The question of the day. Quests, are they good or bad.
Wolfshead thinks quest are the worst thing to ever have been added to the MMORPG experience, and wants to remove them from the MMORPG experience. I kinda think he hates them because the current flavor is the smooth creamy WoW flavor. But he does have a couple of good points in his article. Quests can certainly hurt socialisation as players hurry to carry them out at the expense of interacting with other players. Quests can also make what should be a virtual world experience in to a far more of a linear affair, making the experience an on-rails ride.
But, a game without quests? What does that mean?
Well, if we are talking about a typical progression based MMORPG, then we revert to the heady days of yester-year where the only way to advance was to grind out several million NPCs.
In that sense the humble quest has been something of a godsend. Even though we now have the quest grind, I think I like it better than finding a spot to camp, and then grind out mobs for hours on end until the ding. Then finding a new spot and repeating until max level. At least quests offer a reason for going to a location, and for knocking off those ten rats. Old Lady Knickerbocker doesn’t care for rats in her basement don’t you know? Or is that bats in her belfry?
Where I think the quest has gone wrong is that it has been overused, and used in a way that makes it the sole means of progression. You do quests until you get to the level cap, and then do your dailies and raid. Quests are simply used to get a player to the level cap quickly with the distraction of a story.
I also think that quests are used to denote activities that are hardly questlike. When I think of a quest, I think of Frodo and the Ring. I think of Luke trying to escape a boring existence and falling into a great destiny. I think of Decker and the Replicants. I think of meaningful stories, not the killing of some of the local wildlife, or helping a Hobbit deliver the mail. Those are tasks, not quests.
But named correctly, or not, I think what we have now is better than before. What would be better still, would be to have more variety in what activities we can do in MMORPGs, but that also applies to the exclusive combat nature of the current crop of MMORPGS (EQ2 and ATITD not withstanding.) Perhaps it would be better to re-evaluate and rejig the quest model, but throwing the quest-baby out with the bathwater?
Rather than doing away with quests, lets thin them out by adding more to do.