Tobold's Blog
Saturday, June 30, 2007
 
The purpose of quests

I was watching the Warhammer Online video podcast on quests again, and the description of WAR's "kill collectors" quests made me think. Paul Barnett is a funny guy, and spins a great yarn about how it is better if the quest giver rewards you for kills that you already did in the past, instead of sending you out to kill bears when you just spent an hour doing so. You don't even have to keep the bear paws in your inventory, you just get a reward because the game remembers you killed stuff. But is that really better? Or is it totally against the purpose of quests?

Paul says something along the lines of "so if you are wandering along somewhere and see a lot of monsters, and you are not too sure whether you should bother harvesting them, remember, somebody somewhere wants them dead". I'd call that reverse questing, first doing the quest and then looking for the quest giver. One minor problem I have with that is that it isn't very logical from a story point of view. I can't see the hero going into a village and shouting on the marketplace: "I killed 12 orcs, 8 bears, and 17 wolves. Who wants to reward me for that?". Because even if somebody in the village wanted those orcs or wolves dead, he wouldn't be giving out rewards after the fact, unless he had made a deal with the hero before to kill those orcs.

But the bigger problem is from the gameplay point of view. It means you are back to guesswork about what you are supposed to do. You see some monsters and you just randomly kill a couple of them, hoping there will be a reward. You don't know whether there really is a reward, where to get it, and how many mobs you are supposed to kill. There is no real purpose behind your actions, except for some bonus reward on top of the xp and loot you get for the killing itself. Rewards aren't the purpose of quests. If you just wanted to give out a bonus award for killing 30 wolves, you could do it like Lord of the Rings Online, which on killing the first wolf automatically puts the "kill 30 wolves" goal into your deeds log, telling you that you'll receive a title for killing 30 wolves (and a trait for killing another 60 one). You wouldn't need quest givers for that.

The purpose of quests is to guide you, to direct you into areas where you otherwise might not have gone. If you are new to some area you simply can't know whether you should go north or south to find mobs of your level. Go the wrong way and you could either get eaten by monsters far too strong for you, or bored by mobs that are far too low. But if you open your quest journal, you'll find a quest color coded to show that it's for your level, and telling you to go north to kill 10 wolves. That gives you a goal, a direction to go, a hint what you are supposed to do next. World of Warcraft did this especially well, up to the point of detecting that you were a bit too high for this area and giving you a quest to go to the next one. The purpose of quests is to be your guiding angel through an open world, where you don't have the linear storyline of a single-player RPG. Or as the WAR podcast says, quests are the story of a MMORPG. Somebody handing you a bag of gold because you killed some wolves Tuesday of last week isn't much of a storyline, in my opinion. Fortunately WAR has a lot of other types of quests, I assume that the others give you more of a sense of purpose than just rewards for random killing.
Comments:
Bingo

All I ask of quest is that the quest sound important. Their functionality is fine, as it is.

Just don't ask a hero to collect 10 boar tusk - it's humiliating.
 
We'll first I'd like to say you should wait until we have more information before judging the system. I think you've taken the whole system all wrong. You don't go looking for the quest givers, I'm guessing you'll find them along your journey in the game. It's more of a little present then a quest. I also love the fact that when you kill something you get what you need for the quest, unlike WoW where you have to kill 50 Kobolds to get one Kobold ear...wait don't they all have ears?
 
My understanding from the video is that you can still get quests as per WOW.
You just won't get the insane situation where you kill 5 large spiders while you're killing the 25 small spiders quest-giver X doesn't like. Then you run back and get a reward for killing the small spiders but now the same quest-giver wants you to kill 5 big large spiders. That's just infuriating and not fun.

WAR will still have quests that you can pick up and then do, it just won't punish you for not consulting thottbot beforehand to get the most efficient system.

Amen to that.
 
My understanding from the video is that you can still get quests as per WOW.
You just won't get the insane situation where you kill 5 large spiders while you're killing the 25 small spiders quest-giver X doesn't like. Then you run back and get a reward for killing the small spiders but now the same quest-giver wants you to kill 5 large spiders. That's just infuriating and not fun.

WAR will still have quests that you can pick up and then do, it just won't punish you for not consulting thottbot beforehand to get the most efficient system.

Amen to that.
 
