Is "side-questing" harming a lot of new RPGs?

#1 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

After playing countless hours of games like Skyrim and The Old Republic, I'm starting to think developer perceptions of what constitutes a "side-quest" are harming their games. The radiant questing from Skyrim created countless pointless side missions that provided no real diversion to the structured content from the game. The Old Republic needlessly pads every storyline quest with 4-5 "kill this many of x" side-quests. And now it looks like based on the QL that Amalur has similarly boring and poorly designed side-quests.

I get that these side-quests are typically optional, but I think these side-quests are diluting and padding out what could have been a great 20-30 hour game into a mediocre 60 hour game. (It obviously doesn't have to be that way. But fetch quests and kill quests seem to be becoming the norm.)

If developers aren't going to put in the time and effort to make these side-quests interesting, I would prefer they leave them out wholesale. Would you rather these game have facile, optional quests or simply exist without them?

#2 Posted by MasturbatingestBear (1188 posts) -

If they are truly Sidequests then they wouldn't be padding out the length of the game from 20-30 hours to 60. That is the players option to do them. Forced side quests just become regular quests. And I feel that Skyrim did a good job of having some interesting sidequests if you stuck to different guild quests.

#3 Posted by zombiepenguin9 (527 posts) -

The only side quests that generally irritate me are cross-map fetch quests. I'm not going to travel 50+ miles, on foot, multiple times, just to get some ingredients or deliver a message. Kill quests don't bother me, really.

#4 Posted by Veektarius (4541 posts) -

I agree with the OP. The new model for sidequests is WoW-style quests to get more XP. The old model was "let's flesh out this area a bit more and write a little sidestory. I would be happier with TOR, certainly, if I had the option of joining a server with no sidequests, and since that'd mean I'd have to level faster, no endgame as a result. Just so I could see all the stories.

#5 Posted by BrockNRolla (1702 posts) -

@Veektarius said:

I agree with the OP. The new model for sidequests is WoW-style quests to get more XP. The old model was "let's flesh out this area a bit more and write a little sidestory. I would be happier with TOR, certainly, if I had the option of joining a server with no sidequests, and since that'd mean I'd have to level faster, no endgame as a result. Just so I could see all the stories.

If that had been an option, I wouldn't have just cancelled my TOR account.

#6 Posted by phantomzxro (1558 posts) -

I don't think side questing is harming new rpg and in fact i feel it is one of the factors that make a rpg an rpg. Now if these side quests are lack luster i feel you take that up with whoever is making the game to make better side quests. Also i feel part of it is most heavy rpg/adventure players expect a game of this type to be longer then 20/30 hours and will look down on it if it falling on the low end of those hours.

Granted a solid 30 hour game can be great but there are people who want to spends a 100 hours within a great rpg/adventure world. Fallout games and skyrim prove you can do that and have a close to a 100 hour game. Batman arkham city prove you can have great side quests that truly add to the game. In the end most games can fall into the space of having filler side quests but its really up to the player if you want to do that stuff so i don't find it a big deal. second there will always be a few gamers out there who will eat all that up no matter how lame the side quests are.

So as long as it is optional and at least some of the side quest are good i say leave them in, someone out there will like it and don't want there game shorten in anyway.

#7 Posted by uniform (1832 posts) -

I killed any chance of finishing Skyrim by trying to be a perfectionist, doing every single sidequest I came across, until I finally got tired of the repetition and got burnt out on the whole game. Pretty much my fault, as I could have easily stuck to the story quests. I don't think being given a choice is a bad thing. In the end, the purpose seems to add to how large the game is, otherwise you get people complaining about how short it was, or how there was nothing optional to do. I'm going to assume they don't have the time or budget to give us anything better.

#8 Posted by Rookwood (34 posts) -

Yup, as Veektarius said, they're little more than busy work at this time to make people feel like they've gotten their money's worth, and it definitely comes from an MMO mentality. If you're going to have side quests in a game they should be either to enhance the backstory or provide some ultimate reward and not just some extra xp/cash/mediocre item, yes, but most importantly they should be long, convoluted and add far more challenge than anything in the main quest.

That being said I really have no problem with the way Skyrim does things as it caters to both kinds of gamers. It has the radiant system for those that just want to have something to do and then it also has the epic side quests like the Daedric shrines and the Guilds, none of which really add any challenge but then again nothing in Skyrim is difficult so that's a whole other problem.

#9 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4522 posts) -

you guys do realize that side quests, by their nature, are entirely optional, right?

