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[Discussion] Player Conveyance: Guide or Quest?

Discussion in 'General FTB chat' started by ShneekeyTheLost, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. ShneekeyTheLost

    ShneekeyTheLost Too Much Free Time

    So... my old HDD hard drive started developing bad sectors, and had to go to a new hard drive, this time an SSD. And while the vast majority of the stuff I had transferred over, for some reason my Medium Core pack's information did not. Which gives me a chance to reexamine my assumptions, and start looking at some of the things that people take for granted, and see if there's a way to change things for the better.

    One of these concepts that I am taking a deeper look at is that of conveyance of information to the player. The more divergent your pack is from 'vanilla' mechanics, the more you need to be able to convey to the player the changes to these mechanics, otherwise the player is just going to get lost. Some games use this as a means of artificial difficulty, such as the infamous 'I Wanna Be The Guy', however that's not really my thing, so conveyance is going to be needed.

    The question here is the degree of conveyance and the means by which the player accesses it. Which means you have to weigh several things before making a decision.

    Does your pack focus on, or at least give the player the sense of, exploration? If so, then you may want to go with a more 'hands off' approach. Give the player the raw information, but let him draw his own conclusions. But if your pack doesn't, if instead the challenge is in getting everything taken care of, such as a typical Skyblock style map wherein exploration isn't a key concept, then maybe a more constrained Questing system might better suit your pack's style. This gives him the step by step instructions needed to do a thing.

    JEI is another means of conveyance, however the problem is that while it is indeed powerful, it is also little more than an indexed recipe system. It gives information on how to make things, but not on how to get those resources in the first place, nor really anything else. It's seen as a 'default' mod, and I'd largely agree that it is, however you cannot simply rely exclusively on JEI to do everything for you if you've added or changed mechanics that players are used to. For example, if you use something like Geolosys to do worldgen for you, creating large but uncommon veins of ores, that's something you need to convey to the player so they don't start branch mining at Y12 as per usual and end up with a whole bunch of nothing. And that's not something JEI is really equipped to convey.

    There are now several questing mods, and several mods which let you write your own guide for the players, each with their strengths and weaknesses. I think a discussion of these mods and their uses can be quite valuable in general to anyone interested in developing mod packs (well... packs that aren't just a kitchen sink pack, at least). So... let's discuss.

    What is your favorite questing or guide mod and why?
    GamerwithnoGame likes this.
  2. Cptqrk

    Cptqrk Popular Member

    Quest mods are nice, as the guide ones seem to be more skewed towards hand holding... But that's just my experience.

    Quests have to make some sense tho, just tec progression chains isn't enough.

    Oh, and on a side note.. exploration packs seem a bit... odd.. to me... "make a base! but then you have to abandon it when you go to the Aether, or (insert name of another mod that doesn't let you use stuff from the vanilla world)
    I always wished they would integrate something like the Waystones mod, and give the player a waystone when they 'find' a location they need to find. Go explore, but be able to get back easily enough so you can empty bags, process ores and continue tecing up.

    Edit: In addition, a lot of so called exploration mod packs throw EVERY dungeon mod into the game. Take MC Eternal for example. There is no need for that many 'we're going to throw mobs at you in overwhelming amounts because we put too many extra mob/dungeon mods into the game.

    Hell, even on easy in MC Eternal, there is no safe place for the first few nights, making it a frustrating experience for me and my lady.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
    GamerwithnoGame likes this.
  3. Nuclear_Creeper0

    Nuclear_Creeper0 Well-Known Member

    JEI alone is not enough, I like JEI with some additions, specifically Just Enough Resources (JER)
    This mod is fantastic because it tells you exactly where the thing you need to get comes from. What level it spawns at, what mob drops it, which dimension it's in, etc, etc, etc.
    It even has drop chances for things.
  4. Inaeo

    Inaeo New Member

    I'm not usually into the quest style packs that completely alter the mechanics I'm used to, as I personally prefer a sandbox in most cases. That said, I had a ton of fun playing Regrowth, as I felt that quest book provided clear objectives while explaining any mechanics that were changed. Obviously NEI (or JEI for the here and now) was a major boon which I would have been lost without. What it showed me was that the quests themselves are best left as a carrot which leads you to the next challenge, which can then be spelled out and solved in subsequent quests.

    I know it's a stretch, but I've always looked at Thaumcraft as being a quest based mod within a larger pack. I liked that the Thauminomicon was equal parts diary and quest mod, urging me to experiment until a discovery unlocked new potential. This could occasionally be frustrating, but I rarely found it off-putting.

