So I've been doing all the quests, and got the quest cape for the first time yesterday. And it's made me think about one thing in particular: post quest implementation, and why it's so variable for different series.
By post quest implementation I mean what happens to fulfil the ending of a story. In a traditional book, this would be the epilogue, where you find out what happened to a few of the key characters now that the main issues of the story have been resolved. It tends to be a way for the author to tie up loose ends without having to worry about shoehorning them into earlier parts of the story, and it can also provide a helpful sense of closure to readers.
In games, post quest implementation is quite different. Something like RuneScape, or any game with an open world, requires the effects of story resolution to be played out in the world after the story is over. So for example in a game like TES: Oblivion, 'Oblivion Gates' must stop appearing in the main world once the quest to stop them appearing is complete. However, some stories can be a lot more difficult to fulfil than others: frequently, stories are resolved not simply by removing a threat, but by changing what was done before.
However, RuneScape and other games are not always very good at this. At the moment, I'm thinking of one particularly clear example (there are others, but this is unusually simple to explain). First, the 'Brink of Extinction' quest with the TzHaar gives a variety of good reasons not to use Tokkul, and the leader/representative of the TzHaar people says they will no longer use it as a currency, but pass it into the sacred lava. All well and good, and for a book you would be able to end it there, because since he's said it, he will surely do it. Not so in-game. Currently, TzHaar-Mej-Jeh has said they'll stop using Tokkul, but when asked to recharge a ring he gave you, says "Certainly! That'll be 50,000 Tokkul."
This is problematic, particularly because updates by Jagex over the years make it very difficult to make sense of this dissonance. The only ways to acquire Tokkul, since it is bizarrely untradeable, are to kill TzHaar or acquire it from them by succeeding in battles they set up. This means that you cannot morally acquire the substance.
Equally, it isn't as though Jagex couldn't solve it. A small amount of work could have seen Tokkul made newly tradeable for those who had done the quest, or had the TzHaar learn to exchange money with gems instead, or uniquely carved obsidian tokens, or whatever. But that didn't happen.
RuneScape, oddly, isn't the only game that does this sort of thing. Skyrim had an issue with its main quest, which was all about stopping a dragon invasion of the world. Once you defeated the head dragon, and resolved the plot, the dragons continued to invade the world. That such a widely sold game never had such a simple change made by its developers seems bizarre.
Why is it that this happens? Is it because game developers think too much like novel writers and forget that they need to tie up loose ends? Is it because those doing the quest don't think further than the quest, and see it as an isolated instance in what is in reality an open world? Maybe they just forget about the area, because they aren't developing content for it? Or perhaps it's because they feel too stretched for time and resources to make that change, when it would appear to be one of the easiest ways to make the impact of the story known. I don't know. But it's a shame post quest implementation is so often weak.
Jagex can do post quest implementation well: The World Wakes has been managed admirably. But it's a shame that this is the exception, not the rule. Why is it sometimes done so poorly, when it can be done so well?