Today, I woke up, and I wanted to go on a quest.
Plenty of games have quests, but I wanted the purest, most pared-down questing experience possible, so I loaded up Procedural Quest Generator.
Procedural Quest Generator is a product of the Procedural Generation Jam, which took place earlier this month. The Procedural Generation Jam is, as its name suggests, a game jam (where teams create a game or tool in a limited amount of time) focused on procedural generation, which is generating data algorithmically rather than manually.
Procedural Quest Generator itself was made by a small Canadian games outfit called Painted Sky Studios. The game does exactly what it's name suggests: It uses an algorithm to generate (potentially endless) new quests based on fetching for a queset-giver a randomized number of one of four resources: flowers, wood, carrots, and ore.
Once you return the prescribed resource to the quest-giver, you win. Or at least, the game is over.
I received my first quest from Jane, pictured below, who sent me to fetch nine flowers.
I went about my business happily, and retrieved nine flowers for Jane. This is a flower:
They were scattered nearby, so I went and grabbed them. Jane thanked me, and that was that. She had no other quests. Why would she? But my hunger for questing wasn't sated, so I reloaded the game.
This time I met Craig, who wanted me to get wood. This is Craig:
And this is wood:
Lookin' good, wood.
I got six pieces of wood for Craig, brought them back to him, and he thanked me, kindly!
Satisfied by the wood, Craig had no more tasks for me, so I reset the game again. This time I met Sandra, who was identical to Jane and Craig, but who wanted carrots. Off I went, to fetch her some carrots. This is a field of carrots:
You might think I'd be tired of these quests by now, but really, they're no more repetitive than the endless grinding and fetch quests that are in plenty of big name video games and have been since time immemorial. Killing monsters for worthless loot and experience? Why not just fetch some carrots for Jane?
I completed one more quest, for Margaret, who wanted Ore, and then the existential angst got to me. Who was I? What was I doing? What did I look like? I looked at my shadow, and made a discovery.
Shocked, I ran from the field of flowers, wood, carrots, and ore that surround Margaret, who had thanked me so kindly, and whom I thought was my friend. Before long, I found myself at the edge of the world.
Reader, I jumped. The ground above me quickly vanished, and I was left staring at a blue-brown horizon, what sounded like a slight breeze whistling in my ear. I was surprised to learn my pill shaped body had ears.
Above me was sky, below me a brownish, indeterminate matter that didn't seem to get any closer as I fell towards it. Stuck in limbo, I thought, "It could be worse, I could be playing World of Warcraft."
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org