[MUD-Dev] Congratulations Horizons...

Vincent Archer archer at frmug.org
Wed Jan 14 10:31:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


According to Chanur Silvarian:
> From: "Lee Sheldon" <lsheldo2 at tampabay.rr.com>

> It doesn't matter that there was no NPC on the other end, your
> delivery was information.  It just so happened that you were both
> the sender and courier, but you were the courier.  It was FED-EX.
> Pick up the package (information) and deliver it.

...

> You did deliver something.  You delivered yourself.  You were both
> the package and the courier in this instance.  It was FED-EX.
> Pick up the package (yourself) and deliver it.

(several other "this is FED-EX" definition snipped)

>> Finally we have the quest to free several "enslaved races" that
>> players will then be able to play. At the moment this requires
>> crafters to rebuild certain mines while adventurers stand guard
>> and slay the mobs trying to stop them.

> This sounds like it might actually break out of the FED-EX.  I'd
> have to know a bit more about it because I honestly don't think an
> MMORPG can do anything other than FED-EX.  I'm betting this is get
> the package (not sure what the package is here, might be a
> completed mine) to a certain location/person and that it just has
> added the necessity of co-operation to complete it.

Actually, it's not a quest in the sense we usually have it in most
MMOG.  No "one" is completing a quest here.  For most games, a quest
is something deeply personal.  You (the avatar) have a quest.  You
are helping in a friend's quest.  What is your quest in here?  You
don't have one.  Nobody who is involved has one.  However, you are
involved in a story.

Quest (from Webster, relevant definitions):

  - An act or instance of seeking

  - A chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an
  adventurous journey

Nowhere in that definition is the requirement that a quest is tied
to an individual.  Even the journey part is optional.  All it
requires is a goal.

If you want a similar example, there was relatively recently, in
Dereth, the world of Asheron's Call, an invasion of giant insects,
the Olthoi. They replaced most of the monsters one could hunt across
the game world.  Now, players could band together, find an Olthoi
Hive, destroy it, and thus clean an area of its Olthoi, and unlock
the next Hive.

By the way the level limits in the various hives works (only
character between level X and Y can enter), it is completely
possible that each slaughtering in sequence is done by different
characters.  Any character can participate only in one slaughter.
Maybe 2 or 3, if they can level sufficiently fast to be able to
enter the next hive in sequence.  And so on, until the last hive
cleaned, and the last Olthoi repelled.

Question: if each character can participate once, and only once to a
step of the event, then what is the package? Where is it delivered?
And the real question: By whom?

But the players will not tell you they're engaged in a quest.  They
will say that they participating in the "story", not a quest.

> Much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree that I've not seen a
> quest in any MMORPG that is not a FED-EX.  There is a very simple
> reason why MMO's can't break out of FED-EX, it is because the only
> way to do it is to allow for free will of the player character to
> choose their course.  As soon as you do that, you can no longer
> program it and must use a live GM to give game world reaction
> rather than game AI.

What you say here is basically what I said in another post on that
topic.  You abstract the "quest" from the game system, and move it
onto the virtual realm of story.

However, I've also provided with an example that is hard, even by
your definition, to make as a FED-EX.  So you have a quest. In your
quest journal, you are now at step #17: "Become level 19".  That's
it.  At the very instant you level to 19 (with the appropriate
pavlovian and mandatory "ding" sound), the quest journal updates to
step #18.

In what way have you delivered something?  This can happen anywhere.
This can happen as you're advancing another quest and getting some
experience, or as you're slaughtering the orc shaman in his camp, or
a dire bear in a cave in the northern wastes.  There is no location,
no NPC to which you have delivered "I am level 19".  You have
*produced* a level 19 instead.

There are some games (DAoC comes to mind) that do have this.  In
DAoC, you may have some quests that involve getting 3 pelts from
random wolves in the forests.  As soon as you loot the 3rd pelt,
that quest step is completed, and the quest advances.

Now, granted, usually, the very next quest step in the journal is
"travel to X" or "come back to Y" for the reward, or the next
assignment, hence the temptation to point your finger and say "see:
here is the FED-EX! It is FED-EX still".  But it's not.  In theory,
the reward could instantly be made available.  As you slaughter your
3rd wolf, you can have the experience, faction adjustments, and the
quest complete; no delivery needed.

The FEDEX-like travel is put there in the interests of the story,
not because of any technical limitations.  It sounds more plausible
to have the reward delivered by some NPC involved in the story.
Having your ubersword of doom appear suddendly out of nowhere in
your inventory sounds a bit... implausible.

The original complain in Everquest that all quests are "FED-EX"
ironically springs from the fact that there are no Quests in EQ.
The game engine does not have any concept of a quest in the classic
sense of most single player games, or of games like DAoC or
Asheron's Call 2.

There is no "quest journal" in EQ.  No game mechanic to track your
progress along a linear, storied quest.  Instead, the game only
recognises keywords said to a NPC, and items turn-ins.  Quests are
abstraction, made of completely disconnected triggers, carefully
linked together so that they give the illusion of a quest.  Items,
and, since the Planes of Power expansion, their virtual equivalent,
the flags, are used as tokens to make sure the quest "steps" are
done in series.

So yes, by nature, all quests in EQ could be reduced to some FED-EX
fetch-n-carry, because of the game engine limitations.

But that's not the case in general.

--
	Vincent Archer			Email:	archer at frmug.org

All men are mortal.  Socrates was mortal.  Therefore, all men are Socrates.
							(Woody Allen)
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