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I just read a thread in the FFXI section, and it reminded me of how when people defend an mmo, they always reach for things that really aren't that fun. Now, this could just be me, but I believe that quests do almost nothing for an mmo, besides give you busy work to help with the grind. Players will still cite these as a "positive aspect" of the game, because it goes with the story. Be serious though, how many mmo's stories are the exact same thing or just terrible, yet some people seem to want to continue this.
I suppose Lore just isn't what I'm into the games for. Don't get me wrong, I love to think about what the region I'm in would really be like or what events in the game world shaped everything. But not for one second, will I believe that exchanging letters between people and collecting 10, 15, 50 of something is part of a "story".
A good example of a game that said good bye to quest busy work, is Lineage II. The game is very successful as all of them have been. All quests in that game do not affect the story, you get your own specific rewards, such as cat ears, weapons, enchants, and LARGE sums of money. I've never gotten the impression that I'm changing the world by collecting wolf paws.
I know that this is VERY familiar to some mmo players, but I'm sure a few out there still think they are interacting with the lore. To me those people belong with single player mmos if they want to be part of the story so much. This is all my opinion, and to clear one thing up, I am NOT saying anything about role-players, they run their own story and I respect that, their time isn't wasted collecting branches.
The point of all this is, that quests seem useless to me, and I don't like all the praise they get.