Monday, November 16, 2009

Are Daily Quests Keeping Us From Fun?

Like many of us, Tobold's MMORPG day begins with a round through the alts to deal with the daily chores of gaming - tradeskill cooldowns and daily quests.

Blizzard claims that they originally described the daily quest as a way to allow better rewards for solo content without having them immediately snapped up by group players. Whether or not that intent was sincere, daily quest rewards were set to make players want to make sure that they collect them on a daily basis, and players were quick to adjust their behavior accordingly.

Daily Quest Bribes In Action
My current personal dilemma is with LOTRO's overpowered item experience daily bounty quests. I don't especially enjoy doing these quests, which require large amounts of time spent on AFK travel and do not offer any significant challenge (I completed my first bounty quests five levels below its stated level). Unfortunately, Turbine's "legendary" items are designed to be replaced on a regular basis, and doing so becomes very tedious if you do not stockpile several days of experience runes in your bank for speed leveling your next weapon.

I'd be happy to run the thing half a dozen times back to back when I actually have a new weapon to level, but running the quest loop, which takes over 30 minutes and uses all of my hour-long teleport cooldowns, just to stock up feels like it is keeping me from something I would rather be doing. Unfortunately, the only alternative is to wait a few days after obtaining a new weapon before getting enough runes to begin using it.

Disproportion Effects on the Busy Gamer
Describing how all his efforts have slowed up his progress on a new Pally alt, Tobold writes:
"As long as your activities are in line with your personal goals, you are playing it right."
Tobold, hopefully, is happy in the aggregate with the amount of time he spends on his daily chores as a proportion of his total gaming time. Indeed, if you're online for multiple hours each day, half an hour here or there aren't that much of a big deal. For the majority of Tobold's gaming session, he has already done the daily activities that he is interested in, and he is free to do whatever he wants.

If, on the other hand, you are trying to game on an hour a day or less, that half an hour suddenly represents a huge chunk of your time, and you will spend a greater proportion of your time with available daily rewards that you have yet to claim.

Of course, you can choose to ignore the daily chores in favor of activities you actually want to do. The reality, though, is that this means making an intentionally suboptimal choice in ignoring the superior time/rewards offered by the daily quests. The time reward curve says that the dailies are the "right" choice, your long term goals say that the dailies are "right", but the end result leaves you feeling like the game has gotten grindy and trivial. That's not the best long-term plan for developers who are in the business of trying to retain subscriptions.

18 comments:

Yeebo said...

Everyone I know in game loves those bounty quests. My main is a hunter, so i am quite sought after to taxi groups through them. And I am sick to death of them. I have barely been able to play for the last month, and pretty much 90% of my playtime has been spent doing those bounty quests.

Yes, it's mad item XP. But like any content, once I've beaten something a few times I'm done with it. It's one of the major reasons I have never been a raider. There is simply no way in hell I'm running the same instance enough times to gear up myself and 19 of my closest friends.

The fact that I can run all but one or two of the bounty quests solo and faster than any other class (without touching any of my one hour cooldowns) doesn't really help. It only burned me out on them faster.

Klepsacovic said...

"Am I having fun?" No. "I'll change what I'm doing."
This is my approach to dailies. I do them now and then. Most days I do not. Overall I think people need to stop treating WoW as a job, as a set of tasks which they must complete, and remember it as a game. We get so focused on goals that we forget to have fun along the way; then we reach the goal and realize we were bored for little more than a slight endorphin rush before it settles in: "Now what?"

DeftyJames said...

GA. The reality is that WoW or LOTRO is not the right game for everyone. I honestly don't think the game is designed to get by on an hour a day. Sure, sometime I log in just to do a daily like the cooking quest and that's it. But the truth of the matter is that if all you have is seven hours a week and that has to be broken up into seven days then you might want to look at different games or stop until you do have more free time.

I don't say that coldly because I enjoy reading your blog. But there is a time to say "this just isn't working for me any more" and pull the plug. Maybe you are at that time.

Professor Beej said...

Dailies really do keep me from enjoying the game, so that's why I don't do them. If there's a rep to be grinded, I'll do what I can when I can, but I never just do them because they're there. I hate the concept, and they're so monotonous, I'd rather run PuG Heroics for badges and cash together than dailies for just more cash.

Inquisitor said...

The 'superior' rewards are only superior if you're playing the game towards a destination, not as a journey. If you plan on raiding/whatever in a month, when you have more time to spend on the game, then by all means see it as an investment of time. Otherwise, you're playing it to enjoy your hour as best you may.

(I hate dailies. I usually run them once, sometimes not even that.)

Green Armadillo said...

@DJ: I'm somewhat aware of that possibility (and you may be making the same comment again as some of my posts for later in the week go up). That said, the modern genre is actually not entirely unfriendly to short sessions provided you can find a way not to spend the majority of the time in transit. Daily quests are the one area that really breaks things, since most daily quests consist almost entirely of travel.

mbp said...

