on this subject and how it’s being approached in Lords of Xulima.
Personally, I don’t like it at all when the story of a game is simplified into a list of tasks that the player must complete. When I played Oblivion, I started to feel overwhelmed and stressed by all of the different quests I had waiting for completion in my queue. Sometimes, completing one quest just led to two or three additional quests being added. It left me with the impression that instead of playing a game, I was really working.
Are quests necessary in RPGs?
It would seem that the answer to this question is obviously yes. It’s well established that an RPG has to have the typical quest system, a main quest line to advance the story and a number of optional side quests. Must every RPG follow this pattern? In JRPGs like Final Fantasy, epic storylines were fluidly told without having to resort to a quest system, though they had the advantage of being very linear. Games like the first few entries in the Might & Magic series and Wizardry VII didn't have a list of missions either, you simply advanced through the games learning about the story bit by bit, the drawback was that at times these games were a little too opaque and you had to guess what it was you were supposed to do.
The Main Story In Lords of Xulima
The main story is told through 4 themes that are developed in parallel and sometimes cross over. The four main themes are: The Divine Temples, The Impious Princes, The Divine Artifacts, and The Titans.
These plot lines advance according to what you chose to do in the game. Each time you advance in one of them, a note is added to the journal for that particular story arc. There are no missions associated with these; you decide how to proceed based on what you know of the story.
If you are not sure what to do, you can always consult your journal to go over the events again. Our intention is that the player immerses themselves in the story and enjoys it at their own pace and rhythm, exploring and learning about the story as they play. We want the player to do as they choose, not give them a list of tasks that they need to complete.
Additionally, there are other subplots which are entirely optional. If the player chooses to advance in these, they may obtain great treasures or even special powers. These subplots are: The Mausoleums of Kings, The Gifts of the Gods and the Champion of the Arena.
What about side quests?
Lords of Xulima was originally conceived not to include any side quests. However, later we saw that these could offer additional gameplay as well as give the player an opportunity to earn more experience and treasures. In Lords of Xulima, they are entirely optional.
These quests are offered by the instructor in each village. You just need to talk to the instructor and ask about the bulletin board and the instructor will tell you about the list of quests that the people of the village have posted: “There are some dangerous spiders in the garden”, “The Ogre is blocking the road to Sorrentia”, “We need 20 Vermolio Spores”, etc… If you complete a task, you only need to return to the bulletin board to collect your reward.
These missions are also listed in your journal like in any other RPG. As you progress in the game more missions will be available on the bulletin boards. In any case, it is entirely possible to complete Lords of Xulima without doing any of these side quests.
With this system we have maintained some aspects from the classics and included some of the newer innovations in RPG quest systems. We believe that our approach puts the emphasis on the narrative and advances the story in a less artificial manor.
What do you think?
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