Most MMOs have some form of “dailies”. Dailies are activities that have a time-limited activity cap. The most common type is a daily quest, which is only available to complete once per day. Dailies are used as a time gate towards progress, or they are used to let casual players maximize rewards for their time. Guild Wars 2 uses a daily PvE achievement based around four tasks to maximize experience points and karma. The main difference from most other MMOs is that the four tasks can be accomplished nearly anywhere.
For a look at a more conventional MMO, let’s take Lord of the Rings Online’s Hytbold content. Hytbold is a personally-phased town in Rohan that has been ravaged by war. It is up to players to reconstruct the village by doing dailies. Each day there are 16 quests split between 4 zones from the new Riders of Rohan expansion. I am not there yet, but knowledgeable guildies told me it would take 40+ days of 16-quest dailies to complete Hytbold. It’s easy to see the direction behind Hytbold. Dailies are centered around content where most players will be. Dailies correspond to a unique reward. And dailies will keep people coming back for quite a long time. While Hytbold is unique in many aspects, its use of dailies is the norm in most MMOs.
Guild Wars 2 turned dailies on its head, for better and worse.
First, Guild Wars 2 dailies can be completed in nearly any PvE area as well as WvW. The four tasks are kill 15 enemy types, kill 60 enemies, gather 20 times, and complete 5 events. For dungeon-runners and WvW, killing 15 enemy types is usually the biggest bar, but I’ve found that the dailies can be knocked out in less than an hour easily. I’ve found that starting areas are actually great for dailies because of the event density and enemy type distribution. A few of the dragons are also good for knocking out event strings while keeping to high-level rewards.
The ancestral Guild Wars 1 has daily achievements centered around specific content scattered around the world with Zaishen quests. Instead of killing any 60 enemies, players had to kill a specific boss. Instead of completing any 5 events, players had to complete a specific mission. This got a lot of players together focused on the daily, but it did not reward players for simply logging on and playing as they deemed fit.
The rewards for Guild Wars 2 dailies are also generic. Each tier of the tasks awards the player with a small experience boost. When each task is filled the player gets a Mystic Coin, a Jug of Liquid Karma, a chance at a Black Lion item, a small amount of silver, and more experience. A Mystic Coin is used for getting pretty skins and other items out of the Mystic Forge. If nothing else the market will suck them up. (The supply is still pretty surprising for a once-a-day item.) The Jug of Karma represents the best karma-per-time ratio because it gives 4500 boostable karma per pop. 4500+ karma in less than an hour of play is extremely good. With experience feeding skill points, which have some monetary worth, it is always appreciated.
Finally, I don’t feel that Guild Wars 2 dailies provide any player drive unless that player is already logged on. Players at the level cap in Lord of the Rings Online will return for a mere hour every day or so to keep working on Hytbold. I don’t think a Guild Wars 2 player deciding whether to play something else will consider the generic dailies a deciding factor. Guild Wars 2 dailies seem be a tool used to give a small boost to players with less time rather than as a driving force to point players towards content and each other.
I think in one part this is great. Guild Wars 2 dailies fully embody the “just play” philosophy. On the other hand, with the exception of the Jug of Liquid Karma, the experience and gold boosts are small and unnecessary. Players do not need experience boosts to slog through the last levels because those levels speed by as fast as most others. On the other hand, I think there is still room to improve Guild Wars 2 dailies to provide more direction and focus.
My idea is to have normal advancement and focused advancement. Normal advancement is the Guild Wars 2 dailies now. “Just play.” Focused advancement would focus on a specific PvE zone or dungeon. Kill 60 things anywhere, or focus down and kill 60 things in Caledon Forest. Focused activities would push both normal advancement and focused advancement, of course. However, a player that has already killed 60 things anywhere with a filled achievement bar could still work on the focused achievement to fill it up (perhaps a multi-colored bar having focused advancement a different color from normal advancement).
Suggestions for focused daily rewards could be a buff that stays the rest of the day, increased magic find chance to the Black Lion daily rewards, or a new reward schema. Collection is after all a strong driving force for players to return day after day. Even having “limited-time seasons” for daily rewards might be something to consider where eventually the neon-green dye with glow shader costing 15 days-worth of focused dailies is never going to be available again.
I feel the rewards is the easier part with plenty of design space, but the main goal is to give players another reason to log on because of dailies because, like I said above, I do not think dailies in Guild Wars 2 are any sort of driving force until after the player has logged on. I feel like this would be a good place to iterate on to focus attention on less-populated zones as well as give players more reason to log on. It would also be a generous nod towards the Zaishen of old, wherever they are.