I participated in the Warhammer: Age of Reckoning beta. I know, that was a few months ago and the game has been released. However there was one feature of WAR that stuck out in my head as quite enjoyable. Public Quests.
Public Quests are certain areas on the map where anyone can participate. They are considered to be in an ad hoc group with everyone else in the same area. They split experience, they get a roll on the end loot based on their overall participation and so on. My first Public Quest was fun. After the third or fourth, however, the newness of the mechanic wore off and a sense of deja vu set in. I really had done almost all of that before.
Approximately 10 years ago MMORPGs started to take off with the big three. Ultima Online, Everquest and Asheron’s Call. Granted there were other MMOs before those three (Kingdom of Drakkar and Meridian 59, for example) but those three really started to draw large numbers of players.
MMOs 10 years ago, however, did not have a feature that MMOs today do. Instances. What they did have were large dungeons where people would go in an attempt to beat. Black Barrow in Everquest and the Olthoi Horde Nest(s) in Asheron’s Call are two examples.
Generally the point was to be able to make it all the way through. First in a group and later solo. Often, however, the groups were formed ad hoc of whomever showed up. A set of unspoken rules formed around these ad hoc groups. Don’t jump on someone else’s mobs unless it really looks like they need help digging their way out from under the pile. Loot only your own mobs. Don’t pull more mobs than needed in an attempt to deprive others from kills and the associated xp/loot.
The mechanics were not the same as WAR’s Public Quests but the feel was the same. You showed up and teamed up with whomever you found in that location. After 10 yeears of MMORPGs increasingly fragmenting their player base into a plethora of instances and private worlds it is refreshing to see that someone is attempting to go back to the old social gaming prevalent years ago. Now if only players today would learn the courtesy that came so easily to players then.