[MUD-Dev] FedExing

Sean Middleditch elanthis at awesomeplay.com
Wed Jan 14 16:54:39 CET 2004

On Tue, 2004-01-13 at 11:38, ghovs wrote:

> How is it that there is this horrifying prejudice against
> 'fedexing' as being wholly unimaginative and bland? I'm seeing the
> definition going so broad that any quest which is completed must
> be a fedexed thing (kill gets a flag delivered to a relevant NPC,
> courier gets an item delivered, riddles get a bunch of keywords
> delivered, etc). If FedExing is so horribly bad, I'm curious what
> the alternative to using

the board definition is a little ludicrous, but the basic fedex
style quest *does* get boring.  If all the quest is is "go to
$PLACE, kill $PERSON, return $THING to $GIVER" then it really isn't
any different than having the player be a part of the pony express
and delivering mail.  (which, unfortunately, is also common in many

> flags/items/keywords to verify quest state might be. To clarify, I
> have never managed to complete any quest, RL, RPG or MMORPG
> without delivering an item, information, or at least my honest
> word that I had done as required (the closest thing RL has to
> offer for 'flag').

quests can get a lot more interesting.  one thing to consider is to
make it actually more difficult than "walk to $PLACE, kill $NPC" -
the $PLACE could be complicated, perhaps requiring many puzzles,
mazes, or mini-quests to get thru.  and instead of merely grabbing a
single item or killing a single NPC, and more complicated sequence
could be required for fetching the quest item - instead of just
killing the NPC, perhaps you have to trick three different NPCs to
enter a particular chamber and then activate a device ("we need the
essence of chimera - so you'll need to get a dire goat, a celestial
lion, a dragon, and an eagle into the soul masher..."), or even
*gasp* require roleplaying and social problem solving (versus just
repetitive combat).

> I'm at a loss why it's such a horribly bad thing, instead of just
> simple physics, like how stuff drops.

> To me, the only really boring quest is the kind where NPC A sends
> you to get item B from location/NPC/mob C and deliver it to A (or
> D). It

that is the real definition of a fedex quest.  anyone you tells you
differently has obviously never used fedex.  ~,^ someone has
something, and they need it to get from point A to B, so they
"fedex" it - in games, that often ends up being the player, instead
of the dedicated mail system any real large-world/economy would
have.  of course, sometimes the deliverer needs to get the item
first (from someone who doesn't want to get it), in which case the
violence is perhaps more akin with US postal worker than fedex
employees, but that's another story...  ;-)

> wouldn't be as boring if something interesting is added like
> having to get items from many different locations, having to craft
> some items (involving sub-quests preferably) or having to do
> something not entirely braindead (like walk really far or kill
> really many) to reach some needed item/NPC/mob (solve a puzzle,
> break a code, translate from in-game toy language, sneak in and
> steal a key). Preferably a combination of the above, with
> optionally (but not at all necessarily) some extra mobs or NPCs to
> kill in the process.

Correct.  If you're doing that, it's not a fedex quest, it's
something more complicated and indepth.  Unfortunately, if you break
it down, many so called game designers' attempts at making this
sorts of quests often results in just a series of fedex quests - get
item Foo from A, take it to B, where it turns into item Bar somehow,
and then go to C, where it turns into Baz, repeat.

Another thing to think about is that a real quest doesn't
necessarily have to have anything to do with an item, nor does it
need you to 'receive' it from anyone (or report back).  Simply
discovering the ancient secret lair of the Alenorians (or whatever)
could be a quest, which has rewards more than, "ah, you completed my
quest, here's some crap as a reward."  i.e., having visited said
lair, you could get benefits when meeting certain people, or so on.

It is, I believe, hard to make decent quests in a multiplayer game,
because good quests can't 'reset' and keep their worth.  Finding the
secret lair is a pointless quest after the first player does it and
posts the instructions for doing so online.  Killing the Troll King
is a dumb quest if he just respawns every few hours.  In a
multiplayer game, the GMs need to stay on their toes and keep the
quests varied, changing, etc.  And make as many of the quests as
possible (especially the harder/larger ones) have permanent impact
on the game.  Don't just one day announce that the Trolls have left
the swamp, instead setup a series of stages in which actual players
perform the deeds necessary.  This can increase the game world
realism and interactivity, and it can make for a lot of role playing
fun (or just ego enhancing) to know that your character is the one
who dealt that killing blow to the Troll King (and the bastard isn't
just going to respawn like you never existed).

Of course, how to run a persistent world is a bit off topic from
your questions... ;-)

Sean Middleditch <elanthis at awesomeplay.com>
AwesomePlay Productions, Inc.
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