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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Questing Motivation

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 17 2011 at 2:36PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Questing - Where is my motivation?" by Creslin321. In the thread, Creslin321 wonders about some of the ridiculous quests found in many MMOS and why he should care to do them:

One thing I've noticed about all quest-based MMORPGs is that I really have no motivation to complete any quest beyond exp/loot.  The game makes no effort to personally involve you in any quest, and most of them feel like you're just helping some idiot with something he could have done himself.

For example:

"Help!  Rats have infested my cellar and ate all my candy!  Kill them!"

"Help!  My entire party got wiped out by bandits, but I'm sure you can kill them all by yourself and avenge us!"

"Help!  I need 10 bat feet for my soup but I'm far too lazy to get them myself!"

All of these examples are pretty typical, and I seriously don't care about any of them.

SPRPG quests on the other hand are usually MUCH more involving (good ones at least) because they try to personally connect you with your character so you WANT to do the quest.  Here is an example from a JRPG I recently played (made generic to avoid spoilers).

First, you are introduced to your characters female friend and are shown a cutscene of their blossoming romance, you also learn more about their history together during some normal adventuring.  You start to care about the characters at this point.  Later, your town gets attacked by huge mosnters and your female friend tragically murdered.

At this point, I actually cared about doing the quest, because I wanted to get revenge!  I didn't even care about exp or loot...and I think this is what quest-based MMORPGs are missing.  There's no effort to actually involve you with your character so you care about doing these quests...they just turn into chores.

Thoughts?

What does the MMORPG.com community have to say on the topic? Read on to find out!

Ecoces would eliminate these nonsensical quests entirely:

thats why if i was in charge of an MMORPG i would get rid of all these nonsensical quests. it always makes me laugh especially in a game like Rift and SWTOR that i have to do menial tasks that would really be below my character based on the story.

Rift - I am an ascended soul called back from death to fight the 7 dragons that are trying to invade Telara. but first i have to help burn old crops and plant new crops for some lazy farmer.

Starpower thinks you're in the wrong genre if you're looking for story in an MMO (I wholeheartedly disagree!):

MMOs to my knowledge has never had meaningful quest stories to follow that made you actually care. It has always been for the shiny.

Take EQ and the quest for the epic weapon back in its day. It was a long and hard quest line but immersion and story? None existant

Same goes for DaoC. Although the game did create a great atmosphere with the different realms, the quests didn't

Not a single MMO to this date has had any meaningful PvE content outside the hunt for loot and xp.

If you find yourself caring about immersion and getting lost in story over loot and levels, I'm afraid you are in the wrong genre.

If i have to be completely honest I never cared much about meaningful quests. When i started it was to fight alongside others having a meaningful and fun specialized role. Wheter it be healer, crowd controller, tank or other. A game that makes a group stick together for more than 45 mins it takes to clear an instance. EQ had that and so did DaoC and Vanguard

Sid_Vicious has some big ideas on the topic:

The main problem imo is that MMORPGs usually follow a story in some instance that others will repeat exactly so your story of meeting a girl who later gets killed by bandits or whatever wouldn't motivate you any more than those stupid menial quests if it was in an MMORPG because if it was than you would ask some guy where he got his cool piece of armor and he may reply 'oh its from some bandits that you kill for killing your girl which you start by talking to the girl at the tavern'. While following that guys advice because you have to have that piece of armor for PVP or something makes the quest the same ol menial task. Stories in MMORPGs are shared and not original enough.

What is more motivating to me is a non-instanced world without a scripted story that everyone has to do to unlock more content or get some special reward but instead game-changing quests that are huge and once they are completed than they are done forever and its over because nobody else will ever do that same quests again. This way everyone would become part of history more instead of following the rails of some themepark. Think of Darkfall for example and the dynamic events that they had with monsters gathering to attack cities or what not. I would like to see more stuff like that and more games with tools for the GMs to create quests for the players so that they can create a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This would be more motiving to play because if you miss out in something happening in the game than you missed it forever and will just have to catch the next unexpected thing the GMs come up for you.

They could have tools for players even to make their own menial quests for others to do things that they don't want to do. A crafter character could hire noobs to gather stuff for example. These quests and tasks could get more complex and more dynamic and interesting by having things like localized banking, FFA PVP with consequences, faction wars, etc.

I've always felt the way the OP does about MMO quests and I've been wanting more, which is why this is a great topic to discuss this week. Star Wars: The Old Republic deals with this issue of motivation in many ways, but also fails in this way as well. You'll often find sidequests that, while voiced, still make you go "Why do I care?" and I usually don't. However, there are so many more that you will feel compelled to do and really make you feel like your own character. I'm excited to see what Guild Wars 2 does on this front as well since the world will be affected by many major events. Though, to be honest, some of the first tasks I did in Guild Wars 2 when I sampled the game last year were fairly menial tasks such as helping a farmer with his watermelons and such. Hopefully these quests were just a means to get you acclimated to the game.

