Extra Punctuation: Sidequests Good and Bad

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Something tells me this will be Yahtzee's reaction to people finding out he watched pokemon...

vivster:
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 like Fallout 3 and the Grey Ditch side quest. There's some stuff going down in a town, and everyone's up to their arm pits trying to deal with it, and the only guy who can't deal with it is the kid who runs out and finds you.

And it's not about waiting in the wilderness. The game is set up such that instead, the calamity ensues at about the same time that the player happens by. So usually the NPC just runs out and finds them at the exact time. Whether they pass by one day, or a month later, it's the same circumstances.

vivster:
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

Yes I've come to call this the Harry Truman effect (from the Jim Carey movie), and the worst offender tends to be the Elder Scrolls series. It's one thing to build a large open ended game world to explore, but when the impression starts sinking in that everything is revolving around you the immersion starts to shatter.

Haven't played RDR to see it matches up though.

CrankyStorming:

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.

Wrong, manga isn't an art-style. It can't be an art-style because a large number of wildly different art-styles are featured in things which are all considered "manga" (if you don't believe me, look at Crayon Shin Chan and then look at Lone Wolf and Cub). It's just the Japanese word for "comic book" (the Japanese reading of the Chinese word, if you want to get technical about it). Actually, if I were to walk down to the local bookstore right now (I'm living in Japan at the moment) I would find that all of their manga shelves are labeled with the English word "comics" written in katakana.

Similarly, "anime" is just the Japanese word for "animation" and is used in Japanese to refer to any animated production, regardless of its origin. some people use it in English to specify Japanese animation, but no one is under any obligation to do so.

Just Cause 2 didn't really have side quests did it? Just complete this village or that base.

Oh no wait, I guess Faction missions count don't they. Still fun as hell, and JC2 is one of my all time favourite games.

Worr Monger:
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"

ahhh green arrow blindness a terrible disease that inflicts modern gamers. unless they have a large blips on their mini map or a big green arrow pointing out exactly where to go they are completely lost. while i can understand the appeal of having the help players tend to end up relying on the help more than actually knowing what the quest is. personally i think its a side effect of mmorpg's where you just accept a quest, and hand it in and have never actually read the background/reasons for it.

Personally I've always felt that the main plot is the meat, side-quests are the fix 'ems, and the bread counts for graphics and controls. If you're sinking your teeth into a really great steak sandwich you're more likely to finish it off even if the bread has desintigrated into a pile of juice-soggy scraps in your hand. Conversely, I'll always feel more than a little disappointed if you take a great herb-and-cheese bread and slap on a slice of ham so thin the pig didn't feel it come off his ass.

My point (finally) is that sidequests should be more than filler for a world. The should offer up activities you can't do during your main quest (or don't allow you to do often enough). They should give you unique sites to explore, unique puzzles to solve, and it should have an impact on the main story's progression.

Worr Monger:
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"

That's what I remember most about the "good old" Morrowind; Like how your very first direction is to find Caius Cosades in Balmora. Asking around town directs you to a pub/inn and finally they tell you where his house is.
Or in Vivec people will say "Find X, he lives in the St.Olms canton" and you have to look around.

The frustrating part comes when they say "go to X, it's [cardinal point] of Y", but no indication of distance (or elevation). And sometimes finding the goddamn entrance to even something as prominent as a Daedric shrine or a Dwemer ruin can be surprisingly difficult.

I still wish they'd go back to that...

I'd just like to say that side quests are a lot more approachable when the main quest doesn't involve the main character dying of a disease in a few hours. If you've played the game, you know which one it is. I just felt really bad searching for collectables and side-quests when I'd just been yelled at for stopping to go to the bathroom instead of trying to find the cure.

I find it hard to do certain side quests if I dont find them itneresting..OR Idont have a vaild reason

I liked fallout new vegas in that all the "side" quests (there want much of a clear distinction) felt somhow tied up in the main plot....or at least they were interesting

nikki191:

Worr Monger:
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"

ahhh green arrow blindness a terrible disease that inflicts modern gamers. unless they have a large blips on their mini map or a big green arrow pointing out exactly where to go they are completely lost. while i can understand the appeal of having the help players tend to end up relying on the help more than actually knowing what the quest is. personally i think its a side effect of mmorpg's where you just accept a quest, and hand it in and have never actually read the background/reasons for it.

though for some reason..in batman arkham city while the game looks absolutly awsome I find it very hard to make sense of my surroundings..its all very overwhemling, Id be a bit lost without the help

but yeah I dont thinkyou really need to blame gamers, itsalways a decision by the developer

So it seems that Arkham City got the whole Open-World sidequests right by Yahtzee's criteria. I mean, that's pretty much exactly what he's describing.

great article as always. sidequests are the msot important part, and the one i spend most of my time for in open world games. making thme fun makes whole game fun. it is something games liek Mafia forgets while thier main story may be great, they arent really open world without having nothing else but main story.

