Friday, October 5, 2007

A Quest For Missions

Like Cuppycake and others, I sometimes tire of my favorite MMORPG and need a break. I'll be back, but for now, I've been toying around with other MMORPGs, like Sword of the New World (which is pretty, but one incessant hack-and-slash grind that gets old fast) and a few betas. I also decided to revisit some old MMOs I never really gave much of a chance to.

I decided to resubscribe to City of Heroes for one month, just as something to do on the side when I didn't feel like logging into EverQuest II. And, despite the game being several years old, and despite being pretty low in level (my character Futureman ["I'm from the future, and you're history!"] is only level 11), the game still feels lively. I was literally pelted with group invitations. So many, that it even got annoying (since I wanted to do the solo Invention system tutorial quests.)

How is it that City of Heroes manages to be so much more social, with an active and lively pick up group scene, when it seems so dead on most EverQuest II servers (Antonia Bayle being one of the notable exceptions, and while not bad, its not that great there either)?

I think its largely due to its Mission system. In City of Heroes, you benefit from completing any mission that someone in your group is on. Also, the missions scale based on the size and level of your party.

In EverQuest II or World of Warcraft, and other games that utilize traditional quest design, you only benefit if its your quest that you complete. And while some quests do scale based on level, none really scale based on size of the party or its makeup. This makes it harder to find a group since you can't just join any group; it has to be one that you need, of your specific level, in your specific zone, doing your specific tasks. Or subtasks, since some quests require multiple steps.

Imagine going to a guard and asking how you can help and being told that when ready, a nobleman (or a merchant or whatever, it can be slightly randomized) needs to be escorted through a dangerous pass. Along the way bandits spawn based on the level, number, and class of the party members. You can solo it, but at the same time, there's nothing to prevent you from partying with nearly anyone you want, and everyone benefits since the mission would be shared by all. Whats more immersive, asking the town guard how you can help secure the protection of the town's citizens, or fetching some random wizard's slippers, then delivering his mail, and maybe killing ten rats in his basement while you are at it. Heroic rats, mind you. Level 70 heroic rats that could single handedly wipe out the entire continent of Antonica if its inhabitants wandered close enough to it to generate aggro. Level 70 heroic rats that don't move otherwise and you need five friends to help out. Five friends, that is, who haven't done this quest already, because they get nothing out of it if they have.

EverQuest II has something like 5 billion quests now. That's quite enough already. Quests tear people apart. Didn't the original EverQuest introduce the mission system to begin with? What happened to it and why don't we see more of it?

1 comment:

Aspendawn said...

I absolutely loved the LDoN missions in original EQ and always wondered why I never saw anything similar in any game since. Dungeons were right around the corner and no spending half your play time running around. Great rewards and great experience without feeling like a grind.

My guess is they look at WoW subscriptions vs. EQ subscriptions and figure people must prefer questing.