Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Trivial adventuring

In the last open Sunday thread somebody was asking what the use of private servers was. He had a spoof video on YouTube making fun of the fact that on private servers you can often get levels, gold, and gear just by clicking on an NPC, with no actual playing involved. On some you can even run around as level 255, soloing everything. That might be fun for 10 minutes, but then quickly stops being entertaining. There is no challenge, and no real reward. I certainly wouldn't want to play on such a private server.

But then I noticed that among my friends and in my guild there were several people going for achievements like being exalted with 40 factions, or the loremaster title. To do that you need to do low-level, grey quests. Hundreds of them. To me that is about as exciting as cruising WoW with a level 255 character: There is no challenge, no reward, just a pure grind of trivial tasks. If I wanted to do those quests again, I'd rather roll an alt, and do the quests at the appropriate level, where there is at least *some* challenge to it. But obviously that isn't an opinion shared by everyone.

How do you feel about trivial adventuring, doing grey quests, farming grey mobs? Does it have any lasting fun for you beyond the initial rush of feeling super powerful? Is it worth doing for hours to get some achievement and title?
As you have said many times, everyone has a different idea of 'fun'. Some people want to play god-mode by clicking on an NPC. Others want to be able to highlight their achievements with a title like Loremaster or Explorer. Others want to flaunt their purple raid or PvP gear. To each their own.

Personally I can both appreciate and admire the time and effort that goes into raiding the top instances, or doing the drudge work to get those titles. I can't fathom what might motivate the folks that play on the private servers.
After running out of soloable non-daily quests in Northrend, I traveled to Bloodhoof Village, did a few quests.. and haven't touched the game since. 'nuff said.
Tobold wrote: I'd rather roll an alt, and do the quests at the appropriate level

I agree with your plan... but it won't work. The leveling rate changed in the years since those quests were put in place. Your alt will begin at appropriate level, but will gain experience and will quickly outlevel the quests. There's no way to get the "do all quests" achievement other than the drudgery of grinding through low-level quests.

That said... I'm tempted to do it, just so I can read the quest text and stories.
I'm all for private servers for seeing content. In all honesty I'm never going to see BWL, Sunwell, or the wraith end game unless I fire up a private server.
Since I don't think achievements worth anything, I never do grey quests.
Honestly it seems to me achievements that require doing things you normally wouldn't be doing or would want to do is just a very cheap way of extending the game time. Instead of adding quality content that is A: Exciting and fun and B: Rewarding, they added meaningless tags that will take a long time to achieve with no benefit.

They're cashing in on the Xbox 360 achievement madness, sadly that is all.
There's too much for me to do in-game which improve the wealth and power of my characters, so I haven't made it a point to chase after any achievements.
Achievements are just one remedy to a problem that has plagued MMO's since the first avatar was created.

Players want some kind of persistance based recognition that doesnt go away.

Whether it be a title, owning a house, a personalized headstone in a graveyard(that is clickable and lists a toons stats and achievements) or what have you, players crave recognition that validates the time that they have invested into their characters. As someone mentioned above, XBox uses it's achievement system to do this very thing. Not everyone can be the "best", but everyone can invest in character developement and benefit from the titles or whatever reward the achievements grant. Some may view achievements as a mechanism to milk the cash cow for all it's worth, but in all actuality it's a reward mechanism that makes sense, especially in MMO's- for the very reasons I mention above.

Achievements are just the first of many reward mechanics that game developers will use to foster and maintain player persistance in future games. There doesnt have to be "new" content every so often, and developers are beginning to see the benefits of using existing content to create more activities for the playerbase to engage in.
Nothing you do in an MMO should be trivial. Such activity belittles the character, the player and the world of possibilities which an MMO should present to you. You might as well turn progress quest on and go and do something in the real world that isn't trivial.

Having to do trivial quests in an MMO is just a cynical way for the games makers to milk more time and money out of their customers.
I did a bunch of this sort of thing, chasing up the Loremaster and Dungeonmaster achievements.

Doing low level quests was not terribly fun. I definitely knew as I was doing it that I was doing something kinda boring purely for the shiny title. I just did a bit here and a bit there until I was finished, though, I don't think I could have brought myself to just grind the hell out of it.

