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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 7:00PM gamebynight said

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Hey Brendan,

I usually read without commenting but I wanted to say thanks for the link back. I usually enjoy your articles, so what better occasion to comment? Great job man.

- Chris

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 10:45AM elocke said

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Awesome article. THIS is the main reason I think EQ2 isn't as big as it could be. The game has all the bells and whistles but no clear defining story. The story it has is delivered in mega boring reams of text in obscure places.

If they were to tackle this aspect of the game, I probably would play it for more than a month at a time and really dig into it. As it is, the game has a large amount of classes that I just don't feel any attachment to.

I really prefer how FFXI and LOTRO handle story elements. I think the way these 2 games handle delivering the story should be THE staple that all mmo's follow after, at least in some similar fashion.

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 11:07AM (Unverified) said

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I totally agree about eq2!

And I think LOTRO is the only mmorpg out there now.

Most games I have been calling MMOs not MMORPGs for good reason.

I also think its pretty scummy the things that console games get away with in terms of labeling thier games.

So many games get tagged with the RPG tag simply because it has some sort of character advancement tree. That makes me furious.

I never played DDO but i sure do hope it stayed close to its roots.

Great Article, This is wow I hate wow.com now. They are all just cop out "tell us about yourself" "articles" a cheap ploy for hits.

GJ Brendan

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 11:40AM Serious Table said

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I agree with OfieshK; I absolutely love these types of articles. It's why I hang out reading Massively instead of WoW.com, because you get constructive articles that have constructive responses. Keep these coming, please! :D
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 11:21AM Serious Table said

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I love this article. Story, to me, is the most important part of any RPG-type game. If I want to mindlessly kill enemies with no real background, I'll play a shooter like Left 4 Dead or Serious Sam. When I play an RPG, I want to feel like I'm part of something.

You bring up an interesting point to my mind, though. What's the best way to establish a story for a local area without having ten pages worth of quest text? I love the invasion idea, but how to do you put backstory into this scenario so that it's engaging to the player? The combat mechanics work great; you can battle incoming waves every hour, and if you push against the incoming waves in longboats and reach the ships, you can defeat the invasion force. Maybe this stops the invasion event for four days or so, and then reinforcements arrive to allow other players to experience the same situation without breaking immersion and still maintaining a bit of persistence. But where does the background come from? Would you glean that information instead by talking to the locals instead of the quest giver? Would it just be given by NPCs who are saying "We've been battling these invaders for the last two weeks, why won't they just go away?" "We've got to defend this base, or our supply lines are going to be choked off!" Maybe battle cries of "For the Empress!" or something similar?

I'm an amateur game designer myself with a focus on the creative writing side to it. I love engaging stories with developed background so a world feels lived in, intriguing characters and races, conflicts, and all manners of things like that. But being able to make a story alive without having to have the player read page after page of quest text is an obstacle we have to overcome. Bioware has an interesting idea in nothing but spoken dialogue, and that will help with immersion in that it's spoken, but it has the same pitfalls; if the player wants to hear the story, they have to sit there and listen to it. How do we overcome this?

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 1:09PM (Unverified) said

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Unfortunately Role playing games in recent years have strayed from the role in a story you play toward the role your stats play when two spread sheets lock horns.

If your character in a game can have his "stats" augmented in anyway then that game will be slapped with the RPG label.

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 12:39PM Critical Mass said

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I detest the authors concept of "roles" in a MMO game. Regarding the placement of players into "roles".

With MMO's being a form of interactive content, I can see how the concept of a "story" can fit into this. However, I will argue that this would only be a sensible idea if it was intended that way. And even then, it seem obvious that any "story" is open for interpretation by anyone playing a game, making any predesigned "story" prone to spectacular failure.

Imagine a game of space invaders. Does it make much sense to talk about the player having a "role"? I don't think so, things are too simplistic this way. With a MMO game, to talk about a "role", it seem to me to be a requirement that any role is to actually be perceived as a role and not simply something designed and thus called a "role". If a player does not actually perceive himself to have or play a "role", then I think that slapping on labels of "story" or "role" is simply fluff.