The first time I played Mass Effect, I stuck primarily to the story. That took me 15 hours. Second time I explored the entirety of the game and completed all side quests, that took me 40 hours. Complaining that a game has too much content that is entirely optional which means you don't have to do it makes me shake my head. Jeff's approach in the quick look is just standard logic. That being "Just do what you think is interesting." I happened to think a lot of the side quests in Skyrim were worth the sojourn across the world, so I did them. It's perfectly valid to not do any side quests and just play through the main quest. You shouldn't begrudge developers for wanting to offer both an engrossing main quest and optional side stuff for the players who want to spend more time in the world.

#10 Posted by Jimbo (9769 posts) -

I feel like we (and games for that matter) need to start differentiating more clearly between 'Sidequests' which are still handcrafted content but just aren't required to play through in order to 'finish' the game, and 'Sidequests' which are just MMO-style, shitty, massive waste of time padding quests.

You find some of the best RPG content around in sidequests, but you also find most of the worst.

#11 Posted by Gargantuan (1880 posts) -
@Jimbo said:

I feel like we (and games for that matter) need to start differentiating more clearly between 'Sidequests' which are still handcrafted content but just aren't required to play through in order to 'finish' the game, and 'Sidequests' which are just MMO-style, shitty, massive waste of time padding quests.

You find some of the best RPG content around in sidequests, but you also find most of the worst.

Skyrim does that.
#12 Posted by M_Shini (550 posts) -

Its more a players Fualt to have to tick off every quest they get in a quest log, i wouldn't really want them to be gotten rid of since there are plenty of people that enjoy certain aspects of side quests albeit not all of it, since i just don't do quest that arnt fun it makes quets driven games like skyrim and such allot easier to have fun with, although mabey for every 30 side quests you could have made a few really great main storyline quests, idk how it really works either way in terms of the content generated in these games, but still since it is optional its just players stabbing ourselves in the gut going through them.

#13 Posted by punpun (232 posts) -

@KittyMeggerz said:

Its more a players Fualt to have to tick off every quest they get in a quest log, i wouldn't really want them to be gotten rid of since there are plenty of people that enjoy certain aspects of side quests albeit not all of it, since i just don't do quest that arnt fun it makes quets driven games like skyrim and such allot easier to have fun with, although mabey for every 30 side quests you could have made a few really great main storyline quests, idk how it really works either way in terms of the content generated in these games, but still since it is optional its just players stabbing ourselves in the gut going through them.

One sentence...

#14 Posted by falling_fast (2180 posts) -

the idea of side-questing is older than I am. I wouldn't call it a recent problem.

#15 Edited by Chop (1992 posts) -

Both Deus Ex: HR and Mass Effect 2 are two recent games that address this problem. Neither can match the pure number of optional side quests that other rpgs offer, but what quests they do offer are a lot more thought out and substantial. It's absolutely the right way to address side quests and more developers need to learn from them.

I want side stories, not side fetch quests.

#16 Posted by Jimbo (9769 posts) -

@Gargantuan said:

@Jimbo said:

I feel like we (and games for that matter) need to start differentiating more clearly between 'Sidequests' which are still handcrafted content but just aren't required to play through in order to 'finish' the game, and 'Sidequests' which are just MMO-style, shitty, massive waste of time padding quests.

You find some of the best RPG content around in sidequests, but you also find most of the worst.

Skyrim does that.

Ish. Some of the faction lines (Companions, Dark Brotherhood off the top of my head) abruptly spin off into shit identikit quests like that without making it clear what's going on, which I didn't really appreciate. At the same time, some decent quests end up buried in the secondary list.

Basically quests need to be split up into Main Quest, Sidequests and Sighquests, and then the latter need to be ruthlessly shitcanned during development.

#17 Posted by fini_fly (767 posts) -

@Chop said:

I want side stories, not side fetch quests.

This pretty much sums it up. I understand with everything under the sidequest umbrella being optional, but the optional content would be more appealing to all if it were able to add to your information about the world in a meaningful way, not just cross the map 20 times to get a seemingly useless item.

Having said that, I, like most, get distracted by sidequest and will probably run around doing trivial things for random people who in return give me questionable rewards... why can't some good old lovin' be a reward once in a while?

#18 Posted by Tennmuerti (7957 posts) -

Yes.
Plenty of RPGs managed to have a good number of sidequests that are better fleshed out and don't simply flood you with volume since the geanres inception.
Amalur in my opinion is so far the worst offender in this area. Even Skyrim was not quite as bad since you were able to super easily filter out the repeatable Radiant quests.
In an MMO when doing all this stuff you have at least other shit to occupy you like talking shit with your guildies or on PvP servers the ocasional scuffle.
In a singleplayer RPGs it just gets fucking DULL. I'm having to turn on the bombcast to have something to distract me while playing Amalur (even on hard) during the non dialogue parts.

