Friday, May 11, 2007

What Quests Really Mean

Quests in MMORPGs are gross derivations of the original meaning of the word, which were an enormous investment in time (Think quest for the Holy Grail); today, you go questing for lettuce to get sandwiches, and learn new spells by walking between two people who are too lazy to do it themselves.

Quests, if even they are to be called that, should have a broader range, a longer input, and perhaps a larger participating population. You could put as a quest to eradicate the local zombie population, or to supply the blacksmiths with the materials they require; anything that needs to be done, as long as it has some relevance and importance. Those missions, however, can't be done by a player alone, nor in an evening's play time. Players will have to form group and communicate in order to achieve their objective, and the spoils of the actions would be split according to each player's acts during the events.

If you want to clear the orcs, you have many things to do; first, send scouts out to find out their intentions, numbers, equipment and readiness level. Once that is done, a war proper can be fought, starting by thinning their numbers with attacks on their scouting parties and quick hit-and-run strikes, or perhaps by organizing a militia from the local adventurer population, and leading an all-out assault on their camps.

Material-gathering quests would evolve similarly, with prospectors finding new minerals, and selling the locations to groups of gatherers, who would then organise camps to gather and carry resources.

With this system, any Harold Casual can come in, do what he can for the quest efforts, and get rewarded for his actions, without having a dozen more Isabelle's come behind him and slay the orc chieftain again. With a dynamic world, quests would form themselves out of necessity, and players would find reasons to put bounties on baddies, creatures or resources they need for their long-term accomplishments.

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