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Dec 12, 2004

Comments

101.

Raph> Of course, reducing the rate of spawns and drops is exactly what creates a greater feeling of treadmill. :)

Which is why I would advocate a soft loot cap. As long as your drop rate is balanced to what a 24/7 farmer can do, the Player who just wants the item once for their character’s journey is stuck with a pathetic drop rate that takes a lot of grinding to get. Capping what the extreme players can do opens up much wider options for the more mainstream players.

102.

Hellinar, then why would Blizzard not just say "We are capping time spent in-game at 8 hours per account per day" or "You cannot have more than 2 IP addresses on your account" or "We are limiting the number of magic items an account can get in a day"?

There are a lot of ways to stop Farming, if that was what they were worried about. Saying, "We will be watching for accounts played 24 hours a day" would have been a start. But they didn't say that. They said they'd ban you and sue you if they found you selling items for real money, with no indication that it has to be a certain volume of items sold. There's also no indication that they are concerned about people Farming items to sell for in-game gold.

Since they said nothing about Farming, and only something vague about sales for real money hurting the game's economy and players (which is a vague claim that everyone makes when arguing against sales for real money, this whole discussion being proof of that), I can only assume that Farming is not what they are worried about.

103.

> On a separate note, my wife dug up for me some old
> samples of LegendMUD quest walkthroughs. If there's
> interest, I can post what a largish quest from there
> looks like.

I'm interested.

104.

Samantha> Since they said nothing about Farming, and only something vague about sales for real money hurting the game's economy and players (which is a vague claim that everyone makes when arguing against sales for real money, this whole discussion being proof of that), I can only assume that Farming is not what they are worried about.<

You do have a good point there. From their posting, what do you think they are worried about?

105.

Warning, this will be very very long.

It’s also a huge spoiler for anyone playing LegendMUD, but given that the quest is ten years old, I’m going to assume that most people have already gone through it. :)


Background:

This is the main quest in the Beowulf zone. Much of the zone is written in the style of the poem, with kennings and the like. You reach the zone by traveling south from the Viking area, or by crossing the North Sea from Anglo-Saxon Britain; you’re almost certain to come from Britain, given that the Viking area is a dead-end.

Given that, your first experience of the invading Germanic peoples comes when you see a farmwife bemoaning her lost child, near the eastern shores of Britain. If you follow the trail, you will find the Saxons landing, holding the child prisoner. You can buy the child’s freedom or kill the invaders. The Saxons want Roman armor, so you can either go kill legionnaires for them to get the pilum and lorica they want, or you can slay Eanmund, their leader, and free the boy. These have consequences, of course, for how further Saxons or Romans will treat you.

Your first hint that some large task exists is when you are sailing across the ocean to the area. Rugian fishermen ply the waters. If two of them get close enough to each other, you can overhear conversations like:

“‘Ho! How goes the trading?’ says a Rugian fisherman to an Amber Coast trader.
The captain of the other ship yells back, 'Well!'
A Rugian fisherman hollers out, 'Have you any word if Hrothgar still huddles in Heorot afraid of his shadow?'
The Amber Coast trader yells, 'He certainly does!' and laughs.”

A short time before the player arrived in the area, Beowulf had a swimming contest with Breca (this is referenced in the “brags” portion of the poem, when Beowulf is giving his bonafides to the assembvled in Heorot). Alas, in this world, Beowulf never surfaced. Many mobs in the area know this, and react with snickers when Beowulf’s name is mentioned, and discuss Breca’s triumph. Breca himself believes that Beowulf was swallowed by a giant leviathan that lives under the sea.

Much of the area revolves around Modthryth, the spaewife or witch-woman. If you visit her, you will find a warrior, seemingly cowed and gone mad, huddling in the corner of her hut. Modthryth will attack you if you dare look into her eyes—that is why this poor warrior is suffering his penalty now. She is, however, wise in the ways of shapeshifting, and tells you that given the skin from an animal, you can enchant it and wear it to become that animal.

Throughout the area are wolves, birds, and even fish in the water whose shape you can take on. In this particular case, you’ll want the pikeshape, since fish can survive underwater. If you have magical ability or items that allow underwater travel, you can use those too… either way, you will go in search of the leviathan.

