The “collection quests” (meaning those that require you to loot “x” objects that may or may not drop) are a quest type that is often criticized by everyone because it feels grindy and frustrating. Many also wonder why they just don’t all get replaced with the more straightforward kill-quests.
I don’t think that collect quests are bad but the players don’t like them. Still I believe these types of quests shouldn’t be removed as they fill a different role than simple kill quests. They should be tweaked, though.
While playing in WoW’s Outlands and even the starting zones I noticed plenty of quests that weren’t well balanced. In particular those that require you to collect different kinds of items are usually badly balanced. Often there is one object type that is ALL OVER THE PLACE, while the other much more rare. This tends to feel frustrating.
The point is: it’s not the quest type to be bad, it’s the balance. The quest type just exposes the quest to this vulnerability.
Rule for collection quest and non-grindy gameplay: It’s ok till you don’t push players to kill respawns.
That pretty much guarantees that a collect quest is a good one. It also feels better from the point of view of the immersion. “Respawn” is a workaround mechanic to refresh the world, but it should be as invisible as possible from the player’s perspective. In the case of collect quests the “respawn” becomes an ACTIVE mechanisms of the quest itself. This is all kinds of WRONG.
As an example, one of the first quests in the Outlands (Alliance side, but I guess mirrored even for Horde) asks you to collect 12 badges from the fel orcs in Zeth’Gor. The place is big enough, but with just a few players around and about a 50% (or less) chance of getting the badges you’ll HAVE TO kill respawns at some point. In my case I killed the orc in the forge five times before I was able to complete the quests. This is grindy. Players should be presented new challenges, even with minimal variations, but at least some. If I have to kill the exact same mob, in the exact same location, then the game starts to feel grindy. And I shouldn’t be put in the condition for this to be required.
This is bad. A quests that makes you kill respawns is bad. It’s a very simple rule. And in the classic game there are more than one quests where not only it happens that you kill respawns, but in some cases YOU HAVE TO. As there aren’t enough mobs to complete the quests if you don’t wait for respawns. It even happens that you exterminate a zone, but the quest requirements still aren’t complete (concrete example: it happened me two days ago collecting venom sacks in Stonetalon near the lake).
Come on. This kind of balance and game design is very easy to understand and to execute. WoW could use some tuning. It’s not hard.