Quests – wrong design?

[intro]Are you getting bored of questing? Game developers have been long too and have tried to make questing more interesting, but did so in the wrong way in my opinion.[/intro]

First of all let’s talk about the classic form of questing, seen in most games earlier and later. In this type of questing you will hear a story, get some instructions to pick up an item in the cellar, kill some rats somewhere (or other monsters for that matter), find another person etc etc. When you go out performing the task you have a set of objectives you complete and then you return to the person or object or go to the next object/person to deliver the quest and receive some small form of reward for it.
That is the classic form. Most games have them, especially everything before Rift, Warhammer and Guild Wars 2 (but I am sure that most single player games also use them).

I am not sure who I should give the credit for being the first creating public quests, but I believe it was Warhammer being the rightful owner of the idea. Rift made as well a form of public quests and Guild Wars 2 calls it events. Guild Wars 2 still somewhat also uses the classic form of questing through an NPC that runs towards the player and asks for help or through infamous so called “escort quests”.

Escort quests have existed through both types of questing ways and have been a real pest. Perhaps this is more of a pest in MMO’s than in single player games. In MMO’s you will always have the problem of server lag (server doesn’t register the NPC on the right location or doesn’t register you being near the NPC), silly pathing resets (after killing the enemies, the NPC runs back to its last checkpoint to continue the pathing) and other mob spawns around your questing path (interrupting even more as well as possibly killing you or your NPC).

Why are we getting so easily annoyed with the current form of questing? I think that the foundation to this has to do with how many of the same type of quests are in the game. After an hour of killing a certain amount of monsters or collecting some books or other objects for players, one gets rather easily bored with it, especially when the storyline for every one of these quests seems to be the same as well. If simply the storylines were more involved into the main storyline of the game or working together with the background information of the world: easier said if it would make sense why this or that needs to be done, questing would be more interesting and enjoyable for the player.

The other element that has been annoying players is the way quests are presented nowadays. Perhaps mostly because of the way World of Warcraft presented the information that lead to that most following games did the same. The most common way to present a quest is a window with a long storyline text and a list of objectives to be completed along with the rewards to be gotten from it.

The public quests or events from the later games have eliminated the quest window and randomized the rewards, but objectives became more confusing as multiple players in the same world were performing them at the same time. Were these objectives unique, it would have helped a bit, but since everybody can deliver their own version of the required objects for example, the deeper meaning behind it has faded away.

This uniqueness is generally a problem with online games as everybody is doing the same quest as if it was a single player game. Every person in the game can complete the same objectives. That is fine with quests that are about to help in the total progress of the war for example or by helping someone bake a cake (for you). But there where unique items that were lost have to be found and collected it shouldn’t be possible to collect by the next player. Quests therem are just for a single player experience of the story.

To be continued…

Due to the size of my article I have decided to split it into two different posts. Tomorrow you will see the continuation of this article, where I will focus on the solutions to the questing annoyance problem.

Game On!

Steven

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