Great topic! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Mavek writes:

I definitely agree that quests have strayed away from story and have turned into loot and xp pinatas.  It's unfortunate that quests have lost the meaning behind them but is it our faults as players?  Sure some quests are menial and if someone in real life asked us to do these things some may respond with " why the hell cant you do it yourself?".  But us as gamers of the mmorpg genre have reached the point where the games (mainly themeparks) are all about eng game content.  

 

I remember my first true experience questing and it was nothing I had ever experienced before.  It was magical and I felt my character was truly heroic.  But as I was experienced more games and saw the same patterns over and over again I just began to feel "been there done that" about the quests stating im the hero and must solve the townsfolks problems.  In my opinion it isn't only the fact that the games are lacking depth (which is pretty clear is true) with some quests, but also the fact that once we've experienced one or two games we, as a whole, don't have the same feeling we once did about quests. 

 

So although games may be lacking innovation we, as a whole, may have lost the once great feeling that we first experienced when questing.  Quests may not have developed so much in the last decade but in the beginning this is what it took to get me hooked my first time (and I thought it was epic).  I think its up to the players and developers to find a new solution.  Maybe abandon quests altogether and have dynamic events play the entire story.  Or have quests that involve truly heroic feats and take multiple hours to complete but have an incredible reward (but that sounds a bit tedious to me, espeically in a second playthrough).  I think we need to evolve from the quest based formula because our views of the current questing system have become stale.

Sun Dec 18 2011 1:22AM Report
verynew writes:

I think that quests must become wider and open-ended.

For example starving orphans ask you to bring them some food and they would give you gift-box they recently found. Now you can give them an apple and they would just run away with it (since it's not enough), you can give them 10 apples and receive your gift-box, you can add some candys and they would some reputation among thieft, beggars and towns-people, you can give them a lot of food and you would get even better reward.

Another posibility is F4A quests whith 1 task and 1 reward for any number of players to try, for small entry fee. One who successed receive reward and half of entry-fees.

For example task is to bring back Targitai's head: so you go and kill him, but others who joined quest trying to kill you and steal his head, and there is time-limit before head would rot-away. So even if Targitai is 200th level golden magic polymorphing dragon, real fun is survival game after his death.

Another example is gathering of construction materials to build or repair castle wall (after attack by Targitai), so you must bring stone and wood - you get payd for every piece but only 500 piece of stone and 400 pieces of wood are required and you need 100 strenght to bring even one of them (thought if you have 500 strength you can bring 5 pieces at once) anyone can take part in it, but when materials have been gathered there will be no more rewards for bringing them in.

Even if quests aren't as personal as in SPRPG's - competition and open-end rewarding (or not) can make them interesting (and fun).

Sun Dec 18 2011 4:13AM Report
fenistil writes:

LESS QUESTS , BUT  make them more COMPLEX longer and unique.   With quests like that you can throw out quest tracker.

 

Seriously quests are not bad, but no more hundreads "kill 10 rats" or "bring 5 items dropped by orcs" type of quests.

 

ADDITIONALY - make mmorpg REWARD interdependency between players and for playing open world and reward with xp for exploring, crafting, etc

Sun Dec 18 2011 6:39AM Report
Weretigar writes:

Well, I have a Few ideas on this subject myslef. 

Ecoces-The only game with no quests at all where you just followed a storyline was Ragnarok Online. We are all glad we were able to abandon this method as well. Because it worked like this. Introduction to world-grind to prefered class-grind to advanced class-kill storyline mvps-collect ultimate gears.

Starpower- Surely you are joking. Those are some pretty wierd mmos if your a long time gamer. Aince the most players of the world went like Ro-L2-WoW. I guess if its only about US MMOs then its a good list. It used to be about this one simple fact. Making the best GvG character so your guild reigns supreme. 

Sid_Vicious:Agreed.

MikeB: Idk, about TOR I really can't fully agree with you, howeevr i also played the jedi(guardian). What I played they pretty much explain to you directly why they cant lets say free the 12 people from wild beast prisons and send you out to do it. Cause they're school is getting supr ganked by aliens. Maybe as far as that game is concerned it's more that some of the classes storylines aren't as emmersive as the rest. 

However I do have to agree the whole everyone has the exact same piece of gear and looks just like you no matter what. Regardless of how many lazy people I help trew the world. I really hope GW2 has a costume tab like Aion or LoTRO.  I mean whats the point in lvling when im just going to be considered a copy of the first person in my class to get the shiny item anywayz?

Mon Dec 19 2011 4:56AM Report
verynew writes:

Whatever it is (crafting, hunting, questing, raiding) - repeated activity becomes GRIND (with all latters capital).

Problem is not about activity being repeated - it's more about rewarding player for what he does. If at the start he need to do a quest or two to get major reward (level or relatively good gear), but then it replased with a GRIND - Nobody likes it.

To erase a SENSE OF GRIND even in repeated activity we need to shift bottom line. In real world you have to run to stay in same place and you must run even faster to move forward. Just give player 30 lvl character from the start, but make a leak in his experience pool - the higher the level the wider the leak. Just give player a freedom to sink if he don't want to swim.

Mon Dec 19 2011 5:45AM Report
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