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Quests

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Role Playing (Games) 148

Aeonite writes "Quests have always been a part of fantasy gaming; from the earliest days of Dungeons & Dragons to World of Warcraft's myriad quest lines, quests have given players purpose beyond button-pressing and mindless grinding. Jeff Howard's Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narrative is an exploration of such quests in both literary and gaming contexts, comparing and contrasting their appearances in each medium and striving to bring the two worlds closer together by imbuing game quests with more meaning." Read below for the rest of Michael's reviewIn his preface, Howard first attempts to define quests, both in his own terms and with respect to the likes of Campbell and Frye. In short, a narrative quest is a "journey to attain a meaningful goal," such as one might find in The Odyssey, The Faerie Queene, or The Quest for the Holy Grail. Such quests are romantic, archetypal, and laden with meaning and purpose. On the contrary, a game quest is in Howard's words "an activity in which players must overcome challenges to reach a goal." The disparity in the language used here is clear, especially when Howard goes on to clarify game quests as being "about action that is meaningful to a player on the level of ideas..." Narrative quests are about meaningful goals; game quests are about meaningful action. Howard quotes Auden as saying that "the search for a lost button is not a quest," but is this not exactly the sort of quest we find in MMOs like WOW? Time-filling quests to give the player some sort of activity, to provide "meaningful play" in the absence of meaningful goals.

This inherent problem with quests in games is further touched upon in the introduction to the book, which explains that its own goal is to prove quests out as a bridge between games and narratives. "[I]nteractivity is a prerequisite of enactment but is not sufficient to produce it...," says Howard. "[E]nactment requires active, goal-directed effort, often in the form of balancing long-term and short-term goals." Campbell, Frye, Auden and Propp are all consulted and cited here, exploring their own takes on quests in terms of their place in the heroic monomyth, medieval romance, subjective personal experience, and a "sequence of defined transformations," respectively. However, the most enlightening point comes after an exploration of the history of quest games (from D&D through WOW) where, quoting Tronstad, the author explains that "the paradox of questing is that as soon as meaning is reached, the quest stops functioning as quest." The profusion of more-or-less meaningless quests in MMORPGs "causes the 'main quest' to disappear" according to Howard, who cites the "bleak scenario" of WOW as not being conducive to meaningful gameplay.

Given that challenge, the main portion of the book serves as a sort of lesson plan towards the creation of better, more meaningful quests in modern games. In Chapter 1, "Introduction to Quest Design," Howard asserts that designing meaningful action is key, and ample examples of symbolism and spiritual analogy tied to the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are offered. The following chapters each cover a different element of quest design, more or less aligned along the same breakdowns as one might find in a MUD codebase: w(or)ld, mob(ile), obj(ect) and the like. Each one is broken up into two sections: theory, and practice, the former covering Howard's thoughts on the topic, and the latter delving into practical examples of how to create that quest element using the Neverwinter Nights Aurora Toolset.

Chapter 2 covers the "Spaces of the Quest," providing a sort of primer on level design and world design, from dungeons and labyrinths to dreamlike allegorical spaces. Chapter 3 then focuses on "Characters," both NPC and PC alike, including a discussion of encounters, dialog trees, archetypes and some minor venom spat Fable-wards due to the presence in that game of characters literally named Mentor and Hero; perhaps worth mentioning in Fable's defense is that both Hero (of Hero and Leander fame) and Mentor (Odysseus' sagacious friend) are both legitimate names derived from Greek myth. But I digress.

Chapter 4 explores "Objects," specifically those quest items that players seek out and gather on their quests. "[T]he drive to acquire objects in Everquest challenges literary understandings of games because players do not seek to interpret these objects," Wesp is quoted as saying here. The assumption seems to be that quests should strive to contain objects laden with meaning and symbolism, whether they be "rods of eight parts" that one must piece together or symbolic tattoos such as those found in Planescape: Torment. Certainly, many MMOs could learn a few lessons from this chapter, being as so many have players running around collecting feces, offal and skins. Indeed, the quests that send them off to do such things are explored in Chapter 5, "Challenges." Here Howard covers fetch/collect quests, kill quests, escort quests and the like, providing a somewhat awkward apology for kill quest proliferation by trying to compare kill grinding in games like WOW with the intense violence practiced by Odysseus. Of course, Odysseus was never sent on a quest to kill 12 Cyclopes to collect their eyes for a healing potion; once again, the difference between meaningful action and meaningful goals rears its ugly head. Indeed, Howard provides a somewhat telling example of an attempt to rectify this disparity in his scripting example, wherein he has King Arthur bestowing Gawain several keys to use on various chests so Gawain can open them in sequence to find objects hidden inside each which will help him on his quest. Surely there are examples of this sort of rote quest sequencing to be found in folklore and mythology; Russian mythology in particular is full of things done in threes. Yet one cannot help but feel that it makes the whole thing somewhat less epic in the retelling when a knight of the Round Table is reduced to playing puzzle games.

Chapter 6 of the book closes out the lesson plan with "Quests and Pedagogy," an example of how Howard used The Crying of Lot 49 with his own students to explore the nature of quests in a video game setting. This rather short chapter is followed by a Conclusion, summarizing what's come before, and then several lengthy Appendices: a guide to the Aurora Toolset; an excerpt from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and an excerpt from The Faerie Queene. An excellent Works Cited page (nearly as long as Chapter 6) and an adequate index close out the book. In total, the book weighs in at 248 pages, although 46 pages of that is introduction (15 more if you count Chapter 1) and over 80 pages is composed of conclusion, appendices and endmatter. Thus, about half of the book is either introduction or conclusion, frontmatter or endmatter, and this makes the book feel somewhat imbalanced, taking a long time to introduce and then back up the topic while spending not enough time (in my opinion) actually working through it. Howard's writing style is excellent and the subject matter worthy; I wish he had spent more time in his book's Act 2; perhaps he would have been able to extend his ideas even further than he does, striving not only to infuse quests with meaningful activity but with meaningful goals as well. Too much of game quest design is derived from the Latin origin of the word quest (which Howard tells us comes from questare, which means " to seek,") and not enough on the purpose of the quest, which is to have a heroic journey with a "Happily Ever After" at the end. Yet MMOs almost by definition require that many millions of players walk the exact same heroic path; would the epic tale of King Arthur be so epic if his round table had 10 million chairs, with ten million knights forever searching for their own copy of the Grail?

"Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest," says King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "If he will give us food and shelter for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail."

"Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he will be very keen," replies a French soldier. "Uh, he's already got one, you see."

Therein lies the problem: he's already got one, and so does everyone else. Because everyone has done the quest, and furthermore everyone wants to keep grinding for the +2 grail, which will no doubt be available in the next expansion, or perhaps in the Player's Handbook IV, or as an exclusive Dragon Magazine feature, available to subscribers of D&D Insider. Many (if not most) fantasy games can never have meaningful, magical quests where you get the vorpal sword and slay the Jabberwock and save the world, because their Sisyphean stories can never truly end; the Horde will always be at war with the Alliance, and the ring will never, ever make it to that volcano, and there will always be another supplement or sequel, another dungeon to raid, another hamlet of Hommlet to rescue. One telling Neverwinter Nights module is called Infinite Dungeons; the solitary hero has turned into the solitaire hero, ever grinding away. Sure, Odysseus had his wandering Odyssey as he searched for home, and Galahad took years to quest for the Holy Grail, but in each case they eventually found what they were looking for. Unfortunately, right now much of the game industry seems to generally be following the example of King Pellinore, endlessly pursuing his Questing Beast.

What Howard attempts to do with Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives is truly worthwhile, and I look forward to the dialog his book will inspire. He would have us re-examine the game quest in terms of the narrative quest, and apply those lessons to gaming. The book is well worth a read, both as a lesson plan for making the activity of questing more meaningful, as well as a first step towards giving games that rely heavily on quests — especially MMOS — more meaningful goals. If the game industry can pull that off, it will be an impressive feat, worthy of Sir Galahad himself. If not... well, there's always another 12 wolf pelts to collect.

