Differing Dailies: Reliable, Rotating, and Random

In our world of quest-based PvE MMOs, repeatable content is a necessity for extending longevity. If there is nothing to do, players go elsewhere. The most popular approach to this is daily (or occasionally weekly, twice weekly, etc.) quests, and that is our compare-and-contrast essay of the day. (Do not steal it for high school English class unless you define many of the terms we are taking for granted.)

More specifically, the topic is how you structure those daily quests. I call some “reliable” in that they are unvarying. The same daily quests are available every day. “Random” dailies will have a pool from which some unknown ones are pulled each day. “Rotating” is the halfway point: a pool that moves in a consistent manner, so what is available is reliably known but not constant.

World of Warcraft is the trope codifier for dailies. When I played (late WotLK), they limited you to 25/day, and everything was always available. That is one of the great merits of reliable dailies: everything is available. There is no artificial scarcity. If you want it, it is there. If you like X, X will be there for you every day. You can set up a routine, and as a developer, you want to promote having your players log in consistently. Consistency is a kind of virtue. WoW also included some randomness, like the daily fishing and cooking quests. Didn’t they extend that with the Cataclysm solo endgame, with so many of the daily quests available per day?

I find randomness good for mixing it up, breaking up routines that lead to doldrums, but it is frustrating when you want something to come up and it does not. If you are randomly picking one of four quests, there is a 53% chance that one of them will not appear in a given week. When instant gratification takes too long, this can be bad. It forces on the player what is probably a good plan (not doing the same thing every day), but players resist being forced into anything.

The Lord of the Rings Online™ is another “always everything” game. Skirmishes extended this by giving a daily bonus to a menu of instances you could pull up. That content was usually available at all times, but the quest bonus was 1/day. (I say, “was,” but I presume this continues in Isengard.)

The daily or weekly bonus seems to be the easiest approach. You can get a bonus for doing each piece of content over each time period X. The numerically equivalent but less friendly-sounding version is to have diminishing returns for repeating content.

Guild Wars goes for pure “rotating.” The wiki has a list of when everything is coming up for the 7 dailies. This contains some of the merits of the other two approaches, in that what is available is known in advance and can be planned around but is not a constant each day. Embark Beach is a Schelling point; hundreds of options would spread the players everywhere, while a small set of daily options focuses grouping. Of course, as with random, if you do not like the daily option (any of the 7?), you are out of luck, and everyone with whom you might want to group is being channeled away from you. You do not even get the hope that your choice will randomly come up tomorrow; you can see on the calendar that it will be up in mid-March, that day you will be on a business trip. Guild Wars has the additional interesting bit that you can pick up but not complete the Zaishen missions and get to them tomorrow. I am a new player still going through the campaigns, so if the mission of the day is one I expect to get to later this week, I can store that bonus.

League of Legends has a generic “first win of the day” bonus. You get it for any map, PvE or PvP. That seems to be just a “come back every day!” incentive, as it cannot channel the players anywhere, although there are few enough options that channeling seems unnecessary.

Because I have not played every MMO, the door is wide open for reader commentary on how game X did it. The hard part on doing the comparison is that daily content is usually at the level cap, and how many MMOs have you played at the level cap for any meaningful length of time? Oh wait, you read MMO blogs.

I know which site I am writing for, but please resist the urge to say, “Guild Wars 2 events will solve this” unless you can tie it back to the daily-specific focus. You know how much it pains me to have skipped City of Heroes because their repeatable content has (had?) no time limits on repeatability, although there is a task force of the week bonus.

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “Differing Dailies: Reliable, Rotating, and Random”

  1. Lotro did change things up with the introduction of their new group finder. The various bonuses were split up a bit- you always get reputation gains, nothing daily at all there anymore. Likewise, experience was folded in to the experience rewards for mob kills, which meant that it was also “always on” but changed the relative experience/time values of the skirmishes quite a bit. The bonus marks were changed to a +50% mark bonus for picking a random skirmish (even solo) putting it in the “random” category. That’s been a bit of a problem since the difficulty of the skirmishes isn’t very consistent.

  2. One nice quirk about the daily quests in Guild Wars is that the quests/missions with rep bonuses and other rewards get doubled on bonus weekends, so usually I collect three quests per category for the factions I’m interested in to get maximum rewards for time invested.

  3. Cataclysm has randomized cooking/fishing dailies in major cities, and randomized dailies in Tol Barad. (One of these questgivers is randomized with every battle that occurs, rather than once daily, to encourage players to hold the zone.)

    The big thing, though, is the Molten Front. In this zone, the druids are advancing their campaign against Ragnaros, and each tier of daily rewards unlocks the next stage in the assault across the Firelands. There are minor randomizations at each step of the way, and a major branch point where you get choose which half of the campaign to pursue each day. There are also achievements involving rare spawns that you might encounter on specific quests, to provide a “chase” angle to the whole endeavor.

