Quest pacing, and why killing boars is cool.

Being part of the blog community, and spending a decent (read: too much) amount of time reading other blogs, you pick up on trends and common rants. Having been around the MMO block since UO, I’ve also seen my fair share of MMO launches and the general response to them. No matter how similar or different two games may be, a few common themes from the player base generally pop up, and today I want to break down one of those, questing.

In many ways questing has evolved a great deal since UO. Actually since EQ, since the ‘quest’ in UO was to get from point A to point B without getting ganked. (best quest ever IMO) EQ was not quest driven like most of today’s game, but rather the quests were side tasks you attempted while making your way to the level cap. In comparison, in WoW 1-70 almost every mob you kill, or location you see, is due to a quest goal. It’s very rare to just wander out and kill stuff for the sake of killing, be it alone or with friends. Different games today have varying degree’s of ‘must quest’, but almost all of them place a much greater emphasis on quests than EQ or UO ever did. EVE stands out (as it usually does) as the exception here, because much like UO, it’s skill based rather than level based, but even EVE has a questing system that many players participate in.

Along with an increase in importance, the overall quantity of quests has increased dramatically in today’s MMOs, with many games today having more quests than one character can complete before out-leveling them. With this increase in quantity, you very often see a complaint about quality. ‘Too many kill x, collect y quests’ is something you hear and read about constantly, the most recent example being AoC. Before a serious amount of content was added to LoTRO, a common joke was that each area featured its own ‘kill boars’ quest, each time for a different piece of boar, the quests being almost identical with the only difference being the size or color of the boar. PoTBS at launch (and maybe still?) did a copy/paste job with their quests, as each starting area had the exact same set of quests, making creating an alt rather pointless.

All that said, I sometimes wonder what exactly DO people want from quests? Almost everyone skips the flavor text in the quests, no matter how well written, so a better story would be rather tough. Any kind of tricky ‘go find it’ quest gets Googled rather than attempted, or just skipped if the reward is deemed not worth it. Tough group quests are bashed for ‘forced grouping’, so we can’t have that. Travel quests are old news, and we want instant travel now anyway, right? Well we want instant travel while still maintaining a worldly feel, but that’s another topic. So that leaves us with our good buddy the kill quest. Simple, focused, generally short, it’s not hard to understand why the kill quest is the most common type of quest we see in MMOs.

But is the kill quest really that bad, even when it’s for boar parts or rat tails? And what the hell would we do if suddenly all MMOs removed all kill quests, what would fill that massive void? Meaningful travel! Kidding…

The fact is MMO’s are generally one big grind, broken down to many little grinds in order to bleed $15 a month out of us. We love the abuse. And while we bitch and moan about kill quests, the fact is we love them as well. We love killing something and seeing our little quest tracker go up by one, or opening up the loot window to pick up one more tail/hoof/eye. How cool is it when you have 4-5 quests all revolving around boar genocide, and with one mighty kill you progress all those quests at once. Exactly, it’s awesome. We are MMO gamers, we are sick, and little numbers going up does it for us. The more +1 we get, the better we feel.

The key to questing, as well as life itself, is variety. If you do the same thing day in, day out, it’s going to get boring and old, no matter what the activity. Good quest design is not about removing kill quests, but pacing them correctly. If I just devastated the local boar population, the last thing I want Mr. NPC to say is ‘go kill more boars’. But I’m very OK with killing them in step one, then finding some boar relic, and finally facing off against some uber boar to finish it all up. And while I’m doing all that, if I also have a quest to discover some boar shrine, which just happens to be along the way, bonus for me. Just be sure to mix it up in the next area a bit (but not too much, we are creatures of habit remember), and I’ll happily continue to grind away.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Age of Conan, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Quest pacing, and why killing boars is cool.

  1. Thallian says:

    lol nice one bud. Actually made me chortle under my breath. :)

  2. Mr. Gamer says:

    I hate, hate, HATE killing boars (wolves, rats, etc). Animals simply don’t work as plausible antagonists. It’s hard to justify their persistently attacking you, and it’s impossible to feel any hostility toward animals that gives you moral license to kill them. I prefer sentient foes. Case in point: WoW’s kobolds (even though they are essentially just anthropomorphic rats) are far more satisfying for me to kill than bears, wolves, or boars.

