I think we’ve all had these, in almost any MMO – the quest that’s just so fun, has such a nice side-perk, or is so key to the story that you’ll never want to complete it.
Today Rades looks at his “I will never” quests from WoW, from the story to the just plain fun. It’s an entertaining read, whether to pick up on quests you missed or just for the nostalgia factor…
“There’s obvious sentimental reasons for keeping the Cairne ones…they’re kind of, in in-game terms, his last words. But I also love the Garrosh quest, because it marked the first time we saw him in-game in a position of authority and responsibility. We saw him plenty in Wrath, being a brash jackass, but this quest text showed that he was turning over a new leaf and starting to think about the other mundane duties of being a leader – city repairs, bureaucracy, bills and paperwork clerical tasks…
Well, I guess we know that didn’t really work out. But it’s still fun to see what could have been.”
Read the rest of Quests I’ll Never Finish >>
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Everything old is new again. Guild Wars 2, famous for its innovative “no quests” MMO gameplay, now has a growing demand from players for old-school, kill-ten-rats quests as part of its game world.
But why? Well, there are definitely problems with the way the game works already – but does that mean that quests are the solution? Jeromai of Why I Game really doesn’t think so – and he takes the “gief quests plox” argument apart in a fascinating post looking at the problems and solutions of GW2’s current gameplay style:
“As for stories, well, even across the open world, some of the dynamic events may feel more generic than others – nameless bandits, centaurs, Inquest, Risen, whoever, just rushing to the slaughter.
But I remember Rhendak the Crazed pretty well, mostly because I keep joking he’d have to be crazy to sit all day underwater waiting for people to come by. I remember the ghosts in Barradin’s vault VERY well, because Ivor Trueshot kept pwning my lowbie and Horace still tears up my downleveled 80 and I recall them as people from Guild Wars 1. I even remember the Bane warband going on their regular ghost patrol, if only because they and my character share part of their surnames.
(I even remember that most useless group of almost-pacifist ogres that need their hand held with everything – even if I don’t remember their names.)
I think what we’d really like is to get to know some of the characters in the open world a little more. Learn their names. Hear their stories. Get involved in meaningful ways. Bring a little more personal story into the world story.”
Read the rest of the article here
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And finally, the 300-lb panda of them all – WoW. What’s been happening in Pandaria this week?
- Apple Cider looked at the question of whether the Mantids are actually the first gender-neutral, meritocratic race in WoW – “Granted, I still believe that this is by accident, but the idea of the Mantid society defining themselves by accomplishment seems more a true reflection of the Warcraft gender politics than even us as player characters are.”
- The Godmother looks at how we react to quests that give us the choice of being nice or nasty, especially when provoked – “grant you, punching him in the mouth is not the answer, in an ideal world, but I don’t like to be told to scurry off anywhere. Use your good looks for stuff other than pretending being handsome got you where you are today. Frankly, you can stump up, pal.”
- Want to know what the leader of the Horde thought when he met some Pandaren for the first time? Well, fortunately, as regular readers will know, he blogs – ” And, first impressions…well, I’ll be honest. First impressions weren’t so impressive. I mean, I realize I should know better than to jump to conclusions based on appearances, but…well…the words “roly poly” come to mind. “
- Shy looks at the question of whether off-spec healers should be nerfed, and comes to some very interesting conclusions – “Yaknow, that big ability that the boss does and everybody needs to press their cooldown button at that specific moment? Yes, that, not a ‘nice save’, pre-programmed.”
- And Big Bear Butt comes up with a really intriguing idea/prediction for some new things that the LFR loot system might allow Blizzard to do – “They could conceivably increase the chance items drop for players of lower average iLevel while reducing the chance for players decked to the nines.”
And look – no reputations!
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As sometimes happens, there was too much coolness in the blogosphere to squeeze into one week! So, here’s some great bonus reads to see you into the weekend.
- Theck hits the nail on the head with one very pointed question – what’s going on with Blizzard’s design of profession bonuses? – “My name is Theck, and I’m an Engineer.I feel like that admission belongs in a support group for underprivileged tanks. Because admitting that you’re a tank with Engineering is tantamount to admitting that you’re willfully giving up effectiveness. “
- Gazimoff is curious about the evolution of the MMORPG playerbase into nomadic gamers – “is becoming the nomad the natural evolution of the MMO player? Do we tend to stick with our first title for years, only for the time we spend with future titles to become progressively shorter?”
- And Killed In A Smiling Accident would like to help MMO developers out, with a template for every MMORPG quest, ever – _“By all the DEITIES/ANCIENT_RELICS, a HERO_TYPE! Here, in REGION! I can’t believe my luck, here am I with PROBLEM_A, and here you are, a HERO_TYPE, with exactly the HERO_TYPE_SKILLS required to solve PROBLEM_A. I’ve tried to get NPC_GROUP_A to help, but unfortunately they couldn’t manage it, due to IMPLAUSIBLEREASON.”
Have a great weekend!
