Drawing by Eric Hotz, 1999

The QUEST Project

Susana Tosca


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Last updated- 24th November 2002

Welcome to the Quest Project's Website
The QuestProject is an attempt to bring DKM students together to develop interesting 4-week projects in a structured way that allows for personal exploration from a theoretically solid background. The project's language is English for all its instances, including the deliverables and the examination. The project will run for several project periods, it started in E2002.

Important note- The project will only be lauched if there are enough interested students (each group has to have at least 3 people and cannot have more than 5).

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Quests (originally defined as "a chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an adventurous journey") have been one of the easiest ways for game designers to introduce storytelling elements into games, so that the gameplay is entwined with a story that has the player as protagonist. The quest or mission format allows for a contextualization of the game's actions in a more or less meaningful story, that the player may or may not feel as vital to her experience when playing the game.

Quests in games have often been criticised as boring and meaningless, particularly from the literary theory side. For example: how interesting is to take a letter from the major to the guild master in another town in EverQuest? This project wants to look at quests from a mixed literary theory /game theory point of view, trying to find out how quests work in games, what makes them interesting or boring, and how we can design better quests.

This project would be interesting for people with some knowledge about computer games, literature and/or roleplaying games. No programming experience is necessary.

KINDS OF RESULTS YOU CAN PRODUCE

Each group can concentrate on the aspect that interests them most, so that the deliverables of the project can be different for each group: a paper/a game prototype/a survey report... These are some examples of different kinds of group focus (see working schedule below to see how this works in practice). A group can concentrate in things like:

- theoretical question: what makes a quest boring/interesting? (with analysis of lots of quests)

- design question: how to design interesting quests? (with production of detailed design documents)

- theoretical/field study question: what do players think about quests? how do they go about solving them? (with playtesting and analysis)

- construction question: build a model quest and test it with actual players (for example in Neverwinter Nights or another pre-built engine)

- construction/literary question: write a model literary quest in any interactive narrative application (dreamweaver, HTML, flash...) It is a good idea to choose an application you already know as this course has no technical support.

In all cases, an important part of the project will be the keeping of a group project diary, where you note all your steps, the meeting minutes and the rationale behind your decisions. This diary will be delivered together with the work you produce.

INTERESTED? HOW TO PROCEED
Please note that the deadline for giving in your project descriptions to Study Administration has been expanded until Wednesday the 20th at 12:00. Send an email to Susana Tosca at tosca@it-c.dk before Tuesday (the 19th) at 13:00. During Tuesday afternoon I will check if there are enough people to go along with the project and send you a feedback email with instructions on where/when to meet on Wednesday morning so as to finalize the form signing before 12:00. Please note that you have more chances of being able to work on this project if you agree with other students beforehand about forming a group.

A model for a project description will be uploaded Tuesday on to this site so you can copy it and print it out before meeting with me on Wednesday morning.

WORKING SCHEDULE

The working method will be that the teacher meets with the students at the beginning of each project week, and depending on the group's advances, they agree on tasks for the rest of the week, which will be typically reported to the all participants the following week.

We will use this website as a place for constant feedback on the project (for example uploading all questions and answers for everybody to see using a weblog for the management)

Week 1- Introductory lecture and methodology for quest analysis. Students work reading the pensum (that they will get at the introductory meeting) and performing quest analysis in actual games.

Week 2-"Problematizing quests" seminar session (lecture and group debate). During this week students decide what their focus problem is going to be, analyze more games if necessary and choose the angle they want to give their project: theoretical exploration, game design (of sucessful quests), implementation and testing of quests (using an existing game engine, for example "Neverwinter Nights").

Week 3- Seminar session with groups getting feedback from all participants about the status of their projects

Week 4- No common session, groups meet with teacher individually if needed. Produce final version.