#19 Edited by xyzygy (9871 posts) -

Side quests are meant to get you caught up with the level you're supposed to be in the main storyline or to get you ahead of that level, if you so desire. I think Jeff's negative views on it are stupid because he's the one who chose to do that ridiculous number of sidequests, then he complains it's too hard? Because you overleveled, duh. That's why they're there - to get your level ahead of the requirement if you so desire.

Unless the reward is completely amazing gear, which is what it doesn't look like is the case, then side quests are optional. That's why they're called side quests.

@Tennmuerti: How could you "filter out" the radiant sidequests? And why would you want to even keep doing radiant side quests, they're the exact same quest just in a different cave.

#20 Edited by Tennmuerti (7957 posts) -
@xyzygy said:

Side quests are meant to get you caught up with the level you're supposed to be in the main storyline or to get you ahead of that level, if you so desire. I think Jeff's negative views on it are stupid because he's the one who chose to do that ridiculous number of sidequests, then he complains it's too hard? Because you overleveled, duh. That's why they're there - to get your level ahead of the requirement if you so desire.

Plenty of RPGs out there that do not adhere to this at all.
Sidequest should be done because they are good content not to grind XP. Many RPGs manage to do this.
(in fact thse same RPGs trained people over the years to actually want to do every sidequest because it's interesting content, the RPG completionist mentality is a result, you want to see everything a game has to offer, to not miss any cool stuff)

Even those that do have a decent number of them still manage to provide you with a good challange despite having done all the sidequests. I'm playing Amalur on Hard right now and already feeling that the game is becoming too easy too fast.
Amalur went balls out in quanity vs quality. Hence the OPs complaint.

@xyzygy said:

@Tennmuerti: How could you "filter out" the radiant sidequests? And why would you want to even keep doing radiant side quests, they're the exact same quest just in a different cave.

Because you can recognise repeatable Radiant quests instantly. Go kill giant/dragon/banditlord get some gold. With almost always the exact same dialogue line.
And no you don't want to do them. That's the point you just don't take them and that's it. You aren't missing any actual content.
#21 Posted by Diachron (91 posts) -

I think side quests in and of themselves are not evil. But they're certainly evil when used to simply pad a world instead of enhance it. As Chop said above: story vs. fetch.

And while Oldirty's point about skipping this content is valid-- what gets my goat in KoA is just how much padding is baked into most of the quests-- including the main ones.

I found myself increasingly frustrated at unnecessary encounters and traversal. Long trips back to stationary NPCs to report on every quest step and excessive trash mob encounters to slow progress.

One of the quest lines (I believe a faction line-- I don't recall) actually made me laugh out loud. The quest giver himself was present at the final boss fight. "Meet me back at the [base]" he tells me after the villain is dispatched. So we all run the long distance out of the dungeon (no back door) until we can get above ground. Fast travel? Not so fast.. some random mob spawns loitering at the entrance. Once they're dispatched, fast travel back to base. Run the long winding path from the zone entrance to the building entrance. Zone into the building. Run the distance from the door to the quest giver (who, remember-- was with me at the time the boss was killed). Panting after all that running, I wonder what else he has in store for me. "Great job" he says. Quest reward. Full stop.

Really? You couldn't have rewarded me on the battlefield and cut me loose? It's little things like this that really add up in this game. Every game does it to some extent, but KoA pours it on thick and heavy. It very much feels like MMO pacing and handling, but as a single-player experience, it provoked me to yell "let's GO" with increasing frequency.

p.s. That said, I still enjoyed it. (Enough to continue to pursue an s-rank even after the credits).

#22 Edited by jbl8199 (19 posts) -

*looks at Final Fantasy 7* Some of the best sidequesting in history. Not only were they fun, but the rewards were worth the time and effort. Omnislash and Knights of the Round anyone? Now compare that era of gaming to today's sidequesting. Yeah. Thought you'd see a major difference.

Edit: Today's sidequesting is harming rpg's because it takes the fun out of the game. If there's no real incentive, then what's the point? To kill time? Meh. I like sidequests, but only if the payout is worth it.

#23 Posted by Silock (238 posts) -

Sides have always been just that, a side activity for little - sometimes great - rewards. I couldn't imagine a any RPG without these, without them your game is simply a linear experience from a quest perspective.

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