So it would be a requirement that interaction and real (and not applied) immersion is the basis of playing any "role". Telling people to enjoy a game because they should would be wrong and absurd. And imo telling them what role they are to play is also wrong and silly. Playing a role become a tautology this way, void of any real meaning other than playing a game.

Perhaps the concept of "ideology" would be a fitting tool to design a MMO game (or world politics unfortunately ). Void of pretense that people can't take seriously, yet immersive in the sense that you irrefutably become impressionable after being exposed to the game environment.

Does a woman play a role to save mankind because she can give birth to babies? I don't think she is, but she might perhaps think of it that way if she is told it is necessary (but ofc not really important). So it sort of depends of a lot of things, and so called "ideology" (about something) might not really be what is being professed.

I am thinking that a "role", would be proper, when a player himself choose for it and build it on the options available or possible in a MMO game. So to play the role of a soldier, the best option really is to join some real-life war.

When it comes to a "story", then I think the 100% or 50% run player-stories are interesting, else I am thinking that the novelty will wear off when the features have been explored.

Generally speaking, I personally think "roles" are overrated and misunderstood, at least in eve-online. Which perhaps is best explained by individual players craving for satisfaction, by asking for ways to improve their very own player experience, and not so much by craving a revarding system in totality. Which perhaps can explain exclamations like; "We don't need x." or "We don't need this/that." dismissing other players suggestions for improving the game.

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 4:26PM (Unverified) said

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"Experimentation in this industry has proven fairly dangerous. I can only hope that developers continue to push every creative advantage they can get. I think all it will take is a few polished MMOs innovative enough to change the formula and lucky enough to succeed. We may find that the only thing more dangerous than experimenting with the formula is not experimenting with it."

Innovation, in general, isn't something the games industry really does. Games are an iterative process, with new games building on the old. The really successful, really huge games have never been innovative ones; usually quite the opposite.

The innovations that are wildly successful are the ones that aren't marketed to gamers, because they bring people who aren't gamers into the fold, as it were (often at the expense of the "core", see: the Wii).

We've seen time and time again that, despite claims to the contrary, we don't want radical departures from the formulae we know and are familiar with-- this isn't just MMOs, this is everything. We want small changes that broaden our scope in a measured way, introducing new concepts gently, not rocking our worlds with The Next Big Thing. It doesn't surprise me that developers don't try crazy, off-the-wall new ideas and concepts; they're risky and largely reviled by players.

The question that fascinates me is "What are the small changes that can be made that will really sell people on a game?" What's the next iterative step, not the next innovation. Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Shadowbane-- these games have proven that innovation doesn't breed success in this age of gaming, careful iteration and polish does.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 4:34PM (Unverified) said

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Blah. I fail at navigating the way comments work here.

My above post is supposed to be addressed to Brendan and Descender, in the thread slightly below it.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 1:35PM (Unverified) said

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"I know how easy it is to get bogged down in clever mechanics and forget that they're only there to support a story. The mechanics themselves aren't the game, they're there to support the game and the game is about playing a role."

I think I fundamentally disagree with this line of thought.

By saying that the story is the be-all-end-all of the game, and the mechanics are merely there to support the player playing a role, you openly deny the concept of gameplay as a driving force.

It's very easy to forget, especially when promoting a narrativist viewpoint (as you do) and when one is a story-driven, roleplaying-oriented player, that there are players who *aren't*, and they comprise the vast majority of a given playerbase.

What a game, any game, is about, is *fun*, whether or not a role is being played, whether or not a story is being told, and whether or not the mechanics involved are ludicrously simple (tic tac toe) or extremely complex (MMOs, tabletop games).

The story, the mechanics, the support of roleplaying, the level of player agency in the world, the existence of the world itself-- all of these exist to support fun.

As an example, you mention the following:

"When I think of wizards, I think of chanting spells in unknown tongues, spellbooks with runic lettering, powerful magic staves, pentagrams drawn on the ground and teleportation."

Nearly nothing you've described here is gameplay; it's all window dressing. You have painted a picture, you haven't handed someone a controller (or dice, or a mouse, or what have you) and let them play. The only thing here that's described as an act (note that "pentagrams drawn on the ground" comes up but it's a past-tense, not present tense thing-- I'll get to that in a second) is teleportation, which... most MMOs with wizards have already.

