The Question on Everyone’s Lips
So as the debate on dailies cools down, the question that I see repeated over and over is: if not dailies, what? I had several commentators here ask or imply varieties of the same question:
I honestly don’t know how to keep a contentivore happy, other than to suggest playing a group of games in succession. Finished MoP? Go do Storm Legion. Done with that? Check out Rohan…
But the daily gives it some structure and micro-goal.
It’s a themepark game, by default the content is going to be consumed rapidly by some people. Maybe there’s another way to do it other than repeated content? Dunno what that would be though.
Doing old school dailies is akin to playing your SNES or N64. You might play it once in a while to finish something you forgot (like the stupid Water Temple), but most of your time is probably spent on newer consoles and games. Final Fantasy 3 is an awesome game, but I’m playing that on my DS then my SNES (plus, it has new dungeons!)
I for one like them but it should be possible to offer several paths to the same goal, it would also benefit the replayability of the game. Personally I liked dailies in the situation that I wanted to play WoW, but did not know what to do so I’d just put on a podcast and do my dailies. I treated dailies as the “insurance for a rainy day” in the game when there was nothing to do. That said, how would I solve the situation, where players just grind through content without resorting to dailies?
Thus, while near 100% of daily quests are trivial, rote exercises, I would never actually call them chores as such. Maybe it is a semantic thing, but chores have a negative connotation, as if you would prefer to not do them if able. Dailies, to me, give me an excuse to continue playing a game otherwise conquered. The only excuse, really, because while I still find/found WoW combat fun, I need a “point” to the killing of mobs to actualize said fun. Daily quests provide that excuse, and are thus fun by proxy.
If we judge fun by the length of time engaged, removing dailies would make the game less fun for everyone.
All of these valid points hint at a longing that’s being filled by dailies. How well filled, though? And, again to the question at hand – if not by dailies, what? I’ve decided to concern today’s post with analyzing the problem and a few options.
The core problem comes from the speed at which we consume content. On one end, to use Rimecat’s word, we have “contentivores.” They consume things very rapidly and have a low tolerance for repetition. What’s on the other end, then? Well, I’d argue that the spectrum isn’t simply a single axis, but an intersecting axis, a typical graph, if you will, that looks like this.
So in one corner, we have contentivores. Their polar opposite are casuals, who play as they wish for reasons personal to themselves, be it to kill time (so repetition is fine) or just to socialize (in which case it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, repetitive for not). In another corner we find Dilettantes, who simply dabble here and there in various video games, always looking for new experiences, but not rushing through them. Their polar opposite are the hardcore, who’ll do whatever it takes for however long to really squeeze the maximum life out of a game.
How, then, do we find content that appeals to all four quadrants? The casuals are easy; they want to play with their friends on their own time; simply giving them options with social possibilities pleases them. WoW’s done this very well, adding in farming and pet battles on top of the achievements, LFR, and RP opportunities that were already present. The truly hardcore are actually pretty easy, too. Their high tolerance for repetition means that if you allow difficulty to scale high enough, they’ll stay engaged. Blizzard does well here, too; heroics followed by hard mode raids already filled this spot, and the later addition of achievements and now challenge modes in dungeons will keep the hardcore happy for days to come.
All of this relies on a tolerance for repetition, though. Blizzard does well as long as that’s true. The question of “if not dailies, what?” peels away that simple solution and asks for something more for those of us who want new experiences.
One of the commentators mentioned player-generated content. WoW already has this: it’s called PvP. The maps may be Blizz’s doing, but strategies are individual fights are player-generated. For PvE, though, we have very little. The commentator argued that it wasn’t practical, as some guilds would create “loot pinatas” with easy content, but I disagree. There’s no reason player-generated content needs any rewards of that type at all. The “reward” would be the opportunity to design a dungeon yourself or to play in a variety of dungeons and avoid repetition. Blizzard could set a single “bag” reward (similar to your daily dungeon bag) for completing a player-generated event that met X requirements (number of bosses, etc). I’ve written on this before, in fact, here and here. I absolutely believe this idea would work, as it has in Star Trek Online; in fact, about the only consistently good thing you hear about that game is that it allows players to generate content.
But okay, that’s an idea that’s been done. Let’s assume for a moment that Blizzard is run by control freaks who would never allow outsiders to generate “their” content (it’s not far from true). We’d need a something repeatable but changing. Why not use procedurally generated maps? Plenty of games do this, and there’s no reason Blizzard couldn’t integrate a set of dailies – or daily scenarios or dungeons, for that matter – into the game that use procedurally generated data. Phasing or instancing would allow a group of players to travel to a remote island somewhere and experience a set of ruins/dense jungle/vast icy wasteland/etc that shifted on a daily basis. The task, too, could shift. Locate something, fight a boss, survive a gauntlet battle. The mobs inside could change, too. Blizz could design it so that the chance of getting the same overall “quest” would be infinitesimally small. It could be scaled to take about 15 minutes, and there could be a set of them so people could choose to do more than one a day.
That’s what I’ve got, dear reader. How about you? Let’s be problem solvers, instead of makers. Bringing a solution to any problem you mention is a good way to get ahead in life, so why not in games, as well?
Stubborn (and procedurally generating ideas)