The low level instances, though, I rather enjoyed soloing. Yes they were trivial (although you could try to pull some challenge out of it by pulling enormous numbers of mobs simultaneously), but I had some real nostalgia, not having run those instances, in many cases, for several years. And frankly, it was nice to be able to stroll through them solo, at my own pace, and just enjoy the design of them, without feeling that I was holding up four other people that wanted to get finished and get their l00ts.
This is unfortunately what they made out of achievements: Trivial titles for doing trivial things extensively. I do not enjoy it. Challenge is indeed necessary, things need to be somewhat challenging to be interesting in the long run.

This is why I think that at least SOME of the WOTLK dungeons should have had a higher difficulty. Especially because our chars become so much more powerful compared to the mobs, which was a bad move IMO.

This was one of the reasons why I stopped playing.
In general I agree with you but I think it depends to some extent on the quality of the content. In Lotro I started as a dwarf and did all the dwarf quests while levelling up. It is only when I got to the level cap that I went back and did the Hobbit region of the Shire in order to maximise my traits. Even though I was a level 50 player doing level 1 quests I still enjoyed it because the zone is one of the most carefully crafted regions of the game. Of course I breezed through combat quests but there were plenty of "Hide the pies" and "Postman" quests too that are level independent.
"Challenge" is what you make out of it yourself. I actually found the Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms part of the Loremaster achievement to be the hardest, because:

1. There are no "quest hubs" like in Outland and Northrend.

2. There are no zone-specific achievements that hint at where those elusive last few quests are hidden.

To me the challenge was in tracking down those quests, which is an aspect often overlooked by people who "can't be arsed" or whatever other reason they have. But yeah, it's easier with an epic mount and without aggroing half the zone while searching, and the track lowbie quests feature helps as well. I'm pretty sure it was put in to help with Loremaster and 3000 Quests.

I find it funny how many people claim achievements are "pointless" and "a waste of time". I think they add more things to do in the game, and as I've said often in various places, nowadays it's the solo stuff, like the Travellers Tundra Mammoth and the achievement titles that make you stand out, not your purple gear. Achievements are also another way of expanding the game horizontally (even though many achievements need a high level to do, so this assertment is questionable), giving casuals something to do.

As for the "milking the customers" part, MMOs have been doing that with long grinds and raids and whatnot for years, how are achievements any different? As I already said, you stand out more on your Mechano-Hog/Mekgineer's Chopper than in your full t7.5. Combine that with one of the hard to get achievement titles ("hard" as in lots of work, not challenge) and you can be sure you will be noticed. Of course, people might not value you as much, but they'll notice you, and that's the point.
Unfortunately, outside of runecloth, that is the easiest way to get rep for your given faction. My fiance ran a bunch of grey quests so that we could get Gnomer rep for a mechanostrider. We turned in a lot of runecloth, but the rep we got from grey quests was invaluable.
I'd like to see achievements done as account-wide.
Dave's got the right idea. I can't and don't care to do all things with all toons, and my alts eventually will make me look like I have no business in the end-game because I haven't done anything "special" on them.
Speaking as a veteran farmer of rare pets, I appreciate the "farm" mentality. It's a little like pulling the one-armed-bandit over and over. Younever know when your big score will be. Each mob has approx. the same chance to drop that elusive little critter, so it might be thisone. Or that one. Or the tenth one from now. It's unpredicatable, so it's exciting.

As for farming for rep or achievements, if it strokes your WoW ego, than I'm all for it. Ego is a huge motivating factor, and having a gnome run around on a Darnassus-rep mount or having a fancy rare title, makes people stop and look at you, and that generally feeds the gamer ego. Whether those people who are looking say to themselves, "wow, that guy has too much free time" or "wow, that guy sure is dedicated to this game" is up for grabs. If in game achievements and the recognition they reap make you feel good, then it's not a waste of time in any respect. WoW is, in the end, a hobby and it's something people do for enjoyment.
@fremskritt, these trivial achievements are different from the run of the mill milking that MMO companies do simply because there is no challenge in them for a seasoned player. When I pay for an MMO, I pay to be amused, challenged and shown something new and special. An achievement should be just that; something that you achieve against impossible odds, something heroic and outstanding. Not merely a measure of your ability to fight off boredom and fill a game makers pockets.

I stopped playing WoW when I started dozing off mid-combat, safe in the knowledge that I would still be alive when I woke up. I'm not paying for a game that I can play, and win, whilst asleep. I can do that with progress quest for free.
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