Player created treasure hunts

Playing through the latest of the Yun Zi summer event quests got me to thinking about treasure hunts. These quests are a delightful excuse to go flying around old zones and visiting places that I may or may not have seen in-game. However they fall slightly short of a proper treasure hunt as I would define it since there aren’t enough clues given to allow a less experience player to work out where the various locations or NPCs might be.

Admittedly the events are also a gear-catch-up mechanism so the quality of the treasure hunt mechanics are not probably top of most players minds when doing these quests. The developer time necessary to craft clues for each location for each week probably wasn’t justified given the amount of players, with more focus on progression, that will go straight to the linked wiki article for the list of coordinates.

This linked in my mind to a recent post by Bhagpuss that mentioned the Dungeon Maker system in EQ2.  As I think of this I don’t think I know of any MMORPG with a system for player created content that would support well a wide-ranging treasure hunt style activity. The Dungeon Maker in EQ2 and similar systems like Neverwinter’s Foundry are highly instanced – so not supportive of the larger zone a proper hunt requires. There might also be restrictions on the number of players that can be active at once in such systems, e.g. the max party size for a dungeon run, that’s not great if you want to run a treasure hunt activity for a whole guild.

My husband managed to run a treasure hunt years ago in World of Warcraft. It was held in a low-level zone to not exclude newer players or alt characters, and to make a fair playing field by using a no-fly zone (Azuremyst Isles). It was a success and great fun but the game’s engine didn’t help given the limited exploration gameplay in the game and the lack of any player made content tools. It would be really nice to be able to do this type of open world treasure hunt competition but with some actual supportive systems in place to make running it and judging the winner easier (e.g. having to place a character in each winning spot before the event started was a time-consuming pain for him).

Are there such systems in any MMOs I’m not familiar with? Have you or your guild run such an event?


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2 Responses to Player created treasure hunts

  1. Jeromai says:

    This concept used to be a fairly popular minigame activity in MUDs, as player immortal-created “quests” and some MUDs even managed to automate this. They would provide the room title, or a snippet from the room description, or ask for a particular item and let the players race to get there or obtain said item and bring it to the quest giver.

    Third party websites and software from the internet started complicating the issue. I liked to call it “cyborg”-ing, the best of a human combined with machine interface. Where do you draw the line though?

    If you look up the quest solution on a third party website, or the answer to a trivia question or riddle, is that cheating? If you use a better MUD client to automate walking, aka a typed series of cardinal directions, to get there faster than others who manually type? If you used an anagram solver to unscramble a bunch of letters to solve the clue to the desired item you were supposed to retrieve? If you used Ctrl+F to search a document with previously recorded/mapped out room titles and descriptions to know exactly which zone was being referred to, and thus go there directly with no wrong guesses? If you macroed a typed command that in its long form was something like “cast astral portal to ogre chieftain” to “p ogre chieftain” and thus shaved seconds off your time to get somewhere ahead of others?

    (Hint: I know because I did all of the above and won. Many times. Hard to detect, especially combined with being a quick typist, and hard to draw a line of acceptability if -everyone- is already using quickwalking and you just carry it a bit further.)

    MMO-wise, GW2 has guild mission treks in which the game provides a series of screenshots. The goal is to identify the screenshot of the area and get to the specific location to trigger a reward. It’s not player vs player competitive, so some of the acceptability issues are skirted, but I can almost guarantee that once the solutions were posted online, 99% of the guilds doing the guild treks are referring to a third party website for the answers.

    • Telwyn says:

      Interesting, and definitely what I was thinking about. Sadly we’ve not seen GW2 guild missions at all, sounds good though at the moment we don’t have 5 players on regularly enough for the minimum :-/

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