[MUD-Dev] Dynamic Quests & Event Chains

Mike Rozak Mike at mxac.com.au
Wed Nov 23 12:27:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

Lydia Leong wrote:

> Quests, in most games, are also not the most efficient way to
> level, thanks to the travel time spent running back and forth
> between them.  Players who can endure just grinding will level
> more quickly. But that ends up feeling vastly more tedious than
> anything that has even the vaguest hint of purpose -- "Go forth
> and kill X foozles" is somehow more fulfilling than simply killing
> X foozles in order to get pure XP.


> But I want to ask: How does one reduce or eliminate the treadmill,
> rather than just trying to cleverly disguise it?

I think the treadmill part exists because (a) player's actions
against the game world have almost no effect (limiting any effects
to the player's character), and (b) players are in competition with
one another for power for relative PC power; Since the general rule
of MMORPGs is "He who devotes the most time wins", the time it takes
to achieve anything in a MMORPG is stretched out to the time the
most desperate player is willing to devote to it. (Kind of a
variation to the Iron Law of Wages.)

While quests in their current MMORPGs merely act as disguises to the
treadmill, I think quests can be used as a device to incorporate
goals, meaning, choices, problem solving, and various outcomes into
the PvE game.

If "Go forth and kill X foozles" were translated differently, it
might actually use the full potential of quests and help destroy the
treadmill (not just hide it). Some possible changes are:

  - Use "NPC Y needs X foozle hides", not "Go forth and kill X
  foolzes" ... Which means there are now any number of ways the
  player could approach the problem, such as killing X foozles,
  buying X foozle hides, stealing X foozle hides, doing a trade with
  another PC/NPC for X foozle hides, or learning that NPC Y really
  wants a warm coat for winter (which leads to other solutions).

  - Provide a more varied impact to the quest than "you'll get XP
  and gold reward"... How about: "NPC Y likes your character more
  because you got the hides"... which leads to other outcomes, or
  even have the foozle-hide quest temporarily affects the world of
  all players (as mentioned recently).

  - Once there are more varied impacts, players can choose to
  undertake the quest (or not) based on the impact. They may even be
  able to make choices within the quest. What if a player gives
  secretly-defective foozle hides to NPC Y instead of good
  ones... How does that affect the outcome? If it does affect the
  outcome, it provides a valid choice for the player. Maybe giving
  foozle hides to NPC Y makes NPC Y like the player character, but
  turns NPC Z (the save-the-foozles brigade) against the player
  character. Foozles might be illegal to hunt, and players might
  have the option of turning NPC Y into the police.

  - You can wrap some narrative around the quest and get the player
  more emotionally involved in NPC Y, or the plight of the
  rare-and-endangered foozles.

  - Providing a world with more sub-games than just combat also
  helps.... Maybe players can "study the behaviors" of foozles,
  taking photos of them, or tracking them. Or, they could take a
  counter quest for the save-the-foozle brigades and paint all the
  foozles pink (as per arctic sea-lion cubs).

Mike Rozak
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