You can purchase Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (4, Interesting)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935411)

While MMOs are not all that new (Ultima online anyone?), the quest part seems to be getting dumber and dumber as the world moves on to better graphics and larger quantities of gear. Grinding seems to be all you do in later games. I was originally a big Baldur's Gate fan, loved the quest line, side quests and customization there.

I contend that MMOs wont get to this level of questing again until we go back to unique items. Eg the holy grail gaining a faction special privileges like +2 to all skills and only one can be in a realm/server at a time. Then the players can quest over it and battle and gain things that way. As the grail goes from faction to faction they can either guard it themselves or they can use resources to put it in an adequately difficult location. Have enough items like this and you get quests defined by players rather than the grind of doing it over and over again. As a guild gets more and more of the unique items it would get more powerful as a whole. You would get small uprisings with people trying to take over the guild and people moving around rouge style stealing items. It would be fantastic game play. Princesses giving special trade privileges, Relics gaining stats, deities granting favor.

ahh but I am back daydreaming again. People love gear grinding too much. Thus the reason I quit Wow.

This book though seems to point in the right direction though. I love questing, rather than the goal being button finding or getting to lvl 70, an emotional satisfaction is attached to completing a lengthy storyline. In WoW there is absolutely no attachment to any NPC in that game unless you went through Warcraft 1,2,and 3. But it is good to see that there is enough interest in the Quest problem to generate a book about it.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (4, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935499)

I thought of that a long time ago. Like most player-submitted ideas for MMOs, it sounds great at first, but has some difficult to pass problems. The problem in this case is that most players will never touch these items. As they realize how difficult it is to get them, they will give up, and move on to other things. Of course, if your game is good in other ways, then maybe the "other things" they move onto is the regular dime a dozen MMO quests. MMOs are different from single player CRPGs. In a CRPG, if there is only one item, that is OK, because there is only one adventurer.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935619)

i agree most will quit looking.. unless the item is so amazing it is worth the time.. then you run into whom ever has it is broken beyond anyones ability to defeat..

one game i play has a decent balance .. the uniques are rare - very rare.. but if you play enough you are bound to have a chance at one.. sadly the ingame economy sucks because of this..

either youhave the best posiable and the cost is extreamly crazy or even if it is still damned good but not the very perfect best - it isn't worth much at all..

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

0xygen (595606) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935777)

So what is it you play then?
Maybe Endless Online? Or a MUD/MUSH?
Or something new and exciting I haven't played?*

* Hoping it's this one!

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936683)

it's alittle diffrent than your normal MMO..

if do join i am on BCU/Helix - send me a PM

http://www.airrivals.net/ [airrivals.net]

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935663)

Disclaimer: I'm not an MMO player, because I hate grinding.

The problem of low-level or casual players not being able to attain the really big items can easily be compensated for by creating quests for them that are related to it, quests with their own unique (or semi-unique) rewards.

Games like WoW don't have the right kind of player base to do something like this, but I could envision a game where a half-dozen high-level guilds all fight to collect a set of relics that will . Those guilds could sponsor, hire, or intimidate other, smaller guilds into fighting proxy wars and doing various other things for them. High level players would replace NPCs as questgivers, offering rewards to lower level players for retrieving various items that those players can't use, but will be useful to higher levels.

It would take a lot of work to balance and keep interesting, and it would take a fan base dedicated to playing the game RIGHT, but it would be an awesome game.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935919)

Hi, You just described EVE Online. Have fun with that game!

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937143)

it would take a fan base dedicated to playing the game RIGHT

Sorry, but killing people just for shits doesn't satisfy this condition. Fix that, and EVE may just fit the description.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935935)

Exactly, now you may not get the Wow grinding kiddies over, but I am quite certain with the burnout rate of these games, something like this would be fantastic and would attract enough players to generate a nice income. heck just look at games like Kings of Chaos, viral games where recruitment is priority #1. Being part of a game guild that stole the Grail from another guild, or currently holds the most relics is great. Or being hired by a guild to use your rouge skills to become a spy in another guild and steal an item for a nice lump sum would be fun. heck even in WoW we see some of this when people try to raid Org or the undercity.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936057)

fan base dedicated to playing the game RIGHT

Two issues:
How can you define how I play?
Someone needs to post a revised spam solutions response checklist to make any group of people 'behave' appropriately...

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (2, Interesting)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936097)

Things like that already happen somewhat in WoW, when it comes to higher lvls acting as a help to lower lvls. Is a common thing that lower lvls will pay for runs through lower lvl instances by a higher lvl, or paying for them to help in a quest that requires more than one person. Or even paying for enchants, items and craft when you twink a character. There's always interaction between lower and higher levels. When it comes to guilds, I've seen hardcore raiding ones that have lvling guilds at one side, where the members can level and learn their classes, and then when they consider them ready, move them to the main guild. I agree that it would be nice to see more interaction between Alliance and Horde besides battlegrounds and random pvp ganking. As someone mentioned before, something like a grial of some sorts that a faction could get and hide from the other, while that other wants to find it and retrieve it for itself, would be a great addition, and it doesn't go against the lore or what the two factions are supposed to be. A lot of people would like to see different things in WoW, but they usually forget (because probably they never played them), that this world is based on previous games, and there are certain things already set in stone (why is there an alliance and a horde faction, for example. I've seen people complaining about the factions and it puzzles me O.o) It would also be nice if the major quest lines in a game could affect it permantently somehow, and not result in a temporary change, like the openings of the Ahn'Qiraj doors in Tanaris, in WoW 1.0. Or the more recent Sunwell zone, where both factions were able to upgrade and open different bosses inside the dungeon. In any case, there are others MMOs to look at. I always see complains about WoW. After 3, almost 4 years of playing it, I still love it, because I just love the lore, the characters, and the idea. Yes, there are some boring things in the game, but doesn't that exist in all others?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936319)

Those guilds could sponsor, hire, or intimidate other, smaller guilds into fighting proxy wars and doing various other things for them. High level players would replace NPCs as questgivers, offering rewards to lower level players for retrieving various items that those players can't use, but will be useful to higher levels.

I thought about this sort of thing years ago when Rockstar was talking about making a MMO GTA-- the idea being that a player could work his way up to being a mob boss, hire bodyguards, and decide on his own missions. Then you basically make an economy with limited resources, so that the different mob families are pretty much forced to fight it out. Even if you only limit the amount of land available, you can at least have turf wars.

And then you could add in the ability to be a spy, to betray your faction, to murder your boss and try to take his place, but then have to worry about whether you'll be accepted as the new boss, or if someone else will kill you.

It all seems like a great sort of idea, but it also sounds like something that would be very hard to execute and balance out. You'd have to invent mechanics for security and organization that I think are beyond current RPGs or RTS games that I've played. And then when it's all done, you still have to worry about whether or not it's going to be fun.

Sometimes people really like organizations and being a part of things, but then again, they don't like having bosses and being told what to do. You hear the common complaint about MMO grinding, "Why do I want a second job?" The question could become, "Why do I want a second societal hierarchy that I have to fit into?" or "Why do I want a second asshole boss?"

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936537)

The problem of low-level or casual players not being able to attain the really big items can easily be compensated for by creating quests for them that are related to it, quests with their own unique (or semi-unique) rewards.

Easily be compensated? Don't be ridiculous. The problem is that you can't easily create anything unique. The entire point of games in terms of economics (ALL GAMES) not just MMOGs, is that you develop a small amount of content to be played hopefully by several hundred thousand or million players.

