Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blog Post: Why fetch quests should end

Long time no see, everybody. It's January, a typically slow month for the video game industry as it recovers from the busy holiday season, and there hasn't been too much to play or talk about yet. But, seeing as it's  been a while since I've posted anything, and with the awful Epic Mickey still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd do a blog post on why required fetch quests no longer have a place in video games.

There was a time when this type of gameplay was seen as fun and revolutionary. Back on the N64, Rareware (RIP) made a career out of developing 3D platformers like Donkey Kong 64, the Banjo Kazooie games, Conker...these all had a heavy emphasis on exploring and collecting. And for its time, this worked out very well. 3D gaming was still a fairly new concept, and so it was exciting to get to run around a 3D world, talking to non-player characters (NPCs) receiving quests, and doing these missions for them. It was exciting enough that it offset the fact that collecting items for people in a video game is generally not much more fun than it would be to do in real life.

Nowadays,, enough is enough. 3D is so commonplace that the act of running around a 3D world is, itself, not exciting anymore. It's what's done with the gameplay that makes the game stand out. Even Rareware seems to have realized this in recent years. Going back to Conker's Bad Fur Day on the N64, which had lengthy 3rd person shooter segments towards the end, and of course with games like Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts on the 360 almost removed platforming entirely, for better or for worse, it's clear that people realize that 3D platforming needs to change to stay alive. Exploration-driven platforming is still awesome and there's nothing wrong with giving us a huge world to explore, but give us something more exciting to do in it than endless collect-a-thons.

I wish somebody told this to Junction Point, who, with Epic Mickey, have developed an entire game around a non-stop series of collect-a-thons and fetch quests. In this day and age, people expect faster experiences from video games, experiences that are more fun: that don't feel like busywork. I think there's still a place for fetch quests in small amounts in the form of sidequests (Red Dead Redemption had a couple of these,) as long as you don't have to do these to continue through the game. Because c'mon, who finds this stuff fun?

Epic Mickey actually did pretty well sales-wise over the course of December, but I'll be surprised if even 1/3 the people who bought it make it all the way through the game. And the biggest problem is the dull, fetch-heavy gameplay. Enough is enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment