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The Way Questing Used To Be December 15, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, MUDs, TorilMUD.
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Being back and playing EverQuest II, I have been going through some of the “classic” content, like the Commonlands and Nektulos Forest.  Questing can get a bit annoying.  In the last four years some of the quest mobs have moved, but not all the quest text, which frankly wasn’t ever that great at directing you, has been updated.  So, once in a while you run into a quest that sends you in the wrong direction.

On top of that, the new map system that came out with The Shadow Odyssey killed EQMaps, for now, so there are no tips to be had in that regard.

Still, having spent a bit of time back in TorilMUD served to remind me how easy we have it when it comes to quests.

A friend of mine there told me that there was a quest to upgrade the armor that my paladin is currently wearing.  He told me the quest giver was a dwarven blacksmith in Bryn Shander.  That put me miles ahead because in MUDs there generally is no nice bright exclamation point marking out NPCs with quests.

Generally, to find such quests, you have to wander around talking to any NPC you run across.  Fortunately, most of them will start off if you just ask the right NPC “hi” or “hello.”  Most.  Not all of them, of course.  Some only respond to “hi” or “hello” but not both, while others have a special key word.

Fortunately, the dwarven blacksmith was not too tough to find and he responded right away.

A dwarven blacksmith is here working on a piece of metal.

ask blacksmith hi

The blacksmith stops hammering and glances up at you.
The blacksmith says “If yer lookin to buy something, talk to my apprentice in the other room. I’ve not got time fer making any special pieces of equipment right now.”

As in EverQuest, you have to actually read the quest text and respond correctly to it.  Of course, in EverQuest, the keywords are usually highlighted in brackets.  That was a “dumbing down” of the old method, where you had to read and respond correctly.

ask blacksmith special

He nods and says “Aye, I make special pieces of armor on occasion for adventurers and mercenaries, but I’m already working on a suit of armor for someone right now and don’t have time to work on anything else.”

Ah, see, we’re on the right path!

ask blacksmith suit

He finally lies down the hammer he’s been holding the whole time then shoves the piece of metal he was working on back into the forge.

He says “Tis what I said. It’s a suit of armor made from the finest of mithril. Shame that such a fine piece of work will likely be wasted on that old fool. He probably won’t even make it to Mithril Hall without getting jumped or killed by bandits or yeti on the caravan trail.”

Another correct guess.

ask blacksmith mithril

ask blacksmith work

ask blacksmith wasted

ask blacksmith fool

He says “Aye, he was an old adventurer that has seen some better days. About the only thing that really stood out about him was the sword he wore on his hip. It was a beautiful etched silver longsword. Everything else he wore was old and battered, much like the adventurer himself.”

The blacksmith chuckles and continues “However, he is paying me well to make him this armor so I’ll not complain. I am getting a tad concerned about him though, as it has been almost two ten-day since I sent him out to retrieve more mithril and other materials to add to the unfinished armor I gave him.

He shrugs before picking the hammer back up, pulls a piece of metal out of the
forge, and begins hammering on it once more.

So he has gone missing looking for materials?  Sounds like a job for me might be in the offing, if only I can find the next clue.

ask blacksmith materials

ask blacksmith more

ask blacksmith mithril

ask blacksmith unfinished

ask blacksmith concerned

ask blacksmith old

He says “Aye, he was an old adventurer that has seen some better days. About the only thing that really stood out about him was the sword he wore on his hip. It was a beautiful etched silver longsword. Everything else he wore was old and battered, much like the adventurer himself.”

The blacksmith chuckles and continues “However, he is paying me well to make him this armor so I’ll not complain. I am getting a tad concerned about him though, as it has been almost two ten-day since I sent him out to retrieve more mithril and other materials to add to the unfinished armor I gave him.

He shrugs before picking the hammer back up, pulls a piece of metal out of the forge, and begins hammering on it once more.

Hrmm, I’ve already seen this one.   Keep going.

ask blacksmith longsword

ask blacksmith silver

ask blacksmith paying

ask blacksmith complain

ask blacksmith worried

ask blacksmith sent

ask blacksmith retrieve

All give no response.  I fall back to conservative mode and start asking him every single word in his last statement.

Nothing.

I look at him, the room, the next room, his apprentice.

Nothing.

Maybe I already have the clue.  Maybe I have to go find this “old fool” or his corpse and bring something back for the dwavren blacksmith.  Materials? Mithril? The sword he went on about?

I’ll have to see what is on the corpse.

If I can find the corpse.  If that is what I am supposed to do.  And if he is dead and not just late.

