Playing for the quest completion sound

| Monday, August 6, 2012
On Friday I wondered about nostalgia, and lack thereof, resulting in comments pointing toward the quest design as a possible culprit.  Maybe they were on to something.

What's the big deal with quests?  Is it the story?  The bonus experience and gold?  The tendency to point toward mobs of approximately our level?  Maybe we simply need the structure, being lost and despairing without it, incapable of figuring out who to murder or not without direction.

Everquest was a game strangely lacking in explicit quests, instead being a sort of "make your own quest" game, by which I mean "kill ten million charizards" (my gut tells me that's a creature from Everquest and nothing I've looked for disagrees).  WoW, being based on EQ, by which I mean it used EQ players as developers, EQ players as players, and EQ everything else, actually didn't always have a lot of quests.  Early leveling had quests, but they ran out and players were thrust into the wilderness of plagued lions and glacial slimes (my gut tells me I made those up and it's usually right).  During testing they found that players preferred the quests to the grinding.  Somehow killing ten snow meese (little-know plural of moose) was okay if someone gave a quest for it.

I propose science.  Using a time machine, go back and beat up WoW developers until they do what we say.

First, remove story.  Reduce quests to nothing beyond "kill # of [thing]" and don't even give a name to the location, just a dot on the map.  See if people still do quests.  Since that's how people quest these days, maybe we can skip this round of developer-punching.  If players still quest, it will suggest that non-story elements are sufficient to drive quest-following behavior, though it does not mean that story does not also contribute.

Second, remove the experience bonus and other rewards such as gold, gear, and reputation.  If players still do quests, then it suggests that non-reward aspects are sufficient.

Continue on, beating up developers and removing aspects from quests.  Remove both story and rewards.  Remove the level-appropriate aspect (vanilla already got that part in a few).  Throw enough science at the wall and something is bound to stick.

And then I'll know why my paladin won't just fly up to the Grizzly Hills and fight bears among the wonderful scenery and beautiful music without a quest telling her to do so.


Unknown said...

I find there is a correlation between the time it takes to kill a single mob (there is a three letter abbreviation for it which I can't remember right now) and the amount of fun derived from doing so repeatedly. I guess when they discovered people liked doing quests because of the feeling of completion/achievement, they kept nerfing the relative strength of the common quest mob to get the "quest juice" flowing more steadily. Since they implemented daily quests in late TBC, I remember always looking for a place to just farm mobs in peace instead of bombing bird nests, freeing the same idiots who somehow menage to get themselves captured every day, and playing games of Simon says on a daily basis. I remember having way more fun farming elites in Tyr's Hand in vanilla (especially with the random pvp (surprise buttsecks)) element to keep it suspenseful.

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