    “Kill X of Y” quests in general do serve to frame and motivate the player’s XP grinding efforts and are far preferable to undirected slaughterfest in order to advance. But making goals out of killing (lots of) enemies and rewarding the player doing it isn’t the only way to facilitate character advancement. Far from it, it’s not hard to think of other, more satisfying, motivational mechanisms.

    How about setting creatng quests that set contextually meaningful (in terms of story, class, faction, area etc.) but simple goals, or even whole scenarios that encompass a set of such goals. For example: “Eliminate an enemy leader”, “Ring the cathedral bell in the midst of an enemy-occupied fortress”, “Save the king’s daughter from the dragon”. Let the players go about accomplishing those goals in any way the game mechanics will allow them to, be it through stealth, diplomacy, or force of arms. But don’t reward the killing of “trash” monsters. Let the enemies be just an obstacle to reaching the stated goal(s). Reward the completion of the goal(s) only, and don’t reward any legitimate method of doing so over the others.

    Personally, I greatly enjoyed the advancement system in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Players don’t receive XP or loot for killing monsters. These rewards are only given for completing quests, or more accurately, objectives encompassed by the quests. Each quest is an instance with its own story arc, using a short text lead-in combined with a combination of in-quest scripted events and selective narration to advance the story and to set and modify the goals. Accomplishing a goal rewards the players with XP and/or a spawned chest full of loot. Monsters present an obstacle to accomplishing the goals but no benefit to killing them. They can often be avoided crowd controlled, or even talked out of their evil deeds instead. Some non-goal “boss” monsters do give rewards for killing them, but those are an exception rather than the rule.

  3. syncaine says:

    The problem is, such quest design really only works in an instance, which is why it works in DDO. DDO has the forced grouping issue however, also because of its instance design. DDO did a ton of stuff right, but had a few glaring issue that prevented it from really taking off.

    I think animals work in certain settings, like LoTRO. Middle Earth is not really a place overrun with random monsters like Azeroth is, so you can’t just have evil creatures in all corners of the world, hence lots of animals. It works for me, but I could see how others might not enjoy it as much.

  4. Bonedead says:

    I’ll do whatever they tell me to over and over without a second thought. I don’t care what the hell a frog is doing with a bag of coins, I’m just glad that I get double for fighting in a PvP zone. Man am I a zombie or what?

  5. Snafzg says:

    I’ll agree with you on this one and add that WAR has me excited because you can be sure that killing enemy players will be tied into questing as well. Killing ten boars that stand around in a spawned location is fine but killing ten enemies with living, dynamic players behind the steering wheel is better! :)

  6. syncaine says:

    I also like the idea of Deeds in LoTRO, in that they are basically a super long quest (kill 300 of something or whatever) for a small perk. Generally you don’t focus on complete a deed, you just do as you play, but they are still a fun little reward to get each time you finish one. They also allow you, if you want, to just grind out a deed or two if you want to take a questing break. Again the key is options, the more the better, even if that option is something as simple as ‘kill 300 boars’.

  7. Mr. Gamer says:

    Well, I’ll admit that making solo-friendly scenario-based quests in the open world is much more challenging than doing it using instances. But I still want the developers to move in that direction. I’m simply not having any fun killing Xof Y anymore, and the game companies will eventually lose me as a customer if they cannot offer me gameplay that goes beyond that.

    Personally, I don’t mind forced grouping as long as it’s casual enough for a newbie to successfully participate in. I enjoyed DDO very much, and I only quit after running out of content (which happened much too quickly unfortunately). I think DDO made a lot of brave design choices that work, and I’m willing to forgive its many flaws for that.

    It’s funny that you mention LotRO in defending the slaughter of animals in MMOs, because LotRO is the game that crystallized my seething hatred for boars and one of the chief reasons why I didn’t even get past the free trial before dumping it. It seemed like every lovingly rendered blade of grass in Middle-Earth was inhabited by a horde of homicidal ham, and every 5th NPC asked me to go kill some.

  8. syncaine says:

    Yea animal genocide is rampant in LoTRO, but I just don’t mind it for the most part. In an odd way, it makes the random ‘kill undead, kill a special boss’ quest that much more ‘epic’ in comparison. In WoW, every other quest is to kill a demi-god, and none of it has a real epic feel to it (questing now, not raiding).

