Begone, quests! Take 2: Ironman edition
(AKA: Putting my gaming money where my mouth is.)
(EDIT – server change. I’ll make this alt on Landroval where I have *cough* one char slot left. I’m also kicking around the idea of just taking an existing char and not questing for a week, but I’m not sure that would be legit. None of the chars are higher than 16 or so.)
Quite a few people are talking about quests at the moment, including the usual suspects (Spinks, Stargrace) and on a variety of slants. They’re all good posts and they — as good posts should — made me think.
More specifically, the hare-brained idea for this Monday morning was: “I wonder if I could play a game for a week without doing a single quest?”
Sounds easy, right? I suspect it won’t be.
It may be technically impossible. I’m playing LOTRO right now (um yes, I even subbed up) and just to be splooshed out into the messy War of the Ring-torn world you have to… accept a quest.
My LOTRO server of choice — Landroval, you nosy buggers — is down for maintenance right now. So I’m going to pick my second-string server of choice — Elendilmir, you nosy buggers!* — and challenge myself.
The sad thing is — I already know I’ll have to do at least some quests. There’s the “if you don’t talk to me you’ll never leave the instanced tutorial area, bwahahahaha!” quest. There’s a class quest at 15 for — as far as I know — every class. And there are advancement quests for crafting too, even if they’re just “Go to X and talk to Y and ta-da!” I think I can get away with not doing any of the book/epic/whatchamacallem quests, at least for a week, but if this were more than a one-week challenge I’d probably have to consider doing those too, though I’m not sure if they’re actually required for advancement through LOTRO.
So here’s the caveat: I will do the quests without which I can’t properly progress my character(s)** but that’s it. Nothing else. I shall resolutely and steadfastly ignore the Lure Of The Quest Icon — though I can already safely predict I’ll probably click on them more than once out of sheer habit.
And that’s the thing. We’ve become utterly conditioned in our games: find hub/NPC, look for icon, get quest, do quest, move on to the next piece of cheese. Back in my uphill-in-the-snow-both-ways days of Asheron’s Call, I made my own fun. There were no NPCs with quest icons floating over their heads — and while there were quests, of a sort, they were extremely rudimentary. Hell, we didn’t even have a quest journal. (For the younger readers: yes, it was in another epoch — about 10 years ago.)
I’m not suggesting we do away with the questing mechanic altogether, if only because as a mechanic it has far too many advantages for designers in terms of getting the players where you want them if you want them to experience specific content. And it provides structure, which as players we mostly need even when we’re busy complaining about how we’re going to buck the system.
I’m just wondering if I can un-condition myself for a single week. Throw off the (loose and comfily padded, but still) shackles of this questing life and see what’s out there beyond the NPCs with shiny icons over their heads. LOTRO actually makes that pretty easy, since you can toggle off floaty names and icons (I usually do) and toggle what shows/doesn’t show on the minimap, including quest givers.
This could be fun. I have no idea how far I’ll get, but doing it on a server where I don’t know anyone and don’t have any established (even if they’re only level 15) alts should be a “realistic” challenge, as far as that goes.
I think I’ll stay conservative on classes and pick one I know and like. Hunter, Minstrel or Warden it is then. Oh, but the Captain is fun too! And the Lore-Master. Oo, Champion! Glerk! Decisions…
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In unrelated news, for those who actually stop by the home site and don’t just see this in a reader — no, I don’t like this theme either I’m not overly keen on this new theme I just picked out since I wrote the post. None of the wordpress.com themes offer me quite what I want, but I’m not prepared to get my own hosting just so I can change the look of my blog. Well, not yet. I’m kicking around the idea. It’s one of those pebble-in-your-shoe niggles that isn’t awful but bugs you constantly when you think about it…
And finally a couple of LOTRO screenshots of one of my favourite places: the Midgewater Marshes. I could stare at the clouds and the water all day, if it weren’t for those blasted neeker-breekers. That’s Weathetop (Amon Sûl) in the background on the right of the first pic.