Deliver ten rats

billyThere’s an interesting discussion going on over Keen’s latest post. Essentially, it’s talk about the value of quests in game, their current state in MMOs, and a healthy dose of nostalgia from some of the more seasonedgamers. A large crux of the discussion is a general consensus of malaise in regards to the current quest system in MMOs. I freely admit to feeling it as well. In WAR I’ve been feeling really burned out the last couple of days, and it’s probably because I’ve kissed my ORvR fun to the curb and been racing like an Indy car to the level 40 finish line*.

The ennui we all feel I see as being rooted in quest overload. It’s impossible to make an area with 20-30 quests in it, and have every one be memorable and inspiring to what you believe your role as a player character should be. There are too many quests! When we look back at old games like EQ, we remember the long, involved quests that required a lot of work on our ends. One quest that took you all over the place to get/kill/do stuff. The quests were more sparse in general from my experience, but the ones you could do had a feeling that it was more suited to a champion of my stature. Even in current MMOs the ones you really remember and look back at fondly, are the quests that were called EPIC. The prismatic and prismatic 2.0 in EQ2 are great examples of this. Hell, just the “Speak like a Dragon” quest to get your started on the first prismatic was impressive. We as players don’t remember the Kill-10-rats-and-bring-me-their-skins quests, we remember the ones that have us finding stuff out, and venturing into places we normally wouldn’t have gone.

The discussion over and Keen & Graev started because of Bioware’s latest video on their new MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. I for one am psyched over the game for a couple reasons.

  1. Star Wars
  2. S T A R    W A R S
  3. Bioware’s history of good games (See KotOR 1 & 2, Baldur’s Gate, etc…).
  4. Their insistence on story telling being an integral portion of their game.
  5. Their game engine, Hero Blade (Hero Engine now I think), by Simutronics, a special company in the corner of my heart (Gemstone, I ❤ you).

When the people over there  talk about questing, I hope they mean real questing, not being sent on a ridiculous number of small errands that have no meaning to my development as a Jedi. When they talk about real lasting consequences based on how you interact with the world, I hope they mean more than just some NPC doesn’t want to deal with me. I want my quests to be the whet stone to sharpen my character into the person he is. I want my enemies to be real enemies, with hatreds that aren’t just some surface platitude. I hope that in time, if I go to a their home planet, and they find out, I’ve got trouble on my hands.

I think that Bioware Austin has found out the cure to the questing/story paradigm. You start with one quest, and mainly just the one quest. Think of the RPGs we played as kids. Sure, there was stuff taking us all over the place, but it was with one central datum of a quest. There might be small side quests, but the focus is on one goal, and the entire story is crafted around that. Everything that has been delivered to us about this game says that each character will have a story. The quests and experiences that I have as a Jedi for the Republic will be totally different for the quests that I have as a Jedi for the Sith. The stress is on individual stories and development. That is the cure to the collective hatred of quests.

To be trite, less is more. 

 *As a side note, I hit level 39 plus about 20% into it last night, and my renown rank 33 is in it’s largest gap ever at a 6 level deficit, I never let it slip to more than 3 before this.

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Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

4 Responses to Deliver ten rats

  1. Drew Shiel says:

    I’m really hoping they come through on this. One of the things that’s really frustrating me about WoW right now – enough to keep me from buying WotLK, even though I played the demo for a bit – is that all the quests are the same as everyone else’s. They’ve made SOME concessions to ‘changing the world’ with the phasing stuff, and that’s nice – but it’s not personal.

  2. shadowwar says:

    Absolutely. I think phasing is an incredible tool in the story telling of MMOs, but it still dosen’t make it just yours. Admitedley, nothing in an MMO is going to be 100% just yours, but at least you can make iterations and attemps at a system that does make it at least more finely tuned to each player of a certain subset. I believe one of the interviews talked about how the story lines in the game are enough to fill multiple KotORs because each class or profession has it’s own tale.

  3. Nosmo King says:

    Lets add to the the fire that the majority of questing is made up of text with some special animations thrown in here and there. Perhaps a larger team would be required to create a larger number of quests used in, lets say, a ‘choose your own adventure’ style questing system which would not only allow your to decide which direction to take but would also change based on the outcome of encounter. It would definately be worth it except I think the MMORPG powers-that-be are moving further and further away from the essence of role playing (paper and dice-esque) and moving towards some kind of bastardized e-sport.

    Anyway you look at it what ever is in store for the future of MMOs it will be interesting.

  4. Pingback: Lagwar.com - PC Gaming’s Best in Top Notch Mediocrity » Blog Archive » Quests…of the FUTURE!!!

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