Most RPGs contain several cookie-cutter NPCs that look alike and spout useless information. This is an attempt to fill space; to give an illusion of life to the scene. What if we cut this out? What if we only had unique NPCs? What if we took the time to give every NPC a personality? What if we let the character get know these NPCs and grow an affection for or hate these NPCs. Then, we have created this relationship between the player and the game that will cause the quests that they give to the player have more of an impact on their emotional state while experiencing the game. The idea of creating a relationship between in-game characters and the player is by no way a new concept, but is one that is for the most part lost in online RPGs. If you could add in these relationships, then a whole new world of deep and meaningful quests (as well as relevant to the player as he/she now feels like she knows them) will open to you.
I hope this rant helps
On the topic of player created quests:
I believe it is entirely possible. This could be carried out in contracts. Simply, you could set the type of quest - Hunt, Gather, Explore, whatever - then set the requirements then the rewards, have the player post them, and then someone would come along, accept the quest, complete it, and turn in the contract. This could be easily achieved through a central hub, such as a location in your game called something like the 'Adventurer's Guild'. Anything will do along these lines. This is only one idea, I'm sure there are tons of other options to choose from if you just sit and ponder it a bit more. I also noticed you were looking for an incentive for players to provide/use the quest service. Well, you could have a point system associated with the quest system.
You have a quest system comprising of quests given by NPCs. Upon completion of these quests, you are given your reward and a number of what we will call Quest Tokens (QT), dependent upon the difficulty of the quest. Once you have built up enough of these Quest Tokens, you may post a quest in the Guild's Contract Board, and offer these QT as a reward. One could trade these QT for other items from this Adventurer's Guild, or for gold, etc. The possibilities are endless.'
Oh, and if you removed all story-telling elements of a quest, then it would lose its relevance to the player. There has to be a reason why the player is doing what he/she is doing. Without reason, why do?
Edited by MichaelRPennington, 14 September 2012 - 08:38 PM.
I'm not sure if this could be considered on-topic, but, going off of this NPC talk we're getting into, the delivery of the quest is also important. As Servant of the Lord said, adding depth and character to our NPCs could not only enhance the player experience, but open a gateway to allow ourselves to expand upon the content of the quests and the player's immersion into the game.
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.
Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.
Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.