I have played (and tried) pretty much every MMO from UO to Rift and one thing that has become more and more predominant in games is questing. In most games these days you can quest from level one to cap. In my opinion, game companies used the single player quest driven games (like Oblivion, Balders Gate etc) and just added a multiplayer option to them. With SWTOR coming out soon and taking questing to “another level” with voiced actors etc it got me thinking: I think this might be the wrong direction for MMO’s
Below are some ideas of why this may be the wrong direction and maybe some suggestions of how to correct this. (This list of ideas is not complete nor is it about one game. It is my opinion of how questing is “hurting” MMO’s) suggestions, additions and comments are welcomed-
-questing is “grinding”. It is grinding with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. You still have to kill 1,000 rats but at least you are doing it for a reason. Unfortunately, the reason you are killing rats is so bland that most people do not read or do not care to read why. Most of us have done this so often that it hurts our eyes to read the quests.
-quests have no impact on the game. In single player RPG’s you kill the rats and “poof” you can see the results and now all the rats are gone from the sewers. You can re-visit the sewers and all the rats are “still” dead. You made an impact on the game.
-questing hurts exploration. Questing guides players through a predetermined set experience. Everyone does the same thing from start to finish. Games do not have to be “worldly” if they have a lot of quests that guide players though the experience. For example, RIFT, is a very small world. There is not a lot of exploring to do in the game and it is so packed with quests that each zone zooms by without impacting your experience.
-questing ruins “your story”. I think this is the most important point of them all. “Your story” is being created by the quests. Your character is the result of quests- not the story you created for your character. In single player RPG’s your story is usually grand and you “save the world” and the things you do have an impact upon the game (you killed all the rats in the sewer. Now, there are no more rats in the sewer). In EQ1, UO and other older games, I can only remember a handful of quests. I think there was some basic “turn in rat pelts” and the other quests were epic quests for “epic” rewards. In the in-between-time the player created their own story by exploring and experiencing the game by weaving their own characters quests and story.
What if we took the quests out of MMO’s? Why not just created a large explorable world with interesting lore and creatures. Where “living” within this world and learning of its cultures and finding ancient ruins to explore was the “quests”. Remove the predetermined set of experiences (quests) and just release the players into the world and let them create their own stories. If we do this, we won’t be “cookie cutters” of each other. We will truly have our own stories of where we have been and what we have seen and done.