So thus comes a recap of World of Warcraft’s Jeff Kaplan on their biggest quest mistakes in the game at GDC. It’s breathtaking candor from a company who’s usual policy is “working as intended” and “no, YOU made the mistake, buddy!” And it’s a thoroughly captivating read. No matter what your feelings on WoW, they were responsible for the retooling and overhaul of the quest system that MMOs use, and it’s of little surprise that many games today blatantly copy it — right down to the floating icons over quest-givers’ heads. If other titles and Blizzard itself can learn and improve on Blizz’s mistakes, then we are all the better for it.
I actually agree with many of his points, although Kaplan seems to spend more time criticizing where something went wrong than identifying how they can make it better and do it right in the future. This all does tie in very nicely with something I’ve been saying over at WAAAGH! for some time now, that we as players are given too many quests in too short of a span of time with zero importance to them, other than being vending machines for XP and items. We’re not being told STORIES in ways that are memorable (and yeah, I think this interview is another nail in the coffin of quest text, at least the type that we’ve seen up to this point).
A great, memorable, involving quest includes a terrific story told in a way that players understand and digest, have notable or unique elements to them, and offer choice and consequences. It’s why so many people are hanging their hopes on BioWare being able to deliver the next great stage of quest storytelling with The Old Republic — because if they can’t do it, I fear for the rest of the industry.