All of which makes a bit of out dated quest text in EverQuest II seem pretty trivial.

Now about that old fool….

Comments»

1. Angry Raider - December 15, 2008

Just a note about EQ2MAP. It’s been updated to work with TSO. You just need to download the new updater.

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2. UFTimmy - December 15, 2008

I played a MUD called DragonRealms for about 10 years. We called these “sytax games” where you have to guess the right questions to ask, or use the right verb to do something. I’m not fond of those. But, as you’ve said, they become tightly kept secrets and there is a sense of achievement when you figure it out.

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3. RJO - December 15, 2008

FYI – hit up eq2interface.com. EQ2Maps is back and more useful than before :)

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4. john3103 - December 15, 2008

Digging for quests would be fun if NPC’s could actually interact like a real person, but as is, attempts to make the NPC’s ‘role-play’ ends up feeling like a cheap keyword matcher that a college intern wrote-up over a weekend.

WoW’s giant yellow question mark does break immersion for some people, but at least it’s an ‘honest’ way to deal with questing.

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5. Werit - December 15, 2008

Point and click interfaces have ruined these types of things.

Kings Quest was a series that lot a lot when it moved to point and click.

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6. Wilhelm2451 - December 15, 2008

Thanks for the tip on EQ2Maps. I had downloaded it but there was no data for quite a while after it came out so I had stopped running the updater.

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7. RMT - December 16, 2008

@john3103 – funny, I’ve been thinking that since playing different types of MMO’s and MUD’s since backing off WoW for a while. I like some concepts and game play styles, but the keyword matching process when interacting with NPC’s can get a bit frustrating after a while, and really does detract from the game.

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8. Yeebo - December 16, 2008

I find that kind of thing perfectly acceptable in a MUD where the entire point it to fill in the gaps with your imagination and be immersed. Not so much in something I’m being charged $15 a month for. The comment above about “something a college intern would have slapped together in an afternoon” is pretty accurate. Charming in one setting, insulting in another.

One of the major things I found off putting in launch EQ to be honest. Even by then RPG quest design in commercial products had moved on. For example, Planescape Torment came out at around the same time and made Everquest look absolutely amateurish in terms of quest design.

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9. Scott - December 16, 2008

I’m not even sure I buy the whole “immersion” argument. I’ve been immersed in a novel or even a good movie, I become absorbed in the fiction and don’t even realize how much time has passed or what’s going on around me. But in a game? I might *put* hours into an MMO (or whatever videogame) but at no point have I become absorbed in a game’s fiction or world and forgot that I’m sitting at my desk with a keyboard and mouse staring at a monitor.

Yellow exclamation points are “immersion breaking” but John’s example isn’t???

ask blacksmith longsword

ask blacksmith silver

ask blacksmith paying

ask blacksmith complain

ask blacksmith worried

ask blacksmith sent

ask blacksmith retrieve

That’s a conversation? That would “immerse” me in the “reality” of the fictional game world? C’mon…

We could get rid of the yellow ! and go back to the old method of talking to every single NPC we meet. Do we talk to every single person we meet in life? No? Then how “immersive” is being forced to do it in a game? Remember having to walk inside everyone’s home? How rude is that? We’re the “heroic adventurers” yet we break and enter every villagers home? And take stuff from their cabinets! Yes, very “immersive” indeed…

MUDs, and EQ harken back to the old Infocom days. They were very much “syntax games” rather than true RPGs or even true puzzles or quests.

How about if devs just call a spade a spade and when we have Joe NPC with a big ! over his head, just call it a task not a quest. The NPC is offering to compensate us to perform a menial task “kill ten rats, collect ten rat tails (um… ok, that’s gross…)” and that’s the end of it. Maybe for an honest *QUEST* we have to work a little bit harder for, but it had better be fun and epic-feeling and worthy of the quest title.

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10. Xeross - February 18, 2010

I tried playing MUDs but I just can’t really get immersed into anything non-graphical, When we finally get computers with the thinking capability of humans we can get real immersion (Or when we use people in place of NPCs).

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11. wizardling - June 30, 2012

Maybe it’s just me, but I always phrase quest text in a realistic fashion, e.g. “I will deliver the crate to the silversmith”, not “deliver crate silversmith”. It sounds silly otherwise and then _I’m_ breaking my own immersion. Perhaps some players aren’t affected by these kind of things, but I find it takes away from my fun, just as surely as stupid character names do. But complaining about people using ‘unrealistic’ names is for another topic…

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