Extra Punctuation: Sidequests Good and Bad

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Sidequests Good and Bad

Sidequests are the heart of open-world games.

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Favourite side quest: That one in Two Worlds 2 that mimics "The Last Crusade" totally. It was epic realizing it, for the first time.

Hit the nail on the head Yahtzee. I totally agree (and a huge reason why infamous 2 and RD:R are two of my favourite games of all time).

I also enjoy it when a game gives you an odd mission in the main quest, like the snowboarding and chocobo racing in FF7. And then while never requiring you to do it again allows you to explore that mini-game on your own. The tutorial part of the mini-game is baked into the story but it's a side quest after that.

I also love all the package collecting, rampaging and ambulance driving in GTA3. That game still brings back good memories.

Pokémon anime damn it. And I agree, side quests that make me forget what I was supposed to be doing because the quest is so disjointed from the main storyline generally make me feel like I've finished the game without doing the main storyline. F:NV, I'm looking at you.

Richardplex:
Pokémon anime damn it.

Anime is the cartoon extension of the art style that is called manga, not a genre or medium in and of itself.

One of things that frustrated me about the side missions in RDR was how random they were. I can remember the first time I did the hanged man side mission. I fucked it up royally (I was still learning how to use the dead eye at that point). No big deal, I reload the game from the last save point and go out to try again, only to spend an hour traipsing back and forth across the desert trying to find the son of a bitch! That's how it went with me for most of the side quests in RDR.

Saints Row 2 had some of the best side missions because a lot of them were activities that you would of ended up doing if you were just dicking around anyway. It did bother me that there wasn't an achievement for knocking over every jewelry store in the city in a single run: That was the most fun. I even made my character a bandito outfit to wear especially for that occasion (he was Mexican).

I like the delivery boy analogy. Even if they're not fetch quests, they usually feel like it. And part of it is because you take the "order up!" approach.

Saints Row 2 didn't really require sidemissions, though. They mostly just require you to play the game. It's hard to walk five steps and not gain respect. You get it for killing people, driving, buying clothes, taunting, possibly even robbing people, tagging gang signs, streaking, taking hostages....

Unless you count all activities as side missions, in which case even travel from point A to B is a side mission. I wasn't even halfway through the story when I earned max respect (Which becomes unlimited), and I wasn't particularly trying.

This is part of what I love about SR2.

Richardplex:
Pokémon anime damn it.

On that note, what do you think the odds are he said cartoon to be deliberately inflammatory?

DVS BSTrD:

Saints Row 2 had some of the best side missions because a lot of them were activities that you would of ended up doing if you were just dicking around anyway. It did bother me that there wasn't an achievement for knocking over every jewelry store in the city in a single run: That was the most fun. I even made my character a bandito outfit to wear especially for that occasion (he was Mexican).

Why guy wasn't intended to be Mexican, but I had him running around in a similar outfit. Once I had a sombrero, I simply HAD to.

I wish they had a deal like Rock Band, where you could set up character shots easily enough through the web.

To the extent that side-quests are available, they should be SIDE-quests and purely for entertainment, extra non-essential gear/cash/xp, and exploration.

Nothing annoys me more than "side-quests" that are actually necessary. The GTA series has it right. You can do the pizza-delivery quests if you want and the rewards are worth the time and effort, but it's 100% optional and not necessary to finish the main storyline. On the other end of the scale is the Final Fantasy series where it seems that EVERYTHING is a side-quest and most of them are mandatory to successfully complete the game (I'm looking at you, FF7 and your bullshiat Golden Saucer games to get Omnislash and Knights of the Round Table!).

They are awesome, you can do them if you want, if you want. Me, i accept all quests and complete them if im in the area as long as the map marks them all on the map. The Batman AC ones were good. Hate the fetch or collectible ones.

Zachary Amaranth:

DVS BSTrD:

Saints Row 2 had some of the best side missions because a lot of them were activities that you would of ended up doing if you were just dicking around anyway. It did bother me that there wasn't an achievement for knocking over every jewelry store in the city in a single run: That was the most fun. I even made my character a bandito outfit to wear especially for that occasion (he was Mexican).

