Friday, September 10, 2010

Is it epic?

I have been touching the subject of raiding being revered as The Game within the MMO. I myself think that raiding itself has been created as a superficial way to keep the players who want to beat the game and see the flashing Game Over, You Win screen happy and working ad nauseatum. The opposing point of view deems quests and levelling as boring solo endeavour and raiding as being epic battles and epic experiences.

Look around in the blogosphere: how many posts about quests, epic storylines or great deeds done while completing quest can you find? Let alone blogs?

Based on what I've seen -which isn't much- I think it's pretty few, most of them mostly concentrating on completing the Insane to the Membrane achievement or speed levelling by going through the few longer quest lines, skipping the finale because the reward is obsolete at the time you reach that point.

Now that I've dipped my feet into the raiding end of the pool, I'm waiting for it's magic to get hold on me. The min-maxing minigame which being capped forces on you finds its culmination point in raid gearing with all the finesses from flasks, potions, enchants and buff food. The further we go in an expansion the higher and higher the arbitrary gs expectations of the PUG raids go, leading us to the point where a fun run in Sunwell Plateau requires "properly geared, min. 5.6gs players" (saw yesterday a call for full group of lv80's for that one...) and you can't get on weekly below 6k. Couple of days ago I was turned down from weekly in Ulduar (XT-002) for lacking from 5.6k gs...

This superficial requirement armada creates the false assumption that the life at the cap is the cream of the crop. It makes us forget the stories, the lore and the real adventure experienced while climbing up to the top. Then again, the game designers guide our decisions and impose us with certain solutions to their puzzles, forming the way the game is played. If they wanted, the game would look very much different.

One aspect I've noticed lacking is the quest line composition. There is no way of telling if the quest you just picked up is a continuing one (unless you run a quest helper addon or another), and despite what Blizzard thinks not everyone is rejoiced to find a quest hub and see their minimap blink yellow: the most rewarding quests and quest lines I've taken have been those which you find out there in the wild, in a dungeon which you just passed or out there, beyond any quest hubs. Sense of adventure, excitement and exploration, I say!

The quests should give us also choices which have the chance of changing the future quest composition. You should be able to make a decision whether you want to torture a prisoner or turn their superiors in. By choosing either your future quests should reflect this change, thus making every levelling experience different by more than just choosing another area (only to return to the same path later).

There are no real epic story lines out there, even though there are some pretty long ones. The ones that tickle your fancy and force you to hurry to the next chapter in the story are few and far, but those are the ones that really make the game epic.

Will we see this change in Cataclysm? I don't know. Like I said earlier, I hate the Cataclysm leaks, and can't bother to find out beforehand. But if the questing is more and more the same as always, then the only thing that remains epic is gear.

The question is, whether the quests and questing in general is epic enough, when beating the 'unbeatable' odds of group content seems to be?

Could questing be as epic, even?