To give casual players quests with their own unique or semi-unique rewards would turn that upside down... you'd be writing quests and designing items with the intention that only single or at least a small fraction of the players could use it. Since a given player will only play a small fraction of the quests you have to develop 10s of thousands of quests. Meanwhile the cost to develop your game goes WAY up, while players are PISSed because the quests they had available to them weren't as good as what their fellow players had.

but I could envision a game where a half-dozen high-level guilds all fight to collect a set of relics that will . Those guilds could sponsor, hire, or intimidate other, smaller guilds into fighting proxy wars and doing various other things for them.

Oh whee how fun for the casual player that would be! Lets log in and be some one eleses bitch. Lets mule their stuff around, and become their grunts and their farmers. Yeah that's real fulfilling and fun. I know I can't wait to farm 1000 units of tin and 2000 orc scalps and 4000 small stones so that your 'top' guild can build a catapult in its pointless never ending dick waving contest against some other 'top' guild.

I hate to burst your bubble, but nobody wants to play THAT game except the people at the top, the people who think they can get to the top, and the lunatic fringe whose dream in these games is to run a flower shop, or be a tailor.

Most "casuals" are exactly like hard core players except for the time invested per week. They want the good items, they want to see the end game. They are frustrated that the progress is stupidly slow (which is designed to keep hard core players from racing through it. They are frustrated that the end-game is blocked to them because you simply have to start scheduling life around the game to participate in raids, and they simply won't or can't do that. But its what they WANT.

What would casual players REALLY want from an MMO? That the hardcore players somehow weren't in it.

That way they would be able to be in the top guilds. They would be able to make discoveries. The designers could remove the most egregious of time-sinks because the casuals aren't going to race through it anyway. The designers could do the end game so that it could be played by pick-up groups instead of scheduled guild raids. That they'd get their money's worth since they weren't subsidizing piles of content they'll never be able to see and subsizing the bandwidth hardcore players use.

I'm not sure HOW to best accomplish this, but that's what casual players really want. They want to play in a world DESIGNED to let them play as casuals, competing and adventuring with other casuals.

Nobody really wants to be a casual in a hard core game, and suggesting that a hard core game would be 'teh awesome' for casuals if the hard core players could sponsor and intimidate them into doing their menial shit represents a complete and total failure to 'get it'.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937079)

What would casual players REALLY want from an MMO? That the hardcore players somehow weren't in it.

That way they would be able to be in the top guilds. They would be able to make discoveries. The designers could remove the most egregious of time-sinks because the casuals aren't going to race through it anyway. The designers could do the end game so that it could be played by pick-up groups instead of scheduled guild raids. That they'd get their money's worth since they weren't subsidizing piles of content they'll never be able to see and subsizing the bandwidth hardcore players use.

I'm not sure HOW to best accomplish this, but that's what casual players really want. They want to play in a world DESIGNED to let them play as casuals, competing and adventuring with other casuals.

Thats simple. All you have to do put a limit on how much time a player can spend log'd in. This will never happen though as hardcore gammers tend to be the most loyal and spend the most money. So executives will keep trying to please everyone.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937545)

Thats simple. All you have to do put a limit on how much time a player can spend log'd in.

I've often thought that might be workable. Its actually how the old BBS games used to work, since phone lines were limited, you had to restrict people to a limited set of time just to let people play. It worked very well, and everyone could compete effectively... even if they -gasp- had a job or life.

This will never happen though

Agreed. Sadly.

as hardcore gammers tend to be the most loyal and spend the most money. So executives will keep trying to please everyone

That is an interesting assumption. I'm not sure its actually true.

1) Perhaps casuals are less loyal because the games are designed to punish us for being casuals. The ridiculous hard-core time sinks and blocked unaccessible raid-only content, being relagated to scavenging the hardcore leavings from the auction house because that's the most "efficient" way to gear up ... etc... all weighs heavily against us, and ruin the fun, and burns us out and bores us.

2) Perhaps casuals in a game designed for them, would be every bit as loyal as a hard core, because the challenges and timesinks were appropriate.

3) Hardcores may spend "more money", but the casuals are more profitable. The guy who logs in 10 hours a month pays the same $15/mo as a hard core, but uses a tiny fraction of the content and bandwidth that a hardcore does. He's also far less likely to raise a massive stink about some perceived class or weapon imbalance he's perceived.

4) Casuals vastly outnumber the hardcores. I remember reading the statistics for everquest once that they published in a newsletter. The number of active (meaning paid) accounts that were multiple years old that didn't have a character past 50th level or higher was shocking. The number of paid multiple year accounts that didn't have a single character "flagged" or "keyed" for various high level zones was staggering. Something like 95% of accounts had never been to the top end Luclin Zone (Vex Thal), or visited Tier 2 planes in Planes of Power. (They later relaxed the requirements to get in... I'm not sure exactly.) The significant majority of players didn't have their "Epic 1.0" item, and this was at a point, YEARS after they were introduced, but were still considered 'good' to 'very good' for most classes and a desireable status symbol even if you'd gotten something better. (and really only a hardcore had much shot of having something much better in most cases) at the time.

Overall most of the players had at least one high level player, and spent the vast majority of their time mucking around in the pre-endgame content of the most recent expansion or two.

Everquest was clearly not designed for the majority of its players. WoW I'm confident isn't either, although I've never seen numbers to back it up.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24937213)

Cap connection times. Sorry, you can only play 8 hours a week. Spend it wisely.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935671)

Well the idea being, that there are enough items and holding one affects your entire guild. So rather than a singular quest you get a guild quest where you (like arthur) get a group together to benefit the whole.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936849)

perhaps you think to much of an item as an object. It could be a Keep as in DAoC. Or why not a whole city?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935515)

I steal your soul and cast Get-a-life Lvl. 1,000,000.

Your body explodes into a fine bloody mist, because you are only a Lvl. 2 nerd.

Seriously, find something more productive to do with your time than going on imaginary quests. We all played the same things when we were little, but don't you think it's time to get a life?

Yeah, but... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935607)

I steal your soul and cast Get-a-life Lvl. 1,000,000.
Your body explodes into a fine bloody mist, because you are only a Lvl. 2 nerd.


...when do you put on your robe and wizard hat?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Dolda2000 (759023) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935643)

Seriously, are the two mutually exclusive by necessity?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24937581)

When the game has no ending, and just gives you more and more shit to do so that you end up sitting at the computer for hours playing with virtual action figures and you do this more than once every so often, yes - having a life and that are exclusive.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (2, Funny)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935667)

'but don't you think it's time to get a life?' A what?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (3, Funny)

paazin (719486) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935849)

We all played the same things when we were little, but don't you think it's time to get a life?

Waaait a second. You're posting on slashdot and you claim to have a life?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24937531)

Funny you should mention that. I'm only allowed to read it at work because my wife says I get too nerdy when I'm on the computer at home :) And on that note, I'm heading home...

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935525)

Slasdot was slashdotted?

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Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935597)

The big problem here is that people play these games primarily so that they get to be the hero. If they wanted to be nobodies in a big world of people who are more interested in more important things, then they could just go out into the real world. The aim of MMORPGs, I suspect, is to try to make each player feel like he or she is THE hero in a bigger world.

Of course, you quickly run into the old paradox: In a world where everyone is special, no one is.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936541)

except in WoW, nobodies a hero. It's all about collecting the lootz...some people it's all about the RP...and lootz.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936881)

except in WoW, nobodies a hero.