Why guy wasn't intended to be Mexican, but I had him running around in a similar outfit. Once I had a sombrero, I simply HAD to.


Like once you find the soldier helmet, you've just got to put together a death squad outfit.

I wish they had a deal like Rock Band, where you could set up character shots easily enough through the web.

I wish I could do that with my custom made characters in all my games, some of them were quite boss. IS there a way to do that on X-box?

Richardplex:
Pokémon anime damn it.

Calm down weeabo. English speakers just use the word anime to distinguish Japanese cartoons to others. Calling Pokemon a cartoon isn't wrong. Just like a Japanese person could generalise all cartoons as anime despite the origin.

DVS BSTrD:

I wish I could do that with my custom made characters in all my games, some of them were quite boss. IS there a way to do that on X-box?

Not innately.

If you can run it through a PC, you can capture images. Alternatively, there are commercial capture devices, but from what I know, they tend to suck. Hard.

How can we forget that you used to watch Pokemon? You've mentioned it, like, four times by now.

Anyway, insightful article as always- but it's a shame you didn't offer your own demented solution to the problem this week, instead rely on per-existing solutions (or, rather, one good solution from a few games).

Zachary Amaranth:

DVS BSTrD:

I wish I could do that with my custom made characters in all my games, some of them were quite boss. IS there a way to do that on X-box?

Not innately.

If you can run it through a PC, you can capture images. Alternatively, there are commercial capture devices, but from what I know, they tend to suck. Hard.

Ah so you CAN run it through a PC!
I had been wondering about that, thanks.

i would like to disagree to that

for me it would be a total break of immersion if there are side quest just popping up along my way as if they "just waited for me"
it seems just logical that if you have some urgent(or not so urgent) problem you'd go to a place where there are many possible problem solvers to said problems... for example...a town!
i would declare anyone who just waits in the wildness for someone instead go looking for help in a town outright stupid

it's just the symbiosis of the the whole quest thingies
quest givers are weak and have problems and cannot go outside or they get killed
quest solvers don't have problems, lots of time and are strong enough to go outside

Dead Island has those "on the way" side quests as well. Usually in the form of some disembodied voice that you hear and then have to find the source of. But, those are few and far between. But I always wanted those NPCs to be more...involved in the main crisis. I mean...once that's over, that's it for most of the side quests. Like the woman who had me help her husband out of their overturned SUV. Then they just....stand there. I never went back to where they were. I probably should. Wonder if they died, like those guys in the gas station.

DVS BSTrD:

Ah so you CAN run it through a PC!
I had been wondering about that, thanks.

You just need a graphics card that can accept in inputs. I need to get me one.

vivster:

for me it would be a total break of immersion if there are side quest just popping up along my way as if they "just waited for me"

Did you see his mention of Red Dead? They weren't exactly waiting for you.

it seems just logical that if you have some urgent(or not so urgent) problem you'd go to a place where there are many possible problem solvers to said problems... for example...a town!
i would declare anyone who just waits in the wildness for someone instead go looking for help in a town outright stupid

Also handled in Red Dead. And mentioned by Yahtzee. Only one or two quest-givers or starters exists outside of towns, and they have pretty good story reasons for not being in town.

But seriously, it's completely organic to have things going on between towns. Like, in the early 20th century people traveled from time to time for some reason. Historical analysis is unclear on why, but I'm certain they had their reasons.

it's just the symbiosis of the the whole quest thingies
quest givers are weak and have problems and cannot go outside or they get killed
quest solvers don't have problems, lots of time and are strong enough to go outside

Kinda makes you wonder how those isolated communities can be self-sufficient, as even most real-world townships relied on some form of trade and reliance on heroes is impractical. Further, it begs the question of how these people are so knowledgeable of places they can't go without dying and why any of this is less immersion-breaking than any other contrived system.

hawk533:
I also enjoy it when a game gives you an odd mission in the main quest, like the snowboarding and chocobo racing in FF7. And then while never requiring you to do it again allows you to explore that mini-game on your own. The tutorial part of the mini-game is baked into the story but it's a side quest after that.

