Awesome, I was waiting for someone else to make a really long post, so I wouldn't seem like a total page-hog.
I know I've already officially announced quitting MQ once before, but I feel like MQ has enough raw potential to be worth following, especially since I find the behind-the-scenes development/management more interesting than the game itself. Also, the GEARS Games are the most hyped MQ event of the year, so I'd hoped that new GEARS mechs/weapons might bring some fun variety to someone that missed out on the golden age of the SCMM titans. Instead, I come back to find that not only have the Games been a relative letdown, but the SCMM is all but extinct, reduced to a mere SCQM (and a rather weak one, at that).
To me, the official name change from SCMM to SCQM almost seems to be an admission of defeat. MQ can no longer uphold the obligations it made to players, with the current set-up. It's time for a major overhaul, because no amount of small fixes can hold off the rapidly snowballing avalanche of negative community opinion. And yeah, I really hope that this is that overhaul, because regardless of how I feel about the game, I genuinely like the MQ team and the sense of personality they bring to both the forums and the game.
Anyway, as for the actual questions...
Favorite types of quests
My top five favorite off the top of my head...
1) Traveler's Note Delivery, with Maria 183 boss battle (no name bias, I swear! )
2) Arthurian war, aside from searching for Crow's Nook
3) Crystal Asteroid war, the entire series
5) Zargon, specifically the Thunder Hammer battles and the final showdown against Universo
Generally speaking, what I look for in a quest is a reasonably varied selection of opponents, challenging enough to hold my attention without being overly annoying (cough Evil Sam Rye cough), followed by a challenging boss and a satisfying ending. The latest breed of boss-type enemies has really piqued my interest, especially Maria and the horrors of Necryptos-X. Rather than just having inflated stats, they also come with improved AI and some tough gimmicks, making it almost like a puzzle to find ways to defeat them. This tells me that there are still ways to challenge SC players without resorting to either luck-based fights or excessive power creep.
On the flip side, five of my least favorite quests...
1) Mantis Shrine (and all the shrines, really...)
2) finding Crow's Nook
3) Westion train missions, both assembling it and pursuing J6
5) Rescuing Braddock on Heroes Heart Day
My biggest turn-offs in MQ quests are repetition, long waiting periods during quests, and repetition. I wasn't a fan of Yokai, mostly because the entire planet really only had two enemies. Yeah, there were different varieties of the monks and the samurai, but they were visually similar enough to feel repetitive. Not getting progress counters certainly didn't help. The Westion train assembly was similar; the sheer size of that train is intimidating, especially since you know the battles won't exactly be interesting. Every other quest I've disliked has been because of a repetitive action game. While those games do have a certain charm, and I certainly appreciate the effort that goes into making them, I'm hard-pressed to say that they're worth the time and effort. I mean, if I really wanted to play Whack-a-Mole, I'd go find a real Whack-a-Mole flash game on Kongregate instead. I come to MQ to build robots and make them blow each other up, not to smack crawling ants or find yetis in trees. While I think they're great for flavor, I really wouldn't prioritize them over more traditional quest formats.
Likes and dislikes about Mechs
I can't think of anything I particularly LOVE or HATE about the current mech designs. I think everything out there is pretty alright, though I did miss out on the glorious Warbear and Mohawk era. The only comment I'd make is that I'd like a set time limit on attack animations. I find it sad that I never use my Nemesis, even though it's technically the strongest mech I own, just because the animation takes forever. The Corrupted Runehawk is actually the most efficient grinder in my hangar, not because it's designed for fast killing, but because Puzzlebox Chains has such a short animation.
I do think that MQ should acknowledge the drastic variation in art styles though, probably by claiming that they're made by different engineers using different technologies (or, in the case of the new-age SCQMs, Tek's budget cuts... ). Maybe take that a step further by emphasizing incompatible technologies, like the limitations already placed on Shadowscythe and Steampunk mechas. The way I picture it, it could be made more clear that Tek specializes in humanoid mechas geared towards exploration/defense, though she occasionally likes to experiment with cutting-edge war machines (which we know as SCQMs). And maybe she has a rival engineer somewhere in Soluna, that likes to do themed and/or humorous mechs like the Bolt Cracker, Socker, Viking, etc. I think it's understandable enough that the Geekatron parts are easily compatible with GEARS technology, since Selina was a former student herself. However, I find it a bit harder to believe that Vulkharim or Khael technology is so readily compatible, when we still can't even figure out how to attach one of Tek's shoulders to a Trog or Behemoth, despite having copies of those available to study for years now.
In any case, I'd like to see a few more ShS salvage parts available to us, so we can actually customize our salvaged ShS mechs. Then further expand on the House/Steampunk/Geekatron/Vampire/etc technology lines, introduce us to who builds all those mechs, and explain why some of them are compatible and others aren't, and suddenly the whole world seems to make a little more sense. And maybe even (in my dreams...) introduce mod chips that are required in order to use certain weapon lines with certain chassis models, which greatly increases the value of those mod slots that currently serve little to no purpose. What if you had to choose between +30 Power OR the Nephyrysis Death Embrace, but not both? Or that there's no way a strong Yokai mech (wink, nudge) can simultaneously equip Vampire and Steampunk parts because Yokai mechs only come with one mod slot, but the upgraded four-slot Geekatron Quadruped has room for everything (at the cost of a nigh useless BD attack, of course)? But do you really want to use up mod slots on multiple technology lines, when you could equip something that reduces all DoT damage by 20% instead? And when you make your chassis/weapon/mod choices, should you consider those enemies out there who are immune to Laser weapons, or take only half damage from Ballistics? So much strategy potential!