I like the sound of this idea quite a bit. From a gameplay point of view I think this is fantastic. I hate it when I stop somewhere in WoW to do some grinding. Afterwards I head down the road just to find all those guys I just killed were part of a quest I could have done, so then I have to go back to kill them again.

Like Cavius said I just started consulting thottbot instead of playing the game as I normally would.

Sure, from a story perspective it doesn't make much sense. But few things do in an MMORPG. And for that matter video games in general.
 
As Cavius said, I think this system would be very good at fixing the whole problem of the quest giver continously sending you to the same area to kill different things, that you've already killed before, but just weren't registered.

The ones where you go kill 5 goblins at a fortress and also happen to kill the boss there, but when you go to return the goblin killing quest, the questgiver sends you back to kill the boss again.
 
I just want quest to be moore heroic, regardless of level.

Why can't the first level hero save the princess?

Why do low level quest always involve small burrowing animals and high level quest always involve demons and elementals.?
 
Tbh I don't think that it DOESN'T work like WoW, it could very well still do so by directing you here and there. It's just that if you already came from that direction and killed a few of them you will still get the credit for, totally unlike WoW.

IIRC, Guild Wars has a similar system, but in that case you still have to drag along a ton of drops which take up inventory spots to the collectors which hand out the items. And in many cases finding those collectors isn't easy.
 
I think you've misinterpreted how they plan to do this. All the kill collector setup means is that if you're on your way to a questgiver, and there are some enemies in the way, you might as well kill them. Sure you *could* do what you're suggesting, but more likely you'll just get a bit of a head start on whatever quest is at your questgiver instead.
 
My only serious gripe about kill collection quests is the whole 'random' drop.

"Collect 10 boar tusks"

Surprisingly, all boars have between 0 (80% chance) and 1 tusk.

Jeez, if you want me to spend a hour on it, just say you want 30 of em, and make it 100% drop ;-)
 

John said...

My only serious gripe about kill collection quests is the whole 'random' drop.

"Collect 10 boar tusks"

Surprisingly, all boars have between 0 (80% chance) and 1 tusk.

Jeez, if you want me to spend a hour on it, just say you want 30 of em, and make it 100% drop ;-)


Here's why drop rates are random.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinner_box
 
I would be interested in this type of gameplay. With quests like these you can just hop into a group and retain some sort of "quest exp" on top of regular mobkilling exp without much encyclopedia knowledge of the quest itself.

After you finish or outlevel a certain area, you can turn in what you have done there and like flipping a page in a book be ontu the next adventure without having to read the *asterixed material.

They could accomplish this type of gameplay in a positive and benefitial way, whiel I do have my doubts whether it will be hugely successful (doing something unlike WoW, not always best gameplay wise).
 
Or... the zone is designed in such a way that you don't kill 10 large boars as you quest to kill 10 small ones. Put the larger ones farther up the hill. This makes quest 2, kill 10 large boars, more epic, because you just travelled up a hill.

Oversimplified, but I think you get the point. If I kill the goblin boss while questing to kill his henchmen, something is wrong with the setup of the goblins fort.
 
I think that the kill collector quests sounds like a neat approach to handle these grind type quests.

One minor problem I have with that is that it isn't very logical from a story point of view.

I do not see it as less logical than for example a quest giver sending you out to kill 20 wargs when there are already a bunch of people out there killing every single one that pops up.
In this approach the logic could rather be that a village has a general announcement out that they want such and such things killed, so when you visit them, they will be honest enough to reward you for it.


Rewards aren't the purpose of quests

That is very true, or should not be at least. But in many cases the story line and motivation behind this type of quests are rather thin and less than satisfactory, IMHO.
One or two in a larger story arc might work out, but too many of them is hard to fit with a plausiable, semi-interesting story.
With too many of them, the rewards become the purpose.

I think it is encouraging to see that Warhammer Online seem to intend to encourage exploration. While some quests can guide to the appropriate area for your level in other games, it does not really encourage exploration beyond the main areas - you may go where the quests direct you, not elsewhere.
Providing the prospect of more rewards for discovery and exploration and adventuring in general is a good thing, IMHO.
 
Kill quests are lazy, repetitive and most of the time de-moralising :D

2 examples:

Nessingwary in WOW:TBC. Kill 30 X and 30 Y, go back and be asked to kill another 30 X and 30 Y - just slightly higher level ones.

