Quote of the Interval of Time

| Friday, September 9, 2011
I think that sometimes these books are almost a little too long to the point where the filler distracts us from the story itself. -Syp

This is all too true, not just for LOTRO or WoW, but for about any quest-based game I've ever played. We're supposed to be saving the world and somehow, we still find ourselves interrupted to dig some semi-digested cherries out of deer poop.

This doesn't mean that all side quests are bad. In WoW I would say that from level 1 to around 50 it makes sense. We're not yet heroes, but merely adventurers wandering from one adventure to the next. It isn't until the late game that we are given the "if you don't do this the world ends" goals. I meant that in the pre-Cataclysm context, when level 60 was the time of fighting the Scourge, evil dragons, and evil bugs. After that when we first cross into Outland we've dealt with the previous world-ending evils. Now we're again in search of a purpose. But again, when we get to the higher levels, we have purpose and should no longer be sent off on random tangents. But in LK I don't think this applied. We went north to deal with the Scourge and anything else was a distraction. Except maybe the little tiny matter of an old god. post-80 Cataclysm seemed to be more focused, dealing with the Twilight and Dragons, without constant side-tracking, except maybe in Uldum, which almost felt like the entire place was a side-quest.

Side quests aren't merely a dilution of the main theme. They are a distraction. Even worse,t hey break it up. Imagine trying to watch a great movie, such as any Star Wars that did not include child Anakin, but every five minutes it was interrupted by scenes from Titanic and Battlestar Galactica. Would you find it a big harder to follow the story? And would then Cloud City make very little sense, with suddenly everyone is on a mining outpost with seemingly nothing to do with the main story of becoming a Jedi and hiding after Hoth? Cloud City was a side-quest in a way, branching off the main story, rather than being a completely unrelated interruption. But would we pick that up and be able to tie it in if it was given in the context of everything being a random interruption? Many quests which seem like side-quests, unrelated to the main story, may be entirely relevant, but when we're constantly distracted, we lose track of the connecting threads, and everything falls apart.


Kring said...

This is why I loved vanilla. There was no world endangering threat at this very moment.

- You could fight Ragnaros. But you had to summon him because he was still regaining power.
- You could fight Nefarian but he was just sitting in his lair plotting something.
- Onyxia infiltrated Stormwind but she was just standing around.
- The same is true for all 5 man dungeons. Yes, there were some evil guys but none of them threatened to leave the dungeon to take over the world.
- In Zul they were working on rebirthing Hakkar.

The list could go on and on.

They all weren't a threat at this very moment and if you killed them today or in 5 years didn't mater. I liked that.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'd really like it better if we weren't cast as "heroes saving the world" but just "adventurers in search of adventure and phat lewts." It makes a lot more sense that an adventurer might be passing notes between NPCs or bouncing bears on trampolines or occasionally fighting dragons, elemental lords and old gods.

Klepsacovic said...

@Kring: Were you mostly Alliance or Horde? This is a good example of faction-specific raiding motivation (if we cared about lore). The the Horde, Ragnaros and his evil dwarf minions were a secondary problem, while the Dark Horde and by extension Black Dragonflight were immediate threats, both as a challenge to the legitimacy of the Horde and because Onyxia moved in very near Orgrimmar.

These days threats seem to be more generalized. Even the Scourge was a more immediate danger to the Alliance and Forsaken, while the Silithids were a threat to the Horde and Night Elves, creating an interesting sort of diplomacy.

Kring said...

Alliance, so I can't comment on the Horde side.

But I don't remember any "boss" that was like "either we kill him here and today or he will wipe the world". It was more along the line of "oh, those defias in the dead mines are a real problem. Thay stab people in the woods. But shit happens. I'm not the local sheriff and I didn't upset them." Arthas did some evil things but he was gone. It didn't matter if you clean out the pestlands today or tomorrow or in a year. Dire maul was occupied by eveil forces forever. It wouldn't even matter if my generation takes care about that or the next one.

When I wanted the cleanse the world of some evil I had the chance to do so. But I didn't feel bad for harvesting some grapes for a women or helping a young boy to get a stealth potion to secretly meet his love.

With TBC you were constantly under attack. During the whole expansion. Which sucked balls. If I wanted that crap I would play some CoD or whatever. It's "WORLD of warcraft" and not just "WAR".

WotLK had Arthas and whenever I did something stupid, like jousting to get a pet or even killing my horde friends in a stupid tournament I felt bad. There was this sucker raising undeads on a daily basis. He would constantly increase his army. And we are going to stab each other to death so he can raise even more?

Klepsacovic said...

In TBC we at least had the buffer room of it being another planet. If things went horribly wrong, there was a pretty small choke point, the Dark Portal. Beside that, we were explorers in a sense. No one had brought back any intel to Azeroth in a very long time. In that scenario, it makes sense to have some people, particularly people who are experienced in random wandering, away from the main battles to go see what they can find.

On the Horde side, finding the Mag'har was of great importance, if not militarily, at least culturally and historically. If we focused solely on inch by inch battles, we'd not have gotten to Nagrand so quickly.

Azuriel said...

The irony is that while this post is true, the actual problem is that WoW is an MMO. If there was not an expectation that you would still be playing this game 7000+ hours from now (seriously, add up your /played sometime) then the actual narrative could be tightened up a bit.

Cut out the "distracting" bits and you would literally lose months of (bad) content.

Klepsacovic said...

Good point. But I wonder if the reshuffling the quests could help. What if the side-quests were either put entirely before the "save the world" quests" or entirely after? Before, they would be training and proving grounds, aka: leveling. After, they would be cleaning up and rebuilding the world. But maybe having a concentrated time of non-epic content would drive people away. I've yet to see a FPS that has any content devoted to coming home after the war and dealing with PTSD and an elevated unemployment rate.

*vlad* said...

I love the way the DK storyline completely falls apart as soon as you are out of the starting area.
You are a former mind-slave/undead champion seeking revenge on the Lich King. You go to Outlands, and come across a Troll who asks you to go fish up some eels for him, as he is bored with eating mushrooms. While you are at it, could you collect samples of the local plants for a botanist Night Elf? wtf?

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