Saturday, September 19, 2009

Group / World Quests

So, two encounters down in "Spooky Castle Raid 37.b", I reckon about twelve more to go (two of which are already typed up in Word). Today isn't a new encounter, but a general rambling on various 'non-raid' ideas I've had over the last couple days, and just need to type down somewhere. They actually primarily focus on quests, and specifically the ones that call themselves 'group quests'.

Let's be serious here for a sec. A group quest in WoW, as it stands, is just another way of saying 'you'll be fighting more than one mob, or one mob with more hit points than normal'. On my warlock, as a SL/felguard spec that became available at level 71, I was able to solo any mob I came across. On occasion, I would see random level 76 elites or something that were probably for a quest I'd get in like 4 levels, and I'd kill it just because I could. AoE grinding, and the killing of multiple mobs, actually became EASIER the larger the group was. The more mobs I had Siphon Life ticking on, the more health I had coming in every second. Two other talents in the Demo tree, Fel Synergy (heals pet for 15% of my damage done), and Demonic Resilience (reduces all damage taken by my pet by 15%), coupled with Imp Health Funnel (increases health funneled by 20%, demon takes 30% less damage while it's going), made everything trivial.

This is obviously an extreme example, but not very different from a Beast Mastery Hunter. Even other classes don't really have a hard time with elites. My priest just keeps a power word shield up, and all damage is nullified. Shamans can summon elementals to tank, druids can go bearform for regen, or just root and moonfire spam.

Look: the point I'm trying to make it that unless you just feel lonely, there's no reason to group or these 'group quests'. Here comes Ixo with an idea to change that: make it so you actually need two people to complete the quest. In Little Big Planet, there are certain rooms or puzzles that require two people, or you just can't do them. You need to stand on this button and push this lever at the same time, and the button and lever are on opposite sides of the room. Why not make that a quest dynamic? There are various ways to go about this, here's just a few examples...

1) The Channeled Item Thing. WoW does this with a few quests already. The big blue demon in the SW corner of Hellfire. He flys around, and you need to get a staff from some guy to zap him and make him a non elite so you can solo him. Why not make it so the item itself is channeled, and the boss is only non-elite while he's continually being zapped? One person can't solo this quest anymore. It requires one person to be doing no damage (channeling) while the other actually kills the guy. If he hits hard enough, you need a third healer. I could see people being creative and having the healer channel, then stop channeling to pop off a heal or two, but the instant you stop channeling, he goes back to Elite Mode, and it's probably not feasible to amplify his damage output again while you're trying to heal.

"Oh, but Ixo! What about your warlock? You could just channel while the felguard whacks away."

Yeah, but that wouldn't work. For me to kill these 76 elites I had to basically let Corruption tick while the Felguard meleed, and I just kept health funnel up on him (-30% damage taken with my spec). If I used two DoTs, the aggro from those plus my constant healing would pop aggro to me. It usually eventually did with Corruption alone, and I'd have to Soulshatter to drop back down (5 min cooldown). The Voidwalker has better aggro management with a taunt, etc, but horriffic damage output. WIth me funneling, there's be no chance for me to channel the item, so it takes care of itself.

2) The Twin Mobs. There are mobs in Zangarmarsh that get stronger when they're close to each other. They're like slave drivers (or slaves?) or something. They have a yellow beam of light that goes between them to show when they're "in range" of one another. The problem is that the amount of damage or armor they gain is trivial, and we just kill them both outright. Maybe it takes one more shadowbolt or one more cleave. Big deal. Take this concept to the next level, and make them immune to damage altogether when they're within range. You basically need two people to pull them far enough apart from one another, and a healer to stand in the middle. Even if you didn't need heals, but just needed to separate them to burn them down, it requires two people.

This could be done by my lock or a hunter, though, but that would be the exception (and the intended benefit of playing a pet class, instead of just 'my damage comes from two places, yay'). Just make them hit hard enough that a clothie can't tank one to the face, and that solves that? If you could separate them enough from one another to get a fear off (hamstring one, kite the other, then intimidating shout) you get brownie points for being clever. It's better than just "spam cleave since there's two of them". Heck, if the immunity was like a paly bubble, then Hamstring wouldn't even work in the first place, and you need two people.

There's one other thing coming into play here that needs to be addressed: maybe Blizzard doesn't want to force grouping on anyone. The game is very solo friendly, this is given. But I don't see a problem with saying 'you just can't do this chain solo'. They're trying to say that with group quests in the first place ('be sure to bring a friend' is usually found in the quest text), so this would just take it to the next level.