The leviathan is a giant whale that lives in the waters between the lands of the Geats and Scyldings (Beowulf was a Geat). If you fight this whale, it has a random chance of swallowing you; if you show up as the pike, he’ll eat you instantly. You literally get swallowed; you move to a room that is the gullet of the whale, and Beowulf is in there. There is no exit.

“In the Belly of the Behemoth
It's very dark and very slimy in here. With every move the behemoth makes, you tumble and fall, sliding on the mucousy saltwater-slick flesh. Ribbed and strong, the gullet walls throb around you. Lucky for you that the monster breathes air; every once in a while a shower of droplets falls from far above, and fresh air rushes in like a tempest, tangling your hair. You see no way out of here whatsoever, except perhaps digestion.”

While in the whale, you can chat with Beowulf, who says things like:
- “Ah, what fair warriors, stouthearts indeed, have joined me in this dark intestine?”
- “If only some great warrior, as strong as I, slew the whale! (wistful sigh)”
- “I was on my way to rid Hrothgar's hall Heorot of the rimwalking fiend. (sigh)”
- “(ponders) Perhaps I should have asked aid of the spaewife Modthryth before setting out.”
- “(grins) A fool's act, but perhaps we need to get the whale to sneeze us out.”

You get out by tickling the whale’s throat with a feather. The geese in the area (and probably other birds in the game) are a source of feathers. The normal path for first-timers here is not to know that they need the feather, and have to send a tell or chat for help. You can also just get the whale killed, but that’s a significant job for a high-level group.

It’s worth pointing out that thanks to the wonderful text-based tech, the gullet of the whale is an unpleasant place to be—it shakes, it sploshes, it reacts to stimuli affecting the whale, such as whether it’s being attacked outside.

Once you are sneezed out or the whale dies, you wash up on shore:

“With a tremendous noise, the whale sneezes! In a tumult of water and bile, you are thrown into the sea, losing consciousness, to wake a while later...”

Once on shore and conscious, you have a conversation with Beowulf:

“Beowulf smiles. ‘Indeed, you are of stout heart and wayfaring mind. Henceforth, if any question your credentials, tell them on my behalf! You are a Companion of Beowulf!’ Beowulf embraces you. ‘But I cannot let this defeat, ignominious end of battle, give me pause!’

“Beowulf leaps back into the water to wrestle with the whale! After a short pause, you hear a huge GULP, then all is still.”

You are now a Companion of Beowulf, something that shows up in your profile when people check. It’s also required to visit the land of the Scyldings. When you attempt to enter their lands, you are stopped, and not allowed to pass unless you are proceeding in Beowulf’s stead. (You can get past by other means, of course). The land of the Scyldings, of course, is afflicted by the attacks of the monstrous Grendel, who comes at midnight to attack the stout warriors of Hrothgar, the lord of the Scyldings.

When you arrive at Heorot, a herald actually stops you at the door, then marches in before you to announce you to the hall; the announcement of course varies depending on whether or not you are a Companion. If not, Grendel will not appear:

“‘Welcome to Heorot, $N, to you and your thanes,’ Hrothgar says. Hrothgar sighs. ‘I had hoped you were Beowulf of the Geats, come to save us.’ Hrothgar shrugs philosophically. Hrothgar says, ‘You may sleep here tonight, but I doubt me the beast will appear.’”

If you are, then he will show at midnight by the game’s clock. All the thanes in the hall will go to sleep, and Grendel will come in, kill one of them, and if left undisturbed, leave after. If you attack Grendel, however, you can try to fight him. He’s tough—a better solution is to armwrestle him using the game’s armwrestling skill, and rip off his arm, which happens in the poem. Then he will flee, leaving a trail of blood you can follow.

The blood trail leads through a perilous area. There are logs that you can slip off of and fall into freezing damaging water. There’s a foul brackish pool you must swim under. The knowledge of shapeshifting with animal skins helps you get past these barriers—the birdshape, for example, will help you traverse the treacherous areas because you can’t slip off a log if you are flying over it. You just need to kill an eagle, get its wing, and take it to Modthryth to fashion into a birdshape wearable for you.

Watch out with the wolfshape, though. Wearing it will make you warg, cursed outsider. You’ll change on the who list and everywhere else to appear as a warg, your align will drop to max evil, and you will be reviled by everyone. And you can’t take it off.

