Aka the Old ways vs. The new era of mmorpg PvE leveling. My first real experience with a true questing model was World of Warcraft. Before WoW, quests were either inferior experience, inferior loot, a waste of time, or nonexistent. Since WoW’s success with questing many larger mmorpgs have adopted the system: Vanguard, LotRO, and PotBS for example. In each of these games the main focus of leveling has been centered squarely on questing. The system seems to focus on these key points:
- Volume – If you’re going to offer quests you need to offer enough quests. Failure to do so will leave you open to scrutiny.
- Simplicity – How easy or rather how involved are the quests? Quests can’t be too difficult, too wordy, or too time consuming.
- Reward – Experience points, items, and the gameplay all must play their part. Players need to feel a drive for something.
I like quests. I like the purpose and direction that they give me. Then at the same time I like the freedom and adventure that grinding brings me. Grinding has become to polar opposite of questing. Grinding has been labeled as a more “traditional” approach and to many it’s outdated. For grinding to be done right or at least the opportunity to grind, there needs to exist the following:
- Public Dungeons – I think these are crucial. Scatter dungeons all over and provide rare spawns and lots of monsters.
- Outdoor mob volume – In order for grinding to work there has to be camps or large ranges where mobs spawn.
- Legtimate exp gain – Sitting in one place for 6 hours killing the same mob over and over shouldn’t barely move your bar.
My ideal game has both systems. Questing would be very similar to the standard except the volume would be turned down. Having too many quests detracts from the freedom and adventure that make a world feel lived in. Too many quests can also be an excuse for lazy development. It’s far easier to create big quest hubs and then slack on the rest of the world because you know exactly where you’ll be funneling everyone (ala LotRO). Grinding would yield equal experience and loot. A happy medium can exist. Allowing players to roam through a forest and come upon a gorge filled with wolfmen should be a welcome site to players. Players should be able to find a nice spot and pull mobs to them all day and have that be productive if that is how they want to spend their time leveling. If players want to run quests they should be more involved than “Go here, kill this single mob and come back”. Quests should reward the player and also keep them immersed in the game.
I haven’t found a game that provides me with a choice of both. I’m not too sure why.