Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

So how does Mythic plan to entice the care bears who don’t want to enter into open warfare to compete? It’s all to do with quests. As with WoW, leveling up in WO means completing tasks for NPCs. But some quests are public, group quests that cycle little story vignettes through the area you’re playing. One lets you get a giant drunk: he wanders into the orc village looking for trouble. If nearby players can bring him 20 barrels of booze, he’ll join your side instead. Part two of the quest asks you to defend him from squigs (little pink bogeys on legs). Finally, the giant can be asked to carry a bomb into dwarven lands, blowing open a fortress.

Meanwhile, in those dwarven lands, a competing quest chain sees the dwarves trying to build a giant howitzer (named Helga, after a dead dwarf wife) to bomb the village with the giant in it. As the orcs run around looking for booze, dwarven players are searching for ammunition.

Why go to all this trouble? “We want to make sure that the game is accessible to casual players,” says Josh, “so they can show up, take part, and interact with other players in large groups without committing huge amounts of time. If I only have half an hour to play the game each night, I don’t want to spend 20 minutes putting together a group before I can go do something cool.”

Even more than that, it’s the first step in getting players to dip their toes into the wider conflict. “In a realm vs realm game, we really need those players to become acclimatized to the place - you’re going to have to learn to play with everyone else. By starting with public quests from the very beginning, and giving them a little carrot to help them along, they can become more comfortable with working together. Hopefully, by the time they’re involved in realm vs realm they’ve developed some social bonds.”