Moo Tang Clan: player created quests?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

player created quests?

I want to see player created “quests” in an MMOG, but then again maybe I don't. I have this ominous dread that quality would be a major problem, and even basic literacy would be a problem. Seriously, would you be engaged by a world filled with quests of "lolz, u pwn 10 ratz, i gif gold, kkthx" handed out by toons named "StabbityPwnsJu"?

Maybe a tool could be provided which facilitates construction of a quest from a library of parts, something like a mad libs for quests. The larger the library of parts, and the consequent combinatorial possibilities, the more interesting it would get. It could even support the design of special “quest item” drops like animal parts and such, although that would entail the player-designer specifying the drop rate and such, which breaks the game immersion veil for them. Unless .. when nominating the creature to be hunted for the quest they then get to select from a predetermined list of quest item drops, with no specific control over the drop rate of said items, other than the system advising which quest items drop always, frequently, uncommonly, or rarely.

Another problem is that quest descriptions would be bland ... but if the bulk of the quest description is auto-constructed for the player, then all that remains is adding some flavour text. This flavour text element would be optional though, and since the quest would be fully functioning without it I would expect it to go spare most times .. except where someone is feeling creative. It would depend on the user interface down ranking the importance of the flavour text, so players don't feel obliged or expected to enter something. If they (mistakenly) think they need to enter something, anything, into some field then you can be sure that field will get filled with lots of crud.

This would of course be completely incapable of creating the more interesting, clever, and detail rich content we all like, so there would still be a need for game developers.

I see the value of this as a way for some players to engage other players, to recruit them to their agenda or objective, and providing the safe and comfy wrappings of the progress-reinforcement game mechanics of quests. So, if as an alchemist I wanted to start experimenting with a wide range of herbs in hopes of making some new discoveries, it would be helpful if I could let people know I would pay a shiny shekel or two for certain rare but otherwise useless herbs. Meanwhile, if I also held a certain dislike for the gilled denizens of a local swamp, and have brokered a secret deal with their arch rivals, then I could put a bounty on their head and let others do my dirty work, and hence effect a change in the world. All the better if those rare herbs were found in that local swamp.

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