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Yeah, I know it’s not an MMO. Skyrim is as single-player as a single-player thing – but it has managed to capture the attention, wallet and keyboard of a good chunk of the MMORPG blogosphere, and for good reason.
Today, we’ve got three great posts from three major MMO blogs, all revolving around the question of the moment – what does Skyrim have that MMOs lack?
- Tobold is talking about challenge, story, and epeen, and the way Skyrim prioritises those three things – “But if killing the mammoth becomes about killing the mammoth, and not about the reward on offer, that challenge can be on offer to anybody, regardless of level. And if it takes a lower level player half an hour of kiting that mammoth to kill it, it just makes for a better story than any “kill 10 mammoths” quest in other games.”
- Melmoth at Killed in a Smiling Accident loves the feeling of freedom from questing – “I didn’t need to delve deep into the dwarven ruins I discovered last night, there was no importunate question mark floating above a head, or in a quest log; no expectation haunted my every step, no imperious demand that I perform such and such a feat, in this manner, at this time, in this place, with these tools, and where all other endeavours would be considered void. “
- And Nils is going point-by-point on what all the top MMOs can learn from the Skyrim experience – “Narratives which are scattered all over the world are superior to one singular story. Blizzard already acknowledged this with MoP when they announced to make a 180 degree turnaround back to vanilla WoW. Exploration rules! The world can never be too large.”
What else could MMOs learn from Skyrim? And do you think they will?
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It’s not just WoW which is being dissected today. With the shine starting to come off RIFT a bit, we’re seeing more commentary about RIFT’s choices too – good and bad – and the ways in which it could improve.
Top of the list are its plethora of talent choices. Initially hailed as a huge advance over WoW, people are starting to ask if the uber-customisable talent system is actually as good a thing as it appears – some are afraid of making the wrong choice, others simply bewildered.
There’s a larger issue here, and developer Brian “Psychochild” Green is taking it on today with a post on choice, and whether having more or less in a game is a better option –
“Going back to Wilhelm’s post, we see that sometimes choice leads to heartache; he writes about how in RIFT he anticipates “that a few months down the road somebody will say, ‘LOL noob! You went with beastmaster/champion/warlord for warrior DPS?’” In other words, he worries that his choices might be poor, particularly in the eyes of other players.
In this light, the problem with choice is that there’s the potential to make the wrong choice. Usually there’s someone out there who has figured everything out, run the math, chosen the ideal variables, and can explain which option is considered “the best”. Anyone not conforming to these choices is an idiot or worse. Depending on the attitude of the community, this can lead to anything from verbal abuse to being specifically excluded from groups. Add in the pressures to “fit in” that most people feel and choice can seem a problem for some people. Choice tends to get limited own to a few “right” answers for many people.”
It’s interesting that Psychochild focusses on external influence and peer pressure as the main reason to dislike choice. There’s also a well-known problem in everything from interface design to being a chef at a restaurant – past a certain, comparatively small, point of choice, users or consumers start to find too many choices offputting. A restaurant with a hundred dishes often won’t do as well as one with two. There’s an element of decision fatigue at work here, and I wonder if many RIFT players are just finding their talents… tiring.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the blogosphere, Gazimoff of Mana Obscura has returned to RIFT, and whilst he’s enjoying a lot of it, one aspect is chafing him badly – quest design –
“Almost anyone who’s played through an MMO knows what boomerang quests are, but I’ll explain with an example. You approach a small group of friendly NPCs on the coastline. One of them tells you that there’s a cave up ahead filled with smugglers, and would like your help to remove them. You agree to go off and kill ten Smuggler Pirates and ten Smuggler Pistoliers.
After wading through the cave you return to the NPC, who then asks you to head back out again. Only this time she wants you to kill Smuggler Corsairs and Smuggler Captains. You fight your way back into the cave, killing more Pirates and Pistoliers just to get to your Corsairs. Annoying, right?
On your return, the NPC sees you coated in the blood and bodily fluids of the best part of fifty pirates. Not satisfied she asks you for one last thing. Kill Smuggler Chief Spalding, who resides right at the back of the cave. At this point you swear at the screen and weigh up just telling her to get lost.”
I don’t generally feel that the WoW Cataclysm redesign was, on balance, a success, but as Gazimoff says, the fact that it has mostly eliminated “boomerang questing” is a definite bonus. Personally, I’d like to just see the world react a bit more like a world – as it stands, unless you kill Smuggler Chief Spalding whilst you have the quest so to do, it’s not relevant to the NPC who wants him dead. Why?
If I could just hack through an area, spot that there’s a guy clearly in charge, take him out to be on the safe side, and subsequently have the NPC say “And I also need you to kill – “ -looks at head #15 of 45 – “oh, wait, never mind. You got him.” – that would be a major quality of life and immersion improvement for me.
What do you think? Do you want MORE choice, not less? Do you have a better solution for boomerang quests (or do you actually like the darn things?)? Let us know below.
Quotes taken directly from their respective sources.
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We don’t just cover WoW on the Melting Pot. We love a whole bunch of other games too, including Lord of the Rings Online!
