The best quest so far is the “Paranoia” quest in the town of Skingrad. It’s a true freeform quest. It doesn’t have much in the way of a story, but there are many outcomes and I played through it several times trying out all the different permutations. Spoilers follow.
A Wood Elf (the annoying shorty elves, as opposed to the tall and snooty High Elves) walks up to you and pleads with you to meet him behind the church at midnight. He has a proposition for you, but he wants to meet in secret.
Unlike other missions in the game, this one has a lot of possible outcomes besides “do it” and “don’t do it”. If you agree to help Glarthir, he will give you a job: He will task you with following one of the people who have been watching him, and seeing what they do when they are not spying on him. He wants to know who they are working for and who they report to. There are three people total, and each time you report back on the activities of one of them he’ll assign you the next.
The voice acting is hilarious. Glarthir takes himself and his struggle very seriously. The facial expression system in Oblivion is good, but it isn’t up to the task of keeping up with the voice actor’s performance here. He plays Glarthir with a manic enthusiasm that make these little conversations a lot of fun.
Following these people around for an entire day can be a bit time consuming (I’ve never bothered to clock it, but I’m betting a day in the game is 24 minutes long) and dull. These people are not watching him. They are harmless people who are unluckly enough to be neighbors with this nut. Their lives are simple and routine. They get up, go to work, have a bite to eat, talk with other people in town, and generally fail to be secretive or sinister in any way.
Each night you meet him behind the church and report on the activities of the day’s target. You can either lie and say they were watching him, or tell him the truth and say that they aren’t. Either way, he pays you a nice chunk of cash for your efforts. It should also be noted that you don’t need to follow these people at all. You can just show up at midnight and tell him whatever you like.
So far I’ve found several outcomes:
- Refuse to help him. The first time I met him I told him to get lost, and a few days later I heard people in town gossiping about how he went nuts and killed a bunch of people with an axe before the guards put him down. I assume he killed the three “spies”.
- Agree to help him, and then report the truth. If you tell him that nobody is following him, then he realizes with horror that you must be in on it as well! He then attacks you and you are obliged to kill him. (Or run to the town guards and let them kill him.)
- Lie to him. If you agree to help and then tell him that all or some of the people on his list are in fact following him, then he will give you one last task: He will ask you to kill all of the people who you identified as spies. I don’t know what happens if you refuse this task, but if you accept he puts the job in writing along with the names of the intended victims.
- Do the killing. You can then kill these people on his list, and he will pay you $1,000. Early in the game, that is quite a chunk of cash. Enough that it may well be worth offing these characters if you have the mindset for such a job.
- Show the list to the town guards. You can show the list to the town watch. It is helpfully titled “people to kill” and has all of the names of the victims on it, so it’s a pretty solid piece of evidence that he’s gone off the deep end. If you do this, then they will go after Glarthir. He will resist arrest, and then the guards will kill him.
Hilarious. I wonder if there are any other outcomes I didn’t find?
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
I'm not surprised a fighting game has an absurd story. I just can't figure out why they bothered with the story at all.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
id Software Coding Style
When the source code for Doom 3 was released, we got a look at some of the style conventions used by the developers. Here I analyze this style and explain what it all means.