!February 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
Tags: game design, lord of the rings online, of quests and questing, star wars the old republic, World of Warcraft
A busy life has lead to some neglected MMO characters (many called Hawley) and some abandoned MMOs. Yet for all my enforced detachment from the intarnets, and not having the time to be able to say a proper (if temporary) goodbye to gaming, it’s nice to know that the real world has a place for me, even if I do keep trying to escape it…
I wasn’t completely without gaming, though. Mass Effect (the first one, not the recently released sequel) on the xbox kept me sane through those times when I just had to get some gaming in.
And it did make me wonder on the nature of questing in MMOs, so there is a slight point (hopefully) to this ramble.
Years of World of Warcraft got me used to seeing golden-glowy exclamation marks above NPC heads. Years of Lord of the Rings Online got me used to seeing all sorts of symbols, dependant on what I needed; a golden-glowy ring (which is fitting to the subject matter, after all) above an NPC head was as good as an exclamation mark. Nowadays, checking for an icon, all Sword of Damocles in nature, above an NPC’s head is second nature whenever a new game is started.
It’s now part of the Language of MMOs. Glowing marker indicates a quest-giver.
It has its uses. With the predominance of quests, and quest givers, and all sorts of distractions and getting lost that MMOs give us, having some visual guide to help us find who to get quests from and who to hand them in to is really, really useful.
Mass Effect doesn’t have this. It seems that single player gaming still requires us to actually find our quests by talking to all and sundry, and remembering where they are, who they are, and then talking to them to find out what we’re supposed to be doing. And they don’t even talk in bullet points.
I’ve always liked Bioware’s adventures. It’s just finding the time to play them that can be the issue; MMOs can be jealous creatures, and don’t like to share. At least, I find them to be jealous of my time.
In Mass Effect, finding quests is part of the story that I’m playing through. I go to a quest hub, find quests, do quests, and then move to the next quest hub. In that respect, the gameplay is very similar to MMOs. The difference is that of immersion; talking to an NPC to find out if they have something of interest to say, or a quest to give out, or even if they might advance a quest I’m on seems much more natural than going up to an NPC, pressing the Dispense Quest button, getting a bullet-pointed shopping list, and running off.
I’ve not seen Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age: Origins. I know lots of people who’ve looked at them, played them, enjoyed them, finished them, and studied them for any clues as to how Star Wars: The Old Republic might turn out. But I like to finish my current Bioware game before buying the next, hence my slow but inexorable march to Mass Effect’s end. This choice has meant that I don’t know if Bioware have chosen to change the way they present quests within their games; add the common belief that Bioware are testing the boundaries of MMO gaming with their latest releases means I don’t know if they’re going to change the way that we deal with quests and quest-givers.
I hope they do. I’m finding that I like immersion.