Uninspiring quests

June 27, 2007

I have not played Lord of the ring Online for about 3 weeks now. There are a few reasons for this, but a major reason is that I have found many of the quests to be quite uninspiring.

My highest character is in the mid 20s and have done quests in Lone-lands and North Downs at the later levels. In particular Lone-lands have a lot of “collect 20 boar meat”, “kill 15 orcs” type of quests. This is the type of quests that to me signals time sink without too much effort on behalf of the quest designers.

I am usually one to read and follow the quests descriptions as much as I can, since if there is a good story to be told, I do not want to miss that and hopefully it will leave me wanting more and know or experience what happens next.

There is very little of that in the Lone-lands quests. And when groups or single people have to compete with each other to get the kills for the few spawns that appear, then it just becomes tedious.

In Everquest 2 they do a bit better job of wrapping in such quests into something at least semi-interesting, with a better dialog and some humor with the quest NPCs and scale amount of work and spawns a bit better. There is still only a limited amount of such quests one can do before it becomes a chore.

My belief has been that quests should be there to tell a story or get the player involved in the situation in the area, but in many cases the actual story seem to be very superficial and the quest is just there to give some extra xp.

Why should I go out and try to kill 20 wargs, if there has already been 10 other people wiping out every warg that appear. If such a quest should be there at all, then allow some variation – kill at least 5 wargs and we will give you some reward, more reward for more wargs up to some point or within a certain amount of time. If there are many wargs, give more in reward – since it should obviosuly be a bigger problem. In this way people can stop early if they get tired of it but perhaps still get some reward for it. And with lower rewards if there are few spawns to kill, then people might move on to other areas or quests – assuming that there is other areas to go to…

But better would of course be to have quests which involves the player a bit more and tells a story. In this regard I must say that I find City of Villains to do a decent job. There are a lot of story arc missions and some of these story arcs tell pretty good stories, of which the player takes a part. The people at Cryptic has been getting better at designing these missions also, which is apparent in updates of the games (villains and heroes). Early work on hero side is not that inspiring in my opinion, but later work is substantially better.

The talk I see from Richard Garriot and Tabula Rasa makes me hopeful about that game – remains to be seen what the reality will be.

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