Alas, when you reach the pond and go under, you will find that Grendel’s mother is basically undefeatable. You fight and don’t seem to make a dent. That’s when you will need to resort to Modthryth or other mobs in the area, who will tell you that it’s going to take a Sword of Weland to destroy her.

However, that cowering warrior held captive by Modthryth knows the story. According to legend, the last Sword of Weland to be seen in the area was owned by Fadhmir, a king of long ago who is buried in a barrow atop the cliffs. None will guide you there, however, because it is reputed to be haunted. His name is Wiglaf. He’s essentially hypnotized, and believes that he is trapped in chains, even though he is not. Removing Modthryth from the picture and asking him about the sword will allow him to escort you to the barrows. Along the way he will stop at a small cairn and tap at it three times and tell you ‘remember that!’ The cairn is known as a holy place—this is where you can pray to be relieved of wargshape.

At the barrow, Wiglaf leaves you, announcing that his love for Modthryth is such that he cannot resist gazing into her eyes. Off he goes to get locked up again, and you are left at the barrow entrance.

The barrow is dangerous—there are ledges that collapse and require groups to be by each other to catch each other when they fall, there’s a lake of lava deep within, and so on. If you explore it fully, you will eventually find a blank wall which when tapped three times will reveal a secret room wherein resides Fadhmir’s treasure, buried with him.

“Fadhmir's Final Resting Place
Dark and oppressive, like the last breath from a lung bubbling with blood, the air of this room hangs about you like sour cloth. Yet the room is bright, bright, red and bright with the gold that lies in molten hopeless piles about you, in rivers and lakes, in puddles and mounds of melded coins and fused jewelry. The room dazzles with red gold, the gold of the rivers, the gold granted men to make them yearn for the heavens. For a moment the wod of greed takes hold of you, and you hear the whisper of scales in your soul; but you
are deterred by the image of a man half-traced in gold melted onto bones like candlewax. There lies Fadhmir, once thane over the earth, and now a skeleton with chest caved in by the weight of the wealth too great for one man to carry.”

You can take the Sword, but as soon as you do, “a deep cavernous voice speaks in your mind! It says, 'Who disturbs my treasure?'” This is actually seen by EVERYONE in the zone. That’s because you have woken the greedy spirit of Fadhmir, who in the manner of Germanic legend, is a dragon because of his greed. This dragon will take up occupancy in the lava lake, and will periodically fly out over the land of the Geats from then on, attacking the village—everyone in the zone sees it happen, it’s a fairly big deal.

But you have other fish to fry. You make your way back to the foul lake, swim underwater, and deal with Grendel’s mom:

“The last blow with the Sword of Weland bites deep into the seawolf's heart, scattering her acid blood everywhere. The sword dissolves in her blood, leaving only the hilt embedded in her chest. Grendel’s mother tugs the hilt from her heart. Grendel’s mother drops the hilt of the Sword of Weland. Grendel’s mother staggers around the room, her acid blood hissing on the rock.”

Your wonderful magic sword is lost, and now you have but a hilt. You’ll also find Grendel’s dead body, bled to death from the lost arm. You can sever his head to carry back as evidence of your great deed. When you return to Heorot, you are announced as a savior, and given a new sword, Hrunting. Giving the head of Grendel to Hrothgar will also earn you a wondrous helm and a mail shirt.

I want to point out that you can abandon this quest at any point if you are satisfied with the rewards you have gotten. If you want the Sword of Weland (which has specific benefits and tradeoffs) then by all means, keep it and just don’t do the rest of the quest. Hrunting has different benefits and tradeoffs.

All of the preceding ends the FIRST leg of the Beowulf quest. But you have loosed a dragon upon the Geats, and they are not happy. All the conversations shift, and now all the talk is of the evil dragon Fadhmir who terrorizes the villages.

Off you go to learn the means of slaying a dragon… the first thing you learn is that again, your sword makes no dent in it. On top of that, it lives in the lava lake, and you can’t stand in there to fight it—ranged weapons, or better yet, some sort of flying or levitation ability are needed. Again the birdshape may come in handy.

But the real challenge is a weapon that can slay the dragon. Asking around will tell you that there is perhaps one smith whose work rivals that of Weland himself—the outcast dwarf Ragin, who for as long as anyone can remember has been smithing at his underground forge deep ion the Geatish woods. If you enter his forge the wrong way, you’re liable to drop down his chimney and die instantly, and if you go too deep, you’re going to find a world-spanning wyrm down there, so watch where you go.