    I did enjoy DDO for its time, but unlike you I just could not get past some of its issue (this was sometime around launch). I think I made it to level 5 or 6 before quitting (cap was 10 at that time). I really did enjoy the instances focused quests though, just wish it was not as rigidly structured or restricting.

  9. Swift Voyager says:

    I would give Eve credit for the best example of the meaningless slaughter of x of y questing. Perhaps you haven’t played them, but Eve introduce a number of mining missions about 6 months ago. Yep, the quests amount to gathering x quantity of “special” ore by mining it. The “special” ore doesn’t have any value since you can only collect the amount you need for the quest and it can’t be sold on the market. That seems even worse than making bacon. HOWEVER, sitting down to watch television and clicking on the mining lasers every few minutes can be relaxing and strangely rewarding at the end of the day, especially since you can do it while paying almost zero attention to the game. It tends to cause a minimum of wife/girlfriend aggro.

    Go figure.

  10. Swift Voyager says:

    I guess wild boar with helmets and jet packs would have been too strange.

  11. Mr. Gamer says:

    I guess we’ve had very different DDO experiences, Syncaine. I skipped the original release due to heavy criticism and because I was still enamoured with WoW at the time. I only got around to playing DDO this winter, when they started offering a free trial.

    I found a friendly community where most people are willing to help and share with each other, plenty of content to level all the way to the cap without repeating adventures, and easy casual grouping where nearly any class combination worked and where most adventures were easily beatable with a random PUG a couple of people short on the Normal setting. Curiously, the developers added the Solo setting to most adventures since release, but I’ve never felt compelled to use it because grouping was so easy and fun. I quickly made many friends. This was the only game I played where people in a random group felt comfortable enough with each other to routinely get on the voice chat and talk. There was a remarkable absence of arseholes and idiots.

    I loved how there was no grind for loot or XP: you simply progressed through adventures that became ever bigger and bolder. Loot and money were plentiful, and there was no competiton for it: there’d be a guaranteed share for you in every treasure chest. Even if you didn’t find what you wanted in a chest, it was easy enough buy it on the Auction Hosue or in a pawn shop for a very affordable price. There simply was no scarcity is the game, and it caused the players to be very generous to each each other. As a newbie, I was lavished with top magic gear by the veteran players.

    If I have any major crititicism of DDO, it’s that the game is entirely instanced, being more similar to Guild Wars than to WoW in that respect, yest still charging a monthly fee. Also, the casual nature of the game meade it easy for me to complete all the adventures in a few months’ time, and then I had to quit due to the lack of any real endgame. But I expect to come back for another binge once more content is added.

  12. Mr. Gamer says:

    Oh and I don’t think I ever had to kill any boars in DDO. There were a few wolves, dogs, and scorpions and even they were used in plausible context as enemies.

    It’s worth noting that there were also several optional “outdoor” (still instanced) areas that had quests to kill kill X of Y for an XP boost… but I never bothered doing any of them =D.

  13. Keen says:

    Quests in “today’s” mmos should be renamed “Tasks”. It’s nothing more than an errand. Hero? My arse. You’re an errand boy! Quests are supposed to be adventures and true QUESTS! It’s not much of a quest to walk 20 feet outside the city walls, slaughter a few grazing pigs, and return to a NPC who rewards you with 5 ribs.

  14. Nick Carraway says:

    In oder to fix this, you would have to take a deeper look at the grind an MMO is built upon.

    But there are ways to overcome this. Dark… secret ways. Ways that I call “Effect-Based Event Generation”.

  15. Nick Carraway says:

    I apologize, that was the wrong link. Here’s a better description of the system.

  16. syncaine says:

    But guys, I’m not saying questing NEEDS to be fixed, its fine. Kill quests and other ‘simple’ tasks are what MMO gameplay is about. The grind, and the growth around that grind, is the reason we play MMOs in the first place. If someone truly hates kill quests, I’m not sure the MMO space is the right genre for them.

  17. Rog says:

    One of the problems I see with improvements to quest systems is exactly that: improvements.

    WAR worries me, because all sorts of people are expecting revolutionary, when their design seems to be centered around addressing complaints about the current status quo. Their solutions seem more like patches and bandaids to me. For sure, it’ll be better, but it also sounds like a whole lot more of the same. Less frustrating? Yes. More entertaining? I don’t see how.

    Mind you, I’m not really bored of questing either, I still enjoy it. But if it’s going to see any sort of revolution, I think that will more likely come via Lionhead Studios or BioWare (and I mean Edmonton, because the hints from Austin have been soooo WoW-praising it scares me).