Alex Trebek [wikipedia.org] would tend to disagree.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936999)

One interesting angle that has not (to my knowledge anyway) been tried yet in MMORPGs would be to combine the extensive crafting and materials system(s) of the Mythic MMORPGs (Dark Age of Camelot [wikipedia.org] and soon Warhammer Online [wikipedia.org] ) and the Neverwinter Nights [wikipedia.org] games with the quest system with no preset limited number of 'recipies' (i.e. every potential combination can produce something, but it depends upon the skill of the crafter and the materials available). This would create a great deal more variety in high level equipment making the MMORPG game potentially much more interesting. At least people wouldn't all have the exact same gear which could contribute to helping individual players to feel a bit more unique. It would be even cooler to introduce something like the GURPS [wikipedia.org] or even better the HERO System [wikipedia.org] character building framework with completely customizable powers, advantages, disadvantages, and more point like builds. They could even take some combat points from Rolemaster [wikipedia.org] so that concepts like 'level' matter less in absolute terms and are more relative (i.e. if the Derik the commoner gets really lucky on his attack roll then he can fell Thaargad the Mighty Orc Warlord in one shot with a broken bottle) and combat is more random and unpredictable. That would really open up the potential for combination type character builds at the risk of possibly affecting balance, but really what would you rather have: A game with tons of possible and varied combinations, all with advantages, disadvantages, and variations, or a perfectly balanced game with only a couple of choices where everyone is pigeon holed into one of a very small set of "choices"?

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937855)

One of the problems with choices, is that people don't make them. Does not matter if you have 5 or 5 million, pepople will find the most powerful ones and then choose them.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935645)

I still play WoW, still love doing quests. I specifically didn't touch some zones of Outlands until I had completed all of the quests in other zones first. While "questing" can be annoying, I still enjoy those simple interactions, a NPC drops an item, I turn in a quest to start a long chain. I still enjoy those chains, as evidenced by the fact that I still haven't completed everything in Outlands yet.

It's the storyline that compels me to complete quests. I learn more about the lore than what I got out of Warcraft 2 and 3 (didn't play original). And I get to see the direction that the original storyline is taking.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (2, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935837)

I think the "dumb" nature of MMO quests are partly what fuels their addictiveness. It's not that they're dumb per se, but that they're very tiny and quick. So the customer is always finishing up a quest and ready for another, with no down time. Everytime you log in, there is something new to do, and you accomplish something before logging off again. Compare to single player computer RPG games. There a quest may take days or weeks to finish. Players have long term goals, and some evenings they may do a lot of activities but nothing is ever checked off on their to-do list.

In a single player game, there may be a quest to rescue someone from kidnappers. Along the way the player may have to figure out where to go, get some clues, earn money to afford to travel, bypass the blockade of a city, defeat the kidnappers, etc. With side quests along the way to build up your survivability. But the games leave it up to the players to figure out what to do.

But if an MMO had anything near this complex it would break it up into micro-quests. Such as "go see Bob", "kill boars until you find the one that stole Bob's map", "kill orcs until you find the second half of the map", "return to Bob", "go across the street to the cartographer to repair the map", "go see Bob again", "follow the map to the next town", etc.

I haven't seen any MMO quests that last multiple levels or that give the players long term goals that they have to figure themselves. The players create their own long term goals of "try to find more quest givers" or "get more levels". Very addictive, but not very deep and there's not a lot of thinking involved. I get annoyed in some games when some new player arrives and quickly asks "is there a way to get an arrow that point to the quest objectives?"

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936361)

When level 60 was still a cap in WoW, the overall quest chain that went from essentially level 1 to level 60 was the Onyxia quest chain. It tied everything together very nicely - though everything in this case meant the human quest lines.

I don't think that long-term goals is the problem. The problem, as someone else pointed out, is that in a world where everyone's special, no one is. As everyone can do quests, the differentiation comes from gear. Hence the gear grind to become epic.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935977)

I contend that MMOs wont get to this level of questing again until we go back to unique items. Eg the holy grail gaining a faction special privileges like +2 to all skills and only one can be in a realm/server at a time. Then the players can quest over it and battle and gain things that way

I'd like to contrast this with my experiences recently, playing Oblivion. I've restarted the game, and this time added a few mods that did things like add an archery shop and such. I've noticed that I have a really hard time telling the difference between an iron sword, a steel one, and a silver one -- and I can't really tell much difference in most of the bows (except the hard-hitting one I bought, which is almost certainly exploit-level in terms of single-shot damage, but has a very slow reload time).

The result of this, and of having early-on bought some "Very Good in slot" gear (++Marksman skill ;)) for my character from the same archery shop, is that I no longer care as much about gear. I carry a magic sword for dealing with ghosts, and silver arrows for similar use, but in general I find myself using the steel sword I have -- because I like its looks better than the silver one.

Normally (and I still struggle with this mentality), I'd hoard gear as I found it, always skirting the encumbrance limit -- with the mindset that "I might not see anything this good for a while". Screw that. I rather like being able to say, "I'm saving up for those nice boots, but in the meantime these leather ones are Just Fine" -- and continue on just questing away. The enemies seem to be dropping WORSE gear than I have (well, now some have some silver), but at some point I'll encounter any non-magical weaopon. Now, I pretty much just pick up weapons if I know I can sell it when I get back to town.

The net effect of this is, I'm actually enjoying the game. :D Sure, I'm still too much of a pack rat. (That'll change once I get someplace I can permanently Stash Stuff.) However, the ubiquity of good equipment (and the fact that the "next tier" seems to be stuff that I'll have to enchant myself) means that I can quest to my hearts' content. :)

Hard-to-get unique items make questing less fun: they're all steps in the goal of Getting That New Shield. When your gear is clsoe enough TO the quest rewards as to not really matter, then you can do quests for the fun of DOING them. (experience the lore, etc.)

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936069)

There is a Bag of Holding mod for Oblivion, its great because it allowed my PC to actually make some money because I can actually sell everything that I pick up.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936725)

Sure, I'm still too much of a pack rat. (That'll change once I get someplace I can permanently Stash Stuff.)

That doesn't stop you from being a pack rat. I'm the same way, though. I purchased two homes in that game just for my loot. One of them was highly decorative, the other was just a shack for me to put potentially useful crap.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936029)

Currently, no.

Literary quests are have an inherently epic scale. The journey is long, the dangers are formidable, and the amount of interaction with the populace for research/clues/guidance is high. Often, the story is the narrative of the quest.

MMOG's are limited by their premise that 100% of the players represent 1% (at best) of the population of a functioning society: the adventurers or heroes. At best, 1% of the characters in any MMOG (the NPC's) are supposed to represent 99% of the population: farmers, craftsmen, solders, bookkeepers, children, hermits, prisoners, what have you.

Then there are the enemies, which can outnumber the "normals". This leads to an artificial economy based on monster slaughter. Kill monster, get gold, suffer through stilted interaction with normal to spend money on equipment. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Every MMOG operates under this model, and every tiny movement away from that to a functioning society is seen as a huge improvement. Until the normals have sufficient AI to have functional existences (sleep, eat, shit, get drunk, etc) rather than just waiting to spew their scripted dialog, game society is stillborn, and MMOG's are little more than first person shooters on a grand scale.

Sadly, this won't change until photo-realistic real time graphics are achieved and game developers are forced to concentrate on making the world functional.

Thank you, COMON$, for not using the letters RPG in your question.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937387)

I don't think the bottleneck is in the graphics. The bottleneck is in the fact that AI on such a grand scale is so difficult to implement and so burdensome on server hardware that it is exorbitantly expensive to implement.

Once server hardware is powerful enough to, e.g., implement a different genetically generated AI algorithm for each mob, be it townsperson or creature from the black lagoon, and progressively mutate these AIs overtime based on their respective aptitude (ie, monster that has AI that lets him live longer is more apt to procreate than monster that lives for 30 seconds and dies due to outside interference - ie other mobs)... well, once that's able to be accomplished, I think we'll start seeing more simulations done in world - rather than a static playground.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937773)

Graphics isn't the bottleneck, and neither is AI. If anything is the bottleneck, as you say, it's hardware, both for servers and home. The same hardware advances that make server AI feasible are the ones that trickle down to home hardware and make penultimate graphics possible.

