One of the hottest MMO features being talked about lately is Warhammer’s Tome of Knowledge (ToK). I’m not going to write another post about all the features we can look forward to because Syp from WAAAGH! has done a great writeup. Instead I’m going to talk more about how the ToK will be tearing down the quest barriers for Warhammer and future MMOs. With all these “next gen” (I really hate that term) games on the horizon we’re going to see a lot of developers try and set themselves apart from the competition; like Funcom is doing with Age of Conan’s combat system.
Questing has always been one of the more mundane features in MMOs. Ironically it exists to counter the widely criticized and disliked grinding approach to the leveling process. Several barriers have always kept questing from achieving its true potential. Here are a few:
- Limits on the number of quests in your journal
- Story driven, or lack thereof
- Complexity, or lack thereof
- Repetitive or unimaginative gameplay and objectives
- Quest Hubs
- Lackluster rewards
The Tome of Knowledge takes a stab of rectifying all of the above.
Limitations on quests have always been a pain. You’ll be adventuring along and find a quest out in the middle of nowhere but when you try to accept the quest you realize your log is full – it happens to everyone and it sucks. The Tome of Knowledge, based on my understanding gained from watching and reading several explanations, will alleviate this problem almost entirely. You’ve watched Paul’s explanation on bears, right? The classic scenario where you just spent 30 minutes slaughtering a field of bears making your way to a quest hub. When you get there you find a bunch of NPCs wanting to offer you quests to go kill bears… the very bears you just spent 30 minutes killing. In Warhammer Online those quests exist, but if you’ve already killed bears then you won’t have to go out and kill them again. The ToK, since it keeps track of every mob you kill, will allow the NPC to immediately award you for your deeds.
I’m not certain (maybe someone can confirm) whether or not there is a limit to the number of quests you can have in your Tome. It makes sense however that if the book keeps track of every kill you ever made that it would be capable of housing information on an unlimited amount of quests.
Questing has always been the main catalyst for telling the story in a MMO. Big walls of text will appear in quest details or from the mouthes of NPCs and it’s often a hindrance or tough to feel immersed in the story when you want to get back to the action. The ToK houses the complete lore and story as you are exposed to it. This means that as your character advances so does your archive of lore. This is extremely handy to reference later on to play catchup with if you’re not into the idea of reading everything when it’s presented. The ToK will also unlock more of the story in addition to what the player might find in a quest. It’s been noted that there are items or certain situations where you can unlock more of the lore within the game to be housed in the ToK.
Something I’ve always wished for was a more dynamic quest log. I’ve wanted to explore and kill mobs that I encounter along the way but I’ve always felt this voice in the back of my mind telling me “that’s not your quest objective.. you should be over here!” and I’ve felt compelled to play within the confines of quests. I’ve felt like questing has lead me from one location to the next. I’ve really been a slave to my quest log for the past 3-4 years. Hopefully the ToK will set me free. I’ll be encouraged to explore and experience parts of the world that are off the beaten path. I’ll feel a purpose in killing every mob out there because every action will lead to a direct benefit in my Tome. In a way I’ll make my own quests.
The entire Tome of Knowledge is a quest, or a meta-game, itself. As I mentioned before the ToK keeps track of every kill, every quest, every bit of information. It also serves as a constant source of rewards for the player. As you kill X number of Y type of mob you’ll get a title reward (like LOTRO) or even an item. It’s constantly enticing the player to become more than they are in order to keep the experience imaginative and always one step ahead of you. It’s constantly keeping the player moving while allowing them the freedom they deserve. The carrot on a stick.
The Tome of Knowledge itself is the greatest quest and reward. It’s the next step in mmo quest evolution.