Eric Flannum (lead designer of GW2) explained why basically the same task makes a difference in GW2:
post 29Originally Posted by Eric FlannumIt is true that we do want to get away from the standard kill X MMO quest. One thing that’s important to realize is that while we desire to get rid of this sort of thing there are a finite number of actions one can undertake in a combat focused game and there are a finite number of ways to express to a player what they should be doing. I think too often we get caught up in semantics when the root of the problem is that the standard kill X quest is bad because it is unexciting and has no context or consequence.
For example let’s pretend we have a situation where a group of undead creatures is gathering in a swamp to attack a local fortress.
In a typical kill X quest I would walk up to the commander of the fortress and he’d have an exclamation mark over his head. I’d click on him and he would present me with text describing how evil and foul the undead in the swamp are and how if they are not dealt with they will overrun his fortress. I accept this task and head to the swamp. It is likely that I now have “Kill 10 zombies” as a quest objective. I enter the swamp, see zombies and start killing them. After killing 10 I decide to head back to the fortress and turn in my quest. If I hadn’t done the quest what would have happened? Would the zombies have attacked? Are they still going to attack? I killed 10 of them but there are still more of them out there, doesn’t that matter? This is the experience provided by the typical kill X quest.
In Guild Wars 2, let’s take the same set up and apply it to a dynamic event. As I approach the fortress the commander runs up to me and says out loud for everyone in the area to hear that there are zombies in the local swamp, they are building up to attack his fort and someone had better do something. I head to the swamp and notice that the usual wildlife is gone, having been slain by the zombie horde (you actually get to see this happen as the event starts) when I enter the event radius I have the objective of “Cull the Zombie Horde” followed by a percentage indicating how much of the horde remains and a timer. I start killing zombies as the timer counts down. If I and any other adventurers in the area can cull the horde down to 0% before time expires then the remaining zombies will flee and disaster has been averted. I’ll automatically receive a reward, the fortress remains safe and the original wildlife will return to the swamp. If I fail to cull the horde and the timer reaches zero then the zombies will all shamble out of the swamp and attack the fortress. I have failed the event but now a new event presents itself where I can defend the fortress from the horde. If the fortress is overrun it will remain occupied by zombies until cleared, a valuable travel point will be lost, merchants and other NPC’s will be unavailable. My act of killing the zombies actually protected the fortress with the consequence of possibly losing the fortress when I failed the event.
In each case I was killing zombies. In each case I had a goal up on screen that communicated very similar things. However, the experience that I had during and after each type of content was very different due to context and consequences. Hope that clears things up a bit.