Nearly every side quest in Mario RPG does this. The two that come to mind right away are the log rolling, and the hill climb.

Kurai Angelo:

Richardplex:
Pokémon anime damn it.

Calm down weeabo. English speakers just use the word anime to distinguish Japanese cartoons to others. Calling Pokemon a cartoon isn't wrong. Just like a Japanese person could generalise all cartoons as anime despite the origin.

They do. Anime is the Japanese term for all animation. Disney animated movies are called anime in Japan.

I tend to distinguish between Japanese anime that has been significantly edited and modified for Western markets (e.g., Voltron, Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets, Robotech, the 4Kids version of One Piece, etc.), and anime which is more or less unchanged from the original with subtitles or dubbing (Beast King Golion, Space Battleship Yamato, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross/Genesis Climber Mospeada, the unedited release of One Piece, etc.). The former I call "cartoons"; the latter I call "anime". Not that it really matters.

Zachary Amaranth:
Kinda makes you wonder how those isolated communities can be self-sufficient, as even most real-world townships relied on some form of trade and reliance on heroes is impractical. Further, it begs the question of how these people are so knowledgeable of places they can't go without dying and why any of this is less immersion-breaking than any other contrived system.

it's not immersion breaking if it is realistic inside the game world
it's absolutely plausible for a fantasy town to completely rely on heroes and other guards to protect them at their daily work... because it's extremely dangerous outside

it's NOT plausible for NPCs standing at the same point where just something bad happened to them waiting for someone to pass by instead of seeking shelter in the next town
e.g.

What makes me much more likely to do a sidequest is when I'm surprised by it in the field. If I'm driving through the countryside and a distraught woman runs out, flags me down and tearfully informs me that her husband has just been dragged into that shack over there by a mutant lobster antelope

if that happens more than once in a game i'll get suspicious of the game just setting me up
thus breaking immersion
i mean how likely is it to run into someone in a vast open world who has "JUST been attacked"

cefm:
To the extent that side-quests are available, they should be SIDE-quests and purely for entertainment, extra non-essential gear/cash/xp, and exploration.

Nothing annoys me more than "side-quests" that are actually necessary. The GTA series has it right. You can do the pizza-delivery quests if you want and the rewards are worth the time and effort, but it's 100% optional and not necessary to finish the main storyline. On the other end of the scale is the Final Fantasy series where it seems that EVERYTHING is a side-quest and most of them are mandatory to successfully complete the game (I'm looking at you, FF7 and your bullshiat Golden Saucer games to get Omnislash and Knights of the Round Table!).

That's one of the things that I loved about San Andreas: some of the side-quests were pretty well hidden. I just grabbed some random old car by the gas station and all of a sudden I discover that there are pimp missions. One of my favorite parts of that game was slinging hoes while driving around listening to Master Sounds.
But that's the thing, it was all optional...which is why I don't understand those people who complain that San Andreas had too much content: most of the content was optional.
It's like people who complain about restaurants that serve large portions. If you don't want that much, show some self control and don't eat it.

Richardplex:
Pokémon anime damn it.

If he watched the 4kids one then yeah I'd call it a cartoon too because of how much they changed it.

OT: Oh well then he's going to like Batman: Arkham City... at least I think he will.

May be getting sidetracked here, but I played Radiant Historia recently, and the reason why I liked the sidequests there was that aside from the organic nature of finding people in need as a result of unfolding events rather than just any kind of arbitrary issue (which tucks them neatly into the main story), is the fact that you have to completely screw with causality in order to solve most of them, since they involve snapping back and forth between points on your timeline. In fact, some of them will actually notice that what you've done to help them is technically impossible, but are entirely happy to shrug off the means for the end result.

Then it turns out that those isolated acts of kindness do end up actually affecting things later on. Joke's on you!

I'd like to note that you are in fact, just a time traveling delivery boy still, but the fact is, you're the only one able to do it, and the abilities you were given are granted for that specific responsibility to repair damage done to time by the big bad, so they really do need your help.

If you want a more recent cartoon to use as an example, try Avatar: The Last Airbender.