Graphics is an easy sell for games, AI isn't. Pretty screenshots on the back of the box are self evident, a dialog box isn't: it can't visually portray the dialog as between the player and a capable AI, rather than the player and a script. Besides, how many people will only consider the visual appeal of the dialog, rather than the text in it? Graphics is the favored child, because it's more obvious and easier than AI. Once graphics can't mature any more, what's left? Game play, user interface, and AI.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936233)

"You would get small uprisings with people trying to take over the guild and people moving around rouge style stealing items."

ROGUE. The world is ROGUE. People do not move over the world in the style of a *colour*. I bet you talking about player's "loosing" lives too, don't you?

Seriously, why has the internet, as a whole, lost the ability to spell the words "rogue" and "lose"?

(This is horrendously off-topic, and probably flamebait, so posting AC)

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936573)

The world is Rogue?

Well, that explains why stairs always disappear after I go down them.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (2, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936331)

While MMOs are not all that new (Ultima online anyone?), the quest part seems to be getting dumber and dumber as the world moves on to better graphics and larger quantities of gear. Grinding seems to be all you do in later games. I was originally a big Baldur's Gate fan, loved the quest line, side quests and customization there.

I contend that they are getting smarter, but I think your definition of smarter and mine are not the same. Grinding is very very hard to eliminate, because to eliminate grinding, you have to provide quests making leveling easy enough that the laziest, stupidest person can do it without grinding. MMORPGs have to cater to literally hundreds of different kinds of interests, to get the most people, while balancing everyone's needs and giving them choices. Every MMORPG will become grind because you reach a point of diminishing returns on your personal enjoyment. If you reach that point, you should move on.

I don't play WOW but I've seen plenty of huge boss character that are too powerful for just one character. You have to create teams, come up with tactics, and then execute. On a personal level, doing this a couple times is very fulfilling to actually be able to pull it off. And there are two sides to this. If you have to kill the boss 20 times to get one item to drop, that's annoying, not fun. On the same token if you can run into any situation like Leeroy Jenkins and not have any consequences, that's not as much fun either. Again, all about balance. How well balanced WOW is compared to other MMORPGs is where I find the intelligence. They have more people playing that than any other MMORPG so they are doing something right.

I contend that MMOs wont get to this level of questing again until we go back to unique items. Eg the holy grail gaining a faction special privileges like +2 to all skills and only one can be in a realm/server at a time. Then the players can quest over it and battle and gain things that way. As the grail goes from faction to faction they can either guard it themselves or they can use resources to put it in an adequately difficult location. Have enough items like this and you get quests defined by players rather than the grind of doing it over and over again. As a guild gets more and more of the unique items it would get more powerful as a whole. You would get small uprisings with people trying to take over the guild and people moving around rouge style stealing items. It would be fantastic game play. Princesses giving special trade privileges, Relics gaining stats, deities granting favor.

The problem with this is that you would immediately institute everything that was bad about Evercrack (there were good things, this was simply one thing that isn't). EQ had tons of rare items that were hard to get, but so hard that it was discouraging to go after, and also certain people would camp at repop sites until the beast came back and they'd kill it, hope the item dropped, then sell the item/character on ebay to some sap who thinks it's okay to pay $500 for a virtual piece of property. That type of thing really discourages middle and low end gamers. And to sustain any MMORPG you have to have some kind of volume. Perhaps someone can create such a world and make money off it. I encourage it and wish you the best. Blizzard makes good games that appear to the most number of people possible. There will be people not satisfied on the high end, and I can't blame you if you are one of those people, you just aren't always the target audience.

As for "guild uprisings" most MMORPGs are trying to deal with the fact that a majority of people do NOT want to fight each other. Some people think that in order for such games to be enjoyable, everyone should be fighting each other. That is entirely untrue. Many of us don't want to have to deal with griefers, and find cooperation more fun than competition.

If the items were completely unique, you create a situation where one person would complete the quest and everyone else would not, and that's totally not fun.

ahh but I am back daydreaming again. People love gear grinding too much. Thus the reason I quit Wow.

No one loves grinding per se, but the actual attainment of items may or may not offset the work that you have to put into it. Again, diminishing returns. If you like killing a boss 20 times to get him to drop one item, that's you. Others don't. But you can't make a boss so easy that you can sneeze on him and he turns into dust. There has to be a risk/reward scenario to make it feel worthwhile. Everyone would love to start off as a level 99 death knight and go kill each other. However, it gets boring quick and people move on. There has to be an element of work or risk to make the reward feel that much more enjoyable, but not make it so hard that the reward isn't worth it.

This book though seems to point in the right direction though. I love questing, rather than the goal being button finding or getting to lvl 70, an emotional satisfaction is attached to completing a lengthy storyline. In WoW there is absolutely no attachment to any NPC in that game unless you went through Warcraft 1,2,and 3. But it is good to see that there is enough interest in the Quest problem to generate a book about it.

I don't find, from this review, that this really pertains much to WOW, even though they invoke WOW quite a bit. This is because in order for everyone to be able to participate on a single server, you have to be able to create quests that fit a MMORPG. If you make it clever and interesting and difficult, the first person will solve it, and everyone else since then will adopt the same strategy or the solution will just be shared. The quest becomes pointless. A good "quest" in a MMORPG involves a boss that has different methods to kill it and you have to try out multiple tactics to find the right combination. The answer has to be complex and varied. This is why most MMORPGs are simply enterprises in killing another boss, because the answer to killing a boss is a tactical solution, not an answer to a riddle. This has been true since MUDs were invented, and have always had the same challenges, they just didn't have the same level of graphics :) When you create games for your single player RPGs or for your table top RPGs, that's when this book appears to be more relevant.

A cmoputer game designer won't find this useful but people who run MUDs or local instances of WOW or NWN who design their own quests will find it very useful. Good human generates quests run by a human being while players play is not in the interest of businesses because they tie up a person making $60-$80k a year playing a game when that person could be coding or testing.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

theantipop (803016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936443)

While you present a compelling gameplay experience, I feel like it would only work on a certain, rather small scale. If you got a couple hundred people in a game world without much variance in individual interests, sure that would make a great game.

But take WoW for example. You have servers with tens of thousands of people on them. However, with very few exceptions, you find one guild that completely dominates the rest of the players in most aspects of the game. Now extend this model of a player base to your idea and I think you'll find it would be rather boring for both sides. No real competition for the power gaming guild and no sense of accomplishment for the casual or less ably skilled crowd.

Yes (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936535)

We've seen this at least twice in the last year, with Age of Conan and Lord of the Rings Online. AoC pretty much fails after the first few levels due to lack of meat to the story, but LOTRO actually does pretty well by this. LOTRO has the both the advantage and disadvantage of being heavily tied to an existing storyline that can be recited by heart by millions, so the framework exists but you can't change what actually happens. Instead, Turbine has done a really nice job of writing an epic sequence of quests that follow the fellowship as they move across the land but doesn't change the core story. You're not going to carry the ring, but you are going to unite the peoples of North Downs to stop an orc raid that might capture the fellowship, for example. The voice acting is absurdly chesesy and some of the tales push the limits of suspension of belief but there's a nice sense that you're moving along with the epic storyline and that you are going to make a difference in the end. Turbine keeps pushing out small expansions that take the fellowship farther and thus unlock new areas.

Of course, with the deed and trait system LOTRO falls back to the worst possible grind- yes, you really do have to kill 200 trolls in Sarnur to get your +1 valour bonus. Now go kill 300 worms in Angmar for the next +1.

But it is doable

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936555)

Take a look at EvE. It has quite a few 'limited' resources that there are only X number in the game and the players has to fight over them. Oh, and many of these items, once destroyed, never come back ^_^

Now, many of these items just end up hiding in hi-sec hangers and never see the light of day, but others (like valuable moons or other territorial elements) can not be hidden or moved so they represent a constant target for someone else to come in and grab.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936927)

Darn current lack of mod points. Parent +1

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937661)

It's not only the quests that are getting dumber, but the players too. 99% of the players don't read quests history, all they want is to make levels as fast as they can. MMOs are full with the old "master, may I roll to try to find a +1 sword at the floor?" players.

