“Kendricke slays a mighty badger”

Posted: February 26, 2007 by Kendricke in Character Development, General Game Concepts, Guilds

The night almost had a taste to it, crisp and slightly metallic.  A breeze stirred the high, dewy grasses and the lead horseman pulled to a halt.  Behind him, his five companions also brought their mounts to a still, as they awaited in the silent starlight, watching the young priest for a sign of command. 

As the breeze stilled, a small patch of grass continued to stir slightly.  Reaching just over his shoulder, the leader took hold of the ornate handle of his ancient warhammer as he began to gently urge his steed forward at a slow walk.    The group began to spread out, as a pack of wolves might just prior to a charge. 

“Now, Kendricke?”, one of the companions whispered.

“Now!”, the boy responded in kind.

With that, he lunged from his horse and leapt to the ground, already swinging the powerful two hander down with a sickening thud upon the vile beast they’d been commissioned to fell.  Around Kendricke, his companions joined in, with blades, prayers, and spellcraft, they valiantly fought the beast.  After an excruciating eternity of moments, they lifted a torch to take stock of the defeated creature.

“Ah yes, another mighty badger slain to help the city of Qeynos.  Only 11 more to go and we can collect our reward.”, Kendricke intoned with no hint of irony.  Into the darkness, the party rode on, in search of more such threats to the crown. 

In all seriousness, I realize the idea of “kill ten rats” quest writing gets beaten to death, butI still fail to see how this type of quest becomes more fun.  Ever.

The title of this particular blog entry is from a bit of a tongue-in-cheek rendition I performed at the first Everquest 2 Community Summit back in June, 2005.  Even then, shortly after only one adventure pack had been released, and with months to go before the first expansion, I was having trouble coming to terms with the idea that to earn status with the city of Qeynos, the members of my guild had to basically go out collecting hunting bounties.  Whether it was badgers, deer, or even gnolls or orcs, the idea that the most efficient way to earn status for higher guild levels within our chosen city was that we should go forth and “kill X number of Y creatures”. 

That’s it.  No epic tales.  Not even a courier quest or three. 

Here we are, nearly two years later, and I’m still wondering why killing badgers (or orcs or droags or basilisks or dire worgs) has any real bearing on my guild’s ranking in the city’s heirarchy.  Why are “writs” based almost entirely around the kill ten rats model? 

Oh sure, in Desert of Flames we saw a brief attempt at other types of writs – collect this or destroy that.  But even then, the basic formula was still intact.  Go to X area, find Y objects, and collect/destroy Z number of them.  Kill/collect/destroy 10/15/22 rats/daggers/urns.

I can’t be the only guy looking for a better way to earn adventuring status on a consistent basis, can I?  Nevermind the relative lack of rewards for actually acquiring the status in the first place – how can we make the process of writs more fun?

Now, to be fair, we’ve seen some definate improvements to the system as well (remember when we had to delete quests over and over till we finally got the one the rest of our group members had?)  Writs aren’t the worst thing in the world, really.  They’ve just taken the concept of grinding to a different level.

I don’t know anyone who willingly performs writs because they are “fun”.  No one gets excited about performing writs.  It’s an obligation.  It’s a means to an end.  It’s a way to help a guild out.  That’s the problem.

Games should be fun.  When running a long bomb pass 22 yards to complete a touchdown isn’t fun for you – when it’s just an obligatory means to an end…you should stop playing football.  When there’s no small thrill left in bringing a knight out to take a queen because the only point is whether or not you’ll achieve a checkmate, you should stop playing Chess.  When you find yourself only performing quests out of a sense of obligation, you should stop running the quests.

Think of the word “quest” and what it’s come to mean for MMO’s.  When I think of “quests”, I think of epic storylines regarding hardships involved in daring rescues, recovering lost artifacts, defending the lands against enemy forces, and basically living out an adventure. 

Kendricke slays a mighty badger,
Kendricke slays a mighty badger,
Kendricke slays a mighty badger,
Queen Antonia is pleased.
  

How adventurous does that sound?  Does it sound like a quest?  Does it sound like fun?  Does it sound like something you can’t wait to get done?

If I never saw another kill ten rats quest again in any game, I’d be thrilled.  I want quests that create a storyline.  I want quests that involve me in a plot.  I want quests that feel like …well, like I’m questing

City writ quests should feel more like questing, not less.  Increasing status with a city faction should matter.  Come to think of it, city faction should matter.  Right now, acquiring status with one faction does NOTHING to other city factions (this is a change to the original system).  The original story lines and promises of Freeport and Qeynosian internal politics having any impact on the game’s storyline and gameplay have long since fallen by the wayside.

No, these days, the only thing factions are good for is a title or some unique house furniture.  There’s no reason to follow a storyline, really.  There’s no interesting NPC’s or bosses that matter.  There’s no engaging storylines.

Make the factions mean something again.  Make the highest status writs similar to the old faction system – where you raise your standing significantly with one faction, all the while lowering your standing with other faction(s). 

I’m in Freeport, my writs from one faction could be direct assaults on members of other factions.  If I’m in Qeynos, my writs from one faction should have some negative indirect effect on other factions.  Bring some political intrigue into the game.

What a great way to place guilds front and center, once again, eh?  What a great stage to set to introduce guild halls on, eh?

Imagine if an entire guild’s standing with a city’s factions affected the type of guildhall they could gain.  Imagine if certain guildhalls had different types of bonuses or rewards available. 

If my guild acquires a great deal of faction with the Celestial Watch faction in Qeynos, shouldn’t we get a break on a guildhall in a quarter of the city they have influence over?  Wouldn’t such a guildhall come with some perks and architecture choices that only they might grant – such as a built in chapel (with reduced costs on altar/tribute costs, perhaps?).  What if a  a Freeport guild with high standing with the Seafury Buccanear faction picked up a guildhall that was actually a ship sitting in East Freeport’s harbor? 

Bring back factions as a viable system for storytelling.  Bring back actual intrigue within the cities.  Bring a new system for writs that doesn’t automatically involve X action to Y number of Z targets. 

That’s a system I’d love to see.  I’m sick of badgers.

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Comments
  1. […] I know I know I’ve sort of addressed this subject before, but I wanted to specifically talk about the “kill 10 rats” quests that a new player […]

  2. […] it’s even deeper than that. I see a lot of complaining that quests aren’t complex enough. People are tired of being asked to kill ten […]

  3. […] while back, I wrote an article called “Kendricke Slays a Mighty Badger“. I was finding myself wondering why I was still killing rats over and over again at the […]

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