Monday, December 12, 2011

Progress Quest

Regular readers will know that I enjoy role-playing games of all kinds, from improv to pen-and-paper RPGs to computer games such as Fallout. If these kinds of games (except, perhaps, improv) have one weakness, it's the level grind. Even the best role-playing games often feature repetitive quests: go to this place, kill this monster, retrieve this object.

Tonight I stumbled upon Progress Quest, a browser-playable "game" that takes RPGs to the next logical step: it does all the work for you. Here, I'll demonstrate:

Progress Quest offers a generous selection of species and classes. I chose to start my quest as a Demicanadian Hunter Strangler, though I was also tempted to play as an Enchanted Motorcycle Fighter/Organist. On the right are your character's six primary characteristics: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Naturally I pressed the "Roll" button until I achieved the highest stats possible, though strictly speaking this is rather unsportsmanlike. Still, with a new game I wasn't going to take any chances.
Here's my character sheet. At the top left, my name, race, class and level; below that, my stats; below that, my experience earned and my (currently empty) spellbook. At right, my inventory: a sharp rock, a -3 burlap hauberk, and nothing more, not even a solitary gold coin. Naked came the stranger...
Note the green bar on the lower edge of the character sheet. It's a progress bar, scrolling to the right as things happen to your character. This is the genius of Progress Quest; it takes all the work out of role-playing, telling you everything that happens as you watch the progress bar crawl from left to right.
As the progress bar moves inexorably forward, Earl the Hunter Strangler uses his sharp rock to kill a shadow, a cub scout and Mrs. Opprog the half-orc, collecting treasure from each foe slain. Note that this begins my first quest: Placate the Unicorns.
The slaughter continues. Note that my experience progress bar, at middle left, is slowly growing.
As you gather treasure (and body parts), your encumbrance grows.
Fortunately, once you can carry no more, the game escorts you back to the market, where you can exchange your blood-soaked goods for gold.
The game has also informed me that I've placated the unicorns and now I must exterminate the berzerkers. And along the way I seem to have added the "Good Move" spell - whatever that may do - to my spell book.
 At last I've earned enough gold to buy better gear.
Now I'm better armoured, with -1 Torn Corroded Leathers and a Lace Helm. How very fetching that must look.

Of course Progress Quest is more of a barbed joke than a game, but it's amusing enough. I think I'll leave the game running for a while to see what happens when Earl the Demicanadian earns enough experience to level up...

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