Sunday, June 8, 2008

What is your Quest?

Quests, aka doing stuff for people too lazy to do it themselves, are a major part of MMORPGs, and they are almost all horribly designed. Quests seem to fall into a few simple categories, each more infuriatingly difficult or badly designed than the ones before:

1. The gather quest: “For reasons I’m not going to tell you, I need 23 pig livers. Now, they can’t be bruised or damaged in any possible way, but you’ll have to kill the pigs before taking their livers…oh and did I mention that not every pig around here has a liver?”

Seriously, these quests are THE most common in MMORPGs. Let’s face it, they are simple to design, just create a semi-plausible reason for an NPC to need the item, assign a drop rate, and profit! It’s hours of mindless, grinding fun, as those pigs never seem to have any livers. I do recall a statistic that says in WOW, only 33% of murlocs have heads, and I wonder how hard it is to get one bloody ear off of a bunch of trolls you just mercilessly slaughtered.

2. The Kill Quest: “I really hate farmer bob, you should probably just off him for me. Did I mention he has bodyguards, cause he knows I don’t like him? Oh, and they’re elites too. But I’ll give you this worthless vendor-trash robe if you do it for me!”

Kill quests aren’t that annoying in themselves, the ones that require groups or put you up against mobs of much higher levels are, especially if you have no crowd control class abilities. Kill quests are extremely difficult for dedicated healers to accomplish solo, but dps classes excel at them. A bit of a mixed bag, but the weak storylines for why you have to kill these specific people are annoying as hell, and I don’t bother reading them anymore.

3. The Class Skill Quest: “I need you to kill farmer joe now, but he’s immune to everything but . Luckily, you’re a so you have and can easily kill farmer joe.”

You know that class ability you never use and thought you didn’t need to buy? WRONG! You need it for this stupid quest, that usually is either a critical quest or has a reward that’s worth the tedium of learning how to use a class ability you probably hate.

4. The Escort Quest: “Thanks for rescuing me, now to reward all your hard work, I’m going to pull every mob in a 3 mile radius and run around like a moron. Oh, and did I mention I have like 2 health and can’t do any damage? Oh look, here’s a harmless bunny. Oh no, he looked at me! *dies*

Do I even need to mention Escort Quests? Either make the damned NPCs smart enough to wait and walk with you, or reduce their agro radius. I can’t count the number of times everything has been clear for a mile ahead of the NPC and they manage to pull something. Between that and them dying while you deal with the 20 mobs they pulled, Escort Quests suck.

So now that we realize that these quest lines are horribly overused and boring, what can be done to improve them? Well, I’m up for suggestions as I’ve never seen a game that really can do it right. SWG came close, as they had mission terminals which generated random missions for players. They were buggy and didn’t work right, but they would provide you with a location and usually a lair and group of mobs to destroy, in exchange for money. The missions varied based on your level, and got mind-numbingly boring after a while, but they got the job done.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I totally agree with you! I absolutely hate these quests!
    "Kill a number of some monster because they trashed my store" is so lame! I mean, why this particular number? Would that satisfy the NPC's ego?
    Anyways, I think the quests system should be done with. It offers no real challenge to players. But how about this idea? Implement a system where players themselves would need help of other in form of quests?? I mean, make some very unique monsters and some guy wants revenge but can't, so he posts up a quest.

    Anyways, until a skill-based MMORPG comes along, MMORPGs will suck!

    Sorry for this long essay :P