Ragin is reluctant to help, but he’ll offer to create a seithblade, as long as you can supply the deadliest poison made by magic. You’ll want a high-level alchemist type now, who can make a vial of instant death potion. These are basically a rare commodity on the player markets. Give Ragin the vial and he will start forging for 24 game hours.

The seithblade that results is a poisoned weapon. But it still does nothing against the dragon. In fact, if you stomp on it, it will shatter into a zillion pieces. Ragin will shake his head sadly, and say that perhaps a sword quenched in blood in the old style would do the trick. As it happens, you were served blood pudding in Heorot, and the cook there has buckets of blood she will give you. By the way, while you’re there, you might search around, find some letters in a chest by the warrior’s hearth, ask Wealhtheow, the scop's apprentice, to translate them, and learn of a plot to assassinate Hrothgar.

Ragin forges away again, and sadly, when you stomp the blade, it shatters again. Perhaps, he says, what we need is sky-iron and magic. You do have that hilt of Weland’s sword, so you give it to him. The sky-iron is tougher.

As it happens, meteorites of naturally occurring steel fall anywhere in the whole game from time to time. They are highly visible—everyone in the zone can see the meteor streak across the sky and crash into the ground. They are collectible, and rare—there can only be one such meteorite in the world at a time. The hunt for a meteorite can therefore span quite a while, but usually you can seek to buy one that someone else has found, or ask on chat channels for help.

Give the sky-iron and the hilt to Ragin, and he will craft the skyblade, greatest of swords that are within his power. Again, you could have settled for any of the intermediate swords, if you so chose. But when you stomp the skyblade, it bends and springs back. Now you can slay Fadhmir… it’s a tough battle, and you probably want to bring friends, all of whom can survive in the lava lake.

Upon slaying the dragon, the depredations cease, of course. But Ragin the dwarf smith, who was Fadhmir’s jealous brother (hence his willingness to help), will now try to take back the skyblade and Fadhmir’s treasure, to rule in his stead. You will have to fight the very person who helped you defeat the dragon.

You return to town, where Wiglaf is once again under Modthryth’s spell and all has returned to normal. But Wiglaf knows what you have done—and so does Modthryth.

“A mighty flapping of wings can be heard... to your astonishment, a majestic swan sails down from the skies before you and settles on the ground at your feet. It bows its head to you like a servant. The swan says, 'You have completed the great task, and are indeed a hero fit for the meadhalls of Walhalla.’

“The swan ducks its head, folds its wings, and with a wrench that makes your guts twist, removes the swanshape and stands before you, revealed as Modthryth—not Modthryth the spaewife, but Modthryth the walkurja, shieldmaiden of Wodan.

“Modthryth says, ‘It has been years since I expected this to come to pass. But it has. Praise be. You have earned a reward fit for kings, yet I cannot grant such a thing. I may only hope that the treasures you have earned are sufficient.’

“Modthryth peers at her swancloak. ‘And this, for I no longer have need of it,’ Modthryth says. Modthryth drops the swancloak.”

The swancloak is a phenomenal item, of course. It gives you swanshape to fly, great armoring, and many other buffs.

Then everyone in the whole game can hear this announcement:

“Hail, to one who shall forever be remembered as the slayer of Fadhmir the dragon, as the bane of the svart alfs, as the freer of a warrior-maiden under enchantment. Hail, all, to , who has proven himself mightier than Beowulf, as mighty as any of the fabled heroes of old.”

Much spamming of “grats!” on channels then ensues. :)

“Modthryth curtsies. ‘And now may I return to my barrow, to rest once more beside the quiet bones of my lord and husband, Fadhmir, who is now forever at peace.’

“Modthryth bows her head, and her hair curtains her face. As you watch, her skin crumbles away from her bones, until she stands a gruesome skeleton.

“The wind begins to rise.

“Then she collapses in a heap of bones, flesh carried away by the wind, and before your eyes falls to ash, her remnants borne away by the swirling breezes and the sudden smell of spring flowers.”

The End.

