This article speaks volumes about a serious issue with quest design in MMOs.
Most MMOs have ‘Boomerang quests’, the ones where you are repeatedly sent back into a hive of enemies each time to kill different, slightly harder to reach enemies. The Howling Caves quest chain almost broke me yesterday. Four times I was asked to go back in with a different task. So each time I climbed the hill from the town, dodging annoyingly placed gargoyles and cultists. Then I climbed yet further up the hill to drop down to the cave entrance avoiding some more groups of cultists in the open space before the cave mouth. Then I picked my way in sticking to walls and killing only the necessary quest-mobs where I could.
Only the first time did I work my way back out again, with fastly respawning cultists already back to block my swift exit. The second and third returns I used soul recall to get out – better to pay a porticulum fee than have to fight that many cultists yet again! On the fourth visit I was seriously annoyed with the lazy quest design, thankfully I bumped into a random other player and we teamed up to blaze a trail in and back out again in record speed.
Two lessons to be learned there I think:
1) Trion has proved so far to be a reactive developer – they need to follow Blizzard’s lead and design something more interesting than this boomerang rubbish.
2) Even playing through lazily designed repetitive quests is a lot better when you’re not on your own.
Final thought for today is more positive. I do love the design of Iron Pine Peaks still (despite some of the quest chains!). This helpful log gives a nice shortcut up to a higher level of one particular mountain. Walking carefully up it I though how nice a touch it was.