Did Yathzee play the same Dead island as I did, because there is a load of side quests to find other than the safe zones, which of course have alot of side quests aswell, but I guess we all hail his genius, no matter how warped his argument is.

almost like he knew GTA:V was to be announced

RandV80:

vivster:
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

Yes I've come to call this the Harry Truman effect (from the Jim Carey movie), and the worst offender tends to be the Elder Scrolls series. It's one thing to build a large open ended game world to explore, but when the impression starts sinking in that everything is revolving around you the immersion starts to shatter.

Haven't played RDR to see it matches up though.

and that's what i'm getting at
how likely is it after days or even months in the vastness of an open world to find someone who JUST had something happened to them
then i'm thinking that the game has just set this up for ME and ME alone(since i'm the only one who walks there anyway)
breaking the immersion

It sometimes feels like sidequest are suffering from the 'feature list syndrome'. The game must have them because it says so on the feature list, but no one remembers why.

Before the time of level scaling, side quests was an opportunity to level up in between story quests. With that specific purpose gone, it's probably harder to make them feel as important.

The GTA games was always good at making side stuff, they genuinely rewarded exploration.

vivster:

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"

Bt the game is going to be setting you up in obvious fashion CONSTANTLY.

If the person runs to a town you'll most likely see them scuttling around mentioning their need for a helping hand, and even if you go several bloody months in-game, still noticing that same person wandering around, they'll say something along the lines of "my husband was dragged off a few days ago, please help."

It's entirely plausible to run into situations like that as they occur, isn't it? because at least then you know exacly when it happened and you don't have to listen to an NPC, and NPC who has been asking for help since the moment you entered the game, talk about how much they need a helping hand for their partner who got dragged off a few days ago for several in-game months. No matter what you do, the game is still obviously setting you up, the world is obviously revolving around you, because with town-based quest-givers time is in a fucking warp, the exact date of the tragedy that they're talking about changing every single day depending on what the Player character does in that situation.

The random-seeming wilderness encounters work by the same logic, but the game makes it seem as though you come accross them AS THEY HAPPEN, or at least a day or two after without asking you to watch the same NPC blether on about it for months on end.

And furhermore, why would every NPC NEED to seek shelter? what if you come accross a settlement, a camp? what if a rugged hunter needs a helping hand or some warriors need one extra man? why would every single NPC have to seek shelter in the nearby town?

And who's to say the world will revolve around us? well, no-one. Because the world keeps going. Thousands of things happen every day in most games that the player had no involvement in, and in, say, The elder Scrolls Series, there's evidence of those things going on around you without your help being required at all.

Running accross the odd random wilderness encounter? not implausible, not really. Can you imagine if the wilderness was just monsters and bad things and eveyone flocked to the towns? how would the economy survive? Why would all these NPC's move to designated "hubs" just because they're "hubs"? that kills any reason for exploration besides the odd bit of loot, because wandering off into the wilderness isn't going to result in any kind of surprises or sudden quests.

Instead of working like a realistic, varied landscape w'ere talking "wasteland with some towns in it". Sure, it makes a lot of sense for people to move to the towns, but can you imagine if that was how everyone acted in a crisis? you'd think the world was populated by fucking androids, you'd have legions of quest-givers clustered together at local taverns and inns, ALL OF THEM with something to tell you, all of them needing help with that things that happened a few days ago, you know, where something important needed doing or someone needed rescuing, but instead of running around asking for help they just decided to sit and wait in a crowded area 10 miles away for someone to politely ask them if they needed help, along with 10 other people doing the EXACT SAME THING, and apparently the town watch is too busy wandering around stopping petty crimes to help, so they have to hire YOU to act as the hired help, running there and back accross a wilderness that serves no purpose but to accomodate monsters and quest objectives. How would THAT be better for immersion?! instead of encountering random people who are in immediate danger, instead you've got mountains of evidence that the world DOES revolve around you piling up around town, doing absolutely nothing until you fix their predicament for them. Sure, if one or two enterprising NPC's turn up and announce they're looking to hire some local adventurer for a job then OK, brilliant, but having a load of people who need help calmly sitting around sampling the Town's local ale and having a chinwag in the hopes that someone will ask them just what the hell they're doing? bleeeeeeeergh.

