Monday, November 21, 2011

Dailies and the Subscription Endgame

I've been sporadically working on WoW's daily quest endgame, and I'm staggered by how many of these there are in Cataclysm these days.  Studios - Blizzard foremost amongst them - have gotten really fond of using daily progress limits to extend the life of content in the era of the monthly subscription fee.  I wonder whether this mechanic is going to be less welcome now that so many games aren't charging one. 

Tales of Tol Barad
Today, I finished an achievement called Just Another Day in Tol Barad, awarded for completing each of the daily quests related to the Cataclysm world PVP area.  No actual PVP is required for this achievement, but it does require a decent amount of real-world time.

Most of the quests in Tol Barad are randomly selected on a daily basis, and it's taken over two weeks (not counting days when I didn't actually play) to get all of them.  Additionally, nine of the quests for the achievement are tied to control of the Tol Barad keep - after each battle, one of three random questgivers spawns, with quests pointing at one of three mini-prisons that are only open when the appropriate questgiver is up.  There is no time limit on these quests once you have accepted them (e.g. if the next battle happens - even if your faction wins, the same area might not be open afterwards), and you can complete the quests if the opposing faction controls the zone and the appropriate questgiver spawns for them.  (Unlike Wintergrasp, none of this area is flagged for PVP on PVE servers.) 

This is not the end of the Tol Barad dailies, however.  There is a quest achievement for completing 100 dailies in the area (I'm currently just over 60), and I would probably need around 40-60 more quests beyond that for exalted with the faction (currently partway through revered).  These daily quest totals would be enough for me to collect the tokens for the minipet (already purchased) and maybe the cheaper of the two mounts, with another 200 tokens if you want both mounts. 

Other daily quest-related activities on my theoretical to-do list in WoW include:
  • I'm working on the revised Wintersaber cub grind, currently completed day 11 out of 20.
  • I'm on one of the earliest stages in the Fireland daily quests from patch 4.2.
  • I'm currently revered with Therazane, which has a bunch of daily quests for rep.  There are also two achievements here, each of which depend on completing a specific quest 10 times.  Neither of these is a guaranteed spawn either, and one, for the Pebble minipet, is actually very rare.  
  • There are two open daily quests I can theoretically work on for Ramakhen rep (currently revered), though realistically it's quicker to get this by pugging dungeons with the appropriate tabard.  
  • There are also two dailies for the Wildhammer clan, but I have yet to unlock these, and, again, there's a tabard for that.  
  • I'm done with cooking dailies, but there are fishing (and possibly archeology?) dailies I haven't bothered with.
  • This is not strictly a daily, but my mage still has his hearthstone in Sholazar Basin because he's still waiting on the green proto-drake mount from the Oracle eggs, which take three days of real time (reduced down from a week in Wrath) to hatch.  I have several bags-worth of duplicate super-common and thus un-sellable minipets from this activity, and may or may not be willing to do out-dated Wrath era daily quests to switch over to the Wolvar side if I ever get the mount, just so I can slaughter Oracles in retribution for how long this has taken.  
  • Patch 4.3 will revise the Darkmoon Faire to include a number of daily quests and currencies, all of which are only available one week per month when the Faire is open.  
The role of the daily in the subscription game
Overall, it's pretty clear the daily quests are what's for entertainment for the solo player at endgame, and there are times when I don't mind doing them.  They're a great way to pass the time while waiting for dungeon queues, waking up bleary-eyed first thing in the morning, or just in situations where you can't be sure you won't be called away from the computer on a moment's notice.

That said, I would be seriously irked by all of the places where my ability to complete my goals is blocked by daily progress limits if I was still paying for a month at a time and trying to wrap things up quickly.  Because I elected to sign up for the annual plan for this year, I know that I have lots of time to take care of all this stuff (or not), and it doesn't really bug me if I don't feel like doing dailies today - I just don't do them.  In hindsight, part of why I haven't spent much time on Cataclysm's endgame was not wanting to try and focus on getting these grinds over with in as few paid months as possible.

The last few remaining subscription games, like WoW and Rift, are faced with competition that offers payment models which are more based on how much you choose to play than when.   Free to play games want to charge money too, but they have less reason to care if a player wants to go all-in for a weekend - see my experience with Runes of Magic bonus exp.  Ironically, this may mean less pressure to include too much of a (marginally) good thing. 


Yeebo said...

Tol Barad and random Battlegrounds were how I wound down my last time subbed to WoW. The battlegrounds ended for me once I had all the blue gear; without doing arenas the grind for purple PvP gear is insane. I ended up getting the dragon, the ghost horse, and the staff from Tol Borad. I was well and truly done there by the end of it, I doubt I could bring myself to do that grind on my next guy up.

Xaxziminrax II said...

>may or may not be willing to do out-dated Wrath era daily quests to switch over to the Wolvar side if I ever get the mount, just so I can slaughter Oracles in retribution for how long this has taken

Totally worth it.

Anonymous said...

The ramkahen daily where you hit the pygmies with the hammer is almost too much fun not to do.

On my paladin I've been doing shattered sun offensive dailies so I can get the tabard and shield for transmog. I've also been doing firelands so I can craft the purple weapons once orbs are BOE.

I was doing Argent Tourny for free heirlooms.

They do seem like kind of pointless time sinks though.

Bhagpuss said...

I hated dailies with a passion when i first came across them and I still dislike them on principle. I love repeatable quests that I can do as often as I like, and I'll sometimes do the same one a dozen times on the trot, but that's under my control.

Adding a "Use it or lose it" element changes the whole power structure. Suddenly I'm being told what I can do when I log in and instead of me being in control I am being controlled. I realize this is a perceptual rather than an actual distinction, but it pushes all the wrong buttons in me.

As I described a while back on my own blog, though, I came to enjoy Dailies in their Rift incarnation. There's one primary reason for that: Rift dailies are mostly very, very short. Somehow a daily that takes me 30 - 90 seconds seems far more acceptable than one that takes 10 - 15 minutes. I also quite enjoy some of the EQ2 Dailies, largely because the ones I choose to do are very laid-back and resemble the kind of soothing, repetitive activities I enjoy, like foraging.

I completely agree that Dailies are becoming, if they haven't already become, end-game content for casuals or soloists. It's not a direction I approve of, that's for sure.