One other idea I want to get down on paper... err... keyboard... dur... is the idea of World Quests. It's my undrstanding that Lord of the Rings have some pretty epic quest chains that take a long time to complete. You whack away at them a little bit at a time, and it's always there in your log. WoW needs something like that. All the quests are these bite sized morsels, and fall more under the heading of "errand" or "chore" that "QUEST". One thing that would tailor it specifically to your toon would be basing it on your tradeskills. This has been done in various quests ("find an engineer to make a bronze casing and bring it to me" etc), but not dynamically base on YOU.

I know there are variables in the game... %t is for target, %c is like your class... certain quests start out with "GREETINGS UNDEAD", or "HAIL SHAMAN!", so I imagine there must be some sort of backend that could detect what tradeskills you have. If not, then this probably wouldn't work, but let's just say it does.

Taking the undead theme of developing a new strand of plague... Brill is the first town that undead come across where you can pick a tradeskill. Have a quest giver there that notices you're an herbalist, and has you pick some quest item-y thing from Silverleaf shrubs. Regular herbing gives you the leaves, so maybe this guy needs the roots or stems. These items only drop from Silverleaf shrubs when you have the quest active (that's already in the game engine for sure), and since it's a quest item, you can't just run to the AH and buy 2 stacks of Silverleaf to turn back in.

The idea is that the chain starts at Silverleaf and Peacebloom, and goes all the way up to Frost Lotus. You always have this quest in your log, and are given small rewards for it along the way, with better and better rewards coming for rare parts (Black Lotus, or Anchient Lichen). Hell, you could make the guy more of a daily quest giver, and you could always go farm Silverleaf stems for the cause if desired, or just keep moving to the 'next section' to keep the chain going.

Typing this up, this sounds more of a tradeskill quest, actually... but my original vision was to have it span the globe. I had originally thought you would grab the quest around level 40, and be sent back to Brill to farm some level 1 herbs, and in addition " I notice you're a blacksmith too, bring me 30 copper ore and I'll teach you how to fabricate DOODAD Z for use in the next part of the quest chain". This isn't a pair of Runed Copper Bracers, it's a special hammer to chisel a rock out of the skull behind Boss Q in Dungeon G. It's not just a 5 minute thing that's over and forgotten about, it's always there, and it's huge... subsequent expansions could add on to the quest, and it would vary for each person depending on what tradeskills or race they were.

edit: it would be cool to make the exclamation point like RED or something to stand out in the town. You'd be in a new area, and be like "oh shit, legendary quest continuation!" and go pick that up. It doesn't need to be the same NPC in Brill doing everything (and would suck if it was). I can imagine grabbing the quest in Brill, taking the stems to Tarren Mill, and then being tasked with part #27 being in Zangarmarsh. You can't even grab that part until you're high enough to venture out there, and as soon as you are, you rush out to grab the next part of the chain.

It would split up groups... with 96 parts to the chain, you're obviously not goign to be on the same part as your friend (and unless you're both identically specced, you won't even have the same step #54, but that's good. It's something that doesn't get knocked out in a day, or even a week. It's always there, and you whittle away at it while you can.

yeah? no?

originally posted 1/25/09


Brim said...

Another quality post from the future developer of a WoW-killer. :D I'd love if they had more engaging quests like you described, those that actually took developing your character in areas other than just mindless grind. This reminds me of the AQ opening event, where you could make your friends deputies and they'd help you grind more carapaces or whatnot. What would be interesting is having the quest require parts from more than one profession, so the guys wants Silverleaf stems, leather sinew, and Khorium powder or something, so anything that would need more than one person to get. That way, you could do the epic quest with 3 or 4 other friends, and then you all get an awesome reward that's worthy of the epic undertaking. And maybe have the reward phased in only for those who did it, or something that you can look at and say, hey, "We're pretty badass".

Tal said...

WoW already has a few quests that you really have to do in a group - the last step in the Sons of Gruul chain, for example. They usually take the "takes X people to summon an elite", though, so some variation might be interesting.
The problem with these quests, however, is that once people outgrow the content it's very hard to find groups for them. That means that they pretty much can't be part of an "important" chain, since it will block a lot of players from doing the whole story.
Also, there already are quests that are tradeskill-specific, and times where the actual quest (or chain) is different based on your race/class, so it shouldn't be a problem to "combine" these 2 properties - it's just a matter of writing the quests

Ixobelle said...

yeah, the Grimoire Business quest physically requires 5 people to stand in specific spots and summon the guy to fight. I was thinking of that, and forgot to include it.

