14 July 2017

Daily mission's, a games design trap?

    Daily Mission's or Quest's have been a big part of gaming for a very long time now. When they were conceived, they were originally praised for being a great way to make a player habitual, even if it's only brief, so they never truly take a break from the game. However as the years have gone by, the subject has gotten muddier and muddier, where some can argue that there are more problems it causes than fixes. In this article, I aim to explore this gaming phenomenon, and discuss whether they're still a tool that people want in their development arsenal, or not.

    The pro's to a system like these, similar to login rewards, are that it encourages players to at least make some effort towards playing the game every single day. It rewards them for loyalty to their product, and more free stuff for loyal players is obviously good incentive for players to stick around. If you didn't change your playing habits at all, you would see you getting more stuff.

    However, many would argue this is a very idealistic view, and practically doesn't have any of the same effects. I conducted a study playing League of Legends, where I asked a few questions to ~100 Co-op vs AI players, this showed me that over as many as 85% of the people I was matched with, were only playing AI to finish their quests for the night. They never played co-op vs AI normally, the question to ask is whether they wanted to play League in the first place, or they were treating it as a job. Doing what they "have" to do, to remain efficient. Another great example that I am familiar with, is Hearthstone. a card game where you have two option's. Try to play everyday and use your meagre gold gain to fund a small collection,or give them money. A lot of free to play players constantly complain that they don't like where the meta is right now, they just play to gain gold for the next upcoming expansion. Is this really the audience you want for your game?

    I would argue creating this kind of culture will artificially create players, however when they catch on that they aren't enjoying the game any more, they will stop, find some competition, they will tell their friends, and then your player base starts to dwindle. You can no longer trust your metrics, "this is the most players we've had yet, surely that means the game is at it's best right now, right?" Because of this it makes the game harder to fix. The feedback that would normally be there for you to draw from, isn't there any more, and from there it becomes more and more of an impossible task, leading unfortunately to the death of the game and the community with it.

    Personally, I think we'd be better off in a world without them. Video Game Addiction is worth mentioning in a topic like this, this kind of environment is where it thrives. Where people feel like they are being productive playing these game's instead of searching for jobs, or doing their schoolwork. In conclusion, to answer the question in the beginning, I do think daily missions or quest's are a trap that lots of developers don't understand how to use fully. Whilst it is a tool that has potential, I feel it is best avoided unless you are comfortable making it work.


  1. I do find daily missions problematic, as well as other padding in games, like side quests that are boring and add nothing to the character, plot or story. Other padding is in the Monster Hunter series, where you have to keep fighting the same monster over and over again to get the rare drop *cough Rathalos ruby cough* and I love Monster Hunter. It gives the game a perceived value, that it's worth $60 b/c you get hundreds of hours from it.

    Indeed, we all talk about how we prefer quality over quantity, but then you get a lot of people complaining about how Naughty Dog games only last a dozen hours.

    I know I keep coming back to Horizon Zero Dawn, but they did a great job with a compelling main mission, and it's the first game that I actually wanted MORE side quests, b/c each quest they present add to the culture, world-building, story, plot, character development, and so on and so forth. And the drops are very reasonable, odds even improved if you have it active on your job list.

    So, I think developers will need to come up with having quality IN quantity. I don't know how a quality daily mission would look like as I never played the MMO/Destiny type games. But for now, I agree that they aren't being used wisely (i.e. people actually having fun doing missions).

    1. People in the manufacturing industry have recently grown in love with the phrase "Value Adding". A simple enough idea, if it doesn't add value to your product, it's waste. I think regarding a lot of sidequest's, they could do with employing this notion to their work. If it isn't adding value to the game, it's a waste of resources, and they'd be better working on some other part until then. The problem there is how you define value in a game of course, but that's a much larger topic that changes from gamer to gamer.


    2. Do you see the video game industry abusing "Value Adding" by removing basic features, and then having you pay for these basic features in a season pass/DLC? I noticed quite a few games make you pay for things that should be a basic feature of the game.

    3. I feel that's misinterpreting it, greedy dev's and publishers don't really correlate to value adding, however I see what you're saying. I'll try to give a better example of value adding, let's say we're making a game. We have the opportunity to pay Nvidia to optimise our graphics and squeeze as much out of their graphics card as possible, they ask for some time and manpower to do so. If we are making a simple text based RPG, this would not improve the quality of the game, it would not improve the longevity of the game, it wouldn't do anything for us, so it would be waste. We could cut it from the pipeline and save money. However if we are making a 3D puzzle platformer, that service would be much more beneficial, so it would be value adding.

      What you are talking about is the like's of Dark Souls 3 hiding the arena behind a paywall (again), which while I say this with love, is just dodgy business that people are paying for with curses under their breaths.


    4. Oh I see so value adding is actually adding true improvements, as opposed to the nickel and diming of quite a few DLCs for minor features and items such as a weak weapon, armor and such.

      I think Dark Souls 1 and 2 DLCs (which can be considered value adding) are the right way of doing things--they were actually better than the main campaign, plus 1 gave you the OP Dark Bead, and 2 just had brilliant level design and unforgettable bosses like Fume, Ivory King, and Sir Alonne, plus Mirrah's armor, and Lucatiel is one of my favorite NPCs (Patches will always be #1).