Sunday 29 September 2013

The Fifteen Minute Quest

Fifteen minutes is the optimal amount of time for an MMO quest or activity. This is one of the guidelines to Cryptic's Neverwinter Foundry, and while I initially scoffed at such a low number I am now seeing just how right they are especially when comparing it to other online games. Casual gamers play in small chunks of time, and in that chunk they have to be able to do something they feel is rewarding, or at least get one step closer to some goal.

The main problem stems from the fact that there is no individual "save" feature in MMOs, and really - I don't know how you'd implement one to begin with. A solo game you can usually start and stop at your leisure, just like table top games - and more importantly you can continue where you left off when you decide to resume (though that would be tricky with more complicated setups like Arkham Horror or a Warhammer 40k skirmish unless you left the table as is).

In comparison, it really "burns" when you undertake something that takes so long then come up empty: Failing at the last boss of a long dungeon run, or losing connection in GW2's SAB Tribulation mode, or being defeated by Tequatl (I imagine. Haven't bothered waiting to fight him). Each of those have to be restarted from scratch if you want to try again and for someone time poor, that would be extra annoying - especially if there were alternative shorter activities they could have done instead.

Quitting Time! Guess we'll just have to restart this from scratch tomorrow.

I imagine that's the main problem with my first "spacious" quest. It starts in a tavern, you can talk to everyone (though you don't have to), there's a little bit of puzzle solving and a fair bit of exploration before any combat even begins. People look at the average time of one hour and simply skip it for a faster run through something (or a few "somethings") else. Well, I've learned my lesson. My second foundry quest is coming together nicely and is going to be more "condensed" than I originally planned and hopefully will only run to the 15-20 minute mark. The story will still be there, but there'll be less fluff. Should be interesting to see how well it does in comparison.

If you play Neverwinter Online and want to try my first foundry quest (despite the length) it is:

One Step to Darkness [NW-DNJC9SK7A] 

You'll probably need to use the short-code (NW-DNJC9SK7A) without the brackets in a few of the tabs before you can find it. I always appreciate more play throughs and feedback!


  1. I happened to download the Neverwinter MMO yesterday... what is this Foundry and code. How does this work?

  2. Hi Ravanel! When you get a character to level 15 you gain access to the foundry tools to make your own quests so as you can imagine there are TONS out there.

    To play the player made quests (you can do it from level 1) the fastest method is to press "K" which will bring up a rather messy window. Towards the bottom you'll see a "Foundry" list with the most popular quests scrolling along. Press the "more" button beside the Foundry header to then go into the foundry search.

    There are a bunch of tabs there like "best", "new" (where mine is) and "for review" (lots of unpolished stuff here). I think you have to expand the search tool by clicking advanced to get the "Short code" field to pop up. Once that is there type in the code and it should find the quest - then accept it and it should lead you to where you need to go next! :)

    Alternatively you should be able to search by author (@josephskyrim for me) or title but those don't really work too well in my experience.

    Also if pressing "K" is too meta-gamey for you, you can also directly get the foundry window if you visit any of the harper NPCs or interact with the job boards in each zone. The listing will be trimmed down to only display quests in that zone though. :)

    1. That sounds like fun, wow, thanks for the elaborate explanation! I'm (obviously) new to all this, so I hope you don't mind me asking a bit more. As I'm not really serious about Neverwinter and played for only two days (let's say super casual), I'm just playing around a bit together with Tiger. Is there player-made content for two people as well? For how many people is your quest meant? Or is it not a group thing and is it soloable?

      I'm only level 9 at the moment, but depending on how all this works, maybe I'll try your quest any of these days (@ravanel).

    2. Hehe that's ok! All quests (player made or not) can be played by a full party (of 5). Often they are solo friendly (like mine) but there are some that specifically say they were designed for a full group. Usually this is in the description of the quest - though not always.

      You are welcome to bring a full party even to a solo friendly quest though - it would just make things easier.

      Don't worry too much about level (unless your party is very varied in it), the monsters scale to whatever level you are. So a level 1 person would run into level 1 versions of the things - lets say... bandits. At level 1 they just attack with a sword. A level 15 person would run into level 15 bandits who also now have healing potions and possibly some special attacks etc.

      It's only a problem if you (a level 9) go in with a level 60. The monsters will scale up and you will be fighting some really tough critters. :P

      Feel free to ask more questions, I'll be happy to answer! ^_^