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Choice is interesting

Here’s something I’ve observed.. Blizz thinks (possibly rightly) that choice is more interesting than non-choice. They’re putting extreme amounts of effort into the game just to provide you with valid alternatives. They’ve given Warlocks 3 viable raiding specs and are working to make them each approximately equivalent. They balanced all the professions so that all of them give you about the same bonuses just in slightly different ways. They’ve homogenized the classes.. so that instead of saying “must take a shadow priest for the mana over time”, instead we’re saying “well we need replenishment.. we have 3 people to choose from”.

This is all well and good (unless you’re that shadow priest who no longer has a guaranteed raid spot) but Blizz doesn’t seem to be applying this mentality to quests.

The only choice in a quest is to decide not to do it. The game doesn’t even treat that as an actual choice.. “not” doing the quest just means you haven’t started on it yet.. it’s still there.. and you can start it at any time. There’s no way to tell the game: NO, I choose to never do this quest.. change my future based on my NOT doing this quest.

Regardless of how much lore gets baked into quest lines.. the quests really boil down to a static task list. Given some flowery and touching story about a soldier’s plight during wartime.. instead we skim the text and boil it down to “gather 15 foozles” or “go talk to whoozit in someplace”. No matter how convoluted it becomes.. it’s really just a simple task list.

If you’re listening Blizz.. choice is interesting. I’m even in favor of irrevocable choices. It’s interesting to make a choice that has consequences.

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9 comments to Choice is interesting

  • I’d really like more choice… it would be cool if there were alternate ways of completing a quest.

    For example, in Grizzly Hills, there’s a quest that tells you to kill so-and-so lady (ah I forget her name). When you get there and defeat the mobs, she says “Wait! You’re not like them, find out the truth in this hut blah blah blah” at which point you run off to the hut.

    The second time I did this quest, on an alt, I really tried to kill her. I had the quest dagger in my inventory and everything. I kept trying to attack her, to use the quest dagger. No dice. It was go to the hut or nothing.

    It would have been far more interesting if you had been given the choice in that instance – to complete the kill quest, no questions asked, or to let the lady live and go investigate the hut.

    In most RPG’s there are multiple dialogue bubbles when you interact with an NPC. They let you be rude to the NPC, answer yes or no, etc, and that will in some way direct your future. No such options exist in WoW.

    Now… I’d hate to make the wrong choice and screw myself out of something awesome. Like… if I killed the lady instead of setting her free, I would be hated with a certain faction forever and that would negatively affect my gameplay. But a little choice could also be undeniably cool. Perhaps if you thought you could affect your future, you might READ the quest text or the NPC dialogue, rather than just mindlessly clicking NEXT (yep, I don’t read anything, I suck).

  • That would be nice, like being able to tell that Kirin Tor bozo in BT to needle that guy himself. I hate doing that quest every time, but if you want to get to the content that follows … tough noodles.

    Oh, and do Demo/Meta and Demo/Emberstorm count as separate spec choices (thus giving us 4 viable specs there), or has Emberstorm lost its early attraction?
    .-= Grimmtooth´s last blog ..On the Joys of being True =-.

  • Irrevocable choices are only interesting to me when I have a clear understanding of what I’m choosing. If I’m just making choices arbitrarily and irreversibly, and circumstances down the line show that I really wanted to do something different, well… it’s less than enjoyable gaming.

    Other than that, excellent article! I’m all for more choice, including the ability to tell some questgivers to stuff it, and have the game recognize that.
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..EMMO =-.

  • New MC Post: "Choice is Interesting" http://bit.ly/9bfLkA

  • I was just chatting the other day with a co-worker about Mass Effect. He’s played through ME1, now into 2. He says the best part of ME2 is that the choices he made in 1, have carried over into 2. That character he killed off in #1, isn’t there. That romantic interest he worked with in #1 is mad at him in 2.

    We were speculating that the complexity in ME2 has to be enormous, then put that into the grander scale of a mmorpg has to be completely daunting. Maintaining who did what to who and where. Which party members can interact with a specific vendor, who the vendor will attack and who the whole area is a barrens devoid of life.

    Some ways this is what the whole Icecrown area works like, to a point. I can see the entire area, but within that I did certain quests and you haven’t. In the near future, I do see this as the direction Blizzard is going. If not with Cataclysm, but maybe with their next game.
    .-= elkagorasa´s last blog ..Decision made – 95 emblems spent. =-.

  • Kring

    You can only have a choice if it’s irrelevant for the world. We can’t have a choice to kill or not kill any important person because that wouldn’t work out as soon as people decide differently.

    Therefore, the first step would be to change the game to not treat us as superheros but just as people in the world. Give us simpler tasks, we don’t have to save the world with every raid.

  • @Kring, Good point. Achievements like “For the Horde” would have dire consequences on the alliance (and vice versa). Could you really continue the game, if your opposition had no rulers? On the other hand, if your choices could really impact the entire world, leveling your weapon by killing critters could cause bunny genocide.

    @Nib, if you chose NOT to do any of the Argent Crusade quests, would that negatively impact your reputation with them?
    .-= Elkagorasa´s last blog ..Decision made – 95 emblems spent. =-.