Are you guys watching Westworld on HBO? If not, go do it. Find a way to watch it! It’s fantastic, and one of my favorite things about it is how unbelievably similar to designing and running a MUD or MMO the show is.
For those unfamiliar, the tl;dr is that customers come to this fake world populated by entities indistinguishable (mostly) from real people. They’re some kind of organic-digital combo that exist in this fairly vast area based on a fictionalized and dramatic version of the American Old West. Cowboys, prostitutes, gun fights, treasure hunts, etc.
Many of these NPCs (non-player characters) are the exact equivalent of well-done quest-givers in a MUD or MMO. Of course, they don’t have big exclamation points over their heads (and neither do NPCs in Iron Realms games) but many of them are explicitly designed to involve the customers in storylines.
I don’t want to talk specifics and spoil anything for you, but there’s a moment in the first episode where a customer basically ruins a storyline by just deciding to start killing. It was by no means intentionally funny, but I was almost rolling on the floor. We had this big story-based event in Achaea once based on contact with an alien race. We had some fun diplomacy going, with players and NPCs trying to suss each other out….when, predictably, someone came along and just started killing the aliens.
Anyway, go watch it!