    It definitely has a different feel from the oldschool dailies, though ironically it’s also the first time I’ve ever felt pressed by the 25 quest limit. This past week had the Valentine’s event (5 dailies) and the Darkmoon Faire (6 dailies) up at the same time, which does not leave enough slots left in your limit to pursue the Molten Front.

  4. I love the fact that Guild Wars Zaishen quests do not make me repeat content too frequently. I can do vanquish quests and I get to clear a new zone every day. I also love the fact that I can carry up to 3 of each quests, in different categories – vanquish, missions, monster bounty, PvP. I hate to repeat the same quest or same 4 quests every day/every week.

    Edit: I dislike the PvP Zaishen quests though – I do not want to/cannot do some of those quests like GvG. I would rather get reward for my chosen first PvP activity like RA or AB. World of Warcraft BG or LoL bonus XP are more rewarding. GW’s AB Zaishen quest does help us get more people channeled to AB(also weekends when AB gives double faction) and I love the time whenever that happens.

  5. CoX has changed a bit, with a cooldown and diminishing returns on task forces and incarnate content, so that doing the same thing more than once a day leads to reduced reward merits (but not reduced mission/TF completion XP/Inf rewards). There is also the weekly model of the Signature story arc.. the first time (ever) you complete each arc with an alt, you get a reward table, with no restrictions on what you can pick. If you’ve done the arc at least once before, you go to the same table, but can only take a choice that you haven’t already taken in the past week for any SSA arc. (The options are 1 hero/villain merit, one astral merit, 4x reward merits, or 10 incarnate thread components, making it a reasonable plan to leave all of the arcs until you hit 50 and have your alpha slot unlocked so that you can farm up a fair number of threads.) The arcs have fairly high completion XP/inf bonuses, and the first arc can be blown through in about 15 minutes on the melee ATs, making it a quick daily “I only have 20 minutes to play today and I want something to show for it”.

  6. One infinitely repeatable aspect that gets overlooked in all MMOs is PvP. You can clears Dragon Soul once a week, normal or heroic. In the same week, you can run as many Alterac Valleys as time permits. Assuming a game lasts 20 minutes + queue time, that is 2-3 games an hour, 48-72 games a day, which is an average of 400+ games played in a week (played constantly).

    But no one cares to check that :)

  7. In Battlestar Galatica Online (i consider it an MMO but I doubt everyone does because its space based rather then swords and sorcery and monsters and such) dailies consist of 10 assignments from the captain.

    Half consist of non killing things, such as asteroid recon, system patrolling, mining, etc. Other half consists of violence, most of the violence ones are just against NPCs, but because all but 4 systems on each side of the map (out of like 60ish?)are open to the opposing faction, any or all of these dailies can bring you into contact with enemy players.

    Personally I think its a great way to get people into the pvp side of the game. Some people see the huge fleet battles that can last hours or in some cases multiple days as pointless. The only other type of pvp is small scale squad vs squad over a mine or something along those lines, or 1v1, which is always fun, but usually boils down to one person ganking another person, and of course ranked battle (IMO its pointless because your fighting your ship class which means you can tailor your gear to be deadly against THAT ship class, but weak against the other 2. The guy claiming to be the best fighter pilot on my server has personally be slaughtered by me 10 times in a row last count because he doesnt have his tailored build on).

    There is a level cap in bsgo, but nobody on my server is there (level cap is 255, highest level on my server is 200, and he only got to 200 because hes insane and got the majority of those levels in one day by using stackable exp increase items and a special mission that gives tons of exp and tons of currency). But at level 20 the rewards stop increasing by level, and system patrol and asteroid recon systems only occur in threat level 20 systems.

    Truthfully, if Guild Wars 2 mirrors its WvW pvp like BSGO has its unschedualed fleet fights, GW2 will become easily the greatest pvp game in existence today. (Basically the fleet fights happen because dual outposts enter a system due to player activities in that system, and both sides usually either A, want to keep that outpost in system to have a place to respawn at after attacks on the enemy systems, or because its great for resourcing, or to keep a large portion of the enemy fleet there while your side just keeps a defense force there so your offensive force can slaughter all the other outposts on the other side. If Guild Wars 2 can have huge pvp fights that happen randomly because a single guild or group of players decides to start one, and puts it in motion, it will be awesome. Only down side is that the only way that would happen is if the fortresses and such that we fight over are close enough and heavily defended enough by NPCs that it requires a huge force to overcome them from the defenders, so the defenders could either A, be a feint to keep the other side occupied, or B, actually try and take the other fortress through constant pushing.)

    The only reason I have written so much is hopes that KTR will try BSGO, see the pvp, and then some how force the GW2 devs to have a pvp system like BSGOs.

    Id reccomend Scorpia Server if you do try it to see the pvp. Right now its the most balanced and heavily populated on both faction sides that fleet fights are very common daily occurance. Though it may take a few days/weeks to find that huge, multiple day long fight.

    If however, none of the above comes to happen and no one reads this comment until weeks or years pass, just know that some gamers dream of the day when the perfect game, with the perfect amount of PVE and PVP, with the perfect design scheme, and the perfect balance happens…

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