With a game like, say, World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic, the game revolves around quest hubs, so you need a team of writers working around the clock to crank out generic quest content so that when you launch a new expansion you can stick that shiny “5,000 new quests!” button on it as a marketing tool.
But with us, the players themselves provide a huge chunk of the content in the sense that this is a sandbox game. We don’t tell you where you want to go or what you want to do: you decide. Want to craft? Go for it. Want to adventure? Go for it. Want to follow a questline? Go for it. Want to roleplay and hang out in the cities? Go for it.
We don’t have experience points, so you aren’t on an exp grind. While you will be “leveling up” your skills, those are independent of any quests, which is why we’ve told people from day one that quests are 100% optional. If you want to just get together with your friends, form your caravan, stock up on supplies, and head west until you find ruins or a dungeon or something to explore…go for it.
Instead, the quests of our game are there to provide a backdrop: the lore of the world. The primary storyline will be long, arduous, and challenging….but feel epic enough in scope that as you are adventuring alonside your friends, you feel like you are the Heroes of the Lance…the Fellowship of the Ring…Jason and the Argonauts. This is not a tale where you are sole hero, the chosen one, the one who was prophesied. In this game, you are a blank slate, a nobody, and only through adventure will you make a name for yourself.
Of course they will have rewards attached: in the case of the primary storyline, epic weapons (think epic as in EverQuest epic weapons; questlines that took months to complete) and armor are associated with the quests. In the case of city quests, or guild quests (Adventurer’s Guild, The Blackbirds, the Scholar’s Guild, and beyond), they won’t have “epic” rewards, but they will provide gear and additional lore, plus the zones and dungeons themselves all have special lore/storylines that John is working on creating as we speak.
But crafting in and of itself is on an equal level of importance. And while you can’t craft Relic gear (an art long-forgotten as magic has faded from the realm), you’ll be able to provide the necessary components to get your fellow adventurers and scholars up to the point, and then as the game progresses and magic comes back into the realm, crafters will grow in power just like adventurers and scholars, eventually finding themselves creating weapons and armors that are just as powerful as any raid gear.
Plus, only through crafters will you be able to keep your caravans on the road for lengths of time, keep your wagons repaired, your armor and weapons repaired, mounts healthy and fed, preparing food and drink and necessary support for the lengthy journeys outside of cities and outposts while on campaigns, build houses and outposts, and beyond.
With no city recall button or fast travel options, you rely on the strength of the group while out in the field, which means relying on everyone OTHER than just yourself.
You are a cog in the wheel, not the wheel itself.
All 100% optional, and there as a backdrop for the overall world, the foundation layer that players can choose to build upon.
Then, when we start getting into Volume II and the return of magic to the realm, we see the continued evolution of this concept. While players will be able to morph into apprentices from Scholarly paths, or roll a new character as an apprentice, you won’t be given a spellbook or a merchant with a list of spells. You’ll learn a little from an Adept NPC, but nothing more.
Instead, it will be like it is in Volume I where the vast majority of your skills are learned through use, found in the depths of dungeons, in ancient tomes, from boss mobs in far-off corners, from advanced Adepts and trainers, from quests and raids, and from exploration of the world.
And it’s up to you, the player, to determine whether to pass those skills and knowledge down to others once you yourself have obtained Adept status throughout the course of the Volume II, and then beyond. (psssst, Mentoring plays a huge factor in our ongoing development, and not just for Adepts. Any masters of their profession will be able to train others beneath them in the rare arts, creating player-based advanced trainers)
Servers will progress at a different rate depending on the pace of the player community at large, and each server community will have a different tale to tell. Plus, with Adepts and player trainers advancing at different paces on different servers, and players being the ones who decide whether they want to pass on their knowledge or hoard it for themselves, the worlds will evolve based on the communities of the server, not based on generic quest hub content or on-the-rails storylines.
At the end of the day, we want our world to be a world that evolves based on the players themselves. While we do provide the backdrop and a certain portion of lore and storyline and the foundation layer to get the ball rolling, the players themselves provide the bulk of the content, and it unfolds in an organic, emergent way.