As for drawn pentagrams: is that something you REALLY want to do in your game? I would posit that drawing detailed pentagrams on the ground in an MMO would be extremely tedious and really uninteresting, particularly if you had to do it every time you needed to cast a spell (as many fictional wizards do). Forcing players to draw detailed circles of power continually would likely do wonders for the feeling of role playing and immersion in that character class, but I'm willing to bet you would see people flee the class in droves, because what that isn't is FUN. It's interesting, sure, potentially compelling, but fun? No.

MMOs are interesting beasts, but they follow the same rules as any other game does, and with good reason. Fun is paramount. If the game is not fun, the quality of storytelling, the cleverness of the mechanics, or the depth of immersion are completely irrelevant.

Posted: Dec 8th 2009 2:09PM Serious Table said

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Well, tamrielo, you mention the Wizard thing and it got my mind going.

Why not put the two of those together? Why not keep the immersion still going with drawn pentagrams, but still keep it a reasonable and fun mechanic? Here's my idea.

Every game seems to have cast bars, especially for their mage-type characters. And what do those mages do while that cast bar fills up? They just stand there, waiting for the cast to charge, generally with the exact same casting stance as every other spell ever. Why not have your character draw that pentagram while the cast bar fills? It's still immersive because the Wizard is drawing that reagent for the spell, but it's not affecting gameplay because you're not trying to create that PERFECT Pentagram to pull off the spell.

Why not take it further so it does affect gameplay? Set each spell to a certain cast time, say a big spell has 5 seconds to cast. You initiate the cast, and your character begins drawing the pentagram. Why not pull a picture of the arrow keys towards the bottom of the screen where a certain key lights up every second or even half-second, and for every key you hit, it increases the power of the spell a little bit? Have your character react to this, as well; that particular portion of the spell circle glows a little brighter, etc.

There are ways to integrate immersion for the role-players and fun for those who are there for the game without sacrificing either/or too much. You just have to start thinking outside the box a little. Besides, to me the above scenario while casting a spell is so much more fun than anticipating the cast of the spell with nothing to do but sit and watch my character... sit.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 2:33PM Brendan Drain said

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"By saying that the story is the be-all-end-all of the game, and the mechanics are merely there to support the player playing a role, you openly deny the concept of gameplay as a driving force."

That's taking what I said in the article to a logical extreme. Story isn't the be-all and end-all of a game. The point I made was that games put us into these scenarios and in the MMO genre, they're nowhere near as convincing as they should be. Far from denying the importance of gameplay as a driving force, I'm suggesting that gameplay is far too often overlooked as a narrative force. We should be getting the same kind of immersive gameplay that singleplayer RPGs have produced. Gameplay that involves the player actively in a story through clever game mechanics. There's a massive difference in immersion between an RPG that uses innovative gameplay to tell a story and one that uses reams of text.


"Nearly nothing you've described here is gameplay; it's all window dressing."

I think that's exactly the problem, things like this are typically thought of as fluff and "window dressing" but they're crucial to creating immersive gameplay. The descriptions I gave were vague examples of what I think of as things a wizard does. It's up to game designers to translate those INTO viable game mechanics. If you want to create immersive gameplay where the player plays the role of a wizard, you'd have to find fun ways to work iconic wizard actions into the class's core gameplay.

I'm absolutely not suggesting they would implement it in a way that isn't fun like forcing the player draw magic circles every time he casts a spell. It's up to the game designer to come up with a way to make fun game mechanics out of some iconic wizard actions. Otherwise, he doesn't really feel like a wizard so much as a wizard-flavoured character. When all the classes use the same game mechanics and not ones custom designed with immersion in mind, playing a wizard can feel way too similar to playing a warlock or a monk or anything else. Everquest 2 is one of the worst offenders for this that I've played.

An example of a game that does well at this is Diablo II. Each class plays completely differently but the gameplay feels right for that class. Paladins boost their team with holy auras and smite undead, druids summon animal companions and evoke the forces of nature, sorcerors cast powerful-looking spells from a distance, necromancers hide behind hordes of undead, barbarians shout and rage at their enemies etc. Each class has unique gameplay that the others don't really access. Something they did majorly right with Diablo II was making sure the role each class was put into was iconic and felt right for that class. The sorceror felt like a sorceror, the paladin felt like a paladin and so on.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 2:44PM (Unverified) said

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Des, that returns to the initial idea of fun trumping immersion.

