Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This obscure sidequest succeeded a little too well at being obscure

Since the days of 8-bit gaming, the humble and lovable optional sidequest has taken on a life of its own.

Originally introduced as a way for players to pick up stray equipment, extra party members, or stacks of gold pieces, developers eventually realized that sidequests could be used to more interesting ends than simply padding out a game's run time with the promise of more loot.

When this happened, sidequests quickly became a preferred method of doling out backstory and game lore to truly interested players.  Sure, there was still plenty of time-padding going on as the quests often involved running all over the map and stomping random enemies until rare items dropped... but these sidequests became easier to justify for both players and developers because, goshdarnit, we were learning things!

The ironic part about this transformation is that by removing game lore from main quests, developers were actually reducing the overall run time of a game. If players weren't interested in learning about a particular party member's past (or where they kept their bras...), they could simply skip over these events and get back to the main storyline.

This skippability (that's totally a word now) lead to an interesting phenomenon: sidequests could become essentially forgotten if they were unpopular enough.  One such "lost" quest was recently rediscovered in Final Fantasy IX, nearly thirteen years after the game's release:

What's funny about the quest in question is that it doesn't really reward players with any lost lore or new information.  Instead, it requires a player to make almost 17 trips around the map and gives them a crappy standard item (Protect Ring) in return.

This is rather disappointing since Final Fantasy IX has a rich tapestry of hidden quests and easter eggs.  There's a hidden mini-quest where you can learn an adopted main character's real name and another where you need to fetch coffee (yes, coffee) for an elderly scientist.  Both of these quests give you fuck all in terms of actual usable game items or equipment, but they're fun little diversions to be completed that give you a few more minuts of fantasy in the game's world.

If you're interested in the "lost" sidequest from FFIX, simply watching the video above should slake your curiosity.  Said quest pops up fairly late in the game, and - again - there's really no extra lore or rare items.  Still, it's quite remarkable that a quest could be lost in a game where players have spent hundreds of thousands of hours parsing out ever single piece of lore and information.

God knows what lost secrets players will find buried in Skyrim's code thirteen years from now...