...Yeah, that's all I had to contribute to this thread.

cefm:
To the extent that side-quests are available, they should be SIDE-quests and purely for entertainment, extra non-essential gear/cash/xp, and exploration.

Nothing annoys me more than "side-quests" that are actually necessary. The GTA series has it right. You can do the pizza-delivery quests if you want and the rewards are worth the time and effort, but it's 100% optional and not necessary to finish the main storyline. On the other end of the scale is the Final Fantasy series where it seems that EVERYTHING is a side-quest and most of them are mandatory to successfully complete the game (I'm looking at you, FF7 and your bullshiat Golden Saucer games to get Omnislash and Knights of the Round Table!).

When I first completed the game, I completed it fine without Omnislash and Knights of the Round. So they certainly aren't required.

Personally I'm not a big fan of sidequests in general unless they add story or give some nice dialogue. Otherwise they're just often monotonous and boring. As an example, Xenoblade is renowned for it's ridiculous amount of side quests. Around 400 to be exact. However, I would have much rathered them to only have about 100, and all those 100 be extremely well made, story, dialogue and all. Rather than 400 average sidequests.

Mind you even games which have interesting sidequests, like Yakuza 4 aren't perfect. You needed a guide of sorts to be able to find all the sidequests in that, since the tracking wasn't brilliant.

RDR had great sidequests because half of them were traps. Now that's an underused idea.

yeah I've got to say RDR had it down when it came to delegating sidequests

I love sidequests.

It's always fun to have more to do than just the main story. Something simpler and entertaining. It's all good fun!

I miss the days of Morrowind... I enjoyed that it gave you nothing but a description of the quest. Maybe the name of an area, or a person... sometimes just a general direction.

I enjoyed the fact that it didn't mark the exact spot on your map. It allowed you to explore and discover on your own. Sure, sometimes it was difficult to find things with this system... but it brought a great sense of accomplishment when you found your goal.

I don't like the continuing trend of mapping the EXACT location of a side quest (Hell, even the main quest) on your map and having the game say "GO HERE, DUMMY"

Well we already knew you watched Pokemon.
Probably most of us here did, including me.

So yeah, valid points on a worthy topic as always!

Hmm, I'm surprised that he didn't drop any hints as to the topic of tomorrow's ZP episode; he's been doing that a lot lately, and it's fun.

While that's true, there's the other problem, exhibited by games like Prototype, Infamous, and Just Cause 2--where you might occasionally forget about the story altogether, because the side quests are the meat of the game. No one I know, when shown Prototype or Just Cause 2, ran straight for the missions. Several people forgot wholesale what the game was about, plot-wise, and it's not hard to see why. Consider a sample of gameplay from JC2: on the way to a mission, you find a stronghold, on the way to the stronghold, you find a village. Just past the village, you find an airport, and suddenly you're on the other side of the map, surfing a 777 into a seaside shanty, or doing circuits in of a highway in an ultralite. You have long since neglected any iota of this being a time-sensitive affair, and now exist in the game world independently, and purposelessly so, with no motive other than "blow shit up". And while blowing shit up might be the entirety of the game, it is really just the side quest to the main plot--but the side quests become the game here.

Well, maybe 'problem' isn't the right word. But, for someone who occasionally rags about games breaking flow, or being congruent, or having an unfocused game, then bringing up the occurrence that a game's ancillary material becomes it's primary material should be something you discuss alongside the right and wrong way a developer can use side quests.

Absolutely anything can distract me on the way to my actual duty in Infamous

Like what. There's nothing distracting at all in inFamous. You have required plot missions and you have required clean up the city missions (well, I supposed you could not do them if you want to be constantly raped by enemies and never be able to get anywhere in the game). Beyond that, there is nothing. Okay, very rarely you will encounter people trying to hang some dude, and if you're bad Cole, NPCs will throw rocks at you which don't do any damage or impede you in any way.

inFamous is not a sandbox at all. The only thing to distract players from their actual duty in inFamous is how damn awful the game is and the player's desire to rip the disc from their PS3 and put a fun game in instead.

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