    Single-player games unfortunately will be the cutting edge for RPGs still, because every MMO is too blindsided by Blizzard’s success.

  18. Mr. Gamer says:

    Now you just wait a minute, Syncaine! You make some awfully big generalizations that are simply not true. Quote: “The grind, and the growth around that grind, is the reason we play MMOs in the first place.”

    Let’s deconstruct the MMO acronym: Massively Multiplayer Online:

    Multiplayer: You play with, against, or at the very least in the same environment as other players.

    Massively: There are lots of other players.

    Online: You access the game and find these other players online, on the Internet.

    Now, as it happens, I enjoy playing games with lots of other people on the Internet. Am I therefore a potential MMO user? Yes, I am! But… I don’t like kill quests, I don’t particularly care for character “numbers” growth, and I hate grinds with a vile and black passion.

    What do I like? I like exploring vast, beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous worlds. I like being immersed in an interesting, engaging story: a story about me and not about some “epic” conflic too unimmediate for me to care about (The One Ring? Unless my name is Frodo, you can shove it where sun don’t shine!). I like meeting people, sharing adventures and accompishing goals together with some and fighting against some others, making friends and, sometimes, enemies too.

    What makes you think everyone has the same motivations for playing as you do? They don’t! Richard Bartle, a game researcher and one of the creators of the original MUD came up with a (somewhat crude, admittedly) model to classify players into the Achiever, Explorer, Killer, and Socializer archetypes. I see myself (and consistently score on Bartle’s Test) as primarily an Explorer, but scoring appreciably on the Socializer and Killer scales as well. What I’m not and will never be is an Achiever, like you seem to be and mistakenly assume all others are as well.

    Perhaps I’m just one of the few oddballs whose ideal game isn’t Excel Online Adventures? Nick Yee of Deadalus Project ( has done even more research into the subject of MMO player motivations, and his survey data shows that I’m far from being alone.

    So, that settles it. Game developers should stop making games just for you (and others like you) and start making some games for me (and others like me). I’m willing to pay for these games, and my money is as good as yours.

    Yes, I realize that creating games whose total experience isn’t summed up in a kill-grind defined with a few simple mathematical models is considerably more challenging and requires unquantifiable creative input, instead of just a random bunch of artists and programmers armed with a Diku/EQ/WoW template. But the “traditional” grind-advancement designs are having a hard time getting at my wallet anymore. In fact, I’m not subscribed to any commerical MMO at the moment. I’m having more fun playing the blogging-about-games social meta-game than killing yet another 10 rats.

  19. syncaine says:

    But thats just your take Mr. Gamer, and that does not reflect the majority of MMO fans. You loved DDO, but most MMO gamers did not, mainly because DDO was very un-MMO like with the way its structured.

    Plus, the MMO acronym is a bit foolish anything, since Counter Strike fits the breakdown of MMO, and I doubt anyone would consider CS an MMO.

    There is also a large gap between what players ‘think’ they want, and what they really do want. WoW is a perfect example. People bitch about the same old same old, yet the game that just cloned EQ but did it better is the most successful MMO, while anything that tries to stray off the beaten path is niche at best.

    Which is not to say what YOU want is wrong, since of course its your opinion. It’s just that what you want is not what most MMO fans want, and since companies make games to earn a profit, they go after the biggest market. That was kind of the point of the post, that while people bitch about kill quests, the fact is the kill quest is an overall greater reflection on what makes an MMO an MMO (the grind). Grind is not a bad thing, its a gameplay type, and as an MMO fan, its the type we prefer.

  20. Yeebo says:

    I really don’t mind killing ten foozles or delivering a package as long as there is a good story associated with it. This is one area where LoTRO excells.

    For example, there is a long quest chain where you mainly run errends for a female hobbit that another hobbit has a crush on. You pay for her groceries, you do some weeding. Maybe kill some bears. You also run back and forth between two hobbits a lot. But I found the story that emerged from it charming. I was literally eager to weed to move the story along. That’s good writing.

  21. syncaine says:

    I know exactly the quest chain you refer to, as I always enjoyed it for the same reason, story. I also remember seeing posts on forums about the quest, and how it was a perfect example of pointless back and forth running. You just can’t please everyone, and I bet those same people complaining about that quest also wish MMOs had more ‘story’.