The whole notion of daily quests sounds too much like turning a game into a job.

Happily you can choose to ignore them in many games. Remember that the generosity of Lotro's bounty quests was actually a progamming error. It is entirely possible to play the game without them. You just need to condition yourself to settle for "good enough" rather than "best possible".

Longasc said...

Short Version:

This kind of quest design should die in a fire.

Why? It prevents people from getting creative, finding their farmplace, their way to do things. They are too often bandaids for broken systems (legendary items e.g., faction gain in TBC) and just show flaws of quest driven and directed gameplay: There is apparently nothing else to do, explore, kill or so on in our virtual worlds, which is sad.


Long TLDR Version:
I did dailies in WoW - bombing run in Skettis in TBC, quests on the Isle of Quel'Danas and later helped some sea cows mating in WOTLK.

I did them while waiting for a group for the daily heroic... oh my. :(

They are there to keep people occupied, to give them something to do. After I maxed my faction on the Island I did not bother with them again most of the time. They were not money makers for me, more faction makers.

In LOTRO, the quest is an item XP maker. You cannot come close to this item XP gain by doing something else in the game, so you better don't miss to do this quest every day, right...?

It is not right, it is giving a rather poor, repetitive and boring quest series (people usually ask for a hunter and then do the quests in sequence) an reward that is too good to pass up.

It is in LOTRO's case even the fix for a broken and boring system (legendary item levelling takes ages without quests), in WoW's case it was the time limited daily faction gain you got. They FIXED this later by giving out Tabards besides some dungeons giving rep for a certain faction on top of that in WOTLK.


Still, these quests reward players for doing things every day that soon become a chore to be done as quickly as possible.

This is actually driving people away and burning them out in the long run. Tobold's daily routine is even worse than my WoW routine with daily questing was.

So I can totally understand @Yeebo. I stopped doing these quests by now, I am pretty set with relics already by doing them over and over. It is enough.

@DeftyJames comment even makes me chuckle, as one intention of these quests was to HELP the casual players who did not have that much time... it got totally perverted and might suck away the time they have to play the game, or they must skip on the goldmine, the daily quest that makes the guy who does them daily even richer.

It took me quite some time in WoW and LOTRO till I came to the point where I could say "screw you, daily quests - got my stuff!" (I am still doing Lothlorien hourly quests now and then, 15k to go for max rank... cough).

Dorgol said...

I have a high tolerance for repetitive content. In TBC I did the dailies for Netherwing, Ogri'la, Shat'ari Skyguard, and Shattered Sun to hit exalted with all four reputations... on 4 different charactrs.

Now, in WotLK, I have two characters with the Crusader title. I'm STILL doing Tournament dailies for the mounts (there are 14 mounts available to me, I have 11 of them). Once I get the last mount I'll stop doing those dailies. Then again, I might just start doing them again on my Warlock.

I LIKE the daily quests because it's something I can do in my pre-work gametime. I don't have enough time to run a heroic, and while I enjoy BGs they can be rather frustrating first thing in the morning.

And while repetitive dailies can get old (even for me), it blows grinding-for-the-sake-of-grinding out of the water.

Dalt said...

I agree with Dorgol. I do my dallies before heading off to work and I enjoy that I can make steady progress towards items I want especially at the Argent Tournament.

My time is limited in-game though so I pick the dallies I want to do and stick with those. If I want to spend more time leveling an alt I just back off the number of dallies I do each day. To me it has all been about balance but I am really glad those daily quest options are there.

foolsage said...

I found the Bounty Quests got pretty tedious after a couple of weeks. My 4 main chars all had vaults full of IXP runes to spend on their next potentially passable but ultimately disposable "legendary" items, and it just got to be a drag.

In LotRO's case Longasc hit the nail on the head; Bounty Quests are a bandaid to fix the broken disposable-legendary system. By giving us tons of IXP the devs hoped we'd be less concerned with the tedium of the legendary lottery, and less troubled by the necessity to destroy so many "legendary" items to gain a decent one.

The Bounty Quests were of course a linear upgrade from the solo Moria IXP instances, but the increase in IXP/hour was so massive that I stopped doing the instances entirely.

I liked the easy IXP concept at first, until I really thought through the underlying systems and realized this was LotRO's future; massive IXP readily available so players can level and destroy "legendary" after "legendary". Ultimately it became very grindy and unfun for me.

Your mileage may of course vary. ;)

Longasc said...

@foolsage The Bounty Quests & Legendary Item system woes of LOTRO are probably the most obvious example, but other games with dailies, let's just say WoW, use(d) it for similar things.

In TBC such repeatable or daily quests were the only way to gain "faction" for several factions like Ogri'La and Sporeggar.

The reward?

1.) An Achievement for maxing faction, grats. The Achievement system got introduced much later with WOTLK
2.) some epic items, most were already made useless by the badge gear unfortunately
3.) The faction mount. Every faction has a mount or something special.
4.) Welfare money so that you can buy another EPIC item. (cough)

The fun?

