Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wanted: better incentives for endgame questing

There I was, once again trying to catch the monsterbelly to get the lost arm of a fisherman and bring it back to Dalaran. The Frozen sea looked exactly the same is it did yesterday. I caught it at the fifth try. Not too shabby.

Then I mounted up and continued to the lake in the Howling Fjord, where the poor maiden in the iceblock was to be released once again. I knew it was a lost cause. Every time I’ve melted the ice, she has instantly refrozen before I’ve even left the place. She’s doomed to never leave the spot.

Finally I discussed with myself if I should go to Brunnhildar village once again and beat up the poor reluctant prisoners in the cave. The thought was revolting, but still, I couldn’t quite erase the bear mount from my wish list.

It was another night in Azeroth and I suddenly realized that I was doing what I’m doing most of the time when I’m not in a raid. I was doing dailies, meaning that I was doing the same, easy, silly quests over and over again. I was exactly as scripted as the NPCs. And I was in the danger zone of growing really bored.

Reasons for repetition
It was quite incomprehensible when I thought about it. Here I was, in the middle of a huge game, where I still had unexplored areas, where there still were tons of quests that I had never done. And still I chose to stick to just a few quests. How come?

Reason 1: out of laziness. It’s like water pouring down a mountain: it takes the shortest way down, following the already existing ravine. If I make a new, unknown quest I may have to think a little bit and make an effort, however small, to find out what to do. Even if I use a quest support addon as Lightheaded I’ll have to at least read a few lines. Doing dailies requires less effort than doing real quests. It’s relaxing in its own peculiar way, just like picking herbs.

Reason 2: because of the rewards. Doing normal quests in Icecrown generally will give me less in exchange than doing dailies. The possible gear rewards are useless to me and I’m not an enchanter, so I’ll just get a few gold from vendoring the items. I’m exalted with all the connected factions since long from grinding instances, so that’s not a motivator either. And the daily quests at Argent Tournament will award me currency that can be traded for vanity rewards such as mounts and cute pets – useless things, but still attractive to a childish player like me. Ordinary non-daily questing wouldn’t offer me anything like that. Just gold and a Loremaster title, which I don’t care much about.

Why it’s bad
I’m probably not alone in my behaviour. I think there are many other players who still haven’t done half of the offered quests in game, but have slipped into the habit of doing dailies. And while we obviously find reasons to do it, we also grumble and whine a bit about being bored from it. “Oh-my-god-I’m-sick-of-this!” Yet we do it. Kind of weird, isn’t it?

I think this is harmful to the game experience in the long run. A lot of displeased, whining players will create a negative climate, feeding the feeling that we’re playing a game that has passed zenith and now is declining, heading for it’s inevitable future death. It will also make players cluster all at one spot, at the Argent Tournament ground or the fishing spot of the day, rather than populating all of Northrend, which at least makes me a sad panda. To me a big part of the fun in playing an MMO is that I actually meet other players in the virtual world, not only friendly and unfriendly NPC:s.

My suggestion
So here comes my suggestion: why couldn’t they make the rewards from doing ordinary quests once you’ve reached endgame slightly more attractive? I doesn’t necessary have to be huge gold rewards. I think just a RNG feature, such as the items you can find in the fishing reward bag would be enough.

What if there was a chance, every so small, but still a chance, that you could get a special mount, pet or an epic gem such as you can get from the fishing quest, every time you completed an ordinary quest in Northrend. You wouldn’t know exactly what your reward would be; there would always be a moment of lottery in it. I think that would be inspiring enough to bring more people to finish off the zones, in this way using more of the content, meaning that less developer effort would be wasted. Everyone’s a winner.

Stop repeating myself
Well, I don’t expect suggestions from Larísa of Stormrage to be implemented in the game. So I’ve decided to try to be strong. When I have some time over, outside of raids and the obligations that come with it, I’m going to turn my back towards the monsterbelly, the frozen maiden and the blue people village. If not always, at least sometimes. I’ll stop just repeating myself and open my eyes to the one-time-only quests I’ve yet to do.

And I won’t do them for any other reward than the pleasure of seeing the quest designs and the stories.

