Thursday, November 21, 2013

Relief and Excitement: What Makes for an Epic Quest?

Over at JMTC there was a post entitled "It's Called An Epic Quest For A Reason" that had a line in it that shows that people can view what brings the excitement of an epic quest differently sometimes.  I agree with his post, it is a good post, but I did not feel the way he described when I finished most parts of the legendary quest line.  I will quote the part that got to me, that makes me think, that really says a lot about how I play and what I find rewarding, but I suggest taking a look at his post. 

It is short and it actually make me feel good about my lack of luck lately with the legendary line on my alts, it made me what to feel that excitement because I remembered what I found exciting about the quest line, even if it was different from what he found exciting.  In the end what he found exciting, I only had the feeling of relief when I finished.  What I found exciting was different.  But we both view it the same, as an epic quest line that should take time.

When that final item drops and you get that spark of thrill running through your spine.  Your ready to ditch whatever your doing right then and there,  run to Wrathion and tell him he can take his wanted items and give you your goodies.   Nothing can match that in game thrill than to complete something that at times made you want to quit.  Made you frustrated and wanting to throw in the towel.

See, he gets to the heart of it and what I believe most people in the game felt when they got that last piece to drop for them be it the last sigil, the last secret or the last runestone.  The excitement that comes along with that.  Sadly, I am wired differently, I just did not feel any of the excitement he did when I got those last pieces.  I only felt relief.  But I could feel his excitement, through his words, and it made me excited for him.  I understand that feeling.  Just not from getting that last piece to drop.

There are three distinctly different parts of the quest line, as I see it.  The gathering part, the grouping part and the solo part.  Here is how I view each particular part of the quest line.  And while it seemed he got so excited about getting that last piece, I got my dose of excitement from different parts of the quest line.

1) Collecting Sigils, Secrets or Stones:

No excitement here for me.  None what so ever.  I felt relief when I was finally done with it.  Relief that I was done fighting the hardest boss in the game, the boss called the random number generator.  Collection quests when you are waiting on random drops are not fun or exciting for me.  I did not go woohoo or run excitedly to our young black dragon friend like he mentioned although I did tell him where he could shove his quest items when I gave them to him, just as the writer of that post did. 

I was already standing there in front of him (when I was doing an LFR) so if the random gods decided that today was the day they would not try to bend me over and abuse me and let me have a drop I would be there already to move on to the next phase.  It was just a standard collection quest, nothing exciting about it.  Just kill something, collect something, and move on.  As I said, getting it done, for me at least, gave me a sense of relief, nothing more.  A huge sense of relief to be done with it.  Nothing epic about being glad something is over.

There is no excitement to be had from these moments for me.  They always came when they felt long over due.  They always came with a sigh of relief not a scream of excitement.  Collection quests never have been, never will be, and never could be exciting for me.  I am just not wired that way.

2) Needing a group and PvP:

These are things that held mild excitement for me.  I liked assembling a group to kill that one guy in the wilds.  Sure, he can be soloed by most classes now, but you needed a raid team for that at one point.  Or at least 5 semi competent people.  Or one DK.

The "doing it as a team" when everyone combined for the effort to get one person the ability to move forward was exciting for me when I did it and it was exciting for me when I helped everyone else do it.  It was a set moment in time, when you knew something was being done, advancing, and that was exciting for me.  Me doing it or others doing it, even soloable now, it is still exciting whenever I tag along to help someone do it.

Even the PvP part of it was exciting.  For as much as I believe that there should have been no PvP involved in the quest line the fact that it was there remains one of the better parts, excitement wise, of the quest line.  If you were doing it solo with random people or with a group of assembled people, it was a group effort and it was exciting to get that win.

Sure, it seems my over all win to loss ratio on my characters has to be roughly 20% with the exception of my healer that one shot both wins it was still exhilarating when I finally got those wins and a feeling of excitement and relief happened at the same time.

When someone in the guild gets up to that point I have dropped everything to help them get past it many times as I know even if I am not a very good PvPer that having a group speaking together on voice chat will increase your chances of winning a great deal.  And when we run into an equally skilled team, read as PvEers, we destroy them thanks to being able to easily communicate.  The PvP part of the quest line offered excitement in my opinion because it was a group effort to achieve a set goal.  No random about it.  Do the job right and win and you were done, I find that exciting.

Working your way toward a set goal is exciting for me.  Be it getting a group for a world boss or getting a group for PvP.  Even doing the nalak part is still fun.  I will go on my hunter to help anyone.  It was easy to solo on my hunter, but not so much for other classes.  But it is still a feeling of excitement to get it done even when it is someone else getting it done.  Because it is a team effort and there is a reward to doing something as a team, even when you are not the one working on it.  My excitement comes from their excitement, that is why I like these parts of the quest line where you can revisit the joy you felt when you got it done with a friend.  Are there many better feelings to have in game?  Does it get much more epic than that feeling of helping another move forward in a long grinding quest with a legendary reward?

