Home > LOTRO, MMO > Begone, quests! Take 2: Ironman edition

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…

~ ~ ~

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.

* Elendilmir is where my friends from The Knights Who Say Ni play, but since the guild is dormant if not defunct right now, I picked Landroval. Syp assures me there’s always lots going on there. He has already forced me to join a guild and be sociable. Halp! I’m being repressed!
** I never promised not to make alts! But I’ll try. It’ll probably be more interesting in IronMan NoAlts mode.
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  1. August 23, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Oh my, did you ever pick the wrong MMO to attempt not questing. LOTRO is a quest-based game; the majority of your XP is given by turning in quests. Killing a mob gives a paltry amount of XP by comparison.

    An alternative is to run skirmishes for XP but you have to be level 30 minimum (I think the F2P relaunch is bumping it down to 20 or 25) but doing that will burn you out quickly as well.

    • August 23, 2010 at 8:16 am

      I know this — that’s part of the fun of the challenge. ;)

      My aim isn’t necessarily to level, since that’s not usually my aim in games anyway. i just want to see if I can get a feeling of progression, get reasonable gear, and have fun *without* doing any quests.

      We’ll see. :D

      • Longasc
        August 23, 2010 at 8:23 am

        I can only second Scott. Without questing you will not have much fun in LOTRO. I am dead serious.

        • August 23, 2010 at 8:35 am

          We’ll see. There’s a lot of assumption going on that we only play to level. We *do* play to level, but I’m hoping it’s not the only reason.

          My main goal here is to see if I can have fun. I don’t require levelling to have fun — I don’t think, especially since I’m not hung up on getting to any kind of max level or endgame or item set or what have you.

          Should be interesting.

    • arbitrary
      August 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Actually, we have a kin member who did ALL the deeds, and they’re not technically quests, don’t give you quest rings or yellow blobs on the map to tell you where to go etc etc. But it does sound a bit too grindy to me without the book quests. I don’t think you HAVE to do class quests, but you get some skills through them and the capt level 15 one is one of the easier of the class ones!

      • August 23, 2010 at 2:37 pm

        Aye, I think the class quests are going to fall under the *cough*notreallyaquestohlookoverthere!*cough* banner. I don’t think I’ll be gimping myself horribly by not questing, because all that stuff (gear, xp) can be obtained by other means, but for stuff that can ONLY be got by doing a class quest I’ll be caving in.

        Assuming I even make it to 15, let alone 30. ;)

  2. August 23, 2010 at 8:28 am

    FWIW, you don’t even have to do your class’ level 15/30 class quests — they award a class trait and a nice item but don’t block your progression in any way. So basically the only ones you *have* to do are (1) the tutorial instance, (2) the storyline chain in the starter instance (Thorin’s Gate/pre-searing Archet) to get out into the world, and (3) crafting quests if you choose to be a crafter. And you can skip (1) and (2) and launch right into your racial starting area if you have done the tutorial/starter area before on that server. Still, I can’t imagine even getting to 15 without quests… even with rested XP and the new accelerated level curve, I suspect it will be surprisingly grindy…

  3. August 23, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Oh also I forgot, if you make it to 50 you have to do volume 2 book 1 to get into Moria and unlock the LI system, at 60ish Mirkwood Landing to open Mirkwood, and the skirmish tutorial to open skirmishes. I suppose now with F2P we’ll be seeing a few people try to grind all the way to the end to save money on quest packs… will be interesting to see if anyone has the patience.

  4. unwesen
    August 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Speaking as someone with a strong pen&paper background, I’d be more interested in playing a CRPG (MMO or otherwise) in which fighting was not required.

    I’ve no ethical objections (other than theoretical ones; I know full well I’m playing a game, thank you), I’ve no objections to combat for reasons of fun, I just enjoy interacting with NPCs in other ways.

    For bonus points, give me a CRPG without trading. Similar reasoning.

    Yes, I know, there are story-driven puzzle games, we used to call them adventure games back in the day. That’s not what I’m talking about, though. For one thing they rarely had character advancement (which is a crutch in a way, but one I like overall).

    More importantly, they didn’t give you the option to fight or trade. I’d like to solve problems in-game by one of several available methods, please, depending on my whims.

    • August 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Have you tried Fallen Earth? Theoretically you could progress off gathering, crafting, and quests which require only the first two as all the pieces give XP.

      • August 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

        http://stylishcorpse.wordpress.com/category/mmo/fallen-earth-mmo/ :D

        As it is, progressing through crafting is pretty slow and even then you’d have to quest if you want the heavy-xp items like car and bike parts and the like.

        Again though, we’re all (consciously or not) assuming that playing is all about progressing, or even progressing fast. I have yet to decide how I want to do this Iron Man thing, too. All out — new server, no alts, no help — or just use an existing char somewhere and not quest with them for a week. The second option seems easier but somehow less authentic…

        • August 24, 2010 at 7:42 am

          I know you’ve played FE, Ysh, I was referring to the poster who was looking for a non-combat route. :D

        • unwesen
          August 24, 2010 at 9:17 am

          Na, I’m not assuming that playing is about progressing. I’m saying that I *like* when playing is about progressing…

          and at the same time, I find it a crutch because in terms of game mechanics stuff could be handled differently. As far as I am concerned, progression is mostly a psychological thing, something to measure my… prowess… by.

          Anyway, I enjoy seeing stats about how awesome I am, so I don’t exactly need to do away with that aspect of a game.

          Fallen Earth, huh? I’ll check it out, thanks!

  5. August 23, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I think you picked both the best and the worst game to try this.

    If “progress” is your goal then, as you and others have already hashed out, going sans quests in LOTRO is going to be a real challenge.

    But if immersion and fun is your goal, then I think it’s an awesome choice. Hell you could spend a few days just mucking about in The Shire, exploring all the nooks and crannies. If you were on Landroval you could go to RP events and listen to stories and music.

    Or you could line your pockets by harvesting trade skill components and selling them on the broker.

    Good luck!

  6. Erik
    August 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

    This is one of the reasons I’m looking forward to GW2. From everything I’ve seen (and I’ve read a lot of articles) there may not even be a quest log in the game. It’s all based on your home instance and the dynamic events. No quests, just running around beating on things that look like the need beating and look fun to beat. :)

  7. August 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Might I suggest FFXI? You wouldn’t really have to do anything different from the norm to avoid the quests there – and Fields of Valor is a grey area, it’s not REALLY a quest, but… :D

    Good luck in your endeavor!

  8. August 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    LOTRO does not seem to me to be too difficult to do this. Not because of the XP, but because it does have a variety of things to do and many areas to explore. Most of the quests as I recall were pretty boring anyway.

    I think Guild Wars would be a pretty good game to do this kind of thing also, in particular for pure exploration.

    I think it is an interesting idea in general – can you skip a major gameplay feature in a game and still enjoy it?

  9. August 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Bully for you! I’d love to try the same thing. I’m not sure leveling under these restrictions would be fun in any game, because the games now are so tied to it (especially with some of the quest reward items), but playing it just to play it and not worry about progression can be great. Well, until you want to play with your buddies and it turns out that they are 20 levels above you and you can’t really spend a nice evening with them anymore. )-:

    • August 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      Then they just sidekick you to the same level and problem is solved.

  1. August 27, 2010 at 12:22 pm
  2. August 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

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