I had a go through Operation Gnomeregan last night. A nice little quest line going from Ironforge down through Dun Morogh and ending with the eponymous battle to retake the Gnomish capital, that follows Blizzard’s recent quest design MO of giving the player lots of “cool” things to do, while offering no challenge whatsoever.
This is the perfect example of why I don’t like questing. To have fun in a game I need at the very least to feel as though I'm playing it.
We call this type of content PvE. That little “v” may be lower case, but it’s bloody important. Versus. I am supposed to be playing against the game. If I push the game and the game doesn’t push back -- if there is no danger I will fail, then my decisions and my input don’t matter and it’s not a game anymore, it’s a task. I put in my time [or grind, if you will] in order to receive a reward, whether that reward is gold, XP, gear, a cosmetic frill or even just the next advancement to a storyline.
I don’t know whether many people share this sentiment, but I’m always deeply disappointed when I feel like I am making repeated failures in a game and I still win. I want to be punished for my mistakes. I want to feel the threat of defeat nipping at my heels. I want to earn my ultimate victory. This is what a video game is for me.
I understand this game has a fantastic collection of storylines and lore and characters and a magnificently designed ambience and this is all a fantastic addition to the experience, but the reason I'm here is to play a game. The rest is secondary. There are plenty of much better options for experiencing storylines and characters that don’t require me to sit and click on things to perform repetitive tasks while doing it.
So I’ve invented a new perjorative term for unchallenging gameplay in an MMO. I call it “PeE” -- Player Experiencing Environment. Here’s to hoping Blizzard doesn’t give me too many more chances to use it in the future. =)