After all: the amount of entertainment you get from an activity beats everything else in the end. It’s just sad that I have to remind myself about it.


Leah said...

funny thing but I was just thinking about it as I finally fished up all the coins out of the fountain. a lot of what we do in a game is so much on autopilot, it makes you wonder why we're even doing it. I haven't touched an argent crusade daily in over a week now. I'm still doing the fishing dailies,but that's because my vanity demands a jeweled fishing pole :P

which brings me to your point - I think rewards of the nature you describe would be great. better yet, why not have trivia quests here and there, where you get rewards for uncovering and recognizing pieces of lore? Warcraft universe has some of the best background and stories in a video game market and its so sad that so much of that rich lore passes most players right by..

Green Armadillo said...

Unique RNG rewards attached to non-repeatable content would be problematic. If you didn't get the mount or whatever you wanted before you ran out of quests, you'll never be able to get it on that character. For those of us who are mainly invested in one character, missing out would be pretty disappointing.

I actually make a point of NOT doing all of the possible daily quests available to me to try and cut down on daily quest burnout. I would like to see something like you're describing, but I just don't think that otherwise unattainable RNG rewards are a good idea.

Klepsacovic said...

Try to find alternative, possibly slower, but more intesting sources of income. Back in BC I learned to AoE Stratholme because the cloth sold fairly well and the greens DEed into mats that no one got anymore because they all jumped into Outland.

You're rushing, there's your problem. Take your time. Relax. Make a little more than you spend on repairs and you'll be there eventually. Don't focus on the goal and end up with an unfun process, the goal ends up being a relief rather than a reward.

HP said...

I used to log on even on non-raid nights to do dailies or whatever but recently, I've found myself not doing that anymore. I understand how you feel...

Pangoria Fallstar said...

That sort of burnout is why I don't do dailies except once a week. I just can't bring myself to do them for more than that.

But I also realized something, I get to level cap doing very few quests, and once there I avoid questing. In fact I think questing as it is, is the least fun part of the game. It needs a slight tweak to make it better.

Though Northrend questing is better than Vanilla or BC questing, I must say that it's still not at the point I'd like it to be.

It's not the incentives that drive me, the current incentives are fine, it's the mechanic of it, the unquest of it all.

The best quests I've seen so far were some of the ones in Brun-whatever, and in Icecrown, and DK starting zone.

But I think my problem is the individual quests are small little things. After playing EQ2 I really liked how questing was shown there, steps of a larger quest, you didn't finish it until you've actually accomplished something, and not just ran up to some other guy.

Gevlon said...

I never do dailies. Actually I never do anything I don't like in the game. I log in, do the AH stuff (that's my blog is about) log out. I log in, get into Ulduar, kill some bosses, say goodbye, log out. That simple.

Daria said...

Great post and I think you are on the right track. It would be cool if you could gain reputation for any faction off regular quests, by directing where you wanted your "experience" to go at level 80.
Like most others I stopped questing once I hit 80 as well, I just couldn't see a reason.
The endgame can only lead to burnout, rather it is raiding burnout or daily questing burnout. It's exactly why I quit the game, I just wasn't having fun any longer.

Ruhtra said...

I agree with you Larísa. I think they should do something similar to what you suggest, but make it even for the old world zones.

How many quest lines in Vanilla WoW do people miss out on because they're whole focus is on reaching the level cap. Sure we all want to get there, but why not enjoy the trip?

Copernicus said...

I love questing, but I don't care so much for dailies because of that very same repetativeness.

I don't do the same ones over and over though. When I got bored with Hodir, I stopped and moved on to others. Now that I've started getting bored with the Argent Tournament, I've went back to Hodir. Two more days and I'll actually be exalted. Heh.

It might be interesting to have a daily where you "Help five people acomplish their goals". In other words, do 5 other quests, but I'd make them non-repeatable quests. Little bubbles of goodness as you work towards your Loremaster title. Or, since you can eventually run out of non-repeatable quests, have the reward depend on how many repeatable vs non-repeatable quests you did.

Anonymous said...