Avaloner:
Did Yathzee play the same Dead island as I did, because there is a load of side quests to find other than the safe zones, which of course have alot of side quests aswell, but I guess we all hail his genius, no matter how warped his argument is.

But you just backed up his point right there.

....the safe zones, which of course have A LOT of side quests AS WELL

So Dead Island's mission hubs ARE full of quest-givers who send you out into the world to do jobs before having you traipse back for a reward. How does that differ from his assessment?

Sidenote: I seriously hope those are just typos, and you didn't think that "alot" and "aswell" are singular words.

vivster:

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

That's not "realistic within the game world," that's "accepting something unrealistic."

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"

In a living, breathing world? Very likely.

The game "setting me up" seems highly selective and the word "immersion" thrown around haphazzardly. AS IS THE WAY OF THINGS IN THE GAMING COMMUNITY, mind, so I'm not horribly shocked.

A town that needs heroes to protect it but exists fine when the heroes are not there is every bit as ridiculous as someone standing in a field waiting for a quest giver. If "immersion" is broken by one, it should be broken by both. You're just bending over backwards to justify the one and not the other.

But again, as Red Dead was extolled, it would seem that Yahtzee doesn't want people just standing around in fields waiting for you, either. He wants an active and lively world where things happen. Or at least, he seems to.

This is an interesting subject; how are side quests best handled? Yahtzee makes a good point with his example of Red Dead Redemption. Thinking back on my own playing time of that game, I did enjoy how while doing all the free roaming, I could encounter a stagecoach holdup, a random passerby getting attacked by wild animals, even a tricky s.o.b. who comes up and claims to need help but just wants to steal my horse.

But there's one point I wonder about here; can you really call these things side quests or are they more like random encounters? When I hear the term "quest" I think of something a bit more involved than just a sporadic event that's solved with a quick dust-up. Now a side quest shouldn't have a more involved plot than the main storyline quest, but something that's a bit more entertaining than just some 10-second shootout with a couple bandits. Redemption had those too, like the crazy inventor who needed you to help gather materials for him, or the film director who needed you to help him get the house he wanted for his new movie theater (I think that's how it went anyway...).

The issue here seems to be should side quests be something you have to hunt around for around the map or should they all be clustered around the safe havens in a game. I think it depends entirely on the short story behind each mission. If it's an immediate, pressing problem, like someone's fiance or kid just got kidnapped, then it's probably best if it was something you encountered out in the field, because it's hard to imagine it's a pressing matter if the person had time to run all the way back to town and stand around, waiting for someone to recruit to help find them.

If, however, it's a more long-standing dilemma, then it could conceivably be handled by a stationary NPC in a town or other save location. For example, if someone's been unable to travel to some distant location because their horse/coach/whatever mode of transportation got stolen and someone needs to find the thieves and where they took it, then it's conceivable that the quest giver could be stuck in town until someone helps them. Looking at a fantasy setting, if a wizard has been seeking adventurers to retrieve a long-lost artifact he's discovered but can't go after because he's too old or there's some kind of curse on him or whatever, then it again makes sense for him not to be wandering outside of the city he's in or his tower or what have you.

Like a lot of things, it's all about balance here. Some side quests would carry a better sense of urgency and weight if they were dropped on you unexpectedly through exploration. But other things can be handled the traditional way too. A lot of it depends on the story behind the side quest and how it relates to the main plot.

cefm:

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!).

I'll readily admit to being a huge old school FF fanboy, but I have never needed to do the side quests to complete the main game. When I finished 7 the first time I actually had a much more intense and enjoyable fight on my hands because I was a noob and didn't have a single ultimate materia, weapon, armor or limit break. Apart from the shit one for Red the game gives you for free, natch.

I prefer to think of the side quests in those game as another game. If you want to complete THAT game(i.e. beat the weapons, ozma, dark aeons etc) then yes, you do need side quests.

Zachary Amaranth:
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?

Pretty high, but pokémon is generally thought as a cartoon because of the whole it-was-my-childhood thing.

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!).

If you needed Omnislash or Knights of the Round to complete the game, something is terribly wrong. I beat the game just doing what was required, with the caveat being that I would never run from a random encounter; No boss posed any threat to me. I was actually disappointed by how easy it was to beat Sephiroth.

