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Community Spotlight: Questing Motivation

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 17 2011 at 1:36PM
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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.


What does the 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!