Cuppy’s post about going back to EverQuest got me to thinking… One thing that has always bugged me is when people say that the title of the game EverQuest is ironic because the game had so few quests and was mostly a grind. “NeverQuest” they often call it. I heartily disagree… now, on to the tangent…
When I wake up in the morning there are things I do. I shower, I sometimes shave, I eat breakfast, I check emails, I watch a TV show, maybe I write something for this blog, I go to work. Work itself is a list of things to do. Write some code to fix a bug, check on the performance of the servers, flowchart the processes of a new program, and more. The one thing that all of those have in common is that not a single one of them would I ever, for any reason, consider a “quest”.
My quest in life is to be a writer, or perhaps a game designer. The things I do on a daily basis are, in some form or another, tasks I perform in pursuit of those larger goals, either directly or indirectly. And now we return to the point…
In my years of playing EverQuest, there was not a single day in that game where I was not on a quest. Whether it be a small task performed to gain reputation, or the pursuit of some larger aspect of something else, but it was always moving toward the completion of some quest somewhere. Headband and Sash quests, Ro Armor, Shackles, Epic weapons, Manuals from Knowledge, Rings in Velious, and much much more.
In my years of playing World of Warcraft, I can’t say I’ve actually done very many quests at all. Every day, every session, I was completing tasks. Busy work. Dozens of little things to do, none of which took very long, and none of which mattered. The rewards I gained from doing WoW’s “quests” would be replaced in days, sometimes less. The only rewards that were even close to permanent and mattering to my character were ones gotten at the level cap, through raiding.
To me, a quest should be a long hard road through hell, something that directs more of you life than fifteen minutes. When I think of “Quest” I think of The Holy Grail, I think of the search for Solomon’s Mines, I think of the search for intelligent life on other planets, I think of goals that consume you. Quests in EverQuest in the “old days” had this. Quests in today’s games don’t. Today’s quests are nothing more than “To Do” lists. Today’s quests are bullet points on the agenda. Today’s quests are eating breakfast, checking my email, and reviewing code.
And that, I’m fairly certain, describes exactly why most modern MMOs, and even what EverQuest has become, just don’t seem to hold my interest. I want to quest again… Do any games have this? or have they all gone the way of WoW? I had hoped Lord of the Rings Online would deliver, and perhaps it did later, but I only got up to level 17 and it was “quest hubs” and tasks, sometimes with a dash of story but really nothing more.