Some Assembly Required: Quest building with SWG's Chronicles

Some Assembly Required header
What? A tease you say? No I'm... OK, maybe just a little. But that's really not to be helped. If you wonder why we are seeming to delve into Star Wars Galaxies a bit more than other games right now, it is because we have to cover it before the lights go out, else how would you have a chance to go in and explore it for yourself? And the fact that the suns are going to permanently set over Tatooine in a couple of months does not negate the fact that there are some impressive features in the game worth highlighting! Hopefully, by doing so, not only will players be able to take some time to enjoy them while they can, but other developers will get the hint and start incorporating more into their titles.

What feature is the focal point of this eighth edition of Some Assembly Required? In case you missed it hidden so sneakily in the title, it's SWG's Chronicles system. You can't define player-generated content any better than with sharable quests created by the players themselves. Sure, other games have quest builders (the question is why don't more?!), but Galaxies has some unique elements.

If you have been gone from the game so long that you have no idea what I am talking about, take heart: Today's guide will explore this feature and walk you through exactly how to get started. If you have an active subscription to take advantage of the final months of this epic sandbox, you can hop into game and tinker with Chronicles before it is gone for good. Trust me, it is worth it.

Hop a landrover and zoom past the cut for a look at SWG's version of build-a-quest.

Star Wars Galaxies screenshot

What is it?
In the words of the Chronicles Master System window itself, "It's time to open your imagination and start creating stories to share with your friends." Yes, this system is a tool for creating player-generated content, something that is coveted and cherished by sandbox aficionados. In SWG, Chronicle Master is a profession; however, like piloting and politics, it's a system every player can participate in regardless of her combat class. And like any other profession, Chronicles offers more perks and rewards the higher you level. In essence, players are rewarded for generating and sharing content with others. How's that for encouraging player-generated content?

SWG screenshotBefore diving into the how-to, let's take a moment to define some key components of this system:
  • Chronicle Master (CM): The title of the profession wheel that gives details on every level of the system (found under the profession tab of the menu).
  • Quest Builder: The tool used to create the quests, whether in holocron or draft form (on the menu or type /quest).
  • Draft: A saved version of the constructed quest that can be modified freely but not shared. Drafts do not consume relics.
  • Holocrons: A physical item in your inventory that can be used (or traded) to participate in the quest. When "create quest" is clicked in the quest builder, a draft is turned into a holocron. Relics are consumed in this process.
  • Relics: Objects discovered as you play the game (representing memory experiences and visions) that represent tasks a player will have to undergo in order to complete a quest.
  • Fragments: Pieces of relics (acquired through loot, as a byproduct of creating a holocron, and by deconstructing a holocron) that can be combined to make relics at a 10:1 ratio.
  • Tokens: Currency earned for completing other people's quests or others completing yours.
  • Relic Booster Packs: Packs of random relics purchased with tokens from the Chronicles reward vendors.
Getting the party started
If you prefer, you can simply acquire a holocron from the bazaar, a friend, or just some schmo off the street to participate in a player-crafted quest without ever touching the quest building system yourself. However, actually creating and telling the stories might be where you're likely to have the most fun.

SWG screenshotIn update 13, each character was gifted a Chronicles Start Kit. Do not worry if your account wasn't live at that time; you will get a pop-up window with the kit to claim whenever you first log in, even if it is much later. After accepting, right-click on the kit in your inventory and select use; this will drop a load of relics into your quest builder (61 in fact). You can now begin piecing together your very own quest.

Bring up the quest builder and take note of the interface; it really is pretty intuitive and completely labeled. Your available relics are on the left. Title, description and tasks (the build) are in the center. Rewards, quest info, create, and clear are on the right. You select tasks from your relics on the left and add them with the "add task" button (or double click) then fill in the substance of the task. There are seven types of tasks available: destroy, destroy and loot, go to location, comm message, craft item, PvP objective, and retrieve item. As the creator, you control the variables of the tasks, such as the number of items needed, the drop rate, the name of the item that will drop, the title of the task, and the task's description. You can change the order of, add, remove, and edit tasks very easily.

Star Wars Galaxies screenshot
When building drafts, you can add any relic previously collected even if there are no charges left. CMs also can test the draft to ensure it runs as expected. However, once you plan on turning the draft into an active holocron, you must have enough charges in all relics used in the build. In draft form, you also cannot save rewards, so put them in only when you convert to a live quest holocron.

Oh, the hours I could spend just tinkering here at this quest builder, let alone finding other holocrons and participating in some quests! In fact, I don't want to leave now, but the article must go on!

Movin' on round the (profession) wheel
Chronicles XP to level up your abilities and skills is gained by crafting holocrons and when others complete your previously created quests. The crafting XP is immediate; however, the other XP -- along with the rewarded tokens -- is only earned when a player completes your quest. Both the XP and tokens must be claimed using the /chroniclerGetReserve command.

As you level, you are able to create longer and more complex quests and use higher levels of relics in your quest construction. Relics have a quality rating of one through four, the ascending numbers indicating how challenging or exciting the task is. Vincent76 has a great map on the official forums of where to acquire each level of relic.

When you're leveling, there are skill modifiers that increase different aspects of your quest creation. These are Holocron Task Efficiency (the number of different tasks that can be included in a quest), Relic Quality (allows the use of higher-quality relics in the creation of quests), Holocron Sharing Proficiency (the skill at allowing other players to share quests with them), Relic Mastery (determines the benefit of crafting relics from relic fragments), and Chronicler Ventriloquism (granted at master level, this ability allows you whisper dialogue to storyteller NPCs to repeat).

The Chronicler Ventriloquism skill is the ultimate in making dynamic, interactive experiences for the questers. The CM must be within approximately 50m and have the NPC targeted but not in line of sight. Tell me, who hasn't wanted an NPC to interact personally instead of with some scripted jargon that 20,000 players have heard before you and another 20,000 will hear after? Be still my heart!

Rewards, tangible and intrinsic
So you have decided to dive in along with me and start down that road toward CM. As you progress, you earn rewards for 14 out of the 18 levels. The rewards include booster packs, a statuette, two signs (one hanging and one standing), a structure deed (for a Chronicles tent), and a master robe. All items are tradeable.

OK, so maybe you are arguing what's the point to leveling up a CM and collecting goodies since you can't keep anything past December 15th? Well, because you can enjoy the rewards until then, of course! Sometimes possession is fleeting in life -- that's no excuse to avoid enjoying something. In fact, the very fact that this incredible feature will be lost in just a couple of months is making it difficult for me to tear myself away!

In all, this system really is as much fun as I had cautiously hoped. Unfortunately, underlying the excitement of playing mini-GM is the sad regret that it wasn't introduced early on in the game when there was a large, vibrant story-telling population. Even so, I am going to enjoy it as much as I can until that last moment when all the stars in the galaxy wink out. If anyone knows of some good quests to participate in, or maybe just wants to use me as his quest guinea pig, let me know! And please feel free to share your favorite experiences using Chronicles in the comments below.

Be immortalized
OK folks, here it is: SAR is going to run a highlight gallery of the cities and housing in SWG for December 9th's edition. That gives you folks almost two whole months to immortalize your favorite living spaces here on Massively for everyone to enjoy. You can either send me your own screenshots at mj@massively.com or invite me over to show the place off in person. Don't miss out on being a part of this housing extravaganza! Something so great deserves to be savored for a long, long time to come.

Every two weeks, Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!

This article was originally published on Massively.