Re:Are Quests in MMOGs doable? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937763)

In WoW there is absolutely no attachment to any NPC in that game unless you went through Warcraft 1,2,and 3.

I disagree. I have played 2 and 3, but there are some NPCs I've run into in WoW who are meaningful and special, even though they weren't introduced until WoW. Tirion Fordring, Bolvar Fordragon, guys like that.

WoW lore is an experience where you basically get out what you put in. If you think the game is just a big grind, and approach it with that mindset, never reading quests, etc, you won't get anything from the story. On the other hand, if you invest effort into finding and participating in the story, you will probably find it a very enriching experience (I certainly do!).

Classic Quest for Glory is out (5, Informative)

yurik (160101) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935431)

Recently a non-profit group, after 8 years in the making, finally released a remake of the old Sierra game Quest For Glory II - with a point-and-click interface. I was a big fan in the days, so in case anyone interested - http://agdinteractive.com/ [agdinteractive.com]

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (-1, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935521)

That's an awful title. "Quest for Glory" is a slang term for using a glory hole. (A "Glory Hole" is a hole in the wall/bathroom stall/etc for anonymous gay oral sex.)

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (2, Funny)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935647)

I know. Why couldn't they call it something cool like "Hero's Quest" or something?

+1 Obscure (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935717)

(see title)

Re:+1 Obscure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936473)

You must be new here.

Re:+1 Obscure (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937393)

Err, no. Just because I got the reference doesn't mean it's not an obscure one.

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (1)

DeusExMach (1319255) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936325)

"Peasant's Quest" is already taken, too...

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936895)

Who modded this Troll? Note to moderators: the original title of the series *was* Hero's Quest until a conflict with another publisher forced Sierra to change the title.

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937447)

Or Hero's Journey?

Oh, wait. >_> (tongue in cheek reference to simutronics MMO in development for approx. 9 years now)

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (1)

systemeng (998953) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935811)

But it's also the name for a reheat kiln in glassblowing.

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (1)

Mitijea (718314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936187)

And the name of a horizontal drain hole in a reservoir/lake.

Re:Classic Quest for Glory is out (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936305)

What? You never played leisure suit larry?

* Quest (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935435)

So what does he have to say about King's Quest, Space Quest, Quest for Glory, et al?

Can't read it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935445)

... I need to kill a hundred more boars for livers.

Bad Slashdot Editors.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935469)

Two reviews in a row? Way to kill your audience.

Actually... (2, Funny)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935471)

"Of course, Odysseus was never sent on a quest to kill 12 Cyclopes to collect their eyes for a healing potion." To compare it to WoW, it should read, "Odysseus was never sent on a quest to collect 12 Cyclops, of which only 6% of Cyclops ever had, and thus he would kill about 150 Cyclopes."

Re:Actually... (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935575)

*nod* I'm not sure which type of quest I hate more... the "bring me 10 goblin livers" type (and honestly, after killing a few goblins and not being to find a suitable liver in the resulting carnage, you'd think I'd just stop attacking them in the liver) or the "do something completely disgusting" like WoW's recent fascination with digging through animal poop.

geas vs quest (2, Informative)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935577)

I'm pretty sure I'm getting both connotation and denotation wrong on these, but I had always considered a geas as a goal or task imposed on a person while a quest was a goal that the person has set for himself. For example, in the film Saving Private Ryan, the geas was the order to, well, save Pvt. Ryan. The quest, however, was revealed by Tom Hanks at the mutiny scene, when he declared he was going to reclaim some of his humanity (and the other characters subsequently adopted the quest, implicitly when they ended the mutiny).

The actual definition of geas I think is a prohibition or obligation imposed upon a person, usually as a curse.

Didn't RTFA.

Re:geas vs quest (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935751)

Dude, you are wyrd [wikipedia.org] .

Can you change the world in MMO's? (3, Interesting)

ggwood (70369) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935755)

In MMO's you can't change the world in the sense that if you do a quest, say slay Hogger, and it prevents another person from doing the same quest, then the world would need sort of an infinite number of quests. It would be difficult to program. Otherwise it's first come, first kill, first to get the gear, first to advance and prevent others from advancing.

The best resource for MMO's is the playerbase. Anyone who can harness that creative energy to create content, beta test new content, grade potential new content and vote to put it into the game world will open a new frontier.

If you put in puzzle quests, someone will post the answer on a spoiler site, and many players will just read the site since they are just interested in advancing.

How many people actually read the quest text in WoW in detail? Versus how many just skip to the "go here, do this" part? I bet it is at least 10 to one.

So your design options are limited. Use a renewable resource.

In single player games, some of the same difficulties exist, but at least your actions can change the world in more meaningful ways: you kill Hogger, he stays dead. Maybe a new farm crops up at his old stomping grounds. Maybe new people come in and have new quests.

But in an MMO, what if I have the Hogger quest, and now he's gone?

To be honest, I would not try to overcome that problem. I would try to work on the most pressing MMO problem, repetitive content. Maybe we have to accept the logical inconsistencies of the shared world (we kill Hogger, yet he is still there, we clear out all the Blackborrow Gnolls but they magically reappear).

But maybe we could have deep instanced content? Then the problem arises, what if I need a group? What if they are not all at the same place I am?

In conclusion, I think the MMO and single player experiences are so different it would be difficult to say something meaningful to both at once.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935879)

Part of the issue with changeability in the MMO world is the angle from which people are looking at the quests. While the current quest may be "Kill Hogger" the actual goal of the quest if you read the text is to stop him from destroying the farmers crops (If I remember correctly, which for the purpose of this narrative makes no difference). So why should the quest not be "Keep the pigs out of the farmers field for 20 minutes." You get XP for killing the pigs, you spend 20 minutes within the borders of the field, you get your quest reward. An almost unending string of new players ensures that there are always people around to keep the field clear of pigs.
The world is unchanged, but a "difference" is made. You could even tie a merchants goods availability to whether or not the field had gone unprotected for more than 10-15 minutes.
The idea of "maintenance" quests in MMOs is somewhat underlooked in my opinion. I see no reason why we shouldn't see quests that direct you to spend X number of minutes performing Y task instead of just ordering you to kill X arbitrary monsters.
Even the idea of doing things like mining would work here, a quest that involves players mining an area for a set amount of time to ensure that the towns in the area always have goods to produce weapons/armor. If no one is mining an area then the goods run out and are not replenished.
Questing can be so much more than the current MMORPG view of it. Not every quest must be epic.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936511)

Part of the issue with changeability in the MMO world is the angle from which people are looking at the quests. While the current quest may be "Kill Hogger" the actual goal of the quest if you read the text is to stop him from destroying the farmers crops (If I remember correctly, which for the purpose of this narrative makes no difference). So why should the quest not be "Keep the pigs out of the farmers field for 20 minutes." You get XP for killing the pigs, you spend 20 minutes within the borders of the field, you get your quest reward. An almost unending string of new players ensures that there are always people around to keep the field clear of pigs.
The world is unchanged, but a "difference" is made. You could even tie a merchants goods availability to whether or not the field had gone unprotected for more than 10-15 minutes.
The idea of "maintenance" quests in MMOs is somewhat underlooked in my opinion. I see no reason why we shouldn't see quests that direct you to spend X number of minutes performing Y task instead of just ordering you to kill X arbitrary monsters.
Even the idea of doing things like mining would work here, a quest that involves players mining an area for a set amount of time to ensure that the towns in the area always have goods to produce weapons/armor. If no one is mining an area then the goods run out and are not replenished.
Questing can be so much more than the current MMORPG view of it. Not every quest must be epic.