  22. Mr. Gamer says:

    What exactly are you referring to as “my take”, Syncaine? I made quite a few different statements in my last post. Regardless, anything anyone says is a matter of opinion, unless it’s a verifiable fact.

    A person can support his opinion with logic and factual data to make it more credible. I’ve provided you with data by a well-respected researcher showing that different people exhibit a wide variety of motivations for playing MMO games, and that Achievers do not in fact form the absolute majority of all players. If you’d like to differ, you should provide some hard (or at least circumstantial) data instead of making these unsupported “we, the preople” statements that you’ve been making. Meanwhile, go check out the latest post on Keen&Graev’s blog to see what sort of character advancement other people would like to see in their “ideal” game: grinding is not particularly well represented.

    As far a the commerical success of the grind-to-achieve design archetype, everything that isn’t WoW is “niche”. The failure to meet or even approach the WoW subscription numbers applies equally to both the “clone” and the more original games. The EQ2 subscriptions are lukewarm at best, and not for the lack of grinding.

    Incidently, besides being a Pavlovian grindfest, WoW is a game with immense appeal to Explorers, with its seamless, varied world and superb art direction. I enjoyed WoW for a long time for that very reason, until the world became to familiar.

  23. syncaine says:

    I’m not saying grinding has to be the focus (like it is in most Asian MMOs), I’m just saying that the fairly simple kill quest is a necessary gameplay type in MMOs. It should not be the only content, or even the main focus, but removing it all together would create more issues than it would solve.

    Keen’s latest posts are a great example of what people ‘think’ they want, but does little to show what they would actually play. Statements like ‘gameplay over graphics’ are easy to make, but tougher to support. Look at WAR, it’s biggest ‘issue’ right now is the perception that it looks like WoW, and people totally discount that even if it used the same exact art, it’s gameplay is radically different. How many great games are passed up because the graphics were not up to snuff? Not to mention that generally gameplay and graphics are two completely separate pieces, and hardware limits aside, don’t impact each other.

  24. Swift Voyager says:

    Wow, this is amazing. People are so prejudiced against the word “grind”. I agree with the point you make Sycaine. You can see a perfect example of what you are talking about in Eve. The quarterly eve economic reports gave demographic numbers about player distributions. The vast majority of players in Eve (supposedly a PvP focused game) spend the vast majority of their time grinding in Empire space. There’s plenty of other options for Eve players. The eve sandbox allows you to do just about anything anywhere anytime you want. People choose the grind by a ratio of something like 8 to 1. I personally spend most of my eve time grinding in one way or another. Eve is cool becacuse there are so many different ways to grind. Then, when I get tired of the grind, I can take a nice little PvP break before going back to grinding. As to comments made by other people about “what makes an MMO”, I still talk to all my online friends while I grind, and I sometimes grind in groups. Sometimes it’s really great to get 20 people together and spend an entire weekend just mining away and chatting on text or voice chat.

    I’m sure there are people who really don’t like to grind, but I think there’s a lot more people who like to grind but don’t know it. I think there’s an awefull lot of other types of games where people spend most of their time grinding as well. Look how popular Webkinz is and tell me how much you can do in that game besides grind.

  25. sid67 says:

    I agree with you, Syncaine. The kill quests are the best. Of course, I put the “slay X” quests over the “get X eyes” quests. First, grouping with someone and being able to both benefit from the kill is nice. Secondly, many of the drop quests are based on random drop %s. I don’t mind killing 30 boars for 60 tusks, but i hate killing anywhere between 10-60 boars to get a single “pristine” boar tusk. As you say, I like that +1 to occur and when it takes 30 or more kills to get a single +1, I start to feel abused.

    Escort quests are interesting. On the one hand, they are hated largely due to the pacing (too fast or too slow). On the other hand, when they are done well, they can be some of the most memorable and interesing quests. The “Thrall” quest in Durnholde Keep is a good example, or the party of adventurers you free and protect in Zul’Farrak. These are memorable, I think, because they tell a story in which you participate. The key to those quests is not the quest text which people skip, but in the actions of the NPCs.

    But mostly, you hit the nail on the head. My very favorite quests are the ones where I can group up 5 or 6 for an area and knock them all out before returning to the quest giver. There is a nice balance struck between “travel” both to and from the area and “progress” made against the quest. It’s a bit frustrating to spend your time running back and forth to the same area for different legs of a quest chain. I think that’s one “fun” thing about creating your first alt — you already know from experience how to be the most efficient.