Legend has MANY quests of similar magnitude and comparable storytelling. It’s worth pointing out some things here: quests that change the balance of entire areas. Quests that naturally reset in bite-sized pieces so that many people can be at different stages at the same time. Quests where the characters can be killed, rather than artificially invulnerable for fear of mucking up the story. The use of puzzles. Quests which do more than just link kill and delivery. The use of special items for quest completion. The ability to opt-out. The increased use of interdependence with other characters. Am emphasis on cinematic moments (FFXI does this well). Constant use of badges and other profile elements, so that others can see what great deeds you have accomplished.

Lastly, as you can see, it’s VERY heavily narrative. Might be worth looking into for those who say I only do sandboxes. :P

PS, no no-drop items in it at all. ;)

106.

Raph wrote:

> This is the main quest in the Beowulf zone...

THAT IS AWESOME.

107.

Look, people who are playing WoW aren't there for great story. They're not there for great quests. They're there for the level grind, whether they admit it to themselves or not, as that's pretty much all it offers. Please not that I don't mean any of this pejoratively.

When I talk with my friends about what we're enjoying, there seems to be roughly equal weight given to all the following:

1. Cool scenery, in very different styles. Exploration is rewarding for its own sake.

2. Expanding character options. This is the grind, I guess, except that it seldom feels like one. (Occasionally, but not often.)

3. The big quests, and the multi-part quests, that reveal pieces of backstory.

4. The small quests, from delivering scissors for the apprentice tailor to retrieving the architect's first compass to slaying the ghost for the elf who can't bring himself to do it. These range from comedy to drama to melodrama, and feel very interesting indeed to me and my gang.

Advancement is of course partly a matter of cool powers - I wouldn't bother this much with a more mundane set of results, since I have life with immune dysfunction to provide me all the tedium and pain I need. But advancement is also a matter of opportunity - places to go, people to meet, sights to see.

108.

Jeremy Neal Kelly>one can't bribe a jockey to win -- they are presumably trying that already. One can only ask them to lose, which obviously conflicts with their professional interests.

It depends what you mean by "professional". A jockey could make more money by losing races than they could from winning them. When the mafia ran boxing, that was often the case, too: the prize money for winning was less than the bribery money for losing, and you always got another shot at the title.

The point I'm making is that legislation can be applied to game-like situations, and can work. The defeatist attitude that free trade will win out and you can't stop people doing it is wrong: you can stop it through legislation.

As it happens, I don't want to stop it through legislation; I'd be happy just to be able to throw out players without their being able to resort to legislation for compensation or reinstatement.

Richard

109.

Jessica Mulligan>I'll also go so far to venture that trying to eBay-proof an MMOG would result in an un-fun piece of crap.

In the olde days, we had groundhog day resets and permanent death, the combination of which pretty well guaranteed no eBaying (OK, and the fact there was no eBay at the time helped, too!). People didn't buy objects because they knew they wouldn't persist across the reset; they didn't buy characters because they lacked the playing skills to keep them alive beyond their skill level.

This style may be an "un-fun piece of crap" by today's standards, but plenty of people enjoyed it at the time - even though there was no need for it because there was no eBay.

Richard

110.

Richard Bartle>In the olde days, we had groundhog day resets and permanent death, the combination of which pretty well guaranteed no eBaying

Oh, there are plenty of free turn-based games with resets and thousands of users on the web. And there are plenty of games with almost no e-bay presence. Of course, a subscription based service will tend to nurture the accumulation of wealth/power to make leaving the system harder... Take away the subscription fee and the fun games will come :P

111.

"Even if everyone was farming Blue Dragons, Blizzard could decide that Blue Dragons only spawn once per day, or that an account can't receive more than one Blue Dragon Breastplate per month"

Assuming farming is present, the first solution (limit resouce entry into game-world by time) would mean the only way to get the resource is from the farmers - as demostrated in some games, these people can organize themselves well enough to cause a problem - Just like many guilds. The second solution (limit resource creation by player) seems quite a bit more preferable and equitable if the resources have a tendency of landing on a starved avatar instead of just scaling the appearance of "blue dragons" with the amount of subscribers in a far off place.

"I can only assume that Farming is not what they are worried about."
Samantha: Perhaps. Perhaps they're just shooting at the tip of the iceberg instead of the root of the problem. The tip being "out there" but the root being right inside their game.

112.

> Along similar lines, Hellinar said, "It’s the
> large scale farming and botting that I see is
> lowering my play experience."