Bear in mind-- you're going to be casting a given spell tens of thousands of times. Attaching a DDR-esque minigame to a spellcast is interesting, but then consider your melee combatant. Are they going to play the same minigame? Does that even make sense for a melee combatant?

If it's just a pentagram drawn on the ground while you cast, that's just another spell effect going off-- relatively easy in the scheme of things, but you want your really big impressive spells to have the flashy effects, not have every single spell you cast fire off a million particles (partly due to performance concerns, but also because of SFX sensory overload-- it stops being exciting if everything you do has a big fancy graphic associated with it).

The operative thing in your post is this, I think:

"They just stand there, waiting for the cast to charge, generally with the exact same casting stance as every other spell ever."

What if your spells had animations framed by the school of magic and the type of spell they were from? It's immersive, as individual spells would look very different, and (assuming the animations were properly synced) your character would look like they were weaving spells dynamically. It's much less hateful and much more stable than a minigame, and it encourages you to actually look at your character and the world around you rather than yet another UI element.

Good immersion in an MMO is largely the same as it is in other games-- and a bit part of it is getting you the player to look at your character and the world, not the user interface. MMOs are still struggling with that, because there's so much information to be conveyed and players, especially in the mod community, strive to provide as much information as possible.

I would argue that a game that could get you to stop looking at your UI would quickly get you to stop noticing that you're hitting the same six or so buttons-- certainly console games do this very effectively; MMOs should be able to follow suit.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 3:14PM (Unverified) said

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@Brendan

"I think that's exactly the problem, things like this are typically thought of as fluff and "window dressing" but they're crucial to creating immersive gameplay. The descriptions I gave were vague examples of what I think of as things a wizard does. It's up to game designers to translate those INTO viable game mechanics."

I'm actually not making the comment that they're "thought of" as window dressing. I'm saying that in your description of what you feel is compelling about playing the role of a wizard, you did not describe any actual action other than teleportation. You described a lot of appearances, not a lot of *doing*.

Games are all about action. It's an interactive medium, and the "active" part of that is vital. It's why I made the comment that the be-all-end-all of games is "fun". When you are being told a story, you are taking a back seat to that story, and instead of interacting with it you are experiencing it more or less passively. A game like EvE makes no pretenses of telling a story, and has players tell their own stories completely. WoW is entirely the opposite.

You also mentioned Diablo 2. It's sort of odd that you would attack MMOs for gameplay involving "hit the 1-4 keys and collect loot", but Diablo boils down to nearly identical gameplay, only simplified even *more* because characters in Diablo have fewer unique abilities than characters in most MMOs.

However, it sounds like you're turning the conversation from story delivery to character class immersion, and creating a sense of uniqueness and individual power and interest in the abilities derived from classes players choose to play (in a class-based MMO). I can certainly get behind you on that-- MMOs are just starting to get to the point where the envelope can really be pushed in terms of core combat mechanics; we're starting to see real FPS-inspired MMOs with real-time action and the resultant interesting game mechanics, not to mention the situational-awareness-driven immersion that FPS games have managed to refine so well.

The oft-used "It's up to the designers" argument falls a little flat with me. MMOs are not singleplayer games, and assuming that the same kinds of philosophies that work for singleplayer games can work for MMOs is a fallacy. Singleplayer games are HEAVILY scripted, with lots of very specific triggers based on the designers' knowledge of the player's location, status, etc. Singleplayer games also very frequently take away control of the player character, for cutscenes, camera sweeps, etc. That's less convenient in an MMO, when a player can lie in wait near a chatty NPC and ambush helpless people as they talk to the NPC and see their delightful cutscene (Age of Conan was rife with this problem).

MMOs are, by their very nature, more systemic. They HAVE to be, because scripting is fragile and when you have multiple players tugging in different directions, you quickly run into places where the scripted events fail, shattering not just immersion, but gameplay as well.

