So, I was talking with a friend of mine who is working on a small MMO-style project with some friends and students. He showed me their work-in-progress web-page and as I was reading their "vision," I realized something.
However, before I go further, here's the portion of the text that made the click.
Do they honestly think everyone isn't going to realize that they're ALL the legendary hero of that town? On top of this it seems every hero of the land has been reduced to a loafer who goes and kills 10 wolves for the farmer in order to make a living.
Now, I doubt any of you have actually read any of my reviews, but if you had, you would noticed that I absolutely hate questing in themepark MMOs. It's repetitive, boring, and mind-numbing. Mostly because you're doing the same exact thing that every other Joe Hero is doing, which is (more likely than not) a kill quest that has you killing X amount of Y mob so that you can get Y reward.
Honestly, til this point, I've done nothing but ***** about the problem. Usually I'll get fed up with a themepark game and just go play a sandbox to help recharge my batteries, so to speak. However, when I read that paragraph it got me thinking.
Why do quests in MMOs have to be so boring, repetitive, and exactly the same? Why can't developers add in some randomness. It honestly doesn't have to be too much.
One idea I had is, instead of telling a person exactly how many wolves they need to kill, just have the quest ask them to help thin out the local population of wolves and not tell them exactly how many to kill. Eventually, when the hidden value is reached, the quest will update with something like "That seems like enough, return to the Village Elder for your reward." Then you could take it a step further and have that hidden value of wolves that need to be killed be slightly randomized. Just a quick roll of virtual die to determine the exact amount that need to be killed (you might get lucky and have to kill less than others, or have to kill a few more).
You could even take it a bit further and have the number of people who have completed that quest recently become a modifier in the roll. Perhaps if a lot of people are completing that quests today, you will get an automatic -4 to the number of wolves you need to kill, applied before or after the dice roll that determines the hidden value of wolves needed to be killed?
Then, perhaps, the NPC could reward to according to how many wolves you needed to kill. If you only had to kill very few because a lot of people were doing the quest and you got a low roll, you would just get a bit of gold and a few potions and be sent on your way (this is mostly because I'm a fan of crafted gear and hate the quest gear in games...). However, what if you were the first person to do the quest that day so the wolf population (theoretically... it doesn't even have to be physically represented in the game...), and you got a high roll that increased the amount of wolves you need to kill to the max.
The Village Elder could then see that you had to kill quite a number of wolves and that it must have taken you a lot of work. So, he gives you an item (probably a weapon) that have some randomized stats, a bit of extra gold, several potions, and maybe a hint/side-quest that will lead you to another, similar quest that is a bit harder and can give you a few more rewards. Maybe the weapon you'll get will be related to the quest as well, "It seems to be a dagger fashioned from dire wolf teeth." or "The staff is crowned with a circlet of wolves teeth that have arcane runes carved into them."
Of course, I guess a lot of the reasons that we don't get this is either A) The people that have the money to put forth the effort only want to do what is proven or No one is willing to put forth the effort/time to do all the writing/coding/etc... that would be required to make such an interesting questing system work.
Oh well. It was just a thought.
For anyone interested, here is the websitefor the game I was reading about.