I would agree with Hellinar. While the sale of objects and even accounts on eBay has been noticeable in my MMORPG gaming experiences, it has not seriously impacted my enjoyment of the game - far from it. It has always been fairly obvious when someone has bought a high-level account, and social pressure generally aligns against them. "Dude, what's up with the level 80 over there? He bought it, he's clueless."

What seems to bother people the most about out-world commercial solutions is that it violates the perceived conventions of play... the "rules". Social pressure is the ONLY force that can resolve this, as noted above. When four people are playing Monopoly, and one person goes out to the store, buys a new game, and takes the money from that box and adds it to their resources, is it "against the rules" as printed on the box? Maybe. Whether they are allowed to do this or not will be determined by the people they are playing with. A problem caused by someone stepping outside of a system cannot be solved within that system without closing the system completely - and with MMOs, the system can't be closed without destroying the game.

What has caused me to stop playing several games is not the external world economic transactions with game items, but rather the farming and camping of resources. While I would agree that these behaviors are related, it is the camping and farming that directly negatively influence the game play of the majority of the complainants I have seen. What makes these behaviors more disruptive is that they take place in the game world and prevent players from being able to use the resources themselves, as well as spreading ill will by being generally rude and unmannerly. This produces a sense of powerlessness and victimization in the players, resulting in a migration away from the game. If there were a special zone for farmers or suchlike, where they weren't competing with players for resources, I don't think most casual gamers would mind at all... but such a solution is inherently unworkable, since it is unenforceable and depends on the honor system for enforcement among the farmers (not very likely).

What can be done? Several of the new crop of games have good ideas. EQ2 seems to have the right idea in the "uncertainty factor" of crafting - crafting (and, by extension, all farming type activities) requires constant human intervention. Some other worthwhile innovations in this area are the "binding" items mentioned above and also the idea of diminishing return for repetitive action given by someone above. Another idea is making the good items the result of a set of actions that can only be done once per character per long unit of real time - you can sell your one and only Ring of the Godlike Widget if you haven't put it on, but you won't get another one (at least for another month, etc.) Blizzard's very public shaming of offenders shows that at least they understand that any solution to this problem must incorporate the community as well.

113.

> They probably rightfully view it as a waste of
> time. Look, people who are playing WoW aren't
> there for great story. They're not there for
> great quests. They're there for the level
> grind, whether they admit it to themselves or
> not, as that's pretty much all it offers.

Out of curiosity, why is this? I know there are a number of developers here for current games, and I'd really like to know. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about AC1 was the sense of backstory and the fact that all of the "world events" tied into a backstory in a way that revealed more history and advanced an elaborate plot.

Of course, once Chris L'Etoile left, the guiding genius was gone and the plots got... um... let's be charitable and say "bad".

Is the problem the lack of storytellers? Or a lack of interest on the part of the players? Both? Neither?

114.

Heh, I just realized I forgot an important step. "Removing Modthryth from the picture" so you can free Wiglaf isn't done by killing her (though that is a shortcut, it's a dangerous one). When you ask her to free Wiglaf, she asks you to prove to her that the deeds done there, the heroic culture of her people, will live on. Since in LegendMUD you can travel in time, the solutions are to go to other eras and bring back artifacts. The sheet music to Wagner's Ring Cycle is in the piano bench in Casablanca, for example. A copy of Beowulf is available at the pawn shop on the Isle of Dogs in Victorian London, and so on. Bring her one of these items, and she will let Wiglaf go.

LegendMUD is at http://www.legendmud.org for the curious.

115.

Services without payment from players, example re crafting:

In a game that had no trading of items at all --

What if for crafting, the crafter had to have the recipient of the item present, attempt the forging of the weapon or the weaving of the robe or whatever, and if it was successful, it would appear in the recipient's inventory, with the crafter given experience points commensurate with their success level? Certain ingredients might have to come from the one and the other, before beginning the process, for more complex items.

A game with this design would encourage interaction between crafters and adventurers without having an economy or the likelihood of an externalization of that economy.

If the experience gained by the crafter and the item gained by the recipient were kept reasonably balanced, there should not be much desire on either person's part to pay for the participation of the other (as there is little Ebay-ing of grouping services for example). Both would benefit by the joint play.

116.

Interesting article by someone who apparently already reached the high levels in WoW, and was a currency trader:

http://overanalyzed.com/portal.php?topic_id=19

117.