  26. sid67 says:

    One other thing about quests in general… They are useful in getting players to explore new areas. It may be forced exploring, but without them, I may be more prone to stick to familiar areas that are offer the most convienance. In TBC, almost every single area is connected with a quest and whenever I visit the area later, I often fondly recall the quest for that area. In the original WoW, there are quite a few areas not connected to a quest at all (large parts of Azshara, for example) that feel empty despite having lots of mobs and interesting terrain.

  27. Solidstate says:

    > In WoW, every other quest is to kill a demi-god

    Your WoW must be very different from mine :) Personally, I’m getting pretty tired of demons – too many of them in outlands. I’m looking forward to WotLK and a variety of undead to kill :)

    Mr. Gamer, I’m curious – how did you like the Panther/Tiger/Raptor Mastery quests in STV? do they also fall in the “I hate to kill animals” quests category or are they more believable since you are killing dangerous predators?
    What about quests that require you to kill animals, but for a believable reason, such as collecting animal parts for a cooking quest. Do those work for you?

    On a personal note, as someone who has leveled 3 chars to 70 in WoW and is now more than half-way with a fourth, it is surprisingly easy to stay away from the “kill harmelss animals” quests in WoW… depending, of course, on your definition of a harmless animal :) (are the Demon-shaped Boars in HFP animals? :))

  28. Mr. Gamer says:

    Solidstate, I abhor the Nesingwary “safari” quests that you mention. The animals being predators changes nothing: I still can’t see them as antagonists in a moral sense, so I don’t feel emotionally engaged when I kill them. Besides, these creatures aren’t normally predators of humans (or fictional humanoid races) and certainly shouldn’t pose a threat to armed combatants such as my character. We have no reasons to bother each other.

    A quest to slay a man-eating tiger that is terrorizing a local village can be a proper exception to the above, but wholesale animal genocide is completely unjustifiable. Animals should still inhabit the world, but they should be more part of the environment than “mobs”. With some exceptions, they should be non-agressive and tend to run rather than fight even when provoked. Since it’s not a “heroic” thing to kill anumals, slaying them shouldn’t provide you with with any XP.

    It’s ok to kill animals for thier meat or hides or other crafting purposes. However, there better be a liver in every goddamn one of them and plenty of meat for several good meals. likewise, I’m sure one wolf hide is perfectly enough for a cloak or a pair of boots. Don’t make me grind that stuff.

    When I kill animals for crafting, I just want to do it to obtain the materials I need to make something for myself or a friend. I don’t want to do a quest that asks me to bring enough produce to feed the questgiver and his extended familiy for the next three generations. The questgivers have no business asking me for a bunch of materials just for giving me a new crafting recepie either. I’d much rather beat it out of them instead. Seriously, in my next MMO I want to have an option to waterboard any arsehole that wants a bunch of grind-stuff in exchange for information until they talk or give up the ghost.

    Using “demon” themed animals is cheap. Boars shouldn’t be demons. What does a boar do? It walks around and grazes. What does a “demon” boar do? Why, the same thing! How EEEEEVIL! …Ugh. If you’re going to use the “demon” modifier on a creature, you have to flesh it out the same way you would if you tried to make the same creature into a humanoid. Give it an anatomically distinct menacing look, an appearance of intelligence, and an evil agenda. Don’t just paint it red and set it out to pasture.

  29. syncaine says:

    While all really great suggestions, it all sounds more like single player RPG stuff rather than MMO stuff.

    I don’t know if you ever played it, but UO at launch had a complex system were if you killed too many sheep, the local dragon would run out of food and attack a village. The idea behind it was really great on paper, as players would need to be in balance with everything they did. In practice, it failed because everyone just slaughtered everything, and the whole system soon fell into chaos and was scrapped for the far simpler ‘everything spawns’.

    That’s the thing with MMOs, until they really evolve (and one could argue we don’t actually want them to), they will remain only as complex as we make them (aka, EVE and its politics and Alliance Wars). Forcing the players into a specific game style seems to be a good way to fail as an MMO, which is somewhat understandable.

    All that said, it is interesting to talk about and throw the ideas out. Just because we currently have very limited games does not mean we can’t talk about more complicated systems.

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