Can we talk about quest games for a little bit?
When I say “quest game,” I’m speaking about a very specific genre of fiction, which intersects tabletop roleplaying, webcomics, and interactive fiction games ala Zork! This is still a pretty small part of the internet, but it’s getting bigger. To the best of my knowledge they began on 4chan’s Traditional Games (aka /tg/) board. Here’s an excerpt from the Quest article at 1d4chan.org:
Quests were originally a type of thread that involves [an artist] essentially DM’ing for the entirety of /tg/. There is an iconic main character that /tg/ shouts commands at, and the [artist] decides which action would make most sense for the character. The end result is a highly interactive game akin to free-form roleplaying, Choose Your Own Adventure books, and Point and Click computer games.
It’s kind of like Dungeons and Dragons with strangers, with the only characters provided by the author. Quest games are pretty much my favorite kind of interactive medium these days! They combine aspects of pretty much everything I love and squash them together into a delicious oatmeal of great.
My favorite quest game is one of the earliest in the genre, called Ruby Quest.
I had the great opportunity to read and participate in Ruby Quest, drawn by Weaver
when it was still running! I still get really excited about this game, and I really found it by chance. I was just looking through the /tg/ boards when this greeted me:
By God, /tg/, I thought, what are you doing this time?
Further down in the thread someone linked the collected archives, and I discovered this was the eighteenth thread for the game. This was around, oh, midnight? By the time I caught up, it was seven in the morning. I did not sleep that day. My mind was blown.
RubyQuest went on for another thirteen threads, each one getting ridiculous amounts of reactions, suggestions and speculation. They had to be run after midnight, sometimes not until 3 or 4 AM, due to a lot of daytime /tg/ users thinking it was off-topic—or just stupid, as 4chan is hardly known for its tolerance—and trying to spam it into oblivion, or to drive the players off with shock images.
While RubyQuest is probably the most well-known and successful game to use the image board format, it wasn’t the first of its kind. MS Paint Adventures started off on a forum with the ADHD comic Jailbreak, before the site was even conceived of.
Unlike Weaver, who picked one or two commands out of the many suggested, Jailbreak always took the first command given. This lead to a meandering, plotless mess! It was left unfinished.
But the artist (one Andrew Hussie) continued on to create Problem Sleuth.
Problem Sleuth was a different animal from Hussie’s previous experiments, and turned into a sprawling, successful story that lasted exactly one year. While it still took suggestions for some things, as it went on, the growth of the reader base made it almost impossible to rely on reader commands. PS wound up much more structured and flourished for it, and stuck to its Zork-style interface theme til the end.
(Hussie did a wonderful post about what running PS was like when it ended, I highly recommend it!)
And after Problem Sleuth came Homestuck and Homestuck isn’t something I can cover accurately in this post! IN THE FUTURE……
There are only two other places I know of with a large questgame gathering these days; the tgchan Quest board and the MSPA Forum Adventures board. I’m mostly familiar with the latter!
Both of these are interesting in that they are places where relatively large gatherings of people who enjoy both creating and playing this type of game congregate. You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone’s adventure!
Here are just a couple of the hundreds being written:
KILL SIX BILLION DEMONS
All three of these have different storytelling styles, take place in different worlds, and have their own unique brand of art!
I am just really excited by this new art movement as a whole. With giants like RubyQuest and Homestuck moving it forward I think it’s just going to get more popular as an art form and really start to flourish more and more on the internet. This level of interactivity between artist!storyteller and reader/participant has never been possible before and it’s just so cool!