Six Ideas for Your Next Player Hosted Event
by Tyler Edwards, May 9, 2012
Perhaps you're feeling a bit burnt out with your current MMO of choice. You've cleared all the newest content and the next patch is still weeks away. You could take a break, but you still enjoy playing with your friends. What's the solution? A player hosted in-game event. For those with a little creativity, there's no need to wait on a developer for something to do. You and your friends can make your own entertainment. Here are just a few ideas for the kind of in-game events that can bring new life to an old game.
6: Player race (clothes optional):
A race is one of the simpler ideas for a player hosted event around, but it's plenty fun. All you need is a bunch of interested friends and someone willing to put up a prize for the winner. Depending on your friends' temperaments, you might not even need the prize. Some might do it just for fun, and some have even held races with higher goals in mind. Then, you set a common starting point, a finish line, and a time, and watch the madness commence.
Aside from being a fun challenge for your friends, it's a good way to get out and explore the virtual world of your MMO of choice. Sometimes it's good to just run around the world and appreciate the detail developers put into their environments.
To make things more interesting, it's generally a good idea to restrict the race to newly created or otherwise low level alts, who don't have as much access to travel conveniences like mounts. To add an extra degree of difficulty, you can set the race route through areas designed for characters much higher level than the race participants.
To save on repair costs in such situations, players often strip their characters naked, leading to the unique sight of dozens of nude newbs jogging through the woods with all the monsters of the wild nipping at their heels. Even if repair costs aren't a concern, you can always specify clothing optional anyway. It's bound to make things more entertaining, especially if you're playing Age of Conan.
5: Fashion contest:
Looking good is important, even in a virtual world. But what's even more important is looking better than all your friends, and having the loot to prove it.
To that end, many players have started holding in-game fashion contests with extravagant prizes of gold and goodies to the people with the most stylish toons. These can range in size from a small gathering among friends to huge, server wide contests for dozens or perhaps hundreds of players.
All you need to hold an in-game fashion contest is at least one impartial judge and someone with enough in-game wealth to provide prizes. It also helps to play a game with a lot of options for customizing your character's clothes and gear, but it can still work in any game with a reasonable level of gear diversity.
If you want to shake things up, you can offer prizes for criteria other than just style. Offer prizes for most ridiculous outfit, most difficult to acquire outfit, most colors on a single character, or any other theme you care to dream up.
For games with extensive character customization, you could also expand the contest to include all aspects of character design. You could even remove gear from the equation entirely and hold a "beauty pageant." Or an ugly pageant, if that's your preference.
Of course, in any competitive setting with subjective judging, there's the risk of people being sore losers and arguing with the decisions of the judge(s), but a few bad apples shouldn't be allowed to stop you from having fun.
4: Treasure hunt:
A great way to take advantage of the vastness of MMO content is to send your friends on a treasure hunt. Come up with a list of in-game items and offer rewards to the first players to bring them to you.
One of the best things about a treasure hunt is that it can provide so many different experiences for the people involved depending on what items you send them after. You can choose a list of fairly easy to acquire items for some quick amusement. You can pick insanely rare items and have people search for weeks on end - not for those with impatient friends. If your friends are into player versus player, you can send them after items that are only available deep in the territory of an enemy faction, and if they're big raiders, you can instruct them to find items found only in raid content.
Auction houses and other methods of in-game trade can make treasure hunts a bit too easy, but there are a few ways around this. You can send people after items that are rarely if ever found at auction. You can simply prohibit people from acquiring your target items through trade - you'll have to rely on the honor system, but if you don't trust your friends to abide by that, maybe you need new friends. Or you can simply decide all's fair in love and war and let them hunt with their gold instead of their legs.
3: Bounty hunt:
A bounty hunt - the treasure hunt's bloodthirsty cousin, works in much the same way. Instead of hunting items, you dispatch people to hunt other players.
This all but requires playing on a PvP server or in a game where free for all PvP is the norm. If you're the sort of person who would be interested in hunting other players for sport, odds are you're already in such a setting.
You can choose your victims based on any criteria you want. You could even just set a specific number of kills instead of assigning specific targets. But perhaps there's a certain Horde player who ganked and teabagged you last week. Maybe there's a Guardian who won't stop killing your low level alts. Maybe it's time for bloody justice.
Another option is to set your friends a challenge. Perhaps there's a certain enemy player on your server with a reputation of being unstoppable. He's ganked everyone in your faction at least once, and his enemies quake when they catch sight of his over geared form. It would bring great glory to your guild if they were to defeat him, and perhaps a reward on his head is just the motivator they need.
The one issue with a bounty hunt - aside from the risk of reprisal - is that it can be difficult to verify kills. You'll likely have to rely on screenshots transmitted outside of the game, or else following your friends around at all times until they kill their targets.
2: Mass PvP:
These days, most player versus player combat in MMOs takes place in structured PvP environments, such as instanced battlegrounds or dedicated PvP zones. And these are all well and good, but there is something to be said for random violence for its own sake with nothing to lose but pride and nothing to gain but glory.
Of course, you could just go out ganking on your own, what's the point of playing a massively multiplayer game if you don't do things on a massive scale? Better to round up everyone who will come and unleash your own private army on all who would oppose you.
There are a couple forms this can take. You can attempt to invade enemy territory, perhaps with a specific goal in mind, like killing a certain NPC or sacking a town. Alternatively, you can coordinate with the opposite faction for a contest of wills at a place of mutual agreement.
Half collaborative writing project and half acting exercise, role play may sometimes get odd looks from the average gamer, but for a significant section of players, RP is one of the most entertaining things you can do in an MMO.
The nice thing about roleplaying is that it can be anything you want it to be. You can weave tales of love, humor, heroism, terror, or anything else your imagination can conjure. You can follow the game's own lore or create a story uniquely your own. There's no limit; it's like an endless stream of new content.
There's no barrier to entry, either. Anyone with a few likeminded friends and the creativity to build their own character can role play.
Role playing has a long tradition, going back to the pen and paper RPGs from which video game RPGs drew their inspiration. It's where the RPG in MMORPG comes from. When you think about it, you could argue that the people who don't role play in an MMO are stranger than those that do - they're ignoring a fundamental aspect of the genre.
In the end, what makes a fun event is all down to personal preference. RP is obviously not for everyone. But it has more tradition, more potential, and arguably more popularity than any other type of player event, and so it earns the top spot on our list.