3) Solo Objectives:

These, to me, where the most exciting part of the whole experience.  It was a task I had to rely on no one but myself to do.  I needed to figure out how to get it done and I needed to carry it out.  Whenever I would beat one of these solo objectives it was the only time I really felt true excitement in the quest line.  There is no greater feeling than that of "I did it".

On my hunter neither was too hard really, but I did die once on the first one and a couple of times on the second one.  I did not look up guides on how to do them, I wanted a true feeling of being the person that beat these tasks and I wanted to figure it out on my own, to have that true feeling of being triumphant.  That was and is an epic feeling. 

Anyone can queue for LFR and do battle with the random number generator boss.  Anyone can make a group and kill a world boss or win a player vs player battle, even if they are substantially more enjoyable then doing battle with the random number generator.  But nothing, I repeat, nothing, can compare to the feeling you have when you beat a task that is left only in your hands.  You either do it or you don't.

There is no random to worry about here.  The task is clear, defeat X... alone.  There are no friends to help you out, you are all alone in the world.  It makes me remember the epic hunter quest and to me that is what truly defines epic.  If anyone helped you, you were dead.  Even if the opposing factions hits the mob you were attacking, you were dead.  If someone passing by thought they would be kind and pass along a buff, you were dead.  If you even had your pet out, you were dead.

Maybe that is where I get my feeling of epic from, my feeling of true accomplishment from.  I was trained, from the first epic quest line I did, that epic quests are meant to be done alone.  Maybe that is the reason why even if neither of the solo challenges were particularly difficult I found them exciting, very exciting.  The joy he spoke of is the joy I felt, but not after getting that last piece but after beating a challenge where it was me against the world, alone, as it should be.  Now that... is epic.


Where would you place your best feelings of the quest line?

What makes it epic for you or did you not even feel it was epic?

For me the collection part was boring and tedious and I only felt relief when it was over, no excitement.  The group parts where fun but some of the long loss streaks in PvP were indeed frustrating so the group stuff floated between relief and excitement when I finished it.  But the solo content, oh that awesome solo content, that was met with pure excitement when I finished it.  To me, that is what made the quest line epic.

Which parts of the quest line did you meet with relief, excitement, or both?


  1. The way you describe finishing the legendary is how I'd describe finally getting around to doing some housework that'd been on my list for a week or two... relief, mostly that it's off the list more than that my house is now a bit cleaner. That makes me more than a bit sad. And ultimately, I think what you're describing is the downside of earning a reward by simply working toward it over time... since you always know it's there, there's absolutely no shock or surprise once you get to that point, you know pretty much exactly when it's going to be happening. That's a KEY reason why RNG is still generally necessary to keep the gearing juices flowing. It's about the "holy crap, it actually dropped!" reaction whether it's week 1 or month 6.

    I prefer what I call the skill parts of the questline, sure, I suspect most skilled players would. The collection parts (tokens or VP) were simply meant to slow down the process, the Cataclysm legendaries both had the same thing and I'm pretty sure the Wrath ones had something equivalent. Otherwise it'd be "do this solo dungeon, succeed, here's your reward, now wait 5 months until the next patch". The collections also allow you to customize the experience somewhat, you can get the reward sooner by running everything possible and getting lucky, or you can do it at a slower pace and still finish by the time the next patch comes out. The collections aren't meant to be exciting, exactly, but don't you feel a wee bit of a thrill when you see that you got one pop up on your screen? I do.

    And sure, on my second legendary I was just working on finishing it off (and seeing the correct Alliance "this is your life" montage, I was one of the lucky few who carried a Horde banner in it the first time around, much to my amusement) but I was really psyched when I upgraded my epic to legendary the first time around. It wasn't far off how I felt with my rogue when he got the daggers.

    1. That is what the collection parts feel like. And it is even worse that I am limited in how many I can collect via lock out. I can not move at my pace, I just let luck do its think and hope for the best. It is the worst feeling in the world to always have to wait even if the prize is dangling there in front of you. It is why completing it is relief for me. Not excitement.

      RNG is not excitement, that is why makes me feel relief. No RNG would make it exciting. Saying kill 50 bosses in ToT to move is excitement, you are moving closer with each one, doing a task, making progresses. That is more fun than RNG. RNG is why that part of the quest line sucks and is met with no excitement.

      The things that required personal skill are what get my blood pumping, as I mentioned. Everything should be more "do something" based and less "wait while you collect stuff".

    2. I can't prove it, obviously, but I strongly suspect that you're in the huge minority on that one. A "+1!" increment in a counter to 50 won't be better than an RNG gear drop to most of us. I believe it is to you (you've said it enough) but I don't want Blizzard changing the game along those lines. A bit of that is fine but not the significant portion.

      What's interesting is that there's already a mechanic in the game that basically gives you the choice between "slow and steady" vs "rng"... leveling crafting professions. You have the option of a yellow that requires 4 of a mat or an orange that requires a 6. Based on our preferences, I'd expect you to do the 6 for the guaranteed +1 every time... but yet I'm not sure about it. I *DO* generally do the RNG yellow until I miss one or two, then I switch to the guarantees. I wonder if there could be some way for them to implement that type of choice when it comes to gear. Probably not, but...