    JEI/JER are definitely default adds for any pack I throw together, to the point that if they were excluded from a pack, it would likely deter me playing it. I'm a slave to short term memory loss and convenient lookups.
  5. GamerwithnoGame

    GamerwithnoGame Forum Addict

    I really enjoyed Regrowth as well, and how it handled its quests. As I'm working on a pack, I think perhaps I should go back and have a look at how Regrowth did it - as there will be a desolate wasteland in what I'm working on, there is something of a thematic similarity there.
  6. LordPINE

    LordPINE Well-Known Member

    Imo, an important factor for good quests is not having any "useless" quests that could be skipped by a player while still following further quests, because it causes frustration. Something else some packs do that really annoys me is making way too much stuff crafting tasks, even if you already have autocrafting meaning you'll probably forget and need to make it again. Finally, having piles upon piles of sidequests for items people will never use is not helpful. Just put a note in the description of some relevant quest saying to look into said items if you have trouble with X and leave it at that. Doing it that way helps prevent clutter a lot.
  7. Cptqrk

    Cptqrk Popular Member

    This annoys me as well. Take MC Eternal for example. You need to craft a White Bed... no other bed will allow for the quest to complete, locking you out of progression down that line... Why?
    GamerwithnoGame likes this.
  8. KingTriaxx

    KingTriaxx Forum Addict

    I think too many people when making packs with quest books tend to veer into 'difficult crafting means difficult quest' and so they always run headlong into hardcore pack territory.

    My two favorite questing packs because of this, are Space Astronomy, and Automatron(exactly as spelled). SA doesn't change recipes, and it's quest book is only suggested paths through the pack. Don't want to build a Big Reactor? Okay, but if you do, here's what you need to do it. Automatron's could be played largely without looking at the quest book, because the mods were laid out in such a way that you naturally moved on to the next one. You want AE? Okay, you just have to progress through IE until you can make Circuit Boards. Mekanism? You'll need some stuff from AE that you'll make anyway.

    On the other hand, I've been playing Subnautica, and it's PDA is a cool way to give information as you encounter things. Give me a thing that tells me some stuff is different and then tell me more when I find it. Okay, ore is in clusters around the world. Tell me that, and then when I run across one, tell me more about how to find more.
    GamerwithnoGame likes this.
  9. GamerwithnoGame

    GamerwithnoGame Forum Addict

    That sounds pretty neat! Hmm. Food for thought there.
  10. CaptPanda

    CaptPanda Well-Known Member

    My main problem with modern quest modpacks is that they aren't quests, they're checklist tutorials. If you look at the early quest packs, you'd notice that there is actually some semblance of plot. Agrarian skies had the plot of gathering enough resources to rebuild the world, Crash Landing (and many others) had the goal of surviving and eventually leaving the planet, Blightfall was focused on cleansing the planet of taint, and exploring locations in order to find different methods.

    Hell, if you want to discover what made the early modpacks truely magical and the newer ones bland, just have a look at the JamPacked entries. I can say looking at ME^3, Running Red and other packs around the time would give you insight on what made them special. Hell, just look at 2014 in general.
    LordPINE likes this.
  11. BeanPal

    BeanPal New Member

    I agree with panda, I'd wish storylines were more developed, instead of do-this/do-that type of quests.
  12. LordPINE

    LordPINE Well-Known Member

    I mean, both have their place. Some packs just need to guide the player through a massively altered progression, and quests are good for that. However, I must admit that story based quest lines are much nicer, and make the pack a lot more interesting.
  13. Celestialphoenix

    Celestialphoenix Too Much Free Time

    I guess the other side of the question is 'how passive/active do you want the player to be in following the guide?'
    Specifically are you questing (active) or tutorial (passive)?

    A passive guide would pretty much rely on detecting the player craft/hold a particular item, go to a set place/dimension or kill X mob. If its set properly it'll automatically track the player's progress, and allow them to dip in/out of the guide as needed. (The achievements page is a good example).

    Active guides may fit better with the typical questing packs; stuff like handing in items to make progress can be a cool mechanic- but it means the guide itself won't update without player interaction, even if the players long past that stage. Handing in X to unlock Y can be pretty neat (The original pyramid map comes to mind- even though it didn't exactly deliver any information), but if its intended as a guide then it can hamstring the players who get stuck later- forcing them to re-do parts of the early game to unlock the information they're looking for (had to do this in Infitech 2; no matter how much I enjoyed it the first time- regrinding a questbook is not fun).

    Writing lore and storytelling is always a bonus, which can work for either type of guide.
    LordPINE likes this.

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