Iamblicos, the answer to your question is that the earlier statement is wrong. Period. The level grind is far from the only thing motivating people to play. It does provide a hook for continued play, but not exclusively, and often not primarily.

118.

Raph wrote: This is the main quest in the Beowulf zone...

Mike Rozak wrote: Does that mean that MUD quests have evolved in the last 12 years to a point where they're better than WoW? ...

LegendMUD's quests, or at least the one Raph described, featured puzzles and subtle clues. How, for example, is the player to know they need to knock three times on the blank wall? I, personally, enjoy (or at least claim to enjoy) these more engaging quests, but I suspect I'm in a minority.

I believe World of Warcraft's quests are not simple for technical reasons, but for reasons of mass market appeal.

To get back on topic, I would be leery of any attempt to fix the issue of real-money trades that could negatively affect uninvolved players. When I heard that Blizzard would be banning accounts they caught, my first reaction was, "How do they establish which accounts to ban, and what recourse will the people they falsely ban have?"

119.

You know to knock three times because Wiglaf tells you. :)

As far as mass market appeal, I dunno, Myst and its descendants had a lot of mass market appeal and they featured rather more complexity than that...

120.

I admire the idea of puzzles, but in practice I've always been terrible at them - it seems that my sense of logic is simply not in sync with that of many puzzle designers. So I can appreciate the craft and artistry, it's must that I can't play them very well. I have no idea how common this is.

121.

Well, Bruce, in an MMO or MUD of any sort, that's a trivial concern since merely chatting will get someone to give you the answer. :)

Legend has a policy against publicly chatting the answers, but it's legal to chat asking for help and get replies privately. In many ways, the puzzles are there as part of the story, not for making you work hard to solve them.

122.

Sure, Ralph. But having to do it all the time leaves me just feeling incompetent. Occasional help is fine, and promotes an overall sense of cleverness; never getting any of them, or getting less than 10%, makes me feel that my time would be better spent with a movie or something.

123.

The dilemma you are describing is common to all skill-based challenges. However, removing skill is a surefire way to make games unfun. What we usually do is either target games to different areas of skill, or make the challenges surmountable via the application of different skills.

124.

Raph wrote:
However, removing skill is a surefire way to make games unfun.

And yet people love slot machine games.

--matt

125.

Yes, you're right of course. I've just taken to defining "fun" as I do in my book, which doesn't include mere random reinforcement techniques within the scope of the word.

People seem to THINK that purely chance-based gambling involves skill, but it's really a test of their ability with randomness--one they are failing. :)

126.

I'm not talking about removing skill. I'm just saying that I personally suck at puzzles, despite many years of good-faith effort and overall good problem-solving abilities. (Life with multiple immune-related disorders teaches you a lot about identifying obscure triggers, and so on.) Broadly speaking, the more anchored in the surrounding world a puzzle is, the better I can do with it, so I like the WoW quests taht draw on stuff I can think about in terms of my academic study (history) and general interests. The purer a bit of logic a puzzle is, the worse I am at it.

127.

RAPH: I am a still playing and paying SWG player since late beta.
I just want to ask you (without any offense, but i am really interested), if you know so much about how to make fun quests, why is SWG's quest system so terryble unfuny?

I mean, it is nice, that you talk about such things privat in such forums (we could need you on the SWG boards too) and you say really good things (to be honest, i just read your answers and the questions related to them) i can learn a lot from, because i am somehow a member of a development team, which is trying to make an MMORPG, so i would be interested, why didn't you use those rules to SWG's quests.

Hmm...i hope i was not too confusing...normally i speak german :-)

128.

IS the trading of WOW game characters "accounts" illegal?

129.

I've always thought the best way to stop Ebay trading was to put it in the game mechanics, instead of relying on enforcement.
So, if you come into a large amount of gold suddenly, thieves are attracted to your toon, and attack relentlessly till they still most of your newly acquired gold.
Plus, items break, and have an even higher percent chance of breaking when traded. Therefore, when you buy an item, you might be spending real cash for a sword that will jsut break after a few uses.
Similar things could be implemented to discourage Ebay selling. It's a lot easier than enforcement.

130.

How does it go already ?

*rummages in the 'Trolling 101' drawer*

Oh, yeah:

PHORUM NECROMANCY !

[Sorry about this, I'm in a playful mood, yet stuck on the worst connection ever, thus barred from RT online games.]

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