Thursday, January 19, 2006


Over on Raph Koster's blog, I made some negative comments about his olde Beowulf quest. As far as Massive quests go, it's really damn good. It exhibits the same basic elements as our current quests, except that it's steeped in Germanic Lore and the foozle killing is automagically accomplished by getting an almost comically long succession of Magic Swords. The technology of MUDs permit some things to happen better, as it's easier to define spaces in MUDs. There's no illusion of continuity to uphold, so it's easier to implement mazes, bellies of giant whales, and Grendel's Lair. My problem is that it's still an EPIC (groan) event waiting for everyone to stumble on. This isn't about hiding content from the vast, unwashed masses. I've only been part of the vast, unwashed masses in every massive I've ever played. I don't have the stick-to-it-iveness to get the final ding. This colors my opinion slightly, as I can't speak first hand about Molten Core or Zul'Gurub or wherever the hell else the kids are playing these days in World of Warcraft. I can still say they sound remarkably boring after the first time, and the novelty of fighting a Very Big Monster by playing your class just how it was meant to be played has worn off. Or I could be bitter and antagonistic! That's definitely possible.

So, I'm going to be positive for once. I'll say what sort of quests I -do- want to see. First and overarching all my further tyrannical and improbable demands is this: All quests must have some real, tangible aspect of the world that can not be easily achieved any other way, mechanically. Compelling storylines, the fattest of loots, and moral rectitude come second to that demand. An example of a quest that can repeat and still fill this requirement would be being a mail carrier. Every town would have a postmaster. He gives out quests to carry mailbags around to other postmasters. The actual effect of this would be players getting their mail. This specific proposal has flaws, as I well realize. Player mail is kinda really unimportant, as we have these /tells and /guilds and /wallabies. But it results in a material change to the world and produces a repeatable quest structure.

We also need to reconsider our relation to one-off quests. These would have to be capable of supporting a large number of players, or otherwise have an effect on a large number of players who have options at that point. For example, there can be the Tomb of the Vile Necromancer, which has all sorts of gold and jewels. Deep down in the tomb, there's a big, valuable, enticing gem. Some wise player will one day decide to steal it. Promptly, all hell breaks loose. Undead monsters of all kinds and colors will rise up in the area, involving the poor passersby. Quests that arise as a result can include return the gem, get the gem out of there, help the undead, help the village of Monsterbait, etc.

As an aside, I do realize that my quests drawn out here suck. There's maybe a good five minutes of brainstorming behind them. I've been spending a lot longer on the underlying ideas, I swear.

There are shitloads of things in massives with whom we've only begun to toy. We ignore our most useful and defining characteristics (lots of people, shared, persistent world). I can go days in World of Warcraft without feeling the affect of another player, and persistence is limited to my toys. Don't get me wrong, we do have games which explore these things. But not nearly enough.

I'd love to put my money where my mouth is, but I have neither the skills nor the resources to make a massive right now. So I'll just bitch until someone listens to me.

Also, Soul Calibur 3 is pretty alright, speaking as someone who never got into the second game, and this has the most awesome desktops in the world.


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