[MUD-Dev] Why significant rewards for quests are a bad thing

Brian Miller bmiller at poss.com
Wed Mar 31 13:02:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

Ola Fosheim Gr=F8stad wrote:

> Pro:

>   1. You can get players to play boring repetitive quests.

>   2. Players expect it.

> Contra:

>   1. You screw up the motivation for playing the quest at the right
>   time. I.e. the player race through the quest when he needs a new
>   axe rather than when he feels like questing. Most likely annoyed
>   with any obstacles. Of course, mandatory quests are the worst.

>   2. The quest becomes a documented tool breeding a bad questing
>   culture, players refuse to help each other and tell you to go look
>   it up on a website. (The problem isn't that it is listed on a
>   website, but that you are expected to use the website rather than
>   interacting with other players.)

> Of course, the real problem with quests is that they all suck. :-)

Quests, when properly used, give players a welcome break from the
usual tedium of hunting and killing.  Rewards should vary so that
players cannot be sure what to expect and quests should not be
easily predictable or repeatable.  Static, repeatable quests serve
little function beyond an alternate means of advancement (though xp
or items) and are very likely to undermine any chance of
immersion. [How many times can you expose the corruption in the
Freeport militia before it becomes obvious your actions have no

Dynamic, unrepeatable quests add a great deal more to a game as they
give the players a chance to discover new storylines and work their
way through it.  There is no 'go look it up' except as a historical
referrence.  Discovering and working through the quest as well as
the fame of being the one who figured it out can be as great a
reward as any bonus received at the quests conclusion.  The
opportunity to for a player to have their name entered into the
game's history and background is a powerful motivator.

The greatest problem lies in needing to allow for players to
complete the quest by various means and to significantly differing
ends.  The developer has to be prepared to accept the outcome, or
outright failure, of the quest and allow the game to adapt to
whatever circumstances arise from that.

The obvious deterrent to creating such quests is that it is alot of
work.  The developer must take pains to allow the players a
significant degree of freedom which may mean creating content that
is never explored because the quest took one path as opposed to
another and once the quest has been completed the quest itself must
be removed and the consequences implemented.
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