    3. I am sure I am in the minority. There are some that would rather a dedicated path of progression, most likely people that were repeatedly screwed over by the random system, but even at that they are few and far between.

      I am a math person, I like actual hard numbers, not floating chance numbers. I am also not a gambler. I only play when I know I can win or plan my approach to give myself the best chance to win. Most people are gamblers, takers of chance so to speak, by nature.

      Yes, I will always do red if I am capable of doing it. I will take the 100% skill up over the 80% skill up any day. It is not even a choice, 100% is better than 80% any day no matter how you look at it.

      There is a way to do it for gear, it was called valor gear. You get lucky with a drop, or you work your ass off for 3 weeks and save the valor to buy one piece.

      It is why I have always said, and will always say, the valor system of gearing is 100 times better than the random gearing system.

  2. 1. I had decent luck for these parts, but towards the end, I was definitely tired of them (running LFR for no other reason than to get quest drops was annoying). I was very quick to go turn in the quest, but that was more to get the damn thing over with.

    2. The 5-man part was OK. I didn't find it overly exciting though. I was more annoyed that it required a real tank (at the iLvL when it was current) and I had a hard time finding one.

    The PvP part could have been fun if there was no such thing as PvP gear. I hated hitting like a wet noodle and getting 1 or 2 shot while wearing epics. I was better off in blue crafted PvP gear. They've changed how it's handled since then, but I've never liked how much gear impacts PvP. I was also queuing solo, so there was no team communication.

    3. For me as well, these were the most exciting. They were challenging even in epics at the time. You had to strategize and use your toolkit.

    Additional notes:
    I agree with Grumpy. The RNG-based stuff was not exciting. I preferred the valor grind over the collect X pieces of junk.

    RNG is ok for cosmetic things like mounts and pets, but for progression (gearing), I need to feel like I'm making measurable progress.

    Blizz did good with the Noblegarden holiday. If you were lucky, you got the items you needed from drops; if not, you could buy them with the eggs you collected while trying to get drops. I think they should do the same with gear.

    1. I always say noblegarden is the best design in the game. Everything should be handled that way.

      What is the difference between "kill 50 bosses to move on: and "collect 10 things from bosses that have a 20% drop rate"?

      They should work out to mean the same thing right?

      One you know what you are getting, when you are getting it, and how long it will take to get it. The other is luck based and you could be done in 2 weeks or 2 years.

      I'll take a planned path every day.

  3. Same as you, I enjoyed the two solo challenges the most. That's why I like Brawler's Guild, and, to a lesser extent, Proving Grounds. I think they'd get a lot of value if they added more things like these two in WoD, perhaps they could even turn that into an alternative to raids (read: drop gear / mats for crafting gear) for those who aren't into raids.

    1. While I loved those I doubt they would ever do that. They are considered "solo" content and they are pushing to make you interact with others, even if the interaction with others might make you want to quit the game.

  4. It felt nice overall, probably because I was the first in my guild to complete it. I remember each of us comparing how many we have and getting excited. And making jokes about it, how the more you have is linked to how good your soul is. And that would shift next week to say the worst of us with the blackest heart has the most (our raid leader, obviously). But yeh, I somehow managed to get lucky and got 4 in 5 bosses. Finished it before they implemented the guaranteed drop (as if that's a personal feat fo strength lol).

    The gathering part was meh but fun because it felt like a silly competition between us.
    The mob to kill was meh as well. We went there with our raid team, killed it, done. It seems more fun now when some people in the guild (socials) ask for help for it and I volunteer.
    The pvp part was nice. Did it for several people, not just my own and we always won. I love pvp, even though I'm mostly useless in prot spec. But there's something about Temple of Kotmongu, going there and keeping an orb with all the guild healers keeping you up.
    The solo part was meh. Didn't even know it was supposed to be a challenge. The tank was such a poor joke, I don't even recall how it was. I was yeh whatever some quest. I starte dgetting disappointed after hearing guildies how they struggled with the ones from the other roles.
    So overall... it was ok, never had a legendary before. But none of it felt 'epic'.

    1. I must have a horrible soul with my luck sometimes. :P

      When again, I must have a great soul on my monk because it wins everything without even trying.

      I was one a three week losing streak when the added the guaranteed drop if I can remember correctly. I loved when they added that and I believe if they never did I might still be waiting for them.

      From what I hear the tank and healer one was a joke. The melee one was difficult for some "bad" players. You get a buff if you are behind him, any good melee attacks from behind, so any melee should have had an easy time if they were doing their job right. The ranged on was the only one that could be tricky if you did not notice the buff. Ranged usually just stand anywhere and nuke, but as soon as you noticed to pull behind him and you got the buff he went down in seconds and I am not kidding, seconds. I think I did near 800K DPS because of the buff. I can look back but I will guess he died in less than 20 seconds.

      So while it was not hard so to speak, I found it a lot more exciting than sitting around in queue for the LFR and waiting on the random number generator gods to shine on me. I would choose "doing" something over "waiting" any day when it comes to fun.