Missing Good Content For “Reasons”: Missable Quests In Video Games

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You know it doesn’t bode well when the first images of an image search for “missable quests” comes up with multiple games in a franchise. Frankly I generally go to a dark gloomy place in my mind when I hear the term missable quest, it feels like something that by all logic shouldn’t exist and really has no reason to. Why oh why is there content in my games that I can miss if I don’t scour the world for any new quests every time something happens? Who is sitting there devising various quest ideas for a game with the knowledge a decent handful of them aren’t going to be played because of “reasons”?

Okay so instead of just being upset let me take a second here and try to fathom a legitimate reason to have a quest that you can miss in your game. If you miss content and you are the occasional achievement hunter, you’re gonna play the game again to get the quest activated and tick off that achievement or what have you so….I guess it is padding of sorts. Wait, what if it is the worst kind of missable quest, the ones that not only disappear at a certain time but can be forfeited if you move into the story too far? I know I’ve had a few of those because either the next step was unclear or the required item or what have you seemed too good for this area.

I was told that if I wanted to make sure I don’t miss quests on my playthrough I should just use a damn guide. Yes, the optimal solution to a stupid problem is a dumbass solution. Just have a map for the entire game to do everything, ruin any attempt at discovery as the developers thought you should either have efficiency or exploration, not both. I wouldn’t mind a simple available quests list as well as whether or not they are missable or not, it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to implement.

God forbid if I ever get into this industry I become the one making all the quests and side missions. I have absolutely no qualms with the concept but if I end up making anything that turns out to be a missable quest I am going to be quite upset my work has gone ignored due to mindless constraints upon the player experience. I can’t imagine the sinking feeling in a persons chest when they put effort into something that goes ignored y the bast majority, it isn’t something I’m particularly familiar with and would rather go without thank you very much.

The missable quest phenomenon is bad enough when it is a medium sized adventure, something you might miss in a 50-70 hour romp through say a JRPG. When it becomes the greatest hindrance is when it is found in the massive roleplaying games, your Inquisitions, Skyrims and the like where it can dig into your side as that one *missed* on my quest log, destroying my enjoyment of the game because it decided I should spend more time running around no mans land in hope of finding a quest that may or may not be here.

Some games use highlighters to mark a character who has a quest for you which can make finding them a bit less of a hassle. Some other games forget that and you just have to talk to every person in town like some sort of creeper off the prairie looking to see if the little girl and her dog need one of these damn ribbons I keep collecting. Oh but then there are the quest style like in Dragons Dogma, my PS3 nightmare for quest completion when I was so close to that glorious Platinum I could taste it.

6th runthrough of the game as I was still trying to beat all the quests and end up with a love interest that wasn’t the little girl of the man I sent to prison (he deserved it but I don’t feel right romancing his daughter) along with beating quests. I knew the game had missable quests sure, what I didn’t know was that some people won’t actually have their quest giving dialogue open until you talk to them a few times….something I didn’t know for quite a few playthroughs. This concept baffles my mind as to why it exists, it serves no purpose than have people spam chat to everyone they see as to exhaust all their dialogue options.

Oh and let us not forget the dreaded split choice quests that then go on the list of things I have to go back and do, quests that have a choice to make that makes it impossible to get both quests done. Not only are these a pain as someone who wants to do a bunch of quests, sometimes the rewards differ based on your decision, who wants to find out near the end of the game that they could have had a great item or a fantastic merchant on their side had they gone the other way? The quality of gameplay shouldn’t rest on whether or not a decision with no definition of its rewards for either path.

When I pay for a game I generally expect not to have content cut off from me. This seems to be a common opinion among many consumers yet missable quests still linger. I still have to scour the lands everytime somebody sneezes in case that was the requirement for unlocking the dungeon to the far east, 20 minutes from here. Can we just remove this awful concept from the development dictionary already? It is just causing strife for everyone involved.

What games have you played that had missable quests? What is your general opinion on missable quests in your game? Do you have an idea of how they came about in the first place? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by CM30 on March 22, 2015 - 12:52 pm

    This article reminds me of the Pokemon series, and how it used to make certain species unobtainable if you KOed the one example in the world without catching it.

    But that series actually managed to realise this sort of design was a bad thing. So since Diamond and Pearl (I think), any one off or legendary Pokemon would respawn if you beat the Elite Four and Champion after accidentally knocking them out.

    Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door also had an interesting way to avert this sort of thing too, any tattle log entries you missed from one off enemies and bosses would end up in the rubbish bin in the professor’s house. As a result, if you missed the one chance in the game to scan a new boss, you weren’t locked out of 100% completion.

    And The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask avoided the problem by making everything in the game replayable through the three day cycle mechanic. Which added a lot of replay value and removed a lot of annoyances.

    As for general opinions… don’t really like these skippable things much. Especially not when the game doesn’t actually tell you that you can miss them or that there’s even a chance to get something in the first place (see, every RPG with a random item drops system). Or when like an old school adventure game, missing out on one small thing near the start means the game is completely unwinnable fourty odd hours later.

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  2. #2 by leathehatless on January 24, 2015 - 2:44 pm

    To be honest, those quests are to make the game a) longer and b) for people that really play it over and over again. Then you go online and see that someone pull off something impossible.

    I feel that this is a concept that has been around for many years, especially in indie RPGs. The Witch’s House, Ib, etc… Depending on how you play you find things other people don’t. I don’t thinks is something negative, it’s actually fun to go online and find this things.

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    • #3 by Prof.mcstevie on January 24, 2015 - 11:06 pm

      Finding out there is something amazing or cool you could do is a good thing at a basic level, however when I compile that with knowing said cool or amazing was so easily missable I get kinda let down. You don’t want to be told you chucked away the best part of your meal in the bin because it didn’t seem that good at the time do you?

      Liked by 1 person

    • #4 by leathehatless on January 25, 2015 - 4:35 pm

      You have that problem but i think it’s more a perspective issue.

      Some people don’t have a problem missing things, since they can always go back to the game and do it. (If we are talking about side quests.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • #5 by Prof.mcstevie on January 26, 2015 - 9:52 pm

      I don’t mind going back when it is still available at the end, however when its a NG+ or something it feels like just tying up loose ends as I would right before the final boss. This is only worsenedby the fact that the game has already been experienced all the way through bar this mission/quest so it is just reduced to small extra to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. #6 by theimpassionedcynic on January 23, 2015 - 3:25 pm

    Oh Tales Of Xillia, why did you almost screw me out of the sub event superhero trophy?

    I like using Gamefaqs and whatnot to supplement my knowledge with some new info I may have not known, but using walkthrough (aka a map) through a whole game is awful. It’s a design quirk that I don’t understand.

    I’m fine with missable quests when thet can be done on NG+ or in co-op or something. But when developers go out of their way to place obscure event trigger flags in places players might never even approach that’s when it goes into “what the fuck” territory. Staring directly at Tales Of Xillia.

    I didn’t have any problem with platting Dragon’s Dogma though. First playthrough I got most of the trophies and the second was just to view all the bad endings, romance a specific character and do all the quests (I missed one and I forgot why….).

    I don’t mind the old jrpg design quirk of “talking to everyone” but developers can easily fix that. Atelier Rorona plus has a little flag on areas where you can view character side events, fixing one of the problems the Atelier series has been known for, obscure event trigger flags. It saved me a lot of time, cause I remember going through the whole map and talking to everyone in Atelier Meruru every time I was going out of the city just in case there was something I missed. That’s not really fun. Give me the option to talk with people to get info about the world, don’t force me to talk to them just because I might miss something if I don’t.

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    • #7 by Prof.mcstevie on January 24, 2015 - 11:05 pm

      I don’t like the feeling of having to go through any more times to do a quest, NG+ makes it easier but I’m not happy I have to do it.

      Platting dogma was annoying because of stupid missions in low level areas that would never be of interest to me. I missed those quests because they put them in the starter town where NPCS can wander around for example.

      Atelier seems like it has finally gotten its act together after all this time, why common sense from a gamers perspective has taken so long to permeate to the developers is beyond me.

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  4. #8 by Cirsova on January 21, 2015 - 9:41 pm

    Even with the official walkthru, it was damn near impossible not to completely cock up a run through of Romancing Saga because of the secret stat that determined where you were in the game’s event timeline. “Well, the goddamn Jewel Beast has eaten everyone again D:”

    Like

    • #9 by Prof.mcstevie on January 21, 2015 - 11:00 pm

      I bought this, why am I running through hoops to play all of it.

      Like

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