It’s not the boars, it’s the bores

From a recent discussion about MMO-design:

I’m tired that being a hero means killing 10 boars.

The boars are not the problem, nor is killing them (except when they parry). The problem is the lack of a credible context.


Why do we kill boars? Because an NPC asked us to. It is not our goal, it is not something that we, by looking at the world in its whole and parts, decide that needs to be done, it does not even remotely contribute or assist any of our goals or things we think need to be done. We have no desire to kill the boar. It is only the NPC’s desire or goal, and they reward us for advancing their agenda by handing us XP, coin and loot, all of which only serves to help us get to the next NPC, who will then recruit us for their goals.

I had this thing in LotRO that my character particularly despised orcs (no, they didn’t kill his parents). He’d be vanquishing them wherever he encountered them due to personal motivation. It worked quite well, but was of course just a little personal gimmick, not a feature of the game itself.

WoW has a very interesting example in Sholozar Basin, where Frenzyheart and Oracles are basically acting as boars and farmers, each asking you to kill and/or annoy the respective other on a repeated daily basis. As a player, you could not care less. Your character could not care less. You just pick the faction with the cuter pet – or ignore them altogether.


There is none. And I’m not even talking about having an impact on the world, real or faked through phasing. There is no effect on the player. Because the slaying of the boars was not motivated by my own reasoning or desire, their death means ultimately nothing (harsh). Whether they respawn, or whether we are moved into a phase where all boars are dead after we killed our precisely measured amount of 10 (and where we cannot adventure with those of our friends who have not yet slain 10 boars), doesn’t make a difference. It could be either way, and it will have no impact, not on the world, but on us, because we’ll move on anyway and whether the boars are there or not will be entirely irrelevant to our future doings.

As long as we are doing what NPCs ask us to do and for no other reason than the reward the NPCs hand us for complying to their will, rather than making decisions based on our own observations and motivations and taking actions according to those decisions, everything we’ll do will carry an inevitable shade of blandness.

2 thoughts on “It’s not the boars, it’s the bores

  1. Kring

    That’s an interesting topic.

    I’ve started playing WoW back in vanilla and there are some very memorable quests, quests which meant something to me. There was Milly, who asked me to harvest her grapes in the starting area. There was the boy for whom you create the invisibility potion to allow him to sneak up to his girl friend. There was Blanchy, the hungry horse, for who you had to collect some food. Those were the quest I liked the most.

    There were those awesome quest chains like Stalvan or Linken. Quest chains you loved to complete. Not to save the world but because you were curious.

    Later on they’ve added all this “super hero” shit where you killed the most awful villains with 10 or 25 people…

    I am tired of being a hero… a hero alongside 12 million other heroes. And everyone saves the world with 9 friends… I just want to emerge into a beautiful world. I want to kill 10 board. But not because it’s again the next step in saving a burning world. I want to kill 10 boars just to make a farmer happy. A farmer that thanks me the task with his gratitude. I don’t want to kill 10 board because the farmer insists on me killing 10 boars or otherwise the quest chain cannot be completed.

    1. Rem Post author

      That’s nicely said. Although I certainly do enjoy killing dragons, I’d like my participation in dragonkilling to be part of my character’s journey in a beautiful world.

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