How I handle the different aspects of WoW quests...
I pick one set of dailies where I am looking for a specific rewards. I do those dailies until said rewards is achieved, and I move to the next set. Will it take me longer to get the same material as those who've been doing all those dailies longer? Sure, but with my extra time, I've explored Northrend by doing different zone's quests and kept the game interesting for me.
My strategy has been not to involve myself solely in one aspect of the game, but instead, switch it up, and switch it up often.

Dorgol said...

I love questing. I love the stories they tell (even if they don't all have a grand finale). That's why I am "Loremaster Iralien".

Even still, I understand the boredom factor. Once I completed Loremaster, there was no solo content left in the game (outside of repeatable content).

Maybe consider leveling an alt (it's what I do when I have trouble finding a group). Even better if the alt is on the opposing faction.

Russell Abbott said...

I got to exalted with three factions on the argent tournament, and ran out of steam for those dailies. The other day I decided to finally clean out all those group quests in icecrown that have been building up for the last few months...trouble was, everyone has already done them, and I couldn't find a helper. So, I soloed them all, about 20 5-man quests (with the exception of the last two Valhalas quests, where someone was doing them at the same time and I figured what the heck).

The rewards were lousy greens and blues, but I gotta say it was a LOT more fun than dailies. Pushing your character to the limit, seeing how many elites my tank pally can's fun, and why I actually enjoy a bit of farming in the Valley of Lost Heroes (Hobbs style) every once in a while. Killing an elite with 450k health all by yourself is quite a rush.

highlatencylife said...

Well I do dailies because I'm still building rep, and gold for my epic flyer.

Sometimes thought I just go on a tangent, and start exploring. I find some neat and interesting stuff.

My next mission is supposedly there's a cave where Arthas found Frostmourne. I want to see that.

There's alot of cool, and interesting stuff in WoW, that if you don't stop and look, you'll never know.

Larísa said...

@Leah: I’m ashamed about my lore knowledge. I’ve learned some from the novels (kindly sent to me by Ixobelle!), but there’s a lot lacking. As I did a Hodir quest on my alt (I, who had sworn never ever to do another service to them, and here I am!) I noticed Hodir himself standing there. And I thought: hm… how could that be, why is he green and kind here and one of the boss mobs in Ulduar? That’s SO sad. I’ve done the whole quest chain twice, but nothing has stuck in my mind, all I was doing was chasing for completing them. I’m really on the long track.

@Green Armadillo: yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe something else would do though. Getting some seals that could be traded for pets and mounts? Whatever. Something that would give the non repeatable quests a golden edge.

@Klepsacovic. You’re wise, putting your finger on something that worries me. I’ll make a post about it. BRB.

@HP: Yeah, I guess not playing is an option too.

@Pangoria Fallstar: I think the quests in Northrend are really fine, at least compared to the Vanilla WoW zones. I’ve only recently started to do Icecrown properly on my alt (who has an incentive, getting rep), and I’m really amazed at the quality of them.

@Gevlon: I wouldn’t expect anything else from you… Still I want to do some sort of questing – as I want to do a little casual PvP and many other things. I want to enjoy several aspects of the game, not just raiding, before I can consider myself done with it.

@Daria: getting rep would be another idea. What if I could get rep with Hodir from normal questing instead of dailies? Or maybe that would make the game too easy and casual friendly? I don’t know.

@Ruhtra: Well, to be honest some of the old world zones don’t seem too attractive to me… Like Ashenvale… but maybe I’m prejudiced being a gnome born at Eastern Kingdom…

@Copernicus: Oh I love that idea. I always thought there should be some kind of achievements rewarding people who’re doing good things for other players.

@Anonymous: Yeah, I don’t do all that many dailies either. And I discuss with myself. Do I REALLY need the mount and pet from AT that badly? Maybe I should just be strong and turn my back to it altogether. Switching a lot makes sense. It’s been a while since I did PvP for instance. I suck at it, but it will give variation. Maybe it’s time to go back to AV…

@Dorgol: Loremaster, wow! I can’t imagine how I could ever get that, having hundreds and hundreds, well probably thousands of quests left to do. On the other hand I’ve got the “completed 500 daily quests” achievement… I guess it’s all about priorities. I’ve got many fun quests left do do, that’s for sure, if I can only stop doing those dailies.

