Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

What Quest Helper Did to Gaming

Back in the day (in, you know, 2007) questing in World of Warcraft required you to read quest descriptions in order to determine where and how to complete a quest. Then a little addon called Quest Helper came along and changed that along with our ideas of how questing is supposed to work. I don’t know whether Quest Helper invented the style of quest guidance it employed, but ever since games can’t really be published without a tool like it. And not just MMORPGs.

I recently bought King’s Bounty on steam. The game is modelled very close to the Heroes of Might And Magic series which I used to love. So when the game was available for a low price, I picked it up. The gameplay isn’t bad, but the game is full of quests and lacks a Quest Helper like feature. Not only do the game’s designers expect me to read their quest text (of which there is a lot), comb through it for information (of which there is very little) and search vast areas for the target of those quests, but it also expects me to remember where I got the quest in the first place to report it.

Gameplay like that would have been rather common in the past (even if the better games would have had easier-to-find information in the quest text), but these days it really is a show-stopper. At least for me. Some part of me feels incredibly lazy for wanting such guidance while playing the game, but then I’m a big believer in stripping the boring and annoying parts from games while adding more fun at the same time. If I want to read lots of text, I’ll read a good book which is endlessly more fun than badly written quest text and if I want to comb the desert for something, I’ll watch Spaceballs.

What do you think, are Quest helper -like features a crutch that destroys games as we know them and slowly turns us gamers into mindless husks, or are they a tool that helps us get to the parts of the game that we really enjoy?

  • I think quest helpers are bad. As is quest design where every drop is in sight if you follow a straight line from A to B to C.

    I did not play King’s Bounty in a while, I do not remember this quest turn in issue. But yeah, a marker to indicate where you have to turn in your quest would be nice.

    But is it really good to show people an outline of a zone where the quest mobs are and have an arrow point towards it? I also wonder about that in LOTRO, sometimes this really highlights the stupidity of the task I am about to do, the task that is called “quest”.

  • I suppose the answer to that question depends on the type of quest experience you are offering. If I’m deeply immersed in the storyline which features one major task (and maybe a sidequest), I won’t need a quest helper type feature all that much. I will know what I have to do and roughly where to go to do it. Any searching will be part of the storytelling experience.

    What most games offer these days though is “here, have fifteen quests, none of which require any thinking or knowledge”. “Collect ten bear asses” quests don’t improve much (in my opinion) if you add “But we won’t tell you where the bears are, neener, neener!” to the quest description 😉
    scrusi´s last blog post ..What Quest Helper Did to Gaming

  • I can’t say much on the topic of Quest Helper that hasn’t been said already.
    But I <3 King's Bounty. The longest playing experience per buck I ever had. 68hrs for 3€ (KB:Legends) and 65hrs for another 8€ (KB:Armored Princess). Much better than e.g. HOMM V with about 10hrs bad gameplay for 45€ .. 🙁