Actually replying to this because it's my comment and I thought I was logged in when I posted it.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

paazin (719486) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935975)

In single player games, some of the same difficulties exist, but at least your actions can change the world in more meaningful ways: you kill Hogger, he stays dead. Maybe a new farm crops up at his old stomping grounds. Maybe new people come in and have new quests. But in an MMO, what if I have the Hogger quest, and now he's gone?

And that's the largest problem with MMOs - not the boring content. The fact that the world doesn't react to any changes that players make is what gives a certain 'pointlessness' to the game as the only thing that can change in the world is you; once someone is able to implement some sort of actual working interaction with the world environment, it will be quite a feat.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936761)

The fact that the world doesn't react to any changes that players make is what gives a certain 'pointlessness' to the game as the only thing that can change in the world is you

There is a limited amount of world changing in WoW. The zones in Outlands have zone-wide buffs that depend on certain PvP goals. The town of Halaa in Nagrand (and the merchants there) is only available to the faction which controls it. Capture all the towers in the desert and the Terokkar Forest gains a factional buff for six hours, etc.

WotLK promises changeable scenery and that sounds pretty cool.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936077)

If you put in puzzle quests, someone will post the answer on a spoiler site, and many players will just read the site since they are just interested in advancing.

Yeah, this is a big drawback in an online game. We had that problem in MUDs when I worked on them. Spend ages creating a sequence of puzzles, writing long description, and doing my best to make something entertaining, and then I find an online walkthrough that reads "go w, w, e, n, get paper, s, slide paper under door, n, n, n, open chest, etc".

With MMOs I think the long term goal oriented quests won't work so well because most players would just go to the web for a strategy guide, or badmouth the game for being confusing and just go grind for xp/money instead. Most players in MMOs only want more levels or loot, they don't want to have to think, they don't want a story line, and most don't even want an RPG.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936513)

But they could create something that once you have killed hogger you can't see him anymore.

If you kill the big undead guy that makes everything ,look creepy, then once your defeated you don't see him and the area looks changed.

This also eliminates, mostly, people outside the quest level range from helping you.

I call this "Rose colored glasses" effect.

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936745)

What you are describing is in part a sandbox game, like for example Star Wars Galaxies in its first incarnation. Yes, it did include quests which were much as you describe and entirely fixed, but it also had usergenerated content in the form of the crafting system, the player cities (which are right on the world map not in some instanced environment), and the world itself was huge in most cases (crossing Tatooine on foot in the original game would take hours and be extremely hazardous, even with vehicles (introduced later on) it would take a while to get around.

MMOs need the same level of development for the rest of the ingame content - it needs to be emergent from player actions, the mobs need to have sufficient AI to base their actions upon circumstances in game. Then a quest can consist of "go and get the Blurg from the Blorgs" and where the blorgs are and how many there are is entirely based on all the other factors in game that may have affected their population and location. If someone else steals the Blurg first, then you will learn about it and have to get it from them etc. If everyone is out camping the Blorgs, they will move on to a different location to escape the horde of campers etc.

So far no game that I know of has anything remotely approaching an emergent NPC AI, almost all follow some very basic logic for their actions and if destroyed they simply respawn later on. This would be a huge leap forward for MMOs but I doubt we will see it anytime soon.

Sadly the typical MMO player seems to have low asperations - they want to be the biggest, baddest bastard out there and go grief other players continuously. They don't want to quest but will do so if its quicker than grinding up levels, but overall would prefer to be handed a max level character from scratch. They want the best gear, certainly better than everyone else, but resent the time and effort required to earn it.They don't want to read text at all, so following a storyline is out of the question, they prefer to read a step-by-step summary guide that lets them get the quest done with the minimum fuss and risk so they get the awesome lootz0r at the end before anyone else.

MMOs are being built for a grade 8 mentality (which is probably fair given the current intelligence of many players I have encountered), and are being made steadily simpler and simpler rather than more complex. Only a segment of the playerbase for most games wants things complex it seems. The rest just want to play endless games of counterstrik^H^H Capture the Flag in an instanced PvP zone.

Oh and the typical MMO player likes to pick a really stupid name like "IlikeCornflakes" or "Monosodium Glutamate" for their characters. Not your parents Roleplaying crowd :P

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

archen (447353) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937521)

How many people actually read the quest text in WoW in detail? Versus how many just skip to the "go here, do this" part? I bet it is at least 10 to one.

So true. It's sad to say, but people almost make the game boring on purpose. Instead of reading quest text like an interesting book (or extremely short pamphlet) they just do the action and that's it. Then they complain about how the game is boring and that they have to do more of X and Y, instead of realizing that the point of those objectives it to advance a sort of story (well in my view anyway).

In single player games, some of the same difficulties exist, but at least your actions can change the world in more meaningful ways: you kill Hogger, he stays dead. Maybe a new farm crops up at his old stomping grounds. Maybe new people come in and have new quests.

Actually Blizzard has already taken steps to address this. They have this new technology integrated into the expansion called phasing. Basically as you do things which advance "the plot" you will see things from a different perspective from others who have not done various things, or have completed them. For instance you may see a building on fire, someone who hasn't started the quest sees the house just fine, and someone who has completed the quest sees the house burnt down. Sounds sort of.. pathetic, until you realize that no other MMO has really attempted that. We'll have to see how it works out though, and I'm sure it's use will be limited at first.

It is however a good step in making a game / quest where the objective really has results. However in the end those who simply skip the quest text will miss the point entirely and only care that they got XP or loot. =/

Re:Can you change the world in MMO's? (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937837)

Actually, LotRO implemented a quest design that helped solve *some* of these issues. What they did is (for the major quests anyways) is instance the quest "room".

You see, Aragon or Gandolf or whoever are always sitting in a room that's instanced. So, to get the quest, you go into the instance room and only other people on that step of the quest are there.

Likewise, when doing the quest, you go into an instance. Before you do the quest, the cave might have baddies in it. After doing the quest (to clear out the baddies) it's empty or there's people moving it or what have you. (or maybe I'm mixing this part up, it's been so long I can't recall exactly)

Sure, it wasn't the end-all-be-all and the same problems existed, but it was one of the things I noticed that instead of always walking into the same room at the Bree Inn and seeing Aragon sitting there giving out quests to different people and saying the same thing, you can only "visit" him if you're on that step of the quest and enter his room.

Going into his room before/after the quest and he might not be there because in the "story arc" he's supposedly traveling to Moria or whatever. Anyway, it was an interesting little change. In general, I would really like to see more dynamic worlds, but that is pretty difficult and costly to manage. Even then, it would still get old pretty fast. I'd just settle for more GM events in game. There never much of that anymore. I'm pretty sure Blizzard can afford to hire a few people to play some unique characters on all their servers and just run around doing something unique.

Raid Content? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935779)

Run-once quests, as the only available quests, don't work in the context of a multiplayer game. Period. The players will tear through the content faster than you can create it, and will attempt to monopolize your time and effort from that point forward.

The closest thing that I've seen to real 'quests' in games are one-time, large-scale events like the Hopeslayer running rampant in Asheron's Call, or opening the gates of An'Quiraj in WoW. An argument could be made for large-group events like raids, wherein everyone is basically acting to a script against the AI's own script, with success culminating in a reenactment of the developer's plan for the encounter.

Re:Raid Content? (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937511)

Unless you aren't the one creating the quests. (Once we have sufficient AI for smart/nonstatic npcs, we'll be at a point where we can potentially generate meaningful, world-changing quests on the fly. And by meaningful quests, I don't mean 'go kill 10 boar.' I mean 'save town/country/etc from impending doom')

This is stilla topic? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935793)

In some old MMOs (Avatar, for instance) quests were integral.

I like running Ninjas (ok, so I like beaters, so sue me), who get insanely difficult quests, and more of them. The best quests were for impossible items that only studs had and weren't going to give up. Waiting for someone to take pity on you, or perhaps find one and offer it to you before offering it to the studs was a terrible way to waste the Summer of '88. I waited for Wyvern Skin for 6 weeks. And then I paid an outrageous price (gladly) to someone who was genuinely willing to sell it to the highest bidder, execept that when school is out there aren't so many big boys online to grace you with 3B gold.