Multiplayer games are a different beast, and approaching immersion and storytelling in that environment requires a completely different mindset.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 3:03PM Brendan Drain said

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"What if your spells had animations framed by the school of magic and the type of spell they were from? It's immersive, as individual spells would look very different, and (assuming the animations were properly synced) your character would look like they were weaving spells dynamically. It's much less hateful and much more stable than a minigame, and it encourages you to actually look at your character and the world around you rather than yet another UI element."

On that point, I can definitely agree. Immersion doesn't have to be conjured up through some convoluted mini-game, sometimes it's the simply graphical effects that really improve immersion. Everquest 2 actually has this, where little effects appear around you as you cast a spell depending on your class and level. I thought it was a very nice touch and it definitely improved immersion. That's just one aspect of forming a convincing role that the player is put into. Unique game mechanics to each class that turn iconic actions associated with that class into inventive gameplay for that class has proven very effective in the past. I gave the example of Diablo II earlier.

Similarly, mechanics tailored to a specific quest or zone add a great deal of immersion by involving the player actively in a story. I don't remember even 1% of the stories from quests in EQ2 but I remember the story of far seas trading moving into the Thundering Steppes because I was part of a unique event to build the griffon stations there. It doesn't all have to be unique, but as I wrote in a previous article (disguising the grind), it's up to the content creators to use the game mechanics they're given in new and inventive ways. EQ2 has a lot of this in some zones because they have a strong and complex framework surrounding items, monsters and abilities. I've seen some fantastically creative reuse of existing quest elements in EQ2. Unfortunately, for every inventive quest there's ten kill lists.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 3:13PM Serious Table said

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Tam, we're now thinking on exactly the same page. When the game turns to something that sucks you into playing it instead of staring at the UI so that you see your CHARACTER, that's what I would consider good immersion.

I agree with what you stated for the character casting, as that's something I've always wanted. Have your small spells seem small, and your big, long spells seem big and impressive instead of a bigger version of that same fireball you've been casting since level one. I especially like the idea of my character WEAVING a spell rather than trying to charge one.

The minigame feel to it translating to a melee class? Sure, it wouldn't work very well if you're thinking about just THAT one. But what about a similar minigame that strings melee attacks together? Land that combo of keys right (could even be movement keys or the 1-5 keys instead of arrow keys), and you string more attacks to your melee attack, instead of just using the auto-attack feature constantly. It sucks you more into the game versus staring at the UI. Your character seems active in that set-up, and adds to the immersion.

It's little things like that that are seemingly absent in MMORPGs today (note, MMORPGs, not MMOs. There's really very little place for spell-weaving in a Sci-fi FPS MMO) that really just "gimps" immersion (for lack of a better word).

"Good immersion in an MMO is largely the same as it is in other games-- and a bit part of it is getting you the player to look at your character and the world, not the user interface. MMOs are still struggling with that, because there's so much information to be conveyed and players, especially in the mod community, strive to provide as much information as possible."

I whole-heartidly agree with this, as well. I dream of having even a small team of coders and artists to work with me for an MMO game that goes back to the simple basics of gaming and multiplayer. But... *sigh* It's a dream for now. It'll come into fruition one day, though, mark my words.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 3:24PM (Unverified) said

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"Unfortunately, for every inventive quest there's ten kill lists."

This might be grounds for an interesting discussion on MMOs and levelling time.

Inventive quests are expensive, both in terms of resources and time to create. A world the size of WoW cannot possibly sustain a complete infusion of "inventive" (read: using heavily scripted, complex mechanics, custom events) quests, because it would take ten years just to write them all, and unfortunately most games don't have the luxury of taking all the time in the world to get made (not to mention that as time passes more tech comes out, which you then have to adapt to, etc etc).

So, what you get are "filler" quests, that are adored for their efficiency and loved by every player who's just wanted to log in after a rough day at work/school/life and blow up some goblins.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 3:42PM Brendan Drain said

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Tam, that touches on the topic of a feature I wrote last week. It's about how the developers have to use reusable game elements because otherwise it would (like you said) take a decade to create a game. But it goes into some of the ways those game elements have been used creatively to disguise the feeling of grindy gameplay:
http://www.massively.com/2009/11/30/disguising-the-grind/

The same kind of ideas fit into this discussion too. It's not really possible to write unique gameplay for every quest but a few involving authored quests per zone may be sufficient, peppered with side-quests related to the main story arc. At the moment I can't help but feel we're seeing zones with hundreds of side-quests and that's it. There are also ways that designers can and have reused existing game mechanics in very creative ways to keep it fresh. So I really do think the task of creating immersive gameplay experiences is something the game designers and content creators are entirely responsible for.

