Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bringing Endgame To Leveling

I've been busy offline of late, which has meant short play sessions, and Runes of Magic daily quests have been beating out games where I'm actually paying a subscription for this limited time.  It's not exactly accurate to call ROM's dailies "grindy" because they're literally grind - you're in for easily 150-200 mob kills if you want to max out your daily allowance.  Moreover, if you're not supplementing your exp with dungeons or bonus exp weekends, you will have to do some amount of daily quest grinding to get the exp to keep leveling even one of your two classes. 

Quest designers these days build MMO leveling curves with the assumption that having solo players ever run out of non-repeatable quest content is a cardinal sin.  So why am I not only tolerating this mechanic in ROM but actively choosing it over other games that also offer daily quests?  At the end of the day, complaining about grinding in ROM is like complaining about shooting people in a first person shooter - if you don't like it, you're playing the wrong game, and I won't hesitate to leave my ROM dailies unfinished if I'm not in the mood or I have the chance to do something more interesting. 

In their Dev watercooler this week, Blizzard talks about the challenge of selling solo players on transitioning from one-time story-based leveling content to repeatable daily quest grinds at level 85.  One seemingly obvious solution that does not appear to be on the table is the one that ROM already has.  Instead of trying to transition players after months of playtime, offer the same experience - in this case, grinding daily quests for fun, profit, and exp - from the earliest stage possible.  That way, you can focus your development efforts on making that one type of gameplay as appealing as possible.

Blizzard appears to have chosen to go the other direction.  Based in part on beta feedback asking for more quests, they appear to have concluded they could sell more copies by covering the grind-like aspects of the genre behind a constant but unsustainable change of scenery after every 10 killed rat-equivalents.  The good news is that 11+ million players appear to agree, opening their wallets each and every month and handing over their local currency to choose Blizzard's product over the competition.  The bad news is that the content has to run out sometime, and the transition is that much harder because of the choice (which most other studios have copied) not to prepare customers for the change. 


mark said...

Another advantage of the RoM choice as opposed to the Blizzard choice, especially for the solo levelers who usually like to experience the content, is that you don't outlevel the "real" quests.

Syl said...

The daily quest grind is only working because of the numerous rewards installed in woW, be it rep, items, tokens, you name it. Nobody in his right mind think it's fun to do the same quest over and over unless there's the incentive of loot. and even of that, you can tire - although I must say, I am slightly baffled at how long some players are willing to chase the carrot.

Blizzard excels at the carrot game.

Lexicorro said...

They could solve all (lol maybe) their problems by making achievements into actual quests with suitable unique endgame rewards.

Anonymous said...

The daily quest grind is an excellent example of Hecker's Nightmare: content that is unfun, but that players do because they are bribed.

At some point, the players wake up and realize there's no point to doing something that isn't fun, if the bribes just lead to more stuff that isn't fun.

Indy said...

Sometimes a player is in the mood to just go out and grind mobs. One of the good points on RoM's daily quest model is that most of them use trash drops for turnins -- that drop *regardless* of if you have the quest or not. So you can kill mobs, do a bunch of turnins afterwards -- even store up several days worth. LOTRO did the same thing with the new task system. (You could also buy them from the AH.)

The other appeal to the dailies in RoM that wouldn't transfer easily to WoW (and isn't in LOTRO tasks either) is that they are only (or just main?) source for Phirius Tokens, which spend in the games cash shop (for an unfortunately too limited and usually inferior selection). Although I suppose something like the Argent Tournament currency is an equivalent, given the mount/pet rewards sold for it. Possibly the new Firelands dailies coming in patch 4.2 will have a similar appeal with their token currency; at least the developers are talking about giving us stuff to buy with it.

Incidentally, I had fired up RoM again recently and did a batch of dailies. I'm not playing it much, just somewhat more than 'never again', heh. It's interesting (for your point) that dailies are what I *did* do, instead of normal questing. RoM does manage to make the combat appealing... there's something about my mage throwing fireballs that's quite fun.

Indy said...

Oh, RoM is having a triple XP *and* TP weekend now. (I consider bonus tp far more important then xp.)

kaozz said...

I do the RoM daily quests sometimes, they don't always feel as bad because I don't feel I HAVE to do them. Then again I'm still a lowbie there, heh.

I like daily quests but I think when no new ones are added, over long periods of time, they become really stale. Like doing WoW daily quests for two years straight... UGH. Even Forsaken World makes me cringe with the obscure amount of the same ol' same ol'.