Well I got a message from Ryzom player Xarae telling me to go check out her scenario in the Ryzom Ring. The Ryzom Ring is a fantastic set of tools that allows a player to create their own missions and role-play events to be played by other players. City of Heroes has received a lot of buzz lately for it's Mission Architect system, but Ryzom had them beat by about 2 years.
Unlike the Mission Architect, the Ryzom Ring has barely been touched by players AND designers, for many reasons. There are still some bugs in the system, and it's not the easiest system to work easily, but overall it works really well. The proof? The mission made by Xarae was fantastic, and even had multiple endings that I can go back and see.
I have always been in the camp that thinks that SOME KIND of rewards or XP should be able to be given out for playing these missions. Something...ANYTHING. (I am aware that actual rewards would be hard to implement, being that the Ring is cross-server.) While someone like me really enjoys the role-play aspect of it, I should think that most players don't give much of a poo about another player's abilities to tell a story. They want something out of their time, and that's fine.
I think, though, that most players have more of a fear of players unfairly grinding XP than a fear of role-playing. The worst thing you can do to a player is to tell them that another player might be able to gain levels faster than him/her, or that another player has some kind of "upper hand." I don't want to get too far into why I get so mad at players worrying so much about OTHER players, but let's just say that this kind of attitude fuels anger towards cool systems like cash shops (they're "unfair") or XP being handed out in the Ryzom Ring ("..players will grind XP.")
Let's get to a list:
1) Players will grind XP if it is allowed in the Ring: No, they won't, with simple stop-blocks and rules. You could place a simple timer on the event, making the XP gain not worth waiting for a lock-out timer to go away. You can do the mission once a day, or just ONCE. After all, it is basically a part of a story. You could also simply make the XP gain dependent on how long the mission takes, so that a player cannot gain the XP for just going inside the mission and killing the boss. Again, these are just simple ideas off the top of my head that could simply help discourage (or make impossible) players "abusing" the system by gaining too much XP too fast.
2) Who CARES if they grind XP?: This is a concern for many players, which I get, but the other option is to have what is happening now (players ignore the Ring.) Again, letting the few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. Do what City of Heroes is doing and kick the heck outta' those that exploit. If they can do it in City of Heroes, they can do it in a community that is much, much smaller like Ryzom. And even if some fall through the cracks and gain some fast XP, then let it be. I have had this argument a million times and don't want to start it again here, but there is a fine line between players grinding in a way that is "wrong" and players that grind EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ryzom is FILLED with a grind..we all know this. It's a lovely game with amazing things and new things being done to it, but there is no way to gain levels other than killing things, crafting things, digging things..over and over and over. No missions (although there are lower level ones now) means this game is a "grind" to gain levels already.
Point being that we are punishing the Ryzom Ring and it's potential because of fear of players that might gain XP faster than normal. As though getting a group together, going out in the wilds and killing the same things over and over is any more nuanced or noble. More fun? Yes, to me, but I can't tell others how to have their fun. And yes, going out into the wilds with a group is what the game IS about, so a simple fix encouraging players to group in the Ring would be the same thing.
Look, we all want to have players in the world, grouping up and leveling. But let's be really honest here: there would be nothing wrong with allowing players to create a section of the world that the same thing can be done, but with the stamp of their own creativity. I know about the fears of players no longer playing IN the actual game, out in the world, or of players that only make missions for themselves and their friends. But right now in game you need a group, usually a group of friends/guildies, and you go out and grind for hours. Most players exist in an "instance" called a friends/guild list right now.
Now, I know there are plenty of other issues that prevent the Ring from working properly. I also know that there are other things that can be done to encourage the use of the Ring, like fixing all possible bugs and allowing scenarios to be ran while the creator is offline. But if CoH can do it, and have it be a creative tool for players to make thier own content with, then so can Ryzom.
I just hope we get past the fear of "grinding XP" (as though everyone can sit for hours JUST grinding, and couldn't refuse the chance to do so) so that we can start adding rewards/XP to the Ring. It needs to be used more, players like Xarae and her fantastic mission need to be seen.
Go log in and play her mission, help her test it and try to see all the endings. She is in-game, usually, and would happy to answer any questions.