Well, doing the same shit every day is fun, isn't it. It reminds me of work, and I love my work. But why I am then playing a game? I am not really sure if doing Bounty Quests or Daily Quests every day is that much fun.

Dorgol, Dalt - you are grinding. It is just a bit disguised and much more rewarding as you get disproportionally much money/etc. for the "effort".


I will crap on the whole genre if the usual MMO experience will stay like this:

1. Solo/Duo to max level
2. (LOOP) Do daily quests for gear and reputation
3. Start doing dungeons to gear up for raids.
4. Raid!

There is an awesome fantastic world in most MMOs in -1.-, and once raids and dungeons were part of the world.

Now the aim seems to be to skip as much of the world as possible to start with DAILY CHORES and crawling into dungeon holes to raid EVERY WEEK on set timers with raid schedules.


Daily Quests are just another bad addition to a wrong trend in the genre. First we tried to get rid of grind and all the many things that made MMOs hard and unenjoyable, only to turn them into THIS???

Dalt said...

@Longasc

I see your point but to me it is really *all* grinding of one kind or another. Even leveling is just xp grinding whether you do it though questing, kills or something else. To me it is more important in how it is masked.

A good example of why I ultimately settled on WoW over LotRO is that I think Turbine does a pretty lousy job of masking the grind (though perhaps it has been better since Moria). All I can remember is trying to level my traits and virtues. I forget which it was but there was a particular virtue that required the slaying of 120 mobs for the title and 240 for the virtue - and that was it for me. At the end in LotRO everything was just an obvious grind and I shied away from it.

So, I guess I just see WoW as making it feel a bit less grindy and I do find that fun. At least I have something to do at max level since I mostly solo and dont raid.

Tesh said...

I've read where dailies were a significant factor in Saylah's eventual abandonment of WoW. She calls them "chores", and not to belabor the point, she's absolutely correct.

I'm terribly sick of game design that forces me to grind through mindless repetition to get to the fun part. Mind, if the dailies themselves are fun, that's one thing, but if they are a requisite to repair costs or raid preparation, to me, that's the sign of imbalanced game design, poor pacing, and possibly abuse of subscription time, which I am extremely sensitive to.

Bronte said...

I think it also depends on the players' disposition.

As a hardcore WoW player (I used to lead the server's top guild for 2+ years, lead raids, and manage all guild activities), I hated daily quests. I could not stand them, I saw them as a way for lolcasuals to make money.

As a more casual player now who logs in when it is convenient instead of out of compulsion, I find that daily quests and an almost... relaxing activity. I don't need the gold from it, but there is something oddly serene about the repetition of something familiar.

Dorgol said...

@Longasc - "Dorgol, Dalt - you are grinding. It is just a bit disguised and much more rewarding as you get disproportionally much money/etc. for the "effort"."

Yep. It is grinding. But it's grinding I enjoy.

Going back to your earlier comment:

"[Daily quests] prevents people from getting creative, finding their farmplace, their way to do things. "

Questing IS the fun part of WoW for me. I have the Loremaster title! Mind you I still raid, I still PvP, I even cook and fish. But the CORE of the game - for me - is questing. Getting an objective and accomplishing that objective.

I can fully understand why you don't like the daily quest system. That doesn't mean everyone has the same standpoint.

Lasitus said...

@Longasc (the first comment) Exactly!

I prefer the old WoW version of the grind. The difficult rep grinds, leveling, mount quests, keys and attunements etc. I honestly feel professions should be 10x harder than they are but that's another topic. Anyway, you had to really want something enough to do it, and not everyone did. It was a great way to have some uniqueness in your character and achievements, and when someone did achieve something it was worth posting in /g. Others were proud of you and you were proud of yourself and deservedly so. It's not that the Daily quest is a bad idea in itself, but there are a couple of things about how they are implemented atm that really bothers me.

My biggest problem with them is the overcompensation. Large amounts of gold, AND large amounts of rep, AND rewards. Where's the harm in making the gain difficult enough a player has to choose which faction he/she has time to gain rep with? ...in making the gain difficult enough that you could offer a raiding quality item as reward? Obviously I'm ok with people not being able to see all the content. There are other types of games for that.

The other thing is making them the only way to accomplish something ie. cooking recipes. In WotLK for example, an NPC has collected nearly all the recipes in the land before we even get there and for doing the same four or five truely simple tasks (clicking on sparkling objects) once each day he will allow us to get them from him. How could this be more fun than first having to learn from the experiences of the player population on where you can find the recipe and then hunting and fighting the beast that had it. Dailies in this form are just a dumbing down of the game.

I guess what I'd like is for Dailies to have a much more limited role in faction rep and professions. There could be some dailies but that it's not THE system by which so much of the game depends. That type of gameplay/design seems cookie cutter where everyone does the same thing and has the same character except maybe the green mohawk.

Jayedub said...

I think that daily quests always start out as fun, but eventually turn into work the longer you repeat them.