I remember that same fight took me HOURS to beat when I was a kid. I must have been a retarded child or something.

If anything, what bothered me about the Side Quests in FF7 was just how -pointless- they were in the long run. I know the Final Fantasy series has been all about grinding and finding all the little trinkets and summons you possibly could, but in the end, what do you have to use it on?

The extra bosses practically couldn't be beaten except by cheating, so even with all the best equipment, it never really felt like the extra work was worth anything. That's my definition of bad side-quests.

Granted, I still loved FF7 for what it was.

Worr Monger:
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"

Playing Vampires: Bloodlines - The Masquerade, I can't help but agree with you. I remember this side mission where I was supposed to help a ghoul by tracking down someone who was stalking him. My only clue was a driver's license the stalker had dropped by accident. Then I had to track down the person using a computer (using a text-based interface!) by searching through a license registry, only to find out that the guy in the driver's license was actually *GASP*... dead! Then I checked out the hospital morgue of the city looking for the body, and my next clue was a key of a packaging shop I found in his list of possessions the hospital staff retrieved from the dead body. I went to that shop, opening the front door using the key, and finally to confront the Chinese ninja vampire who had killed that guy and made that place his base of operations. Hacking his computer and reading his emails (before he saw me), I found out that a Chinese triad of vampires was planning to come overthrow the Camarilla of downtown LA and install their own influence! Phwooar!

Sorry, kinda got carried away... *misty eyed*

In contrast, the game I played before that, Crysis 2, had a constant quest marker on the map and the screen, even though the map was linear as fuck and there was only one obvious direction to go all the time.

Raiyan 1.0:

Worr Monger:
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"

Playing Vampires: Bloodlines - The Masquerade, I can't help but agree with you. I remember this side mission where I was supposed to help a ghoul by tracking down someone who was stalking him. My only clue was a driver's license the stalker had dropped by accident. Then I had to track down the person using a computer (using a text-based interface!) by searching through a license registry, only to find out that the guy in the driver's license was actually *GASP*... dead! Then I checked out the hospital morgue of the city looking for the body, and my next clue was a key of a packaging shop I found in his list of possessions the hospital staff retrieved from the dead body. I went to that shop, opening the front door using the key, and finally to confront the Chinese ninja vampire who had killed that guy and made that place his base of operations. Hacking his computer and reading his emails (before he saw me), I found out that a Chinese triad of vampires was planning to come overthrow the Camarilla of downtown LA and install their own influence! Phwooar!

Sorry, kinda got carried away... *misty eyed*

In contrast, the game I played before that, Crysis 2, had a constant quest marker on the map and the screen, even though the map was linear as fuck and there was only one obvious direction to go all the time.

I miss that type of old style questing as well. Many RPGs used to have main quests that deliberately started very vague and part of the gameplay was to get more leads. Side quests acted as possible angles for those leads. When the story is more linear and more urgent sidequests sometimes seems misplaced.
- "The world as we know it is about to blow up in 24 hours, please hurry and save us. Oh and while you're doing that, we have 224 deliveries we would like you to handle."

A story that develops at a slow pace seems to be more fitting for side quests.

i would have to say oblivion. i rarely play the story line. i just run around doing everything but

Zachary Amaranth:

vivster:

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

That's not "realistic within the game world," that's "accepting something unrealistic."

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"

In a living, breathing world? Very likely.

The game "setting me up" seems highly selective and the word "immersion" thrown around haphazzardly. AS IS THE WAY OF THINGS IN THE GAMING COMMUNITY, mind, so I'm not horribly shocked.

A town that needs heroes to protect it but exists fine when the heroes are not there is every bit as ridiculous as someone standing in a field waiting for a quest giver. If "immersion" is broken by one, it should be broken by both. You're just bending over backwards to justify the one and not the other.

But again, as Red Dead was extolled, it would seem that Yahtzee doesn't want people just standing around in fields waiting for you, either. He wants an active and lively world where things happen. Or at least, he seems to.

that's why i always used the neat little 2 words "for me"
i can except a town with lots of quests waiting for me as it is very likely for quest givers to concentrate on one point
i cannot accept highly unlikely encounters that are obviously targeted only at me

a little realistic example just for you
you are looking for a job
how many jobs do you find by walking through the streets and people coming to you and offering you one and how many jobs do you find when going to a job center?
jobs need to be centralized to be feasible for the job givers...

and of course the town works fine when i'm not there because there are obviously other(smaller) heroes who do the little dirty work

immersion is a highly subjective thing
some people don't even get to a point of immersion and some people choose to believe certain things to keep up their immersion

or are you telling me now that you've objectively defined immersion and that i can't be having said immersion because it doesn't fit your definition?

