Side Quests – Game Developers Do Not Respect Gamers’ Time

Prologue

The last four months I have been pretty engrossed in gaming, partly due to my recent my recent purchase of my PlayStation 4. I am now on my third game since buying it in November 2014 and intend to buy many more. With all the time I spend browsing online I am also learning a lot of the recent challenges and issues facing the industry with the arrival of the next-gen. I am definitely no expert but I wanted to express my consumer perspective on something that has recently stood out for me.

A lot of developers do not respect the time of gamers.

Actually, let me re-word that.

Developers do not have a clear grasp of how their target markets value their time. This can be problematic because whichever way you see it, developers would not wish to be putting out products that their consumers don’t have the time for. This is not about quality, but about buying an experience (the game) that we can schedule into our busy lives.

We are more time poor than ever before (even with all the time management apps and automated tech available to us in the 21st century). We have social lives, commitments and work lives to maintain without more distractions like unnecessarily long games.

Bad Side Quests

Dragon Age Inquisition Screenshot

I play a lot of RPG games because I’m a sucker for a good storyline and enjoy building my own path to a common objective combined with my fasciation for fantasy/medieval themed forms of entertainment. So obviously I am willing to sink hours into a game so why am I complaining for right?

As a Dragon Age fan, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and if you haven’t been in hibernation for the past 6 months you’ll know how popular it is. There were things I liked and disliked but let’s focus one thing in particular.

The side quests. They were tedious, irrelevant and unfulfilling. I mean why am I collecting shards for? What do I gain? Who actually considers this fun? This is what I call a filler (a common word known to anime fans) that feels like an attempt to boost “content hours” to boast about by adding in pointless shit. If a developer respected my time he wouldn’t be padding out a game world with things that don’t hold much contribution to the overall game’s objective. I drained 90+ hours into that game and overall enjoyed it but I actually preferred Dragon Age: Origins (the first one) which was around 40 hours long for me. Because it managed my time well by providing a great story with every quest – side or main – being a rich experience by themselves. Like with all games should be.

Dragon Age Origins Screenshot

Good Side quests

Now I am currently playing Shadow of Mordor, a good example of a game with side quests that are a good addition to the game and enhance the experience. So good in fact that I am intending on trying to get 100% just so I can feel that moment of accomplishment. By the way, anyone ever get 100% synchronisation on any of the Assassin Creed games? If you have, you’re a bit of a monster to be honest mate.

Shadow of Mordor Screenshot

For me a good side quest should:

  • Be challenging (if they are too easy then it doesn’t offer much to the experience and can be less memorable)
  • Improve your chances of beating the game (whether the system makes you more powerful so you can tackle main missions more effectively)
  • Have an impact on the main missions (unlocking new features that you wouldn’t have had otherwise)

Slide of Side Quest Elements_RPG_OpenWorld_PS4

The third point is where most games fall, but is not such a big deal because SoM did the first two points very well. Overall, you have to give the gamer incentives to complete side quests. They should be a bonus to the gaming experience in the same way side orders enhance your meal (think KFC Gravy OMG).

KFC Gravy

Follow me @seyiagboola

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