So, if you’re more about the Hobbits than the Goblins, we’ve got your coverage right here.
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OK, this one is just running and running – today we have even more great posts on ways to tweak, fix, and alter both WoW, and MMOs in general. It really seems like something’s started a rush of these ideas in the community – frankly, I love these kinds of ideas posts, so keep it up!
Today, we seem to have a theme of going back to older ideas:
- Blessing of Kings has come up with a complete and well-thought-out blueprint for fixing the WoW endgame – “I think the pendulum of the raiding endgame has swung a little too far. It needs to be brought back towards Vanilla/TBC. Not all the way, because that would be just crazy. But I think some of the desires and ideals of this current endgame have just not worked out the way they were intended, and should be jettisoned.”
- Troll Racials Are Overpowered is arguing for more hoops to jump through “Imagine that you’re in a random group. You have never met these people. What can you expect from them? … How can we sort out these people a bit? Simple: Make them run through some hoops.”
- And Procrastination Amplification is going back even further – by arguing that, in some cases, quests are a bad idea – “The traditional (by now) questing model in MMOs doesn’t leave a lot of room for exploration and surprises. Things get even worse when players (like me) decide not to read quest text and blindly follow the pointers of some built-in quest helper system.”
Do you feel there are older ideas out there that MMOs should be returning to? Or is the only way to go The New Stuff?
All quotes taken directly from their respective posts.
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Well, OK, not me specifically. But Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident has been running errands for the elves of Lothlorien, and frankly, he’s a bit concerned that they are in the process of slowly breaking down his humanity:
The first quest had me collecting orc poo. That was the first thing they had me do. They did that just to show me what they COULD get me do, and to instil in me a suitable level of apprehension. So I ran around and gathered five piles of steaming orc dung, brought it back in my inventory because they didn’t provide me with a suitable receptacle (I suspected this was on purpose), and emptied it on the floor at their feet. Degrading enough, I hope you would agree, for one who had battled the Witch King, and turned the orc bastion of The Grand Stair into a frolicking sight-seeing tour. But they weren’t finished yet. Oh no.
“Now we’d like you to take the poo and throw into a fire at one of the orc camps bordering our forest.”
“We think it will send them a suitable message.”
Melmoth’s on fine form with this post, and I laughed out loud several times. It’s a particular skill to make what is essentially a tale of gameplay engaging even to people who don’t play it, and in general LoTRO seems to attract a number of excellent posts along that line, with KIASA’s work being particularly notable.
The post also neatly highlights a very long-term problem in MMOs, particularly as we advance in levels – the tendancy for our epic, heroic, famed-across-the-land heroes to suddenly end up stuck right back at the bottom of the totem pole, doing the crappiest (in this case literally) jobs the NPCs appear to be able to think up. If it’s done really well, it can be a great experience, but more often it’s an immersion breaker – exactly why am I taking this from these guys, when, as Melmoth says, I’ve battled the Witch King?
Or is it the equivalent of a decorated war hero coming home and ending up stacking shelves at Wal-Mart? Either way, I’m not sure I want that particular grubby aspect of reality so well reflected in my games…
Do you think that repeatedly dropping to the bottom of the totem pole works in MMOs? Or do you feel the urge to shout “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”
_Quote taken directly from Melmoth’s post.
Find Killed In A Smiling Accident’s homepage at http://www.kiasa.org/_
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The idea that MMO quests need a bit of a make-over because they’re all the same is a popular theme. You know, they’re all about killing X number of rats. If you’re lucky you’ll also need to collect Y number of juicy giblets from said rats*. Well, Ysharros says sometimes your bog standard rat-killing can actually be quite fun.
She’s highlighting the daily quests you get as Alliance in Twilight Highlands. Quite an interseting read for me as it is, given I’ve only seen the horde equivalents. It does sound like the Alliance got by far the better, more personable dailies here – favouritism! Kidding. But anyway, Ysharros says that she’s actually been enjoying doing them every day.
Before you accuse me of being a lush — which may well fit but isn’t the point under discussion — I’m just saying that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with killing 10 rats, or guzzling 10 beers. What’s bad is when 90% of what you do is literally going out and killing 10 foozles. Inject a little humour, make people’s screens go a bit squiffy for 10 minutes, and suddenly the 10 rats become a social occasion and not a chore.
It’s a funky way of putting it but Ysharros has a point here: it doesn’t matter if quests are all of the same type, it matters what the developers have done to flesh them out. It feels like a blindingly obvious point but kudos to Ysharros for pointing it out – maybe it took getting drunk with dwarves to realise it. Heck, I had fun just reading Ysharros’ account of what the alliance get to do for these quests.
What do you think – not convinced, and MMO quests are all the same, or is Ysharros right and if the rat you’re killing has character doing so can turn into a social event?
_Quote taken directly from Ysharros’ post
You can find Ysharros’ Stylish Corpse homepage here_
*Quite why or how they have giblets, we’ll not speculate. If wolves can carry Tarnished Plate Legs, rats can have giblets.
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