The problem with assigning each player to a single main quest to accomplish is that… this is a lot of main quests to write. Of course, my variation that quests are open to different players to see how they are progressing does not mean significantly less main quests must be created. I agree that the main quest needs to be part of the adventure experience. I also appreciated Alun’s thoughts about what the differences / similarities between adventures and RPGs are. Perhaps there are still more models, other alternatives as to how to approach this. I’ll think more about this today.
Another option that comes to mind immediately. That every player plays the same main quest. Once they finish one main quest, they move to the next one. This encourages players to chat in the game world, as they might ask each other for help. This means you have infinitely less main quests to write. This could ignore or use the idea of a “quest bank” that you can return the quest to. Either it doesn’t, and every player must go through each quest in order. Or it does, and you can pick the quest you want to do. If there’s 100 quests, then at first you can only choose from the first 20, the easier ones. As you complete more, more become available to you. In my opinion, if you give up a quest in this model, then the quest should reset. This would be basically the same as your original idea – except that I’m saying quests are re-useable / experienced by each player, and they’re not “assigned”. From the start, the player should choose what quest they’re going to embark on. And the idea I mentioned earlier, I think needs to somehow happen. Eventually main quests should come up that require players to work together with other players, 2 or 3 players at the most.
Something I wanted to mention on another point that also ties into the game being more reality-based is that player should have more freedom of movement, more like a 3D Shooter or an RPG than an adventure game. This may be obvious and you may agree with it, or this may not be obvious and you’ll disagree. But when there’s a fence, the player should be able to jump or climb over the fence, instead of walking all the way around it. And similar things.
More thoughts later.