Tuesday, August 30, 2011

John's New Blog

John Andrew has created his own blog and already posted four times. I've already made a comment over there, but I decided to make a post out of it, if only to introduce his blog.

John writes
Quests and quest-givers are there for those who care about lore and storyline and immersion in general. The ability to kill boars for gain is there for those who enjoy killing for gain -- and yes the two groups overlap. But when quests become nothing more than a transparent artifice to reward players for killing boars, then they no longer serve any real function as story-telling devices and they can end up actually hurting immersion.

Unfortunately, John is wrong. Not in that quests can hurt immersion. That's true. But in that quest givers are there for lore, storyline and immersion. Instead, quests are a very important loop that loosens up the gameplay. And they keep the player's mind busy.

As long as you consider running back to questgivers worthwhile and non-frustrating (you genuinely accept it as 'normal', 'god-given', 'the-way-it-is', it doesn't appear to you that you shouldn't have to do that), it adds to your experience. It is fun. Lore and the simulation aren't as important as the pure abstract gameplay.

If you don't believe me, then answer me this: How do you explain that millions of players over the years leveled for hundreds - often thousands of hours - to level 60, 70, 80? And all they did was kill-mobs, return to questgiver, kill mobs, return to ...

In Cataclysm Blizzard tried to make the story better. But it didn't really work that well, because more important than the simulation is to keep the player's mind busy. This coming from me you really should believe it :).


  1. I would argue that it didn't work all that well because they failed at making the story better.

  2. Hey Nils, that was pretty cool of you to introduce me like that -- its appreciated. :)

    I agree with your point btw, but I still maintain that there is a problem with the current behavior of quest-givers in most mmos.

    What I was trying to suggest, among other things, is that while it is true that quests are a very important loop that loosens up the gameplay ... and keep the player's mind busy, the mechanism used to perform this very important function need not be the current one where an NPC quest-giver hands out artificial quests.

    I do still think that the original intention of quests was for storyline and that they have now been usurped and made to serve another more important, but ultimately conflicting role.

  3. I absolutely agree, John. It's just one must first understand why things work before one tries to improve them.

    There are too many romantics in game design who think that a game becomes better if
    1) you make it more convenient
    2) you make it more immersive
    3) you make it more competitive
    4) ...

    I certainly want to make games more 'immersive', or rather more consistent with the underlying simulation. But before one goes all out to do that, one must first understand why the current (in a lot of ways ridiculous) games, especially WoW, are so successful.

    Flosch, I'm not so sure that stories themselves in Cataclysm are worse. But I agree that the game as a whole became worse due to their implementation.
    And that's exactly the point.