Queasy Tom Snot

King Arthur: Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest. If he will give us food and shelter for the night, he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
French Soldier: Well, I’ll ask him, but I don’t think he will be very keen. Uh, he’s already got one, you see.
King Arthur: What?
Sir Galahad: He said they’ve already got one!
King Arthur: Are you sure he’s got one?
French Soldier: Oh yes, it’s very nice!

~ If you don’t know where this comes from, you should go boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons.

I was playing some Pirates of the Burning Sea with my brother recently, and we were gutting the available quests in New Orleans.  We’ve gotten to the point where, with the double xp shot from agreeing to have these ridiculous accents…err, be French, that we don’t do any of the “group quests” (too hard, same xp), or any quest that can’t be done the that town’s longboat or instances (more time, same xp).  Even then, we have quest logs that hold 25 quests (half of which at any given time are our solo or bounty quests), and we frequently have to make several trips into town to clear space for the next group of quests.

Basically, we run into the town, collect as many quests as we can, do them, turn them in, and repeat the process until the town is dry.  Then we move on to the next town.  Laugh at PotBS if you want, but this is no different than most other MMO’s.  We now have quest hubs, which direct us to hunting grounds and provide bonuses and fast tracks for advancement.   We lamented that this avalanche of “quests” made for some ridiculous storylines, bizarre encounters, and mostly unread fluff.  PotBS is tricky too in that probably 5% of the quests involve a pathing choice.  Occasionally we’ll play solo, get back together, and realize that in just grabbing the floating “!” without reading, we’ve accepted opposing quest lines.

Eventually we discussed how little “good loot” was available from quests in all the games we play.  Most of the time, quests offer nothing other than cash and xp.  Many times in many of the games we’ve played (WoW, EQ2, Vanguard, Conan, WAR, DAoC, LotRO, PotBS, Wizard 101, SW:G, and even EVE), we get items from quests that are useless to our characters or so low power that we just sell them.

And for those who enjoy, if not RPing, then simple immersion in the game (there’s more than you think), this completely destroys their experience in the game world.

So long story short, we got all nostalgic for EQOA.  And why?  Well, let me list for you all the quests available to my Elf Magician in the game for the first 20 levels:

  • 4 Tutorial Quests (1 each, levels 1-4)
  • 1 Tutorial Grouping Quest (level 5)
  • 5 Class Quests (7, 10, 13,15, 20)
  • ~ 22 Side Quests (mostly level 6 or 17, ~ 1/3 unavailable because of alignment preqs.)

That’s it.  The side quests usually gave 10-25% of a level of xp, some money, and a faction boost with whatever literal “side” they were for.  The class quests gave a unique spell or item (or both), and usually a full level’s worth of xp, or close to it.  We complained about this of course, but only because the questing levels were so much more fun and involved, and because the the phat rewards at the end of each.

The result:  more emphasis on grouping, on helping guild mates.  More immersion and rp possibilities.  A requirement for smaller server populations.  Quest rewards and quests themselves were meaningful milestones.   I *miss* that.

I miss that this also meant that the lore of the world was encoded into conversations with NPC’s.  That locations had to have personality and design of their own to attract players and groups.  That having a night where you could call out “ding” in chat gave you a gaming high.  That when you arrived at a new zone or location, your first impulse was not to make all the exclamation points disappear, but to chat with players to find a group or connect with someone you recognized or knew by reputation.

But that’s enough nostalgia.  I know those days are gone.  And I’m sure there are drawbacks that I’m not seeing with my rose colored glasses.  Its just that its been a long time since I’ve worked with a full group in an MMO and felt the rush of coordinated combat and the skill of working as a team.  It been a long time since I’ve had a place or a niche in a game or a group, and I’m really starting to miss that.  ::sigh::