Note: This is a continuation from my last post. You may wish to read that one first.
So while I'm talking about things MUDs do wrong, here's another one: quests. Though quests in MUDs are more epic, and not so much like errands, they're still extremely flawed. First of all, any repeatable 'errand' needs to be removed, and quest points also.
What I propose instead is a simpler system similar to achievements and reputation found in most graphical MMOs. Instead of getting quests from quest givers, you can see a list of all available quests at any time.
For immersion's sake, if you wish to attach it to a town-hall signpost I understand - as long as it's available throughout the game, and not just in one localized spot. The point is to remove the inconvenience of travel. In a graphical MMO, traveling can mean something, since even passing through an area gives you a taste of the zone. But in a text-based environment that's just not the way it is; so eliminate wasteful traffic as much as possible.
Back to the 'questing' topic: Having a list of checklist of goals instead of repeatable quests gets rid of the problem of players only taking the most efficient quests over and over again, or of a particular quest becoming boring. Besides, there are only so many bandit leaders; shouldn't they all be dead by now?
There could be long and short goals, such as "talk to all the town mayors" with a sublist of each town who's constable you need to talk to. (Green for completed and red for incomplete maybe?) Smaller, simpler quests could be "Kill 10 bandits and the bandit leader" coupled with "Bring three bandit insignias to the Constable of Suchandsuch Town." Items which incite hidden goals might well be available; a map used by the bandits to plan an attack could well be found at their base, and upon looking at it players would gain an incomplete goal to tell the constable of the impending attack.
It would also be a good time to implement triggered events: Upon telling the constable, an event would start where bandits spawned all around town, along with town guards, and would fight. Of course they would require player interaction to die (as NPCs resolving their own disputes is both unheard of and unfun!) and you would gain an additional complete goal for participating in a successful defense. (How you would fail the defense, I don't know. Time limit, I guess?)
Completed goals would give you a set amount of points. Most should only give 1 point to avoid inflation and the confusion of having to count your zeroes. Instead of spending points to gain items, you simply gain access to better items as you gain more goal points. That is: items are free once you gain enough points, and bound to your character.
This also helps to regulate newbies. Even a player who is bad at combat can gain a simple set of items (better than the level 1 newbie gear) by completing non-combat goals. As they gain more goal-rewarded gear, they can start to complete the simpler combat goals without feeling too overwhelmed due to lack of experience. This will help them to get used to your MUDs combat, and then they can move onto the harder, more advanced combat goals.
Lastly, I'll touch on dialogue: Making people type "talk to Geryn" or "say Geryn quest" is stupid. Not only stupid, but clunky and it lacks immersion. It would be much more professional to give a dialogue option. "Talk to Geryn" would prompt the following:
"Good day, adventurer! Darn bandits are out in the lots today..."
0) End Dialogue
1) "What bandits? I haven't seen any bandits."
2) "Where might they be? I'll go hunt some down for you!"
3) "Serves you right - learn to hold a sword and maybe you won't be so afraid!"
4) "Do you know where I might find the town hall?"
And then you would use 0-4 to 'chat' with NPC Geryn, with 0 (or leaving the room or talking to another NPC) taking your number keys out of dialogue-lock and returning them to whatever they do ordinarily.
Edit 8/25: I found a mud that uses this dialogue system, and I'm very proud of it. I still think they're too wordy, and their use of color is appalling, but one step at a time! It also uses the combat system from my last post.