Quick note: Living near Boston, it’s amazing seeing all the people chasing the Celtics bandwagon now. Sitting here in my cube, it’s taking all my self restraint not to get up and choke the damn pinkhats talking basketball, pretending to have a clue. They are the same wagon jumpers that are going to sit next to me during a home game on a cell phone waving their hands like idiots asking their mom/girlfriend/dog if they are on TV, getting up to take a picture at the most random moment, and finding the halftime performance by some $10 clown the highlight of the night, singing right along with whatever two-bit jingle is playing at the time.
Sorry, rant over, I feel better now.
Back to the blog.
One common complaint you hear from MMO fans is the lack of variety in quests. Too many fed-ex and kill quests. Fans always post about wanting new and creative quests, and you can’t blame them, you can only kill rats and collect tails for so long. If you ask players to reflect back on older MMOs and what moments stand out, often times it’s a particular series of quests or events unique to that game.
That’s all fine, and I agree to a certain extent. But let’s not kid ourselves, how happy would we REALLY be if every single quest was something totally different and actually require some tricky or creative solution? For starters, this would greatly delay xp gain and general quest completion, as you would have to spend X amount of time each quest just figuring out what the hell you are supposed to do here. If you only have a 30 minute window to play that night, good luck making progress on some complicated quest. Killing 5 of 20 rats is possible, saving the universe might not be.
Also consider another common complaint you hear from gamers anytime they are given something different; confusion. Bring an MMO out without the standard UI features and you are sure to see 10 posts on your general board asking how to do this, or why you can’t do X just like in WoW. Now apply that to quests. Instead of kill 10 rats as your first quest in the game, it’s some new and creative task. If you fail to understand it and you get frustrated, what kind of first impression did that game just make? I would love to see some numbers on how many players complete “kill x quests” vs the more complicated ones. Taking a guess, I would say the numbers greatly favor the tried and true rat extermination task.
What triggered the above little rant (the MMO one, not the pinkhat one) was a comment made by Darren in episode 2 of “Shut Up. We’re Talking”, stating how he hated a particular quest chain in the Shire which consisted mostly of running back and forth between two farmers. Granted, at face value the quest does seem a little silly, as you do indeed make 5 or 6 trips back and forth just talking to the two npcs. But let’s take everything into consideration here. For one, the two are located fairly close to each other, so the quest overall takes no more than 15-20 minutes. Second, the dialog in the quest, you know, the story part, is well written and entertaining. Third, you get a very decent amount of xp, plus a choice of items in the end, for a quick and simple quest. If you happen to have 30 minutes the night you stumble upon that quest, you just made some nice progress with your character in very little time.
My point is, while grand “save the world” quests are certainly exciting and necessary, it’s foolish to think that you can do away with the tried and true kill and fed-ex quests, and LoTRO should be given some credit for at least giving us entertaining writing to go along with those less ‘epic’ quests. Otherwise, if each quest asks you to save the world, after you have saved it for the 100th time, is it really still epic?