I’ve noted many articles and rants about how helpless the current crop of youngsters seems to be. I’ve read about “helicopter parents” who flutter around their kids well past when they’ve left home, constantly rushing to their defense, aid or rescue. I’ve read about parents pestering companies who rejected their children’s applications, and even in one case going to an interview in place of an actual applicant(!)–needless to say the kid didn’t get the job. While it may seem a small example, the best example I’ve seen of this with my own eyes is when questing in Outland, the World of Warcraft expansion.
One of the things that impresses me most about the quests in Outland is that Blizzard went to much greater lengths to make sure you’d be able to figure out where to go to carry out your quests. Most of the quest descriptions give explicit directions. You can often go back to a quest-giver and re-open the dialogue and they’ll give you additional information. And, more things are marked on the map. Let me give you two examples.
1. Netherguarde Bitter: You’re probably already shaking your head if you’ve been in Hellfire Peninsula for more than five minutes. There’s a quest in which a dwarf refuses to trust you until you bring him a cup of Netherguarde Bitter. It really isn’t that hard to figure out where this comes from: there’s only one location in game named Netherguarde, and that’s Netherguarde Keep in the Blasted Lands, which is the zone you have to pass through to reach the portal to Outland. It isn’t a big place, so looking around until you find the food & drink vendor isn’t that hard. However, if you get confused, all you have to do is re-open the dialogue with the dwarf and he’ll even tell you who the vendor is and where to find him.
Despite this, nearly every five minutes, if not more often, someone asks, “where do I find Netherguarde Bitter?”
2. Steam Pumps: In Zangarmarsh there’s a quest to disable four steam pumps run by naga. You’re given a flight through the marsh in order to find them, but understandably this doesn’t make it much easier to find them on foot. Now, since they’re run by naga, the obvious first step is simply to find four enclaves of naga around the four lakes and look for the big steam pump structures. However, even if you’re too lazy for this, there’s still more to help you. As you discover each new area on the map, more details are filled in for you. How nice–when you discover the right areas around the lakes, there are towers with pipes sticking out (hmm, think those are steam pump towers? Could be!) marked on the map. Really. You can run right to them using the map. Yet people still insist on being given coordinates, again, nearly every five minutes.
Blizzard went to a great deal of effort to make sure we could find our quest objectives–effort that I and every other person willing to read the quests and look around a little really appreciate. It’s insane, however, to see that the number of people asking to be told where every little thing is hasn’t gone down–it’s gone UP.
Common sense isn’t just uncommon now–it’s downright endangered.
Gravity Wins Dark T-Shirt