Saturday, March 10, 2007

Typical Adventuring

So, what would typical adventuring look like in a non-WoW MMORPG? When things are more logical, when there's not a dozen NPCs with giant golden exclamation marks over their heads, just begging for the thousandth player to come by and give him some murloc eyeballs. You might be lucky and find a local farmer - PC or NPC - who needs some wildlife taken away from his farm; you might have a teacher tell you to go elsewhere for education; or you or your guild might acquire enough of a notoriety that that local constables or interest groups come to you for safety assurance or component retrieval. Chances are, however, that unless you're ready to start from the bottom to acquire the trust of your fellow characterians, you'll have to make do with slaying evil without any shiny from the local monarch at the end.

For regular adventuring, there wouldn't be much to discuss. Players would track and take out targets as they see fit, be they food- and leather-bearing wildlife or evil invaders (Or maybe not-so-evil bystanders). Then someone comes across something noteworthy; perhaps a dragon has migrated in a cave nearby, or some evil creatures or cult has emerged and is getting prepared to wreak havoc on unsuspecting villagers and needs to be stopped. Either way, the adventurer has found something that he cannot do alone, and he will call upon friends and countrymen for help. Together, be they a handful or a hundred, they will discuss tactics and strategies, in hope of protecting that which is dear to them, because, in this game your actions count, and your inaction could cost lives - virtual ones, but lives nonetheless.

So they enter the stronghold, with the plan in mind, and contingencies accounted for; and when the plan inevitably dies, and contingencies are unprepared to deal with what lies ahead, they must improvise to the best of their abilities; because there is no telling what you will face, no help to know what your opponent has prepared but the means you have at your disposition, be they stealth, divination or whatnot.

And when the enemy lies defeated, allies resurrected and evil schemes thwarted, the loot can be distributed, the farewells be said and the portals home opened. Satisfied with having saved the world (Or perhaps their locality), the heroes can take care of business as usual.

Come to think of it, this sounds a lot more like a tabletop game then a typical MMORPG. Is it bad to dream of such thing?


Zubon said...

It sounds a lot like the early days of Asheron's Call to me. I imagine other games were similar, but AC had few quests and lots of room for open-land hunting. Instead of quests, there were dungeons. The dungeons had monsters. You hunted there until you decided to leave. You could say you beat the dungeon if you beat up the biggest thing there. Some dungeons had "boss" monsters, others not. In retrospect, there was very little guidance, just many set pieces.

Dark Age of Camelot felt much the same way, lots of hunting with relatively few quests. You kill things in dungeon x or field y, and sometimes you have a quest that encourages you to do so (or, more likely, puts you on a journey around the world).

We seem to have become more quest-driven over time. We want guidance and a story, not just a world in which to make our own stories. Then again, "our own stories" were far from permanent when the monsters respawned 45 seconds later. How much of a story can you put on "I killed 40 Drudge Prowlers today"?

Hexedian said...

Repeatable quests don't have their place in a realistic game, other than the presumably boring seasonal help-wanted jobs. If someone killed that boss, then he won't respawn; if they did a crummy job at killing its followers, it might be resurrected, but that's not something you see every day, really.

Now, with NPC monsters moving by themselves, you might still get quests, but the only way you'll get the same quest as the last guy is if he failed the quest. Quests would exist when they serve a purpose, for example, destroying an enemy camp near a city; or when players decide it serves a purpose, for example, helping them clearing an area for future development, or maybe collecting some rare reagants.