Dailies and “Bad Design”
There is a fascinating conversation going on in the General Forums right now with Daxxarri concerning daily quests and how they are “bad design.” This exchange in particular piqued my interest:
This is just a bad design. A game should not ask for daily commitment to enjoy what it has to offer.
[...] I get concerned when I see players throwing out words like ‘bad design’. Perhaps an individual dislikes a design choice, and that’s fine. We do our best, but World of Warcraft can’t be all things to all people, all the time. That said, making a value judgment about whether the design is ‘bad’ or not is not only un-constructive, but in the vast majority of the cases I’ve seen, such an assessment reveals that the design was not well understood to begin with.
Followed up later with:
That being said, why are you harping on the OP’s use of the term “bad design”?
Because language is important, and also, because it’s often used in the phrase, “That’s just bad design.” to justify why a mechanic or feature is undesirable to the poster in question. It presupposes the correctness of an opinion which may not, in fact, be correct. It also tells me nothing useful, except “I don’t like it”, but it makes, “I don’t like it.” sound more erudite, knowledgeable and sophisticated. It still boils down to, “I don’t like it.”, which isn’t particularly useful without a context.
Point taken, Daxxarri. I have deployed the “bad design” argument here and in comments elsewhere, using it as short-hand for “this feature isn’t catering to me.” It is an open question of whether I should be catered to, and at whose expense. Personally though, I vote for being catered to 100% of the time, everywhere.
This does raise the question of “What can be considered good design?” It would seem to me that we need to know the intention of a design before it could be judged good or bad. Without designers coming out and explaining intentions though, is there any real way to know? Are subscriptions and profit margins the only metrics that matter?
And the further complication for subscription-based MMOs, for me, is that I cannot trust the designers to not include time-sinking as one of the principle intentions of everything they do. Do patches really come out 8 months apart because it takes that long to polish… or because that extra month means millions more dollars at little extra cost? Did Blizzard really feel Molten Front was best paced at 35 straight days of dailies? Why not, say, 25 days?
All that aside, I do want to highlight the original statement again for your consideration:
A game should not ask for daily commitment to enjoy what it has to offer.
To be clear, the poster is talking about World of Warcraft, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. And you know what? I think I agree with him.