But I'm not bitter.

Quests make a MMO 'realer-er'. Just running through the maze killing things and hoarding stuff does in fact get old. My brother, deep into WoW, disagrees, but he is tiring of just building things so others can save time. Only the real money keeps him in it.

There is no real money in Avatar. Not to this day. You do it for love. Quests are the pain.

Anybody got a key? (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935893)

I have a door here I need unlocked. The key I need might be behind a different locked door.

I've extrapolated the key/lock concept in my head and applied it to many RPGs; this is why I've moved to FPS and challenge puzzle (eg: "Boom Blox") genres.

Current Fave (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935911)

My current favorite quest for any game / any genre is the "haunted hotel" quest in Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines. Talk about a spooky-ass quest. They used the Half-life 2 engine to it's fullest potential on that one, shame the game changes from an RPG to an FPS at the end.

Oblig. Planescape reference (3, Interesting)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935921)

The book touches on Planescape: Torment, but doesn't really do that game justice. That game was all about finding out who you were/are, and who your companions were/are. There are few games that go outside the standard fetch/carry/kill RPG quests, and that was one of them. There was enough narrative in that game to fill a book. Sometimes I found myself wanting there to be less combat so I could get back to the story.

Re:Oblig. Planescape reference (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936109)

The book touches on Planescape: Torment, but doesn't really do that game justice.

One of my favorite games. But there are a lot of people out there who absolutely hated it. It goes against their very core, which is about killing and getting levels and money, not some nerdy story. That sort of game will never translate to an MMO well.

Casting Geas/Quest (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935955)

Geas/Quest [systemrefe...uments.org]

Enchantment (Compulsion) [Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting]

Level: Brd 6, Clr 6, Sor/Wiz 6 Casting Time: 10 minutes Target: One living creature Saving Throw: None

This spell functions similarly to lesser geas [slashdot.org] , except that it affects a creature of any HD and allows no saving throw.

Instead of taking penalties to ability scores (as with lesser geas), the subject takes 3d6 points of damage each day it does not attempt to follow the geas/quest. Additionally, each day it must make a Fortitude saving throw or become sickened [slashdot.org] . These effects end 24 hours after the creature attempts to resume the geas/ quest.

A remove curse spell ends a geas/quest spell only if its caster level is at least two higher than your caster level. Break enchantment does not end a geas/quest, but limited wish, miracle, and wish do.

Bards, sorcerers, and wizards usually refer to this spell as geas, while clerics call the same spell quest.

Geas, Lesser [systemrefe...uments.org]

Enchantment (Compulsion) [Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting]

Level: Brd 3, Sor/Wiz 4 Components: V Casting Time: 1 round Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels) Target: One living creature with 7 HD or less Duration: One day/level or until discharged (D) Saving Throw: Will negates Spell Resistance: Yes

A lesser geas places a magical command on a creature to carry out some service or to refrain from some action or course of activity, as desired by you. The creature must have 7 or fewer Hit Dice and be able to understand you. While a geas cannot compel a creature to kill itself or perform acts that would result in certain death, it can cause almost any other course of activity.

The geased creature must follow the given instructions until the geas is completed, no matter how long it takes.

If the instructions involve some open-ended task that the recipient cannot complete through his own actions the spell remains in effect for a maximum of one day per caster level. A clever recipient can subvert some instructions:

If the subject is prevented from obeying the lesser geas for 24 hours, it takes a -2 penalty to each of its ability scores. Each day, another -2 penalty accumulates, up to a total of -8. No ability score can be reduced to less than 1 by this effect. The ability score penalties are removed 24 hours after the subject resumes obeying the lesser geas.

A lesser geas (and all ability score penalties) can be ended by break enchantment, limited wish, remove curse, miracle, or wish. Dispel magic does not affect a lesser geas.

Pussy Nazi Sez (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936125)

No pussy for YOU!

Me no want 'quests'.. (1)

wuulfgar (703966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936193)

Me likey grindy. OK, here's the deal. I want a game with a large world. Based on reality, as in cityscape, buildings with elevators and stairs, parks, sewer systems, etc. I want a buttload of zombies all over the place. Some slow, some fast, some as players. I want simple tasks: for example, when you start the game or login to a networked server, you get an address book from which you must determine who was your family. Then you must find those houses to determine if they're still human and savable or zombie fodder. The environment lends itself to being realistic with street signs, phone books, etc. There is a limited amount of ammo but the usual suspects: sports stores (meaning a mall or two), pawn shops, surplus stores etc. All there with what you'd expect but no interacting with merchants or whatever. It's melee time, baby! Anyway, it'd always be interesting because your contacts would change but it's the interactive environment that'd be the grabber. It's throwaway gaming that is nevertheless challenging and not always exactly the same. Throw in some ability to communicate with other players so there could be team ups or sabotage or backstabbing and I'd sign up.

Re:Me no want 'quests'.. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936275)

This wouldn't be very hard to do in the Unreal Engine & I think there are already some zombie survival worlds like this for NWN using the d20 Modern System.

Re:Me no want 'quests'.. (1)

wuulfgar (703966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936407)

I don't know anything about nor do I want any 'system'. I just want a large, interactive world for some occasional bouts. Like I do now with Call of Duty 2 (so I'm on a Mac). Fire it up, burn through a quick mission or two blasting away but still having to be careful regarding enemy fire and what not.

Re:Me no want 'quests'.. (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#24937477)

Well, any game you play is going to have some sort of "system" internally. Computers are not so good at understanding abstract, nebulous concepts, such as "a large, interactive world". You need a concrete set of rules to determine how all the various pieces of the world interact. We can't just model reality.

Michael? (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936357)

Michael Katz is that you, after all these years!?

Boring as hell (1)

cylence (129937) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936421)

Bought this with great anticipation a couple of weeks ago. It's boring as hell, a great disappointment.

Simple (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936451)

In epic quest stories, the quest is about what the journey makes the person on it.
In a game it's about phat loot.

the reason that rpg's are popular with geeks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936551)

is that they are gay , pointless wastes of time designed to give the player some sort of means to think they have a purpose in life when in fact they have none. Keep 'em dumb, keep 'em distracted while you destroy the real world around 'em.

Rogue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24936583)

Or people can still play Rogue on a PDP 11/80.

Good book (1)

galtenberg (646020) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936705)

Really enjoying this book. Wish there was a Kindle edition.

I also wish the author had done the meta work of making the book feel a bit like a quest, since that's what he advocates for games. (It does have exercises and appendices, which makes the book a somewhat more active experience.)

And speaking of Kindle, when is that platform going to act like the computer that it is, so that real quest books can come about?

Something seems to be missing... (4, Funny)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 6 years ago | (#24936963)

79 comments and not one single mention of shrubberies and/or herrings? What the hell is wrong with you people?

And now for something completely different (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24937969)

A quick back-story, if you will indulge me (if not, skip this paragraph): Many years ago my life was consumed with gaming. I'd say my primary routine was: wake up, check messages, go to school, game in class, go home, game all night. Most of the daytime was spent on MUDs and the night was spent on various RPGs and puzzle games on Nintendo. Eventually the RPG craze died down and was replaced with FPS and the like which I'm not too interested in. Meanwhile, the MUDs I played died off as everyone moved to EQ and WoW. Long story short, I found myself without many games and a lot of free time. I put that opportunity to "productive" use for a little while in working on a career, etc but I found I missed the gaming culture. Eventually another idea popped into my head.

I've spent the last few years trying to apply the things I loved most about gaming to my real life and it's been a very fun game. I regularly come up with quests and try to see them through. Many are puzzles in their own right and a few have taken me around the world questing. My next quest takes me to Africa, which should be a fun level. Has anyone else had a similar world view/experience?
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