It really is up to them and while I understand your point about the little advances being lost on people looking for a mythical perfect game, I'm surprised at how few game developers are even striving for those little advances. New MMOs come out all the time with the exact same mechanics we're already used to. No attempt to improve immersion, no attempt at making gameplay more unique for each class, not even a diversion from the standard quest types we've come to both hate and expect. In part, I think the blame lies with us for, as you rightly say, not appreciating the small advances.

Experimentation in this industry has proven fairly dangerous. I can only hope that developers continue to push every creative advantage they can get. I think all it will take is a few polished MMOs innovative enough to change the formula and lucky enough to succeed. We may find that the only thing more dangerous than experimenting with the formula is not experimenting with it.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 4:14PM Serious Table said

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@Brendan

"It's not really possible to write unique gameplay for every quest but a few involving authored quests per zone may be sufficient, peppered with side-quests related to the main story arc. At the moment I can't help but feel we're seeing zones with hundreds of side-quests and that's it."

Well, I think the reason why everything feels like hundreds of side-quests without a main arc is because they're all the same, and the variety is SEVERELY lacking. It's kill 10 things, or find 5 things by killing those things, or kill this guy by killing all of these things to get to him. Developers needs to look at this and see all that they're doing is the exact same quest over and over and over again. Why can't they mix it up?

I love the idea of side-quests developing off of a main story arc. Let's say we take your invasion idea and expand on it. You're in your capital city, and you get the call to head to the Alfaire Coast, where the Ulis Corsairs are pushing on the shore and trying to invade. You salute the person who gave you this quest and gallop over there as quick as you can. The overall arc for this area is going to be defending this outpost on the Alfaire Coast, and side-quests should be built around this central concept. What kind of quests can you get off of this overall storyarc?

Sure, there's the "Stop this invasion force", but let's add more things. You've got to search for a lost scouting party out on the coast, and escort them back home. Get back to the capital and bring additional supplies in the form of an NPC convoy to the outpost. Then, take supplies from that convoy that got there safely and start rebuidling defenses in the outpost, such as repairing walls or turrets. Use inflitration to listen to the attack plans of the commanding officer by using stolen supplies without alerting the enemy to your presence. Go out to the location of a recent battle and heal those soliders on your side who are too wounded to get back home. Take an enemy unit hostage. All of these quest ideas could be used later on in the game, and not all of them involve "kill ten rats".

Once you've successfully repelled the invasion, different quests become available for... Iunno a week or two that deal with repairs, clean up, taking care of the aftermath of the overall story arc until the Ulis Corsairs are able to send in reinforcements to start the story arc over again for those who haven't had a chance to participate.

This will take some time to develop, of course, but it's something developers need to consider. Stop doing the same side-quest over and over again with a different name. Have it be part of a bigger whole that makes sense and adds to the immersion.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2009 4:45PM (Unverified) said

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"Sure, there's the "Stop this invasion force", but let's add more things. You've got to search for a lost scouting party out on the coast, and escort them back home. Get back to the capital and bring additional supplies in the form of an NPC convoy to the outpost. Then, take supplies from that convoy that got there safely and start rebuidling defenses in the outpost, such as repairing walls or turrets. Use inflitration to listen to the attack plans of the commanding officer by using stolen supplies without alerting the enemy to your presence. Go out to the location of a recent battle and heal those soliders on your side who are too wounded to get back home. Take an enemy unit hostage. All of these quest ideas could be used later on in the game, and not all of them involve "kill ten rats"."

This could be fun if you make travel a fun mechanic. Distilled, a lot of these ideas boil down to "fedex" or "escort" quests. The majority of quests in MMOs are showcasing the fun parts the game has to offer, which is mostly combat. You see a lot of kill quests because the most developed gameplay mechanics in the game are combat-related.

It'd be sort of interesting to see a game push noncombat gameplay and make that as fun and interesting as combat is/can be... but that's not a situation unique to MMOs-- virtually no one does that yet.
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