Yahtzee is right, but to be honest, even when I am playing a sandbox game I'm always planning how to go about stuff. Even in games such as Red Dead: Redemption, I'd look at my side quests and choose which is closest to my next primary objective and head there. I recently beat Dead Island, and I did almost the exact same thing. First I'd accept all of them, then complete any that're away from the majority of them, and finally complete the ones that're more densely placed. Kind of like a hypno wheel in a sense :P

You watched the Pokemon Anime, Yahtzee? You've reached a whole new level of awesome, in my mind.

I personally think quests/missions, side and main, are tedious busywork that gets in the way rather then enhances. I would sooner they be replaced with events, which work like Yahtzee describes the random ambushes and such in Red Dead: Redemption, only I think more or less ALL quests/missions should work like that. Instead of going to find some NPC to get the next story mission I think it would be better if say, you came in to town for the first time and there was a battle between two gangs going on. Make the "missions" part of the actual world, not it's own self-contained mini story. It will make the player care more about them if it's something that just happens and they have to deal with, rather then a NPC whining at you to do stuff for them.

He's right in that it's difficult to define sidequest - I'd consider it something that simply doesn't need to be done for game completion, though it would likely make said game completion easier (though not so much that it would be impossible to do so otherwise). My examples:

Civilization V:
Or really any Civ game, but I'm being specific for the sake of it. I don't know why. Civilization is a very open-feeling game, I believe, as there are many ways to play the game and multiple ways to win. It also has no sidequests. Therefore, I'd say that a game needs no sidequests to feel open, depending largely on the genre.

No More Heroes:
I wouldn't consider most of anything in it a sidequest - money is required to proceed with the plot, and missions provide it. One might say that you do the money to buy fun shirts and stuff, and that that isn't required for game completion, but the limited number of cash-generating missions means that you'll only get said cash by replaying them, and replaying a required "quest" doesn't make it a sidequest the second time around in my opinion. Perhaps the only sidequests are the "quests" (used loosely here) to beef yourself up or learn new moves via the gym and drunken bar guy (again, simply paying for something wouldn't make it a quest as per the aforementioned money collection process, as is the case with the beam katanas). But it's certainly a sandbox game in my mind, (not to the level of GTA and friends, though) what with the motorbike and the running down pedestrians and the finding cash and shirts in dumpsters or buried in the ground and all. But it doesn't feel too open to me.

Super Mario 64:
Tough to say. While one certainly needs stars to proceed through the game, which are obtained through the various worlds, you don't need all of them to finish the game. And repeating a star-collection process doesn't get a new star, only different star missions do, which may be in the same world you used for a minimum-star requirement. However, it's even possible to skip entire worlds to reach the star quota. So are all missions sidequests? Are none of them sidequests? Are re all of them potential sidequests depending on whether or not you undertake it for the fun of it? I'd say no, as none of it would better prepare you or improve your combat ability in any way, save for the hats, which are only used to be able to accomplish missions, rather than making it easier to do so.