As for the chain being epic in scope, and having people outgrow it, that would obviously be an issue if introduced into the game now. Perhaps if it was introduced next week, you would be able to start in the middle.

Maybe an even better idea is that the quest rewards always scale (like heirloom items), or are pulled from a random pool of iLevel XXX items, but that would suck to get plate gear as a mail wearer or whatever. It's something to think about, though.

Herc said...

I blame the grimoire quest for not being able to finish the achievement last month >_> which will mean I won't be getting my drake. It was really hard to get 4 people to get to Blades edge mountain during the holidays.

One of the biggest gripe people had(including me) on LoTRO was the amount of group quest needed for the Book quest. The quest was fun but finding another person or a team that is in the same chapter as you .. can be a daunting task. People rarely want to go back and help you finish your chapters(quest) so you can catch up much less if it involves waiting for 3 other peope.

I'm all up for group quest but make it so when dealing with long ass chain quest that people can help other players or get credit for a quest they have done with the group even though they are still 2-3 quest behind(I think lotro did this).

Ixobelle said...

i like the idea of somehow getting a reward for doing the same quest twice if you're helping someone else, but there would need to be limitations put in ace so poeple don't just farm the same 3 quests every day to the level cap.... although, if that's how you REALLY want to level, who's to stop you? You could certainly reach the level cap by doing no quests at all, and who's to say that's the wrong way to do it?

Horde side Onyxia attunement was a bitch, but i specifically remember how flooded trade channel was with people looking for group for test of skulls... you needed to kill three drakes (and then a fourth), and people actually banded together to knock out all four at once, or would help other people take care of the two they already had killed so everyone in the group was on the same page. There was a strong sense of community with that chain, even if the person you were helping wasn't a guildie. Everyone just wanted to fight ony, and everyone else understood that. perhaps those days are long gone? :(

Tragedyx said...

Group quest, involving a bike being stolen and going to an area filled with nagas to recover it. Make it a crazy ass area where they all respawn almost right away (suppression room style), and call their friends when they engage you. Fill the area with smoke and loud music. Also, have them flee at low health and get more friends.

Design an underwater encounter, or a section of a dungeon submerged, or even one of those non-instanced group zones. Give the raid an NPC that travels with you, remains neutral (Like a fish) but grants you underwater breathing indefinitely. "Floating" encounters add alot of dynamics in terms of range and distance, plus the slowed movement speed adds to difficulty. Think about Kael and how different that fight was the first few times you hit air phase.

The one thing i've complained about since day one: I want a free-for-all zone where if you go into it group it immediately ungroups you. Make it spawn ore, chests, and herbs, as well as have rare mobs. You have no idea how often i've wanted to kill my own faction for taking my damn nodes.

Another idea: AI party members that scale their proficiency based on how well you're playing. Even if they were player implemented it would still be kind of cool.(Buy an NPC, comes pre-leveled with blues, follows you like in any RPG, you can gear as if he were you.)

Just some ramblings, maybe they'll help, maybe you'll just call me retarded.

Ixobelle said...

i REALLY don't like the idea of NOC party members. other games have done it, and things like KOTOR even did it well, but

1) i spend enough time on my talents page and inventory and armor pages dicking around with my own shit to spend 5 minutes on mine, and then just flip to "party member 4"

2) you'd be rolling on drops for your fucking NPC butt buddy all day

3) it isolates you from the actual one of the M's in MMO. the point is that you NEED to PUG if you don't have friends online. eliminating that would just make WoW a big single player RPG ...which I know would be just fine for you ;) but i'd hate it.

Ixobelle said...

N P C, fuck i need an edit button.

Bluspacecow said...

Mr Ixobelle.

Great ideas. Might I suggest you foward these posts onto the wow suggestions forums :D ?

Have you ever quested in Icecrown before ? There's a quest there that really does need more than 1 person to do.

It's where you have to cleanse this scrouge potion. The quest item has a cooldown on it and elite level ghouls jump out of the cauldron. If they hit you while you're channelling the quest item it goes into CD. The cauldron needs to have solution added to it in regular intervals. If you miss adding solution to it you fail and have to start again. You need at least 3 to do - each person taking turns to either add solution , wait to add solution or to dps the elites.

Ixobelle said...

Great ideas. Might I suggest you foward these posts onto the wow suggestions forums :D ?

please don't ... I'm going to be bringing this all together for an actual presentation. I'm only posting here since I have a relatively small audience and like the feedback I get. If i wanted it to buried on the 12th page of the suggestions forums I'd just type them up there, but I prefer to keep it in the (omg I'm not about to say) blogosphere (am i?) at the moment.