Sunday, February 1, 2009

MMO Questing - The Creator and Bane of Atmosphere

Before I begin today's post, there is something I want to go ahead and get out of the way. After some earlier comments about the whole "Ads vs Donations" discussion a few days back, I've decided to go ahead and throw up a donation button. I may make it something more elaborate later where it can show how much has been donated, the goal, and just some type of funny interaction. But as I have no earthly idea how to do that (If you do, I would love for you to drop a comment/email and explain how.) it's just a plain old button until any future modification can be made.

Now WHY should I have the audacity to ask for donations is something you may be thinking.

It's really there for a couple of reasons. One is my whole raffle idea seems to be very popular, and I'm quite excited to give out presents to people such as a
World of Warcraft subscription card, Key chains from Jinx, and other nerdy items. I could either...

A: Do this maybe a few times out of the year using my own funds


B: Accept donations from the community, help pay back what I spend on the site and help fund more events such as this.

To put it simply, the button is there if you want to use it. Nothing will change with the site if you do or do not except for perhaps more public fun events where I can give out prizes.

Now on to the post and discussion for today!


Imagine this, if you would.

You had just recently killed
Illidan Stormrage, Lord of Outland. You are at the apex of power in your little MMO, World of Warcraft, and there is no longer any challenges left to conquer. Then you go on to fight Kil'jaeden, the last known leader of the Burning Legion...

So what are some of the first quests for the next expansion,
Wrath of the Lich King?

Kill 6 snow mice.


My thoughts for you today are about questing in
MMOs. How effective quests can truly immerse a player into a virtual universe and make them feel like the actual hero they are playing, and how a horrible quest can utterly ruin the experience to bored tedium and /quit.

So what IS questing exactly? Well kiddies, it's basically a task given to you by an
NPC(Non-playable Character) for you to perform for some type of in-game reward. Generally there is some type of lore associated with the task as well in an attempt to draw the player more and more in that virtual universe. This generally ranges from very menial tasks for low level characters (IE Delivering items from one NPC to another, Killing low level monsters, performing some type of task that can be done without any assistance.) to assisting with a threat to a kingdom or the entire world.(IE Killing Onyxia, Stopping Rallos Zek, Stopping the fabric of Time being ripped.)

It's interesting to note that the game
EverQuest was really lacking in the whole quest department until recently. Most players would only ever complete maybe 3-6 quests during their entire time playing. Not a day, but from the day they started to the day they quit the game entirely. However one of EverQuest's strong points in my opinion was the "epic" quests for each class. Each class would have a quest specific to them alone that could take months, even years, to complete. Part of the reason was due to the game's horrible use of low drop rates on rare items and their use of "place holders" for monsters.

(Simply put. You would have maybe a 5% chance for the "rare" monster to spawn instead of a normal one, then a
similar chance for the item you want to drop. It could take hours/days to get the monster you want to spawn....let alone drop the item you wanted.)

Now while the process could be horribly
tedious, the tasks you were performing were not menial in the sense of some level 80 Deathknight being told to sweep the floor. With that point let me escape this tangent and get back to the main subject.

A good use of questing to make the player (YOU) feel like you're part of the game's "story". That you are changing it with your actions instead of the world staying forever in a static state of
existence. (Which it is, why haven't the gnomes moved back into Gnomeregan yet? I've killed Thermaplugg at least 20 times..) This is called immersion, ambiance, atmosphere, and what have you. This was the charm of Dungeons&Dragons and many popular single player RPGs. A good use of questing is also simply good story telling, except you're letting the player take an active part of that story..

Which is what the player wants.

The polar opposite applies as well. Horrible use of questing only breeds boredom. Having players perform drudgery isn't going to make them happy, no matter what the in-game reward happens to be. It also a clear reminder that the player is doing just that, playing a video game. Now while menial tasks is expected at low levels, it shouldn't be expected after a player has just recently slain a

Let me play Devil's
advocate here however. Is it feasible to ask developers to make every single quest an epic encounter? No. For the simple reason that eventually what is epic and the highlight of your MMO career is suddenly the norm. I wouldn't be so proud of my achievement of finishing my Paladin's epic quest in EverQuest if I had performed dozens of similar quests. A player wouldn't be proud of doing the Wrath Gate quest series in World of Warcraft if he had done a few hundred similar quests prior/after.

