Is Quest XP the Correct Choice?
DDO Quest Week at Ten Ton Hammer was so popular, we extended the week
to cover 14 days! We're rolling out more quest
for your reading pleasure, and this time we cover mid- and
high-level quests. Of the many cavalier design elements of Dungeons
& Dragons Online (DDO), the one that is most unique in my mind is
the way players gain XP. In DDO players almost exclusively gain XP by
completing quests. This is consistent with the tabletop experience,
where the Dungeon Master awards XP after the adventure is complete. But
is this right for a video game? Let's take a look.
The Case for Quest XP
By only awarding XP after a quest, Turbine has removed the staleness of
grinding on "camps" of monsters all the way to the level cap. Players
in DDO do not mindlessly kill monsters and get stronger for it. You
always have a purpose--a quest--in DDO.
This method of withholding XP until the end of the quest also has some
positive effects for the player base. In the tradition MMOG, a player
might join your group for a while only to leave when you've killed
enough monsters for him to reach the next level. Holding XP until the
end of a quest ensures people are in it for the duration when you form
a party to complete a quest.
Additionally, if you take a look at the LFG (Looking for Group) tool in
DDO, you'll find people looking to do the same quests as you. This
makes the grouping mechanic so much better. Anybody remember this
the ranger joins your group.
Koldag: Where are we XPing at?
You: I was thinking about going to the bandit camp on the east side of
the Dark Mountains.
Koldag: Bandits? That XP's too slow. We should try the trolls under the
Aliaser (the cleric): I still think we should hit the spiders in the
Cave of Venom.
Jeddz (the rogue): No no no! We should go to the mermen out on the
Docile Cove. Spiders and trolls are always camped, and bandits are too
Gaerie (the paladin): I need to kill 30 more firebats for my quest. Can
we get those?
DDO lets you complete objectives and quests from you log and know that
everyone else in the party is doing what he wants to do at the same
time. Quest XP is a great idea!
The Case Against Quest XP
As much as it sucks to encounter selfish people, bossy people, and
"ding and run" people as described above, only gaining XP through
quests is a poor plan. I can think of two good good reasons: grinding
remains but takes a new form, and it discourages people with limited
As nice as the hand-crafted dungeons in DDO can be, they lose their
luster the 10th time you go through them. While I can level two
characters in another MMOG without ever grinding at the same XP spot
twice, I must go through the same quests in DDO. Often, I have to
repeat certain quests because they yield good XP and are preferred by
the bulk of the player base. In the end, I may not be grinding on grass
snakes and warthogs, but I'm grinding on "The Waterworks" and
"Shon-to-Kor." The grind is still there; it just looks different. Worst
of all, this mechanic takes away from the exquisite detail of DDO's
Secondly, knowing that I must run an entire quest to get any XP
sometimes prevents me from even logging in. I might have only 15
minutes to play, during which I might solo some random enemies in
another MMOG. In DDO, I must be able to commit the proper time in order
to play. Moreover, as I begin to get sleepy, I find myself logging off
sooner. In another MMOG, I might announce to the party that I can only
hang only 30 more minutes. In DDO, I recognize that we can't complete
the next quest in my remaining 30 minutes, so I just log off earlier.
In this sense, the quest XP discourages the type of obsessive playing
that keeps me thinking about a MMOG even when I can't play.
it's your turn to speak on the issue.
IN OUR POLL!
Do you believe quest-only XP is right for MMOGs?
- For sure! It makes quests the meaningful progression of my
- I want some quest XP, but I'd like to be able to get XP
some other way, too.
- I'd rather get XP for each kill.