Dev Blog #5: Timed Quests

Hello this is Matt again, Co-leader of Epoch Games. Quests are certainly important in RPGs, and at Epoch Games, we’ve been thinking a lot about them. In The Lays of Althas: Sundered Order, we want the player to have a wide variety of quests. For this post, let’s talk about a specific kind that you will likely see a lot of in Althas: the Timed Quest.

You are probably familiar with them. In most timed quests, upon the moment of acceptance, you will essentially get a stopwatch at the top of your GUI telling you that “Hey, you got this amount of time to complete this quest.” Sometimes it helps add a little challenge, sometimes it can be an annoyance. Some may like them, others may not.


Why would I be seeing a lot of Timed Quests? In Althas, we want time to be important. We are developing a date and time system, like in many games. In Althas, however, events will pass (whether you are there to witness them or not). The world does not revolve around the player, the player must learn to revolve around the world. We want our Quests to follow this same mantra.

What’s so original about Timed Quests? Consider the following situation: you just entered a town and see a man brushing past a woman. She stops for a second. “Guards, guards! My coinpurse, its been stolen!” The man near her is now running. The woman tries to run after him, but stops as she realizes he’s too fast for her. You see no guards nearby.

And right here, a quest has started. No prompts, no timer, no adding to a quest log. You have only a second or two to react if you want to catch this pickpocket. Here are a few thoughts I expect some of you are thinking.


Is this really a quest, or is it simply an event I’m supposed to witness?

My answer: could be either, you don’t know. Maybe the guards will catch this pickpocket without your intervention? Maybe he’s impossible to catch? Maybe it really is up to you, and you alone, to catch him? We want quests in Althas to contain Uncertainty.

For all you know, getting this woman’s coinpurse back could be a quest hook to a whole adventure of defeating a hive of thieves. Or maybe it’s just an isolated incident. You don’t know unless you pursue further.


Is it worth pursuing this pickpocket?

Could be, could not be. The pickpocket could be working alone, or he could have a whole gang willing to come to his back, ready to jump you. Like real life, we can’t always be certain how dangerous a situation is (especially when there aren’t any difficulty indicators telling you such).

It could also very well be that you have a more important quest to complete, like sending an urgent message to the town guards about a possible attack upon the town. Its at this point you must make the call “Which is more important? Getting this woman’s money back, or possibly saving several lives by getting this message to the town guard a few minutes sooner?”


Maybe I can come back to this quest later, after I do more important things?

Yes, that important message to the town guards. After I hand over the message, I’ll have time then … won’t I? In Althas, you probably shouldn’t expect a second chance with most Timed Quests. We want some quests in Althas to contain Urgency, especially when you have no way of knowing how long you have until you’ve failed.

In fact, who says this “Timed Quest” ends when you’ve lost sight of the pickpocket? Who says you couldn’t run into him the next day, spending the woman’s money in a store? Don’t expect to see a large notification telling you when you’ve officially failed a quest.


What can I get out of helping this woman?

You have no real way of knowing your reward for this little quest, do you? Maybe she’s rich, and will reward you handsomely with a modest amount of her money? Maybe she’s poor and won’t reward you with anymore than a single copper piece. Maybe there is no reward, and the woman and the pickpocket are in this together in order to trap you? Again, you can’t know for sure.

Who knows? Maybe she really doesn’t deserve this money. Maybe you’d gain more from her money then she would. Who says that stealing from a thief is wrong? Let’s just hope the guards don’t become wise to your greed.


That’s just one example of a Timed Quest. You may see them in other flavors: Timed Quests that don’t start until you’ve accepted them (perhaps a race), Timed Quests that can only occur on a certain date/time (think of an event during a holiday), and more. This isn’t to say you can’t expect Untimed Quests either (perhaps a collector is willing to buy various unique coins you may find in your adventure), or quests of a more “epic” nature. We want to create wide variety of quests of all kinds.
I could certainly talk more about Quests, but I’ll leave it here for now. I suppose what you can come away from this is knowing that we want to add both Urgency and Uncertainty into Althas.