So where is the happy median?


That wasn't a rhetorical question! What is it?! That is today's discussion. What is the balance needed for fun, entertaining quests and to keep the epic quests from becoming simply average? Or if you want, just talk about your experience with questing in various
MMOs in general, or any quest that you found particularly memorable.

Discuss, and enjoy the Super Bowl(


  1. I do believe Wrath does a great job of making you feel as though you're part of the story. The opening quests are actually rather heroic in nature: keeping away the nerubians, fighting off the Vrykul, saving stranded soldiers. In fact, most of the quest text out of Valiance Keep is very "oh, it's YOU! I've heard of you! Thank the Light _____ sent you to help, we may have a chance yet!"

    And remember that you did not kill Illidan single-handedly. In fact, you really didn't kill Illidan at all--that was Maiev Shadowsong. It's an easy way for Blizzard to canonize his death by saying "Illidan was defeated by Maiev Shadowsong and a band of heroes." Were you to attempt to solo Illidan at 70, or maybe even 80, you'd still get your butt handed to you.

    Those nerubians don't look so "low level" anymore, do they? :P

    One of the ways that developers use to fool us is this: they introduce something new into the world, thus making relative strength comparisons difficult.

    For example, you may have successfully plowed your way through the Molten Core with 39 of your buddies and mastered the methods of killing fire elementals and salamanders, but that does NOT mean you're skilled at handling fel-corrupted beasts. That band of tricky satyr you clobbered in Felwood is absolutely no match for that massive Wrathguard and his gigantic felhound companion patrolling the wastes of Hellfire Penninsula.

    This change allows the devs to "reset the scale" so to speak, introducing new relatively low-level beasties and making it plausible that they're more threatening than the high level mobs that infested the previous endgame. The reason? "You've not fought creatures quite like this before."

  2. To me, WoW has always been the same boring stuff. So far, every expansion has repeated itself in a sense. Quests consist of: Go to X, kill Y, return for reward. But then again, most MMOs do that. In turn, it equals hours of being bored while only pressing a couple buttons or just 1 button if you're a Death Knight (cast sequence macro).

    As far as EverQuest goes, it's a constant grind. Or at least it was until recently. With the last few expansions, SOE has implemented a quest system with the new areas. Now, everyone can either quest or grind. Whichever they prefer. Of course, what I think will be the major downfall of the game was the addition of Mercs with the last expansion. That totally killed grouping. It's damn near impossible to find a cleric to get buffed with before the daily grind if you don't have the expansion. But regardless, I still enjoy the game as it is still more of a challenge for me than WoW or any other MMO has been.

    Yes, that was slightly off topic but meh. As to the topic at hand, Blizz done a good job with all the realm first things as well as with the gate opening events that could only happen once on each server. EQ had something similar back in the day. Matter of fact it happened on my server. There was an extremely powerful dragon known as The Sleeper. He was a cross breed of 2 different races of dragons on Norrath. The Sleeper was rumored to be extremely powerful and due to such, every other dragon on Norrath put him into an eternal slumber. Well, a guild whose name I can't recall to save my life, woke him up. Caused the server to crash. Once the server restarted, they woke him up again only to see a GM spawn and make him despawn. The Sleeper has not been seen since. I have prowled his lair countless times and and camped his rumored spawn point for weeks. Never showed. Me and several guildies went and killed the whole zone, many times over in hopes he would pop. No dice. That is some of the cool stuff that should be allowed to happen. The devs put something in the game for the storyline but then screw it up when players follow the story line. I do apologize if none of this makes sense though, it's pretty late and I have work in the morning. Just ignore my rambling. If it does make sense though, lemme know lol.


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