MMO Mechanics & You: Daily Quests
World of Warcraft has done a lot for the MMOs in general and drawing new players into the genre. Some things the game has done have been boons to everyone, while others have been created in the pits of Hell to be unleashed upon the souls of the weary. Case in point? Daily quests.
I will freely admit that the concept of daily quests is nothing short of brilliant – giving players a series of quests to repeat every day in order to either gather enough “tokens” (this term will be used throughout the article to describe a game’s daily reward) to purchase gear they would otherwise have to raid indefinitely for. Other incentive ideas also include the need to do dailies in order to have a hope in hell of gaining enough faction points with an ally to purchase the incredible gear only their merchants possess. On the surface, it sounds like a win/win for everyone involved. Game companies get to keep people playing regularly while players get to work towards some awesome loot. The sad truth is that not everything that looks good on paper works as well in the real (or virtual) world.
The execution of such a system has caused more than one gamer to throw up their hands in rage and lash out at everyone around them. For myself, I hated them so badly that after the first week, I never did another one again after I completed it the first time. I don’t like repeating any content more than a few times at most and game companies expect me to repeat the exact same content every single freaking day? They’re welcome to hold their breath waiting for that cold day in Hell. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit and repeat the same content every day for months on end.
The very idea itself is complete lunacy to most, yet what’s even more astounding is that World of Warcraft players actually did it. Some old friends of mine did it so religiously that they would have a complete meltdown if the servers were unexpectedly down during their daily ritual time or if they were hung up by work, etc. This sort of behavior may be music to the ears of corporate bean counters, but it’s no way for a human being to live.
Fortunately for everyone, nothing ever stays completely the same. It’s been a while since I’ve played World of Warcraft, and even when I do, the last thing I pay attention to is the daily quest system, so I can’t tell you whether it’s improved or not. I’ve heard it has gotten worse in terms of having to grind out faction, but I don’t know. Let me know in the comments! What I do know is that a number of games have taken the idea of ensuring players come back every day and modified it into some pretty ingenious systems.
One such game is Guild Wars 2. The development team realized that there is serious value in having a system in place that strongly encourages players to return to a game every day, but at the same time, they didn’t want to try and force players to suffer through the same drudgery as games in the past. Enter what I like to call the “Wheel of Random Completion”. What do players want to do when they play a game? To do just that – play! So why not give players a random list of goals they can accomplish each day to earn a token? Why not indeed?
Players immediately found themselves with a reason to hop on and play Guild Wars 2 every day without going through too much added effort to gain their daily rewards. The system wasn’t perfect, but it was a far cry from the pain and suffering players went through with World of Warcraft. Gone was the need to repeat the same content day in and day out. Instead, players now had choices to craft X number of items, kill X number of monsters, kill X number of players in PvP, etc. There were still times when the given list didn’t contain enough choices for players that didn’t want to change their general play style but it was a drastic improvement over the days of yore.
Personally, I think that EverQuest II has finally introduced the perfect daily system (at least for my preferred style of playing games). Players have a list of objectives just as they do in Guild Wars 2, but there are always two adventure, two tradeskill, two PvP, and one exploration options. Players also only need to complete two of them to gain their loyalty point for the day. Unlike other games, this loyalty point is account-wide, meaning that once you’ve completed it on one character, you’re done.
Well what the hell kind of challenge is that?! It’s not, and that’s the point. Daily quests shouldn’t be a contest to see who can generate the will to torture themselves with mindless tasks every day. The system has one purpose and one purpose only – to give you an added incentive to log into the game every day and have some fun. The method introduced by EverQuest II does that perfectly. I always get my loyalty point each day I have time to log in, and I have never gone out of my way to complete the objectives, instead just letting it happen naturally as I go about playing. And that’s exactly how it should be.