This is not the quest that turns the tide of the war; it never is

| Monday, September 16, 2013
When you get down to it, the GW2 hearts are quests. They're a lot more flexible than WoW quests, but they are ultimately quests. At this place, do this or these things. Yet there is a key difference that I think makes GW2 quests superior. It's in the quest text.

It's not the lack of quest text. They have that too, if you hover over the heart. They even send you letters, which is better than needing to trek back to the quest giver through the bandits that you supposedly wiped out but have since respawned. But that's not the big improvement.

Quests in WoW were almost always about advancing. Complete this quest and you'll have changed the world. You assassinated the enemy leader, smashed their army, and saved the day. This then looks ridiculous when everything has respawned. WoW dealt with this with a mix of phasing and ignoring it.

Quests in GW2 are almost always about maintenance. Sometimes they are literally that, including fixing broken equipment (which I suppose are repairs rather than maintenance and the accounting department is going to be on my case). Often times they're more generalized: thin the herd, keep spiders away from our apple trees, help downed patrols. All of these are things that need to be done, but none of them are the single thing that breaks through and wins the war. It's all keeping the world from collapsing, rather than raising it up. While that sounds less fun, it also makes a lot more sense in the context of a game where everything respawns. WoW dailies have this same feel, but they are dailies and therefore get no praise.

In general terms, WoW quests are written for a non-static world, while GW2 quests are written for the static world. Given that both worlds are essentially static, set pieces placed there to entertain, rather than to be remade by players, it makes a lot more sense to write the quests to fit the static world. In effect, by accepting that it is a theme park they make it look less like a theme park.

Even the dynamic events fit into this. Something shows up to go on a rampage and we stop it or don't. If we don't, then there is an event to clean up or retake lost ground. Alternatively, if we capture something, we then get an event to defend it. The enemies actually fight back and can do so successfully. If events simply reset, then we'd have the illusion of progress. Instead, we can actually make progress, taking and holding ground, but if we heroes wander away for too long it falls apart. It is temporary, but it is not illusionary.

[edited for a bit of grammar]

6 comments:

Rowan Blaze said...

Good stuff. I always liked doing the heart quests, until Anet gamified it all with the daily acheesments.

VinciblePerson said...
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Azuriel said...

I'm not sure that the GW2 method is as good as you're making it out to be. In both cases, the player finishes the quests and moves on - usually never to return. Thus, the "problem" only ever occurs if mobs respawn in the window between quest completion and exiting the area.

The result is what you describe: I feel like something was accomplished vs I just did some chores. Did I really accomplish anything? Nope. But since I'm not coming back again anyway, the fiction is easy to maintain.

Javier Agud said...
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Yamael said...

GW2 hearts fail completely to engage me. They feel like I reach somewhere and there are these big wooden signs everywhere:

HELP NEEDED:
- Feeding the cows
- Watering the plants
- Killing worms
Will pay with good Karma

There's no personality, no real meaning behind any of this. It's like you helped a bit to earn bread and a bed then moved on leaving things as they were. The journey can be fun but there is no destination.

In a game like WoW, if you can suspend your disbelief a bit, you will feel like you are part of a story, and that your actions will have consequences in the short and long term. There is a journey and there is a destination.

Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel: Between gathering and events, there are reasons that players may return. Though if we're going that route, then it's even worse with WoW, where things like pet battles and transportation in general had me constantly returning to places that I'd supposedly changed.

The "problem" seems to occur very often, at least in my experience. If anything GW2 seems to have excessively high respawn rates, but those are hard to tune, since even if I should be able to fight into a cave and walk out, there is someone else trying to do the same not long after me.

@Yamael: I know what you mean, at least for some areas. Queensdale didn't catch my interest. It works better in the areas with a larger overall conflict to tie into, such as fighting the centaur in several zones, particularly since the hearts often overlap with dynamic events.

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