Pokémon Red/Blue:
I don't know if I'd really consider anything from these games to be sidequests as per my personal definition, as the game is all about catching and battling pokémon. It's true that one could get through the game only by doing that which the plot demands, maybe by getting a Mewtwo in a trade or something, but it's really not the point of the game. It has the same issue as Super Mario 64 in that some battling needs to happen for game completion, but when and where it happens is a choice, making other battles an endeavor in side-questing, perhaps. Unlike Mario 64, however, the battles do make you more capable to complete the game. I'd definitely consider catching the three legendary birds (or in the case of Ruby/Sapphire, the three Regi's for instance) sidequests, as they involve going to a place separate from the plot path for the sole purpose of their capture. Again, it's a very open game, but with questionable sidequesting.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
Great example. By now I'm sure that some of you have various objections. "Really? The level are access through an overworld." I know. "It was so text heavy, the plot practically forced itself on you." I know. "The main character dresses like he's gay and looks like a girl." He certainly does. "You've only mentioned Nintendo games since Civilization." I have to, I've got little availability, and a tight schedule. "I hate that game you mentioned in this list." None of these are critiques of the games, and I'm not interested in discussing their merits as to whether or not they are good or bad, so shut up about that." But anyway, Tactics. Again, there are some missions that are plot-based and others that are very much not so. They are given to you in the same mission-getting spots, and are similar/the same in what one needs to do to complete them. Are they sidequests? Absolutely. They level you up, they have no impact on the plot (with good strategy, you could play through the game using only the main missions to level up), they provide access to other game options and loot for weapon crafting (still not required), and which ones you do and whether or not you do them is entirely up to you. The auctions are sidequests too - they improve your ability to play by enabling you to buy weapons at lower prices. The game's overworld format would feel very closed and linear, much like New Super Mario Bros Wii, but the sidequests open it up considerably.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The same could be said of all Zelda games (or as Yahtzee would say, all the versions of that one Zelda game made over and over, though I'd disagree because most games in one franchise follow the exact same linear format with only slight variations in plot, like the God of War games), but Majora's Mask demonstrates it best. There are four dungeons and the lead up requirements for their access (like Gerudo's fortress and whatnot). But obtaining the masks, the bottles, the heart containers, the better sword, the better quivers, and so on are all sidequests done through exploring the areas unrelated to game completion. And there's tons of it. Furthermore, the overworld is one in that allows for a lot of sidequest discovery, as traveling from place to place allows for the distractions known as sidequests to...distract you. This is the best example I can think of.

I don't know why I wrote all this. I'm sure no one will read it, especially not all of it. I must really be desperate to procrastinate.

Worr Monger:
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"

This!

When Yahtze was whinging on about not being able to see all the side quest markers at once on the mini map, all I could think of is, how about a game where you actually have to pay attention to what the NPCs say and what's going on and THINK about things.

I hate just following the pointer to the next objective, especially when it breaks the narrative because there's no way in hell your PC could know where that objective is.

Richardplex:

Pretty high, but pokémon is generally thought as a cartoon because of the whole it-was-my-childhood thing.

I tend to not care about the anime/cartoon distinction. I think, between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, the former is "more anime" than the latter, yet anime fans get butthurt if you call it anime quite frequently, because it wasn't made in Japan.

While Galaxy Rangers was, even though it was predominantly a Western cartoon. And I mean Western as in American, not as in Wild West, which it technically also was, because it was a space cowboy deal.

I think I just confused myself.

Then again, I think of Voltron as a cartoon and GoLion as anime, even though they're the same source material. So maybe there's just something wrong with me. >.>

vivster:

that's why i always used the neat little 2 words "for me"

Except you didn't always use them. Further, trying to argue the logic to me, the element of "for me" no longer works. Please, don't try to cop out.

i can except a town with lots of quests waiting for me as it is very likely for quest givers to concentrate on one point
i cannot accept highly unlikely encounters that are obviously targeted only at me

That doesn't make the one more realistic than the other, your claim. It just makes you more willing to rationalise one over the other, my claim.

a little realistic example just for you
you are looking for a job
how many jobs do you find by walking through the streets and people coming to you and offering you one and how many jobs do you find when going to a job center?
jobs need to be centralized to be feasible for the job givers...

But you just discounted the real world in your last post. Now you're trying to apply the real world in a modern sense where the prior old-world examples would more likely apply. You're kid of proving my argument. Back before modern society, traveling hands WERE common.

and of course the town works fine when i'm not there because there are obviously other(smaller) heroes who do the little dirty work

Which only works if you're not the only one who can do things, or the chosen one, or the hero of legend, all common tropes.

immersion is a highly subjective thing
some people don't even get to a point of immersion and some people choose to believe certain things to keep up their immersion

So you're choosing. Awesome. Your choice is silly.

or are you telling me now that you've objectively defined immersion and that i can't be having said immersion because it doesn't fit your definition?

I'm telling you not to hold a double standard, and not to argue it to me. You're choosing that double standard, fine. Choice doesn't make it not a double standard.

Worr Monger:
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"

Oh man, how I miss that game. It's too bad Yahtzee doesn't like Bethesda games as a rule, because they do side-quests better than almost every other developer out there.

That said, yeah, there were massive frustrations at times. Hey, so there's this guy on an island and it's somewhere northeast of Tel Branora. I hope you have a good water-walking spell, nerevarine. Or, there's this dead Ordinator somewhere north of this mountain, find him and bring back his goddamn pauldrons.

Loved the hell out of that stuff. That's why I'm really dismayed by that spell in the Skyrim video previews that draws a magical line to where your next quest point is. COME ON.

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