I’ve heard it said that Blizzard was the MMO studio that came up with the idea for daily quests. I can’t recall any that did so previously, but making absolute statements like that with game development is a good way to set yourself up for looking foolish when someone else comes up with an example from a game you never heard of. Anyway, I certainly never heard of dailies before then.
So let’s cast our minds back to 2007 and the debut of The Burning Legion. As much as some players hold vanilla WoW up as a great era — and there was a special feel to the time, to be sure — it had a lot of unfriendly issues that kept the game from being as enjoyable as it could’ve been. One of those was the lack of quests as you started to move up in levels. Blizzard did a great job front-loading WoW at launch with plenty of quests to get you leveling, and people were falling over themselves at the time in praise for this type of mission delivery system. But the mid- and upper levels were sparse with available quests and the concept of hubs didn’t really come until TBC.
Unless you wanted to grind mobs, you would have to hunt down the rare quests in the world once you were in your 40s and 50s. For me, this initially meant following a very detailed walkthrough (first printed, then incorporated into the game as a mod, and then finally stolen outright by Blizzard for use in its UI). This walkthrough figured out the most optimal path to collecting and completing quests as you zig-zagged around the world. The long and the short of it was that we as players were initially fed well on quests and then subsequently starved. By the time Burning Crusade came out, we were ravenous.
So here comes the first expansion and with it an avalanche of quests. Quests here, quests there, quest hubs, quests from animal poo, etc. I used to be so excited when my character finally got to level 58 because then I could go to Outlands and level through quests without stressing about where to go. It’s funny to me now how Outlands is seen as an outdated, painful place to visit.
But what to do when you got done with the zones? That’s when Blizzard had the bright idea (ahem) of incorporating daily quests. These were a series of quests scattered around the place that you could complete once a day. Over and over and over again. They didn’t change, but they were lucrative for gold generation, and so a lot of folks — myself included — regularly ran them.
The problem was, of course, that no matter how good of a quest any of these might be (and they weren’t that stunning to being with), by the third or fourth time you were sick of doing them, yet without much else to do solo, you kept running them (plus, gold!). The only consolation is that you got really, really good at doing them efficiently and as quickly as possible.
Daily quests might have advanced a little since then, perhaps pulled from a rotating pool of quests to stave off boredom, but for the most part they stagnated almost as quickly as they came on the scene. You’re not getting any new story with them, so all they became are meaningless tasks — chores, really. Have you cleaned your room today? Have you taken out the trash? Have you done your dailies?
MMOs seized upon the idea of dailies as a way for players to gradually earn some really good reward. Bio Break readers recently saw me go through a month of dailies in Star Trek Online to get a “free” T6 escort. And those dailies weren’t done at all because they were fun or compelling, but because the reward was great enough to overcome my reluctance to grind quests. And that’s how most dailies operate.
And because dailies are disposable, forgettable quests, they don’t offer real story worth a darn. So for the narrative-addicted folks like me, they’re not appealing at all. I logged onto WildStar the other day and went to the new zone, scooting around to hoover up quests, and was dismayed how many of them had “daily” attached. Meaningless. And the worst thing is that even if you do them, they come right back. You can’t ever fully check off that quest from the map, because the exclamation point (or whatever symbol a game has for “GET QUEST HERE!”) will return the next day. It’s frustrating to those of us who like to clean up an area before moving on.
So there’s my bold position for the day: I hate dailies. If MMOs can’t truly think of anything better or more interesting to do with them, they need to jettison them entirely.