LOTRO: NPCs fixation with Boars, after doing 10 or so kill Boar quests I think I've had enough (at least they recognise that mistake, lampooning it in Evendim by having no Boars in that zone at all ;) ).

Kill quests to me are synonymous with the grind of MMOGs. I think everyone would prefer that all quests are a little more objective driven that kill X number of greeblies. However as we know, MMOG designers like to pad content out with kill quests as their easier to develop and faster to implement than unique objectives for every quest.

So in WAR, I look forward to not having a log full of "I hate Bears, kill me Bears." or "I need wolf paws, kill me wolves and bring back their paws" (Which always begs the question, why do wolves only drop one paw when the vast majority of them had 4 in the first place!?). Instead, I hope to see a smaller quest log focusing on the more unique story driven content.

I'm sure that it won't take long to hear by "word of mouth" where NPCs that have rewards for killing mobs hang out (even if you dont go using online databases).
 
I will need to replay the video but I was under the impression that WAR worked the quests both ways. The NPC will give you the award (xp/items) if you already killed the specified mobs or will give you the quest to do so if have not yet done it.
 
The reason why the example in the podcast seems to ridicule WOW is because in 'reality' given the place this questgiver is situated implies that in WOW he would probably give an escort quest. Hence the killing already done has had it's use already.

(He still has a point though - the countless times i killed that named twice because there was a chance he drops the quest as well and i was in the neighbourhood anyway....;)

Furthermore quests are just like the weather: if all quests are equally well designed and fun - you won't notice it as much anymore.

Personnally i usually save up the grinding quests for when i'm to tired to check coordinates - or run around endlessly to find a specific mob or thingy....
 
Yeah it seems like it's emphasizing all the bad aspects of quests now. Instead of trying to craft better quests, they're basically giving up and saying "screw the quest, we'll just give you more xp for randomly killing stuff"

It would be better to just get rid of the "kill 10 X" quests entirely.
 
I think what I meant above, I also find it annoying to be sent back to kill the same mobs (like elite aurochs in lotro yesterday! grr)

BUT - this solution addresses the symptom, not the problem. It actually emphasizes the problem. It says "grind more!" to players

Double post ftw!
 
I agree with part of what you say, but disagree with the concept behind kill quests.

1) Kill quests are 'bounty' quests. It doesn't matter if you killed Bob the outlaw before you learned he had a bounty on his head, you can still collect once you learn about the bounty.

2) Most kill quests are terrible guides. Go over thataway and kill a bunch of these critters. Go where? Wait, where are they? Crap, I can't find any. Am I in the right place? Time for thottbot I guess . . . Not helpful, not immersive.

3) Having just killed 587 Dire Piglets while fulfilling the 'Kill 10 Lesser Dire Piglets' quest and then getting a follow up quest to kill 10 Dire Piglets is one of the most annoying things in MMOs EVER.

In short, kill quests aren't quests. They're bonuses for killing certain mobs. Quests should have a story and purpose, and running out to kill 10,20,30 mobs of the same type is NOT a story. Nor a quest.
 
I like all the ideas here but I would like to add one if someone hasn't already thought of it. ITs so easy for dps classes to keep most of their same spec for raiding and pvp so they usual do a mix. They may not get everything they want but they get most and they should because they are dps classes. Other classes with the ability to heal are forced to heal in raids most of the time and in order to heal well they sacrifice MOST of their dmg capability which is lacking enough already. Why not allow everyone to have 2 different talent builds and have them on a 1 hour cooldown timer so you can use your raid build and then after the raid ends you can click your talent switch button to enable you to go pvp of solo grind. OF course it would be unfair to allow this to happen in combat and there would need to be a long cooldown timer on it. That way everyone can stop crying about the way their guild asks them to spec for raiding because they can go back to how they want it right after. To change what their 2 builds were they would have to still go to the class trainer and pay to change them. This way someone doesnt have to sacrifice the solo/pvp aspect of the game to go raid. It seems to me that its a choice of which half of the game am I going to enjoy? effective pvp or effective raiding? Why not both? It seems unfair that a hunter can get out of his raid and go farm places without changing his build. Where as a holy paladin gets done raiding and dreams of soloing something that day. IF that holy paladin could go to retribution spec and then go grind mobs he would be happy and I bet every other class in the game would love to have 2 talent builds.
At the end of the day everyone wins by faster grinding and getting to play more of the content in the same day.
 
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