@Russel Abbott: Wow, that sounds fun! A bit more doable with your tank pally than with my squishy fire mage though, I imagine… I’d better find a partner to go with. Because finding random people to group with for those is rather hard.

@Highlatancylife: yeah, there’s a lot of things to do, but for some reason many of us are lazy and just stick to the dailies we know how to do. Which is a shame.

Hatch said...

I like the idea Larisa. I too am in the "doing dailies because I don't have to think about them" mode. Adding extra motivation to doing the regular quests is a great idea. Even just adding an extra reward bag with a lottery chance at something very cool to just the Icecrown and Storm Peaks quests would be very motivating. I'd even take it further and, now that the Argent Tournament has been out a while, add Champion's Seals as, say 25-50% drops from the bags as well. So you can build toward the vanity rewards while doing some content you haven't seen.

Dorgol said...

I think Blizzard is of two minds about quests at the level cap.

On the one hand they WANT their players to do the quests. They WANT people read the lore, experience the events, etc.

On the other hand, WoW questing is designed to be extremely solo-friendly. Thus Blizzard doesn't want to hand out great gear for solo-work (otherwise people start to avoid group content).

The best idea I've seen listed here is the "Do 5 Normal Quests" Daily. Even better if they were to implement some features for the quest giver to direct you to an area with incomplete quests.

Copernicus said...

@Dorgol: That would be awesome! The quest giver says something like, "I hear John Smith out in Azshara needs a bit of help." And you think to yourself, "I've ran through there a dozen times! How did I miss him?"

Fitz said...

Here we stand on another brilliant discovery in this blog, but yet this one leads us to a sad conclusion. Are we all just robotically "enjoying" this game at end level?

I do love Dorgol/Copernicus's ideas about having a daily quest that sends you to finish up some no-daily quests around the world. I want Loremaster but I'm not very motivated. At the same time, I'm like Russell Abbott in that I'm only working on my third faction of valiant quests now. I just cannot do the same thing over and over every day. At least the cooking and fishing ones change a little bit, but even those can get stale.

Funny note: when anyone in our guild gets a questing achievement such as do 500 daily quests, one of our core members does not "gratz" them. He offers condolences. Which makes sense after you repeat these quests a few times. A visionary in our ranks methinks.

Larísa said...

@Hatch... hm... I'm thinking about it again. Green Armadillo had a valid point that it could be problematic if people ran out of quests before winning in the lotery. However: you could make the RNG rewards the same that you can get from the dailies. You could get the bear not only from the blue-village daily, but from normal quests in Stormpeak... And if you run out of q, you have still the daily q option.

@Dorgol: but the daily q:s are solo q:s as well. Can't quite understand why they have to be so much better rewardwise than normal q:s. To have as a daily to make five normal q:s is a very good idea.

@Fitz: yeah, that achievement isn't the one I'm most proud of. And one thing more: I wonder when the count started. Before or after the arrival of achievements? Are all those dailies I did in BE, Nagrand and otherwise included? If not, it's REALLY sad.

Atris said...

Larísa, I love your idea of having a "moment of lottery" added to completing a quest once you're 80. In fact, I'd like to see it applied to any quest, even if it's not in Northrend. Even if it was extremely rare, the possibility of something new would add a little interest to quest completion.

Unfinished (non-daily) quests could share a rare-item loot table with a very low award rate. The "winnings" could even be delivered in the in-game mail system. It could be sweepstakes-like, where every quest completed after 80 gives you another low chance to win.

Bri said...

Dailies only last about 4 repetitions for me before they get old. To heck with the rep rewards, I won't spend my free time in Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.

Rolling a DK in the opposite faction (on a PvE server) was a game-refreshing move for me. You get to see Blizzard's beautifully hand-crafted world from a fresh perspective, without the inconvenience of not knowing where everything is.

Bri said...

I should mention, however, that I'm lucky enough that the members of my tiny guild all play both Alliance and Horde characters, to the point that we created sister guilds. So switching factions for me never means playing away from my friends.