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.