[MUD-Dev] FedExing

Alistair Riddoch alriddoch at zepler.org
Wed Jan 21 02:54:53 CET 2004

On Mon, Jan 19, 2004 at 11:15:35AM +0000, Ben Hawes wrote:

> It occurred to me that another reason FedEx-ing is so damn popular
> in games is because of the literature from which we draw much of
> our inspiration.

> What is Frodo's quest apart from one giant FedEx (take this ring
> and right-click (sorry, drop) it into Mount Doom)?

> Much of fantasy literature's epic quests are "group of people
> finding all-powerful artifact." With that sort of inspiration, no
> wonder so many games end up the same.

It is possible that the very negative view of FedEx-ing that
dominates this thread is itself heavily influenced by the era in
which we live.  Travel is to us mundane, and often boring. Many of
us deal regularly with stressful long journeys to work on congested
travel networks.  Long distance air travel is almost universally
dreaded by those who have experienced it before, which would almost
certainly seem incredible to people living only a few decades ago.

By contrast, in a pre-technological culture travel can be viewed
very differently. It would almost certainly be much more dangerous,
and certain types of traveller would have status associated with
their travels. Even in fairly recent times, the simple task of
delivering mail to frontier areas was extremely dangerous, and those
who succeeded in delivering important mail in extreme circumstances
were regarded as heroes[1].

Creating a quest as a simple delivery job may at first seem easy,
and unoriginal, but it does not in itself remove the possibility of
originality from the quest. Frodo's simple delivery job ends up
taking 3 large volumes in which he encounters the various expected
and unexpected barriers to completing his task. Perhaps then the key
to original quests is not in the top level task, but in the middle
level subtasks associated with completing the quest?


1. Delivery of diphtheria serum via dog sled in Alaska
Alistair Riddoch
alriddoch at worldforge.org
alriddoch at zepler.org
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