I see a lot of little pieces out there, like the type-resist mods on Westion and Necryptos, the Steampunk's unique technology line, the Geekatron combos, the Imbiber's passive DoT resistance, and that one GEARS class with the immunity to Ballistic attacks, that point to much deeper levels of strategy that could be explored. It's just a matter of implementing all these on a much larger scale, putting those pieces together, to create the types of challenges that keep experienced players coming back for more, and buying more NGs in the process. And of course, all these things can be casually brushed over in most parts of the main game, so that new NSCs don't get scared off by a seemingly-complex system before they're ready.
How do you feel about the plot
Honestly, I tend to forget that MQ even has a plot sometimes. There's such huge gaps between updates that it's easy to forget earlier missions, and the story board isn't nearly enough of a reminder. It also doesn't help that MQ has very few memorable recurring NPCs, or that a lot of story arcs seem to never end. What I'd like to see are more well-defined story arcs, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. A cutscene viewer that we can easily access from the story board would also be a HUGE help. I'm looking at the story guide posted here on the forums (http://forums2.battleon.com/f/tm.asp?m=17568726), and frankly, I can't even remember a good third of those events. Not to mention the fact that I played them out of order the first time through anyway...
The narrative pacing right now seems to be built like a manga, introducing characters and plot points almost haphazardly, with the intent of dragging the main story on as long as possible. On one level, I understand that an ongoing RPG like this lends itself to a never-ending story, so it kind of makes sense. However, part of me thinks that MQ's primarily western audience would be more receptive to the narrative pacing of an American movie: an industry-standard 110 page script, a clear problem introduced exactly on page 10, a small climax at the 50% mark, notable twists/changes in plot direction at the 25% and 75% marks, and a grand climax full of special effects, which leads to a satisfying ending which ties up ALL loose ends. We want to know who Valoth is, what his ultimate goal is, and exactly how each of his sinister acts sets up that goal. And more than all that, we want to kill him. As it stands right now, our character hasn't even met Valoth yet. And what about Evil Jim? EbilCorp? Slugworth? Medeia and her hopelessly unrequited crush? The journey is nice, but after a certain point, we're just craving that resolution too much.
More than anything else, I think what MQ needs to give its players is a sense of commitment. I don't mean that personally, of course; I know the MQ team is as fully committed as anyone could be. The game's release schedule, however, really leaves players unsure of what to expect. The Star Captain upgrade promises a monthly mech, improved weapon power, and exclusive bonus quests, but we never know when to expect any of those things anymore. As someone who joined right at the beginning of the Nemesis' run, I've experienced a grand total of three monthly mechs in seven months, so I'm feeling rather cheated at having missed out on MQ's golden age without any warning that it was about to end. If I was told that from the outset, I probably wouldn't feel as bad about it, but I wasn't.
Personal feeling aside though, I think that making the MQ experience easier to follow would also make it more enjoyable. Give us some consistency, not only about when to expect SCQMs, but also when to expect major plot updates, minor plot updates, and other random smaller updates. In my ideal MechQuest 2.0, I'd like to see a set release pattern, something like a rotating monthly schedule of A-plot updates, B-plot updates, and minor months with fluff updates. For example...
Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct- B-plot update (GEARS Games, Medeia story, Police mission, etc... multiple battles, simple cutscenes, recycled enemies)
Feb/May/Aug/Nov- new SCQM, SC-only sidequest (Traveler, K&S battles, maybe an action game, etc)
Mar/Jun/Sep/Dec- A-plot update (ShS plot; minor updates in Mar/Sep, major updates and war in Jun/Dec to coincide with school breaks)
I would be totally happy knowing that updates would come monthly, rather than getting three updates one month and none at all the following month. And if we can only get a real plot advancement once a quarter, then that's just fine with me. If anything, the format would lend itself to one-year story arcs, which seems just about ideal to me. The months devoted to SC material would not only help fill in time between real updates, but also give a very clear, well-defined reason why NSC players should upgrade ASAP. Not only are you missing out on a cool new mech, but the ONLY NEW MISSION of the month is for members only (...even if it's a somewhat short/lame mission, that's beside the point)! Sprinkle in holiday updates when possible, maybe give us a Flavescent Friday type sale for the first week of each month, and I think everyone will be much happier. Knowing which holiday weapons are truly one-chance-only and which will become seasonal would be nice too. It would at least ensure that people will want to come play during certain peak months/seasons, and marketing can be ramped up accordingly during those times. Personally, I wouldn't even mind seeing a few ads on the game screen (and even more for NSCs ) during peak times to grind out a bit more profit.
Oh, final request. How about an actual comprehensive, searchable database of weapons (effects/type/price/location/rarity)? Maybe as a SC-only perk, since we're the only ones who need to worry about energy costs or weapon types anyway. Forum-based encyclopedias are so dated.
And wow, I type a lot.