I am a big fan of Roleplaying Games. Both tabletop and video game format. In fact, I think RPGs make up the biggest percentage of my video game playtime - beyond say building games and action-adventure titles. One of my all-time favourite things regarding video game RPGs are side quests, small or medium chunks of story that can enrich or take you away from the main story arc and let you see more of the world that the designers have hidden away.

What I don't like, what I emphatically hate, are pointless fetch quests.

You know the kind I mean, right?

Farmer Warren, "Hey Adventurer, so my field has grown fallow and I can't feed my family. I know there's some really tasty deer in the local forest though and it would be super-awesome if you went out and murdered a bunch so you can tick that particular tedious padding task off your to-do list?"

Adventurer, "Of course, I'd be more than happy to waste a few more minutes chasing high speed deer around and collecting one hundred deer meat so I never have to do this bloody quest again."

Dragon Age: Inquisition... I am looking at you. I am looking at you right now.

I'm not expecting all RPGs to adhere to the same gold-standard as some of the best ones to come out in the last few years, and I certainly don't expect all RPGs to even come close to the quest writing of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or the two excellent expansions.

But I really wish that developers would think of something better than ticking off boxes on a map, asking the player character to find a dozen or more hidden items across a large in-game area without a single way to make that any easier.

That's not actually fun, as strange as it might seem to some. Or at least, that's not fun for me.

You might be a person who really enjoys the grind of such quests - fair play.

This particular design is suited more to MMOs. I've run RPGs for about 41 years in one shape or form. I work in the industry as an indie freelance writer. I write adventures, and not once have I fallen back on my 21 years of writing to the fetch quest formula. Now you might say that's because tabletop games are different in terms of RPG design to video games...

Not really, a lot of the same elements of TTRPGs are in video game RPGs and there's more and more of them coming to games as developers iterate, and pull ideas from my industry into theirs. Which is great.

Except for fetch quests... It's the equivalent of Ubisoft's AC towers, or dozens of tiny ?'s on the map where there's really nothing important to be found there.

Fetch Quests do one thing: They pad the game. They create a tedium which can pretty much kill my enthusiasm for the best game on the planet. Which is why I'm so glad that the Witcher 3 doesn't pull this trick.

Even Witcher 3's actual ? locations are packed with interest, from the smallest nook to the largest keep. There's loot, there's something meaningful and even a surprise or two hidden away. This is environmental storytelling at master-class level. Many of these locations are seeded with smaller clues that when you put the whole together, reveal another piece of the visual puzzle and draw you deeper into the world that CDPR have created.

All without demanding you go and kill 20 trolls to make White Orchard safe again.

Or pick 30 Daffodils so you can woo the Queen of Skellige.

Now I reiterate that I do not want every single quest to be as deep and amazing as the Bloody Baron Questline from Witcher 3. Or that I want fetch quests removed all together, but I wouldn't mind them attenuated and made with an actual story in mind.

Need five particular rare herbs to cure an old man's gout, yeah, I would actually go and do that. Fetch a newly repaired sword for the local lady so she can go and slay some bandits with you, yeah, I would be down for that. Just as long as there are decent mechanics for getting those herbs, and finding them. Just as long as the sword quest has a few interesting bits of dialogue, or spins off into a thing where maybe the sword's been stolen by a rival and now you need to get it back before you can give it to the new owner.

Just anything that isn't: Hunt 60 wargs for their noses.

As our games get bigger and more ambitious, as our systems gain in power and our understanding of gaming develops - it would be nice if more games moved away from the dyed in the wool, bread-and-butter padding tricks and actually bothered to add meaningful content for their players to explore.

With that said. I'm off to delve into the nearby caves close to the Witcher School of Kaer Morhen, because as much as I've played Witcher 3 over the years there's still content here that I've not seen, because CDPR are sneaky buggers for hiding special things away ... and I love them for it.

At least I'm not going into a neighbours' cellar and killing ten rats.