Oh, what a giveaway

4th May 2009 – 10.00 am

After a shaky start I have managed to get the hang of jousting in the Argent Tournament, defeating valiants and champions alike in quick order for the daily quests. My warrior, Sapphire, has already become a champion of the Exodar and Darnassus and is now jousting for Gnomeregan whilst working to gain champion seals for pets and mounts. On the way to becoming a champion I help the Argent Crusade in their investigations in to the mysterious Black Knight.

The Black Knight is the tournament's current master jouster, having defeated all who challenge him. However, the Argent Crusade are not convinced that he rose to the top using entirely honourable means, particularly with other expert jousters falling to unfortunate accidents. It may not be possible to interrogate the Black Knight directly, not without any substantial evidence, but there may be another way.

Crusader Rhydalla at the Argent Tournament Grounds explains to me, 'Every day, the Black Knight's squire, Maloric, makes a big show of heading to Crystalsong Forest with his axe over his shoulder. He wants us to believe he's chopping wood, but he never returns with more than a few twigs.' That sounds suspicious, so I am to investigate what he is up to. To achieve this, it it suggested that I 'find a way to distract or incapacitate him and search him. If he's up to something, we'll know it.' I'm on the case.

It all sounds rather curious and intriguing, with machinations from the Argent Crusade to try to unmask whatever devious deeds the Black Knight is up to, if anything. Is he behind the disappearances of the other jousters, is his squire a pawn being used for devious means to work his way to the top, or is the Black Knight simply the master jouster he appears and an unfortunate victim of circumstances hinting at non-existent foul play? What has the squire got himself involved in and what could he be carrying that would implicate him in this mess?

Unfortunately, despite the attempt to build up intrigue and suspense it is somewhat deflated when looking at the quest log to see what is required before the quest can be considered complete:

Murderer's Toolkit: 0/1

It doesn't really leave much to the imagination. Perhaps it would be better to find simply some 'tools' that can later be revealed as a murderer's toolkit by the quest NPC.

Of course, you could say that it is just another quest, one more item to collect from one place to return to another, a bit more gold and reputation to accumulate, but that is precisely why paying attention to the detail of quest text matters. Because the vital clue of the quest's investigation is given away early there is little reason to proceed except for gold, reputation and to further the chain, all rather mechanical purposes that leave the RP out of MMORPG. If the quest had been designed with a little more thought it could have drawn players to want to reveal more of the depth of the story and characters.

The current structure of the quest There's Something About the Squire merely reinforces the notion that there is no need to read the accompanying text beyond its stated goal. Maybe the designers believe that no one reads quest text and thus take less care over something that apparently gets ignored routinely, or maybe this kind of poorly structured text is a clear example of why no one reads it in the first place, but removing any suspense in this way can only propagate the lack of time given to become more immersed in MMORPG quests.

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