Unheralded, Turbine solved a technical issue very neatly. (I may need some sort of conditional tense there, because some things break under pressure, but let’s assume it keeps working.) When you enter an instance, one or more quests pop up on the quest tracker, without your having talked to an NPC. Nothing fancy there, but let me explain the problems solved.
First, this is how you see hard mode in dungeons. In WoW, you turn on Heroic difficulty, but hard modes in The Lord of the Rings Online™ come from completing the dungeons without doing X, Y, or Z. Say, defeat the boss of Fil Gashan without alerting three scouts (stealth assault). Long-time players know what hard mode is for each dungeon, but players had to work it out by trial-and-error in Moria. This is one of the reasons so many exploits were found and used: no one knew what was supposed to happen, but it turns out this works and gets you a radiance piece.
One hard mode was obvious, because there was a quest that spelled it out. The intent was to have that quest-giver cycle through the hard mode quests on successive days, gradually offering six quests with a de facto daily hard mode dungeon. That did not work, so there was just the one, although you could do any hard mode any day. Late in Moria, they worked out that tech, so one fellow cycled through hard mode quests and another offered other dungeon quests like “kill 100” or “kill the boss.” This new tech simplifies that: everyone always gets the hard mode quest (once a day?), no one needs to plan ahead, and it is clear what you need to do to get hard mode. It is a great improvement.
(It is not 100% bug-free. We tried to fail hard mode on the Grand Stairs, to complete some quests and deeds, and half the group still got credit for it upon killing the final boss.) (I also note that, if it is a daily, the 1/day is to complete it, not attempt it. You can lose hard mode, beat the final boss normally, then go back and try again. It may be possible to exploit by ignoring hard mode, beating everything except the final boss, then quitting the group and re-joining one at a time to reset everyone’s hard mode quest. We have yet to test that, but it looks feasible for some hard modes where the hard mode condition is before the final boss.)
This is also how the system encourages you to try a variety of skirmishes. When you enter a skirmish, you get a daily quest to beat it. The first time you do so per skirmish per day, bonus marks! I respect building in encouragement not to grind the fun out of one optimized activity.
Visiting the re-done Garth Agarwen last night was the first time I saw multiple quests upon entering the instance. It popped up hard mode for Ivar and then another for killing hillmen. The goal of the instance is to beat Ivar, but here are two bonus options, free for walking in the door. One is more or less free, a bonus you get half-way through, because you will kill your metaphorical ten rats well before you get to Ivar.
This also cleans up the quest tracker, neatening the interface. All your other quests are hidden when the instance quests pop up. They come back once you exit the instance. Distraction gone, but UI restored once you’re out. The only oddity is that it will hide other quests that take you into that instance (say “kill 75 in Grand Stairs”) upon entrance, pop them up as you progress or complete them, then re-hide them once you exit. It would be ideal if the system could recognize those in-instance quests in your log and open/close them as appropriate; I am not sure if it is ideal to hide or leave them open upon exit, so you remember to turn them in, and how that might interact with having several quests “locked” open (what with the tracker display cap) (and what do we do with incompletes? This kind of thing is why meetings drag on as you work out details).
I have yet to test whether it all still works if your quest log is full or if your inventory is full when the quest is supposed to award you something.
It’s a simple thing, but I am sure it was not simple to program, and we can spare (under) a thousand words to praise a solid quality-of-life improvement. Good work.
Would it be better to adapt all the quests in dungeons to this system? The crafting instances seem a natural place for it. It would be nice not to have the dungeon quests starting in the 21st Hall consuming a dozen slots in your quest log, but this seems designed for daily quests not one-time ones.